Observations On The Trans Dinosaur Emoji Appropriation Tragedy [Updated]

I guess Tucker Carlson does have his uses after all: somebody on his staff uncovered a head-explodingly silly NPR feature from January, and the topic was still so silly that it didn’t filter down into the rest of of conservative media until this week. What NPR felt was a matter worth spending taxpayer funds on and wasting listener’s ears on was this, and I am NOT kidding: in the words of a guest on the segment, “Many people who are queer, whether they are trans or some other form of genderqueer or whatever it is…We love dinosaurs.”That’s nice. So what? It happens that I love dinosaurs too. I started a dinosaur model collection when I was 5, and I gave a presentation about it at a school 6th grade hobby show when I was six. It was displayed at the town library, and ultimately included models, none of them plastic, of over thirty separate species. I still have that collection, and there are dinosaur models, puppets and art all over my house. But let me continue…

Apparently, “genderqueer” people have been using dinosaur emojis like the ones above in their social media posts. It has something to do with the dinosaurs in “Jurassic Park” changing their sex, or the all-female dinosaur population still reproducing. But now, NPR breathlessly reports, the LGBTQ community is furious that so called TERFS, “Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists,” have begun using dinosaur emojis in their social media posts, because a British politician described a dinosaur anyone who, like J.K. Rowling, refused to accept that a man could become a woman ( and, for example, throttle biological female swimmers simply after joining a college women’s swim team) by identifying as one.

This is, we were told by NPR and its trans guest, profoundly hurtful, and the community was prepared to fight, dammit! Riley, the trans guest, explained,

I think my initial knee-jerk reaction, um, was just like, Well, you can’t have them. Like dinosaurs are ours.  It really just made zero sense to me whatsoever in terms of like, you know, they could have picked anything else and it might have made a little bit more sense to me…it was something where it’s just like, Where’s this even coming from? This makes zero sense. And also dinosaurs are ours. I hate to speak for the entire trans or genderqueer community but, like, no. We’ve already been wondering about them and drawing them and interested. 

Like, got it, Riley. Jeez, learn to speak like an adult. And I got blackballed from this network’s shows? I think it’s time to kill myself.

No matter who you are, if you see something beloved taken over by someone else, that can be hard, sympathize co-host  Amory Siverston “Suddenly, genderqueer fans of dinos everywhere felt under attack as TERFs kept dropping the emoji into their feeds.”

Then the feature really gets exciting! NPR reports:

Queer Twitter refused to let dinos go the way of the OK hand sign. Almost immediately, the community bombarded TERFs with takedowns and messages of trans pride…

One tweet seemed to bring this fight out of its bubble. It came from a pro-trans cis woman named Courtney Milan. She’s a romance writer. But she also dabbles in creating emoji. And in a blow to the TERF community, she tweeted a simple message:

“These emoji dinosaurs ?? are both trans, I know this because I wrote the proposal to the Unicode Technical Committee asking for them.” Courtney was arguing that because she created these dinosaurs, she determined their gender. And she determined that they were transgender….

Unlike so many other failed attempts to save a symbol, the push against anti-trans use of the dinosaur emoji…it seems to have worked. Some TERFs still have dinosaurs in their profile, sure. But there are so many other people pairing the dinos with messages of pride … or just using them in the most literal sense. And you know you might have something very specific to the TERFs who tried to use the emoji as a symbol of trans hate…

Observations:

  • We are paying for this crap.
  • This isn’t news, it isn’t useful, it isn’t even illuminating, except in negative ways, like forcing consideration of questions like: “Are all trans people this silly and  self-involved?” and “Aren’t the mature, serious members of the LGBTQ community embarrassed by such a characterization of their group?”
  • I was immediately reminded of a feature long ago about how inner city black kids were obsessed with designer sneakers. At the time, my reaction was, “Wow, this is a huge values problem, if they elevate mere footwear to that level of concern.” But at least you can wear sneakers. They aren’t little digital drawings. Compared to the trans emoji crisis, the piece about Michael Jordan sneakers was the Watergate story.
  • Back to Tucker: he quite fairly raised NPR’s dismissal of the Hunter Biden laptop story as counterpoint to the “OH NO! SOMEONE’S USING OUR DINOSAUR EMOJIS!” bombshell. You remember, don’t you?

“We don’t want to waste our time on stories that are not really stories, and we don’t want to waste the listeners’ and readers’ time on stories that are just pure distractions,” NPR Managing Editor for News Terence Samuel told me. “And quite frankly, that’s where we ended up, this was … a politically driven event and we decided to treat it that way.”

  • Is it any wonder that Dave Chappelle makes jokes about people like Riley? If trans individuals want Americans to respect them and take their problems, which are (usually) real, seriously, it’s up to them to present themselves and their community as rational and trustworthy. And if NPR wants to be their public relations agent, which it obviously does, it has to do a better job than this.

Because that story doesn’t help.

24 thoughts on “Observations On The Trans Dinosaur Emoji Appropriation Tragedy [Updated]

  1. Jack said:

    If trans individuals want Americans to respect them and take their problems, which are (usually) real, seriously, it’s up to them to present themselves and their community as rational and trustworthy.

    “Rational?” Seriously? Rationality is no longer a thing, as far as I can tell. It’s all about emo hyperbole and outrage. That seems to be the currency in play here.

    So I guess I won’t be taking the trans community seriously anytime soon. They collectively demonstrate, over and over again, that they are neither rational nor trustworthy as a group.

    • You better take them seriously. NPR left out the newsworthy portion of the article. In the UK, this could be considered online hate speech. Online hate speech carries a penalty of 3 years in prison. There has been a 900% increase in arrests for online hate speech in Britain in the last year, while the arrest rate of reported crimes is less than 8% (down 1.5%). That’s right, if you report being burglarized or mugged, there is less than an 8% chance they will make an arrest. Post dinosaur emoji however…

  2. I had a discussion with an old shipmate a few weeks ago about pronoun use and about how he did not see the big deal in allowing trans or non-binary folks dictate what pronouns we are allowed to use and when. His thought was that a person should be addressed however they want to be addressed and that there are a lot more consequential things to fix in this world than pronouns. I disagreed for a couple of reasons.
    1. I choose the words I use, Not someone else. Other people are free to REQUEST to be addressed in a certain way and I’m free to honor or not their request. I believe in being polite and making people comfortable, but I also don’t believe in being taken advantage of and controlled by the language police.
    AND
    2. While agree there may be a lot more important things to work on, this sort of stuff is STUPID and I don’t think we should allow stupid, shallow, confused, and manipulative people dictate our lives to us. Enough is enough. We can work on big problems while squishing the stupid little power grabs at the same time.

    • I agree with your points. I would add that thus issue isn’t just a Golden Rule issue – the overriding conceit is that La Thomas is, in fact, a woman. It is the requirement that must suspend and/or ignore logic, reason, and reality. It also means that I am not permitted to think that there is no difference between Bruce Jenner and Kaitlin Jenner, and that we have always been at war with Oceania and at peace with Eurasia.

      jvb

    • There is a significant problem with “…a person should be addressed however they want to be addressed”. The pronouns they want to control are not directed at the person in question. They are used when talking to someone else about that person. They are NOT a form of address.

      That’s on top of all the other issues, but it does clarify that they are trying to control the words that two other people use among themselves.

  3. Would this be the same NPR that said, when Hunter Biden’s laptop first surfaced, that they don’t waste time with things that aren’t stories?

  4. Then there is Reddit banning the word “groomer” because it’s supposedly an anti-LGBTQ slur. The new group Gays Against Groomers had something to say about it.

    “Conflating the LGBT community with the word groomer, even in an attempt to discourage us from being labeled as such, is an admission there is an innate connection between our community and child predators.”

    “By banning this word from their platform in such terms, Reddit is not only inadvertently expressing their support for the grooming and abuse of children, but also paints out [sic] community … as those who support and engage in it.”

    https://reduxx.info/reddit-bans-groomer-as-anti-lgbtq-slur-under-new-rules/

    Apparently people are now calling on Twitter to censor the word too.

    • I’m glad Gays Against Groomers has an intelligent take on the issue. It looks like they understand why censorship is often counterproductive for the stated goals of the people who use it.

      I would add to that a question directed at Reddit: Wouldn’t banning the word “groomer” greatly inconvenience many people who make a living bathing pets and styling their fur, as well as the customers of those people? Do people not realize that words that offend people sometimes have inoffensive meanings that depend on context?

      • Many people, but especially progressives, seem to believe that if any word or phrase has an offensive meaning, then all uses of that word or phrase should be banned. I on the other hand believe that we should make a point of using the words or phrases in their inoffensive contexts to keep them alive.

        • I use the word “niggardly” from time to time and it almost always raises at least one eyebrow. Then I have to do the whole “this is what ‘niggardly’ means so please put down the tar and feathers.”

          You make a good point, Errol. Lots of words – all of them valuable – are being lost or radically diminished to progressive “offense and outrage.”

  5. Based on that excerpt alone, I would have guessed Riley Black to have been about 9 or 10 years old. But, in fact, she is much older, 38 at the time of that NPR program, and a much better thinker. She wrote and published as Brian Switek before she transitioned. There is much more to her than what is portrayed here, although the fixation on dinosaurs and “dinosaurs are ours” does come across as a bit ludicrous.
    For some really enjoyable reading, go here for what seems to be a transcript of that NPR program: https://www.wbur.org/endlessthread/2022/01/14/fight-for-dinosaur-emoji

    • Wow. Thanks for that: based on the interview, I really assumed Rile was a particularly dim would-be Valley Girl. Of course, many good writers are lousy on their feet….or without getting to work their prose. Ever read Hemingway’s letters?

  6. I’m boggled by the irony of a person saying, “It really just made zero sense to me whatsoever in terms of like, you know, they could have picked anything else and it might have made a little bit more sense to me…it was something where it’s just like, Where’s this even coming from? This makes zero sense,” in between claiming the concept of dinosaurs as the exclusive cultural property of a specific group of people.

    Does this person not hear themselves? How do people allow their lives to become so empty that they latch onto emoji as a cultural heritage and claim that they are “appropriated” by people they don’t like? I fully expect that interview to have a flood of comments under it saying, “No, this person doesn’t speak for us!”

        • I suppose it’s nice he/she/they isn’t an idiot, but how is this face at all relevant to NPR covering this “controversy?”

          • Well, for one thing, it establishes that there were other things they could have talked about on NPR.

            I also find it ironic that Riley doesn’t seem to understand that their description of why dinosaurs appeal to trans people as a group probably also applies to people who criticize some of the apparent goals of trans people as a group: “OK, like if you think I’m basically a monster, I might as well be, you know, a toothy monster”.

            Also, “dinosaur” is a common insult used against people who are some combination of elderly, old-fashioned, or conservative, implying that their views are already obsolete, so I can see why such people might want to own the insult used against them. If humans are so lazy at communication that they have to fight over what a tiny picture means, they’re going to have bigger problems than emoji. Well, just about anything is a bigger problem than emoji, but you get the idea.

  7. In the Flintstones who actually lived at the time of the dinosaurs, the opening theme tune says “Have a gay old time”. Now the LGBTQ community have appropriated the word gay. They have also taken the rainbow where Leprechauns kept their pot of gold to put it on their flag. Now they are taking dinosaurs. Where will it ever end?

    • Although I find it difficult not to agree with you Michael; the wokesters consuming all the news oxygen are really just a very small fraction of the overall population.
      That is the power of media which is an enormous insidious corrosive problem when used to advance an ideological objective.
      Undoing that or getting it under control is a challenge for which I have no answer other than someone like Trump (doesnothavetobehim) starting another news channel like Ted Turner did with CNN.
      I am quite confident it would be exceedingly profitable too if done well.

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