Otaviano Canuto was a vice president of the World Bank Group. He previously served as Executive Director at the Board of the International Monetary Fund, the IMF, and he’s held other roles at the World Bank and, as well as the position of State Secretary for International Affairs at the Ministry of Finance of Brazil.
About two years ago on the podcast I had an interview with Natalie Wynn, then called Natalie Parrott, and also known as the youtuber ContraPoints. Despite the fact that I’m a huge fan of her YouTube channel it was a pretty tense interview. If you don’t know the ContraPoints channel on YouTube, you should look it up now, she puts a huge investment into the writing and shooting of the videos, not least to the hugely in-depth analysis of the topics covered.
Because I’m a big fan of her videos, particularly the rigorous intellectual questioning in them, I was a bit disappointed that the interview was, as I say, tense, and that Natalie came across as defensive. That was my perception and quite a few listeners commented in the same vein; Natalie is a transwoman, a lot of her videos are centered on that topic and I thought that it would be interesting to talk to her about the issues that surround that and of course that would mean putting to her the views of people who disagree with her.
If you listen to that interview, I think you will hear that she didn’t see it that way.
One of the topics that we disagreed over was the way in which some trans people and their supporters can be perceived to be intolerant of any expression of views that they don’t agree with. They are certainly not alone in that, I’m not suggesting that’s true of all trans people, but there seems little point in denying that the effect exists.
To illustrate this point, I played a clip of a woman who describes herself a sex-educator, Laci Green. If you know anything at all about her, you will know that she is a strong supporter of the LGBT community in general and trans people in particular, but despite this, she was the subject of an online, and occasionally terrifyingly offline hate campaign.
This is how Laci Green herself spoke about the incident.
I wanted to get Natalie’s opinion of people who identified themselves as trans and their supporters making death threats to a young woman who hadn’t meant harm to anyone, so I played her that clip and asked her what she thought. This is what she said.
So not much sympathy there. Natalie doesn’t want people to use the word Tranny even in the most friendly context, because she thinks it’s a slur. To be fair, it certainly has been used as a slur many times, but I also think that context matters, and even if it doesn’t there isn’t any world where making death threats against a young woman who didn’t mean any harm to anyone is OK, and if anyone that could be even in the vaguest way associated with me did that, I would want to be first out of the traps in disassociating myself from that.
But Natalie didn’t. She clearly saw the word as so egregious that regardless of the context, using it drew more condemnation from her that making death threats.
So, anyway two years later I was watching her latest Contrapoints video. I cant even begin to summarise it here, it’s more than an hour and twenty minutes of dense argument, but I highly recommend it. The only thing that I can say is that it deals a lot with how we perceive in-group and out-group behavior. I was watching the video and I heard this.
So, using the word Tranny in context doesn’t seem to be offensive to Natalie any more, at least not offensive enough to trump death threats.
So is this some big gotcha to prove how Natalie is a hypocrite, or that everything she says can now be safely discarded? No. As is said, I’m still a big fan of her YouTube channel, I highly recommend it. And I think that if you can avoid causing offence and still be true to yourself, then I would avoid that. But I would also try to give people a break, assume the best intentions in others, and if everybody could in general cool it a bit in terms of taking offence, that would be nice.