One of my pet peeves is snobs. Another is armchair critics. And worse yet, snobbish armchair critics. Somebody asked rather condescendingly the other day what qualifies me to be human rights activist? I suppose my answer could have been rather blunt, like "Well, I am human - aren't I?" I mean after all, what more do I need to qualify me, other than a sense of outrage at human rights violations - and to know that persecution is wrong - and to be determined to DO something about it?
No, no, not that - he meant whether or not I had a post graduate degree in anything. Well, this is my answer:
No, I do not have a post graduate degree, or even a degree. However I am far from stupid, or ignorant - and certainly far from being made to feel inferior or inadequate because I do not have some fancy letters after my name.
I did manage to finish High School - back in the days before OBE, when people still learned things that mattered, like history for example - and the lesson that those who do not know it, repeat it. I also learned the hard way that kids who were effeminate at school had a hard ride. A stint in the military (in the days when we HAD to go) taught me a host of things - including survival and stealth as a closeted transgender person, the meaning of prejudice, and how it stung - and also just what "medical confidential" was worth in the old army. I qualified myself in the IT field as a computer technician and in LAN support. Following this I got into IT security and then multimedia. Thereafter, having also completed my transition to womanhood, I developed a sense of moral outrage at the unacceptable hate I saw being levelled at GLBT people - and decided to do something about it.
I became involved in real-life activism - to make a difference. And in my small way I believe I am. Others are too, and they are mostly not bothered by other people's assessments of what "qualifies" them to be human rights activists - or even to be treated as human and equal. A university education may be of benefit when dealing with the establishment (letters behind your name are always impressive) - but do they really make somebody more passionate or capable in their activism? I think not. That comes from within, and not without. After all, science declares that a bumble-bee should not be able to fly - but the bumble-bee does not know this and flies anyway.
I suppose I should point out that to those critics so well-qualified and "more intelligent" who condesceningly ask a pc technician, a motor mechanic, a hairdresser or a security guard "what qualifies YOU to be a gay rights activist?" - perhaps they need to ask themselves why aren't THEY getting their hands dirty and making a difference?
It is always easy to point fingers at others, but not so easy to do this while putting your money where your mouth is.