“It is not overwhelmingly different than when I, as a gay man, criticize the gay community for taking things too far by, for instance, bringing both borderline and actual nudity to public Pride Parades, especially in places where children are often present.”
Every community, especially those based around identity, finds itself having to deal with its radical or fringe elements at some point. How these communities respond to outlier individuals within their movement can make or break their efforts. In the case of the feminist movememnt, that fring element was exemplified by those who infamously succeeded in getting #KillAllMen to trend on Twitter in 2013. The failure of feminism to address its more fringe elements continues to turn off possible members, even those who share the movement’s goal of gender equality.
But now, a different community is having similar challenges. Over the past few months, the transgender community—and some of its members who are particularly active on Twitter—are now being defined by near-constant controversy. In many cases, this is a case of the community going “too far.” It is not overwhelmingly different than when I, as a gay man, criticize the gay community for taking things too far, for instance, by bringing both borderline and actual nudity to public Pride Parades, especially in places where children are often present. (Some defenders of this have actually gone on to explain that exposing children to such displays is a good thing). Other examples in the gay community include pushing child drag queens as an acceptable phenomenon, and excommunicating members of its own community for wrongthink. In this brief piece, I intend to point a few areas where the transgender community has been pushing its boundaries and entering territory that is not only excessive but also potentially self-defeating to their own movement.
In the transgender community, the self-described “global internet personality” and “social justice warrior” Jessica Yanev is certainly an oddity. Very few trans people can claim to have abused the spirit of Canadian human rights laws by filing approximately a dozen human rights complaints against beauty salons that preferred not to perform waxes on her (she still has male genitalia). She’s also described South Asians as “turban f——”, doxxed a YouTuber, and sent nude photographs of herself to an underage girl. But the trans community remains strangely silent about her. Other than Morgane Oger, who wrote an op-ed in The Globe and Mail denouncing Yaniv’s legal charade regarding the waxing, very few trans activists have been quick to criticize Yaniv.
In August, 2019, the Vancouver Rape Relief & Woman’s Shelter revealed it had been vandalized with a dead rat nailed to the door, along with various graffiti messages on the front windows of the shelter reading, “TRANS POWER” and “KILL TERFS” (TERF is an abbreviation for the term “trans-exclusionary radical feminist”). The anger appears to stem from the fact that this shelter, “limited its services to biological females,” which, according to National Review, was also the reason various Canadian grant-writing organizations had been pressured to revoke funding grants for the shelter. This is an act that the Transgender Community should denounce. For several months prior, Twitter’s transgender community has been outspoken in their hatred of TERFs, with the phrase “punch TERFs” being commonly found in discussions on Twitter, with some even suggesting that TERFs should be “sent to the gulag.” This rhetoric is made even more problematic by the fact that many people who are maligned as “TERFs” do not even fit the label.
Then, there is a segment of the transgender community that enjoys forcing people, sometimes against their own preferences, to transition. This most recently came to my attention with the case of Twitter user Avie, who had their Twitter account briefly suspended after being mass reported by a wave of angry transgender community members. What had Avie done that angered them so? Well, Avie was cis feminine man who refused to transition genders. For some reason, this angered enough of the transgender community for a mass flagging of Avie’s account and a subsequent temporary ban.
The sentiment directed towards Avie isn’t new. Other transgender community members have, independently, shared similar sentiments towards feminine men who refuse to transition. One Twitter user summed their feelings up with, “To the femboys who plague this world: Why don’t you just do gender reassignment surgery?” This type of behavior is known as “pinkpilling” and ranges from encouraging feminine men to become trans, to outright forcing or tricking them into doing so.
Overall, this isn’t a complete list of all the problematic behaviors within the trans community. They have other problems, namely the same kind of problems that plague all other identity-based communities, such as “cancel culture” and “feelings over facts”-based censorship. Rather, this serves to document a few of the most prominent problems that are exclusive to the transgender community. These issues are likely going to drive potential supporters away in the short-term, and, in the long-term, these issues could mutate and become increasingly more prevalent throughout trans circles. Given that the fight for transgender rights has only just begun to pick up steam as of late, it is important that this movement does not descend into the extreme rhetoric and actions that have driven people away from other pro-equality movements.
Curtis Powell is a student and writer currently based in Sydney, Australia.