On 2/3/2021, a user on Twitter named @VanessaQSC posted a cartoon that has since become rather infamous in the following week.
The cartoon, which I will not re-posting because, to put it simply, it’s just awful, shows a tall, slightly muscular, dark skin, trans-woman dawning massive fake boobs, a massive bulge, and a trans-pride one-piece, crying through her makeup screaming “TERF Bitch!” To which the skinny, hour-glass shaped, really white — like, really white to the point of it having some unfortunate implications, cisgender woman dawning a shirt that reads “adult human female” replies “yes.”
There is, in the eternal words of this generation, a lot going on here.
The first thing that caught my eye was the phrase “adult human female.” For the record, we both know that if I walked up to this woman, as well as basically any woman, and called her an “adult human female,” I’d be pepper-sprayed — and I’d kind of deserve it. It sounds like something a pickup artist who’s somehow creepier than other pickup artists would call a woman in a bar. However, when it’s done by the transphobic it’s seen as okay because fighting for the rights of women now means boiling women down to their most basic characteristics and fighting for that.
I’m reminded of when J.K. Rowling said she fought for the rights of “natal girls.” In response to that, I asked a few women I knew how they’d respond if I called them “natal girls” — they all told me they’d punch me in the face. And once again, I would kind of deserve it.
(Note: I am not advocating for violence against people who use the terms “adult human female” or “natal girls” unironically in real life. My point is that the term sounds like something you'd hear from a misogynist— that’s it.)
Another comic, posted in solidarity with the one mentioned above, showed a trans-woman in a dress, again with big cartoon boobs and a cartoonishly large penis, although in this case, the penis was hanging out, standing next to four cisgender women, all of which had blood-soaked pants. Above it, a caption that reads “your feminine identity is a dress, my sex is all my blood.”
On one hand, it’s not wrong. Her sex (combined with her weight, her athletic activity, her stress level, her diet, her sleep schedule, the fact that she has lining in her uterus to shed, and the fact she has not had a hysterectomy — along with countless other factors) is the reason this woman has periods. However, that’s a rather vulgar way to describe being a woman.
To be clear, it’s not that I’m “grossed out” by hearing about periods — I’m not. It’s that, to put it simply, reducing women to something they do for a week once a month is oddly sexist.
The comic was quickly criticized for being, to put it simply, awful. Some supporters responded by posting comics from people like A.F. Branco and Stonetoss, which I believe counts as evidence of Horseshow Theory. I, however, was curious to see what kind of person would make something like this.
As mentioned above, this person goes by the handle @VanessaQSC. Her Twitter bio says the following:
Adult human female photographer / sewist / artist Cancelled / Fired because #IStandWithJKRowling
I’ll admit, I was rather interested in this “Fired because #IStandWithJKRowling” thing. It turns out when asked about this previously, she linked to an article titled “Vanessa Vokey Will Not Be Cancelled” from 4w.pub. The website has sections like “Cancelled Women” and “Male Violence” so you know it’s good. (Good material for future articles and podcast episodes, that is — not good for its purpose as a news website.)
Here’s what the article says:
For Vokey, the past few months have been a whirlwind of cancellations. It started with a Facebook group called, “Females with Autism/Autistic Females.” Vokey, who has autism, says she joined the group for support. Autism is regularly undiagnosed or misdiagnosed in women and girls due to persistent sex-bias in autism research. The experience of a woman or girl with autism is often quite different from that of their male counterpart. The private group contains nearly eight thousand members, and describes itself as, “a support group for both autistic women and mothers/guardians with a daughter on the autism spectrum.”
In late August, Vokey noticed that there was a male in the exclusively female group. Going by the name, “Chloe Stone,” Vokey felt uncomfortable with his presence given the nature of their conversations and the vulnerable position many women with autism may be in. Voicing her concern, she asked Stone, “Are you sure you’re female?” On August 23, Vokey was banned from the group for being “transphobic.” The same day, the group changed their name to “Women with Autism / Autistic Women and Girls.”
According to Vokey, Stone then began a campaign of online harassment against her. Her Facebook page was flooded with hateful messages which, she claims, lasted through the weekend. At work on Monday at The Cornerstone pizzeria, Vokey mentioned the harassment to a coworker. That coworker, she says, told her boss, Mark Rodford. (Rodford declined to comment on this article).
Rodford fired Vokey, claiming that she had “been posting some intolerant things on Facebook.” When pressed for specifics, Vokey says her boss cited an article she had shared from Feminist Current titled, “I supported trans ideology until I couldn’t anymore.” The article shares a first-person account of a clinical psychologist and researcher who eventually came to disagree with trans activism through her experience participating in the movement.
So it wasn’t so much she was fired for “standing with J.K. Rowling” as much as was fired because she had the same views as J.K. Rowling. I guess “fired because #IAgreeWithJKRowling” isn’t as catchy of a Twitter bio.
Out of curiosity, I went and read the Feminist Current article that was referenced. The article was written by Alica Hendley, who holds a Ph.D. in psychology. It begins by going into detail about what a huge supporter she was of transgender rights — until something happened. And if you know anything about controversies regarding transgender issues from late 2018 and early 2019 (this article was published in April 2019), you know what’s coming up:
But early , everything changed. In January, information about the alleged misbehaviour of a self-declared transwoman (“[Jessica Yaniv]”) was revealed. Initially known for filing human rights complaints against 16 Canadian women who declined to wax male genitals, JY was now alleged to have made predatory comments about young girls online. One comment JY allegedly left said, “Every single time I take that ferry there’s field trips with 10–12 year old girls on it… If a girl asks me for a pad or tampon and help on how to use it, if it’s her first time, what do I do?” A selfie of JY in the women’s washroom, which included girls standing in the background, also began to circulate. Understandably outraged, many women (and several men) tried to discuss their concerns about JY’s behaviour, only to be silenced for referring to JY as male. On Twitter, temporary (up to seven days) and permanent suspensions were doled out, making it increasingly clear that the transgender umbrella was successfully being used to shut down any discussion of JY’s actions. Once I became more aware of the policing happening around the supposed “misgendering” of JY, I began to notice this happening on a broader level. Women were being silenced en masse, simply for speaking their truth.
For the record, the only person she cites as evidence that people were “silenced for referring to JY as male,” is Meghan Murphy. (Also, I have no idea why she called Jessica Yaniv “JY” throughout the entire article — everyone knows who she’s talking about.) Because of course, the only person cited is Murphy, this is being written on her website remember and if there’s one thing Meghan Murphy loves talking about, it’s Meghan Murphy.
But yes, Jessica Yaniv was a delusional, egomaniac, predator. The thing is, I cannot think of a single transgender person or supporter transgender rights I know who views Yaniv as anything else. Yaniv was a stain on the transgender movement, and one that was rightfully disowned by everyone asked about what her.
Was Twitter going too far by banning people who misgendered Yaniv? Here’s a better question: With someone like Yaniv, who did many things that were truly awful, why do you need to misgender her in order to condemn her? The pronoun “she” doesn’t make the sentence “She was a disgusting piece of human garbage” any less blunt.
Also, I love that little bit about “speaking their truth.” Assuming you mean what people normally mean when they use that phrase, that being “tell your perspective”, that’s not what happened. Murphy, for example, was banned for making the statement “men aren’t women,” which is not a statement related to perspective but a statement of objective fact. Either that statement is true or it is false, there’s no “your truth” about it.
Hendley goes on to write:
In frustration, I contacted Morgane Oger, one of the most public faces of the Canadian transgender community and a Vice President of the British Columbia NDP, the province’s ruling party. Oger suggested we speak over the phone, an offer I considered quite generous. We spoke for almost an hour, and Oger listened to my concerns, telling me that other women had reached out regarding JY’s behaviour as well. Oger stated that it would be fruitless to bring such concerns to law enforcement unless there was concrete, verifiable evidence to present them with. I was encouraged to find possible sources and to get in touch if I found any. Based on our conversation, I felt Oger was troubled by the accusations that were being made against JY and was taking them seriously.
During our call, Oger mentioned an event that had occurred a few days earlier at the Vancouver Public Library, discussing gender identity ideology and women’s rights. While I was not at the presentation and could not comment on what occurred, I was struck by Oger’s description: “It was like 1933 Berlin.”
I just want to make it known that this is the main reason the article gave. A person made an insensitive hyperbolic comparison, and now this woman has gone from a trans ally to a trans critic. And this isn’t a person who says she was mostly neutral on the issue until this point, she frames herself as a full-on supporter until now:
Until mid-January, I was a stalwart advocate of what is commonly referred to as “transgender rights.” I didn’t waver in my belief that transwomen are women and transmen are men, that transgender individuals should be granted access to single-sex spaces based on their chosen “gender” (including female change rooms, homeless shelters, prisons, sexual assault centres, transition houses, etc.), and that those who question such beliefs were misguided at best, and transphobic bigots at worst.
Certain aspects of trans activism would occasionally unsettle me, such as self-identification being the primary requirement needed for transwomen to compete against female athletes and on women’s sports teams, but I pushed those concerns aside. This wasn’t worth my attention, when transgender individuals were supposedly being discriminated against in so many areas of society. Further, I had repeatedly read that transgender youth had a high risk for suicidal ideation and attempts, so when it came to advocating for transgender people, it was clear to me that time was of the essence.
Most of my activism occurred safely behind a keyboard, on social media platforms like Twitter. During this period, I gained a number of friends and followers (both trans and non) whose similar beliefs in the importance of “transgender rights” galvanized me further.
I discounted those who didn’t agree with my belief system — or rather, shouted online at them, in 280 characters or less. I used my PhD in clinical psychology as a sword, despite the fact my knowledge of the science and psychology of sex and gender was minimal. Most people who disagreed with me were women, who repeatedly stated that males could not become female, and that while the rights of every individual in society must be respected and protected, the rights of one group (trans-identified people) cannot be realized at the expense of another (women).
So she was a massive advocate for “what’s commonly referred to as” transgender rights, until somebody made a hyperbolic comparison that she felt was in bad taste. Am I the only one who finds this slightly odd?
Sorry, I went from talking about some cartoon to Feminist Current lying to its audience.
To finish up this article, I figured I should talk about one more cartoon from Venessa I found on my journey across her Twitter page. It shows two women, one Black and one White, with the Black one being pregnant for some reason, both in outfits from The Handmaids Tale. On the top, a caption of one of them saying “I identify as non-binary.”
I find this kind of funny since the backstory of The Handmaids Tale is that authoritarian feminists team up with religious-right extremists. Hey, which side wrote a book that was praised by Ben Shapiro, Dennis Prager, and Micheal Knowles? Which side got a fawning profile written about them in The American Minds? Which side gets to speak at events sponsored by The Heritage Foundation and moderated by Ryan Anderson? Someone like this using The Handmaids Tale is that meme of Garfield staring at a “no-Garfield” sign and saying “I wonder who that’s about.”
For the record, Marget Atwood, the author of The Handmaids Tale, actually came out in support of transgender and non-binary gender identities. When did this through Twitter, one anti-trans feminist (you could even call her a Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist) asked the following:
How did the people in Gilead know which people to make into Handmaidens?
Anyway, I had no idea what this cartoon even meant, so I quote tweeted it asking exactly that. And what do you know, this woman even responded to me:
women can’t identify out of FGM, child marriage, menstrual shame, honor killings, acid attacks etc. Men can’t identify into the category of women and claim that oppression because they have never and will never experience it, because they are and always will be male.
(For the sake of time, I’ll skip the odd claim that only women can be victims of acid attacks. I will however mention that the biggest display against “menstrual shaming” in recent history, the free bleeding demonstrations, were done by transgender men.)
Now what she says isn’t wrong — if a woman suffers the horrific result of Female Genital Mutilation, simply identifying as non-binary would not stop that. However, shouldn’t you be going after that and not the people who identify as non-binary?
No, instead Venessa and her online allies go on other people doing activist wrong and not the cause of the activism itself. These issues are nothing more than a way to justify their own hatred, something they only ever talk about when they’re trying to think of reasons to justify their pre-existing opinions on transgender people.
If anyone I talked about in this article is actually interested in fighting these issues, then let me know and I’ll be on your side. However, it seems like those issues are not going to be solved by attacking transgender and non-binary people on Twitter — just saying.