VIDEO: Trending as a Transphobe and Bi-Phobe

What drives online mob campaigns, and what does this new Gallup survey of the U.S. LGBT population highlight that merits further examination and investigation?

I had the privilege of having my name trend on Twitter for a good part of Wednesday and into Thursday morning because journalists in the liberal sector of media along with left/liberal activists accused me of transphobia and bi-phobia (with half-hearted accusations of misogyny tossed in) so many times that Twitter’s algorithm catapulted my name onto its sacred most-discussed list. Twitter’s new team of extremely politicized editorialists summarized the trending term this way:

So repetitious were the accusatory tweets that a journalist entering my name in the Twitter search feature found these helpful prompts:

Among the many bizarre aspects of this episode is that I am and long have been someone who resides on the far end of the spectrum when it comes to trans rights: in favor of full legal rights for trans people, in favor of honoring their gender identity, and opposed to efforts to malign or exclude them, so much so that, in the past, when attacked on the rare occasions that I discuss this issue, it is almost always from people who oppose the core tenets of trans rights, not from those who support them. If I, with these views, am a bigoted enemy of the trans movement, then who are its allies? Do many of those who form this movement even want allies? So often it seems like they are more intent on insisting that those who perceive themselves as supporters are actually enemies due to the slightest deviations from the full panoply of dogma rather than persuading their actual enemies to become supporters: the persusaion-driven way that all successful social movements succeed in fostering change.

What prompted my discussion of these issues yesterday was a fascinating new Gallup survey of the LGBT population in the United States that shows enormous and highly consequential changes in a short period of time. When noting the new polling data, I highlighted several data points I found most interesting and, over the course of six tweets, laid out several questions that I said at the start “should lead to lots of deeper investigation to understand what explains some of these astronomical changes.” And then the accusatory mob was off to the races.

This is not, to put it mildly, the first time I have been at the center of such online demonization orgies and, I predict with some measure of confidence, it will not be the last. I am fortunate enough to have a long enough body of work, a large enough readership which trusts my integrity even when they disagree with my views, and a strong and independent enough platform that renders me largely immune at this point from the effects of such reputational attacks. But I nonetheless wanted to discuss the dynamic that drives these sorts of frenzies because they so often destroy the reputation, the livelihood or even the lives of people who are far more vulnerable and less secure in their work and in their lives. When it goes astray, few things are as irrational, merciless, vindictive, and impervious to reason as mob justice.

To explore the dynamics of this strain of mob conduct, address some of the good faith criticisms from yesterday, examine the substantive questions I believe are raised by this new polling data, and emphasize what I did and did not say about these questions, I recorded the video below, roughly 40 minutes in length. I have learned that attempting to engage critics or respond to these kinds of controversies on Twitter is one of the worst choices one can make. It is, instead, imperative to choose a venue more conducive to nuance and less vulnerable to distortion and context-removal. Beneath the video are a few notes about it and some of the links to the articles and interviews I reference in the video.

  • The New York Times article on left-wing trust-fund kids attempting to give their wealth away is here (and apologies to Pierce Delanhunt, whom I erroneously referred to as Price).

  • Because I used a new microphone in a less than perfect manner, there is occasionally some static in the video that, while slightly irritating, should not be a major distraction for anyone other than hard-core audio nerds (there are more of those around than one might think).

  • The Katie Herzog article I referenced about changes in lesbian culture is here. Two particularly engaging and compelling young people who began their transition and then changed their minds can be heard here and here, and an article on that group here.

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