A curious thing happened on Twitter, and in the papers over the course of the last week.
As far as I can tell, a small clique of journalists, apparently united by their love for lobster and champagne (yum!), and dislike for trans people (boo!), got upset over the discovery that Twitter isn’t like writing for a newspaper, where you can say something outrageous and any protest is filtered by a letters editor. Instead, if you say something outrageous, people tend to talk back.
One of them responded very badly to this discovery. A few people, most of whom probably weren’t trans, had engaged with her over an article she’d written. Initially this was apparently quite polite – certainly more polite than a lot of the stuff I get people tweeting at me.
In a display of “how not to do social media if you want a quiet life, free from throwing crockery at the wall”, she then tweeted a bunch of stuff about “getting your dick cut off” and suchlike.
This didn’t go down very well, and lots of people told her what they thought about this. Some of them were probably not polite, most of them were probably not trans. This led to what those audience members savvy in the ways of the Internet might term a “flounce” or a “rage quit”; she deleted her account and subsequently claimed to have been “hounded off Twitter”.
This was followed by one of her friends trotting out some line about how trans people are “bullies” and a “cabal”, and another of her friends publishing a letter detailing her resignation from humanity in the Observer (or was it the Guardian? It seems to depend whether you were reading it in dead-tree format, or online). The letter included snippets about how trans people are all bed wetters in bad wigs, how they use strange Latin words which she didn’t like the sound of, had twenty PhDs each, are “shemales”, and how we wouldn’t like her when she’s angry.
To be honest, she doesn’t sound terribly likeable when she’s not, especially when it seems she’s previously written stuff about how it would be a good thing to shoot sex workers. Some of my friends are sex workers, and they’re nice people, and I’m not keen on the idea of them being shot, so not liking her is probably not much of a loss.
This whole episode can be seen in different ways. On the one hand, it can be seen as a failed attempt for newspapers trying to embrace social media in the face of a business model brought into decline by the existence of the Internet.
It probably works better as some sort of grotesque piece of theatre, in which trans people are portrayed as a shadowy cult, manipulating world governments through the art of wig-wearing and lobster munching luvvie journos, are pining for the return of the 1990s glory days in a world they no-longer understand; a world which includes trans people and iPhones, and trans people using iPhones.
You should probably skip it and go and see Les Mis instead.