Xeni Jardin and a transphobic meme

The following is a letter I wrote to Cory Doctorow re: a homophobic & transphobic image that has been making the rounds recently.

Mr. Doctorow,

I’m a trans activist who tweets pseudonymously at @sapphixy, and last week I was profoundly disturbed to find Xeni Jardin proudly posting this story at BoingBoing, and continuing to signal-boost it, throughout the day, including reposting the image itself:


I understand the push against censorship, but this image is harmful.

- Putting a cis man in heavy, garish makeup as a form of mockery is rooted in transmisogyny; it trades on the idea that femininity is inherently lesser and demeaning, and that someone assigned male at birth should be ashamed of exhibiting femininity.
- It validates Putin et al.’s view of queerness per se as something to be ashamed of; otherwise, why would portraying him in a queer-coded, gender non-conforming fashion be “insulting”?

I attempted to engage Ms. Jardin repeatedly on this, and I was far from the only person to do so. She never responded to me at any point, nor to any others that I could see, or even acknowledged that such objections had been raised. I found myself blocked after my third attempt (over the space of most of the day) to get so much as an acknowledgment.

Queer people in general, and trans people in particular (and most especially us trans women), are accustomed to our pain being used as nothing more than a bit of rhetorical leverage, and our objections to this being ignored. Thus, I am not surprised by Ms. Jardin’s dismissal, but I am disappointed and, to be completely honest, hurt.

Lastly, I am prompted to write you because of reports circulating that there are now concentration camps for gay men in Chechnya:


This follows reports of police summarily executing men believed to be gay, reports of which were already circulating as of when Ms. Jardin posted the homophobic and transphobic Putin image.

I don’t expect any sort of discipline for Ms. Jardin (see above re: the expectations of us trans women, and queer people in general), but I do hope that, in the future, the BoingBoing staff & editors will reconsider images that build on and reinforce the very discrimination they supposedly fight.Thanks,

-Siobhan (@sapphixy)

Originally published at asymbina.tumblr.com.