An Open Letter To The Woman Who Has Harassed The Trans Community—My Community—For Years

Credit: ThinkStock

Credit: ThinkStock

There is a very active faction of feminism—known as Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists, or TERFS—who work to exclude trans women from feminism and women's spaces altogether.

The chieftest of their tactics is to "dox" (reveal the personal information of) trans women and encourage their followers to send harassing online correspondence to employers, friends and even the medical providers of trans women.

One of these TERFs is known as Gallusmag, or GenderTrender. She is responsible for the doxing and online bullying of countless trans woman.

Another TERF, with whom Gallusmag has had a falling out, forwarded her information, including a photo of her and a real name, to the very community she's terrorized for so many years.

I'm a member of the trans community GenderTrender has targeted. This is my open letter to her.

To Linda V. Shanko, AKA GenderTrender,

I feel your pain.

This is not an olive branch. But I need you to know, to see, that you share something with me—the very sort of woman you have devoted so much of your life to harassing, stalking and putting down.

You entertained no restraint in harassing trans women online, emboldened by the notion that you shared nothing with us and that you could then burn us all down and not lose any part of your self.

And you were wrong. You had more in common with us than with the other women in the Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist community—at least one of them thought so enough to distribute your personal information to the same women you've built an online presence on the broken hearts of.

I see you. I see your rage and disdain—at other women, at people who openly "defy biology" and live their truth in a world feeding them lies.

And I feel your pain.

I spent the previous autumn curled onto the floor of a friend's house, afraid to check my email, go to work, or accept birthday presents from anyone less than a roommate. I needed my best friend to come along on a date with a girl I was really excited about because it seemed probable that, in the wake of the constant death threats and attempts to discern my legal name from women like you, that anyone willing to hold my hand on a boat might secretly be "one of you."

My date wasn't—but I still considered jumping into that lonely, lonesome water and flushing this panic and dread out of me.

I have lied about who I was related to, who I was living with, at times "subtweeting" or "vaguebooking" people who don't even exist, just to get away from you and yours, to afford myself any modicum of distance from your gaze.

When you and yours distributed the personal information of my friends and lovers, you did it to create a "demand" for their harassment and violent confrontation. When That Person We Can't Name™ and their supporters tried to disclose where I lived, I feared for my nights spent dancing to records in lingerie by myself, for my secret scrambled eggs recipe that I haven't had a chance to teach either of my partners. Those things make me what I am, that make the movement through the world "mine."

And that's what I fear losing, that movement, that "me-ness"—when you and your band of butchers start sniffing my trail.

You now understand what you have to lose—building birdhouses or whatever the hell else people who make an online career out of the persecution of trans women do for fun. There's something more to you; you look miserable in your photos but not "empty." There is something you love. It is, probably, not other women—the way that masculinity is in effect compulsory among trans-exterminationist personalities and your glib apathy toward women of color and sex workers more or less speaks for you.

But there is something you love and now you are afraid that one of the countless women you've hurt will try to take it from you. Because you disagreed. Because you had doubts. Because you operated on the information you had and were given and didn't realize that by "being you" you were somehow doing massive, incalculable harm to people who would never actually take the time to know and understand you as a person, separated from the context of your politicized identity.

I feel your pain.

My best friend won't speak to me anymore—the friction of our visible "public personas" created a crack wherein bitterness and distrust could grow beyond our reach. I won't interact with my roommates on social media—I'm even hesitant to respond to emails. The fatigue of a years-long fight with your camp, and now GamerGate as well, has made it hard for me to maintain even the most seemingly intimate relationships. I am "always on." I wear the "DoubleCakes" persona even when by myself, looking out of a bus window.

And at any moment any of the people who I've lost over the course of this struggle—former friends, lovers, roommates—might need to reconcile their ethics with the gain they would get by sharing my personal information with people who could do me harm. Because it'll ease the needless wounds they've incurred in my dash to safety. Because it might keep people like you from coming after them just a little longer.

And then.

Then you'll feel my pain. And we'll have even more in common. And so I'm writing to you and offering you a chance, a chance you don't deserve—though I have feared your kind, I have never believed any of you to be particularly strong, and I don't know that a fraction of my agony wouldn't undo any of you wholly.

But about that chance.

Talk to me.

I know what you're going through. I went there once and I have never been allowed to leave.

We don't have to be friends, or even on the same side—I'm not sure either of us really wants the other in their retinue of yaysayers.

But if you are scared, if you need to talk about this, with someone who understands, I am here.

I'm not forgiving you. I'm not offering you an "in." But I'm here.

What I and other trans women have gone through is degrading beyond words and no one deserves to live in fear of physical reprisal for their online actions.

Not even you.



P.S. This doesn't mean I don't hate you.


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