“All over a few words.”
by Kate Hakala
April 17, 2014
Yesterday, transgender icon Jayne County — rock’s first gender variant singer and a fixture at Andy Warhol’s Factory — was temporarily banned from Facebook for including the words “tranny” and “shemale” in a post to her Timeline.
Many of her followers commented on County’s Timeline in outrage that she had been banned from Facebook for using common self-identifying transgender slang. Today, Jayne County has made a brand new status in reaction to the censorship, “What a sad day this is for the poor LGBT Community. All over a few words that have been made even more powerful and evil by those that seek to erase them! If this is what you are going to do with your rights then you don’t deserve to even have them!”
When I reached out to Facebook for comment, they said that someone within County’s Facebook community had reported her status for “containing slurs,” and her account had been temporarily suspended for a 24-hour period. (It’s currently back up.) This is an across-the-board policy. Facebook says that if they receive a report for a violation of their hate speech policy, they remove the hate speech and don’t spend time “interpreting what people mean.” Facebook doesn’t have a specific list of terms people get banned for, with over a billion users, they rely on fellow users to report when violations have been made.
This censorship is part of a larger conversation dividing the transgender community about policing community-specific language. Over the past several weeks, popular Logo staple RuPaul’s Drag Race has been under fire for its use of what some trans activists have declared transphobic and offensive language. During one challenge on the show, contestants were asked to look at a cropped portion of a photo and identify whether the photo depicted a cisgender woman or a Drag Race contestant. The controversial title of this segment was “Female or She-male.”
Logo responded to the backlash by pulling the episode, issuing a public statement of apology, and removing the recurring “You’ve got She-mail!” segment from future episodes. During the controversy, former Drag Race contestant and transgender woman Carmen Carrera made comments on her Facebook that “Drag Race should be more conscious of the words they use and shouldn’t further objectify transwomen with a game that obviously hurt a lot of the shows fans in the first place.” Others were less subtle. Transwoman and journalist Parker Marie Molloy caused a stir when she tweeted, “I fucking hate RuPaul,” noting that the word “she-male” was actually first used to describe transgender porn. She then clarified to Dame Magazine, “I’d just like to clear up that I don’t actually hate RuPaul. Does his dismissal of trans people and our identities frustrate me? Absolutely.”
Others in the transgender community are wary of the push against free speech, something they see as taboo-breaking, and a part of the historic push against gender norms. Transgender artist Our Lady J speaks out against trans language censorship on a blog post on The Huffington Post.
Continue reading at: http://www.nerve.com/features/transgender-icon-jayne-county-banned-from-facebook