A group of publications for queer women is speaking out against anti-trans rhetoric in media.
December 18, 2018
The editors of many of the world’s top publications for lesbian, bi, and queer women released a letter Tuesday with an “unapologetic message of support and solidarity to the trans community.”
“DIVA, Curve, Autostraddle, LOTL, Tagg and Lez Spread The Word believe that trans women are women and that trans people belong in our community,” the letter states. “We do not think supporting trans women erases our lesbian identities; rather we are enriched by trans friends and lovers, parents, children, colleagues and siblings.”
The letter is signed by the editors, publishers, and founders of the listed publications.
It’s a strong message of solidarity from the biggest names in queer women’s media, but it didn’t come out of nowhere. Although the website is not named directly, AfterEllen has recently come under fire for articles and tweets with anti-trans rhetoric.
For 14 years, AfterEllen was a queer-owned-and-operated platform for entertainment and lifestyle news directed at LGBT women. The site is not associated with Ellen DeGeneres. In 2014, it was sold to Evolve Media. According to a note posted by former editor-in-chief Trish Bendix, the staff was given two years to improve AfterEllen’s profitability. In 2016, Bendix and other staffers were ousted by Evolve, and many of the site’s mainstay writers left with them in solidarity.
Evolve then hired Memoree Joelle to lead the site in November 2016. Since then, there’s been a shift in AfterEllen’s tone. Neither Joelle nor Evolve has responded to requests for comment from BuzzFeed News.
It started with small mentions, like articles that perpetuated the anti-trans myth that trans women are trying to force lesbian-identified women to sleep with trans women who haven’t had bottom surgery. That’s a common refrain from a minority of lesbians who do not see trans women as valid or as able to identify as lesbians.
There have also been several articles in this vein on AfterEllen, such as one defending the exclusion of trans women from a women’s music festival, or another that was critical of trans inclusion in lesbian spaces. One recent article, written by Miranda Yardley, who identifies as transsexual, decries what she calls the “anti-lesbian idea which had wedged itself into the heart of transgender ideology.”