Dear Twitter support —
In the time since our community watchdog account, @transphobes, was suspended, the response from trans and gender-non-conforming people, as well as cis allies, has been significant. Many have spoken against the project’s suspension on Twitter and on Tumblr.
- "@sophiaphotos: Not okay @twitter that you suspended @transphobes for pointing out abuse + threats to trans ppl instead of the accounts making the threats."
- "@celli: .@twitter has blocked @transphobes, an account that points out abuse against trans people. Guys, please restore it, they’re important."
- "@CreativeCrip: Dear @dickc, @chloes, @tonyw: the @transphobes acct broke none of "The Rules"; it highlighted many who did. Pls unsuspend."
- "@pandy92: Twitter has blocked @transphobes, an account which highlights transphobic abuse on twitter. Logic?"
- "@cisnormativity: Disclosure: some of our writers are acquainted with the people who run @transphobes. We support the very necessary work they’ve been doing."
- "@Fengxii: Dear @twitter, why have you blocked @transphobes and not the people being transphobic? An incredible misstep"
- Femignome Tumblr: “This account has favorited and retweeted some of my stuff. Do I agree with everything they say? Absolutely not. Do I think they should be shut down for it? Absolutely not. (Unless anyone has a record of them threatening and abusing individual twitter users. Which as far as I know does not exist.) It’s abhorrent that Twitter has shut them down.”
Before suspension, several tweets pointed to the urgency of the service which @transphobes provides:
- "@RightLeftOther: Dear god why is everyone that has been RTed by @transphobes not suspended and/or arrested?"
- "@auntysarah: Please take a moment to look at @transphobes - transphobic retweets; people expressing disgust about us, and wanting to hurt or kill us."
The volunteer work we do is unpaid and difficult. At times it overwhelms us. It’s why we share the work load. At times, tweets we have come across have left us shaking, crying, and traumatized.
Our work is also frustratingly necessary. It’s frustrating because it shouldn’t be necessary. No one should have to run into tweets which incite the murder, rape, brutality, violence, stalking, and other criminal behaviour of trans people like us. We already know how dangerous it is without knowing that trans people have to run into it on Twitter, too!
Tweets from others we document and curate, those tweets we bookmark as “favorite”, directly violate the Twitter Rules (specifically, "Violence and Threats: You may not publish or post direct, specific threats of violence against others.").
We recognize and celebrate the freedom of expression. We also recognize that in these tweets, where epithets like “tranny” are exchanged with a public official’s name, law enforcement would have to get involved on a criminal investigation.
We also see how aggravated use of epithets like “tranny” (“the T-word”) or “transwomen are men,” directed toward the most vulnerable people using Twitter, helps to encourage social abusers to keep abusing Twitter Rules. It encourages anti-social behavior we reject whenever epithets are linked to a well-known histories of extreme violence.
As the Twitter Support staff person reading this, you may be a cis (non-trans) person. We ask you to understand that the “T-word” is for the experience of trans women what the “N-word” is for the experience of being black. That is: the only people with any claim to say those epithets (if they choose) are by those people toward which those epithets get used to rob them of their humanity.
Rarely, we’ve retweeted an occasional tweet which on its own met our search criteria for transphobia, cissexism, and violence against gender and sexual minorities. Such tweets lacked context on their own. They were by people who later identified themselves as trans women. For example:
While we receive objections by cis people for having their use of the “T-word” highlighted, we enter into these searches with a lot of emotional armor to gird us from violent tweets we expect to discover.
When we retweet something a user protests, they must disclose that they are a trans woman and not someone trying to hurt trans people. Sometimes this takes a little bit of extra work, much to the headache of all involved. But after we’ve confirmed things, we’re willing to check ourselves, undo the retweet, and admit that we’re wrong.
With the support of of Twitter staff, we ask that you: 1) reactivate the @transphobes account, and 2) flag it as an account which might receive “report abuse” or “report spam” complaints which lack merit. If a report claim on @transphobes happens, we ask that Twitter seek to investigate whether the complainant had a tweet of theirs retweeted which abused Twitter’s Rules on Violence and Threats.
Remember: @transphobes never tweets violence or threats. We collect, retweet, and bookmark the people who are, with hopes that Twitter can use this information as a tool to review other accounts for violating its Rules on Violence and Threats.
Twitter, we thank you again for your review and hope that this matter can be expedited with the restoration of @transphobes.
Jordan & Lisette