“transsexuals are the stormtroopers of the future” © genesis p-orridge

Sci-fi magazine pulls story by trans writer after ‘barrage of attacks’
Alison Flood, Nazi Groon, Jan 17 2020

A science fiction story that repurposed the transphobic meme “I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter” as its title has been removed from the magazine Clarkesworld following a “barrage of attacks” on its transgender author. Isabel Fall’s story, which was published in Clarkesworld earlier this week and quickly went viral, opens:

I decided that I was done with womanhood, over what womanhood could do for me; I wanted to be something furiously new. To the people who say a woman would’ve refused to do what I do, I say – Isn’t that the point?

Some readers felt the story was transphobic, with some accusing Fall of being a troll. There was also a raft of positive reactions from writers including Carmen Maria Machado and Phoebe North, who wrote an essay praising the story:

Thank you for making me feel seen and heard. We don’t get a lot of ourselves in fiction. We often only get scraps. This was more than that. A mirror.

However, due to the criticism, Fall asked Clarkesworld to remove the story from the monthly science fiction and fantasy periodical. In a lengthy statement, editor Neil Clarke wrote:

The recent barrage of attacks on Isabel have taken a toll and I ask that even if you disagree with the decision, that you respect it. This is not censorship. She needed this to be done for her own personal safety and health. This was not a hoax. Isabel honestly and very personally wanted to take away some of the power of that very hurtful meme. The story had been through multiple revisions over many months and it had been seen by sensitivity readers, including trans people. Isabel’s bio is intentionally short and internet presence negligible. I understand that to be a common practice for trans people who are wary of attacks from anti-trans campaigners. Unfortunately, the same shield used against them opened her up to an unexpected attack from others. Furthermore, Isabel was not out as trans when this story was published. Various claims being made against her pressured Isabel into publicly outing herself as a defense against the attacks. That should never be the case and is very disturbing to me. … What have we learned? Even with ownvoices authorship and ownvoices sensitivity reading, it is still possible to miss something. In this case we can see two groups of trans readers with directly opposing views that are deeply rooted in their own experience and perspectives. In some cases, what made the story speak to some is also what alienated others. Neither perspective is wrong, but they appear to be incompatible with one another on some level. Knowing that this was a potentially controversial story, we should have employed a broader range of sensitivity readers. … I have also privately apologized to Isabel. She has chosen to sign over her payment for this story to Trans Lifeline … and inspired by her actions, I have decided to match the gift.

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