As many of you will know, Leelah Alcorn’s online presence has been erased. Not just her suicide note, everything: her blog, her art, her music. I’d rather expected this because Leelah was only 17 and was probably a minor under US law. However, Jane Fae has been investigating the situation and her report suggests that even this excuse wasn’t necessary. The mere fact that Leelah’s parents were “direct family” was enough for Tumblr to give them control over her legacy. (And yes, it was the Daily Mail that dug that up. It is a strange world in which the Daily Mail is more trans-friendly than the New Statesman.)
This is quite worrying. As Jane notes, the law in Europe may be different, but all of my online presence is hosted by US-base companies. I already knew that I needed to get my will re-written this year. It looks like I also need to make sure that Kevin has some ownership over my online presence so that no one can take it down if I die.
Something else that Jane has been investigating (content warning – Jane reports on some extreme transphobia) is a hate page on Facebook which was looking to bully other trans kids into killing themselves. Unlike most of the newspaper and social media coverage, this site was explicit about the method of Leelah’s suicide. It also directly encouraged copying it. Despite frequent complaints from trans activists over a period of 24 hours, Facebook moderators insisted that the page did not breach any of their community standards. Only when Jane took an interest, and mentioned that she wrote for major newspapers, did Facebook decide to take action. My guess is that the page will be back up again in a few days, probably after the New Statesman has published an article by Sarah Ditum defending Facebook’s right to freedom of speech in the face of bullying by trans thugs.
This is the sort of thing that drives trans people to take their own lives. No matter how much support we have, no matter what laws are passed to protect us, when it comes down to it there always seems to be this closing of ranks whereby those in power cite endless regulations justifying their mistreatment of us. Sure, we might have rights these days, but enforcing them is another matter entirely.
Illegitimi non carborundum.