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The Vagina Museum decided to create a thread about Trans Women in history for #InternationalWomensDay on Twitter. They began by stating "We've turned replies off, because we know some people would prefer these stories to be erased and silenced." This tweet now has a staggering 1896 quote tweets, some positive, but most are overwhelmingly negative. Buck Angel, a well-known transexual man with a vagina finds it all rather confusing.
— giulia tonelli - I ❤️ JKR and Chimamanda (@latonella) March 8, 2022
So, trans awareness week, trans remembrance day, LGBT history month are not enough to talk about "trans women", i.e. trans identifying males. @vagina_museum MUST talk about them on the ONLY day of the year dedicated to WOMEN.#IWD2022 #inclusion of men = #exclusion of women https://t.co/2TIQc34oan
— Soviet kid in the West (@USSR2Europe) March 8, 2022
Beyond the outrage that women can't get "one fucking day" for women, there are also people noting the history revisionism in the thread. Example:
— GCLeatherBear (@LeatherGc) March 8, 2022
See, the bit about transwomen and "trans feminine women" at Stonewall in New York, is inaccurate in several ways, for one Marsha P Johnsson identified as “gay”, a “queen”, a “drag queen”, and a “transvestite”, not as a transgender woman. And Marsha wasn't even there when the riots began by his own admission. As told to historian Eric Marcus, Marsha said: “I was uptown and I didn't get downtown until about two o'clock. When I got downtown, the place was already on fire, and there was a raid already. The riots had already started.”
MARSHA P. JOHNSON (1945-1992), SYLVIA RIVERA (1951-2002) and MISS MAJOR GRIFFIN-GRACY (1940-) were all present at the uprising. pic.twitter.com/97VV7RhH7E
— Vagina Museum (@vagina_museum) March 8, 2022
Who was there when the riots started? An equally gender non-conforming person, a butch lesbian drag king named Stormé DeLarverie has been pointed out by many eyewitnesses to be the catalyst of the riot. As she fought against getting arrested, she yelled to the crowd: “Why don’t you do something?” and the rest is history.
You can read more about her in The Riveter Celebrating Stonewall Uprising Activist Stormé DeLarverie and HuffPo Remembering Stormé - The Woman Of Color Who Incited The Stonewall Revolution. See also GQ Stormé DeLarverie, Stonewall’s Suiting Icon , and GLAAD. org "Honoring the legacy of Stormé DeLarverie and her fight against "ugliness" as well as her obituary in the Washington Post "Mourning Stormé DeLarverie, a mother of the Stonewall Riots."
So not only did the Vagina Museum rewrite history, as they did so they erased a woman from the story. On international women's day.
(Full disclosure, I have met Stormé on many occasions when I was a student in New York, as she still worked at the Stonewall inn on occasion. She had a habit of keeping an eye out for underage girls in a protective and mentorlike manner to ensure we didn't get led into trouble.)
Predictably, the controversial tweet thread attracted both fans and women's rolling their eyes at it, but also the Director and founder of the museum, Florence Schechter, claims that her staff has been harassed over the tweets. (Her tweets are now protected) "the vagina museum twitter DMs have been full of personal threats towards our staff today from transphobes following the IWD thread. this is absolutely not ok."
When asked to share examples of the threats, she declined and showed the 2014 Wondermark Comic that birthed the phrase "sealioning", a type of trolling that consists of pursuing people with persistent requests for evidence or repeated questions, while maintaining a pretense of civility and sincerity.
The Vagina Museum is no stranger to controversy. It has never been shy of creating exciting campaigns that cut through the noise clutter, both in OOH and online, where the Vagina Museum has been battling censorship for their generous use of the word “Vagina”. TripAdvisor kept automatically rejecting their page for the word, and the illustrations of vaginas on their Instagram page were taken down for ‘nudity’. Their billboards deliberately challenge the viewer with a trove of synonyms for vulva, vagina, and clitoris as the museum's goal is to erase the stigma around the body.
Still, this backlash may not be what the museum expected, as the QTs keep coming, and the museum director herself made her account private.
But logically, as a vagina museum, surely someone around the table when presenting ideas must have brought up how odd it would be to celebrate penis havers on the one day a year that is dedicated to women?