Written by Rosie Aspinall Priest.
I’m an accomplice. I believe the word ‘allyship’ is too weak to enact change. If someone turns to me having experienced oppression and systematic violence, asking to smash something, I won’t nod my head and say “I agree”, I’ll try to find a hammer and start hitting. My hammer is often the spaces that hold the words I write.
A few weeks ago, several ex-employees of an Edinburgh theatre reached out to me and raised concerns about the theatre director engaging in hate speech. According to them he followed and regularly liked social media posts from leading anti-trans campaigners. The ex-staff sent me two posts he had engaged with that week alone. I screenshotted them and shared them on my social media. I found a hammer and I started hitting.
You can read about the exchange in several newspapers. Unsurprisingly, highlighting transphobic content as a form of hate speech led to me being doxxed. Doxxing is a term used when a person (most often, with a high profile) shares your information with the intent to unleash a barrage of attacks from their friends, community, or followers.
For the past two weeks my inbox has been flooded with messages that I hate women, I hate men, I’m a c*nt wh0re, woke c*nt, a witch finder, an ugly b!tch, my actions are unforgivable. My photograph and details of where I work and study have been spread across the internet and my name has been printed in several high-profile right-wing newspapers without my consent or knowledge. I’ve been threatened with violence from men. Strangers have questioned my identity and tried to humiliate and belittle the very essence of who I am.
The sheer quantity of hate is unimaginable. I’m drowning in it.
There’s so much I have had to close my twitter account, make my other social media private, and yet they still find ways to send me endless, relentless, messages of hate. And worse, high profile right-wing writers have freely shared my information in articles, encouraging even more responses. It just goes on, and on. I’m so very fucking exhausted. I look to my partner, and they’re also, fucking exhausted.
In many ways, I’ve already trained for this exact scenario. I grew up in a home with an abusive dad. I’ve been called a cunt whore before, just not by strangers on the internet. Just as my dad used tools so I would feel shame, humiliation and fear, so do the doxxers. Of course, the real lingering impact from having been doxxed is that I am once again having nightmares about my childhood. Being doxxed has shaken loose some memories and fears I had long ago dealt with. I’m once again jumping at loud sounds, reminding me that the slamming of a childhood home door could be the beginning of a violent and chaotic evening.
In many ways, I’ve already trained for this exact scenario. I grew up in a home with an abusive dad.
As a child and teenager, the narrative of who I was, was controlled by an abusive man, my truth silenced. I was a crazy b!tch, cruel, I hated men (to be honest, I’m not a huge fan of their work at the best of times), I was a stupid c*nt whore who wouldn’t stay in line. But this has happened again, I have no control over a narrative so focused on me. It’s been over two decades since I spoke to my Dad and I’m cowering in a corner again.
Well fuck that. This is my truth:
I’ve had to pull, punch, kick and scream my way to where I am today and I am more than willing to do the same for the folk in my corner. I cannot say it often enough, but fuck TERFs. Fuck racists, disableists, classists, fuck the folk in my inboxes calling me a whore for highlighting hate speech, and fuck the hardest the right-wing media that enable and encourage them.
The unfortunate resilience I had to learn as a child has been incredibly handy over the last few days. In many ways my childhood experiences are exactly why I feel such an urge to support the people around me who are silenced, humiliated, and frightened. I’ve felt it too, in different ways, I recognise those feelings deeply.
Being doxxed has shaken loose some memories and fears I had long ago dealt with. I’m once again jumping at loud sounds, reminding me that the slamming of a door could be the beginning of a violent and chaotic evening.
Ultimately, the outpouring of hate, and the cruel and frightening things that have been said about me by strangers says far more about the hateful heart of transphobia. The irony of being called a witch finder by bigots whilst having dozens of men digitally scream at me and threaten me with violence, is not lost on me.
I have been asked why I would continue to engage in acts of “calling out”, especially after having experienced such an outpouring of abuse. The expectation for those of us who have experienced systematic violence and acts of abuse to stay silent when faced with hate is another form of violence. We are allowed to take up space, especially when so few have had access and permission to share their voices and experiences before. The radical rebuilding we need to occur to ensure marginalised voices are not silenced, to unpick the systematic violence and oppression that lingers requires some hammers to be used.
So for those who have issues with people questioning and reflecting in an attempt to make the world a more equitable, kind and safe place, I say: this woke c*nt is going to keep reaching for that hammer and hitting. And there’s even more woke c*nts out there than you can imagine.
About the Author
Rosie Aspinall Priest is a queer and neurodivergent interdisciplinary artist, writer and PhD researcher based in Scotland. Their work predominantly explores the experiences of underrepresented young people, and attempts to bring about positive change within the arts.