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This is a letter I'm going to send off, and link to, and hopefully broadcast in an attempt to get Wordpress to take action to enforce their own Terms of Service.  Please feel free to link, repost, forward, mail and any other spreading of the word you can do.  ♥


While the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival (MWMF) is an event you may or may not usually concern yourself with, I wanted to bring to your attention an appalling violation of trans women’s privacy and safety that is happening in conjunction with the festival right now, and the refusal of blog website Wordpress to take any action to enforce their terms of service and protect a vulnerable population from harassment or worse.
 
I’ve never attended or really even cared about MWMF myself, but was aware from friends who have gone that there has been an ongoing controversy regarding the attendance of trans women. There are many trans women who love to go and bond with other women. There’s also a faction of MWMF attendees that feel the festival should be free of all persons born with penises and open to “womyn born womyn” only.
 
I don’t really want to get into the body-parts-based admission policies of the MWMF, however. What really disgusts me is a blog post related to this topic on the blog GenderTrender. (I'm not publicly linking to it in order to refrain from compromising the privacy of these women further). I find the post hateful in so many ways, the least of which is actually the blogger’s only "womyn-born-womyn" stance on the controversy. No, what is really disgusting is what she feels her opinion entitles her to do.
 
This blog post outs several trans women with both pseudonyms AND legal names, their photos, where they can be found at the festival, and in some cases their profession and employment. Being on this “hitlist” was not consented to by any of them, and it associates them with accusations of volatile behavior that the author has absolutely no proof any of them participated in. The blogger refuses to use female pronouns and asserts that these women, who live in one of the most marginalized segments of our society, are “chest pounding” and trying to assert male privilege in invading a womens’ space – as if women who’ve survived gender dysphoria and live outside of our binary ideas of gender have any male privilege to speak of. I can’t even fathom the kind of vulnerability and violation these women must feel. They’re now at risk for ongoing harassment from MWMF-goers, both online and in person at any future fests, and at risk of harassment and potentially violence from any other hateful person that happens to stumble on that post.
 
The blogger is also putting these people in possible professional peril - at least one woman is listed by both her legal name, profession, and business name AND by the stage name she uses as an actress in (feminist-award-winning, actually) adult films. Suddenly, anyone who googles her in a professional capacity becomes immediately aware of her other work, without any consent from her.
 
I know there are several people, myself included, that reported to Wordpress this gross violation of privacy AND the Wordpress Terms of Service, which states “By making Content available, you represent and warrant that…the Content does not contain threats or incite violence towards individuals or entities, and does not violate the privacy or publicity rights of any third party.” (http://en.wordpress.com/tos/)
 
Everyone who has made a report to Wordpress received a single paragraph canned reply that states:
 
“WordPress.com is in no position to arbitrate disputes or make judgment on such claims. As per http://en.support.wordpress.com/disputes/, please provide us with a Court Order including a court's decision regarding this particular content; if any content is found to be defamatory or illegal by a court of law, it will be removed immediately from our service. Any court order, should you obtain one, must be sent to the following e-mail address:court-orders@wordpress.com
 
Even more than I was outraged at the blogger herself, I’m outraged at Wordpress. Absolutely they have the ability and the RESPONSIBILITY to enforce their terms of service. Absolutely they can tell a blogger she must remove photos used without permission. Absolutely they can insist that a blogger cannot out members of a vulnerable minority without consent. They DO NOT have to wait for a court of law to enforce their own Terms of Service.
 
Because Wordpress seems flatly uninterested in taking any action to protect these women, I thought I’d write to you. A good old-fashioned media shaming campaign might possibly make them take a hard look at their terrible policies of doing absolutely nothing to protect a vulnerable population and shirking their responsibility to ensure that their terms of service are followed..
 
Thank you for your time.

Comments

( 46 comments — Leave a comment )
alexandraerin
Sep. 7th, 2011 08:19 pm (UTC)
Abhorrent. So many self-proclaimed radical feminists seem more interested in recapitulating patriarchy through a new hierarchy with themselves and their list of approved persons and acceptable sexual acts at the top of the heap. Far from even trying to dismantle the Master's house with the Master's tools, they're just trying to move into his house.

Any of the women on the list might have better luck pursuing a DMCA claim, which doesn't (as far as my understanding tells me) require a court order. It would essentially involve claiming copyright on the pictures.
labelle77
Sep. 7th, 2011 08:32 pm (UTC)
Thanks for that info! I'll pass it on.

I agree. So many radical feminists fail to see that their idea of a new order is actually more oppressive than the patriarchy was in the first place.
alexandraerin
Sep. 7th, 2011 08:52 pm (UTC)
I don't know if I'd go so far to say "more oppressive". They certainly make fewer bones about it. Patriarchy has adapted over centuries, and one of its adaptations is it becomes genteel and polite about certain things, at least on the surface. I don't think this makes it less oppressive, only more resistant to examination.
labelle77
Sep. 7th, 2011 09:31 pm (UTC)
You have fair points. I should say that on a personal level I often feel like my choices would be more opposed by this type of radical feminists. That is not universally true, although both seem to want women to fit into pre-defined roles and are not ok with anyone who would choose to do differently.
silk_noir
Sep. 9th, 2011 01:00 pm (UTC)
THIS.
nentuaby
Sep. 9th, 2011 07:33 pm (UTC)
"[...J]ust trying to move into his house." What an eloquently turned phrase to summarize such an awful mindset...
theslithytove
Sep. 7th, 2011 08:53 pm (UTC)
I shall spread this around.
blaueteufelin
Sep. 8th, 2011 03:53 pm (UTC)
Passing this on as well.

OT: I love your user pic and have been looking for a good non-binary gender equality symbol - did you make it? Are you ok with others using it, or do you know whether the creator is ok with others using it (with credit, of course)?
theslithytove
Sep. 8th, 2011 04:40 pm (UTC)
exactly as it's said below. I got it from one of my FtM friends, so I believe that's who I have in my credit bar as "stolen from...."
blaueteufelin
Sep. 8th, 2011 04:45 pm (UTC)
thank you!
martina_d
Sep. 7th, 2011 09:18 pm (UTC)
That is appalling and absurd.
divabat
Sep. 8th, 2011 03:22 am (UTC)
Wordpress.com has always been absolutely unfriendly to customer support, sometimes downright hostile. I've been yelled at by Matt himself just because I asked for the blogs to be printer-friendly (they don't print well). I'm appaled but not surprised that they're pretty much ignoring this. Why the geek world loves them to no end I have no clue.
achinhibitor
Sep. 14th, 2011 08:45 pm (UTC)
Why the geek world loves them to no end I have no clue.

They're free?
divabat
Sep. 14th, 2011 09:34 pm (UTC)
So are a lot of other CMSes, but Wordpress seems to have this undying devotion that surpasses them all.
fiction_theory
Sep. 8th, 2011 01:08 pm (UTC)
Definitely going to be posting and linking to this. This is appalling on just about EVERY level from what the MWMF is doing (and not doing), to Wordpress blatantly refusing to protect people even though it straight out, no holds barred VIOLATES their TOS.

I hope that these women who have had their privacy violated stay safe. Please let us know if there is anything we can do for them beyond this.
world_rim_walke
Sep. 8th, 2011 01:21 pm (UTC)
I won't attempt to comment on the gender/sex issue here, but I fully agree that this is an invasion of privacy and WordPress should be enforcing their TOS.
twice_immigrant
Sep. 8th, 2011 03:00 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the heads-up - we'll see about spreading some news from some of the feminist blogs. Not surprised, honestly: the MWMF/second-wave/Janice-Raymond-cult types are fading fast from the world, and in their fade, they're lashing out in every direction, because other feminists have done the bizarre thing of actually accepting other people's lives and choices without judgement, and they can't believe that feminists can't see how awfully important it is to keep out the Wrong Kind of Feminist.

I wish them continued quick fading-to-irrelevance, as they all get old and die without adding a single new adherent.

But until then, let's get some teaspooning done!
autumn59
Sep. 8th, 2011 03:19 pm (UTC)
There's a comment in Wordpress's ...
..."Types Of Blogs" page that addresses this kind of behavior too:

"Personal attack blogs: Blogs with the primary purpose of attacking an individual or group of individuals are not welcome on WordPress.com. We have a particularly low tolerance for anonymous bloggers who make personal attacks without standing by their words with their real name."


I've reported the blog in question to Wordpress myself prior to reading your commentary -- Wordpress seems a little slow to address reports about their attack blogs.

(Anonymous)
Sep. 8th, 2011 03:27 pm (UTC)
DCMA faster
i'd try getting each of the affected women to file a DMCA cease and desist order for copyright violations, and consider civil suits for defamation of character, libel, and invasion of privacy against the blogger and look into naming WordPress as an accomplice for refusal to honor their own terms of service in this case.
Gemma Seymour
Sep. 8th, 2011 10:51 pm (UTC)
Re: DCMA faster
DMCA is problematic, as they can claim Fair Use of at least some of the pictures. Now, a libel suit, that's a horse of a different color...you can see my response to Cathy Brennan's comment on my blog about the issue.

A very heartfelt thanks to everyone who has my back in this fight.
nmbr6
Sep. 9th, 2011 04:12 pm (UTC)
Re: DCMA faster
Using information and media to encourage harassment can be claimed as fair use? How does that work?

madfilkentist
Sep. 10th, 2011 10:06 am (UTC)
Re: DCMA faster
I was just redirected to here and I'm still taking it all in; but on this particular point, my understanding is that the fair use exemption of copyright deals only with issues such as the amount of copying and whether it takes away business. The legitimacy of the purpose in other respects plays no role in fair-use judgment.
pingback_bot
Sep. 8th, 2011 06:50 pm (UTC)
Wordpress allows harrassment of trans women who dare to attend the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival
secondsilk
Sep. 8th, 2011 10:27 pm (UTC)
I'm appalled by the whole thing, but not least the idea that a post like that is the way to deal with it. Shockingly awful dehumanization of transwomen.

I wanted to pick on where you said:
as if people who’ve survived gender dysphoria and live outside of our binary ideas of gender have any male privilege to speak of.
because transmen have male privilege. We don't have the same access to it as cis men because we lack cis privilege, but its definitely there.
pingback_bot
Sep. 9th, 2011 12:36 am (UTC)
And I thought MWMF couldn't get any worse...
User bcholmes referenced to your post from And I thought MWMF couldn't get any worse... saying: [...] — "The MWMF Blogger Transwoman Hitlist, and Wordpress' Refusal to Do Anything About It." [...]
delladea.dreamwidth.org
Sep. 9th, 2011 02:53 am (UTC)
(found your post via Twitter)

I cannot speak for transwomen, but I find this whole situation absolutely disgusting. Signal boosted on Dreamwidth.
(Anonymous)
Sep. 9th, 2011 06:34 am (UTC)
Someone needs to find out who 'Gallusmag' is an out HER to the entire internet.
I'll be happy to post the information everywhere I can, should this info come to light.

~Hormonal Trans Rex.
pingback_bot
Sep. 9th, 2011 11:01 am (UTC)
Shit.
User fierceawakening referenced to your post from Shit. saying: [...] Signal boosting. [...]
the_siobhan
Sep. 9th, 2011 03:09 pm (UTC)
I filled in an abuse report to Wordpress. It might have an impact if a lot of people do the same; often companies will yank content if they decide that there are enough complaints just because it's the easiest way for them to deal with a problem.

Obviously that won't fix the root problem, but if we can just get the post taken down it might be the fastest way to protect the women who are being singled out.
sevoo
Sep. 9th, 2011 06:23 pm (UTC)
I'll certainly be sending a note to Wordpress, but as I'm skeptical they'll listen, I have to ask: Is there some way we can set up a legal fund to get these women the court order Wordpress seems to think they need? I don't have the know-how or the spoons to make that happen but I would *totally* donate enthusiastically to it.
pingback_bot
Sep. 9th, 2011 06:55 pm (UTC)
Signal Boost: Michigan Womyn's Music Festival blogger has a 'hitlist' of trans women
User sevoo referenced to your post from Signal Boost: Michigan Womyn's Music Festival blogger has a 'hitlist' of trans women saying: [...] labelle77 [...]
zellieh
Sep. 9th, 2011 11:15 pm (UTC)
I haven't looked at the original outing post, but if any of these women hold citizenship for European countries in the European Union, they might be able to threaten to use EU law; trans people's rights are protected under EU Human Rights law.
x_mass
Sep. 10th, 2011 12:06 am (UTC)
I'm sorry but if people are going around wearing a T-shirts saying trans women should be at Michigan this is a pretty effective way of drawing attention to yourself. If you want to be stealth then be stealth, if you want to be loud be loud but don't claim that someone who is being loud is being de-stealthed/outed when she is apparently being loud already. And yes she might be cis wearing teh T-shirt but if your cis and you wear the T-shirt you shouldn't be suprised if people think your transexual.

Btw I would be really pissed off at you if you claimed I was stealth or closeted because I am neither, and if someone decides to loud me then that's life, its the price I pay for not wanting to lie.

Also of your pre-surgery and you use a public space naked and someone walks in then you have effectively gone loud no matter what your position is about being stealth/woodworking. Do I wish the world was different -yes, but right now it isn't

If your at an event that allows people to take pictures of you then you run the risk of having that data placed on websites and information about you whether true or false put there. The solution is in the US a DMCA take down notice since they are using those images without permission and wordpress will have to respond to that. Do I like things being like that - no

I think the woman who writes the blog is utterly wrong is so many ways but that's the internet, I would rather she had the freedom to post than risk censorship, What this blog and the reposts have done is giver oxygen. Its like posting samizdat if you post it in a public square lots can read it, if you post it on your back wall or in your front room - rather less
labelle77
Sep. 10th, 2011 12:11 am (UTC)
She didn't take the photos at fest. The photos of the persons involved were personal photos taken from other websites, I presume.

There is NO PROOF that any of the particular women named on the blog were any of the people involved in the supposed shenanigans or wearing any particular shirt. She's just outing trans women she happens to have heard attended. One of the women supposedly "seen" says that she has actually never set foot inside the fest itself, so.

Even if some of these women are fairly open about their gender status in real life, it is still not ok to post this publicly without consent, it's VERY not ok to do so in a tone that encourages their harrassment, it's VERY not ok to accuse them by association of destructive behavior that the author has no proof they were involved in, and it's VERY VERY not ok to link stage names with legal names with occupations and put someone's livelihood in jeopardy.

x_mass
Sep. 10th, 2011 12:21 am (UTC)
ok those things are not ok to do those things and there are legal ways of going after that woman for doing t. But that woman could do that to anyone, and their recourse would be the same

my issue s with the disempowerment of the women by the OP, by claiming that they were stealth when they had chosen to be loud is to disempower their desire to be proud of who they are.

Unless of course your right and I'm wrong and it is entirely fabricated in teh way you say - I have no way of gainsaying that. you know more about this than me

the transexual community has a history of trying to get people to go stealth, to stay stealth and to stealth people at every turn lest they cause distress to those who are currently stealth. The transexual community seems to like people to be ashamed of their past and hidden in their present and future.

Edited at 2011-09-10 12:23 am (UTC)
anivad
Sep. 11th, 2011 09:43 am (UTC)
"the transexual community has a history of trying to get people to go stealth, to stay stealth and to stealth people at every turn lest they cause distress to those who are currently stealth. The transexual community seems to like people to be ashamed of their past and hidden in their present and future. "

In the past, maybe, but in current times it seems to have done a 360 and people who are stealth are now usually bashed for not being 'proud' of who they are, even at risk to personal safety. I've yet to encounter a single person in the trans community who does what you claim, whereas I've seen so many stealth-shaming people in there.
x_mass
Sep. 11th, 2011 10:09 am (UTC)
ok if what you say has happened it's going along as I predicted 15 or so years ago, The problem is that its still two sides of the same coin shame people is wrong no matter if its about being stealth or being loud

btw the prediction is based on a film 'before stonewall' go watch it!
(Anonymous)
Sep. 12th, 2011 10:29 am (UTC)
thats so crap
I'm an anarcha-feminist trans boi, was a queer butch grrl for a long time. Re: womyn born womyn stuff, FFS its not about gender its about gendered privilege. Trans people don't get gendered privilege. Womyn born womyn get cis-gendered privilege... no one questions their gender. If this were a post saying where vulnerable kids were or something it'd be taken down in an instant right? What can we do about this?
(Deleted comment)
gender_euphoric
Sep. 13th, 2011 05:55 am (UTC)
we need to fundraise and support any of the named women who want to pursue a lawsuit.
achinhibitor
Sep. 14th, 2011 08:52 pm (UTC)
Yes, it seems that this would be the effective support -- actually sue for invasion of privacy. It's probably not as expensive as you think. The resulting court order would get Wordpress to move. And it would get whoever it is that made the original post to stop doing that sort of thing.

On a larger scale, Wordpress doesn't seem to be interested in policing their playground, and it doesn't seem like they have undertaken any obligation to do so. They may have "terms of service", but they seem to be written around what Wordpress can do to you, not what you can demand from Wordpress.

On an even larger scale, people tend not to realize how little others are obligated to protect your well-being, and how little they are interested in doing so.
tastyanagram
Sep. 16th, 2011 04:45 am (UTC)
Agreed. I will give whatever I can, who wants to lead this?
tastyanagram
Sep. 16th, 2011 04:47 am (UTC)
To the OP: forgive me if I'm missing this because I'm tired, but where are you sending this letter to? I'd like to pass it on or one of my own to anywhere I can think of.
shamefree
Sep. 20th, 2011 01:56 pm (UTC)
It might also be worth contacting the MichFest organizers and asking for Gallusmag to be barred from attending. Similarly, police could be informed, so that if anything happens they can be held responsible for not preventing it.
Kitty Barber
Jun. 28th, 2012 06:23 pm (UTC)
There is one very simple solution to all of this.

THOSE WHO ARE NOT WELCOME, NOR INVITED TO THE FESTIVAL, OUGHT TO STAY AWAY FROM IT.

Just read the intention of the gathering, and you'll find that transpeople are not welcome there. If you don't go, you won't be outed. Easy, right?
labelle77
Jun. 28th, 2012 06:56 pm (UTC)
So you think it's ok for bloggers to out people with the potential to put their every day lives and livelihoods in significant danger OVER A MUSIC FESTIVAL and body parts?

I think you need to reexamine your priorities. You aren't a woman. Or a "womyn." You're some kind of soulless otherthing to think it's ok to put someone's life in danger because you don't like that they came to your party.
( 46 comments — Leave a comment )