CW: Queerphobia, transphobia, acephobia, biphobia
“Gen Z queer people are hard to figure out,” reads a now deleted tweet by Natalie Wynn, known by her online moniker, ContraPoints. “They’re like, ‘I’m an asexual slut who loves sex! You don’t have to be trans to be trans. Casual reminder that heterosexuality doesn’t make your gayness any less valid!’”
The tweet is not a very original thought. In fact, it reads like a right-wing talking point, an amalgamation of all the talking points used against the Queer community albeit said through someone who identifies with us. Wynn has been in her own fair share of scandal throughout her time on the internet and, admittedly, I’m not well-read on the others, but this tweet ignited some feelings that I’ve thought over plenty of times as someone whose identity is still shifting. This idea that queerness must fall into these binary and colonial ideas of sex and gender is dangerous when the reality is much further from that. Queerness is the antithesis to those very ideas.
While one could argue that Wynn meant no harm in this tweet and that those who criticize her are acting in bad faith, I wonder why Wynn worded it the way that she did. As if queerness cannot be without its nuances, as if it must mean something very specific. Also, the specific age range. “Gen Z,” she says, as if certain identities haven’t been around for decades. What created this disconnect between younger members of the queer community and our elders? Specifically, what creates this disconnect in Wynn’s mind?
Christopher, a fellow OutWrite Staffer, said it best in my interview with xem, “Millennial Mad At Gen-Z for being more free than them.” Gen-Z is an interesting generation, having been raised with the internet and social media. With the creation of the internet came an easier way of information to flow. For people to just Google things, to partake in discourse over Twitter. Queer theory being openly discussed, identities being created, discovered and renewed. For many of us, Queeness isn’t a monolith. It’s a spectrum that branches out to tinier spectrums. The internet has been a safe, anonymous space to explore our respective identities. I was lucky enough to find spaces like that on the internet, and lucky enough that the internet existed so I could read up on Queer topics I didn’t understand. The infinite sites and spaces dedicated to Queerness is honestly kind of breathtaking, but at the same time, most if not all of certain ideas, contrary to Wynn’s tweet, have existed since the early days of the movement, before the internet was invented.
Wynn wrote a follow-up NotesApp essay discussing what she meant by her deleted tweet. She states that she “wasn’t trying” to start up discourse and doubles down on her previous claims. Wynn wanted to spark a conversation about these nuances and how they can be “at, face value, confusing.” If it was in good-faith like she and her defenders claim, why was it written in a way that echoes transphobic, acephobic, and biphobic talking points? What does this particular tweet do “in good-faith” other than both cause hurt and reinforce damaging ideas about sex and gender?
I’m not here to chastise Wynn and her defenders. Getting over internalized queerphobia and accountability is an internal process, one that comes with a lot of reflection and not something that cannot be forced. I’m mostly here to ask why. Why was this tweet necessary?
Let’s break down her tweet by each statement,talk about the discourse surrounding them, and discuss why these can’t possibly be in good faith.
“I’m an Asexual Slut who loves sex!”
I personally felt like I couldn’t speak on this topic as someone who doesn’t identify on the ace/aro spectrum. Instead, I asked two fellow Bruins who are a part of the Aspec community about their thoughts on the contraversial tweet. The first was Christopher, who I briefly mentioned in this article, who identifies as aromantic but still takes part in the community. Xe summed up xyr thoughts on ContraPoints like this: “It’s 45 minutes of jargon and philosophy and she doesn’t get ace people. It speaks bad on [Wynn]…”
Xe, frustrated by the tweet, was kind enough to explain how those who are asexual can experience sex and still be asexual. “The first thing you learn in the Aspec community is that attraction doesn’t equal action.” Basically, those who are on the ace/aro spectrum can still feel pleasure without necessarily attaching intimacy to it.
Christopher also brings up asexual model and organizer, Yasmin Benoit. Benoit, the creator of #ThisisWhatAsexualLooksLike, often dresses up in lingerie and revealing clothing but nonetheless is still asexual. Yet, she gets comments asking her benign questions about her sexuality and doubting her identity because of the way she dresses.
The other Bruin I interviewed wished to remain anonymous. They explain that asexuality isn’t synonymous with celibacy, comparing it to food. “You can eat food without being hungry for it.” They also explain the negative stereotypes attached to asexuality. “I don’t have an outside view of what asexuality anymore but to an outsider, they think they’re probably prudes or conservative or celibate … A lot of people are of the opinion that people who don’t have sex are kind of like children. Treat them like an adult.”
Christopher and the anonymous Bruin are of the consensus that if Wynn didn’t understand a certain aspect of asexuality, she should’ve just asked the community instead of framing her confusion in an antagonistic way.
“You don’t have to be trans to be trans.”
This particular take struck me as odd. What does Wynn mean by “trans” in this context? Is she talking about dysphoria? I don’t think anyone has ever said that you don’t need to be trans to be trans, but rather that dysphoria isn’t a requirement for people to identify as trans. It’s weird to put so much stake into this one experience of transness when it varies across people. Gender is weird and confusing, and that’s okay! I identify as trans, even though I know my dysphoria doesn’t hit as badly as some of my other trans friends. Trans is just an identifier, and no one is any less or any more trans if they experience or don’t experience dysphoria. This article, by Zinnia Jones, is a really good introduction to this idea!
Wynn doesn’t address this particular take in her statement after she deleted her tweet. Still, I think it is important that we talk about it. Transmedicalism is a really dangerous idea, excluding trans folks from being affirmed in their genders because of what transmedicalists deem as “truly” trans. It centers Western ideas of gender, often shutting out BIPOC trans folks, who express their gender differently.
In my own experience, transmedicalism is what stopped me from exploring my gender identity for a long time. My dysphoria didn’t manifest in traditional ways. There were parts of my body that I liked having or that I was ambivalent towards that transmedicalists would say that I should hate. I didn’t hate them, though, and I didn’t see myself getting rid of them. I didn’t feel like a traditional cis person and felt a mix of both masculine and feminine. I wouldn’t figure myself out until after I was able to get out of the transmed headspace. Transmedicalist concepts still sometimes keep me from feeling as though I belong in the community, even though the community has welcomed me with open arms.
So when Wynn says that this concept is confusing, it feels as though she gives credence to these ideas. That she condones gatekeeping because transness should be binary (although, again, this isn’t the case for everyone) and that transness must be a certain way for cis people to understand it.
“Casual reminder that heterosexuality doesn’t make your gayness any less valid!”
I feel like I’ve been droning on at this point, so I won’t cover this one as extensively as the others. Wynn claims she wrote this part about straight trans folks, those who used to identify as gay before transitioning. But I also can’t help to wonder what exactly she meant by this. It sounds similar to people who used to exclude bisexuals out of the gay community because of what would be considered “straight-passing” relationships (which is another can of worms that may or may not be covered in a future piece). This idea that sexuality must fall into clear, defined terms is something that, hopefully, society is growing past.
It’s weird when statements like this are made, that people who are in “heterosexual” relationships don’t belong in the community. It’s reminiscent of the “choose a side” discourse around bisexuality. Even if someone is in a heterosexual relationship, it doesn’t make them any less queer. I also think that no one ever frames a statement like “I’m straight but still gay” as she claims in her follow-up tweet.
Casual reminder that biphobia isn’t cool! Wynn tries to hide it under the guise of “gay trans people” not being able to have the same type of fluidity when it comes to sexuality, which I thought was a weird argument because… they are! I’m unsure where Wynn gets this idea that gay trans people must adhere to certain sexuality, and ultimately it still doesn’t absolve her of biphobia because what about trans folks who have multiple gender preferences? As a bisexual trans person, I still have fluidity in my sexuality!
So what now?
Natalie Wynn, like many of her other neoliberal counterparts, thrives off of rage clicks. Wynn can claim she’s changed or that her work rehabilitating right-wingers is more important than the comfort of a few queer people on the internet, but the way she framed her tweet clearly meant to stir up some controversy. If she wanted an explanation, she would have asked a question and not framed it under discourse.
I’m tired of having to constantly read these lukewarm takes about sexuality and gender, especially from the lens of white queer people. I’m tired of having to talk about and explain why the things that Wynn says are wrong and gate-keepy. I hope, in the future, that I won’t have to write about Wynn and her bad tweets. The onus shouldn’t be on the rest of us to call out bad behavior, even from those like Wynn, who are queer themselves. We shouldn’t let people be comfortable in their confusion about certain genders and sexualities because confusion breeds ignorance and ignorance breeds hate.
I’ve provided a list of resources for those below who are curious about certain topics mentioned in this article and want to genuinely learn more. Some were provided by Christopher (shout out to xem for being genuinely awesome!) and others I gathered on my own. Look through these yourselves or send them to people who you know are looking for answers to their questions.
Asexuality & Aromanticism Resources
Author: Judah C (They/Them)
Artist: Christopher Ikonomou (Xe/He)
Copy Editor: Bella (She/They)