Kathy Hutchins/Shutterstock Andi Dier/YouTube (Licensed)

Believing survivors and asserting trans women are women are not mutually exclusive ideas.

Last week, #MeToo activist and Harvey Weinstein accuser Rose McGowan made headlines after she was called out by a transgender woman at a New York Barnes & Noble event over her ugly track record on trans rights. That trans activist, Andi Dier, was later interviewed by the publication them., where she stressed that “if we’re not fighting for trans women, we are not fighting for women.”

But then something else happened. Several women turned to social media accusing Dier of sexual harassment and assault.

“Andi Dier, the women [sic] who came to your signing is a sexual predator,” one 21-year-old woman from New York tweeted at McGowan. “She preyed upon and sexually pressured, assaulted, and manipulated me and countless other 13 year old girls (as a legal adult) years ago and never publicly apologized or took responsibility for her actions.”

Others also came out about Dier, claiming that she targeted underage women in Long Island. One user said that Dier would harass her and constantly try to meet up with her when she was a teen, while another alleged Dier would “harass me and 90% of my friends at the age of about 13 y/o.” A third claimed Dier was “trying to get with me” as a 14-year-old when Dier was 23,” and another, using incorrect pronouns, alleged Dier purposefully made her smoke weed before sexually assaulting her.

“I’ve tried to tell people these things since I was a senior in high school,” another user wrote. “I’m glad it’s finally surfacing.”

In most cases, Dier’s alleged victims—while victimes—encouraged others to properly gender her. They stressed that even if Dier committed sexual assault, trans women are women and her behavior doesn’t negate her gender identity.

However, this spurned transgender-exclusionary radical feminists (TERFs) to argue that Dier isn’t a woman, and the callouts against Dier were quickly turned into an endless avenue for transphobes to “prove” transgender women are sexual predators. One TERF blog, GenderTrender, began rounding up accusations in an attempt to argue the point. Even McGowan later pinned a tweet on Dier, inadvertently sourcing GenderTrender and arguing that Dier is “a monster who was paid to violate me publicly.”

As the internet continued to dig into Dier’s internet footprint, users stumbled across a Tumblr account that shared Dier’s Twitter handle and appeared to show her defending relationships with underage teens and claiming age “isn’t exclusively relative to maturity.” TERFs picked up the information and ran with it. Soon enough, all sense of nuance was lost, despite a clear need for accountability over both McGowan’s actions and Dier’s alleged behavior.

Two wrongs are still wrongs

#MeToo has a responsibility to listen to survivors, even when it's difficult. GGAADD/Flickr (CC-BY-SA)

When Dier criticized McGowan last week over her beliefs on trans rights, she wasn’t incorrect. McGowan’s response proves she has a hard time understanding that trans women experience both misogyny and transmisogyny. Statistics show 90 percent of trans workers face some form of workplace harassment, and GLAAD reports 55 percent of LGBTQ murder victims are trans women. That’s something Dier hinted at when she criticized McGowan.

On the other hand, those who feel the need to call out Dier have every right to do so. Anyone can sexually assault another person, not just a cis man against a cis woman. Trans women can carry out sexual harassment, abuse, and assault, even if trans women are often victims, not perpetrators. Sexual violence is still sexual violence, even if it’s a marginalized person that’s to blame.

For now, the accusations against Dier are just that: accusations. But in #MeToo, activists stress that survivors should be heard and respected. That means shutting down women who try to downplay certain marginalized experiences over others. And that also means those calling out Dier should be heard and respected, even if their accusations are uncomfortable to accept.

Trans activists and queer allies alike have been quick to make the point, and they’ve also encouraged others to fight back against TERFs while doing so. That’s because when movements like #MeToo treat cis men as the only gender that commits sexual abuse, then victims abused by women are also silenced. Trans women abused by other trans women can simultaneously have their gender identity erased by TERFs and become revictimized by the LGBTQ community if their stories aren’t properly listened to by trans activists and allies.

“Misgendering andi dier because she ‘can’t be a woman’ if she sexually assaulted minors is TERF-y and disgusting and ignores that women also perpetrate assault and abuse,” one activist tweeted. “You cannot use her predatory and despicable behavior to justify your own transphobia wyd.”

https://twitter.com/wolfandthief/status/959581320404910080

Building accountability is difficult because it means #MeToo has to look inward and ask if its supporters are personally responsible for any wrongdoing in their own lives. That isn’t easy. But it’s not supposed to be. And if Dier and McGowan prove anything, it’s that two issues can happen simultaneously—and they both need to be dealt with in compassion and good faith, no matter how difficult that may be.

Ana Valens

Ana Valens

Ana Valens is an LGBTQ reporter and essayist for the Daily Dot. Her work has previously appeared in Bitch, the Establishment, Vice's Waypoint, Rolling Stone's Glixel, and the Toast. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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