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Lena Dunham is doing her part for trans rights. But as usual, when it comes to the Girls creator, not everyone is happy about it.
Dunham was waiting for a flight at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City early Thursday morning, when she happened to overhear two female attendants criticizing transgender children, calling them “gross.” Realizing that this kind of language could negatively impact trans kids, Dunham quickly turned to Twitter to criticize the attendants.
“At this moment in history we should be teaching our employees about love and inclusivity @AmericanAir,” Dunham wrote. “That was worst part of this night.”
Not gonna call out the airline who delayed cuz shit happens BUT I did just overhear 2 @AmericanAir attendants having a transphobic talk.— Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) August 3, 2017
At this moment in history we should be teaching our employees about love and inclusivity @AmericanAir. That was worst part of this night.— Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) August 3, 2017
“I heard two female attendants walking talking about how trans kids are a trend they’d never accept a trans child and transness is gross,” Dunham wrote. “I think it reflects badly on uniformed employees of your company to have that kind of dialogue going on.”
Dunham insisted that American Airlines has a responsibility to make sure its employees are behaving in appropriate ways at all times. She warned the airline that trans kids could be negatively impacted by transphobic talking points overheard from employees.
“What if a trans teen was walking behind them?” she continued. “Awareness starts at home but jobs can set standards of practice.”
American Airlines replied to her tweet about the incident and told her to send them a direct message. Fox News alleges that the airline is currently “unable to substantiate” Dunham’s report, but is continuing to investigate the complaint.
But not everyone is taking Dunham’s side. Many are using the opportunity to criticize Dunham, defending the attendants’ opinion and arguing in support of their “freedom of speech.”
Lena Dunham, millionaire scourge of working-class women: https://t.co/Is8z2Z8QRD— Kurt Loder (@kurt_loder) August 3, 2017
My question would be "don't those 2 women have the right to own opinion and freedom of speech"? She is a freak show on legs!— MamaLeigh (@Leigh_2014) August 3, 2017
Whatever would we do without stalwart heroes like Lena Dunham and her vigilant Thought Police Force?— Jeff Stockwell (@stockwell) August 4, 2017
Some Twitter users are harassing Dunham, telling her to commit suicide. Others are attempting to upset her by using disparaging terms that target transgender people.
the world would be a better place if you were to kill yourself— benjamin nabavian (@btopz) August 4, 2017
Why were you eavesdropping?I guess you will feel pretty good about getting them fired.Teaching a child to be a transgender is child abuse.— Dan Parks (@ThisIsDanParks) August 4, 2017
Fuck trannies, no one wants them on their flight— Steve Davis (@Meme_Maniacs) August 4, 2017
@lenadunham trannies have mental disorders. They must hate themselves just as much as your parents have to hate you.— Deplorable (@DevereauxPerona) August 4, 2017
Transgender-exclusionary radical feminists also hopped on the incident, both criticizing Dunham and defending anti-transgender rhetoric.
Woke thought police.https://t.co/Ubv83M6Jcn— GenderCriticalDad (@dad_gc) August 4, 2017
Good news is that the article has 4700 comments and it looks like at least 95% are against Dunham & trans ideology. Peak Trans has arrived.— vestigia3 (@vestigia33) August 4, 2017
Next up: people like Dunham will monitor our facial expressions and report us for having transphobic thoughts. 🙄😳😡🙄😳😡🤔— JS Mill XX #FamiliesBelongTogether (@Shy_Survivor) August 4, 2017
Oh my God, just oh my God. People getting in trouble at work for saying that trans kids are a trend! Which is true! Arg.— LadyMolly (@LadyMolly736) August 4, 2017
Meanwhile, transgender activists have defended Dunham. They believe the internet is more caught up in attacking the writer and actor than actually supporting transgender hate speech.
"Man, I hate anti-trans talk but I hate Lena Dunham more" has been a popular trend on twitter this week. https://t.co/ZWnl9m63FF— erin mccann (@mccanner) August 4, 2017
Celebrity hate-magnets aside, if I owned an airline I wouldn't want my uniformed employees trash-talking children, but maybe that's just me. https://t.co/eWl0JXhhxb— Patrick LaForge (@palafo) August 4, 2017
loving the fact that @lenadunham is standing up against transphobia. I'm not trans but discrimination and prejudice divide us too much. Stop— Hannah Diviney (@HDiviney) August 3, 2017
Dunham is no stranger to controversy. In January, she faced backlash after depicting President Donald Trump as a father figure, and her interview with Amy Schumer for Lenny was panned for allegedly trivializing feminist issues. Dunham’s HBO series Girls has also previously been criticized for transphobia as well, with Dunham using the term “tranny” as a punchline.
Ana Valens is a reporter specializing in online queer communities, marginalized identities, and adult content creation. She is Daily Dot's Trans/Sex columnist. Her work has appeared at Vice, Vox, Truthout, Bitch Media, Kill Screen, Rolling Stone, and the Toast. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, and spends her free time developing queer adult games.