Though Facebook appeared, last fall, to want to appease the drag queen community and others who were pissed off about getting their accounts suspended over the fact that they used their stage/drag names instead of their real names, it seems like the fight rages on.
Sister Roma, who was one of those San Francisco queens who led the charge and caucused with Facebook employees over the matter, says that people in the LGBT community, especially trans people, continue to be targeted by the site, and more people need to fight back.
The Verge reported two months ago on the ongoing issue, noting that “for a number of years, [Facebook’s policy has] been plagued by accusations that it’s racist, transphobic, and insensitive to the privacy concerns of vulnerable populations, like domestic violence victims and sex workers.”
It appears that if you have some notoriety and can prove the popularity of your stage identity, Facebook will acquiesce and reinstate your account, as they did with the drag queens and with radio host Jay Smooth just this past February. But if you’re a relatively anonymous trans person with an unusual name, or a Native American person for that matter, you can still easily end up on the wrong side of the policy being asked to prove your “real” identity.
SF queen Lil Miss Hot Mess has launched a Change.org petition attempting to ban Facebook from the SF and New York LGBT Pride events this June, and it is currently just over 100 signatures shy of its 1500-person goal. Lil Miss Hot Mess writes, using the hashtags #MyNameIs and #NoPrideForFacebook, “Several members of the #MyNameIs core team have received email from users who feel defeated, disregarded, abandoned, alone, frightened, and even suicidal as a result of being banned from Facebook because of their identities.” In light of this, and the fact that eight months later Facebook has not shown any transparency or willingness to actually change their policy, the group feels that the company needs to be denied any of their traditional involvement in this year’s Pride events in either SF or New York.
Sister Roma is also in strong support.
She tells The Sword, “There has been an upsurge in the number of accounts that are being reported for having a ‘fake’ name.”
Further, she says, “This problem is huge for the LGBT community and potentially dangerous for many people, especially trans men and women who face discrimination, bullying, harassment, and even violence if outed on Facebook.”
She says that there have been no real alterations to Facebook’s reporting process around “real” names, and that the argument that Facebook is a free social media portal that not every has to use, is empty given how central a role it’s come to play in our lives. “For many people,” Roma says, “Facebook is a virtual lifeline to society. I’ve received hundreds of emails from people, especially members of the trans community who feel violated, disregarded, disrespected, isolated, alone, depressed and even suicidal after being hit by some asshole who reports them for using a ‘fake’ name.”
So, add your name to the petition below. And tell your friends, #NoPrideForFacebook.