On March 6th, 2021, the hashtag #superstraight was one of the top trending topics on Twitter in the U.S. and Canada. There was a #SuperStraight Discord server bursting with activity. #SuperStraight TikToks were suddenly appearing.
What is “SuperStraight,” you might ask?
Supposedly, #superstraight people are a newly-recognized sexual orientation group who are only attracted to cis men or cis women. The claim is that anyone who defends LGBT rights must recognize, respect, and fight for the rights of SuperStraights.
Soon, the #SuperStraight posts were joined by posts from people claiming to ally with, or have identities as, #supergay, #superlesbian, or #superbi, being also only attracted to cis people.
But let’s be clear. The #SuperStraight campaign is really is a trolling attack hatched in the cesspit of the /pol board on 4chan. Here you can see it being discussed there on March 5th (warning: slurs galore):
Let’s examine this post. At the top, you can see the trolling logo proposed for the #SuperStraight campaign. That’s a Nazi SS flag, only tinted in the colors of the PornHub logo for lulz.
Below the fascist troll-logo (which board members decided to replace with a plain orange and black graphic when actually taking the campaign “live” on social media), you see the overview of the goals of the troll campaign. The plan is to astroturf social media — that is, to claim to be an emerging grassroots campaign of people who feel they belong under protective umbrella of the LGB community. The hope is that posts from 4chan “SS agents” will lead ordinary social media users to jump on the bandwagon. Everyday transphobes can reconceptualize themselves as “victims of trans violence,” and instead of sitting silently, not wanting to show the world what bigots they are, be activated by pride, and speak up! This will, the 4channers believe, “redpill” zoomers (that is, it will reach members of Generation Z, currently the under-24-year-olds, and awaken them to the supposed evils of progressivism, setting them on the road to eventual misogynist white supremacy). Meanwhile, the 4chan trolls hope, cis lesbian, gay, and bisexual people will feel compelled to defend a fellow sexual orientation group, rejecting trans people as their enemies. Instead of an LGBT community, they’ll speak of an LGBS sexual orientation community. This will allow transphobic cis LGB people to stop hiding their transphobia, since it will now be considered “woke!” Mwahahah.
How will this be accomplished? The claim is that the “SS agents” will “use the left’s tactics against themselves.” That’s not actually accurate. The tactic being employed is that of the generic social media “gotcha” post. Such social media posts are popular among people of every conceivable political stripe today, in which a people seek is to invalidate their enemies by portraying them as hypocritical. For the 4chan fascists, this means taking common rallying claims used by trans, LGBT, or progressive communities, and deploying them against trans people.
The central conceit of the #SuperStraight campaign would be a twist on the transmisogynist classic: portraying trans women as sexual predators. The “superstraights” would be cast through a #MeToo lens, as well as that of the brave sexual minority coming out. The claim would be that trans people are trying to force cis people to have sex with them. For too long, the cries of cis straight men that they struggle every day with sexual harassment and coercion from trans women have been ignored, but now they are uniting and demanding to be heard!
Put that way, on its face, this seems a massive eyeroller. (Riiight, the trans ladies are forcing you to get all those boners, collect all that porn, and hoot at them on the streets!) But the goal would be not to state things that baldly. Instead, the plan was to exploit the fact that when transphoblic lesbians claim that they face sexual coercion and harassment from trans women, they get listened to, and cloak the #SuperStraight posts in this language.
Now, here is the thing. Many people, myself included, have written and advocated about how sexual orientation is based off of gender, not genitals. When you meet someone and find them attractive, the chances are very high that they are wearing clothing at the time. You do not see their genitals. And the central truth of trans experience is that it is our gender identities, not our genitals, that determine whether we are women, or men, or nonbinary people, or agender. When someone says, “I am only attracted to real men, not trans men,” that is a transphobic statement (it calls trans men “fake” men). It’s also almost certainly false, in that some trans men when dressed are indistinguishable from cisgender men, and as likely as they to be found attractive by a transphobe. On the other hand, many trans men are visibly transgender, and are not passed as cis people. But why should this be seen as “bad,” and as making them unattractive? The only reason a person who is generally attracted to men would assert that they cannot be attracted to trans men is internalized transphobia.
It is indeed true that lots of people have internalized transphobia, and consider trans people gross. There is no doubt they really feel that way. But this is no different from the many other forms of social bias that strongly shape whom people are attracted to — ableism, fat phobia, racism and colorism, etc. These are potent, but they are not “sexual orientations.” To define your identity around only being attracted to light-skinned blonde people is called “white supremacy,” and is not some innate “Aryansexuality.”
So, as a trans person, I object very strongly to people saying that they are proud of only being attracted to cisgender people. Crowing “people like you sexually repel me!” is cruel, and the sort of thing only a bigot would trumpet to others. People who are kind and opposed to bigotry are instead aware that all of us are socialized to have internal biases, and that we need to work on those, not take glee in them.
But you know what this does not mean? It does not mean I have the slightest interest in a relationship or hookup with a transphobe, least of all one standing in front of me saying, “People like you repel me.”
Yet for years, TERFs have been attacking trans women and framing them as predators by making false claims that trans women objecting to transphobic disgust are somehow engaging in sexual harassment. A TERF spits that she is a lesbian, and that she would never date a trans woman because trans women are actually men. A trans woman responds that she is indeed a woman, not a man, and that her lesbian identity is no less valid than a cis woman’s. The TERF then claims that the trans woman is demanding to have sex with her personally, revealing how “trans women are sexually predatory men.”
This TERF attack is the tactic the “SS agents” seek to exploit. So we see:
Along with posts framing trans people as demanding that uninterested cis people have sex with them, there are posts making 100% unsubstantiated claims that people coming out as superstraight are being terrorized by rape threats by violent trans people:
Note the graphic, which seeks to twist the rallying cry that trans rights are human rights into a claim of a human right to be a bigot.
Ostensible “superstraight” cis men argued for the need for safe spaces for (cis) women — not to protect them from cis men, but from vicious trans/nonbinary attackers:
The 4chan “gotcha” tactic unrolled as planned. There were saccharine allyship memes:
And there were humor memes, claiming allied empowerment in demanding recognition of a shared “sexual orientation” of telling everyone how much trans people repel you, whether you were superstraight, superlesbian, supergay or superbi:
And indeed, the TERFs jumped right on the bandwagon with #superlesbian posts:
From both the 4chan astroturfed fake accounts, and from the TERFs who eagerly piled on, came claims that #SuperStraights were benefitting from male privilege in getting their “suffering” at the hands of trans people acknowledged where that of TERFs had been ignored:
These posts snuck in claims that cis lesbians and gay men have been crying out in vain for years about trans people trying to coerce them into sex — a TERF slander, weirdly and falsely being claimed to be shared by LGB people generally. These posts also followed the tropes employed in varied social media campaigns challenging privilege, seeking to use that to cloak the fact that cis people are the privileged group with respect to trans people. This is a classic DARVO move, reversing oppressor and victim. DARVO is the the long-favored technique of abusers — one that became way too familiar to all under the Trump administration, as turning every callout of his behavior on its head was Trump’s daily occupation. That is why the /pol 4channers are so enamored of the man: he was their Troll in Chief.
So, many more social media posts by the 4chan “SS agents” and the various other transphobes who joined in followed other themes common in posts by trans advocates, LGBT allies, feminists, progressives, and the like. Using the DARVO tactic, they reversed victim and offender.
People who pushed back against this trolling attack, arguing that being sexually repulsed by trans people is a bad thing, a product of socialization, and something to seek to overcome rather than take pride in, were attacked as pushing “conversion therapy” on people with a superstraight orientation:
People who pushed back and called out #SuperStraight posts as obvious transphobia were insincerely labelled “SERFS” — “Straight Exclusionary Radical Feminists” who were oppressing brave SuperStraights — and critiques of TERF attacks mirrored back at trans allies.
People who rejected as ridiculous the claim that “SuperStraights” were an oppressed group who should be recognized and protected as LGBTQ+ were framed as biased gatekeepers:
Trans-allied critiques of transphobes who make outlandish claims about trans people, that ask if the bigot has ever actually spoken with a trans person, were also reflected back, DARVO-style:
The “SuperStraight movement” was claimed to have finally united LGB and straight people by revealing their shared dismissal of trans “bullshit”, a cause for relief and celebration:
And in general, people who were trans/nonbinary or their allies who pushed back against the #SuperStraight trolling were attacked with “gotcha” posts, claiming that they were hypocrites for disrespecting someone based on their “sexual orientation”:
Bonus points there for using a Harry Potter meme, now that JK Rowling is a central spokesperson for TERFism!
Whether this was a short viral flash in the social media pan, or if people will take up and actually identify with the terms superstraight, superlesbian, supergay, and superbi, only time will tell.
What I am hoping is that people will identify it from the start as a 4chan /pol troll. This campaign was initiated by literal fascists using an SS logo. “Superstraight pride” is 100% akin to the “straight pride” parade organized by Milo Yiannopoulis, or to “white pride” racist organizations.
Spread the word.