A Message to the Philly Community

I’m terrified to write this.

Although many of you know me to be quite vocal when it comes to fostering positivity within and outside of LGBTQ+ spaces, rarely will I step into the fray of something serious if I find that it doesn’t personally involve me.

But that’s the problem. An attack on one trans woman affects all trans people. It affects cis people, queer people, straight people. It affects all of us because it speaks to who we are as a community. EVERYONE deserves to feel safe when they step foot into a local no matter who they are.

Although I have several friends within this region, what I have overwhelmingly seen and heard within the heart of the Philly smash community leaves me feeling far from safe.

Most of you who follow me also follow Chia. She is the self-grown streaming extraordinaire of Clash Tournaments and a hell of a competitor in her own right. She is also my best friend, an inspiration for several up and coming streamers and competitors alike, and she is an inspiration to women and to the transgender community. She has selflessly helped so many people thrive within our community while helping the Smash scene grow, and she’s helped me through some of my own lowest moments in life. Because that’s just who she is. Those who follow and know her personally know these things to be true.

It’s of course much harder to effectively impact positive change when you’re being targeted and relentlessly harassed both to your face and behind closed doors because of who you are.

Chia has spent most of her life in Philly. It’s the region she calls home and of which she is currently ranked on the Smash Ultimate PR. But due to recent events in which multiple figureheads and competitors within the Philly community have been proudly deadnaming, misgendering and bullying her, as well as openly using transphobic, homophobic and misogynist slurs in their every day vernacular, she has decided to remain absent from her own scene for months.

I understand the potential repercussions of what I’m about to speak on. I ask for you to all read this with open hearts, as the fact of the matter is none of what I’m about to reveal is okay.

On August 13th at The Lab in Philly, Chia played and lost a set to Juice in winner’s finals of Ultra S@LT. After taking to the stream for a few minutes in the back room, Chia went to congratulate Juice on his win, only to find him sitting with Kilik, who was loudly making fun of Chia and exclusively referring to her with male pronouns. After correcting Kilik’s misgendering, she congratulated Juice and walked away.

Although only Kilik and Juice were present during this exchange, the conversation quickly spread throughout the Philly discord. The next day, Nana (Party-Crasher) created a deadnaming bot command under Chia’s pre-transition gamertag. This would be the first of many similar bot commands Nana would create, and it’s clear that the misgendering is intentionally directed at Chia, not her character in Smash.

This isn’t the first time transphobic comments have been openly made at Chia’s expense within the Philly discord. It’s been happening for months, with Nana (Deleted User) and Kilik at the forefront of these hateful conversations. They have been adamant in their toxicity, going so far as to even de-mod Clamhat (DO YOU REMEMBER) from the discord for continuously attempting to remove these damaging words.

Since the interaction at Ultra S@LT, members of Philly’s own PR panel had openly discussed doing everything in their power to keep Chia off the summer PR, all while continuing to bully, make transphobic comments, create and use additional bot commands, and mockingly ignore questions and concerns Chia shared on Facebook about her qualifications.

It’s no surprise that casual transphobia, homophobia and misogyny run rampantly within gaming communities, with slurs like “f@ggot”, “g@y”, “pu$$y” etc. commonly being used as often as every other sentence. Any LGBTQ+ person can tell you the oppressive implications these words carry. Just at the most recent Philly Arcadian at The Lab, while Kairi was playing on stream during her winner's round 2, someone from behind screamed, “Kill that f@ggot a$$ Snake!” so loudly she could hear it through her headphones. It immediately took her head out of the game and made her fear for her safety. Hearing these slurs used so recklessly by so many people in the Philly scene is harmful towards women, queer people, trans people and allies. It makes it hard to justify wanting to come out to events if you don’t feel like who you are is going to be accepted, especially for younger gamers who are just starting out. It’s made me fear for my own safety several times. And it’s important to note the harmful undertones that go even beyond these terms.

There is a VOD from February, 2018 in which Evan, Nana and Musty all take to their phones to openly shame and degrade a trans woman’s Tinder profile—all while commentating a Smash 4 set.

The conversation begins around 1:16. Specific timestamps of the conversation are below.
1:29 - “Surprise at something.”
1:38 - “Except it's not a female.”
1:47 - “I wouldn't have guessed that’s where the surgery was done.”
2:44 - “That’s a daycare worker?!”
4:20 - “I’m so upset by that profile.”
4:32 - “That's the secret missile.”
5:00 - (After comparing her to Transformers/Decepticons) “Grown men in disguise.”

The aftermath of the transphobic conversation echoed later into the same Philly discord.

With these very clearly transphobic sentiments all coming to a surface, Chia attempted to bring her concerns up to a few trusted figureheads within the Philly community. Although a few people like Stu the Announcer and Kairi have come to her defense with their own statements on code of conduct, ultimately, very little has been done aside from Nana being banned for just 1 month. It was proposed that Chia sit with Kilik and Moosh, owner/head TO of The Lab, to “solve any discrepancies.”

I personally find it irresponsible to ask for a victim who’s been targeted to sit with their abuser in order to address the issues at hand, especially when there have already been several witnesses and screenshots all heavily pointing toward what’s been very clearly going on for far too long. Everything that I’ve shown is still live within the public discord, which only suggests that it gets even worse within private groups. Chia’s latest efforts towards reaching a resolution have been left for weeks without a response or any sense of direction as to whether or not anything more will be done to address what’s been happening.

To me, it’s clear.

Proper action needs to take place for Nana and Kilik. Anyone who is openly transphobic has no place within this community. This sort of targeted bullying that’s rooted in hate makes my skin crawl. It’s been going on for far too long. It’s out in the open, but there has been no accountability for any of the players involved. And since very few people have addressed it, I’ve taken it upon myself to call these toxic people out.

As a trans woman and as an ally, this all hits too close to home. There are people who have taken their own lives because of targeted attacks like these. There are people who have lost their lives because of being physically assaulted as influenced by targeted rhetoric like this. This affects EVERYONE. We as a community should only ever be encouraging diversity when it comes to race, gender identity and sexual orientation, not shaming each other because of our differences. We can’t afford to have this be something that just gets brushed under the rug.

Again, writing and sharing this post is beyond terrifying for me. I’ve already been the victim of targeted harassment myself on multiple occasions. Most trans girls know this feeling all too well. Every week I receive private messages from younger trans girls who feel lost and afraid to be themselves in public. They see and hear these harmful comments and toxic behavior—at locals, in Twitch chat, or just walking down the street. They see when nothing is done about it and often have trouble believing their worth when the resounding response to this behavior is to laugh along or remain silent. But when you attack one of us, you attack all of us. I’d rather speak up for what’s right than sit in complacent silence and let those who are important to me continue to suffer. Regardless of who you are, if you see or hear comments like this, it’s important to call them out! It’s important for these bullies to be addressed. It’s important for real changes to be made.

It’s not a joke. It’s real. And it needs to stop now.

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