The Internet has become Munroe Bergdorf's launching pad for viral activism, having taken down beauty brands with opportunistic intentions (L'Oreal) or racist ad campaigns (Dove). Now, the social trailblazer and transgender model has rightfully focused her aim at Twitter, demanding they update their policy regarding online abuse so that it factors in transphobia as a violation.
Bergdorf tweeted, saying she's tired of reporting abuse that ultimately goes unflagged. "Yet any time I so much as mention white people, it's taken down." This frustration harks back to when the model was fired from L'Oreal for saying "all white people are racist," which sparked explosive backlash.
She said there needs to be better protocol for all social media platforms, but especially Twitter. "The large majority of abuse that I receive is from white cisgender men," Bergdorf added. "Yet when Twitter's abuse policy plays in their favour, it doesn't even come close to resolving the issue."
Twitter addresses flagged Tweets within the context of a larger conversation, according to their rules. "Some Tweets may seem to be abusive when viewed in isolation, but may not be when viewed in the context of a larger conversation," their policy states. "While we accept reports of violations from anyone, sometimes we also need to hear directly from the target to ensure that we have proper context."
Much like the rest of society centers men, Twitter's current policy allows users to be justified in their vocal discomfort towards a transgender woman of color, such as Bergdorf. But when our current President (with more than 43 million Twitter followers) sets a standard where abuse is tolerated and normalized, it's not surprising that Bergdorf's request would be repeatedly ignored.
"I'm super mindful of complacency," Bergdorf told Paper. "Right now we are beginning to have a more frank discussion about racism. If we are going to make change happen, we need to be willing to remain open. Not become complacent. As we've seen with Donald Trump coming into power, we cannot become complacent, ever."
Photo by Eivind Hansen