Not to mention that psuedonyms aren’t always readily distinguishable from “real” names. Amina Arraf and Paula Brooks (pseudonyms of two hetero men who created fake lesbian identities and deceived a bunch of people)
Okay see, this is transmisogyny as you have it written here.
I don’t particularly know the story of Paula Brooks, but the problem with Amina Arraf was not that the pseudonym was a lesbian, it was that the pseudonym was presenting itself as a blogger from Syria when in fact the blogger was a white western person, which is imperialism and racism, and a number of other problems relating to deception on a scale beyond just their gender identity.
From the perspective of a large number of people, including probably most news media, a “hetero man who created a fake lesbian identity” is EXACTLY WHAT I AM.
Considering as far as we know we have very little discussion of the person’s gender identity (beyond what we know they’re being assigned by the world) it is extremely problematic to assume they are cis, especially considering “pretending” to be a different gender is a really obvious characteristic of transness.
For the sake of brevity, I left out the racism/imperialism because it was not a shared trait with the Paula Brooks character. I apologize for that; you’re right that it was an incredibly important aspect of the deception and I should have included it. I should also have included that Bill Graber (who created the online persona of Paula Brooks) also appropriated deafness in order to get out of speaking as Paula on the phone (and instead used himself, posing as Paula’s father, as an “interpreter”).
My wording was cissexist and I apologize for that. However, I disagree with you that the adoption of a lesbian identity in Amina’s case (this extends to Paula Brooks as well) was not a problem. In both cases the people behind these pseudonyms eventually made it clear that they were cis hetero men creating “characters” in order to gain a large platform in the communities that they didn’t feel they would get if they posted as their hetero (and white, in the case of Amina/McMaster) male selves.
Here’s some information on Paula Brooks:
“Paula Brooks,” editor of Lez Get Real since its founding in 2008, is actually Bill Graber, 58, who said he is a retired Ohio military man and construction worker that had adopted his wife’s identity online. Graber said she was unaware he had been using her name on his site.
Graber said he started the site to write about gay issues after seeing the mistreatment of close friends who were a lesbian couple. He said the site was “done with the best of intentions.” As a former Air Force pilot, he also said he used the site to argue in favor of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal.
“I didn’t start this with my name because… I thought people wouldn’t take it seriously, me being a straight man,” he said.
McMaster refers to Amina as a “character” in this video interview, also in the interview:
McMaster: Well, if I sign myself with an Arab girl’s name, first there will be some deference from obnoxious men, just because people will be more polite to a girl, than to- to a guy. Second, people won’t get hung up on “why do you hate”.
Interviewer: And, does that explain why Amina has an online identity that goes back to that goes back to the five years on-on gay dating profiles?
McMaster: Yeah. Okay, well, I’m just trying to set up a personal- a full personality. And, um, you know, I also wanted to develop my sort of writing conversation skills. And, you know, just to be able to interact with people, you know, as best I could.
Interviewer: Why the lesbian identity and why so involved?
McMaster: Because it’s hard… for me. It’s a challenge. I like the challenge.
So, I don’t really agree with you that we have little discussion about these two people’s gender identity. There was a lot of discussion, no small amount done with the two people themselves. While it’s possible that what these men said in public is not what they feel in private, all I have to judge is their public actions and their public explanations. And nothing they have done has lead me to feel that they adopted the identities they did in order to explore their gender identity, but rather all the evidence that I have read points to their adoption of those particular identities being because they felt that their privilege hindered their ability to have a platform in marginalized spaces about marginalized issues.
Again, I apologize for my cissexist framing of the issue. I apologize for leaving out the other important ways that they adopted non-privileged identities. I apologize for throwing out the names without any links to clarify the situation and/or evidence to properly explain how those two people engaged in deceiving the public. I will try to do better in the future.