Questions

In my last post, I explored two threads written by a well-known Exvangelical who operates on Twitter under the name Christian Janeway. In that post, I highlighted several themes that appeared in both threads that caused me to question later statements she would make. If you have not read this post, it provides vital context for the analysis below.

Disclaimer

Before moving forward, I want to be specific about what is and is not being pursued in this post.

First, at no point will the trauma or hurt of anyone be invalidated. The reality is that feelings are valid, even if their expression is harmful. And what must be considered is the impact of words and actions, regardless of the legitimate feelings behind them.

Also, Chrissy Stroop has come out publicly as trans feminine. Chrissy deserves the right to self-determination, and if she says her pronouns are feminine, that will be respected. It is not my place, nor the place of anyone else, to call Chrissy’s gender into question.

All screenshots below reflect the screen name under which she was on Twitter when they were taken. Further, where masculine pronouns are used in screenshots, these occurred before Chrissy was out as transfeminine and do not represent an attempt by any party to misgender her.

Lastly, the Magdalene Collective statement was demonstrably transmisogynistic. Whether this was by intent, or the result of careless and imprecise wording, the impact is the same. Regardless of other claims made in the statement, the transmisogynistic implications of the wording are undeniable.

Purpose

The purpose of this post is to track certain factual claims, examine rhetorical strategies, and consider what evidence exists to support or refute claims made. This post will follow largely in the pattern of its predecessor while digging a little deeper into the tangled mess that has been Exvangelical Twitter since the Magdalene Collective published their statement.

As with its predecessor, I will make it explicit that I am not writing this as a neutral observer. However, while I will present my own conclusions, concerns, and questions raised throughout my research, it is left to the reader to form their own opinion.

Samantha Field

To understand how Samantha Field became a central figure in the controversy surrounding the MC Statement, we must begin with a series of direct messages exchanged between Christian Janeway and Samantha Field on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. Janeway posted these screenshots herself in a Twitter thread defending Chrissy Stroop on May 23, 2019.

 

She would then back up the claim by tweeting a series of screenshots that she claims show that the entire dispute between Chrissy and the Magdalene Collective was in regards to people telling Chrissy what she should and shouldn’t tweet. 

These screenshots represent Samantha and Janeway’s pre-MC statement exchange.

And these are Janeway and Samantha’s engagement after the MC Statement had been posted.

According to Janeway, she was only making sure “the truth wins out in the end,” yet I immediately noticed things consistent with those patterns identified in my last post. Namely, that Janeway fails entirely to engage with what Samantha is actually saying.

Janeway repeatedly diminishes what Samantha is describing to an interpersonal, territorial dispute because she refuses to note specific dynamics at play. Thus, she rather crudely summarizes the entire exchange as “Telling Chris what he can write.”

Meanwhile, Samantha wishes to discuss the patriarchalist structures by which persons of privilege are often given platform at the expense of the voices and lived experiences of marginalized groups. Within this convo, Samantha specifically notes dynamics which result in many men and masc persons inadvertently approaching activism in ways that erase, silence, and/or diminish the work of the women and femme persons on which that activism is built.

As such, the question is not one of whether Chrissy (whom both parties clearly assume to be masc-presenting) should say a particular thing, but whether Chrissy is, in her activism, properly giving credit to the persons on whose work that activism is built.

Happiness and Lies

It is further of note that Samantha refers to Chrissy as being queer in the conversation in a manner that separates the word from Chrissy’s gender. This can further be seen in the following public exchange, in which Samantha and multiple other persons are objecting to something Chrissy tweeted on May 20, 2019.

In the tweet pictured below, Chrissy referred to conservative Christian wives answering a poll by saying they are “happy” as liars.

This led to immediate pushback from several persons, noting that Chrissy is asserting herself as the arbiter of other people’s experiences. She is further failing to note the clearly patriarchal dynamics at play in conservative Christian environments.
Some of the objectors were conservative women themselves, who felt that Chrissy was patronizing them by dictating their own experiences to them.

And others, like Kieryn Darkwater and Samantha, both signatories of the MC Statement, objected based on their own lived experience as wives in conservative Christian environments.

Here, Chrissy can be seen clearly admitting to having never had the lived experience of being a wife in a conservative Christian environment. Also clear from this exchange is that neither Kieryn, a trans-masc nonbinary individual, nor Samantha understood Chrissy’s self-designation as “queer” to refer to gender. Both assumed Chrissy was referring to sexuality.

This point is particularly amplified by the fact that, in addressing objections, Chrissy can be seen clearly referring to “women speaking out” as a category distinct from herself. It would be perfectly logical for those engaging this exchange to read Chrissy as male from this wording.

Which is to say, this dispute was not over denying Chrissy’s gender identity, but the ways in which Chrissy’s rhetoric painted a specific group of women as liars in their own lived experiences in ways that come across as victim-blaming. Being queer is not an excuse to decenter another person’s (or group’s) lived experience. It doesn’t mean Chrissy understands forms of oppression that (by her own admission) she has never experienced. And it doesn’t qualify her to pass judgment on the experiences of those who have lived experience with this form of oppression.

When considered alongside her conversation with Janeway, it seems unlikely that Samantha personally orchestrated an intentional and targeted transmisogynistic attack against Chrissy. This, of course, does not mean that the language of the statement was not transmisogynistic in its wording. It also doesn’t mean that the statement was not intended by others to be a targeted attack on Chrissy’s gender identity.

But it does raise questions about why Chrissy Stroop has claimed that Samantha Field both authored the MC statement and designed it as an act of transmisogynist aggression to force Chrissy to out herself.

That is to say, while the conversation between Samantha and Janeway is certainly about Chrissy, there is no clear indicator that either Samantha or Janeway was aware of Chrissy’s gender identity.

#TeamScreechOwl

Of further importance is a series of group chat screenshots Janeway publicly shared to bolster her claims against Samantha Field.

For reasons discussed below, it is important to remember that the screenshots below, featuring masculine pronouns for Chrissy, occurred before she had publicly come out.

It must also be noted that Chrissy Stroop shared screenshots from this same group chat conversation, claiming it was the catalyst for the MC statement.

 

 

Given the claims made by both Janeway and Chrissy regarding this exchange, it will prove enlightening to consider the entire conversation in question. Below are screenshots of the entire conversation from which the above screenshots were pulled. This conversation occurred in a private DM group called #TeamScreechOwl.

This marked the end of this exchange, yet by the next day, Chrissy announced she would be leaving the group for good.

 

Examining Claims

Access to the full conversation brings quite a bit of clarity to the accusations made by Janeway and Chrissy above.

I believe it will prove revealing to consider the following questions.

  • Was this merely an interpersonal conflict?

As can be seen from the #TeamScreechOwl discourse, the point of dispute was not over telling people what they can and cannot write or tweet about. Instead, it was a discussion focused on the intersection of lived experience and gender dynamics in pro-abortion activism.

Operating from the apparent assumption that Chrissy Stroop identified as either male or masc-presenting (an assumption which will be explored in-depth below), a number of women and non-binary femme persons attempted to discuss how particular methods of promoting pro-abortion activist work, often used by men and masc-presenting AMAB persons, can function to dismiss or overshadow their lived experiences.

Discussing oppressive dynamics regarding bodily autonomy, abortion, and the decentering of lived experiences in ways that platform and privilege men and masc-presenting AMAB persons is clearly intended here as a systemic critique with specific examples offered to help clarify what is being said. As such, it is a complex conversation, with a number of important intersections – particularly in regards to transgender persons.

For a point of reference on those dynamics, the following posts are important resources:

  1. Trans men must be included in abortion conversation, says Laverne Cox by Anya Crittenton
  2. 6 Tips for Making Your Conversations About Reproductive Rights More Trans-Inclusive by KC Clements
  3. Cisgender Women Aren’t the Only People Who Seek Abortions, and Activists’ Language Should Reflect That by Cheryl Chastine

Janeway and Chrissy reducing this exchange to merely an interpersonal conflict is incredibly inaccurate and dismissive.

  • Was Chris called a grifter?

Also notable is the tone of the conversation. While Chrissy has made the exchange sound hostile, the initial exchange was surprisingly friendly in tone. In fact, Blake Chastain, a cismale, can be seen receiving and engaging with the requests made out of a desire to learn.

Further, it is entirely confusing to see Chrissy claim that she was called a grifter. Chrissy claims she was told that she only does activism to “save my career,” a statement which would imply dishonest intent. However, the actual statement, made by Eve Ettinger, is that Chrissy “came to this beat to revive your career.” While that wording can certainly be read harshly, when it is taken in the wider context of the discussion and in the clarifications made afterward, it is clear that no one had an issue with Chrissy making a living off her work.

Eve even fully acknowledges that Chrissy has been pro-choice for years and states that Chrissy having a large platform is a good thing.

The issue is not that Chrissy makes money or has a large platform, but that Chrissy is building on the work of other people in ways that unintentionally result in those people being overlooked or ignored.

No one was accusing Chrissy of cheating people or lying in this conversation, nor of any intent to do harm. And Samantha even emphasizes the importance of “men” and their work, and makes sure it is clear that this is specifically about ensuring that the women and other femme-presenting persons in this conversation don’t end up having their work overshadowed.

It is beyond baffling to see Chrissy repeatedly portray this exchange as an attack on her work and character.

  • Did the Magdalene Collective signatories know that Chrissy is transfeminine?

Another oddity emerges in this exchange. If everyone in this group knows that Chrissy Stroop is trans feminine, why is Chrissy responding and interacting with them as if they know her as a masc-presenting AMAB person? Chrissy at no point bristles at or corrects anyone referring to her with masculine pronouns.

It is enlightening, then, to see Janeway – even as she calls Samantha Field a liar – using exclusively masculine pronouns for Chrissy Stroop. In Janeway’s own words, the last she knew Chrissy was still using masculine pronouns.

When one searches Chrissy’s public engagements for further insight, a

pattern emerges.

For instance, the queer activist group Brave Commons referred to Chrissy with masculine pronouns as recently as April 18, 2019. Chrissy even refers to herself as feeling “off” regarding masculinity, but acknowledges she operates from a position where “I’ve always had white male privilege.”

For a nuanced, intersectional discussion of privilege, from the perspective of a trans woman, see:

Trans Women Don’t Have ‘Male Privilege’ — We Have Something Way More Complicated by Sam Riedel

Chrissy has further admitted that she has allowed reporters to publish articles referring to her in the masculine, and not felt the need to correct them.

And, to be clear, the question here is not whether Chrissy Stroop is a woman. Chrissy has publicly stated they are trans feminine, and as such should be affirmed and supported in her womanhood.

Nor is the issue whether she experienced legitimate trauma in her time as a closeted transfemme. It is not my place or the place of anyone else to question that trauma. As a trans feminine person, if Chrissy says she found the wording of the Magdalene Statement hurtful, I believe her.

The only thing being questioned here is why Chrissy has accused multiple persons of not only knowing she is trans feminine, but also attempting to out her as such. It does not seem to add up, given both what I have seen in private discourse and in Chrissy’s public presence.

It seems unlikely that the signatories of the MC statement knew that Chrissy is trans feminine, and thus unlikely that they intentionally targeted her with the intent to out her as such.

  • Did Samantha Field author the MC Statement?

This accusation has been the crux of Janeway’s and Chrissy’s claims. The narrative has been that Samantha Field personally organized a so-called “grassroots movement” of persons with vaginas in order to target anyone they deem worthy of a call-out, based solely on the fact that they have a penis and a platform.

Yet Field has been adamant that she was not the author of the statement and did not read the final draft of the statement before it was published nor before she shared it. She has also said, since the beginning, that this was a moral failure on her part and that she takes full responsibility for those actions

  1. https://twitter.com/samanthapfield/status/1131086597468958722

  2. https://twitter.com/samanthapfield/status/1131319525255913474

Yet, despite Samantha making multiple public apologies, Stroop repeatedly called her a liar and insisted she was the mastermind behind a targeted and malicious personal attack.

https://twitter.com/samanthapfield/status/1134152091637862400?s=19

But is there any merit to these claims?

As it happens, no.

First, as Samantha noted in her discourse with Janeway, two other people were responsible for the final draft of the statement. While Janeway referred to these persons as “mysterious” and implied that they may not exist, the “mystery” has since been cleared up.

That is, both of the “mysterious” persons (Eve Ettinger and Kieryn Darkwater) have made public statements owning their roles as editors and authors of the published version of the MC Statement. And both insist that Samantha Field neither saw nor signed off on the final draft of the statement.

  1. Eve’s Statement: https://twitter.com/eve_ettinger/status/1133402029102182400

  2. Kieryn’s Statement: https://medium.com/@mxdarkwater/re-the-magdalene-collective-f87a92f67e77

It is also notable that one of the signatories, Kieryn, is a trans-nonbinary masc individual. In their statement, Kieryn notes specifically that the AMAB/AFAB language was inserted by them in an attempt to not make the language of the statement sound gender essentialist. They fully own that the way in which they did this failed to properly or carefully address the nuance of these terms, and thus veered into transmisogynistic impact.

Further, in screenshots obtained from group chats discussing the Magdalene Collective statement, it can be seen that Eve Ettinger was aware that Samantha Field was not present when the final draft was presented to the group, nor did she wait for Samantha to sign off on it before publishing.

 

It is strange, then, to see Chrissy running with this rhetoric to the point of encouraging targeted harassment of Samantha Field and attempting to harm her public advocacy work.

It also seems Janeway’s habit of misrepresenting situations and minimizing oppressive dynamics in order to protect her friends (as highlighted in my previous post) has come into play here.

This raises the questions:

  1. Was Chrissy was aware of these inaccuracies, yet proceeded anyway – as we saw with the Exvie Jedi Council thread?

  2. Or was Chrissy simply working from what she believed to be accurate information?

Regardless of the answer, the result is the same: targeted harassment of a queer woman based entirely on a falsehood.

  • Was the MC statement specifically targeted toward Chrissy Stroop?

This is one of the most confusing facets of this entire dispute. On the surface, it could be argued quite convincingly that Samantha’s conversation with Janeway indicates Chrissy was THE intended target of the statement.

Yet, this claim revolves around the insistence that Samantha was the author and organizer of all of this, that everyone who signed to the statement had issues with Chrissy, and that the intent of the post was to out Chrissy as trans feminine. However, what Janeway fails to consider is that Chrissy could be A target of the statement without being THE target.

In discussions of systemic forms of oppression, the catalyst for such discussion is often a particular incident that brings the issue at hand into focus. So, for instance, an incident with Chrissy Stroop in a private chat group might be the impetus for a larger group of people coming together to discuss how this incident represents a broader trend in a given community.

This would present a plausible explanation for why the focus of the statement itself was broadened to a number of trends within the Exvangelical community, and how they represent the tendency of trauma-based communities to fall back into toxic patterns when conflict within that community arises.

Also, given that Eve has stated that certain factors caused the statement to be rushed out while Sam had logged off to spend time with family, Sam’s claim to Janeway that the exact form the group’s public engagement would take hadn’t been solidified makes sense.

We cannot, of course, state conclusively that the Magdalene Collective did not produce the statement solely or primarily to target Chrissy. But a number of glaring inconsistencies and falsehoods in other claims used by Janeway and Chrissy to advance this narrative is reason enough to suggest that, at minimum, there are plausible reasons to doubt this thread of their narrative as well.

  • Was Chrissy Stroop forced out by this statement?

This is a particularly tricky and nuanced conversation, not least of which because the goalposts seem to be ever-shifting in the discussion.

Initially, Chrissy claimed that the intent of the MC signatories was to out her as genderqueer.

Particularly confusing is that Chrissy, on the same day she claimed to be targeted for being genderqueer, also described herself openly as a masc-presenting genderqueer AMAB. Chrissy’s initial claim, and follow-up comment, raise a number of concerns.

First, Chrissy has been out as genderqueer since at least 2017.

And has made public statements regarding her gender identity multiple times.

.

Further, when people questioned the narrative of Chrissy being outed gently, Chrissy initially engaged by stating she had only discussed her gender in small places seen by very few.

But, it is fundamentally dishonest for Chrissy to have made multiple public statements about her identity as a genderqueer person and still claim she was publicly outed.

Screenshot 2019-06-13 at 2.48.11 PM
And using the official hashtag for National Coming Out Day is hardly what one would call “fairly obscure places.”

Perhaps this is why Chrissy eventually changed her rhetoric and moved to stating that she was out as genderqueer, but not publicly out as trans feminine.

Screenshot 2019-06-13 at 2.48.51 PM.pngScreenshot 2019-06-13 at 2.49.43 PM.pngScreenshot 2019-06-13 at 2.50.22 PM
Since Chrissy was publicly out as genderqueer, using masculine pronouns, and acknowledging she operates from a place of male privilege it would hardly be correct to say that the AMAB/AFAB language in the MC statement was intended to out Chrissy at all. Instead, as a genderqueer person using masculine pronouns in public work, the designations AMAB/AFAB would be distinguishing between persons who identify as a man/woman (whether trans or cis) and persons who do not but still use feminine/masculine or neutral pronouns (genderqueer, agender or non-binary).

To be explicit, the impact of how Eve and Kieryn executed this language was undeniably transmisogynistic because it lacked the nuance or care use of such language required. But Chrissy’s claim is not only that this was the impact, but also that it was the explicit intent of the signatories to out her as trans feminine.

By introducing intent, Chrissy’s rhetoric collapses under its own weight. Even if some of the signatories knew Chrissy to be a genderqueer person, she was at the time using masculine pronouns and (in her own words) “male-presenting” in her public work. As such, the use of AMAB/AFAB language would not inherently out Chrissy, since Chrissy was already out as genderqueer at least as early as June 2017.

Had Chrissy not told everyone she is trans feminine, there is no reason why anyone would have assumed it. Any person could have easily searched Chrissy’s tweets and found her discussing being genderqueer and using masculine pronouns at the time the MC statement was published.

Chrissy could have comfortably said nothing whatsoever, continued to operate as genderqueer under masculine pronouns, and no one would’ve been the wiser.
It is interesting, then, to note that Chrissy repeatedly stated that the MC statement had valid concerns, and it was specifically that it was a (allegedly) targeted transphobic attack that undermined its arguments. Because, as demonstrated above, there isn’t much to back up that claim.

Screenshot 2019-06-13 at 2.51.20 PM.pngScreenshot 2019-06-13 at 2.53.11 PM.pngScreenshot 2019-06-13 at 2.54.02 PM.pngScreenshot 2019-06-13 at 2.54.59 PM

Self-defense?

Again, this does not mean that the wording of the statement wasn’t transmisogynist. This also does not mean that Chrissy’s gender identity is invalid. While there are a number of inconsistencies in Chrissy’s rhetoric, none of these are cause to deny her womanhood.

Nor does it mean that Chrissy wasn’t legitimately hurt by the wording.

Valid hurt can be expressed in harmful ways. And expressing that valid hurt by making inaccurate and false claims against other people has caused no small amount of harm.

For instance, Chrissy used the claims to organize public pushback and harassment of people via posts made on Twitter and in the Exvangelical Facebook community, which has over 5,000 members. One of these posts resulted in a person of color (who was not an MC statement signatory) being doxxed, threatened with violence, and harassed at their place of employment.

Screenshot 2019-06-13 at 2.56.08 PM.pngScreenshot 2019-06-13 at 2.56.51 PM.pngScreenshot 2019-06-13 at 2.57.43 PMScreenshot 2019-06-13 at 2.58.23 PM.pngScreenshot 2019-06-13 at 3.00.50 PM.pngScreenshot 2019-06-13 at 3.35.52 PMScreenshot 2019-06-13 at 3.37.02 PM.pngScreenshot 2019-06-13 at 3.06.05 PM.pngScreenshot 2019-06-13 at 3.07.41 PM.png
In fact, the malice of Chrissy’s targeted harassment of multiple persons, even those who did not sign the MC statement, was so evident that even Janeway herself insisted that it has gone too far.

Screenshot 2019-06-13 at 3.11.46 PM
Chrissy even went so far as to admit she was targeting people simply because she saw them as “neutral” regarding the Magdalene Collective.

Screenshot 2019-06-13 at 3.12.31 PM.png
Chrissy has also stated that, because she experienced harm at the wording of the MC statement, she feels justified in the tactics she has used to promote the online and offline harassment of multiple people. Harassment, for the record, based on claims that are at best inaccurate and at worst blatantly false. She even admits that she did this with intent to do harm, because she believes the harm to be justified.

Screenshot 2019-06-13 at 3.13.21 PM.pngScreenshot 2019-06-13 at 3.14.12 PM.png

Conclusion
What has been outlined above raises quite a few questions.

Most glaringly:

Why has Chrissy repeatedly platformed and promoted inaccurate and/or false narratives, with the admitted purpose of causing others harm, if this has all been about “self-defense”?

Also:

  1. Even though Chrissy’s hurt as a transfeminine person is valid, does that make the sort of malicious, targeted harassment she has engaged in and encouraged justifiable?
  2. If the MC statement was really all about Chrissy, why has she needed to engage in suspect and glaringly false rhetoric to keep herself centered in the discussion?
  3. In reading over Samantha’s initial claims to Janeway regarding Chrissy, is there any evidence of those trends in Chrissy’s recent words and actions?

In my previous post, I noted several red flags in Janeway’s rhetoric around and glaring inconsistencies in Chrissy’s public engagement with the Exvie Jedi Council incident and Ezer Rising accusations. In the analysis above, I see those same trends and inconsistencies carrying forward in ways that are both disheartening and unsettling.

It is my opinion that there is reason to question both the motives and methods of Chrissy’s targeting of multiple persons in the wake of the MC statement.

I leave it to the reader to discern if the questions I have raised have merit.

Cover photo by Emily Morter on Unsplash

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2 thoughts on “Questions

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