Accusations

This post represents the third in a blog series breaking down a number of red flags that have emerged during recent online disputes within the Exvangelical community.

In the first post, I used two related incidents to discuss specific patterns in the way Christian Janeway has addressed other people’s trauma and oppression, and a glaring discontinuity in Chrissy Stroop’s response to each of them.

In the second, I addressed a series of troubling claims made by Janeway and Chrissy Stroop and presented several points of analysis by which to judge their validity.

Disclaimer
As with previous posts, it is important to state certain things explicitly.

First, at no point will any person’s hurt be minimized or dismissed. It is possible to express legitimate feelings in ways that are unhealthy, harmful, and toxic to one’s self and others.

Second, Chrissy Stroop’s gender identity is not in question. Regardless of inconsistencies in her attack on the Magdalene Collective, Chrissy has expressed that she is trans feminine. I fully affirm her gender identity.

The screenshots below represent the name under which Chrissy Stroop was operating on Twitter at the time they were taken.

Third, the Magdalene Collective statement was demonstrably transmisogynistic in its impact. While I have argued in depth that this was not the intent of its signatories and highlighted why that matters in light of accusations made by Chrissy Stroop, this fact remains:

Impact outweighs intent.

Purpose

As with its predecessors, this post will represent an in-depth look at a particular incident and the rhetoric surrounding it. In doing so, I will present my own analysis and conclusions based on the research I have done.

I am not a neutral party, and I will not pretend to be one. As has been clear in previous posts, my research has led me to form specific conclusions. And I stand by those conclusions.

While I will present not only the evidence but also my interpretation thereof, it remains to the reader to determine the validity of these arguments and form their own opinions.

The Accusations

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On June 1, 2019, Hannah Paasch accused the moderators of the Exvangelical Facebook moderator team of engaging in racist harassment targeting Charlotte Henderson.

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Hannah was referring to a recent incident, outlined by Charlotte on Twitter, in which Charlotte was removed as a mod for the Exvie FB group. Charlotte insisted that the ways in which the moderator team went about this denied her any form of consent.

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She also claimed that, after speaking up about this treatment, she was harassed in her DMs by at least three separate mods calling her a liar and an abuser.

A number of the moderators responded to this claim by insisting that Charlotte was, in fact, the problem and that she had essentially invited this treatment upon herself. It was their unanimous contention that they were justified in their arguments and actions against Charlotte and that accusing them of racism was absurd.

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Chrissy Stroop continued to advance the false narrative that the MC statement had been a targeted transphobic attack against her, denying that anyone had done anything that might be considered harmful. According to Chrissy, Charlotte is simply misrepresenting the situation.

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Chrissy claimed, ironically, to have been scapegoated by the statement and claimed Charlotte is supporting a “TERF manifesto.”

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In similar fashion, Exvie Facebook group mod Chad Schobert also took to Paasch’s mentions to accuse her of using race to “control the narrative.” He went on to insist that he “understand[s] how it looks. Though sometimes that dynamic is not the actual cause.”
Emerging from this rather contentious series of back and forth exchanges are several allegations that must be considered. I will divide them up as follows:

  • Did Charlotte Henderson engage in an intentional and targeted transphobic attack on Chrissy Stroop?
  • Is Charlotte lying about her removal from the Exvie FB mod team, as other mods have alleged?
  • Has the response of the Exvie FB mod team toward Charlotte been racist?

It is my hope that, in answering these questions, the reader will recognize patterns established in previous posts and how they continue to operate in the actions of Chrissy Stroop and her cohorts.

Did Charlotte Henderson engage in an intentional and targeted transphobic attack on Chrissy Stroop?

As established in my previous post, the obvious answer to this question is a resounding: NO!

The impact of the Magdalene Statement was transphobic because the authors, several of whom are on the trans spectrum, used language common within the trans community (AFAB/AMAB) but framed it with a lack of nuance that veered dangerously close to the sort of rhetoric one might expect to read in TERF screed.

But failing to mind nuance in wording is not the same thing as engaging in a targeted and bigoted attack on Chrissy. And there is simply no evidence to support Chrissy’s repeated claims that this was their intent.

However, it is important to unpack exactly how these accusations have been leveled against Charlotte, and how she has responded to them.

Charlotte Henderson has, for some time, been an integral member of the Exvangelical community. Among her many contributions have been her service as a long term moderator of the Exvangelical Facebook group and an excellent post she wrote on the intersections of purity culture and black womanhood as part of Emily Joy and Hannah Paasch’s coordinated online protest of the G2 Summit.

In the wake of the pushback against the MC statement’s demonstrably transphobic wording, Charlotte issued a public apology. In this apology, she acknowledged the damage done and stated that she was unaware of the transphobic implications of the wording chosen.

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She did not then, nor has she in any of her statements since, made excuses or attempted to minimize the impact of the MC statement.

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However, despite her immediate and unequivocal renunciation of the transphobic language of the statement, Chrissy Stroop still demanded a personal apology from Charlotte using the false claim that she had been personally targeted by the MC statement.

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Charlotte responded by issuing a personal apology to Chrissy accordingly.

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Chrissy’s response to her apology was entirely baffling, as she claimed to be unaware of any grievances against her. This claim goes directly against later statements made by Chrissy (as outlined in my previous post), in which she provided a series of screenshots claiming that certain Magdalene Collective members had accused her of being a grifter, a claim which I argue is patently false.

But Chrissy has not been the only person advancing the demonstrably false claim that Chrissy was targeted for transphobia. Chad Schobert has also been rather aggressive in advancing this claim.

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Like Chrissy before him, Chad repeatedly misrepresents the views of his critics while relying on aggression and false claims to try to shut down the conversation and paint those he disagrees with as enemies and abusers.

Chad even repeatedly advances the demonstrably false claim that Charlotte has not attempted to take responsibility for her role in the MC statement. It seems Chad will only accept a complete and utter submission to his narrative, even if it is based entirely on a false accusation of targeted transphobia.

The fact remains, there is absolutely no evidence that Chrissy Stroop was targeted for being transfemme, and there is ample evidence against any claim that the statement forced Chrissy to out herself. Public aggression against a woman of color based on a blatant falsehood is hardly a rousing demonstration of moral high ground.

But one could object that Chad believes what he is saying to be true, given that he doesn’t have the benefit of hindsight presented by my previous posts. However, it seems just as likely that Chad simply does not understand the complexity of events and is taking Chrissy’s words uncritically.

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After all, it is Chad and not Charlotte who misgendered Chrissy in this exchange. Accusing someone of transphobia while blatantly misgendering the transfemme he claims to be defending ought to raise concerns. And those concerns become glaring red flags when it becomes evident that Chad cannot differentiate between Charlotte addressing the nuances of intent and impact, and her simply defending the statement outright.

Still, Chad and Chrissy have not been the only persons accusing Charlotte of lying about the events surrounding her removal from the mod group. As such, it is also important to consider, apart from the blatant falsehoods bolstering the attacks on Charlotte by Chrissy and Chad, whether there is any merit to the accusations that Charlotte is engaging dishonestly.

Is Charlotte lying about her removal from the Exvie FB mod team, as other mods have alleged?

Charlotte claims that she was not given any say in the matter or the opportunity to step down. Instead, she was removed from the mod team without her consent, followed by a dishonest post within the FB group claiming she had agreed to step down.

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This is the message Charlotte was sent after she was removed as moderator. According to this mod, Charlotte was removed so that the group could better center the feelings and hurt of Chrissy Stroop. It should be noted that the message doesn’t appear to suggest Charlotte possessed any foreknowledge that this decision had been made.

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In this vein, it is important to emphasize that Charlotte has been insistent from the beginning that she understands why she was removed but does not agree with how it was done.

Meanwhile, the mod team insists Charlotte is trying to falsely “paint yourself as a victim” and twisting the truth in order to make the mod team out to be the villains.

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In DMs sent to Charlotte after she publicly accused the mod team of removing her without her consent, multiple mods insisted her actions were a betrayal of trust and an attempt to avoid responsibility. It is clear this person considers Charlotte untrustworthy.

It is pertinent, then, to see exactly what the mods told the Exvangelical FB community and how members responded.

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The mod team announced that Charlotte had been “asked” to step down so she could take time to heal and allow the group to rebuild trust. They also claimed that The Magdalene Collective was a TERF group, effectively erasing the fact that several of the members are trans persons. They further claimed that the MC sought to invalidate the experiences of trans women, while failing to note that multiple signatories have issued public apologies affirming the experiences of trans women and owning the transphobic impact of its wording.

In this way, the framing of this decision is already decidedly dishonest, whether by intent or simply by ignorance due to a lack of research.

But does it represent an accurate portrayal of how Charlotte was removed? Is Charlotte’s accusation that the mods lied to the group accurate?

It is noteworthy that several group members felt the mods version of events was foundationally dishonest.

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Several members accused the moderators of outright lying to them. And in their responses, the inconsistencies became quickly clear. While the original post claimed Charlotte was “asked” a moderator defending that post later stated “we placed her on hiatus.” Further, whereas the original post claimed she was working to repair harm done and needed time to do so, the same moderator later contradicted this by insisting “she was unwilling to continue to repair harm.”

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These evasive tactics continued as others confronted the mods regarding how they treated Charlotte. In response, the mods attempted to move the goalposts by claiming “she chose to leave.” However, while it is true Charlotte chose to leave the FB group after being made a member, she did not choose to leave the mod team.

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And yet another member noted that the mod team has a reputation of transparency, before stating that they needed to clarify the seeming contradictions in their version of events.

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However, rather than engage honestly or work to provide clarity, Chrissy Stroop defended the mod team’s actions by resorting to false accusations and distractionary rhetoric.

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As these trends became more and more glaring, members continued to push for transparency and straightforward answers, and the mods kept repeating the same evasive answers.

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The contradictions continued as Chad Schobert portrayed the mod team’s decision as Charlotte being “put on probation.” Chad then stated that, because she had attacked Chrissy, leaving her in place would put the group at risk. Emily added to this by essentially telling the group that the mod team can make whatever decisions it deems necessary and isn’t accountable to the broader group for those decisions. And as these mods continued to talk themselves in self-contradictory circles, it explicitly became clear that Charlotte had not actually left the mod team of her own volition.

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Yet, when a member pointed out that the behaviors and rhetoric of the mod team closely resemble how an Evangelical church would handle an internal scandal, members were told that the mod team had been perfectly transparent and all the confusion was solely Charlotte’s fault.

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These repeatedly self-contradictory claims serve only to obfuscate by deflecting criticism with gaslighting and blame shifting. These are hardly the tactics one would expect from those invested in telling the truth.

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As noted above, these tensions also spilled over to Charlotte’s Twitter feed as the mods began publicly accusing her of lies.

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As with the FB group discussion, the mods simply couldn’t get the story straight.

At one point, Blake Chastain was saying there hadn’t been a discussion without Charlotte, and immediately after Amy Congdon was openly noting Charlotte was never included in the discussion about her stepping down.

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Further, Amy also stated unequivocally that the mods did in fact remove Charlotte without consulting her and were right in doing so so they could center the hurt done to Chrissy.

What emerges from the mod team’s statements is a level of self-contradiction and falsehood entirely consistent with the attacks Chrissy Stroop orchestrated against Samantha Field.

And as I have previously stated, the only reason Chrissy Stroop has been centered in any of this is that she centered herself. She was out at the time as a self-described masc-presenting genderqueer individual. Even if the statement had been primarily targeted at Chrissy, nothing about the wording of the MC statement contradicted the identity Chrissy has already publicly acknowledged.

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This makes Chad Schobert’s incredibly aggressive pattern of engagement rather troubling.

He acknowledges that Charlotte was not consulted, and then insists she deserved no element of consent before being removed from the mod team. But, the entire basis for denying that consent was a series of lies told by Chrissy Stroop.

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In the midst of defending Chrissy, it becomes clear that Chad doesn’t seem to understand how consent works (at least in this situation). As Charlotte points out, replying with “okay” to being told you have no choice is decidedly different than being included in the conversation. And knowing it was a temporary act has absolutely no bearing on whether something is fair or civil. Even if one were to consider Chad’s words above civil (a stretch by any measure of the word), a civil tone would not change the impact of the mod team’s actions on Charlotte.

Much like Chrissy Stroop launching her entirely false and self-admittedly malicious targeted attacks on Samantha Field, it seems Chad is far more concerned with coming out looking “good” than with the actual impact of his words. Chad’s repeated attempts to discredit Charlotte’s own feelings, thoughts, and lived experiences are a fairly blatant example of gaslighting.

Given the repeatedly self-contradictory claims made by the mod team, and the decidedly dishonest tactics used to defend them, I see absolutely no evidence to support their claim that Charlotte is lying.

Has the response of the remaining mod team toward Charlotte been racist?

As we approach this question, a number of disturbing things emerge.

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Most clearly evident among them is the blatant tokenism Chrissy Stroop has perpetrated.

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After demanding Charlotte issue a public apology for a blatant lie, Chrissy then weaponized Charlotte’s apology as the basis for rejecting other Magdalene Collective member’s public statements and apologies.

In doing so, Chrissy was willing to center Charlotte’s words when it fit her purposes, granting Charlotte proximity to privilege – sparing her from the sort of targeted and malicious harassment she organized against others – in exchange for a particular performance. When she stuck to the script, Charlotte was upheld as an exemplar.

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But it’s notable that Charlotte’s public apologies never once acknowledged the statement as an intentional and targeted attack on Chrissy. This doesn’t prevent Chrissy from lying to justify the public harassment, demonization, and ostracizing of Charlotte the minute she refused to defer to Chrissy and her defenders.

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And even in rescinding her acceptance of Charlotte’s apology, Chrissy uses her as a tool to shame the rest of the Magdalene Collective.

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In addition to demonizing Charlotte, Chrissy seems intent on distracting from the fact that other signatories have issued personal apologies to her. Apologies that Chrissy has rejected, even from those who believed Chrissy’s false narrative of being forced out.

Even more important, is the way Chrissy’s words serve as a reminder that she considers Charlotte a tool in her arsenal. As the lone black moderator (formerly) in a sea of mostly white faces, Charlotte is being reminded that that position was predicated on remaining convenient.

The minute her experience didn’t fit Chrissy’s or the mod team’s desired public image, she was forced out and painted a liar. Those who defended Charlotte were subjected to moved goalposts, shifted blame, and blatant gaslighting.

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This became further evident as Chrissy dismissed charges of racism by noting the FB group is “working to expand the mod team’s diversity quickly” – as if adding another person of color to the mod team will somehow address the blatantly anti-black racist attitudes on display in the way Charlotte has been treated.

It seems clear that Chrissy’s and the mod team’s public image is what is most important. Dishonest and misleading engagement is justified in the name of appearing “good,” even if that occurs at the expense of a queer black woman.

And as if to confirm these suspicions, the mod team chose to justify these aggressions by resorting to the racist trope of the angry black woman.

When Charlotte chose to leave the Exvie FB group, rather than be further subjected to a dynamic designed to protect a white woman’s (Chrissy Stroop) feelings and appearance at all costs, Charlotte was told she was “escalating.” Charlotte was “playing the victim” and making the predominantly white mod team out to be “villains” by attempting to tell her own story and express her own experiences.

When she blocked some of the mod team in the interest of her own well-being, Charlotte was being overly aggressive. Since she had not yet carried out the labor they all felt they deserved, she was clearly in the wrong.

And when Chrissy Stroop, a white woman, accused Charlotte of abuse with literally no evidence, the mods decided Charlotte was unworthy of consent and needed to be excised from their group.

As we saw above, Chad even took it so far as to insist that the mod team’s actions were “civil” and “fair,” thus setting the terms of civility and fairness in ways that serve to privilege himself (a white man), and those who agree with him, and explicitly silence and invalidate a queer black woman.

Given these dynamics at play, it seems to me that Hannah Paasch’s accusation of racism is decidedly accurate.

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So why is Chrissy Stroop still, as of June 8, 2019, continuing to claim that she was the person who was being harassed?

Conclusion

The hurt Chrissy, a trans woman, felt at the language of the MC statement is valid. She was owed, as were all trans feminine persons, an apology for the transmisogynist impact of the statement.

But we must recognize that it is possible to affirm Chrissy Stroop as transfemme and unequivocally condemn transmisogyny without centering her, accepting the lies she had propagated against others, or giving a pass to the blatantly racist treatment of Charlotte Henderson.

With this in mind, I pose a question:

Given that Chrissy has acknowledged that the Magdalene Statement raised valid concerns, despite the mistakes made in its wording, what might be her motivation in using lies and harassment to prevent those concerns from being discussed?

It seems to me that the patterns outlined in this series suggest a rather disturbing answer. I leave it to the reader to make up their own mind on the matter.

Cover Photo by Bud Helisson on Unsplash

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2 thoughts on “Accusations

  1. This was a really, really excellent and thoughtful breakdown of exactly what went down and why I was so uncomfortable with it.

    Like

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