It’s day five of Mardi Gras and already there’s been issues of transphobia and racism in one of the events. Oh boy.
Les-Talk, a panel set to go ahead next week, has been dropped from the official Mardi Gras festival schedule after backlash against one of the panellists, American YouTuber Arielle Scarcella.
For those of you who didn’t have a deep lesbian YouTube phase in 2013, Arielle is a prominent lesbian YouTuber who makes videos about women, sexuality, and culture. In the last few years, her views have become increasingly transphobic, as have her collaborations and associations with other LGBTQ+ personalities.
Arielle Scarcella (totally) being a trans ally: A THREAD
— declan 🏳️🌈 (@declanisgay) February 2, 2020
She believes, among other things, that in order to be transgender, you need to have gender dysphoria, the distress experienced when someone’s gender and body don’t feel connected. Many in the LGBTQ+ community feel as though this view medicalises trans experiences, as well as invalidates ideas around the colonial construct of gender.
ACON, one of NSW’s biggest health providers for LGBTQ+ people, states that “many trans and gender diverse people do not experience gender dysphoria… The trans and gender diverse experience is not a mental illness.”
She’s also the sort of person to joke about “97 genders.” You know, something that wouldn’t sound out of place coming from Lyle Shelton. Definitely the sort of person we should be having at Mardi Gras.
#transphobia is the new boy/girl/they who cried wolf
— Arielle Scarcella (@ArielleScarcell) January 16, 2020
Over the weekend, a Change.org petition was started, calling on the panellists to withdraw from the event and for Mardi Gras to withdraw their endorsement and sponsorship of the event if Scarcella was attending. The Metro Theatre will also not be hosting the event. It was successful with 1,322 supporters, and now Scarcella is the only guest, but the event still seems to be going ahead.
Many of her supporters expressed anger over the “only lesbian event” at Mardi Gras being cancelled, but trust this Sydney lesbian when I say that it isn’t the only lesbian event.
When you say that transgender people are only valid if they undergo procedures you are discriminating against;
— Johnny Valkyrie (@johnevalk) February 18, 2020
The premise of the event is worrying as well, with the event stating that the panel “aims to encourage wholesome conversations about the cultural differences between Australian Lesbians and POC Australian Lesbians.”
Sorry? Why the distinction between Australian and POC lesbians? Also, what can an American bring to this discussion anyway?
Whoever booked Arielle Scarcella clearly isn’t in the lesbian community because why would you a) book a noted transphobe most of the lesbian community hates and b) book an AMERICAN to talk about AUSTRALIAN lesbian culture?? We have plenty of our own lesbians??
— lydia jupp (@lydiarosejupp) February 16, 2020
Scarcella cannot be a lesbian spokesperson or advocate if she doesn’t advocate for all lesbians, including the trans ones. Many lesbians and other queer women have disowned her because of her repeated transphobic and racist behaviour.
Hayden Moon, a founding member of the group Trans Action Warrang experienced this racism first hand.
I do actually 🙂 1. Being upset as an Indigenous transgender person because of her racist and transphobic behaviour is completely valid and has nothing to do with “pity points”. She is coming onto Aboriginal land, the land of my people, stolen land, and she speaks this way to me pic.twitter.com/x2etvnBfA6
— Hayden Moon (@hayden_seek94) February 16, 2020
“I think it’s important to point out the racism that she exhibited toward the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community in addition to her transphobia.” Hayden said in a statement to 5Why. “First Nations people have existed here for thousands of years and our culture has always welcomed trans people. Her denial of our existence in conjunction with her transphobic behaviour is also colonialist and racist. Additionally her use of the word ‘chief’ in response to me, in a way of belittling me is an example of cultural appropriation and racism. Furthermore her claiming that I wanted “pity points” by stating that I’m Indigenous continues this harmful rhetoric that people like myself are actively trying to distance ourselves from. I don’t want anyone’s pity.”
Her followers, the people who would be attending the event, have sent death threats to trans people who have spoken out against Arielle in the past. This behaviour alienates trans people, even putting them at risk of violence. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound like an inclusive “wholesome” event to me.
The event organiser is currently looking for more panelists, but with no venue, they might have some difficultly going ahead. Scarcella has spoken against Mardi Gras, saying the deplatforming of the event is homophobic and silences women.
Image Source: Twitter, Instagram