A 26 year old female artist from the Ivory Coast, Laetitia Ky, is being targeted online by trans activists for having wished “Happy birthday” to J.K. Rowling on Twitter in July, 2022. A week later, she found out about several TikTok videos calling her “transphobic” and telling users to report or unfollow her.
Ky told 4W that several users on Twitter were calling her names or insulting her while quote tweeting her “happy birthday” message. She was called a “nigger” and a “piece of shit” by some. Another user told her they hoped she would get ovarian cancer. Still others hoped that she would lose everything she built or that someone would steal her art.
“I started to follow JK Rowling and many radfems on Twitter, because they were the only ones advocating for the issues I was fighting against.”
On August 5, 2022, she took to Instagram to denounce the “many times” she has being called “transphobic” for “associating her womanhood” to her sex. “How many times I've received death threats, insults, people telling me they will tell my management and the brands I collaborate with, that I am transphobic just so I could lose everything I've built,” she wrote.
“That was too much for me and I said stop,” Ky told 4W. “I was tired of it. I called my sister while crying and she told me to stay calm. When we ended the call, I made the post to call them out.”
Ky does a lot of different art, like painting, acting, clothes and writing, but she’s mostly known by the way she sculpts her hair into different shapes - including a uterus.
Ky said that she started creating her art mostly for “fun and experimentation,” but when she realized that she could have an “impact on people”, especially “black people who felt represented and seen,” she decided to use her art to fight for women’s rights. “Ivory coast is a very misogynistic society,” she said, explaining she witnessed an “incredible amount of hate against women.” Ky wrote a book called “Love and Justice,” showcasing 125 hair sculptures and stories about her childhood in the Ivory Coast, as well as stories around “equality of sexes.”
“I started to use social media when I was around 17 or 18 to post random things about those inequalities before creating my hair.” Her work has reached a world-wide audience.
However, in 2019 she posted a picture of her hair in the shape of a uterus “giving the middle finger” to talk about abortion and was scolded by trans activists for not being “inclusive enough” because she said that abortion is a “woman’s issue.”
Since then, Ky says that she has been relentlessly attacked online. An Instagram user form Canada took a screenshot of her timeline and wrote that she was not and “ally” or a feminist. “She is openly transphobic. Unfollow her and burn her book,” the post says, without further explanations of what Ky said that was considered “transphobic.”
“I received a ton of messages from people mad because i was associating my womanhood with my sex… Many people were trying to tell me sex-based violence doesn't exist. I was shocked.”
“I discovered the way many women were treated for the same thing: associating womanhood with sex. I was revolted and felt disrespected,” said Ky. “I continue to post and every once in a while some people will pop in my DMs just to ask questions like "what's your views about trans women" (because of her posts about periods). She told 4W that she has also been harassed for liking posts stating female sport’s categories should be for females only. For instance, she received a screenshot of her “like” by someone who was threatening to send it to her employers as proof of her “transphobia.”
“I could post everything”, Ky said, “but as soon biology was implied in an issue (like FGM) and I was mentioning women, I would receive (messages from) people trying to "educate me" as they love to say.” Sometimes, Ky explained, she would try to ask questions like "what feeling like a woman means", or "what are the elements that make a person a woman." But she was told that these questions were also “transphobic.”
A man even told her that criticizing FGM was “racist” because it was “part of African culture.” She was “shocked to realize that some people would go as far as validating such awful practices just to push their agenda.” She also received private messages on social media asking about her pronouns.”This is a question that triggers me because I feel my womanhood denied when I get asked this,” she told 4W.
Several other women’s rights activists targeted online
Ky is not alone in her struggle to fight against female oppression, as other women’s rights campaigners have also been targeted in recent years. Hibo Wadere, a Somali anti-FGM campaigner who lives in Britain, also came under attack in 2021 for not being “inclusive.” In February that year, she was “piled on” on Twitter for talking about FGM as a “woman’s issue.” The next day, Wadere, author of the book “Cut,” posted a video on Twitter saying that she was “fuming” about being called a hater for fighting against FGM. “Why do you have to censor how I use my language? I’m a woman. Get over it!,” she finished her video.
“This world is big enough for all to live in,” Ms Wadere told 4W. “We don't want people interfering with others. No need to bully someone because their issues are real.
Everyone's issue is real to them, so bloody respect and do your own work on your own issue.”
Since 2021, trans activists have also been targeting Nomcebo Mkhaliphi, who raises awareness about menstruation. She tweets daily about normalizing periods in her country, Swaziland. On August 3, Mkhaliphi was told by user @CritFacts that if she “went around saying that only women have periods, that's insulting to trans men/nonbinary people who have periods.” A few days later, she also expressed concerns about the constant requests to use dehumanizing language towards women and girls, when she tweeted: “Please tell me I'm not the only one who does not like the word ‘menstruators’.”
“We should be addressed by proper names: Girls and Women,” Mkhaliphi said to 4W.
The Girdle organization, run by Sylvia Chioma, has also experienced online harassment for speaking exclusively about female issues. The Girdle focuses on fighting child marriage and FGM - Chioma wrote a book called “Cut Off.” However, similarly to Laetitia Ky, she constantly receives messages asking her about her “pronouns.” She sought advice with a radical feminist, and was advised to block trans activists to avoid harassment.
“I actually receive tons of such intimidating messages from trans people,” Chioma said, but she stated that she tries to ignore them and concentrates on her advocacy instead.
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