Washington Post “journalist” Caitlin Dewey has written a Twitter bot to automatically shame users of the service who dare refer to newly minted “woman” Bruce “Caitlyn” Jenner as “he.”
If Jenner is a woman, does this mean “she” must relinquish the men’s decathlon medal “she” won in the 1976 Olympics under apparently false pretenses?
The move follows the online lynching of actor Drake Bell, who committed the thought crime of saying he was still going to refer to Jenner by the name he used for the past 65 years until two days ago.
The bot’s Twitter profile page links to the radical site of gay rights agitators GLAAD.
Since a string of online outlets discovered the bot last night, it’s gained pretty steady steam: 1,300 Twitter mentions and 800 followers, as of this writing. We suspect the Interest will fade down as the news cycle moves on. But for a span of hours, sitting behind the controls of @she_not_he, I got a very unusual, up-close look at the conversation around Jenner’s transition — and the way social media impacts these narratives more generally.
See, there are four distinct types of people who respond to an automated, misgender-correcting bot. You have your bot-haters, who are perhaps justified in their hate. (“This is spam,” “You can’t read,” etc.) You have your irredeemable, stomach-turning transphobic folks, who are rarely justified in anything. (“Shut up, he’s an it now anyway.”) You have your fans, your improbable followers, all tweeting praise-hands and #followfridays.
Best of all, though, are the reformees. There are very, very few of them, admittedly — but particularly in the beginning, before the bot went viral, we saw strings of well-meaning @-replies from tweeters around the country, tweets that apologized for ignorance or explained that they hadn’t previously known about these things.
Meanwhile, Daily Caller’s Ben Shapiro wonders whether the left should be encouraging and celebrating Jenner’s mental illness to further their political goals.