We Will Not Be Forced Back into the Closet: A Statement from the KC Trans Community

As the murder rate against trans people reaches an all-time high, a hate group infamous for inciting violence on campuses nationwide hosted a rally calling for the eradication of trans people. This brought other extremists, like members of the /pol/ board that radicalized two recent mass shooters, to the University of Missouri - Kansas City on April 11, 2019. The admin, campus police and KCPD ignored requests from the student body to protect those most at risk, and instead went after the trans students who were there speaking up and protesting in defense of their humanity. Many of us were pepper sprayed, kicked and punched by the police.

Alexis Dabu, an autistic Filipino trans woman studying Computer Science, was tackled and tasered multiple times, had a knee forced on her neck and then was placed in a men's jail (putting her at risk of sexual assault) and denied access to her medications. She has been suspended right before finals, with the Chancellor pushing for expulsion while calling her a 'he', backed up by the Director of Student Conduct and Civility offering Alexis expulsion as an informal disposition option! She has no criminal history, yet she faces possible jail time, has been pushed into hiding, and dehumanized due by the media coverage. There is a fundraiser for her and the other protesters that night, hosted by the Kansas City Anti-Violence Project.

 

Furthermore, her pre-transition deadname was released in a university press release which has received national coverage. Failing to even get Alexis' name or gender right, this has left out the context of the protest and her treatment by the police. If there are any legitimate journalists these days reading this, here's the GLAAD guide on how to write about trans people.

The leader of the hate rally claimed that Alexis used bleach, milking this lie all the way to an interview on Fox News, but even the Chancellor admits testing shows no toxic chemicals were used. The only unusual substances that day were glitter and lavender, followed by pepper spray and Alexis' own blood. Bots and online trolls continue to push this fake news further, claiming that she used "chemical weapons of mass destruction" in order to portray her and the rest of the trans community as terrorists.

In reality, we are the victims of terror, both in events like this, and on a daily basis. Under patriarchal society, which professional propagandists like Michael Knowles are paid big bucks to promote and enforce, trans people are denied freedom expression, healthcare, housing, and employment, and some end up raped, beaten and/or mudered. And when most of the population already struggles to get by, these factors push us to our limits - many, especially trans women of color, end up having to sell their bodies on the streets.

We do not have millions of dollars to pay for lawyers, PR agents, or online bots, silencing our free speech, and allowing this story to be warped by those who do have those resources.

We agree with the incoming Student Government Association president's assertion that these events were orchestrated by off-campus reactionaries. The hosts for this attack, the so-called Young Americans for "Freedom", identified by the SPLC as a hate group, force violent far-right figures like recruiters for neo-Nazi paramilitaries onto campuses across the nation, threatening violence against students who oppose them.

This is funded by a group of corporation-owned political operatives called the State Policy Network. Some of the "coverage" around these events was even provided by Campus Reform, another SPN member. The SPN is in turn a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council, which exploited the narrative they engineered around these events in order to push their bills in Missouri and other state legislatures - using us as scapegoat!

Injustice breeds resistance - we refuse to let these attacks force us back into the closet, after so many of us have spent years or even decades fighting for freedom.

 A group of trans people present at the protest have been organizing, compiling this extensive statement in to correct the narrative, with an attached petition for our demands. We hope to overcome our lack of a platform with the support of readers like you getting the word out.

We already have the support of multiple Kansas City organizations, along with a significant number of people at UMKC and other universities, and are building a future where nothing like this happens again, here or elsewhere, starting by holding the police and the university accountable for allowing these events to happen.

We condemn this attack and demand justice. The university admin must:

  1. Admit that YAF, as a known hate group, should have never been allowed on campus, let alone long enough to host a hate rally that ended in trans students being injured. UMKC students tried to warn the administration about YAF's violence against trans people at other universities, and these events were orchestrated by an off-campus force, violating the very definition of a student organization.
  2. Begin repairing the damage done to the lives of their own marginalized students by dropping the university charges against Alexis, and recommending that the city prosecutor do the same. As an autistic trans woman of color, she is at disporportionate risk of being trapped in the justice system or pushed onto the streets. She would not be facing this threat had the university protected their marginalized students in the first place, and her future shouldn't be ruined for standing up to hate.
  3. Correct the extensive deadnaming of Alexis in a press release, complete with an apology from the Chancellor for misgendering her. If the university is committed to diversity and inclusion for trans people, then they should do the basic task of respecting their names and pronouns.

These demands are supported by the following 200+ public signatures of local organizations, students, alumni and other members/supporters of the trans community (along with all the people who cannot safely sign, or who have not yet seen this petition):


You can click on a signature with a message to see what they wrote, and the list can be sorted and filtered on desktop. Entries at UMKC have a blue dot. If you don't see any names above this text, try clicking here.

We will not stop until we have justice. Given the support for these demands, we hope that the university administration will learn from the mistakes of colleagues at Mizzou, and will act in the interests of the student body, rather than furthering this injustice by trying to sweep it under the rug. As Martin Luther King wrote in his Letter From A Birmingham Jail:

There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over and men are no longer willing to be plunged into an abyss of injustice where they experience the bleakness of corroding despair.


Full Statement: Table of Contents

Background: The Young Americans for Fascism

This attack began when when the UMKC chapter of Young Americans for "Freedom" (YAF), the only student organization ever identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group, announced that they were hosting Micheal Knowles for a hate rally denouncing trans women, using talking points ultimately meant to justify our annhilation.

Knowles was an actor, and quite frankly, he still is one. While he claims to be on the side of objectivity, the actual content of his speech shows a total disregard for reality (beyond his own income), and consists purely of baseless, subjective attacks on trans people, denouncing us as "mutilated". He has even claimed that "transgenderism" is somehow connected to the Notre Dam burning! This is the fascist method of propaganda - repeat bullshit about marginalized groups over and over again until people believe it is true!

Regardless of if he's in it just for the thousands he makes off speaking fees at these rallies, or if he actually believes his own shit, the effect is the same - inciting violence against trans people.

Given YAF's history, their involvement amplified this threat to the transgender community of Kansas City, especially our students at UMKC

The chapter founder and president, Seth Schibler, has described the event as "the revivial of the conservative movement" at UMKC.

Partial credit - YAF revived something onto our campus - but it's far from just "conservative"!

As an article in The American Conservative written by one of their national founders describes it, while YAF originated in 1960 as fairly standard conservatives, the organization was co-opted and taken into an extremist direction.

In 2007, at Michigan State University, YAF hosted "Straight Power" events, protesting an anti-discrimination ordinance and carrying signs reading "End Faggotry" and "Go Back in the closet". They invited many hate speakers such as members of neo-Nazi paramilitaries, Klan members and Holocaust deniers to MSU.

Kyle Bristow, at the time chairman of this chapter, posted pictures of himself with a combat shotgun, with explosions added in a reference to the Turner Diaries. This novel is the bible of far-right terrorists, depicting a nuclear-armed fascist takeover of the United States, resulting in a pornographically detailed massacre of non-white people, white allies (called "race traitors"), Jewish people, communists, and LGBT people. Dozens of fascist paramilitaries and terrorists have been inspired by this novel, including the Oklahoma City bomber that killed 168 people (the deadliest domestic terror attack in US history).

Kyle Bristow, MSU-YAF chairman, holding a shotgun with explosions in the background.
Image credit: Southern Poverty Law Center

Just like his fellow white supremacists, Kyle Bristow was not satisfied to leave the Turner Diaries a fiction. His YAF chapter invaded other student organizations, mocked the murders of union organizers in Columbia, and harassed LGBT and non-white students online, sending their names, phone numbers and addresses to violent, off-campus hate groups. Students at MSU filed complaints to remove YAF from their campus. The MSU president responded the same way that the UMKC Chancellor has - that all of these attacks count as free speech, with no concern for the free speech of the students being terrorized by this hatred!

MSU somehow allowed Kyle Bristow to graduate after all this. In 2018, he thanked them by issuing a federal lawsuit against his own alma matter in order to force them to allow his client, Richard Spencer, onto the MSU campus, even after Spencer led the "Unite the Right" march in Charlottesville, resulting in the murder of Heather Hayer at the hands of neo-Nazis. Spencer is also infamous for his hate rallies, complete with Nazi salutes, hailing Donald Trump as the savior of "our people" (the "master race"), and calling for the audience to "conquer or die".

This is the kind of "educational lecture" which YAF forces onto campuses all across the nation, as UMKC & others fail to protect their students.

Meanwhile, at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, 204 students signed onto a petition calling for the removal of the YAF chapter there. They noted, that just like at MSU, YAF at UW-Madison had shifted from ultra-conservatism to alt-right terror. YAF at MSU outed and misgendered students at their campus, putting their lives in danger. They also doxed (released private information of) campus activists protesting their events, and sent it to violent, off-campus hate groups.

YAF's presence at UMKC would prove to have the same effect as their siblings.

On March 22, a week after the Christchurch massacre, YAF tabled at the UMKC library with a sign that said "HATE SPEECH IS FREE SPEECH, CHANGE MY MIND". This is a mockery of the 50 innocent people murdered due to the same white supremacist ideology which YAF defends. And in a clear attack on the LGBT community, this was conducted on same day as UMKC Pride Breakfast!

3 YAF members tabling with a sign reading "Hate Speech is Free Speech", change my mind

In the middle is Seth Schibler, President of this YAF chapter

This combined with the behavior of other YAF chapters, created a hostile environment against all marginalized groups on campus and should have been grounds to revoke YAF as a student organization per Title IX, and the University's own code of conduct. But just like MSU's administration, the UMKC administration claimed that these attacks were free speech, ultimately aligning themselves with YAF's message.

YAF has no support on campus. Except for the protesters, the event was almost entirely attended by non-students. Knowles has a speaking fee reportedly in the thousands of dollars - there's no way that YAF's 3 stooges could have raised that themselves. We have been informed by a person present at their meetings that YAF receives funding from a national right-wing organization to host these events. This is further evidence that they were never a legitimate organization. According to the first paragraph of the Office of Student Involvement's own Student Organization Reference Guide:

Organizations will be student-centered, student-driven and student-led and participation is voluntary. Control by any outside entity, public or private, or non-student of the University shall not be permitted.

Their sponsor, the Young Americas Foundation (yes, same acronym), is a part of the State Policy Network (SPN), along with the the Young Americans for Freedom. This organization has over 80 million dollars in yearly revenue, and serves as the political action arm of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), another organization funded by corporations to push their special interests - the suppression of unions, defunding private education, tobacco, fossil fuels, etc. In their own words, they exist to provide corporations "a voice and a vote". Most recently, ALEC poured millions of dollars towards the union-busting "Right To Work" (for less!) bill in Missouri, which was shot down by popular referendum.

When a far-right network backed by billionaires invaded UMKC to attack the transgender community, many of us were scared for our lives. But instead of staying silent, we, the people of Kansas City, stepped up and spoke up.

The chancellor in his first statement would later describe this protest as "a collision of two principles that we steadfastly support: the right to free expression and the right to civil protest in response to views we disagree with". This phrasing contradicts itself - the right to protest is the very basis for freedom of speech.

Free speech did not fall from the sky. It originates in the needs of revolutionary democracy - the right for the people to rebel against unjust powers, earned by overthrowing the "divine rights" of kings. YAF, the university and the billionaires funding this attack have turned this upside down. Instead of truth speaking to power, we now have power speaking an unopposed "truth". This is the definition of fascist propaganda, not free speech! Ultimately, our protest represents free speech more than the administration or YAF.

The Protest

Knowles claims that his event was a "lecture", there was no educational material at all, just far-right agitation against trans people. The few times he even mentions evidence is on shaky grounds, for instance indirectly relying on the well-criticized "social and peer contagion" paper.

He also presented anti-transgender talking points from a schism from the feminist movement called Trans Exclusionary "Radical" Feminists (TERFs). This reactionary faction, which has been denounced by the mainstream feminist movement, pushes for the the elimination of trans women, by abusing positions of power to deny healthcare and housing to trans people, and even engages in physical violence against trans women.

Knowles forms this unholy alliance with TERFs in order to grab any justification for his own attacks against the spectre of "transgender ideology", despite the explicitly anti-feminist message of his own speech - "Men Are Not Women", a statement that normatively upholds the gender binary. This contradiction reveals his total lack of intellectual integrity, or anything resembling honesty.

The rest of the time, our failed actor turned professional propagandist avoids any sort of contact with reality. For instance, he claims that trans people are opposed to science, that trans women are actually men, and describes trans people as "mutilated". He claims that these arguments are just "common sense", and don't need proof - if so, then why is he up there rambling about it for an hour? 

The Nazis had their lies against Jewish people. We all know where those went, and we'd rather not see where these lies against the trans community are headed.

Knowles was also tipped off to a Snapchat post that called for a walkout, reading it at the beginning of his speech, while changing the wording significantly in an effort to confuse and misdirect this peaceful protest. Still, despite all of this, the walkout still happened.

The crowd in attendence for this hate rally, mostly consisting of white, upper class non-students, swallowed up Knowles' lies against the trans community and made fun of the trans protesters present.

At least one person brought onto campus by this event was a member of "Kansas City Anti-Communist Action". This group is a real world manifestation of 4chan's /pol/ board, self-describing as monarchist, regularly posting articles attacking liberal democracy, Jewish people and black people. The "full-chan" version of /pol/ on 8chan goes even further and prides themselves on radicalizing the Chabad of Poway Synagogue and Christchurch Massacre shooters.

A member (with a friend or fellow member) at this event commented on live stream "Physical removal top kek". The phrase "physical removal" comes from a book called Democracy: The God That Failed, and refers to killing leftists (often described in reference to Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet's use of helicopters for mass executions). Following the fascist tendency to appropriate religious and occult symbols (like the swastika), "kek" is the "ironic" diety of the alt-right, claimed to be the summoning of the Egyptian God of chaos.

After the protest, 4chan /pol/ users like this attendee and his friends made comments about this protest like "I can't wait for the day when all of these worthless shits' mutilated corpses are hanging high".

"very fine people on both sides"

Notice that these death threats use the term "mutiliated" to describe trans people, a description promoted by Michael Knowles in his "lecture".

Offline groups were present as well, such as the vigilante Bikers for Trump, who act as a private "security" group.

A mixture of glitter and lavender appeared on the scene. To avoid interfering with an ongoing legal case, we cannot comment further, but it is worth noting that Michael Knowles on his own video responded with laughter and identified the substance as glitter paint:

Despite being clearly unharmed and unphased by these events, he would then later go on Twitter to claim that he was hit with bleach.

A member of the UMKC College Democrats, who was standing next to Knowles, "did not see, feel or smell bleach or a bleach-like substance". Neither did any of us, including one woman with a bleach sensitivity who would have experienced respiratory symptoms if any bleach was present.

And after even the university & police admitted the mixture was non-toxic, Knowles went back and claimed that he had somehow been tricked. He profits off portraying himself as a victim, but only people in fear here are the trans kids that he attacked, along with the rest of the community.

Screenshot of Michael Knowles claiming on Twitter that he was attacked with bleach

Alexis Dabu, a Computer Science student at UMKC and an autistic, transgender woman of color with no prior criminal record, was tackled and tasered multiple times as a white officer forced a knee onto her neck. Another officer reached for his weapon, and the crowd chanted "HANDS UP, DON'T SHOOT" in response.

She went limp. As the cops dragged her body to jail, her blood stained the UMKC auditorium.

Alexis Dabu, limp, being dragged by two police officers

The upper-class, non-student crowd assembled for Knowles' hate rally stood up and clapped at this show of brutal force. Dozens of protesters cried out, trying to check to make sure Alexis was still breathing. As usual, the police would later claim that she was resisting arrest (how?).

We tried to video tape the arrest in order to make sure that she survived the night. In response, the police indiscriminately pepper sprayed, kicked and punched us.

For all the bullshit Knowles has spewed in the media about these events, the only toxic chemical being sprayed here was on his side.

Street medics tried treating people at the scene, having to use bathrooms for triage and water, but the police wouldn't even let us tend to those attacked, forcing many to drive home or to work covered in pepper spray. Most of this happened outside of the auditorium and it was night time, so we have had difficulty obtaining video.

Many of the officers attacking the protesters were in a dozen-member tactical team with black uniforms. This arrived onto the scene within 6 minutes of Alexis being tackled. As KCPD's headquarters is over 10 minutes away, they must have already been waiting on campus. We have been informed that this was likely the unit recently created by KCPD for protests.

3 police officers in black uniforms
Who are these men protecting? Who are they serving?

After all, this is not the first time KCPD has used pepper spray against the free speech of unarmed, peaceful protesters. In 2016, KCPD shoved police horses into hundreds of peaceful Trump protesters, and then indiscriminately pepper sprayed the crowd - twice!

KCPD pepper spraying Trump Protesters

And just like how false claims of bleach attacks were used to justify tasering Alexis on April 11, the police claimed their actions at the Trump protest was in response to a bomb threat that never materialized. They have also lied in order to cover up the murder of Ryan Stokes in 2013, creating a false narrative that he pointed a gun at them and pushing it in the media (which uncritically accepted this narrative). Evidence later proved that Stokes was unarmed. His family is still seeking justice, but his children will never get their father back.

Nor is KCPD's first instance of being chummy with the far-right. In 2017, far-right elements planned a "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, led in part by Richard Spencer (a friend of MSU YAF). The people of that city demanded that the city council cancel the rally in order to prevent violence, but the police and state failed to act as they have failed to act here. This resulted in dozens of people being ran over by a neo-Nazi and one death. In response, people in Kansas City held a memorial/anti-white supremacy protest. KCPD decided this was the appropriate time to start working with the Three Percenters, a far-right paramilitary organization which had appeared with assault rifles and military surplus gear in Charlottesville.

Furthermore, while Alexis has never attacked anyone with bleach, KCPD has. Last November, a volunteer organization, Free Hot Soup, was serving homeless people free food. Then, those same people and even their kids had to watch as police and health inspectors showed up and poured bleach on the food they needed, possibly their only meal for the day.

KCPD, being under the command of a board appointed by the governor of Missouri, and not the people of Kansas City, has yet to be held accountable for any of this.

Back in 2019, Alexis reports that she was taken to a detention center, where the guards made fun of her gender presentation, and like Knowles, referred to her as a man. When transferred to Jackson County Corrections, she notified the nurses that she was transgender and requested access to her prescribed medications for transgender hormone replacement therapy, which she has to take daily. The nurses said she had to blanket release form granting them access to all her mental health records. She requested a more specific release form and this was denied, so she invoked her right to privacy of her healthcare records and refused to sign.

While Alexis has had a history of depression since puberty, this is due to gender dysphoria, which is the pain many transgender individuals feel when their body is not authentic with their gender. Had she stayed any longer in jail without her medications, this would have resulted in masculinization of her body, putting her at increased risk of transphobic violence and by worsening her dysphoria, putting her at risk of suicide.

Alexis then spent the night in a group cell consisting of a bunch of bunk beds in one room. She was the only woman amongst over a dozen older men, despite disclosing that she is trans. While the guards did not recognize her as a woman, the inmates sure did see a "pretty face", putting her in danger of sexual assault.

Alexis now faces trumped-up charges of disrupting a lawful school activity, destroying property, resisting arrest, and assault, with a possible sentence of 6 months back in Jackson County Corrections.

This aftermath has been mostly ignored by the media, and what little coverage mentions police's actions does so in an awkward, forced manner of writing known as copspeak, meaning language meant to disguise incidents of police brutality. For example, "man dies after officer involved shooting" (as if the gun picked itself up and shot the guy!) is a phrase commonly used by the media to describe a police officer shooting and killing a guy, without saying so directly.

KCTV5 posted an article that night which was initially titled 1 injured during protest at event at UMKC (later changed after Alexis was charged). They state at the beginning of the article (emphasis and deadname retraction ours):

One person was injured during a protest that happened at an event on UMKC’s campus on Thursday night.

[deadname] was arrested on Thursday and has been charged with assault and resisting arrest.

Without knowing what actually happened, this implies that Alexis assaulted the injured individual (as you read that one person was injured, and another was arrested for assault). It is only at the very end of the article (literally the last two sentences) that they admit that Alexis is the same person that they implied she injured, and that the actual attacker was the university police.

A UMKC spokesperson confirmed that university police used a taser on one protester and used pepper spray, or O.C. spray, on several others.

The taser was used on the protester they were arresting, who was reportedly resisting arrest. That person was the one who was injured and was treated at the scene.

Unfortunately, this was only the beginning of her ordeal with the media.

Trial By Fake News

Upon posting bail Friday morning (April 12), Alexis went home, assuming that posting bail meant that she was safe until her trial.

She was wrong.

That afternoon, UMKC issued a press release using her pre-transition deadname. This has gone as far as the New York Times and Washington Post, all with the wrong name and gender. This is despite the fact that her actual name has been registered with the UMKC system ever since her first semester here. Her professors and other students call her Alexis, her student ID says Alexis, and even the administration's own communications with her refer to her as Alexis!

Alexis Dabu, before these events.

It is inaccurate and ultimately dehumanizing to refer to someone using a name and gender that they have not used in years. This denies them the freedom of self-expression, reducing a living, breathing human being to nothing more than a digital record.

Of course, the university was perfectly happy to use the right name and pronouns for Sarah McBride when she helped them raise over $200,000 dollars at Pride Breakfast, but when their actions exposed one of their own students to transphobic violence, they portrayed her in the media as a man.

Continuing to disrespect his own students, the Chancellor failed to show to the LGBT listening/debrief event on the Friday after the event, instead sending his secretary to address the questions of increasingly outraged students and faculty. According to screenshots from a Kansas City Star reporter, the Chancellor agreed with Knowles that trans women are men, referring to Alexis a "he" in a private text to a Missouri senator offering the possibility of her expulsion. Meanwhile, his administration continues to contact Alexis with her actual name.

 

Meanwhile, Micheal Knowles ran the right-wing media gambit all the way to an interview on Fox News, presenting himself as a victim (despite having laughed off the protest when it happened) and hyping up the bleach narrative (disproven even by UMKC-PD & the admin). For all his claims of victimhood, he seems quite happy with this turn of events, having announced a cross-country YAF tour in response, with all the hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees this will entail! And all this involves his usual attacks on trans people, calling us insane, and comparing the transgender community to the fire at Notre Dame (???).

We have greater priorities than further refuting a man in the bullshit manufacturing industry, but his attacks are unoriginal, and have already been refuted in stronger forms. We suggest checking out the video from Philosophy Tube on Jordan Peterson, but there are plenty of others standing against the rising tide of these attacks.

And between the right-wing coverage and the UMKC administration's press release, there are now hundreds of articles on both mainstream media and other media with the wrong name, branding Alexis as an assaulter and misidentifying her as a male.

One website called Campus Reform posted at least 6 different articles on these events. They brand themselves as "the #1 Source for College News", but operate under the Leadership Institute, another organization in the State Policy Network like YAF. How can they "present each story with accuracy, objectivity, and public accountability" when they're covering their partner organization all the time!

Many other articles spreading Alexis' deadname aren't even written by humans. Seriously, there's no such thing as "College of Missouri-Kansas Metropolis"! While it is difficult to confirm the origin of throwaway websites like these, the State Policy Network backing YAF has both the financial means and the motive for a disinformation campaign this widespread.

And line with a general tendency for YouTube to be abused for far-right propaganda, which has been documented more extensively by software engineers and research institutions, some of the worst coverage takes form of video "news" reports from political operatives and/or bots.

A channel called "StrangerThan FictionNEWS" posted a video called "BREAKING: ANTIFA ATTACKS SPEAKER WITH ACID AT UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI USING SUPER SOAKER". This was "livestreamed" on April 12, the day after the protest. This video juxtaposes authentic footage from the protest with totally unrelated and out of context footage of anti-fascists and claims that she employed a "chemical weapon of mass destruction". The ticker is filled with sensational, irrelevant and unproven claims on repeat such as:

  • ANTIFA TRIES TO BOMB POLICE STATION AFTER LEADER SHOT DEAD
  • 100 CHILDREN RAPED AT BBC HEADQUARTERS BY KNOWN PEDOPHILES
  • MEGA CARAVANS HEADED TO AMERICA DUE TO "CATCH AND RELEASE"

Just like Knowles, this employs the fascist method of propaganda - repeat big lies, typically directed at oppressed groups, until people believe they are true!

This has invited the attention of one of the darkest corners of the internet, Kɨwi Farms. This site is ran by Joshua Moon, a former administrator of 8chan, the 4chan offshoot where the Christchurch shooter planned his attack and posted his manifesto. Joshua himself has a history of issuing school shooting threats, and in 2017, a member of Kɨwi Farms disguised himself as a student and killed two high school students in New Mexico. The board furthermore hosts the Christchurch shooter's manifesto, mocking requests from New Zealand law enforcement to take it down or to provide information.

Kɨwi Farms self-describes "exploitation of the mentally handicapped for amusement purposes". Their main attraction, the "lolcow" section has threads corresponding to different individuals, typically trans, female and/or mentally ill, filled with their personal info and defamous contents designed to incite harassment against their victims. Currently, their front page has a sticky celebrating and mocking the suicide of one of their targets, a trans woman named Nia Loy who was loved by many for her music and sense of humor. She is the third trans person known to have committed suicide after being targeted by the site.

Kɨwi Farms' attacks on Alexis consists of their usual brand of bizarre fabrications, such as claiming that she is "transracial" and bleaches her own skin to appear white, backed by 4chan standards of "evidence" (either nothing, or easily forged).

These and other claims are now being relayed by social media users who failed to investigate the history of this site.

Speaking of bleach, the far right continues to push the long-disproven slander that she used bleach (or a "bleach like substance" or "household chemicals") on Micheal Knowles, causing potentially hundreds of thousands of other people to believe she and trans people in general are some kind of terrorists. Alexis cannot go outside without fear that someone prejudiced by this fake news will recognize her and attempt to physically harm her.

None of this "coverage" addresses YAF's actions before this event, some failing to mention what the protest was about in the first place! Like most people not backed by billionaires, Alexis doesn't have the PR reps, lawyers, platform or other resources necessary to respond, and thus is being forced into silence as she is misgendered and defamed as a terrorist. So much for free speech!

Discipline, But For Whom?

On Saturday (April 13), the university administration suspended and banned Alexis from campus. This is despite the fact that she has not yet been convicted in a court of law, that judicial system determined it was safe to release her from jail, and that for her to clarify the events of April 11 without a lawyer risks damaging her case.

Before these events, Alexis was due to graduate in 2020, and this is a serious interruption to her education. While the admin has "allowed" Alexis to meet with faculty to continue her course load outside of campus, this places an unfair burden on both her and her professors.

This happened under a UMKC policy where the Chancellor (who is biased in this decision by his insistence on calling Alexis a man), has the right to suspend a student (or student organization) from the university if they believe they would constitute a threat to the university community.

And yet, this option was not exercised when YAF announced their attack on the transgender community, and violated the University's own policies by being controlled by an outside organization.

Nor was this exercised in the case of Enric Ferrer and Marc Casanova, two UMKC sports team members who trapped a female student in a room at a party and tried to rape her, along with others at the party. Fortunately, she was able to escape before the worst could happen.

The university responded by issuing a statement dismissing this attempted rape as "inappropriate behavior" (because technically they didn't succeed), and the police refused to file charges. To our knowledge, no interim suspension was issued as these men were sighted near the dorms. Finally, the student reporting this incident dropped out due to the failure of the university to support her.

In response to university's failure at handling this case of (attempted) sexual assault, as well as their failure to address an earlier rape in the dorms, the Progressive Youth Organization announced a student campaign against sexual assault on campus. This was met with overwhelming force from the university. Three of their supporters were detained by KCPD, searched, kicked off campus and followed simply for handing out flyers with the names and faces of the two rapists.

What happened to the free speech and diversity of opinions that the university claims to uphold?

Finally, another UMKC student activist involved in protesting this gross miscarriage of justice was arrested by UMKC-PD in the middle of a presentation for high school students and now faces felony charges for alleged vandalism. They were also banned from campus, despite their significant contributions to the debate team.

We have to ask: Why exactly are a woman with glitter and an anti-rape activist considered more of a threat to the university than two rapists?

Perhaps one answer lies with Keishea Boyd, current UMKC Director of Student Conduct and Civility, who started her career working at a prison (presumably as a manager or warden). Talk about the school-to-prison pipeline!

Battle In Jefferson City

In all this, Alexis' alleged actions were portrayed by as a left-wing attack on free speech, requiring an emergency response. For instance, Tucker Carlson on Fox News called for UMKC to be shut down, because the Chancellor had simply admitted (and then later retracted) that Knowles' speech was extreme.

Both the event itself that led to these events, and some of the "independent" coverage around it pushing this narrative were sponsored by members of the State Policy Network, a group of far-right political operatives representing big corporations in tobacco, pharmacuticals, fossil fuels and even tech.

On Tuesday (April 16), their parent organization, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) moved to exploit this narrative. ALEC, acts as a way for corporate lobbyists to secretly meet with state legislators, often with gifts such as all-expenses paid vacations and networking with donors. ALEC typically operates via pre-writing "model bills" for legislators to push in their respective states. Along with union-busting and ecological destruction, defunding public education is a key part of their agenda and this created the perfect moment to strike.

Corporate backing is the foundation of fascism. The libertarian Chicago Boys and US corporations paid for Pinochet's bloody coup in Chile. Mussolini was elected to crush strikers, under a platform of "full freedom to private enterprise". IBM's first "killer app" was punch card machines for hunting down Jewish people. German industrialists saw Hitler as a man who would revive the economy via the spoils of war. Fascist regimes crush anyone, from unions to students, who get in the way of their sponsors' profits.

We see this influence when House Representative Justin Hill, the ALEC Chairperson for Missouri, filled a resolution calling for the removal of the UMKC Chancellor. Co-sponsoring that bill is Representative Dottie Bailey, another member of ALEC. Meanwhile in the senate, David Sater led a charge to reduce UMKC's funding, backed by Bob Onder, another ALEC member (credit to SourceWatch for this identification).

At both meetings, the ALEC representatives interrogated the Chancellor for not totally denouncing Alexis, and pushed for her expulsion as well as the possibility of his removal. This is despite the fact that she has not ever been convicted in a court of law of a crime and that she hasn't even had her first disciplinary hearing. This is an ironic development, given that many of these same senators are pushing for vast changes to Title IX in the name of due process (judging by UMKC's actions, rapists have plenty of help defending themselves).

The Chancellor, to save his own skin, has caved into violence and hatred, and retracted his previous admission that Knowles' speech was discriminatory, and agrees with Knowles' hatred in portraying Alexis as man. He is also offering a predetermined result of expulsion for Alexis' disciplinary "investigation", turning it into a political show trial.

This emergency narrative pushed in part by ALEC's partners at the SPN is in line with several other pre-prepared ALEC bills seeking to redefine free speech for corporate interests.They have already passed one such bill in Missouri, the 2016 "Campus Free Expression Act". This bill takes the name of free speech in order to attack free speech. In ALEC's own words, this was written explicitly to "allow universities to deal with [read: brutally suppress] incidents such as sit-ins". This is a clear attack on the students and faculty who fought for humane working conditions and racial equality at Mizzou.

The use of staged emergencies to seize power and to silence enemies of the state is another staple of fascism. In 1933, after Hitler's election, the Reichstag building was burned. This was blamed on their enemies in the Communist Party of Germany, and the Nazis used this to pass an emergency decree authorizing their mass arrest, securing their power. Similarly, in 1926, Mussolini's government purged their enemies from the government and the public discourse, claiming that this was a response to an anti-fascist assassination attempt.

Today's "emergency" to the far-right is the very existence of trans people speaking up for themselves!

We expect the constructed narrative to be milked as political justification for laws against trans people in Missouri, and likely elsewhere, and have written this statement for future use against that possibility.

Those who do not think that this is their issue should remember the words of concentration camp survivior Martin Niemöller:

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

This wouldn't be the first time that fascists have come for the LGBT community. During the McCarthy era, the witch hunts against alleged communists were extended to "subversive elements" in general, resulting in the Lavender Scare. Homosexuals, trans people (at the time misidenfied), "pinko fags" and queer people in general were denounced as "perverts", "sexual deviants" and enemies of the United States.

These efforts outed tens of thousands of queer people and continued long after McCarthy's failure to find the spectre haunting the State Department. The FBI and police departrments, employing methods used against the New Left, engaged in stakeouts, kept lists, spied on anyone associated with known queer people, and even threatened and interrogated the ones they knew to get more names out of them. With this information, they pushed for us to be removed from our jobs and neighborhoods. Many were arrested, forced into psychiatric institutions, and in the worst cases, committed suicide due to the pressure. The police constantly raided gay bars and other locations frequented by the community, taking from us anything that we could call home.

But no form of repression can last forever. The brutal attacks of the New York Police Department and other departments against the queer community, conducted over decades pushed us to a breaking point - the Stonewall uprising. When the police raided the Stonewall Inn on Saturday, June 28, 1969 (50 years ago), aiming to lock us up in cages like animals just for expressing who we are (seriously, they were arresting people for crossdressing), we decided that we had enough of their bullshit and stood our ground. As Michael Fader, a Stonewall veteran put it:

“We all had a collective feeling like we’d had enough of this kind of shit.  It wasn’t anything tangible anybody said to anyone else, it was just kind of like everything over the years had come to a head on that one particular night in the one particular place, and it was not an organized demonstration… Everyone in the crowd felt that we were never going to go back.  It was like the last straw.  It was time to reclaim something that had always been taken from us…. All kinds of people, all different reasons, but mostly it was total outrage, anger, sorrow, everything combined, and everything just kind of ran its course.  It was the police who were doing most of the destruction.  We were really trying to get back in and break free.  And we felt that we had freedom at last, or freedom to at least show that we demanded freedom.  We weren’t going to be walking meekly in the night and letting them shove us around—it’s like standing your ground for the first time and in a really strong way, and that’s what caught the police by surprise.  There was something in the air, freedom a long time overdue, and we’re going to fight for it.  It took different forms, but the bottom line was, we weren’t going to go away.  And we didn’t.”

This spirit of resistance, carried out at Stonewall over the next 6 days, is the driving force of the gay liberation movement, and LGBT rights in general.

Time to Fight Back!

Many of us have spent years, or even decades in the closet, denying who we really are. While these events are horrific, they have had the upside of uniting the transgender community and our allies, and we will not let these attacks force us back into hiding.

Correcting the narrative around these events is a first, critical step to making things right. We are organizing an on-the-ground response. In the meantime, we have a few comments to make.

To the university administration: ALEC & SPN, by going after public education, are as much your enemies as they are ours, and we'd much rather spend our energy dealing with them. We are not asking you to support Alexis' alleged actions, all we want is for y'all to stop sacrificing her future to satisfy the bloodlust of billionaires - she has suffered more than enough. Prove your commitment to diversity, inclusion and actual free speech with more than just words.

UMKC's reputation has been in turmoil lately, and if y'all have the guts to be on the right side of history, that is worth more than whatever ALEC can offer. As Ben Trachtenberg, a University of Missouri law professor, argues, the financial and reputational damage to Mizzou after the 2015 protests was a natural consequence of the administration's terrible response to people speaking out about injustice.

To the press: Using a transgender individual's deadname is against journalistic style (see: Reuters, NYT, AP guides), fails to reflect the everyday reality of the individuals covered, and above all is dehumanizing. At minimum, we ask that all coverage of this incident be corrected, to reflect Alexis' actual name and gender.

To the police: Taking orders from Jefferson City doesn't make you superior to the people of Kansas City, and we will hold you accountable for your actions. Try not to beat up anyone else in the meantime, because history will not forget your crimes.

And to all the transgender individuals outside of this letter, and to all of our allies, thank you so much. We have to look out for each other in these times. If you were present at the protest, contact us, we need your story. Videos are especially critical.

This is not the first time private interests have attacked our community or the people of Kansas City in general, and in this political climate, it will not be the last. We are organizing to hold the powers that be accountable to truth so that this never happens again.

Even if you aren't in Kansas City, you can sign the petition at the beginning of this page to show your support and to be added to a texting/email list for future updates. If you have the resources to do so, please donate to Alexis' support fund below and if not, share this statement with someone who does (share buttons are at the bottom of the page).

 

If you wish to get more involved, or have any information for us, please contact us at voiceagainstpower@protonmail.com

--Signed, the Kansas City Transgender Community and Our Supporters