GamerGate is not a “transphobic” movement, as you may have been misled to believe, but there is certainly much discussion of transgenderism swirling around the GamerGate maelstrom–mainly because one of the movement’s leading feminist detractors, it can now be revealed, used to be a man.
The gender history of game developer and pathological attention-seeker Brianna Wu would not ordinarily be the subject of public interest, but Wu’s critique of the GamerGate movement has relied heavily on identity politics and her insistence that she represents women in the video games industry. (We are using “she” and “her” as a polite courtesy in this report.)
Yet Wu was not until relatively recently a woman at all, and her legitimacy as a speaker even for the transgender community is in doubt since, as we can also today reveal, she was banned from a transgender forum after less than a year for unacceptable behaviour–not an easy thing to accomplish in a community well-known for its aggressive online conversations.
Wu was permanently stripped of her moderator status for abusing her position, according to another moderator, in a sign of what was to come in a long internet career of dissembling, bullying, smearing and panicky deletions as Wu has lurched from self-induced digital crisis to self-induced digital crisis over a period of more than a decade.
Wu, who has been engaged in an exhaustive press tour in recent months writing op-eds in a handful of online outlets, claiming that her life is in danger and that she is standing up for women in the games industry, is in fact, we can reveal, merely an unstable internet troll with a long history of mendacity and emotionally disturbed online outbursts.
Posts from the susans.org transgender forums, reproduced here for the first time, reveal a young person in emotional turmoil and suggest explanations for what has been called unpredictable, narcissistic and occasionally wild behaviour by Wu throughout the GamerGate saga of the past half-year. The posts are spookily prescient and show a nascent troll gestating around vulnerable people, developing many of the skills that would later be used to terrorise gamers.
Contemporary college forum posts from a second site, also uncovered by Breitbart, portray a young person in the turmoil of a life transition and raise questions about Wu’s ethical positions on such fundamental interpersonal issues as whether or not to inform dates and sexual partners of one’s status as transgender. One user on the forum wrote in 2010 that Wu used to brag about not telling her sexual partners of her transgender status–a habit she has still, it seems, not broken when it comes to representing herself to her followers and to the credulous journalists who have repeated her specious allegations against the GamerGate movement.
For reasons of personal safety and respectfulness most transgender support groups and therapists advise sufferers to identify themselves to their sexual partners, in part to avoid the possibility of violent altercations.
Wu confirms this herself when she writes: “I would imagine that I would tell someone I was planning to marry, but that is it… I certianly [sic] don’t tell every man I kiss or go on a date with about this.”
The following audio clips show Wu, who was born John Flynt and attended the University of Mississippi, trying out her “man voice” and her “girl voice” respectively, confirming that the owner of the “Brianna” tag on this forum is indeed Brianna Wu of game development studio Giant Spacekat.
Wu expected to “pass”–transgender terminology for successfully passing oneself off as one’s chosen gender–when writing in 2007: “I don’t like the term transgender. It means nothing specific. If you are a transsexual like me, good lords. Run, don’t walk to therapy. Make your peace with it. Live your life. We only get one shot, it’s such a shame to waste it – and certianly [sic] not for THEM, the biggots [sic] and opressors [sic].
“As for your ‘Oh, I’ll nevers’ write them on a piece of paper and throw them out the window. I never expected to pass, which is laughable to me now.”
She later adds: “Although I have no doubt that many get strength from them, I personally do not believe in going to support groups with transsexuals and transvestites. Before transition I found private therapy sufficient. After transition my attitude is the following – ‘Either you are a woman, or you are not. Why would you hang out with a bunch of transsexuals if you are a woman?’
The intolerant views Wu displays today toward gamers echo the views she expressed on susans.org about Christians and southerners just a few short years ago.
“I don’t think there is anything altruistic about Christians and I think they cause far more cultural damage than they allegedly solve,” she wrote in 2006 in a series of posts that reveal a “strictly religious” upbringing and contain the claim that Wu “nearly died” in 2002.
Wu’s loathing of Christians becomes apparent in the numerous, rambling posts she dedicates to the subject. She derides “Christian hocus pocus,” adding: “Their idea of heaven is my own personal hell – people condeming [sic], judging, denying rights and instituting social control.”
About the southern United States, in words that foreshadow her intolerance in recent years, she writes scathingly: “I strongly disliked the South for the 8 years I was there. I think the people are beyond obese and psychologically unhealthy. I think they are ignorant, intollerant [sic], and relgiously [sic] freakish.
“I also think that their obsession with watching a grown man chase a ball reflects the average Southerners capacity for intellect. I also think they are willingfully [sic] ignorant of the fact that they are racists … I honestly cannot think of anything that redeems the culture.”
There are hints of the mannerisms that would later become so-called social justice policing in her wrongheaded outrage over the word “sammiches,” which she mistakes as a racist word but is in fact merely a colloquial American term for sandwiches. The abrasive attitude that saw Wu permanently excluded from the forum is a staple of her recent Twitter style–as indeed it seems to be among many online feminist agitators.
She can also be seen hectoring and ridiculing other forum members with condescending language heavily redolent of her later treatment of gamers.
Wu’s bullying alternates with uncomfortably explicit personal disclosures: other posts include Wu’s confession that she prefers one breast to the other, details of how marathon running helped Wu get through genital laser hair removal sessions and explicit details about penis shrinkage due to artificial hormone changes. But, disturbingly, she is seen making heartless comments about other transgender patients who come to regret their surgery.
In one comment, she writes: “I have about as much respect for a transsexual that regrets surgery as Reverend Ted Haggard who regrets thinking he was gay and having a five year affair with a gay prostitute and drug dealer. Poor Ted. So tricked by the system and the temptation of lucious [sic], sinful and delicious gay sex. Please.”
Recently Wu has been making a spectacle of herself on the Steam games platform, where her Revolution 60 game has been successfully greenlit, meaning it will be sold on Steam when ready. Wu has complained about downvotes her game has received, blaming them on GamerGate while misunderstanding the function and significance of downvoting.
She has still not mastered the etiquette of online forums and communities–or is still choosing to flout convention. Fake accounts appear to have been made in order to upvote Revolution 60 among other alleged solecisms. And Wu created a thread designed to solicit abuse, taunting her critics and daring them to write disobliging remarks. The threat was deleted when no one “took the bait,” in the words of one observer Breitbart spoke to.
When voting on Revolution 60 was complete, Wu took down her greenlight page: an unusual move which attracted further attention and another round of harassment claims. Again, GamerGate was blamed for Wu’s own by-now established pattern of erratic, attention-seeking behaviour.
In October, Brianna Wu failed to attend a scheduled recording of an internet radio show hosted by the present correspondent in which she was to answer charges that she was responsible for whipping up a media frenzy about GamerGate supporters, accusing them of crimes to which she cannot possibly have linked them to the satisfaction of any law enforcement agency.
Wu later claimed to be “on the run” and “in fear of her life” while continuing to conduct media interviews from her home. She has since positioned herself as what some call a “professional victim,” soliciting pity and crowdfunded donations on the back of ever-more outlandish and implausible claims of real-world persecution on social media. But there has not been a single arrest or prosecution on the basis of any complaint she has made, either to the police or to the FBI, about the harassment she says she has received.
If I die from one of the 45 death threats I've gotten, don't let it be in vain. Hold these institutions accountable. Wake them up.
— Brianna Wu (@BriannaWu) February 10, 2015
Wu has published unhinged op-eds in a number of online outlets that are seemingly not fact-checked or even subjected to basic common sense examinations. The increasingly hysterical tone of her recent writing, in which she makes direct appeals to President Barack Obama, has led some concerned observers to speculate she may be a danger to herself or those around her, especially when viewed alongside a Twitter account that is also spinning off the rails into ludicrous claims and grandiose language about imaginary attackers and her own bizarre self-image.
In just one unsettling example, Wu compared herself two months ago to Batman in a string of very peculiar posts on Twitter.
Not only have Wu’s feverish imaginings smeared the reputation of gamers, but they risk doing harm to Wu herself: an army of enablers and useful idiots have formed around her which even includes some journalists. Mystifyingly, no one in the press seems prepared to call out Brianna Wu’s obvious fabrications, preferring the “listen and believe” approach so beloved of modern feminist critics.
But it is not the job of journalists to enable delusions, or provide a platform for habitual trolls to rehabilitate themselves off the back of innocent gaming fans.