Rose McGowan throws a privilege-tantrum after being called out by a trans woman

Rose McGowan AP

Actress Rose McGowan has been at the center of the #metoo reckoning because of her bravery in coming forward with her story about Harvey Weinstein and her relentlessness in attacking sexism in Hollywood.

But she also has a history of anti-LGBT comments that she still won’t deal with.

Last Wednesday, at a reading of her book Brave at a New York City Barnes & Noble, a transgender woman in the audience confronted McGowan about comments she made last year on RuPaul’s podcast, What’s the Tee? with Michelle Visage.

The woman stood up and said:

I have a suggestion. Talk about what you said on RuPaul. Trans women are dying and you said that we, as trans women, are not like regular women. We get raped more often. We go through domestic violence more often. There was a trans woman killed here a few blocks [away]. I have been followed home —.

McGowan replied:

Hold on. So am I. We are the same. My point was, we are the same. There’s an entire show called ID channel [Investigation Discovery, which airs shows about violent crimes], a network, dedicated to women getting abused, murdered, sexualized, violated, and you’re a part of that, too, sister. It’s the same.

The trans woman asked:

You do nothing for them. Trans women are in men’s prisons. And what have you done for them?

To which McGowan retorted, “What have you done for women?”

The conversation turned into a lot of cross-talk, and McGowan said some things that were… unfortunate, like implying that trans women have it easier than cis women and that the trans woman attacked McGowan for having a vagina.

Security escorted the trans woman out of the bookstore.

What Rose McGowan said on RuPaul’s show

The trans woman was referring to comments McGowan made on RuPaul’s podcast in July 2017:

Something that’s funny that I talk to my trans friends about, I’m like “You know, you guys have never-” I say “guys,” whatever, “you girls, women have never asked me what it’s like to be a woman. You’ve never once asked me what it was like to grow up as a woman.”

Maybe because trans women are women?

Maybe because her trans friends don’t expect her to speak for all cisgender women? Maybe because if her trans friends wanted to know about cis women’s experiences, they could pick up a book or look online instead of making McGowan educate them?

They assume because they felt like a woman on the inside. That’s not developing as a woman. That’s not growing as a woman, that’s not living in this world as a woman, and a lot of the stuff I hear trans complaining about, yeah, welcome to the world.

This is the old myth that trans women were – before they begin the process of transitioning – super-privileged men who wore suits and ties every day at their jobs as corporate CEOs and smoked cigars at male-only country clubs.

The reality is that trans people often don’t conform to gender expectations even before they have a word to describe their gender identities, making them a target for bullying and harassment.

Which Michelle Visage brought up:

True, but I’ll say that most trans kids and trans people that do transition have been called out in society in different ways.

McGowan agreed, but I can see why a trans person would not have appreciated her comments.

(The relevant exchange happens at around 1:04:30.)

McGowan’s response: The trans woman was a paid plant

During an interview with Ronan Farrow on Thursday, the day after the incident, McGowan accused the trans woman of being a “paid plant,” possibly paid by Harvey Weinstein.

I know that people like me get killed. [Weinstein has] been after me for a lot longer. There was a plant last night. I had my first book reading, something I’d only seen in movies, by the way. There was definitely a paid plant that started screaming at me, yelling at me.

Farrow asked her how she knew that the trans woman had been paid, she responded vaguely: “Because I saw — I had people watching the exchange, how it handed off.”

McGowan has canceled all her upcoming book readings because of the incident, sticking with the “paid plant” response.

Hm. There’s video on Instagram (above). Calling it a “verbal assault” sounds more like tone policing than an accurate description of how the trans woman brought up McGowan’s comments.

And security did escort her out when the confrontation got heated.

From the video, the trans woman seems genuinely upset and McGowan’s comments were fairly ignorant. And there definitely are LGBTQ people who would confront a celebrity for free.

If anything, rushing to label the trans woman a “paid plant” is a silencing technique, unless McGowan has actual evidence (a bruised ego is not evidence).

In that RuPaul interview, McGowan praised herself for “calling out hypocrisy” since she was young, which is great. But when we stop expecting people to hold their tongues when they’re discriminated against, at some point you’re going to be the person who’s called out. It’s not fun, but there are better ways of dealing with it.

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