Trans community hoaxes: 20 clues and how to avoid getting scammed

Part of my series on Transgender web safety and fake internet transsexuals.

In June 2009, a “transkid” murder hoax perpetrated by “KuryousKyooty” aka "Rachel" aka “Roo” aka “Raychel Edeyn Wilson” was greatly exacerbated after being spread by a number of normally credible people who didn’t bother to confirm any basic facts independently:

  • Laura Amato at Laura’s Playground
  • Zoe Brain at A.E. Brain
  • James/JayTee on YouTube
  • Cindi Knox at Pam's House Blend
  • Tobi Hill-Meyer at Bilerico
  • Anonymous poster at SoCal Voice
  • Vanessa Edwards Foster at Trans Political

Repeating these rumors without any independent verification is the height of irresponsibility for citizen journalists. These kinds of hoaxes do incredible damage to the community at large and to the credibility of the people who post them without any independent verification. These hoaxes and unconfirmed reports cheapen the real violence our community faces, and they make people less likely to take us seriously in the future.

I have been exposing fake “transkids” for about ten years, and this latest hoax had all the hallmarks of fakery. It is a classic case of something that has been happening on the internet for decades and has had an official name since 2000: Münchausen by Internet.

Some people seek attention by feigning illness or injury, happening either to themselves or to others. Unfortunately, what psychologists call “factitious disorders” and “malingering” are not uncommon among trans people. A lot of trans people take the sick role as a form of identity. Identifying as disordered or diseased is much more common among people who embrace professional and populist disease models like “gender identity disorder” or “Harry Benjamin Syndrome.” It’s part of a culture of victimhood that unfortunately lends itself to fakery and hoaxes.

If you have a forum or blog, you have a responsibility to the community to avoid spreading misinformation and lies. To help avoid these problems in the future, I have compiled twenty key hallmarks of fake trans narratives/personae.

The key points in the section:

Hoaxers seek to establish their credibility at the expense of your credibility.

Hoaxers avoid any details that can be independently confirmed.

Hoaxers will prey on your respect for their privacy.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

Trust, but verify.

An ounce of prevention is always best.


Next: Twenty hallmarks of fake trans personae