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Dwight Howard’s Messy Public Outing is Riddled With Transphobia

Dwight Howard’s Messy Public Outing is Riddled With Transphobia

Dwight Howard’s Messy Public Outing is Riddled With Transphobia

The NBA player’s alleged attraction to trans women has become a social media punchline.

Over the weekend, NBA player Dwight Howard was accused of harassment on Twitter by an alleged ex, Masin Elije, who outed the Washington Wizards center in the process, a media "scandal" that has unsurprisingly encouraged an outpouring of transphobia on social media. Elije's thread included receipts of the pair's communication and relationship, as well as claims that Howard has not only had sexual relationships with men but with trans women as well. In the thread, Elije accused Howard's "team" of threatening him after he refused to accept "hush money," and said that he's contacted the police. Howard has yet to respond to the claims, but he's about the only person with a Twitter account who hasn't.

In the process of messily outing Howard, Elije also posted the photo of a "transgender prostitute" that Howard apparently also had an "understanding" with. He went on to clarify that the woman he believed to be a prostitute actually hosted "TRANSGENDER SEX PARTIES" that Howard is rumored to have attended. Why Elije felt the need to out this woman as a sex worker and share her photo on social media is unclear -- his thread would have been just as inflammatory without publicly disclosing her personal information. Elije also criticized Howard's team allegedly calling him a "faggot in a wig" when the basketball player is a "6'11" bottom."

At first, many assumed that Elije was also a trans woman, but he later clarified that he is cisgender. While a huge amount of the backlash to his outing of Howard has centered around weaponizing the NBA player's sexuality, the entire "scandal" has unsurprisingly encouraged an outpouring of transphobia on social media, more folks seem unable to believe that a man as traditionally masculine and famous as Dwight Howard could ever be sexually attracted to a transgender woman, and thousands of people used the story as an excuse to crack transphobic jokes.

This kind of reaction is exactly why men like Dwight Howard keep their attraction to trans women a secret, why they will go to any lengths possible to keep those secrets. In 2018 alone, 22 transgender women have died -- just this week, it was reported that Roxsana Rodriguez was beaten while being held in ICE custody before her death, bringing that number to 23. Roughly 80% of these women were transgender women of color, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Many of these deaths were the result of intimate partner violence. The reality is that men are attracted to trans women, but our transphobic culture teaches them to be ashamed of this attraction, leading to secrecy, fear and violence. In the case of Dwight Howard, who is suffering? The wealthy professional basketball player who might face some public scrutiny and locker room jokes, or the femme gay man -- who many perceive to be trans -- having his safety allegedly threatened, or the transgender woman of color having her image disseminated all over the internet as a punchline?

Trans women are dying. We're living in a country whose president wants us defined out of existence. We face regular shortages of hormones. The unemployment rate for trans people is three times higher than cisgender people and 1 in 3 of them report living in poverty. 47% of transgender people have been sexually assaulted and 54% of trans people have experienced some kind of intimate partner violence. We're also tired of being reduced to statistics, to martyrs and to punchlines.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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