After igniting a firestorm on Facebook for remarks that were deemed “transphobic” about the newly-sashed International Mr. Leather Jack Thompson, now-former Southeast Conference of Clubs president Craig MrCode was ousted from his role effective immediately on Tuesday. MrCode (likely an alias used for kink and fetish) began the controversy by posting a news article about Thompson’s win, deeming the decision politically motivated as Thompson was “not born a man.”
“I am happy for the winner, BUT it is International MR. Leather,” MrCode wrote in his initial post which has since been deleted. Thompson was the first Black trans man to win the title. “He identifies as a man. But not born a man. I feel that the decision is politically motivated. Now this is just my opinion.”
The statement was almost universally criticized by members of the community who quickly pointed out the clear transphobia: during the competition, Thompson, who already held the title of Leatherman of Color 2019, was the only contestant of the top 20 to receive a widespread standing ovation at the close of his speech. According to reports, he also made a standout showing in the closed-interview portions of the competition and used his “physique” category as a moment of representation, wearing a Transgender Flag jockstrap. On Facebook, MrCode stood his ground, misgendering Thompson in the process, oscillating between the usage of he and she pronouns.
The backlash began to spill outside of MrCode’s original post with members of the IML class of 2018’s coordinating statements. With a template that went on to be replicated by at least 100 other titleholders, including the current IML class, past IML classes, as well as women’s title holders, the leaders drew a line in the sand.
“We will not tolerate any transphobic behavior from any of our followers and ask that you call out any such behavior,” they wrote in a message that was personalized with their names and titles. “There is no room for it in our world today and we ask that you take a stand with us in this fight.” Alongside those postings, some took to posting #JackIsMyIML in solidarity.
Andrew Boyask was one of a handful of members of the community who began to point out that MrCode was the president of the Southeast Conference of Clubs. That organization, which is composed of BDSM, fetish, leather, and bear clubs bills itself as a diverse organization inclusive of all genders. Many begin to write in demanding the ousting and resignation of MrCode who, on Tuesday made a second post categorizing the backlash as bullying.
“Why does every contest have to be all inclusive,” he wrote in the post. “If a male has breast and identifies as a female but still has male genitalia, would he be able to compete for a women’s title? I feel this is a fair question.” He continued on by saying that he stood by his comment, which misidentifies trans women contestants in his example. For clarity: trans women, some who have chosen not to or haven't been able to undergo bottom surgery, have won beauty pageants as well as leather competitions in the past. This second post was also widely denounced.
On Tuesday, SECC member clubs began to publish statements calling for action. “The public opinion of current President of SECC is in direct conflict with the mission of ONYX Southeast,” Merlin Onyx, president of the chapter, wrote in a statement after noting that they were the first ONYX chapter to accept trans men as brothers. Jack is a member of the overall ONYX organization. “We therefore, ask for the resignation of Craig MrCode effective immediately. We cannot be part of any group who condones such actions. The time for silence has passed.” Other organizations like Leather History Preservation Foundation also called for a leadership change.
On Tuesday night, Sir Wayne released an official SECC statement. “SECC wishes to express our deepest disappointment in the recent posts from Craig MrCode regarding Jack Thompson, the current Mr International Leather 2019,” he wrote. “His comments conflict with the inclusive nature of our by-laws and the spirit of our family in Brotherhood/Sisterhood. The post stands in direct opposition to the conferences purpose of encouraging diversity and inclusion.”
“I now inform you that [the board has removed] Craig MrCode as the President of SECC,” he continued. The decision had been put to a vote by all member clubs before becoming official. “Pursuant to our policy and procedures and to comply with our incorporation documents the Vice President, Sir Wayne Turpin of Southern Bears, will assume the role of President until the next allowed vote.”
MrCraig later released a statement of apology on his Facebook. Life comes at you fast.