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Far-right blogger tricks trans people into fake documentary

The start of a new year is the perfect time to assess what needs to change in the world and take action. For many lawmakers in the United States, what needed to change this year were the seemingly overabundant rights of transgender and non-binary youth. At least seven states introduced anti-trans bills in the first week of 2022 alone.

The trans community is among the most persecuted in America and abroad. When not kicked out of the military or school sports, their identity is challenged by some of the most popular mass media personalities. As if trans people didn’t already have enough to worry about, a Twitter thread that surfaced on Monday, Feb. 7 reveals that they may need to be wary of mockumentary sting operations.

Eli Erlick is a graduate student at UC Santa Cruz with a modest following. Her areas of research include trans studies, and she herself is trans, so it seemed natural for Erlick to be scouted for a documentary on trans issues. As Erlick’s thread reveals, someone named Makenna Lynn approached her first, on behalf of something called the Gender Unity Project, about appearing in a doc. Lynn introduced herself as a graduate student from film school, working on a project about the trans community. Erlick was somewhat suspicious about where a grad student might find ways to take her to Arizona and Nashville, as Lynn suggested, just for an interview with a talking chef, but she didn’t. not thought too much at first. Then she decided to do some research.

It turned out that “Makenna Lynn” was actually a Makenna Lynn Waters, who is not a graduate student but rather a producer on The Matt Walsh Show. Erlick also discovered that the Gender Unity Project LLC was registered in the name of Justin Folk, a documentary filmmaker who works for Matt Walsh.

Matt Walsh fans will know him from his internet show, where he talks about various far-right concerns. Non-fans won’t know that Walsh goes viral every 90 days or so with a controversial, backward Tweeter. Although Walsh’s regressive views have historically covered a range of topics, they have mostly focused on biblical views on gender – the kind that fell out of favor decades before anyone disagreed with them. could be accused of “awakening”. Lately, however, he has reduced his focus to gender essentialism.

He’s written a bestselling children’s book, which equates being trans with pretending to be a walrus, so parents can get a head start in teaching their children to stigmatize their peers. He continued Dr Phil to debate trans activists over pronouns in an episode that critics say is “no longer available for public consumption”. And Twitter recently suspended it for 12 hours for intentionally misinterpreting Peril! champion Amy Schneider last month, in violation of her nebulously defined “hateful conduct” policy. Given his outspokenness on this topic, it shouldn’t come as a shock that he has an ongoing project using trans people’s own words against them.

Sadly, it also shouldn’t be terribly shocking that Walsh resorted to fraudulent deception to pull off this feat. His mockumentary follows a long line of far-right hoaxes, from the entire body of Project Veritas to Jack Posobiec’s various hoaxes. This is one more reason not to trust anyone in our current media environment.

On the positive side, Erlick’s thread has since been boosted by many trans rights activists and allies, bringing mass attention to Walsh’s project, if not necessarily the kind Walsh might want. The Gender Unity Project Twitter account is now suspended and Waters has deleted his personal account. Obviously, Walsh will figure out how to turn this setback into a way to market his project as “the movie they don’t want you to see”, but he’ll probably have to make do with all the interviews he’s scrounged up until present, since the notoriety around his project has probably exploded the possibility of landing other interviews. Those who have already been duped may even have legal recourse now to fight against appearing in the documentary under false pretences.

In the meantime, Walsh is taking the natural next step in a cycle of outrage: hunkering down defensively against those attacking him now, as if they had decided to do so at random.