One of UP’s Instagram meme pages, known as Tuks Faculty of Memes (@tuks_facultyofmemes), has recently come under fire by some followers for displaying and discussing what has been labelled by some as transphobic and hate speech. The page led an online discussion through polls and Q&A’s, about the recently started movement termed the ‘Super Straight Movement’, which has gained global notoriety. This resulted in the Tuks Faculty of Memes page receiving negative feedback from some followers, and a heavy response from UP’s queer society, Tuks UP&OUT(@tuks_upandout).
The ‘Super Straight Movement’, which formed the backbone of the discussion and the subsequent fallout, is a movement that claims to ‘invent’ a new queer identity known as ‘Super Straight’ – a ‘sexual orientation’ Tuks UP&OUT explains is “only being attracted to people if their Sex Assigned At Birth (SAAB) matches the gender you are attracted to”. This is seen as a strike back against the queer community by some, with proponents of the Super Straight movement claiming that their unwillingness to date a transgender individual is not transphobic and that their heterosexuality has been ‘policed’ by members of the queer community – terming this a double standard of sorts, where the queer community can “very specifically define who they would and wouldn’t date, but straight people can’t [define] and are subject to LGBTQ rules”. UP&OUT explain that the movement is considered problematic “because it says that trans* women are somehow not equal to cisgendered women […] or that trans* men are not equal to cisgendered men” (UP&OUT uses trans* to refer to all non-cisgender gender identities).
Tuks Faculty of Memes opened a discussion surrounding the ‘Super Straight’ movement through the page’s Instagram stories feature, which the page manager described as an act of satire aimed at the “frustration surrounding gratuitous use of victim mentality, and double standards regarding cancel culture and so on”. The page posted a series of polls, asking the predominantly student based followers questions around this movement. Page manager, JC Styen, explained that “people were confused as to what exactly the rules were with regards to approaching and discussing LGBTQ topics, and they were frustrated about the cancel culture that came with these rules”. Contrariwise, the page was also met with some backlash, most prominently by UP&OUT, who assert that “if you’re going to talk about queer issues, you should involve queer people in the discussion from the beginning”, and that “when the information that’s being spread is being spread from a cis-het […] perspective, it can often be wrong, even if it’s completely accidental”.
In posting responses from followers, the Tuks Faculty of Memes says that the “opinions and ideas that get reposted are ones which are strong, well developed, and that shed light on important questions and issues”, and responses that are “representative of a large group of responses”. UP&OUT explain that “the main, overarching problem was that the posts didn’t consult trans* opinions before they were made”.
UP&OUT went on to post a series of images discussing the ‘Super Straight’ movement and why it is transphobic and racist, and explaining its origins. They explained that “the ‘Super Straight Movement’ has been largely popularised by Neo-Nazis on Reddit and 4Chan. Furthermore, they’ve co-opted anti-racist imagery, (like the black power symbol and the phrase ‘Black Lives Matter’)”. UP&OUT expressed that the movement is problematic in “using the iconography of a marginalised group to push a movement against another marginalised group”. They added that “when you consider the intersectional identities (the black trans* people who have often started and pushed forward queer liberation movements), it’s especially horrifying”.
UP&OUT extended an invitation to the student body to ask questions and have dialogue that does not present a threat to queer lives, and said that “people can send their questions to [UP&OUT] on Instagram any time, or if they want to have a more comprehensive discussion, they can also contact firstname.lastname@example.org”. Tuks Faculty of Memes expressed that “the general public of cisgender people, who are at risk of offending this community, should at the very least be given a clear idea of what they can do to avoid offending them”. UP&OUT encouraged reaching out for information, after “many people asked [on the polls] how they were supposed to keep up with the rules”, and said that “the easiest answer is to ask queer people!”.
In light of this, the Tuks Faculty of Memes page issued a statement, where Steyn expressly stated that he does not support the Super Straight movement, but that it “achieved its point” in its main objective to express dissatisfaction with the concept of cancel culture, and to spark conversation. Steyn said that “it appeared that in the face of questions and critique, the UP&OUT representatives became emotional and defensive”, and that he hoped for “more concrete answers to some of the questions [he] and [his] followers had asked”. UP&OUT expressed that in the discussion, “not every single post made was overtly transphobic, but many of them were, even if unintentionally”. Steyn has invited a leader of UP&OUT, or any similar queer organisation, to further discuss the issues surrounding ‘Super Straight’ and the queer community, and asserts that “the rights of LGBTQ people and minorities […] will continue to be a priority”. UP&OUT have invited Steyn to a “Round Table Talk” about queer issues in April.