Crime

Transgender people and support groups face vicious coordinated online attack

Meka Beresford May 20, 2017
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A number of transgender people and trans support groups have faced an unprecedented and vicious attack online.

The victims were hacked online and faced vicious death threats and other hateful comments.

29-year-old illustrator Sophie Labelle was one of those who were targeted in the attack which has since been deemed “orchestrated”.

Labelle’s Facebook page, on which she shares her illustrated cartoons, was one of the online accounts that was hacked.

Labelle told the star: “It was an orchestrated attack on several trans support groups, trans people and trans artists’ pages. As a community manager who has one of the biggest trans pages on Facebook, I was a target of choice.”

As well as leaving hateful messages on the accounts which the attackers took over, they posted Labelle’s personal information including her name and home address in online transphobic forums.

Labelle received numerous death threats and transphobic hate however, she has not contacted the police out of fear that nothing would be done because she believes that hate groups are based in the US.

By Friday, the illustrator had received well over 20,000 messages from “mostly neo-Nazi groups, racists and transphobic people”.

Following the attack, which took place on Wednesday, Labelle has cancelled the launch event of her new comic book out of fear for her safety.

The hackers have shut Labelle’s Facebook page down due to the shear number of reports, and those who accessed the page deleted a lot of the content that she had created and shared.

“They managed to make the content disappear completely,” Labelled explained.

She explained that she believed the attack is to make the transgender community feel unsafe in online spaces.

“Their goal is explicitly to raise the suicide rate in trans communities. They want us to despair and that’s why they attack support groups and pages like mine,” Labelle said.

Despite the unprecedented attack, the illustrator has retrieved a lot of the deleted content and has arranged to move house, and now she’s trying to see the ordeal in a positive light.

“It’s mostly positive. The worst that could happen is apathy,” she explained.

Despite her positive attitude towards the situation, a number of people have expressed worry over her safety, including political science professor Kimberly Manning, who testified for Bill C16.

The bill would offer transgender Canadians the same human rights protections already available to other citizens.

Manning explained that what the coordinated attack was why the bill needed to be passed.

She said: “There is nothing quite more terrifying than knowing someone you care about is being barraged by a campaign of hate.

“The whole idea behind ‘doxing’ is to make someone feel vulnerable and exposed; while I can’t speak for Sophie, I know that I was terrified for her. Doxing is a kind of personalised terrorism,” she added.

Related topics: Americas, attack, Canada, Canada, cyber attack, LGBT, Trans, Transgender

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