Luna Spain, a trans woman, was fired from her job at Starbucks after a video of her losing her temper with a customer went viral; the right-wing press went out of its way to demonise her and send bigots to her door in coverage horribly reminiscent of the press campaign that ultimately made trans teacher Lucy Meadows kill herself, a death that the coroner laid squarely at the feet of Daily Mail columnist Richard Littlejohn.
Inevitably, the video turns out to have been a deliberately engineered confrontation by bigots.
Police have told us they are investigating the incident, which took place in April, as a potential transphobic hate crime, and Spain said she was considering legal action against the customers as well as her former employer.
…VICE News has spoken to current staff and customers who were all there when the incident occurred, and the details are very different to what has been reported and shared so far.
…VICE News has seen Thomas’s and Andrews’s social media profiles, where they and their friends repeatedly use transphobic slurs. In the comments of the original post where Andrews uploaded the video of the incident, they refer to Spain as “he”, “it” and “that”. They also claim they were never scared of Spain, using laughing emojis throughout, with Thomas writing: “I would have knocked it out if there weren’t cameras,” adding another cry-laughing emoji.
Deliberately causing confrontation and using it to falsely play the victim is a well-established tactic of conspiracists and bigots alike (two categories that often overlap very significantly). I’ve just finished reading Off The Edge by Kelly Weill, a book that begins with flat earth conspiracies and goes into the conspiracy/bigotry world more widely. In one section she profiles a belligerent extremist who likes to go into coffee shops, abuse the customers until they snap at him and film it on his iPhone. The video is then uploaded as evidence of the unreasonableness of flat-earth deniers.
It’s a live action equivalent of the bear baiting that bigots do online, deliberately pushing people in the hope that eventually they’ll snap so you can use their anger as evidence of their unreasonableness. That tactic’s a big favourite of anti-trans bigots who want to get screenshots and quote tweets they can use to claim trans women are just angry men. It’s a less polite version of the “provoke trans allies to ban you, threaten them with legal action they can’t afford to fight, and go on every news outlet whingeing about how silenced you are” tactic so beloved of more affluent bigots who use their power to pick on marginalised people.
If you’re reading this and you’re trans, gender non-conforming or potentially likely to be considered trans/GNC by the ‘we can always tell’ brigade, I’d strongly advise you to join a union and to be aware, and to make your employer aware, of the possibility that you might be targeted by these assholes. This is not the first time anti-trans bigots have done this and it won’t be the last.