Hele Zille (Photo: Foreign and Commonwealth Office)
Helen Zille, the Chairperson of the DA Federal Council, has been called to clarify the intentions behind a tweet that’s been deemed queerphobic.
On Sunday, Zille sparked controversy when she retweeted and commented on another tweet criticising Dylan Mulvaney, a transgender American actress and social media personality. In her tweet, Zille wrote:
“Is it now considered insufficiently ‘woke’ to be merely gay? Must you be transgender to gain access to the inner sanctum of the ‘tribe’? And must you, in the process, trash and stereotype all women, eradicating the progress they have made to achieve equality over half a century?”
In a statement, OUT LGBT Well-being expressed its “deep concern” over the tweet, which it said “appears to be an attack on the LGBTIQ+ community.”
The organisation said that Zille’s tweet suggests that she lacks an understanding of the difference between sexuality and gender identity, and that she believes that individuals who identify as gay or transgender do so to appear “woke.”
It’s troubling that these comments were made by a senior leader in the official opposition
OUT added that Zille also appears to support the narrative that efforts by trans individuals to secure their right to equality are a threat to women’s rights and the progress they have made.
“Comments like Zille’s oversimplify and misrepresent the lived experiences of LGBTIQ+ individuals, and contribute to a climate of stigma, marginalisation, and discrimination. Her remarks perpetuate harmful stereotypes and may incite queerphobic hate speech on social media platforms like Twitter,” said the organisation.
“We are particularly troubled by the fact that these comments were made by a senior leader in the official opposition party, which has positioned itself as an ally to the LGBTIQ+ community,” stated the group.
OUT urged Zille to clarify her tweet to South Africa’s LGBTIQ+ community ahead of next year’s elections. If she fails to do so, it called on the DA to publicly denounce her hateful statement.
Zille has accused her critics of “manufacturing outrage” and doubled down on her criticism of Mulvaney, which the American right claims is “pretending” to be trans or “mocking” women for financial gain.
It’s something Mulvaney has denied, recently telling the Onward with Rosie O’Donnell podcast: “I think it comes back to the fact that these people, they don’t understand me, and anything that I do or say somehow gets taken out of context and is used against me,” she said.
Brands that have shown support for or partnered with Mulvaney have come under attack from conservatives who’ve called for boycotts of Bud Light and Maybelline.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre addressed the controversy in a press briefing on 20 April, stating: “When a transgender American posts a video about a brand of beer they enjoy and it leads to bomb threats, it’s clear that the level of violence and vitriol against transgender Americans has to stop.”