Thursday, 28 August 2014

Picking up a bigot's tab: a roll call of Tamikka Brents' sponsors

I wasn't going to write about Tamikka Brents today. I wasn't going to write anything. But then, this morning, Ms Brents posted the following to her Facebook Fan Page, thanking her sponsors:

So I decided to find out what I could about these sponsors. What kind of people, I thought, would support the new face of transphobia in MMA? They're an...interesting bunch, I think you'll agree.

All information below is very much what's in the public domain, by the way. This didn't involve any Woodward and Bernstein stuff, and it's information any enterprising individual could have pulled together in half an hour's Googling after reading Brents' roll call of sponsors (indeed, I didn't even have to turn on my computer: I found all this stuff out mucking around on my phone). I'm going to assume that by sponsoring Brents and allowing her to post about it, the following companies are happy enough to have their names out there. The fact this means they'll now be associated with a woman who stands by and does nothing when her fans throw around hate speech and compare trans women to rapists? That's something they're going to have to deal with.

Keppler Environmental Management is an Illinois excavation and wrecking contractor. Their Facebook page includes the interesting titbit that their owner is apparently a 'God-fearing Christian man'. Strange company for an out lesbian like Brents to keep - but, as the case of Gender Identity Watch and the Pacific Justice Institute shows, there's precedent for self-styled lesbian advocates getting in bed with the religious right when there are trans people's lives to ruin.

Green Hyundai are, unsurprisingly, a Hyundai dealership, also in Illinois. It would seem they employ one Marc Passoni, who Brents names as one of her sponsors. Two questions occur: first, did Mr Passoni seek permission from his employers before allowing Brents to use their name; and, second, how happy are his employers to have their brand associated with the behaviour of Brents' more rabidly bigoted fans?

Spartan Sports Park is an all-American sporting fun palace for kids and families, offering softball and 'sand volleyball', which appears to be beach volleyball only without the beach or bikinis. For such a family-oriented bunch they sure sponsor some interesting people: besides Brents, they also appear as a sponsor for Trevor Ward, the guy who sent me a threatening message for criticising the Fightin' Bigot:

There's a little bit of woo going on with Tamikka's supporters, too. One of her sponsors is 66 Chiropractic, who appear to offer some kind of 'detox' package. I have to confess to being uncertain how back-cracking can aid in the removal of toxins, but then hey, I'm no Simon Singh

Detox through spinal manipulation is not the only bold claim made by a Brents sponsor, though. Brents is also sponsored by Defense Soap, manufacturers of a soap marketed mainly to martial artists on the grounds that it can kill MRSA...because it contains tea tree oil (TTO). The science on this is mixed to say the least: the US National Institutes of Health found that while TTO is 'capable of killing' MRSA 'in a laboratory setting', randomised controlled trials on clinical subjects found no significant difference between TTO and traditional treatments. There's even some concern - and apologies for linking to a Daily Mail article here - that the use of preparations with a low dose of TTO might actually make bacteria stronger, by stressing them without killing them, thus causing them to develop drug-resistance. It's worth nothing in this context that none of the information I found about Defense Soap, in my (admittedly brief) gander at their website, indicates what percentage of TTO their product contains. One review found that Defense Soap didn't measure up well against more traditional, less new-age sounding cleansing products, noting that it has yet to receive FDA approval as an antibacterial treatment. It's not all bad news, though - the reviewer did concede that Defense smelled nicer.

Well, so does this, but that doesn't make it antibacterial

Perhaps the most egregious of Brents' sponsors, however, is the Women's MMA blog Promoting Real Women.  That's a name guaranteed to set off serious alarm bells for any trans activist, but I gave them the benefit of the doubt and checked out their site. It didn't, however, take me long to get their number - check out this interview they did with Allana Jones, Fallon Fox's first opponent after she was forced, due to media pressure, to come out as transgender. Fun fact about Ms Jones: the entrance music she picked for that fight was 'Dude looks like a Lady' by Aerosmith. A class act, I'm sure you'll agree. 

It's all becoming a little bit clearer now, isn't it? Recall, if you will, that I first took an interest in this story after Brents made comments in an interview that amounted to dog-whistle transphobia. Brents, the self-styled LGBT advocate, drew an implicit distinction between Fox, a 'transgender fighter' and 'the female fighters who earn it': a position which eerily mimics that of the Bleacher Report's Jonathan Snowden, who - as I pointed out yesterday - took to touting the view that Fox is getting publicity she doesn't deserve only after Fox's first loss put paid to the line that she was an Unbeatable Trans Monster. Brents, though, did choose to throw in a little dehumanisation of Fox for good measure, comparing her to something one would find in a 'side show' - a freak, in other words. 

Tamikka Brents is sponsored by a provocatively-named blog which takes an openly anti-Fox position, and has promoted her opponents in the past. Tamikka Brents gives an interview in which she gives off subtle signals that she, too, doesn't consider Fox a 'real' woman. Tamikka Brents refuses to disavow the transphobia of her fans despite repeated calls to do so, and refuses even to disassociate herself from Cathy Brennan, a bigoted zealot known for trying to ruin trans peoples' lives - including the life of a teenage girl who was put on suicide watch after harassment by the aforementioned Pacific Justice Institute. 

I'm not really sure how much more evidence is needed, so at this point I am just going to say it: it is my opinion that the actions of Tamikka Brents are consistent with the attitudes of the organised group of self-styled 'feminist' bigots that many progressives in the LGBT community refer to as Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists, or TERFs, for short. And I encourage every organisation that sponsors Ms Brents to familiarise themselves with this site, which offers a comprehensive overview of this hate group's genocidal ideology, and damaging actions. I would urge them also to read the following two posts from The TransAdvocate, outlining the fact that ideologues belonging to this hate faction threatened to engage in acts of terrorism against a record company that employed a trans woman, and physically assaulted two feminists of a less bigoted persuasion who attempted to defend another trans woman from their attacks. And I would urge them to ask themselves this question: is this what you want to be associated with?

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