Strange stories can find you at strange times. Like when you’re battling insomnia and just trying to live your life as a trans woman.
It was well past midnight two nights ago and I was still awake despite my best efforts. I work 10 hour shifts which require getting up at an ungodly hour to catch the train. I hadn’t asked for those few extra hours of bleary consciousness, but I did try to do something useful with them.
I’m a snarky political trans woman. Sometimes I’m funny, sometimes less so. Like all angry trans women, I spend far too much time thinking about how shitheads callously misuse our narratives to make some awful point or other or as punchlines for their terrible writing. That’s the silver lining to my sleeplessness — it gives me time to scour the internet and further develop my misanthropy. And it was then, during one of those restless nights, that I first encountered that blubbering sack of pigshit, Caleb Hannan.
Here we see him pretending to care about journalistic credibility.
See, Caleb Hannan isn’t a journalist, or a person capable of human empathy. He’s an overstuffed bag of pig manure animated by a mischevious fairy queen to see if he could develop a human conscience. So far no dice. One day you will grow up and be a real boy Pigshitocchio, if you follow your heart. But that day is apparently not now.
I’d never heard of the creepy manipulative social predator until he’d posted an 8000 word trash heap bragging about how he stalked and harassed a trans woman to death over a golf club. For some reason, people are calling this journalism. From what I gather, he typically blogs about business and sports, which is like the opposite of my interests.
I was only half-awake when I flipped through the articles, but even with a foggy brain I could grasp its significance. Caleb Hannan is a hack piece of trash that has been sued before for defamation and invasion of privacy. But like in literally every other situation, people will take any jackass’ word for gospel if it involves slandering a trans woman.
And, you know what, I started this piece intending to be a parody of the original article but rereading it I’m just nauseous and sad and don’t have the heart. And seeing people I’d have thought would know better laud it as “respectful” genuinely makes me wonder if there’s some sort of server IP address redirect going on where they are literally reading a different article than the one where a smug dipshit re-contextualizes the downfall and death of a woman that he engineered as “the story of a troubled man” and has the gall to refer to it as a “eulogy”. An article that hinges on interviews he gained through deception and outright lies.
I mean, get a load of this paragraph:
Maybe the most surprising thing about my conversation with Kinney was how calmly he took the news that the woman he thought was an aerospace engineer had once been a man, and a mechanic. “I’m pretty dang gullible, I guess,” he said. For all the hassle that came with his partnership with Dr. V, what had kept him going was the putter. That was what Kinney couldn’t understand. If Yar had simply been a scam, the story would have been much simpler. But the Oracle worked. And Dr. V seemed more interested in achieving fame as a club designer than in getting rich.
“She could have took my money and ran,” he said. “But she didn’t. She took it and built a great product.”
You can see the spittle flecks gathering in Caleb’s mangy hipster beardlet here. HOW DARE IT NOT BOTHER THIS MAN THAT HE GAVE MONEY TO A TRANSSEXUAL. And it becomes more and more obvious that the “con” aspect of the whole story was a smokescreen for his actual motivations. If it was a noble deed to publicly expose every unqualified inventor with shaky credentials backing their product with confusing and possibly hokey science, the entire industry of late-night infomercials would collapse. In fact, this would barely be a story.
EDIT: I realize on a re-read that the surprise he got was because he was obviously gearing up for some Jerry Springer moment, based on how he hinted so much about Kinney possibly being attracted to Vanderbilt. Because this wouldn’t be yet another terrible trans story without a punchline about a man finding us attractive.
He realized he had a vulnerable human life on the ropes, and wanted to push it until it broke, because he knew society would reward him for it.
Being the malicious exploitative creep he is, Hannan framed the entire story as a gotcha moment, rhetorically equating her transition with inconsistencies in her credentials. Because to people like him, our lives and perspectives are suspect by nature and in death we make great punchlines for clickbait tabloid page-turners written by talentless repugnant assclowns with no capability of aiming past the lowest common denominator.
People have been taking him to task over the “sent chills up my spine” comment, but really look at it in context:
He was clearly trying to tell me something, which is why he began emphasizing certain words. Every time he said “she” or “her” I could practically see him making air quotes. Finally it hit me. Cliché or not, a chill actually ran up my spine.
“Are you trying to tell me that Essay Anne Vanderbilt was once a man?”
Pretty sure the “chill” he felt while gleefully mocking and tearing apart a trans woman’s gender presentation in sadly typical cishet douchebag solidarity was the dollar signs appearing in his eyes when it hit him that he could really milk this situation for shock value. Someone’s already went through and created an edit of the article where Dr.V’s trans status is never mentioned once but the allegations are the exact same. Despite what many I’ve seen so many people (even professional writers) insist, her trans status is completely irrelevant, unless the goal is overshadowing the actual concerns with tabloid prurience and using a dead woman’s body as currency. But look at the talentless clown we’re talking about; of course he took the low road.
And at this point, I’m officially sick of talking about Caleb Hannan. I’m sick of feeling the need to explain why what he did is so fucked up to people that I thought would know better. And I’m officially sick of the entire social paradigm that Hannan gleefully exploited with his tired-ass “gotcha” narrative.
I mean, Jesus fuck, The Crying Game came out over 20 years ago. How is OMG SHE’S A MAN still even a thing in the 21st century? Where do these people live where their first reaction to a trans woman is I MUST TELL EVERYONE I FOUND THE ELUSIVE DISGUSTING TRANSSEXUAL OUT IN THE WILD or whatever and consider it ok? I mean, the creep told all her colleauges and business partners about it.
Cause like here’s the thing. I’m fairly open about my trans status, like really open. I’m queer as fuck and all that. But having my trans status broadcast would still ruin me. It opens me up to violence from strangers. It invites scorn and ridicule and objectification from people that otherwise would not have noticed me.
I can’t imagine what it could be like for a woman like me from Dr.V’s generation, the kind that was always so obsessed with passing and trying not to make waves and blending in. Outing undoes years of therapy and incredibly difficult social transition and expensive legal processes just so some gloating punk shitstain can play detective and destroy you for nothing more than getting his name out there.
I’m not naive, tho. I understand this is a popular and pervasive attitude. Flipping through the channels at any given moment, you’ll find some comedy work where our entire existence is summed up in a punchline, a drama where we’re the exquisite corpse (literally) the narrative is propped upon and driven by. The sheer amount of entitlement cis people demand over our lives and bodies and narratives is suffocating. Writing a story about a trans woman con artist is confirmation bias paydirt, because cis people are most comfortable believing our entire existence is a con.
The death of Essay Anne Vanderbilt paid off extremely well for Caleb Hannan. I’d say I hope he’s pleased with himself, but I’m 100% sure that is the case.