Metro Weekly

Pennsylvania mayor condemns transphobic meme attacking transgender Secretary of Health

Outrage stoked after local recreation organization's Facebook page takes swipe at Dr. Rachel Levine

Dr. Rachel Levine – Photo: Gov. Tom Wolf/Flickr.

The mayor of a Pennsylvania borough has condemned a transphobic meme attacking Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine that was shared to a local organization’s official Facebook page.

The post shows an image of comedian Jeff Foxworthy, and plays off his trademark “You might be a redneck if…” line of jokes. The post also shows a photo of Levine, who is transgender, with Gov. Tom Wolf (D). 

The text of the meme, which misgenders Levine, reads: “If you are ordered to wear a mask by a guy who wears a bra…you might be a Pennsylvanian,” a reference to the commonwealth’s mandatory face mask order to protect against the spread of COVID-19.

Someone also wrote, “True,” at the top of the post before sharing it to the Facebook page of the Hellam Recreation board, is an independent community group that organizes an annual carnival.

However, Hellam Recreation is not affiliated with Hallam Borough government in any way, township manager Corina Mann told the York Dispatch.

A copy of the meme shared on the Hellam Recreation Facebook page – Photo: Glenn Wascovich.

Nonetheless, Hallam Borough Mayor Glenn Wascovich, who is openly gay, shared a screenshot of the post, condemning the message and calling for consequences for whoever shared it to social media.

“Hate has NO home in Hallam,” Wascovich wrote. “While some individuals may think that their privilege and status grants them the ability to make jokes or post/share things without consequences, they will be proven wrong. I am not alone in understanding that someones gender identity or any personal character defining attribute has nothing to do with their value or validity in their career or life.

“Words matter. Facts are facts. Trans folks and teens have the some of the highest rate of attempted suicide of any group of people. Violence against the transgender community is disproportionately higher than other marginalized people, with hate crimes and murder being committed against these individuals at a rate we don’t see in any other community.

“The individual(s) who decided to post this is an administrator of the Facebook page,” Wascovich continued. “Mistake or not, there was a decision to spread this hate in some way, intended for that page or not, it was a decision. Who it was will come out and it will be known, sooner or later.”

He added: “Our community and our surrounding neighbors deserve better and I demand better. The individual(s) that posted the below post from the Hellam Recreation Facebook page does NOT represent who we are or what we feel. … I am watching. Your community is watching.”

See also: Local Pennsylvania Democratic Committee endorses Trump-supporting transphobe, rejects bisexual progressive

In response to Wascovich’s post, the Hellam Recreation account replied: “I inadvertently hit share on a post on my personal Facebook page. It was an accident. I’ve apologized over and over again. What else do you want from me? Didn’t you ever hit a button on your phone by accident? There is no hate. Especially from Hellam or Hellam Rec. It was INADVERTENT,” reports FOX43.

The person writing the post did not identify themselves.

Wascovich replied: “What do I want? I want transphobic people not representing my community and while I can’t demand that people not be personally transphobic and/or sharing hate speech, I can demand they not represent our community…. ‘Inadvertently’ sharing things, personally or not, does not just have zero consequences. People are being murdered and mutilated because of the transphobia this post generates. A ‘whoopsie’ doesn’t cut it. Lives are at stake here.”

Several other Facebook users expressed skepticism at the anonymous poster’s explanation and echoed the mayor’s calls for the person who authored the post to resign.

“So the page mistakenly hit shared and mistakenly typed ‘True’ as the caption? Interesting. That must be a highly smart phone…” wrote one user.

“@Hellam Recreation, inadvertent or not, this is a disgusting, hate-filled post, even if it was meant for your personal page,” wrote another. “As a matter of fact, the only thing good about it is that it exposes your incredibly bigoted self.”

Read more:

Gay former Trump employee Richard Grenell unleashes tweet storm against LGBTQ Victory Fund and Joe Biden

Tennessee man who claims he was fired for being gay sues for discrimination

Transgender man sues University of Maryland Catholic hospital for denying him medically necessary surgery

Shelf Wood

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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