Carano denies accusations that she was expressing transphobic views.
Actor and former MMA fighter Gina Carano has come under fire this week after being accused of transphobia on Twitter.
Best known for portraying Angel Dust in 2016's Deadpool, and Cara Dune in the Disney+ series Star Wars: The Mandalorian—which will be premiering its second season next month—Carano has faced calls that she should be fired from her role as an interstellar mercenary and friend of Baby Yoda for adding "beep/bop/boop" to her Twitter display name.
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Carano made the seemingly innocuous addition in response to people pressuring her to add her preferred pronouns to her Twitter bio in the "she/her" form. The addition is widely seen as an act of solidarity and support for trans and non-binary people, many of whom are fighting for recognition of their preferred pronouns and to normalize the practice of clarifying pronouns, rather than making an assumption based on superficial factors.
Carano, however, says that she did not understand the significance of the practice and did not appreciate the pressure to conform, which she characterized as "months of harassing me in every way." So she instead responded by adding the nonsense sounds "beep/bop/boop" to her display name. Is that transphobia?
While there's no indication that Carano made the "joke" with any intention of malice, it certainly follows a mold of transphobic "humor" that mocks the apparent proliferation of gender identities and equates identifying as anything other than the gender assigned to you at birth as a form of delusion or fantasy. The classic version is claiming to "identify as an attack helicopter," or some other nonsense.
Carano, whose current bio is just a link to her Instagram, seemingly thought that she was just making light of an issue that others were taking too seriously—i.e. "Who cares what I put in my bio?"
https://t.co/lZ9V5BKQEe https://t.co/3t7A6U4jzV— Gina Carano 🕯 (@Gina Carano 🕯) 1600031881.0
Carano sarcastically referred to "beep/bop/boop" as "3 VERY controversial words" and responded to backlash with gifs of various characters "booping" noses and of the Star Wars droid R2D2 beeping "provocatively." But if she had realized the connotation that she was invalidating other people's identities, would she have handled the situation more delicately?
One Twitter user encouraged Carano to speak with Mandalorian co-star Pedro Pascal—who has chosen to include his preferred pronouns in his display name—and Pascal reportedly explained the concept to Carano, who has since removed "beep/bop/boop" from her display name.
@Ahscka Yes, Pedro & I spoke & he helped me understand why people were putting them in their bios. I didn’t know be… https://t.co/u1BkpydoAg— Gina Carano 🕯 (@Gina Carano 🕯) 1599908212.0
But while Carano praised those who choose to include their pronouns—saying, "I stand against bullying, especially the most vulnerable," she said she doesn't intend to, asserting the value of "freedom to choose," and she went on to call the pressure to include pronouns itself a kind of bullying "that has taken over the voices of many genuine causes."
Carano seems to be taking a "don't negotiate with terrorists" approach to online abuse that has apparently included people messaging her, not just to call her a transphobe, but to say "'I hope you die' 'I hope you lose your career' 'your [sic] fat, you're ugly.'"
While there is no excuse for those kinds of attacks, Carano's claims that her response was an innocent joke and that she is "not against trans lives at all" would be easier to take at face value if she wasn't in the habit of retweeting some unsavory characters. In recent days her retweets have included messages from conservative gamergate "journalist" Ian Miles Cheong and far-right activist Jack Posobiec.
Beep/bop/boop has zero to do with mocking trans people 🤍& 💯 to do with exposing the bullying mentality of the mob t… https://t.co/xKNkVumkiw— Gina Carano 🕯 (@Gina Carano 🕯) 1600043164.0
Both men have made names for themselves in the noxious sphere of "anti-SJW" cultural figures and have been called out for spreading hatred and fear about trans people. They were retweeted by Carano when commenting on the recent shooting of two deputies from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
In the case of Cheong, the Tweet included a clip of an unidentified person saying of the deputies, "I hope they ****ing die." Cheong referred to the nameless, faceless speaker as a "Black Lives Matter activist," seemingly without evidence, in an apparent effort to smear the entire BLM movement.
Carano can perhaps be forgiven for not realizing that Ian Miles Cheong and Jack Posobiec are disingenuous, hateful people who consistently frame issues to serve their bigoted biases.
She can even be forgiven for making light of a weighty topic that she didn't fully understand with her "beep/bop/boop" comments. But the sum of her recent Twitter activity suggests that her own social media bubble (and we all have one) exposes her to a particularly conservative bias.
While Carano is free to be as conservative as she wants, those politics are generally aligned against upending traditional hierarchies of race, gender, and sexuality. And if that's where she stands, then people who are fighting to upend those hierarchies are free to reject her through boycotts, petitions to get her fired, and generally harsh criticism.
@CassPereyra I don’t think trans people would like all of you trying to force a woman to put something in her bio t… https://t.co/ZK0NQTmJpw— Gina Carano 🕯 (@Gina Carano 🕯) 1599990828.0
Working in a male-dominated field like mixed martial arts, Carano likely has plenty of experience being judged for not conforming to traditional gender roles. Even within the abuse she says she received on Twitter there was misogynist body-shaming. If Carano looked into the push for trans rights, she might find out that she's a natural ally.
But if she's unwilling to do that work, it would be a much better idea to say nothing than to continue "accidentally" insulting and offending a marginalized group of people who are far too used to being told that their identities don't count. Intending something as harmless doesn't mean it can't hurt.