Generating controversy is a playbook some have perfected to keep their audiences engaged in an era where distractions are plentiful, and few have quite mastered it as Blaire White. For the bulk of her YouTube career, Blaire was essentially a pawn for the conservative movement that they can play to undermine trans people’s claim to their rights — their attempts have known mild success, but it wasn’t without its pains.
The genius of Blaire’s process is how she launders vile transphobic rhetoric through what might seem like completely-innocuous political punditry. Almost every video there is a new character for the audience to latch onto, and myriad methods are used to activate their political animus. It isn’t too dissimilar from what the rest of the New Right does on YouTube, only with sharper focus on a few individual actors rather than broad cultural issues as the platform’s cabal of Koch-funded faux-intellectuals tend to.
Further bolstering Blaire’s visibility is the scarcity of trans public figures to begin with — because mainstream recognition of trans people is a recent occurrence, it means that Blaire may have possibly been many people’s first exposure to the relevant literature. One might instinctually assume this only affects cis people, but other trans people are just as susceptible to internalizing Blaire’s rhetoric into what could only be described as an extreme form of self-loathing. The overbearing presence of negative sentiment around being trans — something Blaire has no problem amplifying — does constitute its own public health hazard — if not through discouraging crucial healthcare access, then definitely by planting the seeds for long-term mental health woes.
The cruelty of what Blaire does cannot be understated — to live as a trans person is to be met with hostility from those who’ve yet to grasp the intricacies of recent advances made in understanding gender identity, so to add on top of it further grief to manage is often recipe for great psychological torment. Sure her presence can be ignored, but the echoes of her hateful rhetoric reverberate ever-strongly in the fragile fabric of our public discourse — transphobia’s pollutive properties make it so that even when it is ignored, its effects can always be felt.
One would be remiss to not mention Blaire’s incessant fixation on pegging herself against other trans people (predominantly women) as a most-desirable ideal. It’s essentially a riff on “belief superiority”, only with less-than-obvious characteristics used with the explicit purpose of duping the audience into mistaking it for ingenuity — it’s always some variation on “I’m the only right one and everyone else is at fault”, which while in the abstract not immediately discrediting, it does leave little room for Blaire to make a convincing case on what beds quite a shaky foundation.
Inherent to Blaire’s self-righteousness is a claim of having grasped at an element of the truth either through arduous inquiry, or simple gut feel. Her musings on trans identity don’t have enough meat to merit being called either, but it does invite well-warranted scrutiny on statements often taken as indisputable truths, which in the face of extensive research and basic empirical assessments sound only like the rave ramblings of a mad woman fundamentally at odds with reality.
That is ultimately what’s to confront when challenging Blaire’s flattening of trans identity into a quest for clout and/or vacuous validation — the premise of just about anyone denying the validity of trans identity is to dispute reality, and when you become so removed from it, you start latching onto caricatures and cliches; or worse yet inventing your own just for core arguments to remain ever-salient. Blaire at this point isn’t just a right-wing transphobe with a big microphone — she’s a conspiracy theorist; one whose presence has had a lasting influence on the livelihoods of trans people misrepresented by her rhetoric.
Without mentioning its content with any explicit detail, such misrepresentation doesn’t mark a stark departure from tropes of a bygone era in slasher horror cinema. The insensitivity of laying it out bare aside, amplifying her propos would only give her words more power — though Blaire is the subject of criticism from many in the trans community and the broader left; in this case, the cold of a darkness so tenebrous is an even stronger disinfectant than burning sunlight.
We’ve heard the case elaborately made for why people like Blaire deserve their voices heard despite political winds blowing the other way, but to afford dissenting views space isn’t to just accept them without rebuke. After failing to halt progress on gay rights through such public outcry in the 70s and 80s, trans people have been made the recent object of a culture war where the most vulnerable are standing to lose the heaviest — and much like challenges issued to the gay rights movement in the past, this fresh outburst of anti-trans sentiment is poised to result in a lot of harm we’ve yet to properly grasp the true extent of.
Trickiest in any piece of criticism of Blaire White is the near-certain harassment that ensues after its public broadcast — prolific trans YouTuber Natalie ‘ContraPoints’ Wynn was a victim of it at some point, and even fellow bloggers were not a l’abri. While my words are not guaranteed to generate this type of upset, they’re nonetheless reminders that expressing bigotry does not shield oneself from consequence — if there’s any justice to be had in a deeply-unjust world, there’s much to atone for given Blaire’s treatment of other trans people in the past. It remains to be seen whether she’d ever indulge an opportunity to break from the shackles of the conservative media machine, or if her identity will forever hinge on a principled hatred of trans people with little warrant.