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Twitch Bans Its Biggest Trans Streamer After Discussing Harassment She Endured on the Platform

Twitch streamer Keffals on YouTube.

In more transphobic nonsense (which there has been far too much of lately), Twitch’s biggest transgender streamer, keffals (pronouns she/they), has been temporarily banned from the platform. The reason? “[D]isplaying a list of hateful slurs that were actually hurled at me by bigots in order to illustrate the kind of harassment I receive for being an openly trans twitch streamer.”

The worst part? The ban was handed out moments before a tell-all stream where she would go into the harassment she received from another streamer known as Destiny, “who lied about me and weaponized a hate forum [Kiwifarms] that is implicated in multiple suicides against me in an attempt to ruin my life.” Destiny has since been permanently banned from the platform, but the harassment of Keffals continues, as she reports that her “account got mass reported before [she] even started,” thereby silencing her callout stream. She also reported that harassers spurred on by Destiny followed her onto her YouTube stream and forced her to turn the chat off.

This is unfortunately part of a larger ongoing threat that many streamers, influencers, and content creators who are minorities face. Nique Marina, who does amazing skits of MCU characters, was similarly forced off of TikTok live, on multiple occasions, by harassers who reported her stream.

Despite that (or more accurately because) many social media sites like Facebook, Youtube, Twitch, Reddit, etc. are breeding grounds for hate and harassment, the sites are horribly ill-equipped for actually dealing with and protecting users from that harassment, and often, the lackluster tools given to help “fight” harassment are used by harassers to silence creators, especially those who call out intolerance and hate.

Keffals herself is a political streamer and has been using Twitch as a platform to talk about trans rights, LGBTQIA issues, and other political topics not commonly associated with the streaming platform. The Washington Post notes that she and other ‘Just Chatting’ streamers “have emerged as pundits for a generation disconnected from cable news.”

Related: The 10 highest-paid Twitch streamers on Dot Esports

But being an independent commentator, Keffals does not have the protection of a multimedia conglomerate behind her, or even the support of a local news channel. Her platform is her voice. And she is being silenced for speaking out.

“She’s a Twitch streamer and online organizer, she’s not a f—–g politician and it’s ridiculous to expect her to have focus-grouped tweets,” Mike Beyer, another popular political Twitch streamer, said. And he’s right: Talking about real, important topics sometimes means using the heavy language of those topics, and the fact that Twitch cannot differentiate between the two is part of a larger problem.

It’s unfortunate to see these systems, time and time again, failing the people they are supposedly protecting—victims being lumped into the same category as abusers and harassers for calling them out. And it’s hard to say what the solution would be. Not automating the system would hopefully prevent users from misusing the banning system but would also leave it open to human error at best, and likely even bad actors among those human moderators. Still, at the very least, I feel like people who report streams should not be able to continue commenting on them, and it should not be so easy to make multiple accounts.

Nevertheless, Keffals persists. “You can’t fucking stop me,” she Tweeted, moments after the ban, instead moving to YouTube. Even better, she inspires others to do the same.

“She’s moving things to a more progressive area and making it harder to argue against trans rights. She made me realize I can create a space for myself and other trans men on Twitch. Seeing Keffals get to the point she is as a streamer and a publicly known trans person, it’s like, wow, you can actually do that,” said Jay, a 19-year-old Texan and fan of Keffals. Still, it’s evident we have a long way to go in the fact that Jay asked to be identified only by his first name, for fear of harassment.

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keffals (@keffals) / Twitter

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Kimberly Terasaki is a Creative Writing graduate, fanfiction author, and intersectional feminist. She liked Ahsoka Tano before it was cool, will fight you about Rey being a “Mary Sue,” and is a Kamala Khan stan. She appreciates all constructive criticism and genuine discussion.