No, A Trans Organization Does Not Think Aretha Franklin's Classic Is 'Harmful'
The person behind a Twitter account that claimed a classic Aretha Frankln song is offensive to trans people confirmed Monday it was a joke.
"This is a parody account," the user, who did not provide his or her real name, told iHeartRadio.ca via direct message. "Never imagined anyone would take it seriously lol."
The individual said it was intended as a commentary on "woke" culture and "media stupidity." They added: "Not ONE media outlet contacted me prior to reporting this s**t lol."
The word "PARODY" was subsequently added to the account bio.
The Twitter account @TransMindful made headlines for suggesting last week that Aretha Franklin’s 1967 song “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” is offensive to trans people.
The account purported to belong to TCMA: Trans Cultural Mindfulness Alliance, an organization recently founded “exclusively by trans individuals, promoting cultural changes to ensure the inclusivity of trans individuals.” It claimed its mission is “to push forward the culture and remove harmful anti-trans associations in music, movies and television.”
On Jan. 20, TCMA tweeted that it wants “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” removed from streaming services because it “perpetuates multiple harmful anti-trans stereotypes.”
TCMA tweeted “there is no such thing as a ‘natural’ woman” and claimed, without evidence, that the song “has helped inspire acts of harm against transgender women.”
The song’s lyrics were written by Gerry Goffin and put to music by Carole King. In addition to Franklin’s original, King recorded a version for her album Tapestry and there have been covers by artists like Mary J. Blige, Bonnie Tyler and Canada’s Céline Dion.
Not surprisingly, many people were quick to question the legitimacy of the TCMA account. Replies included: “I’m guessing parody account,” “Pretty sure this is parody, folks” and “This is a parody account, isn't it?!”
On Monday, a TCMA tweet read: “For clarification, the TCMA is not a parody organization. We are a group of trans individuals seeking to make culture more fair for transgender individuals. We are based in Norway but are seeking to open a chapter in each European country and also North America.”
(Adding fuel to speculation that the account was parody was the initial misspelling of “Oslo” in the bio.)
But clues that it was all a tasteless prank started showing up on Monday.
A follow-up tweet contained a crude remark that involved the C+C Music Factory song "A Deeper Love," which Franklin covered in 1994.
Then, TCMA called out the 1974 track "Lady Marmalade" by R&B group Labelle because it "assumes that only cisgender women can be sex workers. This song is inherently transphobic + does a disservice to all those in the trans sex work community. TCMA condemns."
Earlier, TCMA praised the 1978 Commodores hit “Three Times A Lady” “a musical masterpiece that should be incorporated into drag queen sets.”
It tweeted: “The song is actually about a non-binary woman (she switches genders three times in the course of their relationship) but this has been silenced.”
Of course, there are no gender switches in the song, which Lionel Richie has said was inspired by hearing his mother described as "a great lady, a great mother, and a great friend.” He said the song was dedicated to his then-wife Brenda Harvey.
When first contacted by iHeartRadio.ca via direct message, the person behind the TCMA account insisted it was legit. "I'm honestly not sure what [people] want us to say to be convinced," wrote the person who identified as Ella. "Eventually as more organizations move toward our positions, they will realize it I guess."
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