Blaire White: disguising dishonesty as objectivity

by Penny Robo

Oh, dear. Now this is something which has been talked about in multiple videos, but this particular subject is the gift that keeps on giving, and I feel there’s room for a different approach to the same problem.

Which brings us to said problem: Blaire White.

YouTube talker, self-proclaimed rationalist, and living embodiment of a dumpster fire.

When it comes to commentators and educators on trans topics, our ecosystem is small enough that if you’re reading this then odds are good that you’ve heard of her, maybe even think highly of her, and so I should get this out of the way first: she’s wrong. And it isn’t because I don’t like her, which is quite true, I don’t, but because she is very much literally wrong. Not only about most everything she says on a purely factual level but also in the ways she presents and defends her arguments, typically in direct opposition to her own declared principles.

But unlike Charles Foster Kane’s declaration of principles, there was no earnest idealism driving the creation – Ms. White’s stated sense of ethics began, and continues, as a smokescreen to provide faux-validity to whatever happens to fall out of her mouth. And if you think this sounds mean, you’re right, it is. But I can promise you that punching upwards isn’t remotely the point of this piece. If someone were to snip away every snide snipe from my writing there’d still be an article here, but right now this is the only way I can stomach talking about this person.

Anyway, we have discussed her before on Gender Analysis, and every time we do I think “this is it. Surely people will understand now” and yet, if you go through the comments on any of these videos, you’ll see that isn’t the case. They’ll say Zinnia is ignoring a study in the very video where she talks about it, or of cherry-picking data only to cite debunked articles, or she’s accused of being driven purely by envy, either of Blaire’s larger audience or her looks or some other nonsense.

While this blindness to evidence, facts, or how debates even work seems to be thoroughly ingrained in the crowds Blaire draws, which is something I’ll be quite happy to get into later on, I thought that maybe, just maybe, there’s an alternate path to reaching people. And so I will not be emulating Zinnia’s style today. I’m just going to be an asshole.

Now, to put it bluntly, Blaire has made her name by appealing to sexists, racists, transphobes, and many other decency-challenged demographics by spouting bile and calling it objectivity. And don’t say it, I know: “Not All Blaire White Fans”; hell, even my own mother is a fan, and I’d very much hesitate to label her as any of those nasty sounding things. I’ll admit that it was perplexing at first but it ultimately provided some insight.

But the kinds of awful people Blaire attracts, whether they’re anti-trans, anti-gay, anti-Muslim, or anti-black, are a part of her fanbase in alarmingly large numbers. And it’s not just about how a big enough crowd will naturally have outliers, in the way that watercolor enthusiasts can include Adolf Hitler in their ranks, pedophiles can count Gandhi as one of their own, or Republican fans of RoboCop actually exist without seeing the irony. And those examples are extreme, yes, but I wanted to illustrate that I totally understand that any movement, any personality, any anything can attract elements it fundamentally disagrees with. Humans are complex and confusing and contradictory. And so, understanding all of that, I say that Blaire White attracts such undesirable and backwards viewpoints in her fanbase because the truth is that Blaire White vocally shares many of their beliefs.

This is usually the part when the decent people on her side mentally check out of a discussion, and I get that, because it sounds ridiculous on the face of it, and whenever her appeal to questionable groups is brought up, she’s very quick to dismiss it with a satisfying and surprisingly deft response: why would a transphobe put stock in what a trans woman says? And that’s a good question. Why would someone that doesn’t like trans people find credence in a trans person’s views?

As it turns out, there are actually some very compelling reasons. And while a short answer to how that is would be easy, it would only scratch the surface and we’re not dealing with a scratch-n-sniff here when it comes to the depth’s of Blaire’s awfulness, where all it takes is a fingernail and a quick whiff to get the gist of what you’re dealing with. Ah, yes, the delightful scent of contrarianism. No, the layers and levels of what Blaire does are more akin to a landfill, or perhaps a Mariana Trench of medical waste. It’s going to take you a while to get through it, and it’s not going to be fun, but when all’s said and done you’ll know exactly what it is that’s burning your nostrils whenever you step by.

Now I wish that I could just run through a list of the tricks and strategies she uses to quell debate, seeing as that’s ostensibly what we need right now, but even I would be bored to tears doing that without giving you all the proper context. It’d be like watching a Star Wars movie with all the story cut out. The pew-pews are fun, but get old quick when you don’t know about the characters or what any of them want. So Rogue One. Just dropping the list of how she cheats her way out of arguments would basically be watching Rogue One, and we all deserve better than that.

So we need context for anything anyone says to really hit home. I’m more than willing to provide that context, not only for the benefit of those on her side that don’t understand her naysayers, but also those that know something is wrong but just can’t quite put their finger on it. So let me explain what’s up and do the fingering for you.

Even if you don’t like her, you’re probably thinking that, surely, she’s simply being contrarian. Whether for shock value, or to keep herself distinctive and noteworthy in an ever growing pool of trans-oriented social commentators, she’s intentionally going against the grain strictly for the sake of itself. Not quite.

To start, let’s look at what she touts as her guiding principle: objectivity. In YouTube videos, magazine interviews, her Twitter bio, Blaire White has proudly declared herself as a diehard supporter of using objectivity to determine the beliefs that she holds and heralds.

In a nutshell, she believes that evidence and reason should guide people’s beliefs, morality, ethics, social views, so on and so forth, and that emotion should only factor in at the end if at all. And that’s super. When sensitive subjects threaten the status quo, emotional and reactionary responses are a huge problem that’s been seen in everything from the glut of so-called bathroom bills, arguments over the medical and psychological treatment of minors, and of course the reaction to Target openly embracing Baphomet and ignoring the 11th Commandment, “Girls shalt not play with Lego”.

Anti-intellectualism is a real issue, one that Zinnia regularly addresses, and I think we can all agree that we need a lot more demonstrable evidence in our society when it comes to decision-making of any import.

But is that what Blaire’s doing? Is she being objective and ignoring her personal/emotional concerns, to instead focus strictly on the facts when it comes to the positions she holds?

Blaire, of course, has the right to have an opinion. Any opinion. I won’t pretend that thinking ‘basic civil rights are absurd’ is as benign an opinion to hold as ‘which Star Trek series had the best chief engineer’ (it was Deep Space Nine, by the way) but she does have the right to an opinion wholly divorced from reality. It’d make her a fool, but she has that right. And she even claims in her responses, regularly, that she is merely expressing opinions.

For anyone that’s pointed out a flaw in her evidence, only for her to turn around and say the facts don’t matter because she was just giving her opinion, you’ve likely spent a lot of time falling over yourselves trying to figure out how in the everliving fuck does she get away with having these preposterous gaps in her credibility.

And not only how does she get away with that, but why? Why would she do this? Because by and large, the positions she argues are explicitly against increased safety of trans people, against increased access to services for trans youth, against, it seems, increased social responsibility in any area. If there’s a group being treated unfairly, you can bet that Blaire White is openly against helping them in any way. So… don’t her arguments hurt her own cause? In the grand scheme of things, yes, but in the short term she’s established herself in a way that works to her own advantage on a personal level.

Blaire White’s brand of toxicity is simple, by design. It’s intended to get its point across in an easily accessible way. Now, breaking down complex ideas into easily understandable parts is a valuable skill, embraced by everyone from that one teacher you had as a kid that didn’t suck, to science educators like Bill Nye, but there’s a very big difference between a concept and its execution. And making complicated ideas accessible by reframing them isn’t at all what she does. It has all the decor of an informed viewpoint, but instead of teaching the viewer, it’s carefully sculpted to do nothing but appeal to the viewer’s ego. She presents a calculated misrepresentation of the facts to make you feel good.

Blaire is an enabler. Her singular goal is to tell people that their gut instincts, their knee-jerk reactions, their deeply felt need to believe the world is as it should be, are all without fault. She tells an audience of people what they so desperately want to hear: they’re good people, and if being confronted with our existence brings them discomfort, it’s not a sign of social ills that ought to be examined and worked through, but instead something to be embraced as a sign of their own moral fortitude.

And for those wondering, as I asked earlier, why transphobes would care what a trans woman says, that’s the answer. She presents a message so appealing to anyone made uncomfortable by trans people that she’s even held up as a symbol of reason by the people that hate us most. She validates the doubts and suspicions held against us.

That’s her gimmick. Being “one of the good ones” and “a credit to her people” and assuring those in power that our group’s struggle for proper treatment is a ridiculous and absurd concept. She tells transphobes that it’s okay to make fun of trans women who don’t “pass”. That any social concessions we demand, to increase our physical safety or mental well-being, are selfish. That our desire for anything more than baseline survival is laughable and ought to be rejected outright.

And that’s the incentive I mentioned just a bit ago, for her audience to not look into the claims she makes. Blaire, as a trans woman, is the perfect messenger for the message she’s sending, which is to take social and personal shortcomings and paint them as righteousness. And as long as her audience doesn’t reach out and learn about these topics for themselves, it works. It’s a pretty sweet deal for anyone who doesn’t care for the increased visibility of trans people. Even well-meaning cis people can easily be caught up in it because it alleviates so much dissonance they may feel between wanting to accept us yet being raised to think of us as a punchline. Those deep-seated feelings are difficult to overcome, and Blaire provides an easy mental shortcut for that.

The past was not particularly kind when it came to having disadvantaged voices be heard, but the rise of social media has been slowly leveling out that playing field, letting people of all types air their grievances with society at large and bring their issues to the table. And for many, that can be genuinely unsettling. Finding out that you have unwittingly contributed to a system that hurts others is difficult to accept. So a lot of people decide to… not accept it.

Right now, as before during surges of social progress, there is a huge demand and market for members of a disadvantaged group singing the praises of the status quo. The people higher up get to alleviate their conscience, the people below get a shot at acquiring greater social capital. It’s not science. I mean, there are dedicated areas of study for these phenomena (see: cognitive dissonance, just-world hypothesis, and system justification theory) but it’s not a difficult idea to grasp no matter the finer details. And a lot of disadvantaged people take up that offer. There are many dedicated to getting on “the winning side” but Blaire goes a step further than most: she does it all not by saying these are simply ideological differences, but by pretending that the facts back up her views.

And that’s why it’s dangerous to write her off as foolish or a contrarian clawing for attention. Because while she is both of those things, there’s an underlying thread of strategy to what she does, one capable of surviving any fact-checker. To put it less eloquently: she’s not stupid, she’s evil.

And she’s drawing from a very old playbook. The basic idea of her favorite tactic can be summed up like this: it’s faster and easier to say 2+2=5 than it is to explain that it doesn’t.

It’s wrong, but communicating how it’s wrong, and what the right answer is, takes longer. And we’re dealing with much more complex issues of sociology, medicine, psychiatric care, and so on. By the time Lie A has been debunked, they’re already onto Lie J. The debunkers are, at best, working at a constant deficit.

And after all of that work, all the offender has to do then is retroactively categorize Lie A as “just their opinion” and not subject to any standards of accountability, and the cycle continues. And she loves this. When confronted with the knowledge that her conclusion was flawed or her evidence outright wrong, her position doesn’t change. She doesn’t try to shoot down the new facts or defend the ones she used, she just… ignores it. It’s suddenly her opinion and not up for debate.

Needless to say, that’s not how objectivity works, and that’s not how someone who arrived at their belief through logic reacts to new info. That’s the reaction of someone who went with their gut and tried to call it rationality. Blaire White is not objective or rational, she only presents a facade of that. It’s stage dressing, a special effect. But instead of making Andy Serkis look like a chimpanzee, its intention is to make Blaire White look like she knows what she’s talking about.

The truth is that she doesn’t. She knows just enough to create illusion of such, and is just well-versed enough in the topics at hand to appear authoritative to anyone not personally entrenched in all the related fields of research necessary to gain even a shred of understanding.

And I know that sucks to hear for a lot of you. I also know that a lot of you will dismiss this all. But if you’re telling yourself that I’m the one being dishonest, that I’m punching up and painting an unflattering portrait out of envy or a desire for personal gain, then do yourselves a big favor: do the research.

Look at the studies, read the responses from people in the know, and for just one afternoon in your life examine the evidence so that when someone asks you why you think I’m wrong and Blaire White isn’t, you can offer a better response than “Blaire White makes me feel good”.

Because you can’t cling to Blaire White as a bastion of reason if your only reason for believing that is your gut. You deserve better than that.

About Zinnia Jones

My work focuses on insights to be found across transgender sociology, public health, psychiatry, history of medicine, cognitive science, the social processes of science, transgender feminism, and human rights, taking an analytic approach that intersects these many perspectives and is guided by the lived experiences of transgender people. I live in Orlando with my family, and work mainly in technical writing.
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