Claim trans activists found Aretha Franklin song offensive based on joke tweet

25 January 2023
What was claimed

Aretha Franklin’s 1968 song Natural Woman has been deemed offensive by the trans community.

Our verdict

This is based on one tweet from a Twitter account which later labelled itself as satire.

A post on Facebook shared almost 700 times shows a screenshot of an Instagram post that says: “Aretha Franklin’s 1968 Song ‘A Natural Woman’ Deemed “Offensive” By Trans Community”. The accompanying caption says: “THEE [sic] MOST HARMFUL FORCE TO THIS GROUP IS THIS GROUP!”

Another screenshot in the post is of a tweet saying: “Aretha Franklin's 1968 song "Natural Woman" perpetuates multiple harmful anti-trans stereotypes. There is no such thing as a "natural" woman. This song has helped inspire acts of harm against transgender women. TCMA is requesting it is removed from Spotify & Apple Music.”

While we can’t say that no one has ever claimed the song is offensive, the reporting around this is based on a single tweet from one account which has since claimed it is a parody.

After the Daily Mail wrote about the tweet, the account that originally shared it tweeted the article, saying: “Thank you @DailyMail for covering our request for this song to be removed from streaming services. A bit disappointed that no one reached out to TCMA for comment. We hope to be able to speak to you in at [sic] some point in the near future.”

And according to US radio broadcaster iHeartRadio, the person behind the account initially told its reporter: “I'm honestly not sure what [people] want us to say to be convinced [that the account was genuine]”.

But the account now has “PARODY/SATIRE” in its bio, and later replied to and quote tweeted its original tweet stating it had been satire.

In other tweets, it said “It is really hard to do satire on something that is basically satire in every one of their own statements” and apparently in another attempt at satire, claimed: “Putting pineapple on pizza is transphobic and racist.”

The account is called “TCMA: Trans Cultural Mindfulness Alliance” and although it states that it’s a “Non-governmental & Nonprofit Organization”, as Twitter notes, these categories are self-selected and not verified. There doesn’t appear to be a real TCMA organisation, with the only Google results for it being references to the tweet.

The account’s earliest tweet is from 20 January 2023, just a few minutes before it tweeted about the song, which said: “Thank you for following us. Our mission is to push forward the culture and remove harmful anti-trans associations in music, movies and television.  Mindfulness of the transgender population is our only priority.”

Although the account was created in November 2009, once you have created a Twitter account, you can change your account’s handle, so the same account may well have been tweeting from a previous handle before changing it and deleting its old tweets.

Full Fact has contacted the TCMA Twitter account for comment.

The Daily Mail, Sky News Australia and the New York Post reported on the tweet as though it was a genuine complaint, though the Daily Mail and New York Post both updated their articles to say the Twitter account was a parody. 

Image courtesy of the US Air Force

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