The actress explains what she should have said after being confronted by a trans woman at a book signing.
Rose McGowan is explaining what she meant by a comment many perceived to be transphobic.
Last February, the #MeToo advocate was at a Barnes & Noble in New York City for her first book signing for "Brave" when a trans woman she believes was a "paid plant" by her alleged rapist, Harvey Weinstein, confronted her.
After first asking about comments McGowan made in a podcast hosted by RuPaul, the woman then asked, "What have you done for trans women in prison?" McGowan's response: "What have you done for women?" The comment was perceived by some as meaning she did not believe trans women were women, too.
When fellow activist and British actress Jameela Jamil asked McGowan how the idea of being labeled "anti-trans" affected her on Friday's episode of her "I Weigh" talk show, she replied, "That hurts. That hurts deeply. I've been involved with the queer community since I was, like, zero? As long as I can possibly remember. That particular incident was something that was paid for by my abuser."
Jamil then asked if she would elaborate on the incident.
"I was at Barnes & Noble for my first book signing," McGowan explained. "I was holding a woman in my arms who was in her 60s, and she was telling me about her rape for the first time she'd ever spoken it out loud. And I had said to the publicist, 'Something bad's gonna happen to me tonight. He's gonna send someone here to terrorize me. I know it.' And he did."
"He sent someone with a professional camera and a paid-off protester who said, 'What have you done for trans women in prison?' And I said, 'What have you done for women?' And that immediately got taken as if I was saying trans women weren't women," McGowan continued. "When I say, 'What have you done for women?' I'm talking about everybody. I was focusing more on the 'in prison' part. I said, 'What have you done for women?' meaning every kind of woman. 'What have you done for humanity?' would have been the better thing [to say]."
She went on, "I'm there talking about my book and my personal life and my experience as a rape victim, and all of a sudden, I'm being literally screamed at, but nobody cared about that. Everybody cared that I said one word wrong."
Reiterating that she does believe trans women are women, McGowan said anyone who thought she meant otherwise had "their own inherent bias," adding, "I'm not biased in that way. I don't think that way. It's another way of de-legitimizing me."
"They looked at the people that were after me -- the bad guys, if you will, and all of the people he employed to come for me -- they looked at areas where I have my strongest support," she continued. "In the queer community is where I always had my strongest support, so they set about trying to destroy that. And that one really affected me deeply. That one was brutal. And it's so beyond untrue, as to be laughable."
At the time, a rep for Weinstein told The Hollywood Reporter that McGowan's claim was "absolutely 100 percent false."
"No one is monitoring her whereabouts," the rep said. "It's unfortunate that she is choosing to marginalize a community that is fighting to have their voice heard by claiming that the individual was a 'plant' of my client. It's simply untrue and disrespectful to the transgender community."
Barnes & Noble released a statement at the time, too, simply saying that "a heckler appeared in the crowd and tried to disrupt the event and they were escorted out of the store by security."
After the interview aired, Jamil defended her decision to chat with McGowan in a statement she shared on Instagram. She captioned the message, "This is my journey, and I completely understand if you object to it, or write me off for it. It's something I'm trying because I've seen how I've grown with the space and mercy afforded to me by other people over my past mistakes."
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This is my journey, and I completely understand if you object to it, or write me off for it. It’s something I’m trying, because I’ve seen how I’ve grown with the space and mercy afforded to me by other people over my past mistakes. ❤️ You can find my interview with Rose on my IGTV ❤️ #progressnotperfection
As for why McGowan chose to come forward with her accusations against Weinstein when and how she did, she explained, "I just thought, 'I don't want to bite at the ankles of power.' A lot of people yip yap at the ankles of power, but I'm like, 'Cut off the head.'"
She also urged the general public to "start making allowance for people who have had trauma to occasionally short-circuit."
"Traumatized people might occasionally behave slightly strangely," she explained. "They might occasionally short-circuit and bug out. They're not perfectly composed. Who could be? So please, people in the public -- whether it be your next-door neighbor, your sister, your brother who are coming forth with something horrible, not even necessarily about sexual assault, but just something that has traumatized them -- understand that behavior and occasional short-circuiting is going to happen because the brain has really been through a number. And the body has, too."
"There are smells, there are sounds, you see someone that looks like your abuser -- you jerk," she added. "And for me, every interview, they put my abuser's face in there with the words always saying, 'He says it was consensual,' which everybody knows is a lie."
"Honestly," she continued, "where he stuck his face is where I feel it."
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