People are getting fed up: Viral video shows Delta Air Lines employee shutting down trans activist

Most viral videos enjoy a shelf life of days; viral trends come and go so quickly that it is difficult to keep up. But every so often, a video clip captures the cultural zeitgeist in a way that seems significant. I could very well be wrong, but I suspect that a viral clip of a beleaguered Delta Air Lines employee facing off with a member of the alphabet mafia might be one such video. Give it a watch: 

A transgender-identifying customer is speaking to two African American employees at the desk for a flight to Atlanta, Georgia, last month. He appears to be filming it – a common intimidation tactic to ensure that any crimes against transness can be posted online and result in the firing of insufficiently woke employees.  

“What about when an adult employee misgenders you intentionally?” the person asks, with the tone of someone used to getting precisely what he wants. 

The employee replies: “While she’s talking… while he’s talking…” 

The customer: “You just misgendered me again.” 

At this point, the employee has clearly had it, as has the fellow behind him, who looks extremely fed up. “Okay,” he nods. 

The customer, with a “gotcha” voice: “Multiple times. Both of you have.” 

“It wasn’t intentional but if you want to take it personal that’s also okay,” the employee tells him firmly. 

“Well, she did do it intentionally, twice. You said she and then you said he,” the customer begins, referring to someone off-camera.   

The employee cuts in, and you can see the moment he snaps and decides to opt out of the game. “You’re being condescending, and if you want to continue, I’ll have Port Authority escort you out of the building right this moment if you want to play this game with me. Would you like to continue three days before Christmas? I really don’t mind.”  

The repressed frustration of the airline employee perfectly encapsulates how so many people feel about the constant cry-bullying they experience from men in dresses who insist on playing victim. The Delta employees – and I hope they didn’t get fired – were simply trying to go about their day and make a living. But then, a transgender-identifying man decided to make their ability to discern whether he could pass as a woman a litmus test for their professionalism, with the eye of the phone camera reminding them that one misstep and LGBT activists could be gunning for their job. 

Except that one young man decided he was no longer going to play along and informed the activist that he’d have him thrown out of the building if he wanted to play games, which is precisely how someone should respond to a bad-faith actor playing gender games. I’ve written this many times in this space: so much of the transgender movement relies on all of us playing along, and so much of their power derives from us agreeing to play along. In the video clip, you can see the moment the transgender activist loses his power and the airline employee refuses to allow his dignity to be further trampled. 

What if more of us did this? This clip, presumably, was posted online by the transgender activist, who was hoping to destroy a man’s life over pronouns a few days before Christmas, which tells you everything you need to know about these vicious people. But it has gone viral not because people were outraged at the treatment of the transgender activist, but because people identified so strongly with the beleaguered, frustrated, and finally, fed up employee. Posting the video, in other words, has had precisely the opposite of the intended effect. 

Again, I might be wrong. But I do think this video has captured something of our cultural moment here. I hope we see more of this.  

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