Olivia R. May 18, 2020
A streamer positioned to help promote positivity on Twitch is at the center of the streaming platform's biggest current controversy.
Twitch recently introduced the streaming community to its new Twitch Safety Advisory Council. The goal of the council was to take Twitch content creators and safety experts from different backgrounds and bring them together to guide Twitch on ways to keep their community safe. This includes implementing new policies and developing products that help improve moderation.
Twitch recently revealed the eight members, including Anti-Bullying Ambassadors founder Alex Holmes, Twitch Partner CohhCarnage, Cyberbullying Research Center co-director Dr. Sameer Hinduja, and Twitch Ambassador Cupahnoodle. While there is a lot of skepticism surrounding Twitch's inconsistent banning and alleged biases, many in the streaming community are waiting to see what difference the Safety Advisory Council makes and what power they actually have before judging its creation completely.
But one council member has been riling up the Twitch community since the announcement. Trans woman and rights activist Steph "FerociouslySteph" Loehr has been continuously harassed on social media as a result of comments made by her while streaming.
What started it all is a live stream in which FerociouslySteph told her viewers that voice chat was "unfair" and shouldn't exist in competitive games due to the treatment many people with marginalized voices receive once they talk or reveal their identity. This immediately caused an outpouring of criticism from the gaming community, which prompted FerociouslySteph to make a statement that it was mostly people with "cis white male-sounding voices" that didn't seem to have a problem with voice chat.
This sentiment caused an uproar, with many gamers and viewers alike calling her "mentally ill." Some even stated that she should be taken off the Twitch Safety Advisory Council for her "discrimination" against white men. Popular streamers including Asmongold even weighed in on the topic, stating that if you replaced "cis white men" with "black people" or "trans people" the statement would get someone banned on Twitch immediately. To some, this was blatant hypocracy. To others, FerociouslySteph's opinon was seen as standing up for marginalized groups who face issues within the gaming community that majority groups rarely would.
FerociouslySteph continues to get attention for her behavior
While her hot take on voice chat in video games definitely garnered a lot of attention, it seems that FerociouslySteph hasn't been able to stay off of people's radars even since. The concern has shifted to FerociouslySteph's inability to be banned from the streaming platform and the way she has handled the new situation.
"I'm not going anywhere. I have power. They can't take it away from me. And honestly, there are some people that should be afraid of me," FerociouslySteph said on her stream.
She then offered that people are worried about her because she "represents moderation and diversity." FerociouslySteph then said that she is here to stand up against "shitty people," something Twitch has endorsed.
For FerociouslySteph and her followers, it appears that "cis white males" and other dominant groups within the gaming community may feel afraid that they aren't able to silence someone like her. On the other side, some members of the gaming community feel she has a bias towards the majority of Twitch users, making her position of power quite dangerous if she's willing to abuse it. Many have also expressed that she is on a "power trip," while others feel she is purposely provoking trolls.
"I think a lot of you gamers are actually white supremacists. Sorry, just a fact," FerociouslySteph also said while streaming on Twitch.
In yet another clip circulating the web, FerociouslySteph says she is going to "drink her haters' tears."
While calling out some gamers for supporting the unfortunate amount of sexism and racism within gaming culture is one thing, many feel that calling the majority of gamers "white supremacists" is taking it to an unfortunate extreme.
As the hate started outpouring in response to FerociouslySteph's latest controversial statements, she felt the need to clarify what she meant on Twitter.
"Sure are a lot of people trying to make me and my arguments look bad right now. Clipping and retweeting my most frustrated takes. Perpetuating conclusions I've never made. Few people are being rational, most want to dogpile, most are being hateful. It's a lot," she lamented.
FerociouslySteph then seemed to backtrack on her original comments, softening them in a statement delivered through Twitter.
Throughout it all, FerociouslySteph has been banning trolls from her Twitch streams, including some spewing blatant hate. But others have pointed out that she also appears to block people who simply disagree with her positions. This has raised some concerns within the Twitch community as well, and some have called on Twitch to drop FerociouslySteph from the council.
So far, Twitch has supported FerociouslySteph and stated they will ensure her safety.
Who is FerociouslySteph?
According to FerociouslySteph, she represents a lot of things people hate. This includes being trans, a woman, and a furry.
According to Twitch's introduction of their Safety Advisory Council, FerociouslySteph became a full-time streamer in 2016 when she started playing Heroes of the Storm at a competitive level in college. She was one of the first transgender streamers to be partnered on Twitch. She was also the first to bring a transgender pride flag emoji to the platform.
"Her fight for inclusivity includes creating a competitive team composed entirely of marginalized gamers, and vehemently opposing non inclusive mechanics such as voice chat," Twitch stated.
Being an openly trans woman who paved the way for others on Twitch is what has led FerociouslySteph to her position on the Safety Advisory Council. She was asked to join in April due to not just her extensive experience on the platform and within its community, but because of the insight she has when it comes to "protecting marginalized groups' interests," one of Twitch's goals with the council's formation.
Despite the controversy some of her words and conduct have generated since the council's formation, Twitch has remained steadfast in its original decision to add her to the group.
It's still too early to know what type of power the council's members will actually have and what types of decisions it will be asked to weigh in on or make.