A few weeks ago I produced an article on the feminist lingerie brand Neon Moon, discussing their use of a transgender model in their latest campaign. To prepare for that article I interviewed both the model, and the CEO of Neon Moon Hayat Rachi.
Following that article Neon Moon has acted rudely and cold towards myself and Planet Transgender, where the article was published, and even reprinted much of my work on their own website claiming it to be their own work.
The article did not mention that the interview was conducted by myself, or were conducted for Planet Transgender. The article made the claim that it was a piece of their own making, and that they were the ones who performed the interview.
This was done without the knowledge or consent of either Planet Transgender or myself. We were not approached to ask if Neon Moon could reproduce our work, and we were certainly not asked if they could tell people that it was their work.
The only main difference between the interview I conducted with Hayat, and the article she had produced, was that they added a question and answer about her appearing in her company’s photographs as a model, and removing a question I asked her about how she would react to accusations that Neon Moon were just using a trans model to gain media attention.
I believe that it was this question, and the subsequent reporting of it in my original article that begun Hayat’s cold behaviour.
I asked that question of her to give her a chance to counter any criticism of her and her company before it arose. I made it clear to her that I myself was not accusing her of ‘taking advantage’ of the focus on trans people, but giving her an easy way of showing that she wasn’t before the accusations began. We live in an age where even good deeds can be seen as suspect, of having an ulterior motive. I wanted to give Neon Moon the platform to say ‘that’s not us’.
The reason I believe this question became a source of contention for Hayat was that her response was ‘I’m not comfortable with this question’. She went on to say that ‘no one would accuse Neon Moon of this’, and asked me why I would ask that question of her. After explaining that I was not trying to cause offence, but on Neon Moon’s side her response was ‘could you word it? They’d trust you more than me’. She had once again refused to answer the question, and that fact was reported in my article.
With this question removed from the interview I conducted with her and a question of her own put into it’s place I guess she felt that it was an original enough work to claim it as her own. The article was posted to Neon Moon’s Facebook page and Twitter feed, where I left a comment to say where the article was originally publish and who the actual author was.
At this point I was upset that Hayat had taken my work and was trying to pass it off as her own. I took to Twitter and vented my frustration that someone had taken my work and was claiming it as theirs. I did not, at any point, however, mention Hayat Rachi or Neon Moon in this, giving them the benefit of the doubt of contacting them before going on to name them.
Later that night, when I was then able to try and message Hayat I found that the article they had produced had been removed from their website. I went to contact Hayat to talk about what had happened only to discover that I had been blocked by Hayat on Facebook, and blocked from the Neon Moon Twitter page.
I emailed Hayat to talk to her about why she had felt the need to block me, and messaged her on Facebook through the Neon Moon company page. The email has thus far been unresponded to, and the several messages that I have sent through Facebook have been viewed, but ignored.
I worked with Hayat on three articles, two of which were way before she announced involving a trans model with the company. I believed in Neon Moons message of body positivity, I thought that they had a good and healthy approach and were a company that conducted itself well. I even believed that they wanted to help tackle transphobia and help trans women.
What I find hard to understand is why a company that preached equality, and spreads a message of positivity towards trans people would firstly steal work from a trans person, then block and ignore that person when they try to speak to them about it. I find it hard to understand why Neon Moon go out of the way to share and promote the articles people produce on them, yet have not once shared or mentioned the last article produced by a transgender publication. They are sending one message, and then acting completely opposite to that message.
This is not designed to be an attack piece, instead I’m hoping that the publication of this prompts Hayat to open communications again so that this matter can be resolved. However, I doubt that she will do so. So instead this is designed as a warning, that some companies, and I believe Neon Moon in particular, preach a good message when it comes to trans people, but act completely contrary to that message.
Less than 24 hours after posting this article another trans woman read this and chose to try and ask Neon Moon about this rather than believing it as fact from only hearing one side of the argument, a very well reasoned choice.
This other person was wanting to give Neon Moon the chance to explain what had happened, to give them a chance to apologise, or to even say that their had been a misunderstanding. Instead, Neon Moon deleted this woman’s comment and blocked her.
That makes two trans women blocked in a two day period. Questionable action from a company that is pushing for trans equality and sending a pro-trans message.