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Transgender Mayoral Candidate to Sue Twitter over Defamatory Fake Account

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rsz_m_robinsonA transgender woman currently running for Mayor in Nampa, Idaho is planning to sue the social networking site Twitter for allowing a false account posted in her name to remain accessible for weeks after requesting that they take it down.

Melissa Sue Robinson, who entered the mayoral race in June, told KTRV she was shocked to find a link under her name to a Twitter account titled “WomanWithAPenis.”  This same account was also reported to have sent lewd tweets to a Michigan reporter.  Robinson recounted:

I checked Google and I saw something very lewd, very malicious, just downright nasty with my name on it… I e-mailed Twitter and called them and did the same thing with Google and asked them to remove it and that was [a] month ago and they haven't removed it.

As of Wednesday, Aug 26th however, the false account had been removed in the aftermath of the incident’s national publicity.

Citing KTRV’s primary coverage (which improperly hyphenates the term transgender), The Advocate.com reported that Robinson plans to file suit for defamation of character and violation of privacy.  Digital Media Wire explained that Robinson hopes the court will order Twitter to identify the offending account holder so that she can launch a personal suit against him/her.

The Advocate reported, "A self-described progressive, her [campaign platform] plans include the passage of an LGBT rights ordinance, transportation improvements, and the development of the downtown area."

It is unfortunate that for the time being her energy will have to be diverted from promoting these priorities.  Robinson reflected to KTRV, "If you're just a transgender person living your life out, you're working hard doing things to help society, people shouldn't be malicious against you."

This is not the first time Robinson has encountered difficulties during a political campaign.  As a 2003 candidate for Mayor in Lansing, Michigan, Robinson battled a Michigan law that compelled her to include her given name alongside her preferred name on the ballot.   ClickOnDetroit.com chronicled her 2003 debate with the City over the law, which discriminated against transgender candidates.

Robinson has also petitioned the City of Lansing to adopt a transgender-inclusive anti-discrimination ordinance and lobbied the State of Michigan to extend existing anti-discrimination laws to cover transgender individuals. Coincidentally, The Associated Press reported Wednesday on a bill before Michigan’s House Judiciary Committee, which would do just that.  However, The AP added that “similar legislation introduced in Michigan in recent years has not advanced.”

GLAAD will continue to keep you updated of media surrounding Robinson’s case.