Gay pols call out trans activist’s comments about Oct. 7 attack

Congressmember Ritchie Torres of the Bronx.
Congressmember Ritchie Torres of the Bronx.
Donna Aceto

A war of words erupted on social media after Qween Jean, a prominent trans activist in New York City, said at a March 2 demonstration that she was “sick and tired of being told and reminded about the events of October 7th,” referring to Hamas’ terrorist attack on Israel last year.

Qween Jean’s comments were seen in a video posted on X.

“The real terrorists,” Qween Jean said, “are the people sitting in office right now,” citing lawmakers like out gay Congressmember Ritchie Torres, who represents the 15th district in the Bronx and is a strong supporter of Israel. The social media video drew the attention of Torres, who responded with his own post and described Qween Jean as an “anti-Israel extremist.”

“The true terrorists, she claims, are not those who commit terrorism (like Hamas) but those who condemn it,” Torres said.

Another out gay politician, Mondaire Jones, a former lawmaker who is running for his old seat in New York’s 17th Congressional District, also spoke out in response to the video.

“These remarks are despicable,” Jones wrote on X. “We must all remember what happened on October 7, when the terrorist organization Hamas started this war by attacking Israel, brutally murdering 1,200 civilians and taking more than 200 others hostage. Hamas still has many of those hostages. Advocating for innocent Gazans does not require dismissing the events of October 7.”

The HIV/AIDS activist group ACT UP NY subsequently jumped into the conversation to denounce Torres’ response, prompting Torres to block the group’s page on the social media platform, according to a screenshot posted by ACT UP NY.

“Ritchie Torres, a sitting member of Congress, would rather use his platform to run a targeted smear campaign against a beloved Black trans community leader than face accountability for his role in an ongoing genocide,” ACT UP NY wrote. 

Qween Jean issued follow-up comments in an Instagram video published on March 4.

“As we have seen, Ritchie Torres and Mondaire Jones are so desperate that they have edited videos in an attempt to manipulate our community and create division,” Qween Jean said. “But we know the truth. That they serve capitalism. They do not serve the overall wellness of the people living in this city. They have prioritized their campaigns and not collective liberation. They have tried to label me as an extremist, but that does not take away from the extreme violence that has occurred as a result of this genocide.”

Qween Jean added: “I shared in my speech that I am sick and tired, and from the bottom of my heart, I wanted to express the agony of seeing how misinformation and propaganda has now caused there to be over a million people that are living without food and are starving… I know how folks treat Black women, queer people, women of color, but the misogyny and the transmisogynoir will not stop us from fighting and demanding there be freedom for all people.”