Joyce Carol GOATs

There is one person on Twitter who’s capable of overcoming transphobia, and it’s the gross feet lady.

Jude Ellison S. Doyle
4 min readFeb 21

A brain wearing a crown. Look, I’m not the one who put it in the stock photo library.
PICTURED: Joyce Carol Oates’ evolution on trans issues. NOT PICTURED: Joyce Carol Oates. Photo by Gaspar Uhas on Unsplash

It’s easy to succumb to hopelessness, in this business of posting. You spend all day sticking your face in the soup of bad news and worse takes, watching progress erode and situations deteriorate. Over time, you lose faith that things can improve.

That’s how I felt, just two short days ago. But that was before the phrase “Joyce Carol Oates trans Twitter redemption arc” came into my life.

Joyce Carol Oates has, famously, one of the worst accounts on Twitter. It’s bad partly because of the wildly ill-advised things she posts, all of which go viral — previous JCO hits include: Halloween skeleton decorations are disrespectful to dead people; the dinosaurs from Jurassic Park are real and endangered by big game hunters; her feet — and partly because, well, it’s her. She’s one of the most respected and prolific novelists of the 20th century, and now an entire generation knows her as “the gross Twitter feet lady.”

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce her by another name: Joyce Carol Oates, model of respectful allyship and personal growth.

It’s not just that Joyce Carol Oates is suddenly posting a whole bunch of rad stuff about trans people. It’s that she had a learning curve. She worked on herself. For years. Look, she starts off here:

Not great, Joyce Carol Oates! Granted, we’re used to seeing a certain level of transphobia from prominent white female novelists of the 20th century (Hilary Mantel was a heartbreaker) but referring to someone else’s transition as a “horror” is still not ideal. Also, we don’t call it “transgendering,” as in, “having come to terms with myself, I…

Jude Ellison S. Doyle

Author of “Trainwreck” (Melville House, ‘16) and “Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers” (Melville House, ‘19). Columns published far and wide across the Internet.