Rose McGowan will not be going on book tour after all.
Rose McGowan will not be going on book tour after all. Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Last Friday, Seattle Arts and Lectures organizers announced they were canceling a forthcoming event with Rose McGowan, who was scheduled to appear in Seattle on February 20 in support of her new memoir, Brave. McGowan—whose career was launched by '90s-era films like Scream and Jawbreaker—has been a prominent figure in the #MeToo movement, and alleges that Harvey Weinstein raped her in a hotel room in 1997, when she was 23. Weinstein later paid McGowan a $100,000 settlement, and according to the New Yorker, hired a private intelligence agency to spy on McGowan and prevent her from going public with her story. That experience, and her decision to go public anyway, is detailed in Brave.

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The cancellation comes in light of a highly publicized incident at McGowan's first book reading at the Union Square Barnes & Noble in Manhattan last Wednesday. During the event, the actor was asked a pre-submitted question by an audience member about what scared her the most when it came to speaking out about sexual harassment and assault. She was in the midst of answering when she was heckled by a woman in the audience, Andi Dier, formerly of Long Island.

According to an interview in the queer news and culture site them, Dier, who identifies as trans, attended the event with the intention of confronting McGowan about comments she made last summer on RuPaul's podcast, What the Tee. In conversation with RuPaul and co-host Michelle Visage, McGowan talked about her childhood in a cult, working on her book, transcendental meditation, and the male gaze. At one point, McGowan said that her trans friends never asked her what it's like to be a woman. "They assume, because they felt like a woman on the inside—," she said, before interrupting herself. "That’s not developing as a woman. That’s not growing as a woman, that’s not living in this world as a woman." McGowan was widely accused of transphobia for her statement. It wasn't the first time: In 2015, McGowan was criticized for saying that Caitlin Jenner doesn't know what it's like be to be woman after Jenner said onstage at Glamour’s Woman of the Year award ceremony, the hardest part of being a woman was “deciding what to wear." McGowan denied allegations of transphobia then, but they have occassionally dogged her since.

“I have a suggestion," Dier broke in during McGowan's Manhattan appearance. "Talk about what you said on RuPaul. Trans women are dying and you said that we, as trans women, are not like regular women. We get raped more often. We go through domestic violence more often. There was a trans woman killed here a few blocks [away]. I have been followed home...."

“Hold on. So have I." McGowan responded. "We are the same. My point was, we are the same—"

“You do nothing for them," Dier continued. "Trans women are in men’s prisons. And what have you done for them?”

“What have you done for women?" McGowan responded. "Sit down. Sit down. Sit down. Enough. Get lost. Shut up. You are so boring," she said as Dier was escorted out by Barnes & Noble security.

After Dier was gone, there was scattered applause, and McGowan ranted into the microphone for a while. "Trans women are women," she said. "What I've been trying to say is that the stats are identical. It's not that dissimilar. You break it down, it is a much smaller population." When McGowan, and the mood, had calmed some, she briefly read from her book, and left for her next appearance, on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, which, by some accounts, was just as uncomfortable.

Soon after video of the incident emerged, McGowan was again accused of transphobia by social media users as well as some media outlets. Some of the same people and media outlets hailed Dier as hero. The Seattle Arts & Lectures event with McGowan was canceled "in light of feedback from the Seattle community."

While it's unclear who canceled first, McGowan or SAL, McGowan announced on Twitter that same Friday that she would be canceling all forthcoming public appearances. Seattle Arts & Lectures did not return requests for comment. McGowan also alleged that Dier was a paid plant.

The story, however, doesn't end there. While we've found no evidence that Dier was paid to heckle McGowan—and Dier denies it—soon after the story started to spread, multiple women accused Dier of unwanted sexual contact while they were between the ages of 12 and 15 and Dier was in her late teens and early 20s.

Dier denies any nonconsensual sexual contact and says that the allegations are attacks from the alt-right as well as McGowan supporters and TERFs, or trans-exclusionary radical feminists. (The term TERF, which is generally considered derogatory by those at whom it is directed, describes feminists who oppose the idea that gender can be self-determined, and—sometimes, but not always—object to trans women in what are historically thought of as female-only spaces, like women's bathrooms, changing rooms, and lesbian music festivals.) Dier, both on Twitter and in a lengthy email, repeatedly claimed that the allegations against her are TERF smear campaigns.

Tweets about Dier's behavior date from as far back as 2010.

I spoke to five people who have accused Dier of wrongdoing, three whom I contacted via social media and two who came to me directly. Most requested anonymity, and their stories were similar: Dier, who at the time presented as male, met pre-teen and teenage girls, either online or at the Smith Haven Mall on Long Island. Then, they allege, she offered them weed or alcohol before coming onto them. Some said they accepted the pot or drinks; some did not. None of them reported Dier to the police or other authorities at the time, saying they felt ashamed and embarrassed.

One of the accusers, Felicia Piciullo, now 19, said Dier hugged, kissed, and sexually touched her without consent when she was 14. She believes that Dier was 19 or 20 at the time. Afterwards, she said, Dier harassed her by sending explicit messages for months, and the experience made her anxious and unsure of herself for years.

Another accuser said Dier preyed upon, flirted, and nonconsenually touched her and other young girls, and the experience left her "tormented." "Andi used me for personal pleasure while preying on my weaknesses to keep me wrapped around her finger," she said. "Andi is no hero. I tried for so many years to see her as an activist. Because, yes, we need that in this day and age—real trans rights activists. But she is a disgrace to the entire LGBTQ community. Andi needs to sit back and accept that she is wrong."

Another accuser who met Dier when she was 14 says at first she thought Dier was her age because "why would someone who had graduated high school be hanging out with us?" Their relationship, she says, was flirty, and she initially enjoyed the attention. "She did a lot to make us feel special and cool, but then when we were alone she was forceful. She would try to kiss me and that made me uncomfortable," she says. One day at the mall, she alleges, Dier shoved her between two vending machines and put her hands inside the girl's pants. "That was probably the last time we had contact," she says, "but I heard she had become an advocate for feminism and trans rights. I thought maybe she had changed but after the Rose McGowan incident, I got really angry. I saw a lot of hypocrisy. She made it about her."

None of the accusers I spoke with said they are opposed to trans rights or trans people at all. One identifies as non-binary; others said they were pansexual, or attracted to people of all genders.

When asked about these allegations, Dier denied claims of nonconsenusal sexual contact. She also provided The Stranger with a lengthy statement and stipulated that we could only quote her if we published it in full. The Stranger declined to publish her full statement as it included allegations against her then-underage accusers and others by name.