Writer Samantha Bielefeld has been at the center of a controversy over the past couple of weeks after high-profile Apple bloggers accused her of being a man named Victor Johnson, publishing an inflammatory blog under a false female identity. On Thursday, Bielefeld told her side of the story, and it’s both more complicated and more straightforward than anyone suspected.
“My birth certificate says Victor Wynne Johnson on it,” Bielefeld wrote on her blog, in a post titled “Straight From the Horse’s Mouth,” “but my heart says another, that name being Samantha.”
She went on to explain that she’s transgender, but had feared being shunned if she came out publicly. Instead, she began writing as Samantha, whose blog represented “an outlet where I could begin to experience life how I truly wanted.”
“[M]y fantasy led to repeatedly lying to decent, well-meaning people who took my words at face value,” she admitted.
And while Samantha apologized for “misrepresenting” herself, and for some of the “inappropriate” things she’s said on Twitter — presumably including posting prominent Apple blogger John Gruber’s partial phone number — she stood by all of her controversial articles, a number of which picked fights with well-known bloggers and developers.
While confessing she’s deceived the community that reads her — and in some cases, pays for subscriptions to her blog — Bielefeld also denied certain parts of the popular narrative surrounding her.
Bielefeld also denies one of the most troubling accusations against her: that she faked an ugly, harassing email to herself to elicit sympathy. The message she posted on her website, which suggested she kill herself, was signed “Victor Johnson.”
“At the time I received that message I was hesitant to decide whether it was a very unlikely coincidence, or if someone was boldly letting me know that they were privy to my true identity. So, I decided to include it in my post as a way of publicly stating that I had read their email, and that the underlying message came across loud and clear,” she wrote.
Bloggers and security researchers carefully compiled the evidence that Samantha was really Victor over a period of days, pointing to matching email headers and website footers, and matching IP addresses. Then there was Victor’s online history, which was years longer than Samantha’s and included past accusations of deceit.
It seemed everyone suspected Samantha was Victor. But no one suggested Victor might also be Samantha.
For some, the revelation changes everything:
For others, nothing at all:
Bielefeld continues to offer refunds to her remaining paid subscribers, and ended her post with the hope that it would bring “some sort of closure, whatever that may mean for different people.”