I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter

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This article was considered for deletion at Wikipedia on January 17 2020. This is a backup of Wikipedia:I_Sexually_Identify_as_an_Attack_Helicopter. All of its AfDs can be found at Wikipedia:Special:PrefixIndex/Wikipedia:Articles_for_deletion/I_Sexually_Identify_as_an_Attack_Helicopter, the first at Wikipedia:Wikipedia:Articles_for_deletion/I_Sexually_Identify_as_an_Attack_Helicopter. Purge

Original short description: "Science fiction short story by Isabel Fall (2020)"

"I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter" is a military science fiction short story by Isabel Fall, published on 9 January 2020 in Clarkesworld Magazine. The story relates the experience of Barb, a woman whose gender has been reassigned to "attack helicopter" so as to make her a better pilot.

The story's title is taken from an Internet meme used to disparage transgender people. Clarkesworld withdrew the story after Fall was harassed because of it.


Some time in the near future, the United States is fighting a war against the "Pear Mesa Budget Committee", a local AI government that emerged from an environmental and medical catastrophe on the Gulf Coast. The story is told from the perspective of Barb (a call sign, not "Barbara"), formerly called Seo Ji Hee. The U.S. Army neuromedically reassigned Barb's gender to "attack helicopter" to make her a better helicopter pilot – warfare is now part of Barb's gender role, much as wearing skirts would be part of a woman's.

The story interlaces scenes from the war, in which Barb and the gunner Axis bomb a high school and escape from an enemy aircraft, with recollections of Barb's previous life as a woman, and reflections about her altered sexuality: The acts of flying, of controlled violence, are now also sexual acts between Barb and Axis. As they fly home, Barb consoles Axis, who struggles with their reassigned gender, considering that Axis' uncertainty may reflect a "new queerness" as necessary as aerodynamic instability is to a combat aircraft.[1]

Publication history

The phrase "I sexually identify as an attack helicopter" is a transphobic Internet meme.[2] The phrase originated as part of a copypasta text posted in 2014 on the Internet forum Reddit, and spread to other fora such as 4chan, where it was used (peaking in 2015) to mock transgender people.[3]

Isabel Fall's story of the same title appeared on 9 January 2020 in the January issue (no. 160) of Clarkesworld Magazine. The accompanying biographical note read: "Isabel Fall was born in 1988".[1] The story provoked "vehement" responses, according to Wired. Many readers appreciated the story, including the authors Carmen Maria Machado and Chuck Tingle. But there were also many loud detractors, many of which were social justice activists and queer people. These readers objected to the use of an offensive meme as the title, and suspected that the story agreed with the meme's transphobia, or was an exercise in trolling.[3]

The editor of Clarkesworld, Neil Clarke, removed the story from the online magazine's website on 15 January 2020.[4] Clarke explained that he had removed the story after a "barrage of attacks" on Fall, "for her own personal safety and health". He wrote that Fall was a trans woman, but had not been out as such at the time of publication, and used an intentionally short biography and "negligible" Internet presence. According to Clarke, the story was not a hoax, and Fall was not a Neo-Nazi (as some had assumed because "88" is a Neo-Nazi code). He wrote that the story was an attempt by Fall to "take away some of the power of that very hurtful meme" by subverting it. Clarke wrote that the story had been subject to many revisions and it had been seen by trans sensitivity readers, but he apologized "to those who were hurt by the story or the ensuing storms".[4][5]


Rocket Stack Rank favorably reviewed the story, noting that the author's transparent narration allowed her to effectively convey to cisgender people "a bit about what it means to be trans (...) in a very different way than anything I’ve ever seen before."[6] File 770 collected a number of reactions from science fiction writers and fans, some of which read the story as transphobic, while others appreciated it and deplored its removal.[7] Robby Soave, a senior editor at Reason magazine called its removal an example of cancel culture.[8]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Fall, Isabel (9 January 2020). "I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter". Clarkesworld (160). https://web.archive.org/web/20200109113645/http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/fall_01_20/. 
  2. Shalloe, Harper (2019-11-01). "“I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter”" (in en). TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly 6 (4): 667–675. Template:Citation error. ISSN 2328-9252. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Ellis, Emma Grey (17 January 2020). "The Disturbing Case of the Disappearing Sci-Fi Story" (in en). Wired. https://www.wired.com/story/attack-helicopter-meme-sci-fi-story/. Retrieved 17 January 2020. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Clarke, Neil. "About the Story by Isabel Fall". http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/fall_01_20/. Retrieved 17 January 2020. 
  5. Flood, Alison (17 January 2020). "Sci-fi magazine pulls story by trans writer after 'barrage of attacks'". The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/jan/17/sci-fi-magazine-pulls-story-by-trans-writer-after-barrage-of-attacks. Retrieved 17 January 2020. 
  6. Hullender, Greg. "I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter, by Isabel Fall" (in en-us). Rocket Stack Rank. http://www.rocketstackrank.com/2020/01/I-Sexually-Identify-as-an-Attack-Isabel-Fall.html. Retrieved 17 January 2020. 
  7. Glyer, Mike (16 January 2020). "Clarkesworld Removes Isabel Fall’s Story". File 770. http://file770.com/clarkesworld-removes-isabel-falls-story/. Retrieved 17 January 2020. 
  8. Soave, Robby (2020-01-17). "Transgender Writer Forced to Retract Trans-Themed Science Fiction Story" (in en-US). https://reason.com/2020/01/17/canceled-transgender-story/.