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1. Peak Trans

Reaching peak trans starts with a single step up a gentle slope. You ascend, perhaps, from unease with the shifting of language, to discomfort with the way trans' versions of 'being a woman' are sexualised stereotypes, to alarm over transactivists' aggressive responses to any queries.

r/GenderCritical's 'Peak Trans' threads have charted hundreds upon hundreds of similar trajectories. These threads came to characterise the community. Each post told a story of how the poster reached a point where she could no longer ignore the misogyny in the trans movement. Lesbians ostracised for refusing 'girldick'; mothers whose daughters had reshaped their trauma with their adolescent bodies into an identity; transwidows with their lives in tatters. Pinned at the top of the subreddit as an entryway for new users, they allowed our readers to identify the commonalities of their experiences, awakening the class awareness which is key to feminist consciousness.

Climbing towards the peakincurred the distress of becoming conscious of the societal misogyny exposed by the trans rights movement. Often, this was exacerbated to the crazy-making frustration of feeling alone, unheard and silenced. We didn't radicalise anyone; we didn't try to. We merely resolved the cognitive dissonance of women who were under pressure to deny the political significance of the colonisation of their own sex class.

All we said was yes. Yes, we understand. Yes, we see it too. Yes, it's real. Yes.

r/GenderCritical was an online community hosted at by Reddit, an aggregator site which allows users to create communities (known as 'subreddits') within their platform. Subreddits have r/ in front of its name, and are created and organised by volunteer moderators; usernames begin with u/. For over two years, as u/womenopausal, I had been posting updates and articles on r/GenderCritical relating to British feminists' struggles with the Gender Recognition Act, censorship of their views, and the institutional capture of many governmental and non-governmental organisations, amongst other topics. Like many other British radical feminists, my own peak trans was the violent attack on Maria McLachlan at Hyde Park Corner in 2018. I felt compelled to participate in the debate, but needed to do so anonymously. Online activism was the obvious choice. r/GenderCritical was right up my alley.

Just over a year ago, I was inducted onto the moderation team of r/GenderCritical. As moderators, much of the work we did was invisible: removing trolls, enforcing the rules of the community and promulgating its culture, which was based in radical feminist principles. Supporting pornography, abusive sexual practices, prostitution and surrogacy were against the rules; any people who were less than fully supportive of women's right to access abortion were removed promptly. We didn't want our users to dissipate their energies in the endless defence of radical feminist positions that we are constantly forced into outside our own spaces. (We had dedicated debate subreddits for this purpose, in which some of the most patient and brilliant of our members participated.)

r/GenderCritical was not officially a woman-only space. We already had enough work to do without having to trawl through users' posting history to guess at their sex. In practice, though, men were few and far between. A parallel subreddit catered to profeminist men. Others lurked respectfully in the main sub; a few participated sparsely. Hundreds were banned for overstepping the rules; several left of their own volition, unaccustomed to the experience of being outnumbered, and often robustly challenged, by women.

In the near absence of men, a woman-centric culture developed. This was the rare, gorgeous pleasure of participating in r/GenderCritical. It is hard to capture the pleasure of women-only spaces to women who have not experienced them. Arguments were robust, although rarely rude. Vulnerable people were supported. Women felt able to share their wit and intelligence without self-deprecation or embarrassment. There were flaws, naturally: discussions of race and faith were often under-nuanced and marked by wider societal prejudices. Issues around religion, maternity and sexuality have always been divisive within radical feminist thought; they remained so.

For me, the most satisfying part was seeing the development of new members. Newly peaked, still bewildered, they joined us skittish or prickly, concerned about seeking recognition from women they believed to be 'evil TERFS' and socialised into self-effacement through the male-pleasing culture of liberal feminism. Some users, new to any other feminist perspectives than the anodyne, depoliticised third wave, found radical feminism with a sense of relief - and a kind of recognition. If you look down from the peak, you can see the landscape of patriarchy spread out below you. And you begin to ask questions.

All we said was yes. Yes, you can exert sexual boundaries. Yes, you can live a good life without a man. Yes, you can stop performing femininity. Yes.

2. Wingardium Leviosa!

r/GenderCritical was created in September, 2013 by a group of women who wanted to discuss the spread of trans ideology in a place where they would not be censored. They placed their trust in Reddit's (then) libertarian principles – the founders had described it as a place for 'authentic conversation'. Over the years r/GenderCritical expanded to cater to more and more women who felt disillusioned with third-wave feminism. A plethora of radical feminist 'sister' subreddits sprung up: on porn, prostitution, male violence, feminist theory, radical critiques of Queer theory, and more.

As trans movement grew, the counter-discourse began to spill outside radical feminist circles. Our membership grew along with it. The graph of subscribers could have been a textbook diagram for exponential growth – until JK Rowling's sensitive essay on her concerns with the trans movement sent it skyward. (Amusingly, the greatest individual recruiter to our movement previously had been Contrapoints, who had made such a ham-fisted attempt at outlining so-called radical feminist ideology that several women came along to find out out what our positions really were, and then found them persuasive.)

At the end of June 2020, r/GenderCritical was closing on 65,000 members, with over 27,000 daily users. r/GenderCritical was not, by any standards, a large community. It was, however, tremendously active: far more so than r/feminism, despite their mainstream status and huge number of subscribers. As British feminist Maya Forstater has observed, mainstream feminism has broad support - but very low engagement. We were at the other end of the scale. An average of 40 new posts were made to r/GenderCritical every day. It was not unusual for these daily posts to attract a thousand and more comments between them. r/GenderCritical also raised thousands of dollars for women's charities, including Vancouver Women's Library.

We raised consciousness; seeded activism; shared strategies; learned from each other; grew and grew. Our main concern, on the morning of 29th June, a few months shy of our seventh birthday, was how to handle our rapid growth. We were on track to reach 100,000 before the end of the year.

3. The hammer

I was working through the modqueue - a list of comments and posts which had been flagged for action - when the subreddit disappeared from under me. For 'hate', said the message text, centred underneath a stylised image of a hammer - or possibly a gavel. The attempt at looking judicial was undermined by the fact there was no process followed, no evidence given, and no appeal permitted. Eerily, Spotify chose that moment to play the chorus of a song: Now, now, the lights go out. There's no warning. Now, now the lights go out. There's no reason. Almost seven years of content – a good deal of it insightful, witty, moving, passionate, inspirational - was immediately placed out of reach of its creators and curators. I felt dizzy.

Another moderator, u/girl_undone, was in the middle of composing a message to a user reassuring her that we would not be banned when the hammer fell. Our surprise had come from the expectation that Reddit would abide by its own standards.

u/girl_undone described the measures the moderation team had taken to keep our community secure:

We'd had a conversation with the admins years ago about enforcing additional rules on their behest that weren't documented in the Reddit rules or policies, and we did that. We took all the rules very seriously, more than any sub I know of, frankly. We didn't allow direct links to other subreddits, except sister subreddits, because we took 'brigading' seriously - but other subs frequently brigaded our sub and the admins did nothing. We manually approved many kinds of content, including images, to make sure violations didn't get through at all. We were sent pornographic images and violent threatening images so we didn't want our users to ever see that anyway.

('Brigading' means inciting or allowing the members of one subreddit to leave hostile comments or make false reports on another.) Meanwhile other subreddits had barraged us with puerile anime memes, photographs of rancid, diseased penises, and, of course, ceaseless threats of death and rape. Sister subs were flooded with images of gore. On the morning of the ban, every single post on our subreddit had been falsely flagged as child pornography. I scrolled through 80 posts upon such topics as Adrienne Rich and a profile of a lesbian politician, all marked as 'sexual or suggestive content involving minors' by some anonymous saboteur. Was this merely an attempt to waste our time, or was this something more sinister, connected with the ban later that same day? We will never know.

Other large subreddits banned on the same day – all male-dominated - had long histories of intervention by Reddit's site admins – of warnings and quarantines and measures. u/girlundone stated that Reddit didn't give r/GenderCritical 'any indication that we should be concerned.' She explained that, because the team had cooperated completely with the Admins' requirements three years prior, we had expected there would at least be further communication indicative of any concerns before a ban. Yet she could find only two communications from the Admins since that conversation – both trivial in nature. We had acted like good housewives. We cleaned up the language and tidied up the links and toed the line in our goody two-shoes. It didn't make much difference.

Many of our 'sister' subreddits got the hammer too. The hammer shattered the feminist ecosystem we had been building. Our German and Scandinavian sister subreddits were deleted. Both of these had focussed on prostitution abolition rather than trans issues. Also banned was a subreddit created by fans of J K Rowling as an alternative to the existing one which had censored nuanced discussion of her opinions. r/TrueLesbians, a community for lesbians that had the temerity to exclude male-bodied 'lesbians' from its membership was initially banned, and only restored upon appeal. A piquant irony was that, as we saw our sister subs get the hammer, our one and only 'brother', the pro-feminist subreddit r/GenderCriticalGuys survived for over a week before it joined us.

Reddit was never the most likely platform for radical feminism. Our subreddit jostled alongside hateful pornography with names like r/degradingholes, r/strugglefucking (previously r/rapingwomen) and r/MisogynistFantasies. And yet, somehow, for close to seven years, r/GenderCritical had flourished despite the toxic environment. Even being cheek-by-jowl with the most scabrous denizens of the Manosphere couldn't stem the joyous, intoxicating energy of a community ran for, and by, women.

But at the end of the day, it didn't matter who ran it or who they ran it for. It mattered who owned it.

[CONTINUED IN COMMENTS]

# 1. Peak Trans Reaching peak trans starts with a single step up a gentle slope. You ascend, perhaps, from unease with the shifting of language, to discomfort with the way trans' versions of 'being a woman' are sexualised stereotypes, to alarm over transactivists' aggressive responses to any queries. r/GenderCritical's 'Peak Trans' threads have charted hundreds upon hundreds of similar trajectories. These threads came to characterise the community. Each post told a story of how the poster reached a point where she could no longer ignore the misogyny in the trans movement. Lesbians ostracised for refusing 'girldick'; mothers whose daughters had reshaped their trauma with their adolescent bodies into an identity; transwidows with their lives in tatters. Pinned at the top of the subreddit as an entryway for new users, they allowed our readers to identify the commonalities of their experiences, awakening the class awareness which is key to feminist consciousness. Climbing towards the peakincurred the distress of becoming conscious of the societal misogyny exposed by the trans rights movement. Often, this was exacerbated to the crazy-making frustration of feeling alone, unheard and silenced. We didn't radicalise anyone; we didn't try to. We merely resolved the cognitive dissonance of women who were under pressure to deny the political significance of the colonisation of their own sex class. All we said was _yes_. _Yes, we understand. Yes, we see it too. Yes, it's real. Yes._ r/GenderCritical was an online community hosted at by Reddit, an aggregator site which allows users to create communities (known as 'subreddits') within their platform. Subreddits have r/ in front of its name, and are created and organised by volunteer moderators; usernames begin with u/. For over two years, as u/womenopausal, I had been posting updates and articles on r/GenderCritical relating to British feminists' struggles with the Gender Recognition Act, censorship of their views, and the institutional capture of many governmental and non-governmental organisations, amongst other topics. Like many other British radical feminists, my own peak trans was the violent attack on Maria McLachlan at Hyde Park Corner in 2018. I felt compelled to participate in the debate, but needed to do so anonymously. Online activism was the obvious choice. r/GenderCritical was right up my alley. Just over a year ago, I was inducted onto the moderation team of r/GenderCritical. As moderators, much of the work we did was invisible: removing trolls, enforcing the rules of the community and promulgating its culture, which was based in radical feminist principles. Supporting pornography, abusive sexual practices, prostitution and surrogacy were against the rules; any people who were less than fully supportive of women's right to access abortion were removed promptly. We didn't want our users to dissipate their energies in the endless defence of radical feminist positions that we are constantly forced into outside our own spaces. (We had dedicated debate subreddits for this purpose, in which some of the most patient and brilliant of our members participated.) r/GenderCritical was not officially a woman-only space. We already had enough work to do without having to trawl through users' posting history to guess at their sex. In practice, though, men were few and far between. A parallel subreddit catered to profeminist men. Others lurked respectfully in the main sub; a few participated sparsely. Hundreds were banned for overstepping the rules; several left of their own volition, unaccustomed to the experience of being outnumbered, and often robustly challenged, by women. In the near absence of men, a woman-centric culture developed. _This_ was the rare, gorgeous pleasure of participating in r/GenderCritical. It is hard to capture the pleasure of women-only spaces to women who have not experienced them. Arguments were robust, although rarely rude. Vulnerable people were supported. Women felt able to share their wit and intelligence without self-deprecation or embarrassment. There were flaws, naturally: discussions of race and faith were often under-nuanced and marked by wider societal prejudices. Issues around religion, maternity and sexuality have always been divisive within radical feminist thought; they remained so. For me, the most satisfying part was seeing the development of new members. Newly peaked, still bewildered, they joined us skittish or prickly, concerned about seeking recognition from women they believed to be 'evil [TERF](https://terfisaslur.com/)S' and socialised into self-effacement through the male-pleasing culture of liberal feminism. Some users, new to any other feminist perspectives than the anodyne, depoliticised third wave, found radical feminism with a sense of relief - and a kind of recognition. If you look down from the peak, you can see the landscape of patriarchy spread out below you. And you begin to ask questions. All we said was _yes. Yes, you can exert sexual boundaries. Yes, you_ _can_ _live a good life without a man. Yes, you can stop performing femininity. Yes._ # 2. Wingardium Leviosa! r/GenderCritical was created in September, 2013 by a group of women who wanted to discuss the spread of trans ideology in a place where they would not be censored. They placed their trust in Reddit's (then) libertarian principles – the founders had described it as a place for 'authentic conversation'. Over the years r/GenderCritical expanded to cater to more and more women who felt disillusioned with third-wave feminism. A plethora of radical feminist 'sister' subreddits sprung up: on porn, prostitution, male violence, feminist theory, radical critiques of Queer theory, and more. As trans movement grew, the counter-discourse began to spill outside radical feminist circles. Our membership grew along with it. [The graph of subscribers](https://imgur.com/H2s0YS9) could have been a textbook diagram for exponential growth – until [JK Rowling's sensitive essay](https://www.jkrowling.com/opinions/j-k-rowling-writes-about-her-reasons-for-speaking-out-on-sex-and-gender-issues/) on her concerns with the trans movement sent it skyward. (Amusingly, the greatest individual recruiter to our movement previously had been Contrapoints, who had made such a ham-fisted attempt at outlining so-called radical feminist ideology that several women came along to find out out what our positions really were, and then found them persuasive.) At the end of June 2020, r/GenderCritical was closing on 65,000 members, with over 27,000 daily users. r/GenderCritical was not, by any standards, a large community. It was, however, tremendously active: far more so than r/feminism, despite their mainstream status and huge number of subscribers. As British feminist Maya Forstater [has observed](https://twitter.com/MForstater/status/1272473462636974080), mainstream feminism has broad support - but very low engagement. We were at the other end of the scale. An average of 40 new posts were made to r/GenderCritical every day. It was not unusual for these daily posts to attract a thousand and more comments between them. r/GenderCritical also raised thousands of dollars for women's charities, including Vancouver Women's Library. We raised consciousness; seeded activism; shared strategies; learned from each other; grew and grew. Our main concern, on the morning of 29th June, a few months shy of our seventh birthday, was how to handle our rapid growth. We were on track to reach 100,000 before the end of the year. # **3**. **The hammer** I was working through the modqueue - a list of comments and posts which had been flagged for action - when the subreddit disappeared from under me. For 'hate', said the message text, centred underneath a stylised image of a hammer - or possibly a gavel. The attempt at looking judicial was undermined by the fact there was no process followed, no evidence given, and no appeal permitted. Eerily, Spotify chose that moment to play the chorus of a song: _Now, now, the lights go out. There's no warning. Now, now the lights go out. There's no reason._ Almost seven years of content – a good deal of it insightful, witty, moving, passionate, inspirational - was immediately placed out of reach of its creators and curators. I felt dizzy. Another moderator, u/girl\_undone, was in the middle of composing a message to a user reassuring her that we would not be banned when the hammer fell. Our surprise had come from the expectation that Reddit would abide by its own standards. u/girl\_undone described the measures the moderation team had taken to keep our community secure: > We'd had a conversation with the admins years ago about enforcing additional rules on their behest that weren't documented in the Reddit rules or policies, and we did that. We took all the rules very seriously, more than any sub I know of, frankly. We didn't allow direct links to other subreddits, except sister subreddits, because we took 'brigading' seriously - but other subs frequently brigaded our sub and the admins did nothing. We manually approved many kinds of content, including images, to make sure violations didn't get through at all. We were sent pornographic images and violent threatening images so we didn't want our users to ever see that anyway. ('Brigading' means inciting or allowing the members of one subreddit to leave hostile comments or make false reports on another.) Meanwhile other subreddits had barraged us with puerile anime memes, photographs of rancid, diseased penises, and, of course, ceaseless threats of death and rape. Sister subs were flooded with images of gore. On the morning of the ban, [every single post on our subreddit had been falsely flagged as child pornography](https://twitter.com/womenopausal1/status/1278432168935657476). I scrolled through 80 posts upon such topics as Adrienne Rich and a profile of a lesbian politician, all marked as 'sexual or suggestive content involving minors' by some anonymous saboteur. Was this merely an attempt to waste our time, or was this something more sinister, connected with the ban later that same day? We will never know. Other large subreddits banned on the same day – [all male-dominated](https://www.theverge.com/2020/6/29/21304947/reddit-ban-subreddits-the-donald-chapo-trap-house-new-content-policy-rules) - had long histories of intervention by Reddit's site admins – of warnings and quarantines and measures. u/girlundone stated that Reddit didn't give r/GenderCritical 'any indication that we should be concerned.' She explained that, because the team had cooperated completely with the Admins' requirements three years prior, we had expected there would at least be further communication indicative of any concerns before a ban. Yet she could find only [two communications](https://imgur.com/SkIWKkl) from the Admins since that conversation – both trivial in nature. We had acted like good housewives. We cleaned up the language and tidied up the links and toed the line in our goody two-shoes. It didn't make much difference. Many of our 'sister' subreddits got the hammer too. The hammer shattered the feminist ecosystem we had been building. Our German and Scandinavian sister subreddits were deleted. Both of these had focussed on prostitution abolition rather than trans issues. Also banned was a subreddit created by fans of J K Rowling as an alternative to the existing one which had censored nuanced discussion of her opinions. r/TrueLesbians, a community for lesbians that had the temerity to exclude male-bodied 'lesbians' from its membership was initially banned, and only restored upon appeal. A piquant irony was that, as we saw our sister subs get the hammer, our one and only 'brother', the pro-feminist subreddit r/GenderCriticalGuys survived for over a week before it joined us. Reddit was never the most likely platform for radical feminism. Our subreddit jostled alongside hateful pornography with names like r/degradingholes, r/strugglefucking (previously r/rapingwomen) and r/MisogynistFantasies. And yet, somehow, for close to seven years, r/GenderCritical had flourished despite the toxic environment. Even being cheek-by-jowl with the most scabrous denizens of the Manosphere couldn't stem the joyous, intoxicating energy of a community ran for, and by, women. But at the end of the day, it didn't matter who ran it or who they ran it for. It mattered who _owned_ it. [CONTINUED IN COMMENTS]

50 comments

[–] womenopausal [OP] 53 points (+53|-0) Edited

4. Peak Techbro

The tech industry movement remains staunchly libertarian in terms of free access to the vilest forms of pornography. Uppity women, however, seem to bring out its authoritarian streak. Twitter, Medium and Wordpress have all been involved in censoring gender-critical perspectives. Reddit was merely following suit. Emily Chang's book Brotopia exposes the arrogant geek misogyny of Silicon Valley. She outlines a culture of woman-objectifying libertinism, which allows nerds to play at being hoodie-and-sandals versions of Hugh Hefner. Feminist writer Jo Bartosch sums up the worldview of this culture world-view as 'knobjectivist' (Kate Manne can only dream of being so witty). But if techbro knobjectivism is the head of the hammer, trans-activism is the handle.

On the Women Are Human blog, Tiffany Cowen described the background to Reddit's decision to remove a huge number of 'problematic' subreddits. Due their seedy reputation as a hive of incels and racists, they had felt under pressure due to the burgeoning Black Lives Matter movement. Cowen reported that 'Last month Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian resigned from the board in June and urged Reddit to select a black female candidate to replace him.' Capitalising on this momentum, on 8th June, r/AgainstHateSubreddits wrote an open letter to Reddit's co-founder and CEO, Steve Huffman (u/spez) asking for tougher measures on 'hateful speech' on the platform. (There are, incidentally, currently over 100 posts vilifying 'TERFS' on r/AgainstHateSubreddits.) Our community was one of those they targetted for removal from the platform.

The letter was was co-signed by 800 subreddits, including such subreddits as fans of Taylor Swift, and of the nine-year-old video game Skyrim. The letter threatened a shutdown of these subreddits. The same tactic had been previously used to depose Reddit's former interim CEO Ellen Pao in 2015. This action would cripple Reddit's ability to capitalise on advertising. The letter's demands were for a sitewide policy against hate based on 'sexuality, gender identity, ethnicity, country of origin, religion, or disability.' Notably, sex is not present in this list of protected characteristics. Even the weaselly 'gender' is absent. Fans of Skyrim or Taylor Swift may be happy enough to endorse a letter against hate; it is less clear that each individual involved in those communities would be similarly invested in the removal of a niche feminist community. However, r/AgainstHateSubreddits was able to leverage the huge number of signatories to its letter to claim support in the hundreds of millions.

Pushed into a rapid response, Reddit's new Rule 1 initially stated that 'the rule [on hate] does not protect groups of people who are in the majority.' Feminists have observed that the shift from 'sex' to 'gender' tended to muddy understandings of sex-based oppression. Here, Reddit takes female erasure a step further, since for recorded history, women have been an oppressed majority. Every oppression counts it seems...except the first. This claim was subsequently walked back: now the rule says it 'does not protect those who promote attacks and try to hide their hate in bad faith claims of discrimination.' The garbled language indicates a huge margin for interpretation: what does it mean to 'promote' an attack? Whose claims of discrimination are in 'bad faith' and whose are valid? And who decides?

Answers from Reddit's Admins were unsatisfactory. The CEO, as u/spez clarified that their identification of 'hateful content' was based 'on reporting and our [ie, Reddit's] own filtering.' Using reporting as a metric means that what is 'hateful' is elided with what users find personally offensive. A report-driven mechanism hands also control to a majority. Two-thirds of Reddit's users are male. (Clearly, Reddit's concern with the potentially oppressive nature of majorities only goes so far.)

Online spaces are no less vulnerable to policy capture than those with swanky premises in Westminster, with the benefit that there's no need to wash your hair. A committed activist can make a disproportionate impact. A Redditor named u/bpwpb gave an interview to LGBT magazine themtaking credit for the ban of r/GenderCritical. u/bpwpb moderates over 30 communities, including r/LGBT, which has over 530,000 users. A post made on 4th June to r/transtimelines reveals u/bpwpb to be the transactivist formerly known as Aimee Challoner - notorious for creating the #terfblocker list which comprised over 50,000 British feminists, for finagling the twitter banning of gender critical ally Miranda Yardley, and for repeated attempts at gaining influence within political parties.

u/YoureNotAClownfish, moderator of sister subreddits critical of pornography and prostitution, challenged the Admins of Reddit directly, participating in a long post of responses to the decision. She drew attention to the abrupt removal of r/GenderCritical whereas 'male-run subs that reddit itself has issues with are let run for years, and then merely quarantined, if that.' There was no answer. Her questions about unacceptable porn on the platform were ignored; Admins dismissed questions about the rights clash at the heart of feminist concerns with a ritual intonation of Trans Women Are Women. In the same conversation, u/bpwpb requested that the term 'trans-identified' and 'trans-identifying' should be filtered on Reddit, because of their association with with the r/GenderCritical community. This would represent a chilling delimitation of any remaining feminist Redditors' freedom of speech and thought, if introduced into policy.

Tellingly, posters in r/AgainstHateSubreddits outlined their motivation in targetting r/GenderCritical along with the other subreddits: 'r/GC functioned as a major pipeline, particularly for younger ones,' stated one. 'It's about scattering the ideology so that they can't organise and fall into the TERF blackhole.' another responded.

We were becoming too successful. They had to bury us.

5. Oocyte

Our users, disoriented and grieving, drifted to various platforms. Many participated in a #RedditHatesWomen hashtag campaign to draw attention to the hypocrisy of Reddit's 'Remember the Human' posturing. They tweeted titles of the most misogynistic pornography still available on the platform, alerting advertisers and media outlets to Reddit's double standards. Within hours, a replica of r/GenderCritical surfaced on Saidit, a 'free speech' alternative to Reddit. It had attracted nearly 2,000 new subscribers within a week of the ban. Some users triumphantly posted archives they had found of our content – including the iconic Peak Trans threads which had been rescued as a priority. However, the advantage that Saidit did not allow pornography was undermined by the presence of anti-Semites and so-called 'race realists' on the platform. Meanwhile, the independent feminist social media platform Spinster, founded by M K Fain, gained 2,000 new subscribers in a week.

What was noticeable to me was the number of women online who were suddenly vocally regretting our demise, while acknowledging never having posted on the subreddit while it was available. They had been gathering their courage; now they had lost their chance. This, more even than the anger at the abrupt and unjust nature of our ban, is what made me realise how necessary it was that we rebuild the community: we needed to do it for the women who had not yet spoken, who had yet to find their voice.

We were never going to give up. We were never going to compromise. We were never going to go back, either, even if they begged us. (Feminists know better than to believe men who say they'll change.) We were never going to leave ourselves vulnerable again. We felt responsible for our users and for maintaining the momentum of the community we had built. We also wanted to show those smug techbros and trans-activists they might think they could pound us into the ground with their hammer, but really they were helping us spread our roots wider, so we could grow taller, wider and stronger.

Within days, a working group of more than a dozen tech-savvy feminists and pro-feminists had rolled up. I had to turn off my Discord notifications: the chirruping sound of updates was constant, and the jargon impenetrable to me. Spinster's M K Fain and her partner joined in the support team, providing real-life experiences of building a feminist platform and receiving massive anti-feminist backlash. Meanwhile, we struggled with keeping our former members, now dispersed and demoralised, in the loop. But the work of liberating oneself is eased by the vision of liberation. We would no longer suffer the insecurity of our fate being in someone else's hands. We would no longer chafe against Reddit's arbitrary restrictions on what we could and could not post. We could kick off our goody two-shoes and dance. And if we were going to dance, why not throw a party?

Moderator u/heidischallenge spoke for us all when she explained why she had devoted many years of her life to the subreddit: 'I do it for the sisterhood.' We made her statement our hashtag - #ForTheSisterhood. We decided we weren't just going to recreate r/GenderCritical within a safe, secure radical feminist space to protect ourselves and carry on as before. We determined to create a radical feminist platform that would accommodate all of our sisters. A poster in our Discord dubbed it Ovarit. The name stuck immediately.

Reddit? Nah, we're Ovarit. Yes, you can join us. Yes.

[–] politipoop 54 points (+54|-0)

Thank you so much for this. To all of the people involved in making Ovarit (perfect name), and to all of you that were fighting for women while I was still oblivious to it all.

I feel like I’m home.

[–] woman-definitely 12 points (+12|-0)

Me too! it's been a traumatic couple of years with many sleepless nights. Thank you!

[–] eatmypussy 42 points (+42|-0)

This is WONDERFUL news.

Fuck Reddit. As painful as the loss of r/GenderCritical is, I am SO HAPPY to have a website just for women. Reddit was always an uneasy union; any pro-women subreddits on the platform exist in a ecosystem where women are the minority of users and can expect constant harassment and invalidation from men, which dilutes the experience. And we must always be willing to appease the Reddit gods or risk being deplatformed.

I will never forgive Reddit for lumping r/GenderCritical in with the vilest of the misogynistic and racist subs which they willingly hosted for years. I will never forgive Reddit for allowing subs like r/rapingwomen to exist in the first place.

r/GenderCritical will live on and thrive away from that cesspool of a website

[–] Ruby 27 points (+27|-0)

Thank you for this - for all of it. And welcome home.

[–] WomanDownToTheXX 18 points (+18|-0)

You have no idea how happy this announcement has made me today! Gender Critical getting banned was like a knife through the heart; I never posted myself (maybe a few comments, but I was afraid of being doxxed), but I was a daily reader for years. I learned so much from the women there, and I can't wait to be an active participant here! Thank you so much for all of this.

[–] mancheeze 10 points (+10|-0)

I'm so grateful for the work you've put in over the years, even though I was banned from Gender Critical I still recognized it as a great platform.

[–] sensusquaeram 5 points (+5|-0)

Peak Techbro indeed. 😄

This is brilliant, thank you for taking the time to put such a lucid history together. It actually made me teary-eyed.

r/GC was definitely a vital foundation stone in getting women together, but I never trusted Reddit farther than I could throw it (and ugh, the porn). s/GC was a brilliantly executed landing space (upside -- no porn), but its ethos lets all species of hatred in the door and dudes are chronically wandering in, all beery and disruptive and wanting a dopamine hit from arguing over something or another -- props to those who have the patience for it.

Thanks to Spinster and Ovarit, so help me, I feel like I can finally let my hair down and take time to think and learn and interact, all without feeling like I'm watching over my shoulder for TRA or dopamine-debate-bro intrusions. (No FB/Twitter etc. for me, this is it, essentially.)

The grieving after r/GC was banned -- that was real. I think so many women just felt so utterly betrayed, and yes, it proved the point that stellar rules-compliance and exemplary modding mean nothing in Techbro Land. And the takedowns can just as likely come from within corporate as from without.

Just so glad to be here now, in our own spaces. 💕

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[–] onlygrey 27 points (+27|-0)

r/TrueLesbians, a community for lesbians that had the temerity to exclude male-bodied 'lesbians' from its membership was initially banned, and only restored upon appeal.

Wasn't r/detrans the one sub that successfully appealed its ban? r/TrueLesbians is still banned.

The letter was was co-signed by 800 subreddits, including such subreddits as fans of Taylor Swift, and of the nine-year-old video game Skyrim.

It's important to note that the letter wasn't signed by subreddits but only by its moderators (without consultation with its users), including power mods that "moderate" more than 50 subreddits.

We were never going to give up. We were never going to compromise. We were never going to go back, either, even if they begged us. (Feminists know better than to believe men who say they'll change.) We were never going to leave ourselves vulnerable again. We felt responsible for our users and for maintaining the momentum of the community we had built. We also wanted to show those smug techbros and trans-activists they might think they could pound us into the ground with their hammer, but really they were helping us spread our roots wider, so we could grow taller, wider and stronger.

Such powerful words, I wish I could write them on my wall, so I could wake up every day looking at them.

Ooops, did I screw up? I know there's a list of banned subs somewhere - does anyone have a timeline so I can keep this stuff straight?

The point about moderators might be worth clarifying, thianks for that. (I am hoping to publish this essay off Ovarit later, as a document of feminist organising and backlash, so I'm really appreciative of getting your feedback).

And thank you for reading it! I liked writing it - it was quite emotional, actually. I guess it was my way of processing the shock!

[–] politipoop 6 points (+6|-0)

I’ve found a reddit post that was made 26 days ago with a list of subs that were initially banned (and someone in the comments updated it 3 days later). I’m looking for more info.

I’m not sure if I can link to reddit here, if I can I’ll link the post.

[–] writerlylesbian 18 points (+18|-0)

r/TrueLesbians was initially banned shortly after r/GenderCritical (I think on the same day). The ban was briefly reversed a day or so later, but the community went private, an understandable measure to protect it from the sorts of bogus 'hate' reporting that was being used as an excuse for the subsequent bans. This had the unfortunate side-effect of locking out many lesbians who were lurkers/had changed username recently/weren't active posters. It didn't help much anyway, and the r/TrueLesbians was permanently banned again few days later. It was pretty much on various 'hit lists' that were circling on Reddit, because clearly a community of 15,000 lesbians is right up there with racists and neo-nazis (eye roll).

r/detrans was banned in the second wave I think, and then reinstated.

The Aimee Challoner link is very interesting. Worth noting (this has been documented a few times) that one of the mods for r/ActualLesbians (a community with an astonishing amount of non-lesbians, where lesbians tend to be bullied) is a transactivist who is good friends with Aimee Challoner.

[–] womenopausal [OP] 13 points (+13|-0)

Thank you! Sections of this essay were written immediately after the banwave and I have been so caught up in real life and working on Ovarit, plus so disgusted with Reddit I got right out of the loop of what happened next. This is very helpful. I might quote you, if it's OK - is your reddit handle the same?

I decided to go with the AC connection because it would be more relatable to my British readers than other ways of showing the impact of full-time TRAs. He's so notorious, for his horrorshow of a backstory to the way he was able to climb the political ladder based on sheer idpol and despite a whole parade of red flags.

[–] writerlylesbian 7 points (+7|-0)

You're welcome to quote me, and yes, I was on Reddit with the same name. The whole thing unfolded like a slow car crash, it just kept going and going. There was so much happening all at once it was difficult to keep up.

[–] Kevina 10 points (+10|-0)

My understanding is that something like 11 of the mods on actuallesbians are male. I think twoxchromosomes is also mostly run by tim's now. They have admitted that this is their strategy. We must beat them at their own game.

[–] Fretzel 16 points (+16|-0)

Thanks you so much for creating this website! Reddit really hates women, I stay on it because some subreddit are interesting but it's so infuriating that they banned our subreddit.

[–] somegenerichandle 15 points (+15|-0) Edited

Since you mention you plan to publish it elsewhere, I will note that a space is missing in this part:

LGBT magazine,themtaking credit for the ban of r/GenderCritical.

I saved screenshots when subs were banned (so easy to figure out the times in EST and i put xx in when it's approximate)

6/19 r/Blackpillfeminism

6/23 r/FreedomisMatriarchy (this was mine with less than 5 subs - not not really important)

6/29 @13:06 r/GenderCritical

6/29 @13:37 r/Gender_Critical

6/30 @18:XX r/banmalehatesubs - reinstated 7/03

6/30 @19:45 r/BlatantMisogyny - reinstated 7/03 (mods told me no communication from admins on why)

7/01 r/radical_feminism, r/trollgc, etc set to private

7/07 r/truePCOS

7/10 @15:XX r/terfisaslur, r/ActualWomen, r/GCdebatesQT, r/itsafetish, r/TrollGC

7/10 @16:XX r/UncenscoredLGBT

Not from my screen captures, but 6/29 was also r/rightwingLGBT. 7/10 was r/thisneverhappens, r/truelesbians, r/lgbdropthet, and r/detrans (unbanned same day).

u/Bardfinn requested d/trans around 7/15 - https://removeddit.com/r/redditrequest/comments/howh7v/requesting_rdetrans_was_briefly_banned_is_now/

I know you mention r/AHS, but the r/promalecollective I think also furiously reported content. PixalatedLizzard made a doc all about them: https://docs.google.com/document/u/1/d/1l0hbVELCMil5Ol0oaB4FrLn8de9hN4K4_zoSHtHSjg/edit?usp=drivesdk

[–] ComplicatedSpirit 12 points (+12|-0)

I will never be able to comprehend how anyone could ever justify banning r/detrans. Detransitioning is an actual life experience that people have. They experience it. They live it. How is it hateful and bigoted?

There are women who have had abortions and regretted it. Those women seek online communities for support. While some of them may very well take an anti-choice stance from then on, that doesn’t take away from the fact that they 100% had an abortion and regretted it, and need support from others. So even I, as a firmly pro-choice person, would have to be one hell of a gigantic POS to demand that any group that offered sharing of those experiences for mutual healing be banned.

[–] Freyja 14 points (+14|-0)

I'm feeling so uplifted seeing this all come together again and seeing the starts of our new internet home. Thank you for taking the time to pull this post together and document the history <3 I cannot wait to see how this new iteration grows.

[–] tervacious 12 points (+12|-0)

This is fantastic. I am so grateful for this. I was on reddit only for GC. Loved the info there but reddit always disgusted me. Thanks to the Ovarit-ites who built this thing in record time.

[–] tincansonstring 11 points (+11|-0)

I'm so proud of the women who worked hard in order to create this space for us. I have missed this community immensely over the last month! Thank you ladies!

[–] Firestone 10 points (+10|-0)

Thank you so so much for writing this, it's (our) history and reading this, alltogether, gives me hope! We were growing so quickly and we wont stop now!

[–] Femme 9 points (+9|-0)

Thank you for this.

I haven't raged like this for quite some time now. It feels very powerful to be in the presence of such undiluted solidarity and concentrated effort to build female solidarity and direct action.

[–] Notgonnastop 9 points (+9|-0)

Very informative deep reflection, and quite well-written too. Thanks for making it for us.

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