The TERFening: attempting to document a convoluted online silencing campaign


A few years ago, when I shared this article about Caitlyn Jenner and another one  about Rachel Dolezal, many angry liberal friends called me “transphobic,” and told me to “educate myself.” They apparently didn’t know I had spent many years deeply involved in various queer scenes in San Francisco, and had trans friends, and was gender dysphoric myself (it resolved in my mid-20’s, which is not unusual.) Since I couldn’t “educate myself” much more on trans people and queer theory, I considered what I really hadn’t educated myself about: radical feminism. Like everyone else, I had been denouncing “TERF“s without reading anything they’d written. So I started reading, and quickly realized I was a gender-critical radical feminist. (If you’re wondering why, I suggest you “educate yourself” about radical feminism. This video is a good place to start.)

Saying you’re a gender-critical radical feminist in public is like saying, “I’m a witch! Burn me!” So I spent about a year and a half in seething, cowed silence. But finally, on February 25, 2017, I “came out.”

The TERFening

In late February I noticed my liberal friends were sharing this “meme”:


So I posted this on Facebook (which I now call fecebook):


You can try to read all 1000+ comments here, although fecebook organizes them so poorly they’re hard to navigate.

Now it gets rather convoluted. Some of the comments have been documented anonymously here, along with annotation. I am “user J.”

Meanwhile a friend took this screenshot of a fecebook page devoted to stalking and harassing “TERF”s like me:


(This stalker page was since removed, which is unfortunate because no one should be censored online. When “activists” seek to ban pages like this, they actually help harassers by covering their evidence.)

Shortly thereafter, I was blocked from fecebook due to this offending comment I made, also to someone named “Chris,” just like the “Chris” named on the stalker page above:

Screenshot 2017-02-27 06.47.08

That comment was in response to this (“User C” is Chris):


(More screenshots and annotation here.)

Screenshot 2017-02-27 06.47.19

When that ban was over, I returned to fecebook to document the first ban:

Screenshot 2017-03-03 12.45.52

See at the top it says FB thought it “looks like spam”? That’s because I took that screenshot the following day, when I was once again banned from fecebook (I could still read, but not post, comment, or use messenger). My harassers/stalkers presumably mass-reported it as “spam” so fecebook would automatically remove it and ban me, with no investigation.

Screenshot 2017-03-03 SPAM

(The very first comment, on a post documenting my online harassment and silencing, was from a woman chastising me for being “transphobic and harmful”):

Screenshot 2017-03-02 12.11.46

This time the ban was 3 days:

Screenshot 2017-03-03 10.23.40

Meanwhile, on reddit….

Since I was banned on fecebook, I posted about it on a gender-critical feminist forum on reddit. This subreddit has it’s very own “stalker sub,” and a friend sent me this screenshot:


The “polite email expressing your disappointment” consisted of my new account getting permanently banned from reddit on a technicality. I tried to fix it:

N_to_Mod 2017-03-03

And was sent this response from the moderator responsible:

Mod_to_N 2017-03-03

“Witch hunting and harassment,” yeah.

A week after that I was dis-invited to a $2,000 speaking gig at a college. They’d already sent me the paperwork but I hadn’t signed it yet – lucky for them I guess. I can’t get a straight answer as to what happened. I asked if it was because of my politics, and was told, “It’s more about the pressures involving my job than anything else. I hope to speak to you more about it in the future but right now I am not able to. I hope you can please understand.” It’s called no-platforming, and it’s been silencing feminists for a few years now.


Author: Nina Paley

Animator. Director. Artist. Scapegoat.

10 thoughts on “The TERFening: attempting to document a convoluted online silencing campaign”

  1. Welcome to the brave new world where the alt-center rules by silencing criticism. My take on bathrooms is it’s practical to let people pee where they want to, but either there are so many genders that it’s ridiculous to say a person whose sex and gender are female is the same as a person whose sex is male and gender is not, or it’s time to say gender theory was useful when it began in the 1950s, but now it’s as relevant as abolitionism. In any case, I’m sorry you were silenced.

  2. If we are to ever abolish sexism and male violence against women, we’re going to have to eliminate the notion of “gender”. Gender is a set of stereotypes, nothing else. Male and female is simply our reproductive potential, and SHOULD have no other incidence in our lives other than statistical record keeping to make sure our governments and businesses are providing fair life outcomes.
    So many girls grow up with dysphoria when viewing the amount of sexist expectations await us. We reduce dysphoria by reducing “gender”.
    Thank you for “coming out”.

  3. Dear Nina,

    First, a personal disclaimer: I couldn’t care less about imaginary genders. As i see it, ‘trans’ simply means mutilated & confused. I’ve been a fan of your art for years and I don’t care for OR about your politics.

    It is a pity that fecebook is so easily manipulated, but then it is pretty much the lowest common denominator of social media. You took a mildly unpopular stance on an issue lionised and dominated by social justice warriors (They can have it, btw, and good riddance) and you have now experienced just a touch of what non-readicalised centrists such as I receive in abundance from your erstwhile fellow travellers – Intolerance of the progressives. The problem here is that you expect to be treated fairly. You won’t get that from folks who see anything but the extreme position as anathema. This is why revolutions eat their own children, and why reflection and reason are not to be found where identity depends on repudiation of commonly accepted norms.

    You won’t find reasonable behaviour amongst people so uncomfortable with their identity, they’re willing to mutilate themselves. Certainly you will not find it amongst folks who blame their problems on half the population, or our evolved nature. You won’t find it amongst folks who, for ideological or lifestyle/fashion/ radical chic reasons, embrace these views.

    You also will not find acceptance there as long as you are critical of them. You are, for lack of a better word, a Trotskyite. You’ve farted in the elevator. You pointed out the turd in their punchbowl. You’ve said “thus far, and no further”. You are now more of a problem than the stereotype Archie Bunker represented. You are a _heretic_.

    P.s. i always wondered why the attitude. Now_ i know.

  4. On the meme “It’s not about bathrooms, as it was never about water fountains”….

    The apt analogy to the civil rights movements here would be if white people were demanding access to the blacks only segregated areas.

    Really though, analogies to history are never going to be truly analogous because this is so unprecedented. We have a group of males claiming they are oppressed because we have “assigned” them to the privileged class. Then calling us bigots because we advocate for getting rid of the class hierarchy altogether.

  5. once again i want to thank you for coming out– i post as a regular on and a proboards offshoot (the latter under multiple banhammer threats as of recently) but on the avc i reacted to a known fellow commenter who, in the final analysis, was having a really bad day and since deleted his comment. i have found avc less restrictive in these matters, but i just wanted to share my personal statement here as anyone who looks at my comment history there/disqus can see it:

    i don’t want anyone to die or go fuck themselves, but historically men (or for clarity’s sake, people with peni) have told women what to do with our own bodies, and told women that they were entitled to our bodies and our spaces.

    i used to be flippant about the bathroom issue (since i was used to women bringing their male toddlers into restrooms) and i even joked that i didn’t mind being called “sis” by my “bro,” but what used to be seemingly hushed, softened almost forgotten memories of an isolated incident at mich fest has exploded over a short period of time recently, and i keep seeing more and more incidents of verbal abuse online and physical and sexual abuse in the news– formerly reported as mostly male johns against trans women, but now increasingly against lesbians and female persons and children by trans women.

    when you are born female, you are raised to be accommodating; when you are born male, you are raised to be entitled. transitioning perhaps strips this behavior away in some enpenised individuals, but one visit to Anti Female Receipts or will reflect the truth: enpenised individuals, whether trans or not, have exactly the same statistical likelihood of being violent– no more, no less. and that may come from pure, essentialist socialization, male hormones, or a combination of factors. the death threats alone i have seen directed at women by the online transactivist community (thank goodness not the entirety of it, as the gender apostates are genuine feminist allies) would make the MRA-est gamergater blush. for a bunch of people who angrily call themselves women, they sure do love talking about their dicks and how they want to engage in dick-oriented threats against women. and as long as people like this are getting arrested as women when they do violence, they are going to skew the crime stats to look like something very different is happening in the world, when really it’s just the same old male violence against women it always was.

  6. 1st, try for more free speech.
    2nd, I like your work. Although this sole female creation goddess is a bit too far.
    3rd, for me as a man, it’s just a sad smile, to watch the fight – who’s the biggest victim and who needs protection more.

    And lbnl, as a man I wonder – where are all those ‘accommodating’ females around me? I guess I live on some different planet.

  7. Reading all this, I don’t have a damn bit of sympathy for you. You’re misinformed about trans, for one. This is not just men trying to enter women’s spaces: transwomen’s brains are STRUCTURALLY FEMALE: But even then, your stereotyping men as inherently dangerous to women is the kind of thing I would expect to hear a KKK member saying about blacks. So you’re trying to claim the victim because people don’t want to hear your hate speech. Boo hoo. Or does it not seem like hate speech to you? Does it seem like perfectly reasonable arguments that no one is listening to; instead labeling you a threat and them a victim for having to hear it?

    Well guess what? I am an MRA. And I say, “WELCOME TO THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF WHAT HAPPENS WHEN FEMINISTS DON’T LIKE WHAT YOU’RE SAYING.” We know a lot more about being deplatformed than you. Welcome to being banned instead of disagreed with or debated. If you’ve ever tolerated this kind of behavior happening to anyone on the opposite side of your ideology, you have no right to complain now that it’s happening to you. You reap what you sow.

  8. But, Alex Reynard, she *doesn’t* tolerate this kind of behavior happening to anyone on the opposite side of her ideology.

    Did you miss the part where she writes “This stalker page was since removed, which is unfortunate because no one should be censored online. When ‘activists’ seek to ban pages like this, they actually help harassers by covering their evidence.” ?

    Disagreeing with Nina is fine. But her complaint here is about people conspiring to fraudently report her to Facebook for spamming or for otherwise violating the terms of service — which she did not do. She’s saying don’t do that. She hasn’t done it to anyone herself.

    I have no idea what you meant by “You reap what you sow”. What Nina’s sowing here is sincere, good-faith debate. I wish she would reap the same; comments like yours don’t help toward that goal.

  9. Facebook, Reddit, oh my. I’d tell you to hang out more on Google Plus, but the whole reason I’m here is the shutdown of Google Plus, so I’ll have to beg you to spend more time over on Diaspora. I can’t promise the conversations there will be better than those on Facebook, but I’m reasonably sure they won’t be censored like this.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *