Anti-Trans Fomentation Online
A summary of anti-trans content on fringe platforms
[CONTENT WARNING: Violence, suicide]
Originally posted here.
The recent surge in anti-trans agitation across the world, both on and offline, has roots in everything from the satanic panic to colonization. However, the campaign to encourage both violence against trans people and trans suicide has a long and disturbing history on the fringe internet as well.
From platforms like Kiwi Farms that were basically designed to encourage trans harassment and suicide (and have been conclusively linked to three) to a range of other platforms where extremely violent anti-trans hate movements have sought refuge, the problem is immense. Simply for researching this topic I have faced countless extremely graphic threats of violence and harassment campaigns, to say nothing of the real-world marginalization, hate, and assault. Being trans is beautiful and amazing – but being trans in this world is terrifying and hard.
Online hate speech, especially targeting trans women and trans femmes (of color) in particular, is responsible not just for the violence, suicide, and trauma it causes directly, but also for its role in disinformation campaigns targeting vital services such as hormone access or familial support. Anti-trans campaigns undermine solidarity among marginalized groups in order to isolate, and ultimately attempt, directly or indirectly, to incite genocide against non-gender-conforming communities. It is not so passive as implied by “transphobia” but rather a conscious and active campaign of violence against a body of people who harm nothing by simply existing in authenticity.
The fringe platforms analyzed in this series are the base of operations for many of the vilest among these bad actors but reflect only a more honest view of the broader harassment faced by trans people across the internet and in so-called “real life.”
A Wall of Digital Bile
The data on this topic is immense, so we funneled to drill it down in several ways.
First, we focused exclusively on comments surrounding discourse around trans people on platforms most known for cultivating anti-trans mobilizations. With that filter, looking back across SMAT’s archives we found:
2 million posts on 4chan
500k posts on Gab
400k Kiwi Farms
300k on the Scored/.win network of sites
130k on Gettr
130k on Parler
125k on Telegram
This is an absolute wall of digital bile. When diving into the data the tone and players become even more obvious.
On 4chan the comments are mostly in the infamous /pol/ board known for fascism, white nationalism, elaborate harassment campaigns, and links to real world terror. Over 25k of these isolated posts on 4chan contained the phrase “kys” or “kill yourself” again mostly on /pol/.
On Kiwi Farms it’s mostly coming from sub-forums designed to mobilize stochastic and swarm-based harassment with the ultimate goal of provoking suicide among particularly autistic trans women with terms used such as “animal control”.
The top channels on Telegram are: Kiwi Farms, a disinformation operation attempting to frame trans people as “groomers”, a literal neo-Nazi group called “the Goyim Defense League” (which SMAT has researched previously), the alt-right 4chan /pol/, a channel devoted to harassing trans women with slurs for being “horrendous”, a bunch of Qanon channels, and among others, the Bannon (former Trump cabinet lackey) backed alt-right media organization Breitbart as well as white supremacist linked conservative outlet The Daily Caller. Among the top users were alt-right euphemisms and symbols such as “1488”.
Gab content is punctuated by western chauvinism, alt-right and Trump groups, Qanon, and British ultra-nationalism. Among the groups most mentioning these trans related terms alongside the word “suicide” was the group for the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer website run by the 4chan meme driven conspiracy theorist Andrew Anglin. This website calls for a second genocide of Jews and “degenerates”.
On Parler, it’s ultra-conservatives, Qanon, and Trump supporters as well as the disinformation front Epoch Times.
On the Scored (formerly .win) network, the charge is led by thedonald forum known for its involvement in the J6 coup attempt in the US as well as QAnon conspiracy groups.
Across all of the platforms studied here is a remarkable, near vertical, increase in gross numbers of this trans-antagonistic content since 2016 (note that use generally of many of these platforms is rising at the same time). There are peaks punctuating each major news event and rage cycle targeting trans people. The data clearly shows that anti-trans content is erratically but steadily rising, and with it concomitant violence.
Platforms that either tolerate or actively welcome this, such as Gab (itself led by a virulent anti-trans instigator), will continue to bear responsibility for the violence that occurs at their behest. However, these figures often want this to occur and do so in full knowledge of its impacts (if occasionally masked in dog-whistles to avoid culpability). It’s then the bystanders that look away, policies that protect or encourage them, and mainstream platforms that ineffectively seek to mitigate the spread of this harm that bear, in a sense, a bigger proportion of the burden of this guilt and its related call to action.
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