Who are you and what do you do?
I’m a former clinical psychologist (last worked at University of Waterloo’s Counseling Centre). I obtained my PhD from the University of Windsor (Ontario), where the focus of my research was upon eating disorders and distorted body image. Since high school, I’ve been involved in activism (protested against the James Bay Project and cruise missiles in Canada, was a member of the Women’s Centre in university). Currently, I’m an author (novels, nonfiction), a married mom of four, and a Canadian-American (American-Canadian?).
Is Twitter important to you? Why?
Twitter was incredibly important to me, due to the connections I formed with people I would never have had the chance to meet otherwise. As an introvert, having the opportunity to be part of communities I value was incredibly important. I joined Twitter in 2010, at the suggestion of my publisher. My first novel had just come out, and I was told that Twitter was a good way to market my book. Fairly quickly, I realized I wanted to talk about more than writing on Twitter, and I began to seek out people who shared other interests of mine, with a particular focus upon autism awareness and advocacy (my third child is autistic).
At some point, I stumbled upon arguments occurring between those under the “transgender umbrella” and feminists. A few of the autistic adults I knew were also trans, and I felt quite protective of them (a feeling which I now recognize as patronizing). Without taking a step back to critically evaluate what women were saying, I jumped into the mix. And when I say jumped, I did a cannon-ball. Having befriended several transwomen, I was furious with how women were refusing to accept them as women. Did they not realize transwomen were the most discriminated group in society, and that they were at extreme risk of suicide? Did they not know that if you truly felt like a woman, you were one? I should emphasize that I never actually took the time to fact-check such assertions. I took what trans activists were saying at face-value, and tried to shout down the women who kept making the very logical statement that men could not become women. I remain ashamed of how stupidly I acted. It took the revolting mess that is Jonathan/Jessica Yaniv to take a step back, and to begin thinking more critically (and to actually evaluate studies), separating facts from emotions. I began to make meaningful connections with many women (and men) whom I’d argued against, acquiring a place in a very meaningful community of gender critical feminists (and allies). It is the sudden loss of this community that I miss most from Twitter. Not long after, Meghan Murphy (whom I’d previously behaved childishly towards) graciously gave me the chance to write about my change in perspective for Feminist Current.
What was the tweet that got you banned from Twitter?
I was banned twice (see below), with the first permanent ban being connected to a tweet about Yaniv, whom I’d written about in my Feminist Current article. The second ban was due to a tweet I made in response to aggressive comments another transwoman made (Danielle Muscato).
Interestingly, Yaniv and Muscato are acquaintances.
Was there a lead-up to you getting banned. Can you describe it?
In my Feminist Current article, which was published on April 10th , I included information about the (allegedly) predatory behaviour of Yaniv. Soon after, I began to be cyber-stalked, likely by Yaniv (bizarrely, he later told me it was his “friend Jessica”, who has “anger problems”).
On April 18th, I received a hateful diatribe on FB Messenger from someone named “Jessica”, beginning with “What kind of piece of shit therapist are you?”, and ending with “Hope you enjoy hell, because that’s where people like you are going”. The next day, negative reviews of my books were posted on Amazon, calling me a transphobe, and signed “JY”. More alarmingly, my publisher was called at home, where someone screamed at her to delist me, saying I was homophobic and transphobic.
On April 20th, I received my first permanent ban from Twitter, due to the Yaniv tweet.
Quite chillingly, the cyber-stalker impersonated my father on Messenger (using a photo of my dad with my youngest child), and sent me a message on April 23 rd , asking if I’d heard the “recent good news”. A few hours later, I did receive “news”, which was a message from Twitter stating that my appeal had been denied. While trying not to be paranoid, I couldn’t help but wonder if the “stalker” was somehow privy to the knowledge about my appeal being denied beforehand.
Largely thanks to a consistent outpouring of support on Twitter to bring me back (initiated by you!), my ban was suddenly lifted. Throughout May and early June, I kept receiving notices of my tweets being reported, including a silly one where I said “Screw Canada!” It was clear certain people wanted me gone. On June 12th , I was permanently suspended for a second time, and this time the ban has stuck. I was informed that I had violated the rules against hateful conduct, merely for jokingly referring to an aggressive comment by Muscato as exhibiting “male dominance”.
People are often confused by the gender debate. How do you explain it?
While there are many women who’d provide a more thoughtful, informed response than me, here’s my take. To me, the gender debate stems from a simple question: Can a man or a woman change their sex? Every point of debate (and every piece of legislation) that follows stems from this fundamental query. Can a man or a woman change their sex?
If the answer is yes, then it seems quite obvious that transwomen should be admitted into women-only spaces, such as competitive sport, washrooms, homeless shelters, sexual assault centres, change rooms, and prisons. If a transwoman is, in fact, an actual woman, then any opposition against their inclusion is discriminatory.
If a man or a woman cannot change their sex, then a transwoman’s desire to be included in women-only spaces is irrelevant. Regardless of how kind or gentle or harmless they may be, the answer remains the same. No.
Consequently, if one is willing to acknowledge the very basic, emotion-free, biological fact that human beings are a sexually dimorphic species, and cannot change their sex, then one must also be willing to shift the debate to where it should be: Should MEN be admitted into women-only spaces? Regardless of how men choose to identify.
Regardless of if they’re best friends with women. Regardless of if they’re the gentlest, kindest, most warm-hearted men on the planet. Should MEN be admitted into women-only spaces?
That is the debate I would like to see, as it’s the only truly honest one. And that is the debate trans activists seem to be most threatened by, which to me, speaks volumes.
How do you plan to go on fighting?
My plan is two-fold. I plan to continue to remain connected with those alarmed by gender identity ideology, through other forms of social media. I’m a member of a number of “secret” groups on Facebook, for example, including one for health professionals extremely concerned about what is occurring in society, particularly when it comes to socially and medically transitioning children and youth. I’m also excited about the new social media site, Spinster. Second, I plan to continue to advocate for women and children beyond the keyboard, as being banned from Twitter has galvanized me. I recently did a podcast with the amazingly talented Téa Smith (check her out on YouTube!). I’d like to meet some of the strong, insightful women I’ve become close to on social media, and to participate in a more active manner to challenge legislation, whether through letter-writingattending meetings, or publicly protesting. I also plan to continue educating myself further. On a micro level, I will continue to raise my two little boys in a manner that fits being a gender-critical mother, and to engage in conversations with my daughter and eldest son regarding the inequalities that women face in society, merely for being women.
If you were babysitting Jack Dorsey's lizards, what would you say to him when he came to pick them up?
I’d probably tell Jack one of my favourite quotes (by W. Somerset Maugham), even if it went over his head: “Tolerance is another word for indifference.”