Please be advised, this blog includes some examples of abusive and graphic content that some people may find distressing.
A very dear friend of mine has asked me to write a bit about my time on Twitter and what happened to me on there. I think it’s important that we talk about how Twitter influences political discourse, especially when, as a platform that allows marginalised people to reach those we need to talk to, it can deprive us of our voices if we upset the political activism they wish to promote. So, here goes…
I should point out I had a tiny personal account where I had been following the gender debate before I ever got involved. I’d noticed how often discussions were ended when trans activists would say other women were offending women without wombs too. As a woman born without a womb, I was only ever offended by being used in this way, not by other women talking about their wombs, and I wanted to tell them they could do so without being scared of hurting people like me. I began MRKHvoice because I wanted to be able to speak anonymously as I was going to be discussing intimate details of my medical condition.
I think the best way to introduce the account is with the first thread I ever wrote. I remember being really nervous posting it. I’d spent a couple of days gaining a handful of followers and hoped that some may read and share it. I didn’t expect much more than that. Anyway, here it is…. (I’ve edited a couple of mistakes out for clarity)
“I started this account to talk about the fabled creature “the woman born without a womb” and her involvement in the gender identity debate.
I find it extraordinary that TRAs continually trot her out as proof that men can be women when her existence and identity actually flies in the face of gender identity ideology.
There is no one who has contemplated their sex identity like these women. They are observed as female at birth and are raised as girls, they present no differently externally. In fact, it’s not until puberty hits that the condition becomes evident.
During and after the process of diagnosis, it is not uncommon for women to begin to doubt their sex. I remember searching desperately for reassurance in myself that I was indeed female. That there hadn’t been some cock up in the delivery room.
The fact that many of these women are given hormonal and chromosomal testing to reassure them that they are indeed female, is a testament to how upsetting the diagnosis is and how far away from gender ideology it sits.
For women like me, and the other 1 in 5000 with this condition, we know the feeling of “woman” does not exist, but we know our biological reality, and that is how we define ourselves.
To use our emotionally painful and often physically limiting condition (MRKH comes with a host of other issues, ranging from renal, cardiac, skeletal to hearing) to further a cause that undermines our very existence is not only disingenuous, it’s detrimental our mental health.
If being a woman is a “feeling”, then people like me will have to redefine ourselves on top of the painful work we have to do to mourn and accept our broken bodies.”
I was amazed at how this was received. People did read what I said and shared it. I got lovely messages of support from many women. Other people with DSDs reached out to me to say they felt the same, so I kept writing.
The trans activists were another story. Initially, some tried to befriend me. Some suggested I should try being a man instead, some insisted I did have a gender identity and just didn’t know it. Some said I was making it up, faking my condition for attention and to disguise my “transphobia”. Many called me bigot, fascist, Nazi, TERF. This didn’t put me off.
I carried on writing about how I felt and about my condition and why it was different to being trans. I had made no choices about the body I was stuck in, there are no ‘gender affirming’ treatments that could help with the parts of my body I was dysphoric about. I also asked a lot of questions and got into the occasional argument with trans activists when I wouldn’t view my own condition and experiences through their lens.
My account was obviously reported a lot. I was never abusive, so Twitter could never find fault, but eventually they shadowbanned me. A practice Twitter denied doing at the time (It’s now referred to as Quality Filter Discrimination or QFD). This wasn’t going to put me off either, so I started a new account (mrkhtake2). I didn’t shutdown my first one. What I had written on there was important to me.
My second account also drew the attention of the trans activists. I was threatened with doxing, harassed, piled on, reported. It got even more attention when Goldsmiths Student Union LGBT+ account said I needed sending to the Gulags for re-education, and then wrote a bizarre thread about how the Gulags were a good thing, after people had pointed out that saying they would put intersex people in internment camps was not a good look.
Again, this didn’t deter me. By now more people with DSDs and their families were reaching out to me and I realised one of the things missing from the debate was accurate information about what intersex/DSDs are/are not. I also realised how little I knew, so I started to research. As I researched, I shared what I had learned. Many of the posts on this blog are copies of the threads I wrote on Twitter.
My account continued to grow, as did the hostility from trans activists.
Another incident that stands out to me was when I dared to say that no DSD caused women to produce sperm. A trans activist was so enraged that this is what my mentions looked like within half an hour, as they went through my account posting abuse on every single tweet they could find.
I realise that’s impossible to read, so here are some highlights….
Still, I persisted. People really were listening to me and were interested in what I said. I gained MPs, journalists, scientists, medics, as followers, along with other people from all walks of life. The more attention my account received the harder the trans activists pushed back. One of them started up a fake account and used that to target me specifically. I’m going to share some of the tweets from that account, but I warn you they are graphic and upsetting.
I reported this account, as did many other people. Twitter said they had not violated their terms of service and invited me to “see the context”. The context being that I was doing nothing to encourage or interact with this account, I even blocked it, but they continued to tag me into posts like this. Many of the well-known Twitter trans activists interacted with the account. Some egged them on, but some did take offence at what was being shared and reported the account for transphobia. It was this that eventually got it shut down.
After this, the trans activists eased off with the abuse but went back to the mass reporting. Eventually, Twitter found a tweet they were not happy with. In the tweet, I had said shouting “transphobia” at people discussing cases like Karen White was unhelpful. No one was saying “all trans people are sexual predators”, but that some people who were may take advantage of self ID policies. It seemed Twitter was choosing to view my tweet as saying the opposite so they slapped a 12-hour suspension on me. I put in an appeal. Twitter never even acknowledged receipt of it. I decided the best thing to do was to return to my original account and wait.
It was nice being back in my old account. The trans activists had forgotten about it and I had one tenth of the followers, so could breathe a bit. People soon found me there though and my follower count and likes and retweets started climbing up again. With that the mass reporting began again too. At one point, Twitter did permanently ban me. It was for this tweet:
They had deleted both of my MRKH accounts. I appealed this decision, as I didn’t feel asking a question should be a violation of anyone’s rules. Twitter agreed and reinstated my account. As the appeal system only deals with one account at a time, and the second account had never been officially banned, I left it there. I’d never used two in tandem anyway.
Which brings us almost up to date. Two weeks ago, I was in a discussion about the use of the word “cis” (you can see my thoughts on this here) when I suddenly realised I was unable to reply anymore. Nothing on the app was showing as wrong, other than this. I messaged a friend to ask if they could check my account. They confirmed I had been suspended. I had received no email regarding which rule I had violated. Nothing.
I went through the help and support centre and emailed twitter to ask what I had done wrong. They said I had been “managing multiple accounts for abuse purposes”. I appealed, pointing out that my account may be contentious, but it was not abusive and that I did not have multiple active accounts. What I found most bizarre was that my original, personal account, which used the same phone number as my MRKH accounts was not included in this permanent ban. Twitter were obviously accusing me of accounts I didn’t have and punishing me for those but had not investigated which accounts were in my name. I explained this in my appeal.
I also pointed out that if they meant mrkhtake2, this account had never been officially banned and should have been reinstated when Twitter admitted their mistake before. I got an automated pingback, within seconds, of the same email, claiming I was “managing multiple accounts for abuse purposes”. No matter what method I tried, the same thing happened. Within seconds, I would receive that email. It was evident that no human was dealing with my complaint. I had either been caught by an algorithm or my account had been blacklisted by twitter in some way to make the appeal system inaccessible to me.
I’ve since put in a complaint through the Better Business Bureau, in the hope that maybe I can speak to a human being. I’m annoyed that I’ve been accused of things I hadn’t done and concerned that if Twitter haven’t deleted the one other account belonging to me, then they must have deleted other people’s accounts and accused them of being me. I know on the day of my ban there was a cull of gender critical accounts. I wonder how many of them were supposedly me.
I’m not normally one for conspiracy theories, but it seems very coincidental in its timing that a prominent trans activist in Canada, known for getting people banned from social media, and having friends in high places at Twitter, is currently involved in a tribunal where they are using intersex as a defence and may have a vested interest in removing people who may disagree from the discourse. I feel I should also point out, however, that I know Yaniv isn’t the only trans activist with influence at twitter. This account is run by the trans activist who threatened to dox me.
Twitter has a general problem with the abuse of women on its platform. You don’t gain the moniker “The Harvey Weinstein of social media” for nothing. It has acknowledged that words like “TERF” are a slur, but it continues to allow the word and violent language surrounding it to proliferate on its platform. The day before my first ban, I had been told I was a “TERF who deserved the guillotine”. This tweet was also not found to be in violation of Twitter’s rules. I also know a few trans people who are permanently banned for not viewing themselves through the lens of gender ideology and for recognising the issues created by aggressive trans activism. It certainly offers intersex people no protection. We are expected to receive abhorrent abuse but pretend there is a context that makes this okay and are treated like the enemy for talking about our own reality.
I don’t necessarily expect anything to come from this, but it is important we talk about it. Twitter is a safe harbour for bullies and abusers. They rely on the silence of those bullied and abused to allow this to continue. They are not only complicit by their inaction on abuse from accounts run by trans activists, but they actively take part with their manipulation of the reporting and appeals process.
I had a header photo on my twitter account, it said “Speak the truth even if your voice shakes”. It was an image that inspired me to begin my account in the first place. I intended to when I began, and I will continue to with or without Twitter as a platform. I will not be silenced by bullies. This is my voice and my story.