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Yaniv’s Other Racket: How a Single Gender Troll Managed to Get ‘Hundreds’ of Women Thrown Off Twitter

The Canadian human-rights litigant formerly known as Jonathan Yaniv—a trans woman who now goes by the name Jessica, but whom we will refer to simply as “JY”—is a unique figure among those who follow the debate over transgender rights. In 2018, this self-described “global internet personality” and “social justice warrior” contacted numerous Vancouver-area aestheticians seeking Brazilian-wax services—a process Wikipedia describes as “the removal of all pubic hair from the [female] pelvic region, vulva, labia, perineum and anus, while sometimes leaving a thin strip of hair on the mons pubis.” As reported by Joseph Brean in Canada’s National Post, JY seems to have sometimes used the name “Jonathan” when first making contact (an act of self-“deadnaming,” as it were), revealing only later in the conversations that the “Brazilian” in question would be performed on a client who is legally a woman, albeit a woman who has a penis and testicles. Predictably, some of the aestheticians indicated that they either didn’t have the expertise to perform their trade on such a client, or resisted the idea of having a male-bodied individual in their work area (which may also be their home, with children on premises)—at which point JY responded with human-rights complaints.

JY’s human-rights campaign was taken seriously by provincial officials in British Columbia, at least at first. One tribunal member assigned to the case opined in May, for instance, that “waxing can be critical gender-affirming care for transgender women,” even while conceding that such waxing comprises “a very intimate service that is sometimes performed by women who are themselves vulnerable. JY’s complaints raise a novel issue around the rights and obligations of transgender women and service providers in these circumstances.”

But over time, JY’s actions began to arouse suspicion. When some of the women received legal representation from the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, for instance, JY withdrew the associated complaints—a course of action that the human-rights tribunal called out as “improper.” Some began to suspect that this was a cynical shakedown, especially after Anna Slatz of The Post Millennial, having become frustrated by the media’s reluctance to report on this issue, began a systematic investigation into Yaniv’s background. Even one of Canada’s most uncompromising (and controversial) trans activists, Morgane Oger, criticized JY for exploiting their cause, and expressed sympathy for the “single moms scraping a living together waxing people’s genitals for low wages, now forced to defend themselves.”

More recently, recordings, screenshots and other evidence have emerged that appear to show JY allegedly describing South Asians as “turban fuckers,” engaging in sexualized chat with girls in their mid-teens, sending naked photos to fans of a music band whose web services JY once managed, being arrested for brandishing an illegal weapon, taking photos in public bathrooms with others visible, pestering girls about tampon usage, accusing immigrants of being dirty and dishonest, and confessing to doxxing at least one rival. Some of those who have crossed paths with JY describe this individual as a sexual fetishist who is obsessed with the act of menstruation. While JY occasionally has made vague claims to the effect that some of the most incriminating evidence is the work of hoaxers, Oger reported earlier this year that she also had heard numerous personal testimonials that reinforce the allegations against Yaniv.

In theory, none of this material is relevant to JY’s human-rights case, which is focused on the narrow question of access to waxing services. In practice, however, it seems unlikely that human-rights officials would be willing to hand a victory to a complainant who has been so widely accused of these behaviours. For those who have been victimized by JY, the best result would be a decisive rejection of JY’s claims at the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal, and some assurance that JY will not victimize others in the manner of a vexatious litigant.

More broadly, we hope the case might catalyze a candid discussion among lawmakers in regard to the policy of unfettered gender self-identification that is now becoming the law of the land in Canada and other jurisdictions. Some progressive pundits have attempted to dismiss the entire JY saga as a phantasm appearing within a right-wing “transphobic fever dream.” But this is preposterous. The trans community is no different from any other community: While the vast majority of people will be sincere and well-intentioned, there always will be bad apples who exploit the law to engage in unsettling behaviour. JY exemplifies the perceived threats to women and children when male-bodied individuals can declare their gender to be whatever they like, at any time, with no checks or balances.

JY may be an outlier within the trans community, just as Oger says. But the very purpose of our legal system is, in many cases, to protect vulnerable people from such outliers—since we hardly need protection from the vast bulk of citizens (whether trans or not) who present themselves in good faith. Moreover, to argue about whether JY is “really” trans, or acting out the part of a woman for prurient reasons, is beside the point: Since a policy of unfettered self-identification defines a woman simply as someone who claims to be a woman—full stop, end of story—then even a male-bodied person who is completely (and even transparently) insincere must be treated as fully female. In the UK, in particular, this policy has put women at risk of violent sexual assault—as in the notorious case of Karen White, a middle-aged pedophile and sex criminal who was housed with female prisoners.

But the saga of JY also carries a lesson for social-media companies, especially Twitter, since JY has weaponized the issue of gender as part of a campaign against other users—typically women—often culminating in (shockingly successful) efforts to de-platform the targeted individuals. Indeed, Lindsay Shepherd, one of the co-authors of this article, had her Twitter account suspended for several days in just such an episode. But for the fact that Ms. Shepherd is a public figure who was able to rally support online, she might still be permanently banned.

It is true that transgender people often face discrimination online, and Twitter’s policy against the “misgendering or deadnaming of transgender individuals” no doubt was motivated by a desire to protect users from hate. Though Twitter does not release comprehensive statistics regarding the number of users it suspends, or its reasons for doing so, it seems fair to assume that many banned accounts truly do traffic in genuinely odious and transphobic content. But the expansion of hate-speech prohibitions to cover content that “dehumanizes” others has created a surreal playing field in which JY is free to treat Twitter as a free-speech zone, while critics—many of them women who are concerned about the implications of JY’s conduct and claims—are routinely censored, or even banned.

What’s worse, this selective attack on one group of predominantly female users is now at risk of being normalized. In Canada, JY’s de-platforming campaign has been ignored, dismissed or even cheered, by some progressive journalists (a particularly troubling example being Vice reporter Manisha Krishnan, whose article appeared before Shepherd’s reinstatement) who seem happy to condone the de-platforming of women, so long as they are deemed to be ideologically heterodox.

As part of our research, we tweeted out a request for information about Twitter users who were suspended temporarily, or banned outright, because of their interactions with JY. We also asked for screenshots, or other forms of proof, to include in our database. This was a necessarily imperfect form of information-gathering (and, ironically, one that was not directly accessible to those Twitter users who were disciplined most severely for their interactions with JY). But even this limited initial outreach yielded almost 40 accounts that were suspended or banned. In the interests of transparency, we have posted the list here, and invite anyone with additional information or leads (including information that casts doubt on existing entries) to contact us. We will update the list as we receive more information. JY apparently has boasted about getting “hundreds” of feminists banned from Twitter. Whether this boast is true or not, we would be surprised if the names initially listed were anything but the tip of the iceberg.

As readers can see, the list contains several well-known individuals—including Canadian activist Meghan Murphy, founder of Feminist Current, who saw this problem coming years ago—but also many anonymous users. Where the real identity of the user is known, and the user has indicated consent to be named publicly, we have included their name. As noted above, the vast majority of the accounts seem to have belonged to women, though we could not ascertain the exact proportion. Where possible, we also have quoted from any relevant Twitter post that the company indicated was related to the user’s suspension or ban. However, a handful of correspondents noted that they were not even told why they were suspended or banned, though the punishment came immediately after engaging with Yaniv. Moreover, several of the listed cases are too complex to fully summarize in spreadsheet format, including that of Alicia Hendley, who was banned, then readmitted, then banned again.

Some of the cataloged posts do seem highly caustic, and even hateful. Readers may reasonably agree or disagree with Twitter’s decision to discipline these users. But it should be noted that many of the identified posts seem to have arisen during interactions that featured JY provoking interlocutors with equally appalling comments. In the case of Ms. Shepherd, for instance, the male-bodied JY had bragged about having a “tight pussy,” an asset JY described as operating in contradistinction to Ms. Shepherd’s own sex parts, which JY speculated had been dilated as a result of childbirth. (For the benefit of those few readers who might be interested: Ms. Shepherd did indeed recently become a mother, having delivered a child earlier this year by means of Caesarean section.)

We also have listed the approximate date on which each suspension or ban occurred. JY seems to have become focused on the tactic of banning social-media critics as early as 2012. But JY’s efforts in this regard rose sharply in 2018, when Twitter shifted its content policies, and the former “Jonathan Yaniv” began to present more frequently as female, or shifted back and forth sporadically between “Jonathan” and “Jessica,” depending on the interaction. Some users who have contacted us believe this latter tactic was used as a bait-and-switch to entrap critics into acts of misgendering, which could be weaponized through reports to Twitter.

Being a corporation and not a government agency, Twitter is of course completely free to enact any content-regulation rules it pleases. It should also be noted that social-media companies and lawmakers have long wrestled with the proper policy balance in this area, and so even the most enlightened and fair-minded approach would still run headlong into the practical problems associated with enforcement. There are approximately 260-million Twitter accounts, and one can only imagine the sheer volume of user complaints that are sent to the company daily. Given the time pressures at play, it must be tempting for the company to enforce a hard and fast rule of suspending anyone accused of misgendering, in any context, simply as a time-efficient means to process complaints. In some cases, serial complainants such as JY may develop contacts within Twitter’s bureaucracy. JY has, on several occasions, suggested this is the case, and also claimed to have developed a foolproof method of “reporting [critics] to Twitter in a certain way with certain verbiage” so as to ensure suspension.

A week ago, we reached out to Twitter for comment. So far, no response has been forthcoming. But we will update this article if and when this changes. As noted above, we also are committed to update our database to reflect credible information we receive in regard to the treatment of Twitter users who have interacted with JY—including the possibility of listed accounts being restored.

The larger discussion of how trans rights and women’s rights will be reconciled in coming years lies beyond the scope of this article. But regardless of how this debate is resolved, we believe it should be a point of agreement that individual users—from activists such as Murphy, who rely on social media to promote a feminist message, down to ordinary women who use social media to opine freely about issues of the day—should not be systematically purged at the behest of a single troll with a long and troubling record of offensive behaviour. For Twitter to allow this to happen makes a mockery of its oft-touted campaign to prevent the “dehumanizing” of its users.

 

Lindsay Shepherd is a Fellow at the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.

Jonathan Kay is the Canadian editor of Quillette.

Featured image: Photo of JY in a public bathroom, described by JY on Twitter as a “selfie.”

Comments

  1. One of the flaws in the echo chamber that Twitter and other social media platforms create, is that the process by which a new social issue emerges, is resisted and gains acceptance is now happening at light speed, with none of the usual checks and balances that society imposes to vet new ideas. Or to put it another way:

    “He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion… Nor is it enough that he should hear the opinions of adversaries from his own teachers, presented as they state them, and accompanied by what they offer as refutations. He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them…he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.”

    On a societal level, this amounts to new social code being written and released, with none of the usual debugging that has been prevalent for thousands of years. In effect, we are being asked to go beta to live, with whatever social changes the activists require, and because the activists themselves have not exposed their ideas to viewpoint diversity, we are all being caught up in the inevitable friction that occurs when all the exceptions and rare circumstances haven’t been vetted out in the process of any new social change, starts worming their way out of the woodwork.

    Another example is transgender women in sport, a contentious issue only made worse by the fact that most left leaning liberals don’t see sports with the seriousness they deserve, as a highly evolved social system meant to channel excess aggression, which is every bit as important in preparing young people for life, as non-specialist higher education. They see it as entertainment- which is odd, given that physical fitness is the one proven method to raise IQ (healthy body, healthy brain), that student athletes possess a GPA 0.25 higher than average, as all that hard work and discipline cross pollinates into academic study, and sport and technical secondary schools could be the silver bullet that could potentially begin to eliminate the structural disparities in academic outcomes between groups that the Left purports to care about.

    But I digress. Because the main point that I am trying to make is that when social change is introduced, with only a tiny and unrepresentative sample of the population to contribute towards achieving consensus, it can make the social change enacted extraordinarily susceptible to bad actors. Let’s be clear, I am not suggesting that the trans community is in any way prone towards predatory behaviour- if anything, all the evidence would tend to suggest that the reverse is true, in that they are far more likely to be sinned against, than sinning. But there is growing evidence that by making provision within the law that any individual may become another gender, through the simple expediency of claiming to be said gender, we have opened the door to all manner of potentially unsavoury individuals to falsely masquerade as members of a victimised group, as a means to license extortion and predatory behaviour.

  2. Twitter doesn’t care about dehumanization. They were ok with it for years, the only reason for ToS update was to strike at people using NPC meme to mock Social Justice Warriors.

    Anyway, we can’t allow trans activists to wash hands of Yaniv. No, it must be constantly reminded and loudly said that it does not matter if Yaniv is trans or not, what matters is that current Canada laws allowed for Yaniv to emerge.

  3. Too much of this article seems to depend on JY attacking “vunerable” women. It shouldn’t matter who he was attacking. If he had been going after businesses run by men it would be just as wrong. What should matter was that he was abusing a stupid law to attack someone else.

  4. You judgement is relying on the outmoded system of justice our civilization developed over several thousand years. A business run by a male does not even make it onto the bottom rung of the intersectionality chart of the oppressed.

  5. “Deadnaming” and “misgendering” isn’t discrimination, it’s actually the opposite, being treated like everybody else! For example, there is no rule that you can’t publish maiden names or former names of immigrants. Pronouns for everybody but transgender are used as a speaker feels fit. Twitter is supposed to create rules applied homogeneously across its users, not give privileges to one group - autogynephilic males who demand the entire world to bend backwards for them and conform to their fantasies “trans women are women”. This is not about transsexuals speaking as transsexuals Miranda Yardley and Jenn Smith got banned as well. Does Twitter plan to provide a friendly environment for more paraphilias given JY’s interest in teen girls?

  6. You’re still operating on the assumption that these people care about double standards – when in fact those are the only standards they have. Social Justice Warriors can say as much hideous, prejudiced $#!+ as they like and still be free from bigotry, whereas their opponents can be called bigots before they even speak up based entirely on the “privilege” derived from their skin color, sex, sexual orientation, and (in rare cases when they can find relevancy in it) social class. All that matters is WHICH SIDE you’re on; if you’re on the Right Side Of History, you can get away with murder, metaphorically and maybe even literally – and if you’re not on their side, you’re a f__king Nazi no matter what you say.

  7. Why does this article focus only on women getting banned or suspended? It seems like it would be prudent to talk about how everyone is affected by this, rather than framing the discussion as one of feminist victimhood.

    What is accomplished in restricting concern for a social issue that affects everyone to only a subset of people? It weakens the scope of the argument in scent of identity politics.

    It’s strange to see authors go through lengths to intentionally and unnecessary pigeonhole themselves to a smaller audience of concern to maintain gender (feminist?) purity. This is a problem society faces, not women. The “women are victims” trope is rather overplayed already.

    Why is the issue phrased as trans rights vs. women’s rights? It seems like a rather large false dichotomy, especially when, ideologically speaking, most people who pretend one hasn’t been achieved also pretend the other hasn’t been achieved.

  8. I prefer: “Let’s welcome it to our community.”

    We preserve the singular while protecting the newbie from being triggered

  9. I have a question. I have never ever looked at Twitter in my life. I don’t know anyone else who uses Twitter either. Yet arseholes keep making decisions to sack people or be generally unpleasant because of what some other arsehole said on a platform none of give a shit about. Why?

  10. I agree that’s the aim. But why should we care? If a famous person just ignored Twitter storms, how would the world actually know? The big mistake people make is thinking that the real world gives a toss about what loud mouths say on Twitter.
    Twitter is not an oracle.

  11. Once upon a time, in the free-wheeling 80’s and 90’s, I ran around in an androgynous pack. Wore vintage mens’ shoes, hair hacked, the whole bit. Was just looking at some old pictures. As “diverse” as it gets. Me with my boyish look, some Asian gay guy, some other “brown” woman with a ring in her nose…those were the days. Clearly we were playing with the affectations of “gender” without hurling pronouns around. And here lies my point: CONTEMPT now fills my veins for these assholes. There is no need for this pronoun bit, this labeling every permutation. The only possible use for it is to torture other people, to call unnecessary attention to one’s (insert aspect of “gender” here), and to use it as a cudgel.

    As this “JY” thing has done. And the photo! The infantilizing pastel hoodie! I can’t help slotting this whole movement into a special, INFANTS FOREVER zone. And the “great” parents who “support” this self-centered foolishness…

    It’s all I can do to remind myself that the average IQ is only 100.

  12. Does everyone have the right to be believed?

    One has male genitalia but believes herself to be female, must others indulge? Must others be required to permit this male bodied person access to private female areas?

    One has an idea he believes will prove a successful business venture, must others indulge? Must others be required to loan him capital?

    In every post I have made on Quillette including this one, I believe I have been correct must others be required to refrain from disagreeing or criticizing me?

  13. Why?

    Why is it ‘tempting’ for a company to excommunicate an individual for some sins and not others? Why is the sin of ‘misgendering’ such an unspeakable crime deserving of banishment? And if it is, why aren’t other ‘crimes’? To use a personal example, as a Jew I’ve fairly frequently been informed by non-Jews that a) I’m ‘really’ White and privileged (though I don’t agree), b) Judiasm is ‘just’ a religion (though I don’t agree), and c) I am a member of a group that are termites, dogs, racist pigs (unless I renounce Israel). This last attitude has directly been responsible for the murders of millions of my people.

    So what precisely is ‘misgendering’? It is refusing to accept a person’s gender identity, but more than that—it is accidentally slipping up, it is saying it once, it is daring to make a single mistake.

    Why is this so awful it is punishable by excommunication, whereas openly telling me I’m White or “just a religion” or a termite or dog, totally okay? Don’t get me wrong - I don’t believe anyone should be excommunicated from the cesspool of social media, Twitter. If you want to be on, be on. If I don’t want to follow you, I won’t. If I don’t like what I read, I won’t read it. If you commit an actual crime on Twitter, you will be tried in a court of law.

    But collectivism infuriates me, particularly since it seems to infest the reasoning of otherwise very intelligent people like these authors. I agree that Yaniv is clearly mentally ill and a malignant player. But the reason this person can wield the power is because the collectivist thinking allows it. It’s not chance. It’s not an aberration. It is part and parcel of the sort of thinking that puts people into groups (even if they themselves don’t consider themselves part of it) and then ranks each group with more or less power depending on an unspoken obtuse and shifting set of parameters. In this way, Jews are far, far less important than Trans (which is why no one gives a damn if Jews are threatened or ‘misidentified’), and why mtf Trans are far more important than ftm (no one seems to care about ftm at all), but both are far, far more important than straight women and Lesbians for that matter.

    The authors implicitly and perhaps unconsciously agree. Rather than taking a principled stand - eg, Twitter should not ban anyone at all, or, here, Yaniv is a bad actor regardless of victims - the authors try to make a case that their victims, women, are higher up in a victim hierarchy and therefore deserving of “protection” as well. In other words they are focusing on the status of the victims as oppose to the principle of the banning itself. As they state:

    So rather than ask what precisely “dehumanization” means and how it should be universally applied (if at all), they simply assert that women were hurt by Twitter and Yaniv, and women (not people in general) need to also be protected against “dehumanization” by Twitter. Their case is one of two collectivist groups grappling for power in a hierarchy: [quote=“system, post:1, topic:2115”]
    The larger discussion of how trans rights and women’s rights will be reconciled in coming years lies beyond the scope of this article.
    [/quote]
    As opposed to a large corporation racing toward a poorly defined irrational collectivist tribal view of the world.

  14. The left views minority groups as handicapped.

    They don’t call it that, but their double emphasis on minority groups experiencing ineffable “oppression” that “holds them back” coupled with their insistence on trying to boost minority groups “so there is a level playing field,” we must conclude that they are simply failing to state that they view minorities as a handicapped group, incapable of competition without a leg up.

    To whit, they act protectively and put anyone they identify as a minority on a pedestal, and accord them paternalistic protections (The comparison to “white man’s burden” I leave to the reader).

    However, at the same time, certain categories of “minority” require only voluntary disclaimers- sexual orientation, gender.

    (This is not to dismiss being, say, homosexual as a real thing; but there’s no proof. I vividly recall an individual at my HS who claimed to be “gay but non-practicing” [not for religious reasons, just “due to lack of opportunity”] who slept with several girls “who tempted him anyway.” Yet he claimed discrimination- prove he’s not gay! )

    So, you have criminals and the socially exploitative, and they are an untouchable group with a simple self-declaration and maybe a single government form? What did they think would happen?

    Answer, by the way: Since they see being members of these groups as handicapped and inherently low status, it can’t cross their bigoted minds that anyone would voluntarily claim membership in these groups that wasn’t forced into it.

  15. What do you mean “when?”

    Current progressive thought holds that doing harm to your grandfather results in serious emotional distress to you. That’s applied Lysenkoism.

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