This is the story of how I was recruited into the gender critical movement, what key players I worked with, and how I left.
NOTE: Since this is a public interest story, and I own the rights to all messages that appear, I’ve blacked out names from the actual images so I can use them in this article. I’m a whistleblower who’s been publicly accused of lying and madness by powerful gender critical women, and I have the right to present my evidence. This story has been altered to comply with Medium’s rules, but the original version is archived and available online for journalists and the public.
Pride 2018 was a significant recruitment month for the GC movement, but most of us weren’t calling it that back then. It was marketed as “lesbian rights” to LGBT people. Theoretically, GCs are critical of gender and question how trans rights impact women’s rights, but the reality is no one has brought anything to the table that isn’t based in bigotry.
They used fear mongering and misrepresentations to manipulate us into believing lesbians were under attack, that our own greater community was silencing and erasing us. There was nonstop criticism of the left, postmodern queer culture, and LGBTQ+ publications and organizations.
We were constantly triggered. Now I realize we were used as pawns in a culture war. It was never about defending and strengthening lesbians. The goal was to divide our community.
I reviewed approximately thirty thousand screenshots I took during my time in the GC movement, and it was an emotionally difficult task. Today I see the propaganda for what it is, but back then my living situation was unstable. I had to auto camp (sleep in my vehicle) to make ends meet, and I’d recently had a window broken while I was showering at the gym. Meals were inconsistent and I was usually tired, so I was vulnerable to GC fear mongering propaganda.
Compartmentalization was necessary for survival. So were distractions. I worked a full-time job while looking for better work. Except for when I set up camp to sleep, I could forget about my situation and blend in with housed people.
The GC movement made me feel needed. I could put aside my struggles and transcend my hardships by answering what I thought was an ethical call to help lesbians.
There’s a kernel of truth to GC propaganda about lesbian erasure, though it’s been greatly exaggerated. It’s a fact some lesbians have been called “TERFs” (trans-exclusionary radical feminists) or transphobic on social media, simply for being gay. It happened to me on Tumblr, and that’s how I was radicalized.
Imagine surviving an evangelical upbringing that told you being gay was a choice, a “bad” choice. Then picture your friends going through conversion therapy that attempted to retrain what genitals they like. Think about spending years of your young adult life when gay sex was illegal, your governor made fear mongering statements about needing to defend his citizens from gay people, and you couldn’t even see a gay film at the theater without people shouting at the screen to remind you being gay was “wrong.” Try hard to visualize people publicly debating whether you’re worthy of raising children and saying maybe you’re good enough to have a dog.
Now imagine seeing modern gay media and some blue ticks on Twitter saying lesbians are hateful for not liking penises. I still believe that’s homophobic. There’s nothing wrong with being same-sex or same-gender attracted. Both are valid and gay. I want acceptance for all of us. It’s still illegal to be gay in some countries, and lesbians are correctively raped for not wanting penises. We can’t pretend lesbian oppression isn’t real.
The reason I and other LGBTQ+ people ever supported GCs and groups like the LGB Alliance was because we were told it’s not OK to be gay, as well as how to be gay. Now I realize it wasn’t an epidemic, though it was happening on some level. Instead of trying to work with community leaders and media to reach a positive solution for everyone, I assumed the worst and betrayed my values by behaving in some anti-trans ways.
The truth is I had no problem with the concept of trans lesbians before I started hanging around GCs. In fact, I first noticed I’m sometimes attracted to trans women as early as 2003, when I saw one during Gay Days at Disney’s Magic Kingdom. She was the inspiration for a fictional character I wrote a few years later. There weren’t that many trans women around until recently, but I had a date with one in 2015. I told myself and others it was something else. Now I’m being honest.
Life is complicated and “gay” has evolved to mean same-sex and same-gender attraction. I’ll expand on that more in future writing, but the bottom line is if you’re secure with your sexuality then you don’t feel the need to police others. I was insecure about some things. I was in pain so I hurt others. That was wrong.
Gender critics find what makes you angry and then get you onboard with more of their ideas. I’m explaining how that can happen. Hopefully people listen so we can end this cycle.
This is an overview of the key players and organizations I collaborated with in 2018 and 2019.
Radical feminists and AfterEllen had already influenced me on Tumblr in 2017 with posts and articles that made me think lesbians were under attack. Now I know that was most likely due to Jocelyn Macdonald’s influence as assistant editor. She’s a radical feminist who supports WoLF (Women’s Liberation Front), an organization that claims to be feminist but works with far right groups who are against women’s and LGBT rights. WoLF called Macdonald a “trusted friend.”
To be clear, Macdonald was not my recruiter. We were connected on Facebook and she supported my punk protest song in 2019, but we no longer talk. My original recruiter won’t be named in this article because she’s threatened to harm me if I identify her or show her avatar. She has global influence and has been mocking my story, daring me to publish. JK Rowling recently supported her work, which was disturbing. I wanted to tell this story, so I chose to censor her name and image.
When my AfterEllen recruiter connected with me on Twitter in 2018, I was open to her ideas. She love bombed me and constantly sent me upsetting social media posts to keep me triggered. She roped several women into a media war and encouraged us to antagonize LGBTQ+ publications, organizations, and public figures. Coordinated targets included Diva, PinkNews, Autostraddle, Juno Dawson, Grace Petrie, Ruth Hunt, Ellen Page, Chase Strangio, Rhea Butcher, and so many more.
It’s notable that AfterEllen’s editor-in-chief Memoree Joelle recently stepped down after PinkNews published a story about my GC experience. Joelle also came out in support of Donald Trump. She was replaced by Macdonald, and there were other changes. My first story about lesbian erasure was removed from AE’s site this month, but it’s still archived.
The publication received criticism in 2018 and 2019 for posting transphobic content. They published radfem and GC influencers Julia Beck, Miranda Yardley, and Ani O’Brien. Joelle co-owns AfterEllen with Gaye Chapman, AKA “GC Grandma.”
I wrote a few articles for AfterEllen, but my time there ended in March 2019, when Joelle and I had a falling out.
WoLF (Women’s Liberation Front)
WoLF followed me on Twitter and promoted my work on social media. I never officially joined the organization, but I worked with some of its members. I thought about suing Twitter over discriminating against women’s free speech, and WoLF member Natasha Chart took notice.
Though I considered working with Republicans, I didn’t go through with Natasha Chart’s suggestion. Now I know they’re religious right people, not regular conservatives. WoLF, Chart, and Emily Zinos had been following me and supporting my work. Chart and Zinos were also in Hands Across the Aisle. Various people suggested I join the organization, but I was dating one of WoLF’s founding members, Terri Strange. The best advice she ever gave me was to avoid them.
I don’t like to show private messages, but since women involved with my story have chosen to openly mock me instead of coming out to support me, I’m forced to prove this collaboration happened. I’m showing DMs that illustrate organization and influence. My intention isn’t to humiliate anyone.
Julia Beck and I became friends. We considered forming a lesbian liberation party and running for president and vice president together. She wanted to join my band, and we would often sing to each other over the phone to work on my music. Sometimes we flirted a little, but that ended after she got a girlfriend on her London visit. She went there in May 2019 to panel at Lesbians on Chairs, which was hosted by Posie Parker. I didn’t approve of the event because it was an attack on almost everything I loved about lesbian culture. They promoted the harmful idea that women can “choose” to be lesbians and strategically deny men sex. That panel was a huge red flag.
I tried to make our friendship work, in spite of her political lesbianism and WoLF. Julia was on the verge of telling me she’d been used by the movement. She’d lost a lot of friendships and was receiving weird looks around Baltimore. But Beck was so far deep into WoLF and everything Posie Parker was doing. She wasn’t ready to leave them. I really hope she does one day soon. The movement can create an emotional dependency while also alienating its members from the world.
Hands Across the Aisle
An American religious right group called HATA (Hands Across the Aisle) started to reach out to me in 2018. They used points about lesbian erasure that would appeal to me. When I shared my famous TERF article with them, they already knew about it. They asked me to get in touch with Emily Zinos and Natasha Chart, who were already following me.
I didn’t understand who HATA was at the time, but by the end of the year I ended up joining their secret Facebook group with Posie Parker. In order to join that group, I had to pretend that I could tolerate their co-founder, Kaeley Triller Harms, who I already knew was homophobic from things she posted.
Obviously, there’s overlap with international women supporting the same groups. There’s a lot more content I don’t have room to fit, but what I’ve shown has connected the dots. I’m collaborating with journalists to further expose this movement in future work.
International Power Lesbians
Anyone who knows anything about lesbian culture understands that a power lesbian is a lesbian influencer. My AfterEllen recruiter organized an international group of lesbian leaders. Some projects happened as a result, though there were just as many plans that never materialized. This group of power lesbians kept expanding over time, and at various points it included my recruiter, writer Claire Heuchan, AE co-owner Gaye Chapman, New Zealand activist Charlie “Montague,” ex-WoLF founding member Terri Strange, AE co-owner Memoree Joelle, Speak Up For Women NZ organizer Ani O’Brien, WoLF and HATA member Julia Beck, Get the L Out UK members, and more. We also had one bisexual, who I’ll refer to as Homoarchy.
My recruiter wanted me to join Charlie and Claire as the face of this lesbian activism. I was being groomed for it, and she wanted to use the fact that Jared Leto is my cousin to get us noticed. She also exploited my connection to him for the first AfterEllen article I wrote.
Claire, Charlie, and I were going to do a campaign and go on TV for interviews. That didn’t happen because the GC movement ended up taking over lesbian activism.
Memoree and Gaye, who now co-own AfterEllen, first met and discussed buying the publication together in our group chat. Ani and Charlie were working on Speak Up For Women, a New Zealand organization that made an impact. As you can see, our group was influential. It evolved into other groups over time.
I have to clarify something in the recent PinkNews article. I never met up with my original recruiter. I did meet up with other women in our international lesbian group, though. After I told Homoarchy about a man who harassed me at a park and ride one night, she offered to rent me a family member’s cottage for about three months maximum. I also dated Terri for five months and visited her in Portland.
My critics have made jokes about this power lesbian network, even though some of them were in it. Get the L Out UK has particularly been hypocritical over this since I was in one of their own worldwide organizational chats. It’s been disappointing to see so many feminists harass me for speaking truth to power.
Rosa Freedman & Julie Bindel
Most GC influencers were angry at me in fall 2019. I thought the movement would never be reformed because they were unwilling to resolve their major problems, like working with the US religious right and ramping up homophobia and transphobia. A lot of LGBTQ+ people like me were distancing ourselves from the movement and making a new path. Just as I thought I would totally move on, Rosa Freedman reached out.
“I’m just so ashamed of what GC has become,” Rosa wrote. She respected that I wanted accountability and ethics in the movement. I also wanted to build bridges with trans activists and LGBTQ+ media and organizations.
We talked about how Linda Bellos and Julia Beck were being used by WoLF. Then Rosa connected me to Julie Bindel.
Bindel promised me the world on our first phone call, and I wrote to Rosa about what we discussed. They both wanted to help me get settled down in the UK. Rosa said there were a lot of Scottish women interested in me. Julie said she would have to give approval for all my wife candidates. I saw it as an incentive to move over and work with them. What lesbian wouldn’t be thrilled at the idea of having so many women into her?
Some people confused the wife detail in the PinkNews story for human trafficking and wild takes like that. What was actually proposed was more in the spirit of Butch Bachelor: GC Edition hosted by Julie Bindel. I was into it at the time.
Bindel said we would co-write some articles together, co-panel talks, and make unified statements on social media to influence the direction of the movement. I was going to stay in Julie’s home, and we were looking forward to visiting Kensington Gardens so I could meet and take a walk with one of my favorite celebrity corgis. Miranda Yardley wanted to join us for a night out. The LGB Alliance was following me on Twitter, and they wanted to meet with me during my trip. A lot of people wanted to see me. Everything was moving fast, and Julie Bindel seemed to be my new best friend.
Rosa was going to fly me out and put me up in a hotel wherever there weren’t women to host. Julie and I would talk about the differences between American law and UK law at Rosa’s university. She was negotiating with Woman’s Place UK to frame an event around me in England. She also was talking to For Women Scot, the late Magdalen Berns’ organization, about having me do a talk with Claire Heuchan in Edinburgh.
“You’re a major player in the rad fem sisterhood,” Rosa wrote. She said I could speak about whatever I wanted. It was all exciting.
On November 4, 2019, I told her I’d settled on dates for my trip. I wanted to visit the inside of Anne Lister’s Shibden Hall, and I was going by the site’s schedule. Rosa said feminists were planning a big conference for early February, which was a little earlier than I’d planned, but I considered it.
Then Judith Green, a Woman’s Place UK founder who’d been following me on Twitter for awhile, attacked me for criticizing political lesbianism. I was also pointing out that some Get the L Out UK members love Posie Parker. They’ve sent me messages pledging their allegiance to PP. Green tried to create a radfem pile-on by tagging in influential GC women, like Kathleen Stock, to argue with me.
As a lesbian, I no longer felt safe or valued at Woman’s Place UK events. It felt like a hostile community. I told Rosa about what happened, and I said I still wanted to come over but I didn’t want to do anything with WPUK. I also postponed the trip for a warmer time. A lot’s happened since then, including a global pandemic.
Recently, Julie Bindel called me delusional, attacked my integrity and mental health, and gaslit me. She tried to claim we were never connected and that none of what I’ve written in this article is true. My receipts, which I have the right to show since she’s publicly challenged me, prove Bindel is lying and being abusive toward me.
There’s a lot more I could reveal about Julie Bindel, but I’ve already proven the points I want to make about her in this article. I will state it’s interesting that such a powerful woman as herself would use her platform to attack a lesbian whistleblower instead of condemn the sexual harassment and abuse that people in her movement have thrown at me and other lesbians lately.
After trying to navigate a GC world that said “f*ck kind,” I longed for kindness. I didn’t think I was anti-trans, but looking back over the screenshots it’s clear that I was. The whole time, I had LGBTQ+ friends around the world telling me they didn’t like the GC stuff. However, what’s alarming is some friends did listen. I radicalized some people and regret it. Hopefully they’ll listen to me now and find their way out of gender critical culture.
In 2019, gender critics ramped up personal attacks on trans people, and they also focused on hating Pride, the rainbow, and gay and lesbian culture. It hurt to see it back then, and they’ve only gotten worse. Do GCs know what their endgame is anymore? Did they ever?
WoLF, Posie Parker, Meghan Murphy, the LGB Alliance, and others derailed any possible legitimate concerns GCs and radical feminists had about the trans rights movement. The culture is unapologetically anti-left and has chosen to die on that hill.
The rise of “political lesbianism,” an anti-lesbian ideology, also made me leave the movement. Sheila Jeffreys, Julie Bindel, and Angela Wild are political lesbians who harm international lesbian rights by stating lesbianism is a “choice.” Lesbian rights depend on “born this way,” and they selfishly don’t care. GC influencers only value PLs. Anyone who claims being gay is a choice shows their privilege, as well as their lack of understanding of gay rights.
One of the main things that helped me leave the GC movement was seeing my trans friends from real life posting about their hopes, community needs, and fears. It made me feel conflicted throughout my time with gender critics. In fall 2019, I was upset after seeing a friend describe workplace discrimination and how hard it was to find a restroom to use. I didn’t want anyone to feel that way, so her words solidified my need to get off the GC path.
On February 1, 2020, I was at the Seattle protest against WoLF and Meghan Murphy instead of being protested at Woman’s Place UK across the pond. I spoke to a lot of trans activists and enjoyed having physical LGBTQ+ community again, even though it was so cold that my nose sometimes ran. There was a lot of anti-TERF sentiment with signs and chants, but I wasn’t triggered. I understood the anger.
I made videos about that protest and uploaded other videos a trans activist sent me. Some people in the LBGTQ+ community are still upset with me, and I have specific apologies to give a few. Most people have been forgiving and want to understand more of how I got into the GC world. Like I’ve said before, it would take a book to fully tell my story. There’s a lot I didn’t have room to include, but I hope this article clarifies some details and fills in some blanks.
This year I’ve been challenging myself. I’ve been talking to a lot of people in the trans community. There are some topics I won’t talk about yet since I haven’t had time to properly research them, but I’ve been learning a lot. I want to continue working with my community to accomplish the most good. If any gender critics are reading this, I hope you pay attention to the red flags you’ve been seeing and find your way out. It’s OK to talk about concerns with empathy. If you have a friend trying to help you get out, take that hand because that’s love. We can stop our real opponents together.
If you’re interested in lesbian news and culture, you can find me on Twitter as Amy Dyess.