568words · 3 min

About

Trans Safety Network is a research collective formed in October 2020 to monitor organised harm efforts and threats targetting the trans community. We gather data on and archive anti-transgender hate materials submitted to us by members of the community, follow and report on the activities of hate campaigns and investigate groups spreading disinformation about trans people.

Who we are

Trans Safety Network brings together the skills of data scientists, community activists, journalists, social media analysts, and tech professionals on a primarily voluntary basis. We incorporated as a Community Interest Company in November 2021 in order to build a more sustainable long-term public service research practice.

Goals and ethics

Our goal is to use exposure of anti-trans hate networks and organised harm campaigns to reduce or mitigate the impact of these where possible. We do this maintaining a focus on highlighting organised harm, including wider campaigns to incite public hatred targetting the trans community more widely.

Rather than attempting to police individual prejudices we hope this harm-centric approach is a model for restoring public attention to attacks on trans people and cutting through intractable public debates about "cancel culture" or "free speech".

Finally, we understand that transparency is absolutely fundamental to the sort of interventions we are undertaking. As part of this, with a very small number of exceptions, we fully cite every claim we make publicly, with links to openly available evidence, typically using web archival links to ensure that the evidence trail remains publicly accessible despite suspensions, modification or deletion of content by hostile groups.

We will make rare exceptions to this rule in case of some of the most extreme material we monitor: some of the organisations we track frequently share explicitly and graphically violent content with the intent of desensitising their members. We do not think it's ethical or in the interests of public safety that we risk directing people towards these groups.

In future we may also make limited exceptions to our full evidence goals where necessary to publish information which has not already been published in the public domain (such as leaks from private anti-trans groups where the leaked information is in the public interest).

Nevertheless, our understanding and the standard that we aim for is that readers ought to be able to independently confirm our findings to the greatest degree possible.

Our background

In the years leading up to our formation, starting around 2018, it had become an increasingly common tactic for anti-trans advocacy groups, conversion therapy organisations and the religious right to send out large scale propaganda and disinformation material to schools, community groups and other spaces, with a view to stirring up anxiety and fear about the trans community.

In addition to this, multiple campaigns have been observed of deliberately misleading stickers and leaflets being placed in public view in order to either intimidate trans people or disturb the public into retaliating against trans individuals. We are aware of a number of cases where hate crimes occurred following the perpetrator viewing and sharing anti-trans hate material and misinformation.

The lack of media coverage of these phenomena (and in several cases, incidents where the press has credulously treated the misinformation spread in these campaigns as if it's true) form an information gap we intend to fill.

Credits

Logo generously donated by Emily Howling.