Understanding the communities behind Anti-Gender Ideology in the U.K.

by Anarchasteminist

Wed Mar 31, 2021 · 1884 words · 10 min

As discussed in previous TSN research1, crowdfunding has formed a key part of how the "gender critical" (GC) movement funds its campaigns and activities, with hundreds of thousands of pounds going to GC causes via crowdfunding websites. In order to better understand the political priorities and communities of GC supporters, we investigated what crowdfunding projects people backing a selection of GC projects on crowdfunder.co.uk also contributed to. This constituted an investigation of the crowdfunding habits of 4,211 named backers of GC crowdfunding projects.

Key findings

  • In general, most backers of GC projects do not show much interest in causes outside of the GC movement. 85.6% of named backers for GC projects did not contribute to projects in any of the other categories.
  • This provides some confirmation of previous research for TSN by Emily Moro2; the anti-trans movement is relatively isolated from broader civil rights concerns.
  • Where GC backers did show interest in other causes, the two most popular were Scottish Nationalist causes (4.2%) and anti-Brexit activism (4.2%), with a further 3.4% providing some support to specifically feminist causes
  • Among GC backers, the single most popular non-GC crowdfunder in the dataset was a project by former SNP leader Alex Salmond seeking a judicial review over current SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon's decision to suspend him from the party over allegations of sexual harrassment, supported by roughly 1 in 60 GC backers (1.71%). This support for Salmond among supposed "Gender Critical Feminists" has previously been called out by Twitter user SinéadActually3.
  • Our ability to form firm conclusions about GC communities from these data is, however, limited by the high proportion of anonymous donors — a precise proportion is difficult to obtain due to the anonymous nature of the data, but 28-62% of backers of GC projects are anonymous donors. It is possible that the behaviour of anonymous backers will be very different to named backers.
Bar chart of percentage of GC project backers who also backed projects in other categories
Bar chart of percentage of GC project backers who also backed projects in other categories

Category % support from GC project backers
Scottish Nationalist 4.2%
Anti-Brexit 4.2%
Feminist 3.4%
Other 3.0%
Party Political (not SNP) 2.7%

Methodology

We began with a set of 14 crowdfunds associated with the Gender Criical movement, listed in the table below. From these we scraped a list of all non-anonymous backers of the projects and then scraped the project backers' crowdfunder profiles to identify the neighbourhood of crowdfunding projects associated with the starting project list. Any project with 10 or fewer backers shared with the initial set of 14 was discarded.

Crowdfund Owner Number of backers Number of named backers % anon
Stop the ONS redefining sex in the Census Fair Play For Women 3259 1587 51.30%
#CampaignForFemaleRights Fair Play For Women 623 274 56.02%
#HandsOffMyRights Fair Play For Women 362 182 49.72%
Fair Play For Women needs your support Fair Play For Women 1627 848 47.88%
Transgender Trend Schools Resources Transgender Trend 546 224 58.97%
Enough is Enough Transgender Trend 828 430 48.07%
#CourageCalls Transgender Trend 1531 739 51.73%
Putting it Right Transgender Trend 459 236 48.58%
Gender identity and women's rights MurrayBlackburnMackenzie 293 180 38.57%
Researching Women’s Rights in Policy and Law MurrayBlackburnMackenzie 416 251 39.66%
Hate crime legislation reform MurrayBlackburnMackenzie 111 73 34.23%
AEA wants to send a vital shout-out to the country Ann Sinnott / AEA 502 258 48.61%
Defend Women's Rights Louise Moody 486 297 38.89%
Stephanie Hayden is suing me. Helena Wojtczak 246 130 47.15%

This process discovered a further 49 crowdfunding projects. Backer lists were scraped for these projects and projects were then manually identified as belonging to one of the following categories:

  • Gender Critical (27 projects) — Any project directly associated with the GC movement
  • Scottish Nationalist (7 projects) — Projects aiming to raise money for Scottish nationalist poliical causes, politicians or political parties, including reelection funds for SNP politicians and legal fees for disgraced former SNP leader Alex Salmond.
  • Anti-Brexit (7 projects) — Projects aiming to challenge Brexit or the processes surrounding the 2016 EU referendum, including 5 projects by the Led By Donkeys group.
  • Feminist (6 projects) — Specifically and avowedly feminist projects, including fundraising to build a statue to feminist author Mary Wollstonecraft and for a sex woker exit project seeking to buy a new van (N.b. "exit" services of this sort have been criticised by feminist sex workers as inadequate and potentially counterproductive4).
  • Party political (not SNP) (6 projects) — Any project associated with a political party other than the SNP, including Labour Party and Green party related projects.
  • Other (10 projects) — Assorted charitable or political causes that did not fit into any of the above 5 categories.

The extent of overlap between crowdfunding projects was measured using the Symkiewicz-Simpson coefficient, as used in previous TSN work on Twitter networks2. Overlap between backers of categories and % support of both categories and individual projects among GC supporters was also measured.

Detailed results

There were 4,211 named backers identified for the GC projects, with between 1672 and 6860 anonymous backers (the largest number of anonymous backers for any project and the total of anonymous backers for all projects), for an anonymnity rate of between 28% and 62% across all GC projects.

The overwhelming majority (85.6%) of users backing GC projects do not back any non-GC projects. Those that do back other projects seem to show particular interest in Scottish Nationalist causes and anti-Brexit causes, as well as an overlap with feminist causes. There is also significant overlap in the data between Scottish Nationalist project backers and anti-Brexit project backers (overlap coefficient of 0.1096), however the overlap between Scottish Nationalist backers and feminist backers is relatively small (overlap coefficient of 0.069).

Category % support from GC project backers
No non-GC causes 85.6%
Scottish Nationalist 4.2%
Anti-Brexit 4.2%
Feminist 3.4%
Other 3.0%
Party Political (not SNP) 2.7%
Heatmap of Symkiewicz-Simpson overlap scores across different categories of crowdfunding project.
Heatmap of Symkiewicz-Simpson overlap scores across different categories of crowdfunding project.

In terms of individal projects, the ten most popular non-GC crowdfunding projects for GC backers are shown in the table below. These projects represent a relatively small proportion of GC backers, but are shown to illustrate oher political interests represented in the GC movement.

Crowdfund Owner Category % support from GC backers
#forFairness Alex Salmond Scottish Nationalist 1.71%
Let's paste these tweets all over Britain Led By Donkeys Anti-Brexit 1.57%
The First Statue Of Mary Wollstonecraft Sarah-Louise Jordan Feminist 1.47%
Re-elect Joan McAlpine Sharon Kinning Scottish Nationalist 1.33%
Help Andy Wightman defend a defamation action Andy Wightman Party Political 1.14%
Let’s make Johnson the shortest serving PM ever Led By Donkeys Anti-Brexit 1.04%
Let’s counter Boris Johnson’s Facebook ad blitz Led By Donkeys Anti-Brexit 1.04%
Legal costs of defending defamation action. Andy Wightman Party Political 0.97%
ISP May 2021 Scottish Elections Campaign Funding Colette Walker Scottish Nationalist 0.93%
Re-elect Joanna Cherry QC Joanna Cherry QC Scottish Nationalist 0.81%

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