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Etsy Equates ‘Detransitioner Awareness’ Designs With Hatred
Etsy’s action fosters a harmful narrative that detransitioners and trans-identifying people are inherently in conflict.
A detransitioned woman’s designs aimed at bringing awareness to the experience of detransitioners on the e-commerce platform, Etsy, were removed by content moderators for “glorifying hatred or violence.”
Laura Becker creates designs that advocate for “Detransitioner Awareness,” and her hand-drawn salamander art is used emblematically for the annual Detransitioner Awareness Day. The salamander is used as a symbol of resilience for detransitioners, and is frequently displayed on social media to find each other and foster a sense of community. Laura’s art promotes a positive message and is the only merchandise supporting detransitioners available.
I recently bought the “De-trans Awareness” hat and a tank top with the salamander design to wear to a conference as a conversation-starter. As a journalist, my principal goal is to amplify the stories of detransitioners and bring attention to “gender-affirming care,” the widely-promoted medical protocol that harmed them.
Two days ago, Laura made public an email she received from Chad, a member of Etsy’s Content Moderation Team. The email asserted that her store sold “prohibited items” that violated Etsy’s policy against “content that promotes, supports, or glorifies hatred or violence towards protected groups.” Laura’s products did no such thing.
Etsy’s penchant for censorship isn’t new. Several innocuous items in my own Etsy store have been removed, and my boyfriend, Colin Wright, had his entire account permanently banned without warning. The most extreme imagery on his products were male and female symbols and a benign political cartoon. His ban from Etsy suspiciously coincided with his permanent exile from PayPal.
When I learned that Laura’s items featuring the word “female” were removed last month, I was disappointed, but hardly surprised. However, I found it deeply unsettling when I learned that Laura’s detransition-themed merchandise was also delisted. Etsy’s action implies that merely acknowledging the existence of detransitioners is an act of hate, fostering a harmful narrative that detransitioners and people who identify as transgender are inherently in conflict. This only serves to intensify the polarization surrounding these sensitive issues.
I wrote Etsy an email on Wednesday, which I have included in full below.
I am a journalist with a special focus on gender medicine and detransitioners. I am reaching out to inquire about Etsy's recent decision to delist certain items from a young detransitioned woman’s store who created designs advocating for "detransitioner awareness."
I understand the importance of community guidelines on platforms like Etsy to prevent the promotion of offensive, harmful, or otherwise inappropriate content. However, I am puzzled by the classification of designs related to detransitioner awareness as "content that promotes, supports, or glorifies hatred or violence towards protected groups." Detransitioners, having been victims of medical malpractice, are part of a vulnerable group in need of understanding and compassion. Their experiences deserve acknowledgment and visibility, just like any other marginalized community.
A detailed explanation of the rationale behind Etsy's decision to ban such designs is in order. Additionally, I am interested in understanding the specific criteria used to determine whether content runs afoul of your aforementioned content policies. This insight will help clarify Etsy's policies and ensure accurate reporting on this matter.
Detransitioners are a rapidly growing marginalized group of individuals who were medically affirmed in their temporary trans-identities, often without proper assessment of underlying mental health issues and comorbidities, leading to misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment. Their support networks and activism provide a vital reprieve, as they share their stories and spread awareness to alleviate the suffering of others.
While the exact rate of detransition is unknown, current data suggests that 10-30% of individuals detransition a few years after beginning their transition. Recent studies have challenged the notion that detransition is rare, showing that a significant proportion of youth change their requests for hormone treatment or surgery.
In my work, I have surveyed nearly 100 detransitioners. Most describe feeling isolated and ostracized by their community, face difficulties in obtaining basic healthcare related to their detransition, and experience mental health comorbidities that are further exacerbated by society's gaslighting, downplaying, and denial of their experiences.
Allow me to share the story of Laura, one of the inspiring young women I've come to know whose designs have been affected by Etsy’s policy. Despite disclosing her autism, substance abuse, and suicidal ideation to a gender clinic at the age of 19, she was prescribed testosterone during her first visit and later approved for a double mastectomy to remove her healthy breasts just six months later. Her detransition journey began two years later, after receiving a diagnosis of PTSD that better explained her experiences. Laura's story is crucial in empowering others who have been failed by the medical establishment and a reckless model of care. Her designs aimed at spreading awareness of detransitioners are the only of their kind, and removing them would mean no such products exist.
The message Etsy appears to be conveying is that bringing awareness to detransitioners' experiences conflicts with transgender rights, fostering a narrative that detransitioners and transgender people are at odds with each other. I strongly encourage you to educate yourselves on this topic. This peer-reviewed article by a transgender researcher advocating for further understanding of detransitioners' experiences is a good place to start.
Thank you for considering my inquiry. I hope we can engage in a constructive conversation on this crucial subject.
Etsy has yet to reply.
Laura depends on her Etsy store’s revenue and personal donations to cover travel expenses for speaking events. In my conversations with nearly 100 detransitioners, I’ve found that a significant portion choose to remain anonymous due to the backlash they encounter from publicly sharing their stories. These individuals hold a great deal of respect and admiration for people like Laura, who courageously step into the public’s eye, weathering criticism and ridicule, to give a voice to their struggles.
Etsy’s double standards are clear when we consider what is allowed to be said about “TERFs”—a term often used as a slur against gender-critical feminists. Here are just a few examples:
The chances of Etsy reinstating the delisted items seem slim. This is a shame, given that Etsy’s built-in marketplace, and the traffic it can direct to sellers, make it a top choice among many e-commerce platforms. Laura had already built a strong customer base on Etsy, as demonstrated by her store’s numerous glowing reviews and 5-star ratings. In response to Etsy’s actions, she now plans to sell her previously banned merchandise through her own website.
If you’d like to donate to Laura’s activism and support the amazing work she is doing, please click here. I will continue to rock Laura’s contraband products with pride.
Laura’s detransition-themed designs have been restored. However, her designs featuring the words “female” and “woman” remain delisted. Yesterday, Laura shared an email from Etsy’s team apologizing for any “inconvenience” caused, stating the items were “suspended in error.”
It is worth noting that there were at least two separate emails sent to Laura, spaced several hours apart, notifying her of the removal of additional detransition-themed listings each time. This indicates a deliberate and intentional decision on Etsy’s part, rather than a simple mistake.
The restoration of Laura’s detransition-themed designs comes amid a growing backlash online, with the #BoycottEtsy hashtag gaining traction on Twitter, amassing several thousand posts. Given the recent Bud Light disaster, the mounting pressure might have influenced Etsy’s decision to reinstate the items.
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