Inside the TERF Harassment Machine

Leaked emails show how the proponents of “Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria” mobilized Internet harassment to tear down and discredit trans people who asked questions.

Jude Ellison S. Doyle
8 min readMar 23

“Can you get me links to those Kiwifarms pages?” Screencap from the Shupe leaks archive, taken by me.

Last week, XTra Magazine published my profile of Elisa Shupe, an ex-“detransitioner” who leaked her full correspondence with the anti-trans movement to the press. The response from the anti-trans movement has been, well… “predictably defensive” seems like a nice, tactful way to describe it.

Less tactfully, that article has enraged a set of movement TERFs who were instrumental in spreading the myth of “rapid onset gender dysphoria” — namely, Lisa Marchiano and the multiply-pseudonymous activist behind 4thWaveNow — due, in part, to Shupe’s speculation (clearly flagged as such in the XTra piece, and in this one) that Marchiano and 4thWaveNow may have invented ROGD wholesale and convinced researcher Lisa Littman to put her name on their bogus claims.

I am far from the only journalist to receive Shupe’s email archive. Since the XTra article came out, I’ve heard from several other journalists who’ve spoken with her or reviewed the emails. When Shupe reached out to me, she was already speaking to at least two other outlets, including Mother Jones, who broke the news of a behind-the-scenes work group that kicked off the current wave of trans healthcare bans, and a large legacy outlet, which I hope will publish their findings soon.

The Shupe leaks are no longer even remotely secret, and what this means, in practice, is a few things: First, that I have no reason to lie about what’s in that archive, and neither does any other journalist. We all have access to the same information, and if anyone tries to fabricate it, we’ll be caught. Second: With this many eyes on the story, there will be many different stories published. The Shupe leaks are a rich resource. No one article can capture all the relevant information. Even small throwaway exchanges can turn out to be illuminating.

It’s one of those smaller stories that I want to share — a story about how Marchiano and her colleagues have acted to discredit and, at times, viciously harass trans journalists who got too close to questioning Marchiano’s role in the…

Jude Ellison S. Doyle

Author of “Trainwreck” (Melville House, ‘16) and “Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers” (Melville House, ‘19). Columns published far and wide across the Internet.