Trans author Grace Lavery left ‘terrified’ after so-called ‘gender critics’ target her mother

Trans author and professor Grace Lavery is seen in side by side pictures wearings a red and white jumping and a white blouse

The mother of trans author and professor Grace Lavery has been harassed online by a swarm of so-called “gender critics” on Twitter.

Lavery – who is an associate professor of English, critical theory and gender and women’s studies at the University of California, Berkeley – has experienced a barrage of vitriol following her decision to withdrawn from a debate with anti-trans author Helen Joyce.

According to the Trans Safety Network, Lavery faced an onslaught of trolls attempting to get her banned from the UK ahead of an upcoming tour to promote her memoir Please Miss: A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Penis next month. This is despite Lavery being a British citizen.

Lavery announced through a friend that she was withdrawing from the debate with Joyce after a meeting with some members of the UK trans community who were concerned about the proposed event.

The Trans Safety Network archived an “absolute onslaught of abuse and mockery” that was subsequently sent to Lavery’s friend. Much of the abuse focused on their relationship to Lavery and that the individual is also undergoing treatment for cancer.

“For too long, this sort of casualised abuse targeting people associated with trans public figures has been used as a means of isolating and intimidating trans people, friends and family,” the organisation noted.

The “abuse” came after Lavery was suspended from Twitter for, during the barrage of tweets calling for her to be banned from the UK, saying she hoped the Queen, who recently tested positive for COVID-19, would die.

Another friend of Grace Lavery later posted a statement from the author on Twitter that revealed her mother was being harassed online.

Lavery explained that her mother was “mobbed on Twitter by the same gender-critical activists who have been hounding me for the last few years”. She said some of these accounts had posted “pictures of my husband and I having consensual, loving and mildly kinky sex” that they “stole from a private Instagram account some years ago”.

“The hatred, misogyny, and rage that were being directed at my mother were simply too much to bear. I could not, and can not, ask her to bear the vicious attacks that I have become used to,” Lavery said.

She continued: “The other was that I was, finally, terrified, in a way I just hadn’t been before.”

Lavery shared that she “no longer felt like I could understand exactly how my advocacy could be useful to the UK trans community”, and she realised that her tour “would likely become a focal point for the same kind of people who would send” pictures of her and her husband having sex to her mum.

“I am scared of those people, and I am not prepared — in a literal sense, I am not prepared, cannot afford the preparations that would be necessary — to feel physically safe at a debate,” she said.

“My friends and supporters, who have been encouraging me to move ahead with this, finally encouraged me to call it a day for my own safety, including my emotional safety, which is frayed.”

Lavery said she decided to cancel another event, but she would not scale back her US events or abandon that leg of her tour.

She said that she is “proud” of her memoir and wanted to “connect with those” who read it. Lavery hoped that her tour wouldn’t go by “without at least some capacity to engage my opponents directly”.

The Trans Safety Network said there had been a “lot of disagreement in the trans community” about if “debating gender critical figures was a good idea” or if it could “result in an increase in hate crimes against others”.

However, it said others in the UK trans community, who had taken part in a meeting with Lavery, believed that it was “important to at least try to take up space and talk about trans issues” when possible given the “current levels of exclusion from media presence”.

The Trans Safety Network said the “unfortunate abuse” that Grace Lavery and her loved ones have been through is “proof that there currently is not meaningfully any room for civil debate on trans issues in the UK”.

“At least there is not one where engaging in it does not immediately turn into a risk of harm to one’s loved ones,” it said. “And under those conditions, why would, or should any trans person participate in public life?”

The grassroots network sent their respect to the author for her “reflective and conscientious engagement with the UK trans community during this absolute fiasco”.