Amanda Todd

Preying on children makes you a predator regardless of who you are

I have dreaded writing this article for the months I have considered it. The people who advise me recommend against it but I feel it is necessary. Holding this knowledge while vetting it has kept me up at night and it is not with levity I use the word predator literally.

People in marginalized communities are extremely sensitive to the misbehaviour of their own, especially when it reinforces prejudice. The instinct to band together and be unyielding is strong, and I reject the prejudice that surrounds this story. Sometimes we resist exposing difficult conversations to the outside. Jessica Yaniv is forcing such an awful conversation.

None of the allegations I write about today have been proven or ruled on by a court. This article is based entirely on eyewitness accounts, which are always highly subjective.

I wish it wasn’t a transgender person or someone saying they are part of the LGBTQ+ community who has been doing what Jessica Yaniv has reportedly been doing for years – as far back as 2013.

I am mindful that it doesn’t matter what Yaniv’s gender is or how she got to where se is. It is valid and that’s not a debating point for me. We are all entitled to the same legal protection and process when facing allegations, especially accusations related to awful conduct – especially towards children.

I know that with over 150,000 transgender persons in Canada, it is inevitable that some of us misbehave. Transgender and non-binary persons are artists, housewives, doctors, a judge, politicians, chronically underemployed, professionals, and blue-collar workers. Like other communities, ours also features a number who are cheaters, predators, liars rapists, pedophiles, pimps, and others who do harmful things. Knowing the correlation between marginalization and suppression and individual acts of misbehaviour, I would not be surprised to learn the proportion of miscreants who are transgender is higher than the general population. It usually is with oppressed groups.

But the things that people have told me Jessica Yaniv has done to them are awful and can’t be swept out of our consciousness. Awful things have been reported and need to be taken seriously.

I am under the impression that Jessica Yaniv and I met in person once at a puic event at The Cultch, a theatre in Vancouver where I performed in 2018. In a May 2019 letter to me from her lawyer she claimed we never met.

This also is possible. As a public figure, I meet many people and could not tell with certainty who I had that conversation with.

I did however speak with Jessica Yaniv over the phone when she called me to explain allegations about deeply-inappropriate tweets attributed to her which exist in screen shot format that she was alleged to have sent to young women and girls.

Yaniv brought up her human rights cases and her interest in standing up for transgender rights. She also expressed admiration for my work standing up for transgender persons against oppression.

I encourage transgender people to fight for our rights and to force difficult conversations out into the open. I have often encouraged any valid complaint being filed to get the difficult conversation started.

I told Jessica that I felt she would have a very difficult time with these cases and that although I support the right of all trans persons to access services free of discrimination her past history deeply undermined her intentions and exposed her and the transgender community to contempt. She claimed her statements were taken out of context and I encouraged her to publicly come clean about her past and how she has addressed her conduct to reassure everyone watching that there is no reason for concern.

To my knowledge this has never happened. Jessica Yaniv had not explained why she should be considered a safe person today in light of her past conduct that witnesses tell me was predatory.

In early 2019, I was sent an alarming tweet by Louise Nussac regarding Jessica Yaniv. I followed it up and tried to establish if there was evidence it was telling the truth. It was.This post is also about difficult conversations: the conversation we need to have to address mortifying misdeeds in our own communities.

Some time after that first conversation I learned more about the specifics of Yaniv’s actions and her history and actions. In the only other conversation with her when she called me at my Trans Alliance Society number in early 2019 I advised her that she did not seem to me to be the appropriate person to fight for trans women’s rights to services for women – on the basis of her documented past history.

With the help of other women who pointed the way in recent months, I tracked down and heard witnesses with first-person accounts of Jessica’s online behaviour spanning 2013 to 2018.

Their stories included reports and evidence of outrageously inappropriate acts, some towards children who are tweens and teens. Some of the material has survived as screenshots, and what I saw shows what strikes me as a pattern of predatory behaviour. I am not in law enforcement or a lawyer but as the mom of kids under 14 I was horrified by what the women told me happened and I believe them.

Understandably, some of the women I spoke to have come to hold a deep concern about my community based on Yaniv’s actions. Some have even processed their experience as hatred of my community. I understand how they got there, and I hope their bias fades in time. Others have thankfully seen through this all despite of the trauma that was inflicted on them and seen an individual doing harmful things and nothing more.

I spoke to four women. Three of whom had awful experiences with Jessica Yaniv. All were young women and girls at the time.

They are all adults now. I urged each woman to make a complaint with police on the basis of the things they said happened. I hope this has an effect and with enough police reports there may be a case.

Regardless of anyone’s race, gender identity, sexual orientation, or other characteristic protected from discrimination, everyone is equally accountable for any harm we do. I mourn the fact that the wrath in social media about this one person has centered on her transgender status, and decry the actions of people who were so focused on that fact rather than focusing on getting to the bottom and helping alleged victims deal access justice and support. I regret some did lasting damage by spreading false information.

It is not lost on me that transphobic anger brought this matter to my attention in the first place, and only by targeting me personally. I wonder if the hatred helped or hindered this all. I suspect we will never know. I deeply regret the harmful behaviour of some people, and that includes the ones aimed at my community. If only mindsets were not easily driven to hatred by people manipulating affirmation bias…

Anyone in a marginalized community (or claiming to be in one) is entitled to live without discrimination because of who they are. At the same time, nobody gets to behave like Yaniv has been documented to have consistently behaved until recently – no matter what their mental health or gender identity is. Whether there is a mental health matter at play or pure mischief, nobody can expect to interact with children like I have heard testimony that Yaniv did without rightfully facing justice or accessing treatment.

Amanda Todd’s tragedy taught us a great deal about the damage a predator can cause to a child without actually touching them.

This is why we have laws addressing online predators. Our society has put in place laws and policies in place to help protect us all from the things I have heard testimony about. It is possible people can change and that this is all behind us. However, Yaniv seems to be still engaging in programs that target young women and is actively campaigning about the topic of menstrual products and girls, the focus of years of her negative behaviour. Yaniv’s recent public appearance in front of municipal policymakers motivated writing this piece.

To my knowledge Yaniv has not addressed her widely-documented past behaviour and this info itself is cause for concern. I believe sometimes people can change, but I see no signs of this having happened.

Were you or someone you know affected by predatorial online behaviour?
Do you feel it was more than one of those awful-and-far-too-common short-lived creepy moment? If so, the appropriate place to complain to is your local police. Also notifying a community advocate can’t hurt.

I’d like to take a moment to express my gratitude to the women who trusted me enough to share their experience with me and with the competent authorities. I’d specifically like to acknowledge the patience and perseverance of Louise Nussac and Alicia Hendley who were very helpful and supportive my research and helped me speak to other women about this.

Regrettably Alicia’s frustrations led her to write an anti-trangender article on Meghan Murphy’s anti-transgender Feminist Current naming me that impacted this research and extensively tweeted attacks against the Transgender community. I regret her actions but understand her motivation. It is important to show witnesses of this awful situation empathy. People who observe awful things sometimes react awfully. I hope that as time passes cooler heads will prevail.

I appreciate that in communities that consider mine with distrust or worse, my reputation as a trans rights activist proceeds me. I will continue to stand up for equality and inclusion. Human rights exist for a reason: assuring out society treats everyone equally.

Update notes:
20 April

This is the tweet that started this all….

I have recieved some criticism that this has taken too long. A timeline may be helpful. I learned of Jessica in November 2018. Soon after, a twitter storm errupted about a legal case that had clearly been under way. It resulted in Gendertrender being banned from WordPress and Meghan Murphy having her Twitter accounts closed, two wins widely applauded by the transgender people they incessantly harassed through populist outrage. Having been doxxed and mercilessly harassed by both for years, I applauded this outcome. Based on their actions, I feel they are not fit to be on social media platforms.

I have recieved some criticism that this has taken too long. A timeline may be helpful. I learned of Jessica in November 2018. Soon after, a twitter storm errupted about a legal case that had clearly been under way. It resulted in Gendertrender being banned from WordPress and Meghan Murphy having her Twitter accounts closed, two wins widely applauded by the transgender people they incessantly harassed through populist outrage. Having been doxxed and mercilessly harassed by both for years, I applauded this outcome. Based on their actions, I feel they are not fit to be on social media platforms.

I learned about Louise in January 2019 and spoke to her that month. I notified the serious crimes division of the RCMP immediately and passed on a recorded conversation with her. With Louise’s help, I tracked down more women who reported they had experience online predatory behaviour from Yaniv. I finally spoke to the most important witness, who was a child at the time of her interactions with Yaniv, in April 2019.

Until I had evidence of misbehaviour towards a minor, it was impossible for me to speak about allegations so steeped in transphobia because every transgender person is familiar with the transgender-woman-as-predator model used by hate groups advocating to marginalize us. Without real evidence, this horrible story is simply indistinguishable from the copious hate propaganda that clogs my social media. I got this evidence mid-April 2019.

People who claim that allegations against Yaniv were public knowledge for years before this post must be deeply frustrated that people who could have helped act were unaware or not listening. I have a simple message for them:

It’s unlikely public figures are the monsters your social media silo tells you they are. There is no cover under the trans umbrella for predators.

We must consider what these allegations sound like from the lens of the community being targeted as a by-product of the violence. After all, lynch mobs are scary things, even online. Perhaps we need to center our fury on the people who prey on transgender women with their alarmist fairy tales that made this incident undetectable from a dominantly hateful narrative?

Note: Louise Nussac’s twitter was blocked 2 days before this piece was published. Alicia Hendley’s twitter was blocked on Saturday 20 April, the day after this post appeared. I would not be surprised these interventions are related to Yaniv.

When there is a predator among us, we can’t hear you if you bury your words in hatred and if you don’t reach out.

Here are some useful links:
https://l-ou-ise.com/breaking-silence
http://mediasmarts.ca/sexual-exploitation/online-sexual-predators
https://www.cybeffrtip.ca/app/en/
https://www.ncdoj.gov/getdoc/3bda0f2f-3488-4e1a-a409-42a8c149a8d8/Online-Predators.aspx
https://www.ncdoj.gov/getdoc/3bda0f2f-3488-4e1a-a409-42a8c149a8d8/Online-Predators.aspx

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