If you are on media or literary Twitter, this headline does not surprise you. If you have no idea what's going on, I am going to give the simplest of overviews. Other people — Jude Doyle (start here), Britni de la Cretaz, Emily VanDerWerff, Malinda Lo — have said it better and addressed the issues at play much more coherently. I recommend reading all of them.
The tl;dr is that Substack, as a company, has given book advance-like amounts of money through its Substack Pro program to transphobic and far right writers. Perhaps the most problematic of these writers is Graham Linehan, a person who has already been so thoroughly de-platformed that even mainstream media will not touch him. The Substack CEO is on record defending this decision. Choices have been made, and now the consequences arrive.
There are a litany of issues here, including content moderation policies and publishing ethics, and you might be asking, why does this impact me?
This is why: Substack's business model is set up totake 10% off the top of every paid subscription. They get 10% of your monthly payment before it hits my bank account. It means that some amount of your money has possibly gone towards paying those assholes.
This is not acceptable to me.
Substack has never offered me money for this newsletter. It's entirely reader-funded. You have no idea how much that means — this newsletter is a major reason that I can afford to live on my own, working for myself in Brooklyn, living the life that a younger me never, ever dreamed she would be able to.
But as a queer lesbian, the idea of your hard-earned money, and the money I pay for other newsletters, going to fund anti-trans writers feels morally repugnant.
While as an Extremely Online Person (and an avid Twitter user), I have a certain tolerance for coexisting on platforms with Highly Problematic People, this situation has gone way over the line. However, because this newsletter is, at this point, a certain chunk of my income — there are more than 200 paid subscribers — it is not possible for me to simply move platforms overnight. I am researching alternative platforms that would cause the least amount of disruption to you, and am also keeping an eye on conversations about the possibility of Substack writers organizing.
What I have done, as a temporary solution, is pause paid subscriptions. I will continue to send newsletters from this Substack while I figure things out behind the scenes, but everything will be free. Critically, those transphobic fuckers will get no money.
Let me know if you have any questions.
this is some absolute fuckshit. my heart is squeezing for all of the LGBTQ+ writers who i have come to know on this platform. here to support you in whatever ways ♥️
<333 I appreciate you so much, Jeanna.