As I’m sure some of you have read by now, Substack is doing some things that aren’t exactly great. For those of you who don’t know, I’ll do my best to sum everything up. Substack is paying transphobes to write for them because … well, there really isn’t a good reason. The executives of the company are citing “diversity of thought” and “healthy discourse” as their rationale, but seeking out writers who cause a great deal of harm to particular swaths of people isn’t “diversity of thought.” It’s bigotry. This is one of the most nefarious examples of “both-sides” rhetoric, where a false equivalency is established with one side oppressing the other while claiming it’s an equal playing field.
Anyway, I could go on and on about that topic, but I think a section from Jude Doyle’s circulating post puts it best:
Three years down the line, I’m still a feminist, I’m out as a trans person, and in the time I’ve been writing here, Substack has become famous for giving massive advances — the kind that were never once offered to me or my colleagues, not up front and not after the platform took off — to people who actively hate trans people and women, argue ceaselessly against our civil rights, and in many cases, have a public history of directly, viciously abusing trans people and/or cis women in their industry.
Substack has offered a lot of money to anti-trans writers such as Matt Yglesias, Glenn Greenwald, Graham Linehan, and many others. Here’s another section from Doyle’s post that puts everything into perspective about why Substack is terrible:
Glenn Greenwald started his Substack by inveighing against trans rights and/or ACLU lawyer Chase Strangio, is currently using it to direct harassment at a female New York Times reporter, and has repeatedly used his platform to whitewash alleged rapists and domestic abusers. Freddie de Boer is an anti-“identity politics” crusader who became so infamous for harassing colleagues, particularly women, that he briefly promised to retire from the Internet to avoid causing any more harm; he’s currently using his “generous financial offer” from Substack to argue against “censoring” Nazis while pursuing a personal vendetta against the cis writer Sarah Jones. Matt Yglesias, who publicly cites polite pushback from a trans femme colleague as the Problem With Media Today — exposing the woman he named to massive harassment from Fox News and online TERFs alike — reportedly got a $250,000 advance from Substack. It’s become the preferred platform for men who can’t work in diverse environments without getting calls from HR.
Those are just the assholes. Increasingly, Substack is tolerating and funding extreme trans-eliminationist rhetoric: They host Jesse Singal, a high-profile supporter of anti-trans conversion therapy who is also widely known to fixate on and stalk trans women in and around the media industry. I would list Jesse’s targets, but at this point, I don’t know a trans woman in media who doesn’t have a story. Graham Lineham is a transphobic bigot so extreme and abhorrent that he’s been permanently banned from Twitter, Medium, and basically every platform but the one I’m using to talk to you right now. He reportedly considers Substack a major source of income.
In short, that’s why I’m abandoning Substack. I know I’ve never charged money for subscribers, but there’s still something about using Substack in general that doesn’t sit right with me. Even if I’m not directly generating revenue for them, I’m still giving Substack free advertising by hosting my newsletter here. I’m far from a prominent writer (I don’t have that many subscribers; I just think writing this newsletter is fun), but if there are other platforms out there, then why am I using one that blatantly sucks?
I’ve been reading other writers’ final Substack posts, and I came across one on You’ve Escaped by Anaïs Escobar Mathers. She mentioned a platform called Buttondown, and it’s still fairly small, but I’m hoping more writers will move there to turn attention away from Substack. I know very little about Buttondown, but I’ve been doing research, and I’m figuring out a way to move my newsletter there. Current subscribers, you won’t have to re-subscribe. Readers who haven’t subscribed yet, you can always subscribe now and catch up with me later on Buttondown.
For those of you who have been reading this since I started in July, thank you!! I really appreciate you taking the time to read these rambling pieces. Additionally, a big thank-you to my fiancée, Rachel, for designing the logo and being my biggest supporter for continuing this newsletter. I took a 3-month hiatus from writing on here because I didn’t have any inspiration or ideas, but she instilled that inspiration in me and gave me the confidence to keep this up.
In the future, I’ll be trying to write more long-form, traditional “pieces” instead of half-realized ideas. Because of that, the wait times between each will be longer, but will ultimately lead to more interesting pieces. I already have an idea for my next one, but I’m uncertain when I’ll write it, considering I’m still trying to figure out what to do with this newsletter/Buttondown. In the meantime, subscribe to this newsletter and follow me on Twitter (@grantsharpies), where you can stay up-to-date on everything surrounding We Have the Facts, and We’re Rejecting Your Pitch.