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Substack and transgender people

Substack is a subscription newsletter publishing platform that is the service of choice for anti-transgender activists and media figures. The New Republic describes its power base as “white male contrarians with a talent for Twitter theatrics.”

Substack allows writers to make a living attacking trans people without the oversight or accountability in place at reputable media outlets. Substack also profits from promotion of other medical misinformation and conspiracy theories.


Substack was founded in 2017 by Chris Best, Jairaj Sethi, and Hamish McKenzie.

The platform’s strategy for growth was based on inviting the most histrionic verified Twitter users to create newsletters.

Substacks with anti-trans content

The authors below have published generally anti-trans content on Substack:

Substacks with pro-trans content

The authors below publish generally pro-trans content on Substack:

  • Erin Reed / Erin In The Morning
  • Gillian Branstetter / The Autonomy
  • Rayne Fisher-Quann / Internet Princess
  • Max Read  / Read Max
  • Freddie deBoer / Freddie deBoer
  • Joyce Vance / Civil Discourse
  • Mona Eltahawy / Feminist Giant
  • Roxane Gay  / The Audacity.
  • Charlotte Clymer / Charlotte’s Web Thoughts
  • Jude Doyle / Hamish McKenzie Killed Someone
  • Parker Molloy / The Present Age
  • Daniel Lavery / The Chatner

Former Substacks

  • Grace Lavery / Grace’s Newsletter

Substack Pro controversy

In March 2021, Substack revealed it paid advances for writers to create publications on its platform via a program called Substack Pro. The lack of transparency about this program and who had been paid led to widespread criticism.

Shortly before Jesse Singal’s 2021 book release, Singal’s Substack newsletter become a cause célèbre among the platform’s favored user base: “those who have already been well-served by existing media power structures.” The secretive Substack Pro program was accused of “perpetuating some of the industry inequities it claims to solve,” favoring these types of writers by luring them to the platform with large monetary advances. Substack had become the service of choice for several other prominent critics of the trans rights movement, “largely white, male contrarians with a talent for Twitter theatrics.”

On March 17, 2021, Adweek’s Mark Stenberg discussed Singal’s role in generating protests about Substack Pro:

Substack has drawn criticism for offering safe harbor to a number of writers, including writers Andrew Sullivan, Jesse Singal and Glenn Greenwald, whose opinions on issues surrounding race, transgender rights and censorship have been condemned by marginalized communities.

Stenberg, 2021

Singal has a long history of “sealioning,” a type of trolling via persistent requests, whenever Singal’s biased views about trans people are reported in the media. Singal will pursue all available avenues to get these reports modified or removed altogether. Following a “stealth edit,” Singal’s name was quietly removed from Adweek’s original text so it read “including some whose politics have been condemned by marginalized communities.” Even that was later removed.

Confirmed Pro deals

  • Matt Yglesias
  • Anne Helen Peterson
  • Casey Newton
  • Scott Alexander
  • Freddie deBoer
  • Nicholas Jackson
  • Ashley Feinberg
  • Grace Lavery
  • Alexis Coe



Chang, Clio (Winter 2020). The Substackerati: Did a newsletter company create a more equitable media system—or replicate the flaws of the old one?

McKenzie, Hamish (March 12, 2021). “Why we pay writers”Substack Blog.

Paulas, Rick (March 14, 2021) Who are the Substack Pros? Investigating Substack

Silverman, Jacob (March 16, 2021). Facebook Has Found a New Way to Ruin Media. The New Republic.

Stenberg, Mark (March 17, 2021). Substack Pro Leads to Departures From Platform, Opportunities for Competitors. Adweek.

Wiener, Anna (28 December 2020). Is Substack the Media Future We Want? The New Yorker. Retrieved 11 February 2021.