UPDATE (12/06/2020): After a report from Autostraddle's Tech Director that the AfterEllen site might just be suffering an "origin error" because the "server could be turned off, as in perhaps their bills didn't get paid or it crashed," the AfterEllen team has resurfaced.
"I am the founder and current CEO of Lesbian Nation LLC, and [at the moment] the managing partner," Gaye Chapman tweeted in response to our story. "That makes me the TERF-in-Chief of AfterEllen." After tweeting that on December 2, and not responding to our reach out, Chapman tweeted again on December 5.
"Hello friends," she wrote. "AfterEllen will be back soon. That's it." The only real activity from the platform has been from the podcast. But given their proud transphobia, you'd do best to not even acknowledge that.
\u201c.@outmagazine\nI am the founder and current CEO of Lesbian Nation LLC, and atm the managing partner. That makes me the Terf-in-Chief of AfterEllen. \nYou could have gotten those facts when you messaged me earlier, had you asked.\u201d
ORIGINAL (12/02/2020): A lot of us in the lesbian, trans, and queer women's communities wanted to check in on how our TERFy stepsister AfterEllen was doing following the news that Elliot Page came out as trans, but to our delightful surprise, when you type in the web address, only a blank page with Origin Error appears.
When we dug deeper into this mystery, we found a few (and only a few) tweets going as far back as last Thursday, November 26 referencing the fact that something had gone awry. At the time, one reader tweeted at them asking "what happened to the website." AfterEllen did not respond and there is no indication the site has been live since.
The AfterEllen Twitter account has tweeted only twice since then, once about their podcast, and once asking people to sign up for their newsletter. This could indicate the site is gone and they will be pivoting to a newsletter-only model. The tweet asking people to sign up for their newsletter has two retweets (one is a quote tweet dunking on them) and two likes at this moment.
So, if the website has been down now for nearly a week, how come no one noticed until today? Well, AfterEllen had been becoming more and more irrelevant every day that they have pushed their TERF agenda. While it used to be a thriving space for (mostly white, cis) lesbians and queer women in the past, the site has gone further and further into TERF ideology and further and further away from values and priorities of the progressive lesbian and queer women communities.
We could find out in a day or two that this was all just due to some servers being down, but if it's not -- if this bastion of TERFdom is really gone, -- this would be quite a win for not just trans people, but all LGBTQ+ people.
As a trans woman and a lesbian who has been working in queer journalism since 2013, the fall of AfterEllen has been quite a long time coming. Back when I started out, the website never featured or hired trans women, but it was still an important online community for many queer women.
Then in 2016, Evolve, the company that owned AfterEllen, fired the site's full staff, and hired Memoree Joelle as its new editor, who turned the site sharply towards TERF ideology. Since then, the community has lost followers, prestige, and respectability. What was once transphobia by omission -- omitting trans lesbians from their coverage -- became active transphobia, with them shouting it from the rooftops. They've gone so far as to even respond to random tweets from various outlets to spout their hate, unprompted.
In March of 2019, Joelle's multimedia company Lesbian Nation bought the site, and in June of this year, Joelle promoted Jocelyn Macdonald to be the new Editor in Chief.
If AfterEllen really is gone, it means that TERFs have one less place to congregate on the internet, and that's something we can all be thankful for. This isn't celebrating that another lesbian space is gone, it's celebrating the fact that a space that made a part of the lesbian community feel unwelcome and uncomfortable can no longer hurt us.
We reached out to Jocelyn Macdonald for comment, but our requests have not been returned.