© 2024 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Kansas City mom speaks up about KiwiFarms harassment campaign against her trans child

Debi Jackson's child, Avery, became the victim of online harassment after becoming the first trans person to make the cover of National Geographic in 2016.
Debi Jackson
Debi Jackson's child, Avery, became the victim of online harassment after becoming the first trans person to make the cover of National Geographic in 2016.

A Kansas City mother is celebrating after a web security company dropped a website that harassed her child. She says online bullying laws need to change to keep up with technology.

A Kansas City mother is thrilled after a website that harassed her transgender child lost its home on the internet.

The web security company Cloudflare announced on Saturday that it would stop protecting KiwiFarms, a notorious site known for harassing, doxing and repeatedly swatting people.

Debi Jackson’s family became a target of the site in 2016 after her child, Avery, became the first trans person to make the cover of National Geographic when Avery was just 9 years old.

“They're sitting there posting where we were born, where we were married, our wedding date information from public records, address of the house, my cell phone number,” Jackson said. “Then the conversation starts, and they start trying to dig in and paint a picture of you being a horrible person.”

The online harassment escalated into the real-world when cars were driving slowly and parking in front of their home, raising their neighbors’ concern. Jackson’s husband endured people showing up to take photos of his workplace.

Avery was initially proud of the magazine cover and the conversations it sparked between other trans people and their loved ones. But Jackson said the harassment made Avery want to pretend it had never happened.

“Avery said this has kind of ruined my life and was really angry for quite a while,” Jackson said. “Didn't want anything to do with being trans for a while, used to love to go to Pride events and have rainbow everything and started kind of hiding themselves.”

Jackson’s family turned to the FBI to deal with the harassment but what law enforcement could do to help was limited since it was difficult to determine if online comments were an “imminent threat.”

Jackson said the that laws on online harassment and bullying haven’t kept up with the growth of technology. She said laws need to change so action can be taken when online comments become intimidating or violent.

“That kind of thing tells you that they're not doing it just as a matter of free speech, that they're not out there just to laugh at people anymore, that there's something much darker going on,” Jackson said. “And I wish that alone would be enough to go in and get some of these things taken care of.”

Although many people are celebrating that the site is no longer accessible, Jackson said that she’ll be watching to make sure KiwiFarms isn’t hosted anywhere else online — and she'll be supporting other victims harassed by the site.

“I'm thrilled that the website is dying and that the torment feels like it's over,” Jackson said. “But at the same time, the people behind it aren't going to give up, they're still going to want to harass trans people, they're still going to want to bother people.”

Stay Connected
More than ever, education lies at the intersection of equity, housing, funding, and other diverse issues facing Kansas City’s students, families and teachers. As KCUR’s education reporter, I’ll break down the policies driving these issues in schools and report what’s happening in our region's classrooms. You can reach me at jodifortino@kcur.org.
As senior producer of Up To Date, I want our listeners to hear familiar and new voices that shine light on the issues and challenges facing the myriad communities KCUR serves, and to expose our audiences to the wonderful and the creative in the Kansas City area. Just as important to me is an obligation to mentor the next generation of producers to ensure that the important conversations continue. Reach me at alexanderdk@kcur.org.
As a producer for Up To Date, my goal is to inform our audience by curating interesting and important conversations with reliable sources and individuals directly affected by a topic or issue. I strive for our program to be a place that hosts impactful conversations, providing our audience with greater knowledge, intrigue, compassion and entertainment. Contact me at elizabeth@kcur.org or on Twitter at @er_bentley_ruiz.
KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and award-winning podcasts.
Your donation helps keep nonprofit journalism free and available for everyone.