RIP Magdalen Berns

[Updates added at the bottom.]

Magdalen Berns (May 6, 1983 – September 13, 2019) died yesterday morning at the age of 36.  She was an online personality living in Scotland. She is most known for her YouTube channel with over 30,000 subscribers and for inspiring women who were struggling with transgender issues.

I had meant to write about her earlier, because the information about her should be curated somehow, but there really isn’t that much information – yet.  People are starting to share links on various websites, mostly to Youtube stuff that isn’t already in her own channel. Her YouTube channel is being archived somewhere.

It’s a pity there isn’t a place on the internet you can go to, to find out something about people like her.  /snark

She was a software developer, I think, and also I have read she was a PhD in physics, and a graduate of Edinburgh University, but have not been able to confirm it. Physics degree in 2016 in this video 0:47.

Here is what I have so far:

Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling was attacked by activists for following Berns.

Berns had fallen in and out of love – with women.

She had been active in politics, and although she belonged to the political left, she had been critical of it. Ironically, it was a conservative news outlet, the National Review, that first did a piece on her. Someone read it to her on her deathbed.

Berns was diagnosed with glioblastoma – a brain tumor – in 2018.

McKinnon winning women’s bicycle title, with arms encircling 2nd & 3rd place winners. What does this body language say?

Rachel McKinnon (Wikipedia), a competitive cyclist and philosophy professor at College of Charleston in South Carolina was critical of Berns and called her “trash.”.

Rachel McKinnon — who won the women’s cycling world championship despite being a man — tweeted that Berns is “a trash human” and “maybe [should] live by the maxim whereby ‘Don’t be the sort of person who people you’ve harmed are happy you’re dying of brain cancer.’”

McKinnon’s department was lobbied for an apology by hundreds of people, but the college said that faculty comments were protected by the First Amendment.

“here is the video that was a shocking, Emperor-has-no-clothes moment for many. Language a bit naughty, but we are all grown ups.”


External websites and social media

One conversation which had begun around ending misogynistic trolling on internet dating sites got really interesting because it quickly developed into two groups who were each keen to address sexism from different angles. One group focused on online sexism and the other on sexism at conferences and other events. The latter group went on to discuss establishing a universal code of conduct available for FLOSS projects to adopt if they choose, while the former group considered developing software to deal with abuse on IRC. Everyone got so engaged that we chatted until the notetaker’s wrists were sore from 2 or 3 hours of typing. It was incredibly heartening to see so many men who are interested discussing these issues in one place. I have never seen anything like that before in my life! It takes quite a lot of objectivity and emotional intelligence to be able to stand up for the rights of a group you aren’t part of.

Other videos

‘”Gender identity” culture in student spaces: the impact on women.‘ Presentation by Magdalen Berns.  From ‘Thinking Differently: Feminists Questioning Gender Politics’, a one-day conference held at Conway Hall, London, UK on Saturday 16 July 2016.

Here she is in Bristol last year: Not speaking on the panel, but brought in from the back during questions at 1:54 (a few drinks the worse for wear). Huge cheers for her from the audience, who love her. Also says she has 3 boxing titles just before 1:58


Update: There is now a Wikipedia article, full of gibberish.  Why can’t they write in plain English. And do they really have to reproduce actual hate speech terms in the article itself.  She is only dead less than 24 hours and her article is full of inflammatory language that is only used to advocate killing women?

More update:

  • Nominated for deletion: (NOTE: if you want to participate in the deletion discussion, you put your comment at the end of the other comments, vote “Keep” or “Delete” and give some policy-based reason.  You are not voting on whether you like Madalen or agree with whatever, but whether the topic is encyclopedic enough to be included in the Wikipedia, in Wikipedia jardon: “notability”. See policy page or just agree with someone you think is making the argument you want to emphasize. As an example, the Rolling Stones is notable, and will have a Wikipedia article, your neighbor’s garage band is not.  Personally I am a “deletionist”, not an “inclusionist”, but I think she is ‘notable’, just barely, because she has been covered by so many sources, even if it is not the NYT.
  • it has been archived once in the Wayback Machine
  • Whose sock is this? Added the slur “cis” to the lede.  And ewww, “Provide more balance on definition of cotton ceiling”

    a term coined by Canadian [[Trans_woman|trans woman]] and activist Drew DeVeaux, which refers to the mechanism by which certain cis lesbians use their sexuality to deny trans women‘s womanhood.

    Imagine that, lesbians who use a “mechanism” of refusing to be raped by “women with penises”.  Not to mention the  “women with penises” who are only interested in Lesbians, and not in other “women with penises”, thus denying their own “womanhood”.

  • Thoughts on “notability”.  How is “notability” established for other individuals whose primary notability came from youtube? Why is Anita Sarkeesian considered “notable”, for instance.
  • Characterizing the news coverage as “just a Twitter feud” is disingenuous. Rowling is very well known, and her public support for this person was significant. Someone needs to go through the issues that Berns talked about in her videos, human trafficking I believe was the first one that got her in trouble with the student associations, then Big Pharma in transitioning children, the big money donations of Stonewall, her position on “sex-based rights” which is a thing in England, etc. Were there articles in the student paper about the student association disputes?
  • Once again they have not posted a definition of Wikipedia “notability” on the deletion discussion, newcomers are not likely to be able to discuss the deletion effectively. requires that “the subject has received significant attention from independent sources” and “that this was not a mere short-term interest“. It is not just a “Twitter spat” it is an ongoing public debate. These are the types of sources to concentrate on right now.
  • Once again, mainstream media has been derelict in covering women’s issues, preferring to cater to the powerful Stonewall and Big Pharma lobbies, not to mention the threats of violence that always arise when women push back against being sexually assaulted.  Where are the sources?  Who can write them?  There is a story here, and it is about core values, not some “Twitter spat”.  Berns’ YouTube channel had 30,000 viewers, won’t some of them buy a book on the topic or are millennials all about video now?  Where is the dead tree version?

Here are the page view stats.

ANOTHER UPDATE, with links about the Edinburgh University controversies.  This was about legalizing human trafficking, and somewhat about using trigger warnings to intimidate and silence people: (“whorephobic trigger” added in front of the Berns’ candidate statement). As these links seem to uncover new links when they are in a new blog post, the new collection of links is here:

Also, there is a mention of her boxing in THE SCOTSMAN, a nice reliable source

Well now what is this Looks like someone in India who is doing this for their job.


I have archived the article again:

The archive for the talk page is current:

I was wondering why people were not adding more sources, since Fae is now topic-banned from gender and will not be around.  But the article is now protected so you need to be autoconfirmed (10 edits and 4 days), still it seems the article is being cleaned up a bit.  A lot more sourcing has been provided than when it was nominated for deletion, this is often an effective rational for keeping the article.

The deletion discussion has now been invaded by people claiming Berns was “anti-trans”, I don’t believe this is accurate, although it seems to be the current liberal position – this is why telelogical feminists so often cross the aisle and align with conservatives/libertarians for social issues. LOL “wedge issue” indeed. The trans-activism thing has been taken over by bad actors: perverts, gays who don’t want to be labeled as gay, obvious pedos, Big Pharma, and there’s some genuinely dangerous and violent people as well. There are also real trans, and they are the ones who will be hurt by this.  Some of them are in the Wikimedia movement, and people do know them and want to protect them.


(In other words, this is a non-issue, skip this section.)

( Internal links).
Besides numerous project notification pages, the article is already linked from

Should be added to:  Births in 1983

JK Rowling?  There was only a statement, and issued by her office, so maybe WP:UNDUE?.

Graham Linehan? This would be an obvious addition.  I mean, he’s been using her image as his avatar for how long?  There are Twitter sources…    (Is he “anti-transgender though?  He has written extensively in defense of one trans who was banned from Twitter.)

Photo.  There should be a photo added to her infobox. Articles with photos get more page views and are not questioned as much.  It should be possible to upload one to English Wikipedia only (not Commons) as “fair use”, as she is deceased and there is no possibility of obtaining another one. Unless you can find someone who took a picture of her to donate one and upload it to Commons…  Where is her partner?  In any case, if a photo is in Commons, it can be added to Wikidata, which is harder to delete than Wikipedia.

It’s unfortunate they had a problem getting her YouTube channel into the article, it should be in the infobox.  It’s her main website, yes?, and one or sometimes two main websites are permitted.  For some reason they don’t like YouTube, but more and more that’s how millennials communicate. not an issue for deletion discussion


…adding new obit has new info: she co-founded ForWomen.Scot “the largest women’s rights group in Scotland” which is frequently quoted by The Scotsman about legislation. Byline by “Deborah Lavin and Susan Chynoweth” not sure if Lavin is the same one as the historian with the Wikipedia article.

…adding link to trying to figure out the dispute between Berns and the campus feminist group.

…this one is in Spanish.  I have now made a translation:

Quoted in passing by Meghan Murphy 9/20/2019

“But, in the words of the late, great Magdalen Berns, ‘I’d rather be rude than a fucking liar.’

“The truth is that what began as an effort to protect the rights of gay and lesbian people — still persecuted in many parts of the world — has been taken over by people fighting to allow men to access women’s locker rooms.”

Assaulted May 29, 2018

photo of Magdalen presenting about GNOME

Short obit

Another very short obit

“Gender identity” culture in student spaces: the impact on women.’ Presentation by Magdalen Berns.


Someone has changed the article to say Linehan opposes transgender people, this is not correct, in the past he has supported Kristina Harrison who IMHO is much more reasonable than posting to social media calling for people to display nooses.  (See my new translation of )  This pitting of one marginalized group against another is troubling, but considering the times we live in, perhaps not surprising.

People are harassing Graham Linehan‘s family, his wife, and he is drawing back, please make sure he is accurately quoted in his Wikipedia article etc. Thank you Mr. Linehan for your courage, and be safe.


In another day the deletion discussion for the article is scheduled to close.

The decision will be made by an uninvolved admin (someone who did not participate in the discussion) who will make the decision based on policy reasons (usually sourcing), they will not be influenced by comments about liking or agreeing with the topic.

NOTE: If you want to participate in the deletion discussion, open an edit window, you put your comment at the end of the other comments, vote “Keep” or “Delete” and give some policy-based reason.  You are not voting on whether you like Madalen or agree with whatever, but whether the topic is encyclopedic enough to be included in the Wikipedia, …in Wikipedia jardon: “notability”. As an example, the Rolling Stones is “notable”, and will have a Wikipedia article, your neighbor’s garage band is not.  See policy page or just agree with someone you think is making a good policy argument (usually about sources) or the argument you want to emphasize. Another good argument is that initially there weren’t enough good sources when some other people voted to delete, but the article has now been much improved.


Death notice in the Edinburgh News on Sept. 19, 2019 (placed by her sister)


new obit: includes boxing career

international reaction Germany translated from German:

international reaction Turkey translated/paraphrased

international reaction Spain translation

from 2017 in France, journaliste Julie Bindel and meetings disrupted “Gender Recognition Act : la lutte des femmes britanniques pour ne pas être effacées” (Gender Recognition Act: the fight of British women not to be erased) ; also “Remettre en question la notion d’identité de genre et le silence imposé à l’analyse féministe”, by Meghan Murphy, journaliste et écrivaine, (“Questioning the notion of gender identity and the silence imposed on feminist analysis”, by Meghan Murphy, Journalist and Writer, Feminist Current) Feminist Current,

mentioned in passing, conference 2016

Danish (comment section)

italy 2016 “La queer-politics, nuova faccia del patriarcato” 2018 (in the comments)

Portuguese Falecimento de Magdalen Berns – Lésbica Feminista Radical 15 de setembro de 2019, 19:30

  • “Magdalen Berns faleceu. Que triste notícia.Magdalen foi uma lésbica feminista crítica à noção de gênero. Sua postura feminista radical, sempre em defesa dos direitos e interesses das mulheres lésbicas e de toda a classe de mulheres, a tornou tanto alvo de ataques constantes, como uma influência feminista. Ela foi inspiração para muitas lésbicas, admirada e respeitada por muitas pessoas em várias partes do mundo.Corajosa, brilhante, charmosa, espirituosa.Farás falta.  (Magdalen Berns Death – Radical Feminist Lesbian September 15, 2019, 7:30 pm,Magdalen Berns passed away. What a sad news. Magdalen was a lesbian feminist critical of the notion of gender. Her radical feminist stance, always defending the rights and interests of lesbian women and the entire class of women, has made her both a target of constant attack and a feminist influence. She has been an inspiration to many lesbians, admired and respected by many people in various parts of the world.Brave, brilliant, charming, witty.   You will be missed.)

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