It would be good to believe that lessons will be learnt from the Challenor case, but it seems unlikely…
Last week, Reddit sacked an employee named Aimee Challenor. Some of us had been warning about Challenor’s activities for years, warnings generally met with hostility and abuse. Finally, we have been vindicated – though the trail of damage Challenor has left in her wake cannot be undone.
For those unfamiliar with the story, a brief recap. Challenor, a trans woman, worked as a paid administrator at Reddit, an internet discussion site with 52 million daily active users and 100,000 active forums (subreddits). Administrators have high-level responsibility for monitoring the content of the site, whereas the unpaid moderators are ordinary users who run the subreddits.
A moderator on the politics subreddit posted a link to an article that mentioned, in passing, details of Challenor’s questionable past. The post was immediately deleted and the moderator banned. In a thrilling demonstration of the Streisand effect, thousands of users posted articles detailing Challenor’s history. Reddit’s CEO responded with an apology and an announcement that both Challenor and husband Nathaniel Knight, an unpaid moderator on several subreddits, had been sacked. Their close friend Katrina Swales, a moderator of 80 subreddits, mostly relating to trans and LGBT topics, was also removed.
So what was it about Aimee Challenor’s past that had to be so ruthlessly suppressed? Despite being only 23, and not having a university degree, Challenor has had an eventful career that includes influential roles in the Green Party, the Liberal Democrats and Stonewall. Her rapid ascent is a testament to just how ready organisations are to overlook safeguarding concerns in their zeal to embrace trans ideology.
But let’s go back a bit. Ashton Challenor (as Aimee then was) was born in 1997 in Coventry. Home life was troubled: at one point the three youngest of the five Challenor children, including Ashton, were taken into care. In 2013, the father, David Challenor, was convicted of animal cruelty and banned for life from keeping animals. Ashton got into trouble with the police for threatening a cyberattack on the Birmingham Bullring.
Aimee, who began identifying as trans as a teenager, was close to her father. David (or “Baloo” as he styled himself) enjoyed participating in community activities, especially those involving children. As well as volunteering with a girls’ gymnastic group, he took advantage of Aimee’s membership of the Scouts to become an assistant cub scout leader. Both joined the Green Party, and by 2017 Aimee was the parliamentary candidate for Coventry South in 2017 and standing for the deputy leadership of the party. Robustly supported by her father, Aimee worked to influence Green Party policy on issues such as introducing legal self-identification for transgender people and making it harder to expel convicted criminals from the party. Aimee employed David as an election agent and photographer, enabling him to mix with young children at party events.
Somehow, Aimee forgot to mention to Green Party officials that David was about to go on trial for a very serious offence. In 2018 David Challenor was convicted and sentenced to 22 years in prison for child abuse. The details of his crime are horrific: dressed in a nappy and a baby-girl dress, he strung a 10-year-old girl from a beam in the attic, submitted her to electric shocks and raped her. The response of Green MP Caroline Lucas to this failure of safeguarding by her party was to write an astonishingly complacent article condemning transphobia against Aimee.
And yet long before David Challenor’s conviction, people had tried to warn the Greens about the disturbingly misogynistic attitudes Aimee expressed on social media. Attempts by Green member Andy Healey to raise concerns led first to Aimee and David Challenor taking out a civil injunction against him, and then to Healey being suspended from the Green Party. Senior members of the Green Party, such as Siân Berry and Amelia Womack, attacked Healey and sided with Aimee Challenor. Berry has since deleted her numerous supportive tweets.
In 2019, Aimee Challenor married Nathaniel Knight, a man who openly appeared to write on Twitter: “I fantasize about children having sex, sometimes with adults, sometimes with other children, sometimes kidnapped and forced into bad situations, sometimes coerced through fantasy mind control.” Challenor claimed that Knight’s Twitter had been hacked, but there is plenty of documentary evidence that substantiates the initial tweet. It has also been reported that Challenor, Knight and another close friend, Katrina (originally Peter) Swales, appear to share an interest in sexual fetishes, particularly ones that involve dressing up in baby nappies or as “furries” – cartoon furry animals.
By now, the red flags could be seen from space. And yet Challenor’s rise was unstoppable. After leaving the Greens, Challenor joined the Liberal Democrats and became the diversity officer for the Coventry branch. She was also vice-chair of Prism LGBTQ+, a Coventry-based youth club, which organised day trips for teenagers and ran workshops on sexual topics.
Perhaps more pertinently, even after the revelations about Knight’s sexual proclivities emerged, Challenor continued to sit on Stonewall’s trans advisory board influencing policy. Stonewall’s reach is wide, and includes advising NSPCC, Girl Guiding UK and other child-centred organisations on trans issues. While Challenor was in post, Stonewall encouraged the Guides to adopt a policy allowing boys who identify as girls to share girls’ sleeping, changing and washing facilities without informing parents. When Stonewall eventually dropped Challenor, she moved seamlessly on to her role at Reddit, where she wrote a letter that led to the site deciding to delete numerous longstanding feminist subreddits dedicated to protecting single-sex spaces. You know the rest.
Very little of this has surfaced in the mainstream media. The hard work of digging out and exposing Challenor’s connections and activities has been carried out largely by the indefatigable Graham Linehan and feminists campaigning to protect women and girls. For this, they have been repeatedly abused and labelled as transphobes and bigots by prominent politicians, journalists and lawyers: people who should now apologise, but of course won’t. As Linehan himself says, the left has created a “priest class. A sacred caste, who may not be challenged for fear of losing your livelihood or your social circles.”
It would be good to believe that lessons will be learnt from the Challenor case, but it seems unlikely. Until the progressive left takes the protection of women and children as seriously as it takes the desire to embrace the current most fashionable cause, then abusers and fetishists will continue to exploit their gullibility.