Genevieve Gluck and Anna Slatz are the co-founders and chief contributors of Reduxx, a new website devoted to trawling the global internet for examples of child sexual abuse that can be attributed to the transgender community.
This can be gruelling and emotionally draining work. Gaining access to the dark web communities where paedophiles and people with adjacent paraphilias exchange fantasies and imagery is never easy, and requires many months of establishing convincing enough online personas to gain the trust of the forums’ moderators.
On this occasion, however, it seems those personas might have been a little too convincing! In character as ‘Troy Gavendale’, a fictional 54 year-old truck driver from Branson, Missouri, Reduxx’s Genevieve Gluck found herself establishing a close friendship with Texan mechanic Terry Gravyon, unaware that this was in fact the imaginary alter-ego of her colleague Anna Slatz.
“It’s taken a while, but I feel like I’m beginning to gain Terry’s trust,” explained Genevieve. “He’s always happy to chat, but he seemed initially hesitant to share some of his darker fantasies. But eventually, after sharing some sick scenarios of my own, he began to open up.
“I’m not going to lie, though. Some of the things that go on in the imaginations of these twisted individuals are truly disturbing, and it takes a strong stomach to see a relationship like this through.
“I do however take some comfort and amusement in the fact that Terry thinks he’s talking to a fat, bearded guy in his mid-fifties, completely oblivious to the fact that I’m actually a reasonably attractive young woman.”
While Anna expressed optimism about the blossoming friendship that, as Terry, she was establishing with Genevieve’s Troy persona, she did also speak of the bitter frustration that can arise when such slow-burning sting operations ultimately bear no fruit.
“I always try to stay hopeful,” said Anna, “but honestly, I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve put in literally months of work forming friendships and establishing trust, to the point where my targets feel comfortable revealing incidences of real life child sexual abuse they have participated in, only for it to turn out that they have no connections to the trans community whatsoever.
“And just like that, it all goes to waste. Time to delete the profiles and start over. Still, I’m determined to see this Troy thing through. I actually quite enjoy talking to him.
“I almost feel guilty that he thinks he’s talking to another middle-aged bearded trucker type, with no idea that I’m actually a moderately presentable young woman!”
Asked for comment, Poet Laureate Simon Armitage spoke of the beauty of finding friendship in as unusual circumstances as this mutual deception.
“This takes me back to 1996, and the village of Stokeinteignhead in South Devon,” orated Simon. “An amateur ornithologist would, of an evening, take a stroll to the end of his garden whereupon he would call to the neighbourhood owls, delighted when the owls would call back.
“This continued for almost a year, and so intense and varied did these crepuscular exchanges become that he wondered if he might indeed discover the hidden language of owls.
“Alas, it was not to be, as a chance meeting between the man’s wife and that of a neighbour led to the revelation that an adjacent bird enthusiast had established the same routine, and the two men had indeed been calling and responding to each other in an improvised avian language of their own invention.
“While I do not doubt they felt foolish upon this discovery, I feel the scenario belies a certain heartwarming poetic symmetry, which is surely echoed in the nonce-hunting online adventures of the two disturbed young women of Reduxx. Perhaps they will discover that the friendship they sought was closer than either of them had ever realised.”