Moderators of r/Animemes recently banned the word “trap” from the subreddit, drawing backlash and losing almost 100,000 subscribers.
For those unfamiliar, the word “trap” is commonly used in circles of anime fans to describe crossdressing men who do not identify as women. The word coming from how others can be tricked or “trapped” into believing they are an attractive woman or girl; even if it is not the intent of that character or their creator.
Examples include Astolfo from Fate/Grand Order, or Hime Arikawa from Himegoto. Characters like Lily Hoshikawa from Zombieland Saga or Shuichi Nitori from Wandering Son would not be considered traps, as they are transgender.
Critics of the term consider it a slur, citing relation to the “gay and trans panic defense” as a reason the term is harmful. The implication of the word being that trans women “trap” men into a sexual relationship with them.
In anime however, the “trap” is generally just a running gag revolving around the character in question making passes at a protagonist, or getting upset when people think they’re a woman despite identifying as male.
On August 3rd, the moderators of the subreddit r/Animemes, a subreddit dedicated to anime based memes, banned usage of the word trap in an amendment to the fifth rule of the subreddit. That rule states:
“Rule 5: Do not post sexist, racist, homophobic, or transphobic content. Do not personally attack, name-call, deliberately spoil, bully, troll, bait, or harass other users. Organising, promoting, or encouraging brigades is not allowed. No shock images/shock sites.”
Until now, the word trap had been ignored as an eccentricity of anime fan lingo, since use of the term has largely been used in good faith.
At the time of posting, the subreddit has lost almost 100k subscribers since the amendment to the rules was made. The subreddit has also been flooded constantly with memes making fun of the rule change and the moderation team, albeit while skirting the new rule.
Trans members of the r/Animemes subreddit have also spoken against the rules change [1, 2, 3, 4]. They say that the mods do not speak for the subreddit’s trans members, and worry that they will be blamed for the moderator action.
Currently the subscriber count for r/Animemes is still dropping, while spinoff subreddits like r/GoodAnimemes have been growing almost proportionally.
UPDATE: The drop of almost 100,000 subscribers accounts for around 10% of the subreddit’s subscribers. The moderator’s have also been accused of shadow banning users complaining about the rule change, along with allegedly stating on other subreddits and Discord servers that they are happy to lose those members [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6].
The moderators had also been accused of shadow banning and deleting user comments when other rule changes had been implemented.