The Unholy Alliance of Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists and the Right Wing

From Jezebel:

Esther Wang

In April, the House Judiciary Committee held its first hearing on the latest iteration of the Equality Act, federal legislation that would enshrine sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes under federal civil rights law. Support for the Equality Act, first introduced in its current form in 2015 by Representative David Cicilline, has grown to encompass high profile Democrats like Hillary Clinton, who said in 2016 that passing the Equality Act would be her “highest priority” if elected, as well as corporate behemoths like Apple, Google, and Nike. With the fight to legalize gay marriage won, groups like the Human Rights Campaign have thrown weight behind the passage of the Act.

Included on the Judiciary Committee’s speakers list was Julia Beck, a 26-year-old lesbian, self-described radical feminist, and a member of the group Women’s Liberation Front, or WoLF. But Beck was not there to testify in support of the Equality Act. Invited by Republican members of the committee, she was there to decry the protections that it would provide trans women. “If the act passes in its current form as HR5, then every right that women have fought for will cease to exist,” Beck asserted.

Beck is the latest trans-exclusionary radical feminist, or TERF, to become the darling of right-wing media and conservative politicians who, in recent years, have cloaked their transphobia by embracing the talking points of radical feminists like Beck. These seemingly odd bedfellows united publicly during the Equality Act hearing, where Republicans like Doug Collins and Louie Gohmert voiced their opposition to the Act in the name of women’s rights. The Equality Act, Gohmert said, represented “a war on women that should not be allowed.” Collins, an opponent of gay marriage and abortion rights, spoke approvingly of WoLF, before charging that the bill’s protections of trans people “would demolish the hard-won rights of women, putting them once again at the mercy of any biological man who identifies at any moment as a woman.”

TERF ideology at its core is simple and bigoted: trans women are not women, and their demand for inclusion, and even their very existence, is a danger to women. Beck and others like her are not a new phenomenon—while the term TERF dates to 2008, their ideological underpinnings go at least as far back as the 1960s, to the advent of the women’s liberation movement and in particular to a strain of political lesbianism that staunchly advocated for separatism.

Recently, Beck has become one of the most prominent and recognizable figures in the movement. At the end of 2018, she was kicked off of the Baltimore mayor’s LGBTQ Commission over her belief that trans women are not women, making her, in her words, the “most hated lesbian in Baltimore.” Shortly after, she appeared on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show to discuss her ouster from the commission and to reiterate her claim that trans women threaten the safety of what she terms “biological females.”

“When we get down to it, women and girls all share a biological reality,” she told a sympathetic Carlson. “We are all female. But if any man, if any male person can call himself a woman or legally identify as female, then predatory men will do so in order to gain access to women’s single-sex spaces, and this puts every woman and girl at risk.”

The April hearing for the Equality Act was the second time in as many months Beck has testified before Congress—in March, Collins invited her to speak at a hearing on the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), where she had again repeated her belief that including trans women under its protections would, in fact, harm women. “VAWA was created for women and girls. Not for those who feel like or identify as female,” Beck stated.

Beck’s ideology has found a natural home in WoLF. Founded in 2014, the organization, in its own words, fights for “the total liberation of women” and “to end male violence, regain reproductive sovereignty, and ultimately dismantle the gender-caste system.” But for all of the talk of women’s rights, and despite the current assault on abortion rights led by Republicans (to name just one example) that would seem a more natural target of their ire, the bulk of WoLF’s activism has been obsessively limited to only one issue: fighting the expansion of trans rights, in the name of preventing the spread of what the group derides as the postmodern concept of “gender identity.” In their opposition, they have aligned with conservative, largely Christian rightwing activists and elected officials, who have their separate, reactionary reasons for wanting to maintain the notion that there is a strict dividing line between man and woman and who have, similarly, reframed the debate about trans rights as one about “safety for women and girls.”

In January, the Heritage Foundation’s notoriously homophobic and transphobic Ryan T. Anderson relied on members of WoLF to help him discredit the Equality Act, inviting Beck and WoLF board members Kara Dansky and Jennifer Chavez to participate in a panel titled “The Inequality of the Equality Act: Concerns from the Left.” (WoLF, it should be noted, has almost no connections to what most would describe as leftist movements, yet it is repeatedly described as a “representative of the left.”) “Everything is about the T now, entirely eclipsing the L, G, and B. The T is diametrically opposed to the first three letters of the acronym, and especially to the L,” Beck said. She added: “The completely illogical statement that trans women are women is recited like a Big Brother mantra in every leftist space,” but for Beck, “female sex is the only qualifier of womanhood.” (By Beck’s own essentialist logic, then, trans men are women.)

Dansky, the former legal counsel for the Americans Civil Liberties Union, raised a question. “Who would be against equality?” she asked. But the Equality Act, she warned darkly, “would utterly obliterate female-only spaces throughout society.”

Before the Judiciary Committee, Beck, her face a stony mask, a small group of her supporters dressed in red behind her, echoed Danksy, rattling off a list of alarmist scenarios that she believed would be ushered in by the passage of the Equality Act:

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Cuba’s Government Bans Pride, Arrests Participants

Around this time 50 years ago I went full time, it was a week or two before Stonewall and I had been on hormones for about three months I was a left wing Berkeley hippie and all the elite left wing leaders were heading off to Cuba to cut sugar cane.

At the same time Cubans were fleeing their totalitarian nation in tiny boats and Castro was throwing LGBT people into prison camps where they were being abused in the name of curing them of the disease if being LGBT.

For me this was one of those WTF? contradictions.  Why am I part of a group that supports regimes that abuse my people and deny them the rights I am fighting for in this country.

From Gay City News:

Mariela Castro, long a supporter of annual event, charges activists’ gathering US-inspired “show”

BY Matt Tracy
May 13, 2019

Mariela Castro, former President Raúl Castro’s daughter, has long been an LGBTQ rights advocate, but in the wake of the government’s cancellation of Pride festivities scheduled for May 11, she charged that the effort by activists to move forward with the event anyway was simply a “show” orchestrated by Cuban exiles in Miami and the US government.

Cuba’s government banned a Pride celebration from taking place in Havana on May 11 and police arrested those who defied the order, marking the latest troubling sign of a regressive shift on LGBTQ issues in a nation that until recently had shown encouraging signs of acceptance of queer rights.

Hundreds of people marched while carrying Rainbow Flags and chanting, “Long live a diverse Cuba,” according to Reuters, before plainclothes police officers carried away some participants and directed others to leave because the event was not allowed. Activists moved ahead with the unpermitted event after the National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX) had canceled the 12th annual Pride event just days before.

The Cuban government aggressively sought to enforce the order by reaching out to would-be attendees on social media and in person to warn them not to hold such an event.

The legal landscape for LGBTQ people in Cuba appears to be positive in some areas. Transgender people have had free access to sex reassignment surgery for more than a decade and it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.

But a movement late last year to embed same-sex marriage rights in the new constitution was squashed by pressure from religious groups, particularly evangelical churches, and now the cancellation of Pride marks yet another shift to the right.

The event’s cancellation came as a surprise not only because it had gone on successfully for more than a decade but also because it was originally planned by but later nixed by CENESEX, a group led by Mariela Castro, the daughter of former President Raúl Castro, who remains first secretary of the Communist Party. She has developed a reputation for being an LGBTQ rights activist, and as recently as five months ago she pushed back against religious conservatives who pushed to reject marriage equality, saying, “We haven’t given in or will give in to the fundamentalist blackmail and backward thinking of people who politically oppose the project.”

But as LGBTQ activists continued planning for a Pride celebration after CENESEX’s cancellation, Castro took to social media to declare that the grassroots event was merely a “show” organized by Cuban exiles in Miami and “backed by officials of the US Embassy and covered by the foreign press.” An article that she attached to that Facebook post suggested that the Pride event was connected to US geopolitical interests in Venezuela.

Even as she criticized the May 11 gathering, Castro voiced support for LGBTQ rights through her Facebook and Twitter pages, urging people in a tweet the day before “to make these days against homophobia and transphobia a space for unity.”

The outlook for further progress on LGBTQ rights in Cuba is unclear given developments on both the nation’s new constitution and this month’s flap over Pride, but President Miguel Díaz-Canel, who took power last year, has publicly declared his support of “marriage between people without any restrictio­ns.”

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Paul Ehrlich: ‘Collapse of civilization is a near certainty within decades’

From The Guardian UK:

Fifty years after the publication of his controversial book The Population Bomb, biologist Paul Ehrlich warns overpopulation and overconsumption are driving us over the edge

Damian Carrington
Thu 22 Mar 2018

A shattering collapse of civilisation is a “near certainty” in the next few decades due to humanity’s continuing destruction of the natural world that sustains all life on Earth, according to biologist Prof Paul Ehrlich.

In May, it will be 50 years since the eminent biologist published his most famous and controversial book, The Population Bomb. But Ehrlich remains as outspoken as ever.

The world’s optimum population is less than two billion people – 5.6 billion fewer than on the planet today, he argues, and there is an increasing toxification of the entire planet by synthetic chemicals that may be more dangerous to people and wildlife than climate change.

Ehrlich also says an unprecedented redistribution of wealth is needed to end the over-consumption of resources, but “the rich who now run the global system – that hold the annual ‘world destroyer’ meetings in Davos – are unlikely to let it happen”.

The Population Bomb, written with his wife Anne Ehrlich in 1968, predicted “hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death” in the 1970s – a fate that was avoided by the green revolution in intensive agriculture.

Many details and timings of events were wrong, Paul Ehrlich acknowledges today, but he says the book was correct overall.

“Population growth, along with over-consumption per capita, is driving civilisation over the edge: billions of people are now hungry or micronutrient malnourished, and climate disruption is killing people.”

Ehrlich has been at Stanford University since 1959 and is also president of the Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere, which works “to reduce the threat of a shattering collapse of civilisation”.

“It is a near certainty in the next few decades, and the risk is increasing continually as long as perpetual growth of the human enterprise remains the goal of economic and political systems,” he says. “As I’ve said many times, ‘perpetual growth is the creed of the cancer cell’.”

It is the combination of high population and high consumption by the rich that is destroying the natural world, he says. Research published by Ehrlich and colleagues in 2017 concluded that this is driving a sixth mass extinction of biodiversity, upon which civilisation depends for clean air, water and food.

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Inside the school for transgender children – BBC News

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