Anti-trans activists known as trans-exclusionary radical feminists, or TERFs, spent 2019 complaining that media have “censored” and “silenced” them, but in reality, they were granted a large platform dozens of times throughout the year in right-wing media.
TERFs have historically opposed trans-inclusive measures and refused to accept the identities of trans folks. They identify as liberal or feminist, sometimes referring to themselves as “gender-critical” or “radical feminists,” and generally do not associate themselves with the term TERFs.
TERFs have asserted that media outlets refuse to feature them and and their transphobia. For example, on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight, Kara Dansky complained that they are “generally subjected to a media blackout” and that “many of us cannot get a voice on this issue in most media.” Dansky is a board member of the TERF organization Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF).
WoLF member Julia Beck had previously mirrored this sentiment on the same program, saying, “Women have been speaking out about this for decades, but we have been effectively silenced. Many women, like myself, have been pushed out of spaces that we built, spaces that are intended to include us, simply because we acknowledge biological reality.” Beck was removed from Baltimore’s LGBTQ Commission in 2018 after other members became aware of her anti-trans positions.
TERFs have similarly claimed to be unfairly silenced and banned from social media platforms for their anti-trans rhetoric, and right-wing media often propagate these narratives. For example, Meghan Murphy, who founded the TERF blog Feminist Current, is suing Twitter after she was banned from the platform for intentionally misgendering trans people. Deadnaming is the act of calling a transgender person by the name given to them at birth which they no longer use or identify with, and it is a violation of Twitter’s hateful conduct policy.
Right-wing media widely covered Murphy’s lawsuit after she posted a YouTube video about the ban, with pieces in Quillette, The Federalist, National Review, The Daily Wire, Townhall, Spectator, LifeSiteNews, the Washington Examiner, and The Daily Caller.
Fox News is a safe space for TERFs and elevates their anti-trans rhetoric to a large audience. In 2019, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson hosted TERFs at least four times to discuss trans people. He even offered Dansky an open invitation to his program, saying, “Boy, you’re always welcome on this show.”
Some notable appearances by TERFs on Carlson’s program in 2019 include the following:
Beck appeared on February 12 and pushed the thoroughly debunked myth that trans-inclusive policies will allow “predatory men … to gain access to women’s single-sex spaces” and threaten the safety of women.