Scratch a Transphobe: Pt 1

Opinion

2nd May 2023
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The anti-gender (also known as ‘TERF’ or ‘gender critical’) movement represents a multi-pronged assault on the lives of trans people. This is being done via street-level fascism and more legitimated forms such as via charity status organisations like the LGB Alliance influencing government policy. This has proved a successful strategy, as both major political party leaders, Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak have expressed transphobic views in line with anti-gender ideology.[1][2] This multi-pronged attack feeds straight back into the more mainstream, white nationalist, fascist movements, such as Patriotic Alternative, who have been focused recently on anti-refugee rhetoric and demonstrations. Once again, both major political parties seek to appease them and the Tory government is implementing an even more murderous border policy to “Stop The Boats”. This would, however, break international law such as the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR). This has led to a campaign to leave the ECHR which would reduce everyone’s human rights in the UK. 

I argue that the anti-gender and mainstream fascist movements are one and the same. The differentiation between so-called ‘TERFs’ and white nationalist fascists is effectively pointless and the muddying of the waters on this point has only served to help them spread their hatred. The anti-gender movement is simply a particular strategy or tactical wing, if you like, of the fascist movement. Over the past year or two, we have seen a marked increase in collaboration between the anti-gender movement and their fascist friends, particularly on a street level. This article aims to highlight the increasing unity between anti-trans and open fascist movements in Britain, with a Part 2 about how we can respond as anarchists and anti-fascists.

Prominent Anti-Trans Activists And Their Far-Right Friends
Let’s take a closer look at some of the personalities involved in anti-trans activism and how their work on the ground has recently been converging with other fascist groups and personalities. In 2020, Posie Parker (AKA Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull) founded the organisation ‘Standing for Women’ and since then has been organising demonstrations under the slogan, ‘Let Women Speak’. These events are punctuated by long, often rambling rants as well as the selling of Parker’s own ‘Adult Human Female’ T-shirts. There’s always a grift. Posie Parker has undoubtedly become one of the most prominent faces of the anti-gender movement as its chief organiser of street-level events. 

In October 2019, Parker appeared on far-right YouTuber Jean-François Gariépy’s channel. Gariépy has previously called for the creation of a white ethno-state. Some of his other guests include neo-Nazis Richard Spencer and Mark Collett, as well as former Ku Klux Klan (KKK) leader David Duke. Parker has also written for the far-right Spectator magazine, criticising a John Lewis advert featuring a young boy playing with makeup and high heels. She claims the advert is part of a ‘harmful agenda’. Parker also tweeted strongly Islamophobic, now deleted, tweets calling areas of Bradford an “awful place for women” especially around one school that was “99.9.% Pakistani Muslim” and that the term ‘Islamophobia’ itself was a “bullshit meaningless word to silence critics of Islam.” 

Appearing on the podcast ‘Feminist Current’ in 2019, she praised Tommy Robinson and repeated his Islamophobic conspiracy theory about Telford grooming gangs on her livestreams.[3] She has also taken selfies with Norwegian, Holocaust denying, neo-Nazi Hans Jørgen Lysglimt Johansen and appeared in another interview conducted by the far-right network ‘Soldiers of Christ Online’. Parker is also an ‘advisor’ to the Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF), in this case a literal wolf in sheep’s clothing, considering they have accepted funding from ‘Alliance Defending Freedom’, a group which organises campaigns against abortion and LGBT rights.[4] Not all in the anti-gender movement claim her as one of their champions, but you will find far more praise than criticism. We can see, then, that Parker places herself within the wider context of far-right activism globally and is perhaps one of the main drivers of the increasing convergence between mainstream, white nationalist fascists, and the anti-gender movement.

In 2021 and 2022, Trans Safety Network (TSN) were already highlighting this increasing convergence. Exploring the links between the two, they said, “This growing accord between the far-right and the gender critical movement over their anti-trans stances is a worrying trend that suggests both a mainstreaming of the far-right, using transphobia as a ticket into other spaces, as well as a radicalisation of people who would otherwise not praise open fascists.” In the following article, TSN offers an even more thorough breakdown on the convergence, which I will quickly go over. Prominent anti-trans journalist Julie Burchill had her book published by Stirling Press, which is owned by neo-Nazi Tabatha Stirling. In a leaked voice note, Stirling talks about the ‘JQ’, code for the ‘Jewish Question’. Burchill later cut ties. Stirling also claims allegiance to the anti-trans hate group LGB Alliance. Another link is between far-right arsonist Lee Harrison (jailed for setting fire to a flat housing a trans woman) and Posie Parker, with Harrison sharing content from Parker prior to the attack. On TikTok, a 16 year old boy started the #SuperStraight meme which was shared rapidly online and Posie Parker had a t-shirt with the phrase up on her website. Days later, Tommy Robinson was advertising the meme on his Telegram.

Jennifer Bilek has been a popular figure in the anti-gender movement for years and was previously a member of transphobic eco-fascist group ‘Deep Green Resistance’, which played a key role in the Hands Across the Aisle alliance between Radical Feminists and US Christian Conservatives in the form of previously mentioned WoLF. Research by Christa Peterson reveals Bilek’s antisemitic conspiracy theories, which involves “a secret plan by Jewish billionaires to use “transgenderism” as a plot to bring about a transhumanist immortality project and enslave humanity through technocapital.”

It goes further than just sharing memes though. TSN point out the material alliances formed, looking particularly at a submission to the UN by WoLF in collaboration with the Christian Right anti-LGBT organisation “United Families International”. Signatories include Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull, Graham Linehan, Harry Miller for “We Are Fair Cop”, and Heather Brunskell-Evans, “cofounder of the Women’s Human Rights Campaign, who’s submission to the GRA inquiry last year [2022] called for the elimination of “transgenderism” as a form of [classification] of women.” Next to them on the list are Evangelical Christian organisations the Heritage Foundation (tied to the Trump campaign), American College of Pediatricians (who produce pseudo-scientific studies claiming teaching children about LGBT issues is harmful), and Partners for Ethical Care (who were involved in a project mapping trans health clinics which has inspired targeted harassment and anti-trans protests outside these locations). Finally, TSN points to the Women’s Human Rights Campaign (WHRC) as a key point of convergence. WHRC leader Sheila Jeffery’s has called for closer collaboration between feminists and the right. In the US, Kara Dansky, a joint member of WHRC, WoLF, and DGR, is a regular guest on Fox News talk show ‘Tucker Carlson Tonight’.[5] All of this demonstrates the close ties between the anti-gender movement and other fascists. It also demonstrates that trans anarchists and anti-fascists have been raising the alarm about this for years at this point, with little uptake among leftists generally.

A Multi-Pronged Assault
The anti-gender movement styled itself to have the look of a legitimate protest movement, similar to actually progressive social movements. Part of this is the co-optation and appropriation of the Suffragette flag. They have also been spotted making their own ‘Legal Observer’ vests to look like the ones Green and Black Cross use.[6] These are not real Legal Observers and Green and Black Cross is a trans inclusive organisation. Despite being called ‘Let Women Speak’, when one cis woman dared to speak in favour of trans people at one of these events, she had the microphone taken away from her. At a recent event in London, (26th February 2023) one man, loudly exclaimed that he was indeed a Nazi.[7] At the same time, Posie Parker was on her livestream asking where the Nazis were.[8] 

Similarly, another Posie Parker rally saw the far-right turn out in force to support it. Holding a sign that said ‘Defy the Gaystapo’ was Max Dunbar and Joseph Finnie, both former BNP members with their colleague Alistair McConnachie, who was suspended from UKIP for Holocaust denial. Far-right groups in attendance included ‘UK: A Force For Good’, the ‘British Freedom Party’, the ‘National Housing Party’, the ‘Scottish Family Party’, ‘Alliance Defending Freedom’, and ‘Hearts of Oak’. There was also American far-right journalist Andy Ngo who has a history of filming and doxxing anti-fascists.[9] This is what anti-fascists are seeing on the ground right now and it represents a serious escalation in street-level fascism around trans existence.

Working in tandem with Posie Parker and street fascists (though never officially endorsing them) are organisations like the LGB Alliance and Women’s Place UK. These organisations are legitimised in a way that transphobes ranting about transhumanism at Speaker’s Corner aren’t, with the LGB Alliance being given charity status. The aim of organisations like this is primarily to influence government policy through their legitimated roles as ‘advisors’ and otherwise being groups the government can point to as part of the consultation process for legislation. This includes legislation around gender recognition reform, single-sex prisons, and trans healthcare, either working to strip away trans rights legislation or slow its implementation. Therefore, these groups can, to a certain extent, resist being called ‘fascist’ because of their legitimised status. But my argument is that these groups are just as fascist as Posie Parker, not just because they are run by anti-gender activists (who are fascists ideologically) but also because their goals align, forming a second point of attack. 

On 21st October 2021, we saw the first LGB Alliance Conference at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London. Attending the conference was Andy Ngo, showing that the explicit fascist links already existed by this point in time. TSN points out that LGB Alliance had connections to the US religious right from an early stage. Conservative activist Gary Powell bragged about having attended their first pre-launch meeting, “Gary Powell has a long track record writing for (American conservative anti-same-sex-parenting) Witherspoon Institute as well as part of a closely-connected bioethics group Center for Bioethics and Culture which was founded by Jennifer Lahl (an outspoken critic of same-sex marriage as supposedly being a threat to women).”[10] ‘LGB’ may be their name, but there’s a strong emphasis on the absent T. Meanwhile, LGB Alliance does precisely nothing to improve the lives of any LGB person and work with people actively campaigning against LGB rights. Their areas of interest in terms of campaigning include: opposition to relationship and sex education in schools, opposition to reforming the gender recognition act, calling for the withdrawal of the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act, targeting resources on sexual violence, and campaigning for the exclusion of trans people from anti-conversion therapy legislation.[10]

On a government level, the Conservative Party has embraced the anti-gender ideology within its ranks. The LGB Alliance attended the last Conservative conference and leadership hopefuls Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak both pandered to gender criticals and right-wingers on gender, hoping these ‘culture war’ issues would be a vote winner among their membership, as well as among the public going into the next election. On the other side of the aisle, the Labour Party are at best fence sitters and at worst fascist sympathisers. Labour MP Rosie Duffield is one of Parliament’s most outspoken transphobes. They can be found as well in the SNP (Joanna Cherry) and the Green Party (Shahrar Ali). Policy-wise, the bill that sought to make all forms of conversion therapy illegal was amended to exclude trans people, at the advice of groups like LGB Alliance. The state is the most capable of all the entities I’ve mentioned so far of doing material harm to trans people, as it does on a daily basis.

In conclusion, the anti-gender movement and the far-right are converging at pace, prominent anti-trans activists have been working alongside the far-right for years, and the state is taking advice from the LGB Alliance (which has its own links to the religious right) In Part Two, I will advocate for a militant anti-fascism to counter this threat, alongside community building and solidarity. ■

Citations

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6i17fFctlfM

[2] https://gcn.ie/rishi-sunak-trans-rights/

[3] https://transsafety.network/posts/far-right-converge/

[4] https://www.thenational.scot/news/23299549.posie-parker-anti-trans-founder-standing-women/

[5] https://transsafety.network/posts/gcs-and-the-right/

[6] https://twitter.com/WikiHowToLogout/status/1538483033564712961

[7] https://twitter.com/WasARiot/status/1631066024178057223

[8] https://twitter.com/WasARiot/status/1631644494528495618

[9] https://transsafety.network/posts/glasgow-far-right-standing-for-women/

[10] https://transsafety.network/posts/profiled-lgb-alliance/

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