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Declaration of no confidence in LGB movement leadership WOLF

The Lesbian Rights Alliance joins WOLF (Women’s Liberation Front) in condeming the current state of operation of the gay liberation movement

To: The political, civil society, foundation funding, and media leadership of the former gay liberation movement for same-sex attracted persons, sometimes now called the LGBTQ or the LGBTQIAPK movement, among other acronyms, and including, but not limited to:

The Human Rights Campaign; Grantees of the LGBTI Global Development Partnership at USAID; Sida; Arcus Foundation; Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice; Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute; Williams Institute; Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Rights (RFSL); Transgender Europe (TGEU); Stonewall UK; Pink News; The Advocate; DIVA Magazine; ThinkProgress; Stonewall Equality Limited, UK; Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund; GLAD Legal Advocates & Defenders; National LGBTQ Task Force; Equality Maine; Mass Equality; Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce; National Center for Lesbian Rights; Elton John AIDS Foundation; TIDES Foundation; Tawani Foundation; Open Society Foundation; Ford Foundation; Human Rights Watch; Amnesty International; Southern Poverty Law Center; American Civil Liberties Union; The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA); and the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, hereinafter referred to in whole or in part as “movement leaders.”

Regarding: Your political malpractice, attacks on the rights of women and girls, endangerment of at-risk youth, endorsement of commercial sexual exploitation, attacks on public decency and privacy rights, misrepresentation of medical and biological science, and efforts to secure extraordinary privileges for predatory individuals at the risk of the reputation of every person you claim to speak for;

Petitioners request: That you cease the following behavior, apologize to your natural constituencies, and make restitution for damages to the rights of others and the reputation of your purported communities, or resign your claims to speak on behalf of the rights of same-sex attracted women, or any other women and girls, in light of the following:

Misuse of science – Sex is determined by objective, physical criteria, not mental states. Mammals can’t change sex. Some doctors and scientists, may go along with changing social or legal markers out of an attempt to be polite or ease suffering, to save their careers from the online mob, or to attract a new market in patients: but they’re never going to submit a peer-reviewed paper documenting a case in which a human being changes from male to female Nor will they submit a paper worrying over the pronouns of cows, or classifying any animal research subjects by sex on any basis other than the type of gamete they’d produce if they were healthy and reproductively active. Stop encouraging the idea that sex is a “social construct.” Stop claiming that the fact that sex exists is “white colonialism,” as though colonial-era Europeans were the only people who ever figured out how babies are made, and no one else knew until they showed up. This is nonsense on par with claiming that the Earth is flat and it makes everyone who repeats it sound ridiculous.

Misuse of suicide statistics – In addition to basing claims of high suicide rates mainly on poorly designed surveys, movement leaders advance the idea that suicide risk is both a reason to immediately give in to their demands, and to immediately admit that the undefinable category of “transgender people” are the most oppressed of all. Suicide rates are related to a mix of cultural and socioeconomic factors, and prevention experts warn strongly against the counterfactual and simplistic attribution of self harm to any single cause. Not only that, but extensive data gathered over decades demonstrates that the phenomenon is not straightforwardly tied to oppression. If oppression were judged by that standard, white men would be the second most oppressed people in the US, after only Native American men, having a suicide rate more than twice as high as Hispanic, black, or Asian men, or women of any ethnic background. We implore you as a movement to invest some time becoming familiar with the guidelines issue by the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention for developing responsible messaging about suicide, and learning to avoid the very real threat of spreading suicide contagion. As to coercive suicide threats — which movement leadership seems to have trained people to issue on behalf of themselves or others, often related to medical transition and compelled speech demands — many abused women remember this type of abuse for what it is: a tool of coercive control that will soon wear out its welcome as more people come to that realization.

Cosmetic sterilization of healthy children – In the US, healthy 13-year-old girls are getting mastectomies, 14-year-old girls are getting deliberately thrown into menopause by their doctors, and 16-year-old boys are being chemically or surgically castrated. Many of these children will also face a lifetime of sexual immaturity, without the likelihood of ever experiencing mature desire or its satisfaction. For girls, in particular, this is being done without significant attention to the potential risks to cardiovascular health and life expectancy already known to be posed by ovarian failure before the age of 40. Survey data and past studies on gender dysphoria indicate that most of these children would otherwise have grown up to be same-sex attracted, and many more than expected are on the autism spectrum. Everywhere that early puberty blockers are being followed immediately by cross-sex hormones, children are being chemically sterilized, when the majority of them would have become comfortable with their bodies through the course of a natural puberty, and because of the mechanisms of puberty. Targeting LGB and autistic children for sterilization, and encouraging it as a way for these often marginalized or abused children to feel “normal,” is a eugenic crime against humanity. The world deserves better from all of you.

Anti-lesbian harassment – Telling young lesbians that a rejection of sex with male people is “transphobic” is an appalling example of homophobia, which has become endemic to the so-called LGBT community. Young women and girls first coming to understand their exclusive same-sex attraction go to the “queer” community for acceptance, and too often get told that they’re “vagina fetishists,” “violently exclusionary,” or that they are probably straight men “trapped in the wrong body.” What’s more, few if any gay men are subject to this kind of homophobic abuse, though even that appears to be on the rise. This is grooming and conversion therapy. Movement leaders must speak out against this now-common practice or they shouldn’t pretend to care about lesbians.

Lesbian & gay erasure – Calling heterosexual men who enjoy dressing “as women” lesbians, or calling heterosexual women who’ve undergone extensive body modification gay men, is an erasure of the unique experience of being exclusively same-sex attracted. Stop calling straight people lesbians, or gay. Particularly, stop encouraging heterosexual men to represent themselves as lesbians, or be promoted by your organizations and grantees as if they were lesbians and entitled to speak for women on that basis; this is homophobic and insulting to all women.

Transing the dead and historical revision – Stop erasing historical gender non-conforming LGB people, some of which assumed names and identities that allowed them freedom of action in societies with strict gender roles for the sexes. Saying this means that they were really transgender and the opposite sex eliminates numerous role models for same-sex attracted young people and adults, and writes out the historical contributions of LGB people. Stop erasing the Nazi regime’s homicidal rampages against gay men — particularly their attack on the gay, Jewish scientist Magnus Hirschfield — with claims that their main targets were the group of men known at the time as transvestites, when drag was not forbidden even to Nazi officers. Stop stealing the history of gay men, like Marsha P. Johnson, who described themselves in their own words as gay men who were drag performers, or hiding the bravery of butch lesbians like Stormé DeLarverie. For women, this revisionism often means telling girls and women that the very few female historical figures who were allowed to take leading roles in their eras or whose stories have been passed down were really men. From taking Stonewall and gay liberation away from the lesbians and gay men who liberated themselves, to taking heroes like Joan of Arc and Pauli Murray away from women, stop this Mary Sue-style rewriting of history to claim that “trans” people did everything of note otherwise credited to women and same-sex attracted persons.

Seeking and securing extraordinary privileges for terrible men, while endangering incarcerated women – You are seeking a world in which every incarcerated woman also has to worry about having to share a cell with violent men like Michelle Kosilek, Synthia China Blast, Dana Rivers, Christopher Hambrook, Karen White, Christyl Knight, Sean Pudwell, or Ian Huntley. People like Chad Sevearance Turner have been welcomed into the leadership of organizations that push to destroy women’s rights and bodily privacy. The utter disregard of the gender identity movement for women’s safety from male violence could hardly be more evident than in the extreme efforts you have made to ensure that no one was allowed to publicly discuss how your proposed policies affect the rights, safety, and feelings of incarcerated women, a demographic characterized by high rates of poverty and previous abuse. The housing of male wife-murderers, rapists, and child molesters in women’s prisons is an inevitable result of ending the legal distinction between male and female persons. The use of extremely lenient policies on hiding past identities based on gender identity claims has already allowed predators like Allison Woolbert and Johanna Wolf to reinvent themselves as human rights campaigners. The public is naturally disturbed by such revelations, and they reflect badly not only on your leadership and judgement, but on the vulnerable people you claim to represent. It’s additionally odious that you support these violent men while claiming to represent bisexual women, the most likely demographic by orientation to have been subject to the kinds of family or intimate partner violence these men engage in.

Trauma and emergency shelter – Gender identity activists have long known that women in domestic violence and rape crisis shelters are traumatized by men, and that many women in homeless shelters are there because they are fleeing domestic violence. Nonetheless, movement leadership have encouraged policy makers, such as they did with the Obama administration, to tell traumatized women to get over their fears on demand, so that men who want to room with them don’t have to suffer being “misgendered.” Gender identity activists have long known that women, no matter how they identify, are not safe from sexual assault in men’s shelters or accommodations, but do not present this as a real safety concern to the growing ranks of young women looking for an out from a lifetime of being treated like women. While we sympathize with these young women, on the basis of knowing that being an adult woman is no picnic, we would ask them to take a good look at the gender identity movement that has failed to warn them about the risks of their getting “clocked” in male spaces, failed to warn them about predatory men like Cherno Biko, and failed to warn them about phalloplasty providers with multiple, serious malpractice suits out against them for grievously injuring women’s bodies. The women, the “trans men,” in your movement do most of the intellectual and organizational heavy lifting behind the scenes, and occasionally make the news for having a baby. The men, the “trans women,” get all the media attention and high profile jobs, and generally get to speak for everyone. This classically sexist pattern of publicity and work promoted by movement leadership springs from the same mindset that has decided that the civil rights cause of our day is to “desegregate” emergency shelters for deeply traumatized women. We ask all movement leadership and supporters to act first from compassion for women, and to stop this assault on the rights and privacy of our sisters in need of emergency shelter.

Ending other single-sex accommodations for women and girls – Recent reports of sexual harassment and assault rates in unisex changing rooms in the UK, bathroom spycam porn in South Korea, sexual assaults in communal toilet blocks in refugee camps, and girls’ school completion rates in primary schools across the developing world all point to one, inescapable conclusion: women and girls are safer and better able to participate in public life when we have access to single-sex public accommodations for toileting and changing. Women and girls dealing with menstruation, breastfeeding, or miscarriages, don’t ‘just need to pee,’ either. We need privacy from men and boys who routinely shame us over these common bodily functions. We need privacy to wash our hands or clothes. The advice given by development agencies to poorer nations looking to increase girls’ literacy rates and school completion, or reduce sexual assault rates in areas lacking toilet facilities, is to provide safe sex-segregated toilet facilities. But this advice is turned on its head by gender activists who seem to think that men in majority-white countries like the US, UK, and Canada, do not pose any kind of harassment risk to women, and so don’t need to be kept away from areas where we might be undressing. This seems racist, and is demonstrably false. Women had to fight long and hard to win any provision for public accommodations, and the reasons why we needed them in the first place have not changed in the slightest. Movement leadership seeks to end these necessary protections and accommodations on behalf of anyone who claims a right of entry — not people with the specific medical condition of gender dysphoria, not people who are classically transsexual — and has rejected all suggestions of creating neutral third spaces, and has hamfistedly shut down every possible discussion about the obvious problems that giving these expanded privileges to all men pose for the safety of women and girls. We object.

Sexist demonization of women for ordinary political activity – Movement leadership generally has no complaints about, or problems working with, anti-abortion Republican officeholders in the US, the Log Cabin Republicans, the UK Conservative Party, or members of the Canadian Conservative Party, to attain goals they’ve deemed necessary. Movement leadership has at times praised the gender identity policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran, where gay men can choose between either execution or “sex-reassignment” surgery. Movement leadership has at times praised the gender identity policies of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, a country whose restrictions on women’s rights are extreme, and where the non-state torture and murder of women by their families is epidemic. Conversely, when the feminist and gender identity-critical women whom you have no-platformed from the left seek any conversation or understanding with people outside the confines of the left, or mainstream liberal politics, we are at best demonized as hypocrites for not demanding allies who share our values on every feminist issue, and at worst slandered as Nazis, fascists, or white supremacists, all for talking with the very same sorts of people as movement leadership regularly lobbies and tries to win over. Movement leadership has organized boycotts of entire US states for opposing them on ending single-sex accommodations for women, while never having coordinated half so much fire and fury over the abortion policies you say should be deal-breakers for us, nor for our access to birth control medication, nor for the lax investigation or prosecution of male violence against women, nor for the excessive prosecution of women’s acts of self-defense, nor for incarcerated women being shackled in childbirth, nor for the involuntary sterilization of racially marginalized women, nor for pay disparities by sex, nor for the closure of women’s reproductive health clinics. You do not likewise demonize people you otherwise agree with for working across the aisle to attain necessary goals or useful compromises, whereas it is clear that your fevered accusations are a hypocritical attempt to politically unperson us and disappear our concerns. Movement leadership stands in front of the doors you have closed to us, in front of the mainstream women’s movement that you hold hostage, braying like a jilted boyfriend that if you can’t have us, no one will. Listen up: feminism is not your girlfriend, or the property of any man. Also, do not treat any women as if you are entitled to our support. To our sisters who bravely continue putting up with the left’s petulant man-baby contingent on behalf of all the other good you are trying to do, please insist that your interests get as much cooperation as the demands of men in drag to be allowed to strip in front of you or win women’s cycling matches. If you are really going to keep putting up with this nonsense, at least demand equivalent compensation.

Supporting the sex trade – While small numbers of relatively privileged individuals claim to enjoy selling sex to people they would not otherwise speak to, the vast majority of people in the trade, mostly women and girls, feel trapped, or have been directly coerced, and would leave if they could. Sometimes your organizations describe being prostituted as if it were a sexual orientation, or as if this ‘orientation’ spontaneously emerged coincidentally at a time of economic duress. Some movement leaders have fought laws that penalize the pimps and sex buyers who exploit and rape trafficked persons; some have fought laws that penalize website hosts that knowingly aid the sexual trafficking of minors. Movement leaders have presented this as part of the culture of the LGBT community, as if being desperate, excluded from the regular economy, or sexually exploited, were somehow innate to any of us. This cynical abdication of the urgency of fighting against sexual exploitation, and the marginalization that often leads to it, is defamatory of, if not dangerous to, the people you claim to be fighting for. Especially stop using the rhetorical shield of the underaged homeless to justify the sex trade; such children absolutely do not need violent men to penetrate them for cash, or to be encouraged in a pattern of hypersexuality in response to trauma, they need the adults around them to act decently.

Calling women and girls degrading, dehumanizing names – Stop calling us menstruators, bleeders, breeders, cervix havers, egg producers, uterus bearers, pregnant people, people with vaginas, non-prostate owners, non-men, vulva owners, front-hole havers, chestfeeders, or any other term that submerges our humanity into an anatomy lesson, for the sadistic purpose of telling us that our anatomy doesn’t matter to you. We are not “cis,” or “cisgender,” suggesting that we picked, or were allowed to pick, being female or being expected to conform to feminine sex stereotypes. We are women and girls, which are the proper terms for human females.

Appropriating intersex language – Stop stealing from intersex discourse to call all women and girls AFAB, assigned female at birth, unless you’re using an intersex person’s terms for herself, or vice versa with using AMAB. You can’t identify into or out of having an intersex diagnosis, whereas only 0.02% of the population has a condition that makes it medically difficult to determine their sex, and it’s insulting to suggest otherwise. There is also no such thing as having an intersex condition of the mind. Mental traits or predispositions are not passed to children solely and automatically from mother to daughter, or from father to son, and sex is nowhere determined on the basis of such elusive mental traits.

Prioritizing untreated psychological distress over physical health – In the UK, trans-identified males now get called in for smear tests of cervixes they don’t have, while trans-identified females don’t get reminded about these tests in spite of the heightened risk they face for reproductive health anomalies due to testosterone treatment. Trans-identified individuals are encouraged to feel discriminated against by health providers who correctly identify their sex, and to regard any treatment for co-morbid mental health issues as conversion therapy, or to believe that transition will solve even problems caused by developmental disorders, whereas there are numerous health needs that differ by sex. Because researchers have barely begun consistently including women in drug trials, the most common cause of drug recalls is previously unidentified side effects in women, and many conditions that only or primarily affect women have barely been studied. It can be dangerous for men to get blood transfusions from women who have ever been pregnant. Men and women react differently, overall, to medications ranging from pain relievers to anesthesia. Men and women have different risk profiles for autoimmune disorders. Men and women often have different heart attack symptoms. Encouraging patients and providers to act as if sex should be irrelevant to medical care puts people’s lives at risk, and discourages honest, medically accurate conversations about the health of the reproductive system, in particular. Without regard for the health of any person who may be rendered unconscious — far from anyone who knows them, or perhaps severely injured — you encourage people to change all their legal and medical sex markers, even to lobby to insist on this for soldiers in war zones, for the elderly, or for the chronically ill, whereas it may be a matter of life or death someday that emergency medical staff be able to correctly know the sex of a stranger in their care with ease.

In conclusion, while claiming to fight sexism, you work to forbid the law to see sex. This will not work to end discrimination against women. While claiming to fight homophobia, you promote the neutering of many youth whom you know are likely to grow up to be happily same-sex attracted, and abet the abuse of lesbians and gay men over exclusive same-sex attraction. This will not end discrimination against LGB people. While claiming to fight transphobia, you demand that trans identities be turned into secrets, and allowed to be used as an escape hatch from ordinary background disclosures. This will not end the irrational fear of people who aren’t happy performing the stereotyped roles and social presentations associated with their sex.

Do better, please. If not, please stop claiming to work for the liberation of same-sex attracted women in particular, or any other women, in general.

In frustration,

Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF)

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