The far-right Heritage Foundation is aligning itself with a certain type of feminist — those who oppose transgender rights, often called trans-exclusionary radical feminists, or TERFs.
The foundation hosted a panel Monday in Washington, D.C., that featured three members of a group called the Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF), which is known for anti-transgender views, and a university lecturer who formerly identified as trans, NBC News reports.
The title of the panel was “The Inequality of the Equality Act: Concerns From the Left,” ostensibly focusing on the legislation pending in Congress that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. But the panelists highlighted their opposition to transgender rights above everything else, NBC notes.
Jennifer Chavez, representing WoLF, “read from a letter that described increased transgender visibility and acceptance as ‘a social contagion all over the internet,’” according to NBC. Hacsi Horvath, an adjunct lecturer at the University of California, San Francisco, who once identified as trans, called the movement for trans rights “the new eating disorder.”
Ryan Anderson, a senior research fellow at the foundation and anti-trans author, moderated the panel. “If gender identity becomes a protected class in federal civil rights law, there will be serious negative consequences,” he said in introducing the panel. He also said there is “an epidemic” of people identifying as transgender.
Some progressives criticized the alliance between TERFs and right-wingers as an unholy one. “They are capitalizing on a scarcity mind-set rhetoric … saying there aren’t enough rights to go around, and therefore we must prioritize cis women over everyone else,” Heron Greenesmith, a researcher at the liberal think tank Political Research Associates, told NBC. “That’s right out of the right’s playbook, when they say, ‘Let’s prioritize citizens over noncitizens, let’s prioritize white people over people of color.’”
But WoLF, which has worked with other anti-LGBTQ groups such as Focus on the Family, defended its participation in the Heritage event. “Due to the increasing push from the lobbyists, government officials, and the medical establishment to institutionalize the medicating and surgical mutilation of gender non-conforming children and youth, of whom a majority may well be gay and lesbian children, WoLF's position is that we cannot afford to ignore those who are concerned about gender ideology, regardless of how vastly we disagree on other political issues,” the group said in a Facebook post. “WoLF will not shy away from discussing the social contagion of gender ideology with people and organizations whose policies we otherwise do not support. Our foremost concern is the safety and bodily integrity of the women and children whose lives would be placed at risk or ruined if gender identity legally replaces sex under law.”
Video of the panel discussion is below.