The same people who supported gay rights 10 years ago are backing an anti-gay movement now

I am heterosexual, and back in the days when gay rights were the cool progressive struggle, I was in favor of them but it was never a primary cause or passion of mine. Given this, it might appear strange that a few years ago I suddenly (1) became very interested and outspoken not only about transactivism, but specifically also about the impact it was having on lesbians.

What I do have a long-standing interest in is the ways that change happens and the ways that it doesn’t. Power masquerading as opposition, or the status quo masquerading as change, is something that has been happening a lot–it even got Obama elected. The cooptation of social movements is a mechanism by which the status quo protects itself. How amazing and distressing, for anyone like me who wants to imagine that we can effectuate change, to see that the same people who were so passionate about championing gay rights a decade ago, who were so proud of their progressive credentials, have done a 180 on the gays because they were chasing those same progressive credentials.

Well, since I published my last post a few days ago where I mentioned the ease with which revolutionary movements get coopted, some interesting things have happened:

  • Matthew Parris, an apparently well-known and respected founder of Stonewall, published an article in The Times criticizing the direction that the organization had taken. 

  • The Mess We’re In had a field day with all of this, and they also had Maya Forstater on their show, so to learn more watch their episode EXTRA MESS #5: Stonefall.
  • In the US, 60 minutes aired a segment on detransitioners. I haven’t watched it, and there is criticism from some of the people interviewed (here, here and here) that the segment was to be more focused on their experiences, including on how detransitioners are treated by the trans movement, but nonetheless just showing something of these stories on a major news channel is a departure from the status quo.
  • Some good news from Spain while we’re at it: An attempt to introduce self ID in Spain’s Congress was defeated thanks to pushback by feminists.
  • In the UK again, the International Trade Secretary defended the free speech of a law student who is facing disciplinary action for saying that a woman is someone with a vagina.

In the discussion about Stonewall, several (including the article in the Daily Mail) have explained that after gay marriage was legalized, Stonewall found itself without a purpose and instead of saying “Mission Accomplished” and the staff going off somewhere else, they needed a new focus to keep their jobs and organization going. This touches upon something that I’ve been thinking about and brought up during STC’s most recent webinar (which was on the mechanisms of social change), and that needs to be highlighted more. My dad used to say about the UN “these people are just creating work for themselves!” and the primacy of funding and careers over stated goals became glaring in my experiences in the animal rights movement. This is what happens when social movements get supplanted and absorbed by the non-profit industrial complex.

In any case, these new developments are fantastic news. Despite the incredible amount of funding backing the trans movement (2), and despite liberals turning their backs on those they so proudly supported just a decade ago, a relatively small number of people (mostly women, and mostly lesbians, i.e. those with the least funding and social capital) are succeeding in pushing back and getting through to the public.

Ultimately, our opinions and focus are inordinately shaped by the wealthy (3) and I don’t think the war is won. In fact, just yesterday was more news of Twitter purging its platform of pro-gay voices (A Stonewall veteran is silenced by Twitter). But as much as Silicon Valley tech bros try to colonize the rest of the world, there is resistance and it is powerful. This is a genuine victory for the underdog, and the result of the work and real sacrifice of so many people, and I think we can savor the moment.

Learn more: What happened to Stonewall UK?

(1) It actually wasn’t all that sudden, as my sense that there was both a lack of logic and a good dose of sexism in the discourse of the trans/queer movement had been building up for years, but it wasn’t my focus and it wasn’t my milieu so for a long time I didn’t investigate further.

(2) Read about the money behind the trans movement:
The Open Society Foundations & The Transgender Movement
Who are the Rich, White Men Funding the Trans Movement
Arcus Foundation Grants
The Billionaires Behind the LGBT Movement
Who Are the Rich, White Men Institutionalizing Transgender Ideology (Yes, it’s in the Federalist. Leftists refuse to publish pieces from gender critical feminists so some choose to use what platform they can get.)

(3) From The Open Society Foundations and the Transgender Movement:

“To sum up, more than a hundred women are murdered each year in the United Kingdom at the hands of males, but no day has been set aside to commemorate their deaths. Transgender murders are exceedingly rare—eight in the past decade (Trans Crime UK 2017; Evening Standard 2018)—and yet they have an institutionalized day of remembrance. Even if we consider the homicide rate rather than the number of homicides, Nicola Williams demonstrates that transgender people are no more likely to become victims than are women (Fairplay for Women 2017).

The prominence of transgender victims, compared to the virtual invisibility of female victims, is partly explained by the amount of resources devoted to compiling evidence and promoting commemoration. Thus funding from large American charities like OSF—along with the Arcus and Tawani Foundations—shapes the political climate in Britain and around the world.”

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