Trans-exclusionary radical feminists (or TERFs) have in recent years partnered with right-wing groups in the United States in an effort to rollback and restrict the rights of trans people, and in particular trans women. And if an interview with a prominent British TERF and a well-known white nationalist is any indication, some are now also attempting to build alliances and find a sympathetic audience for their bigotry among white nationalists. This isn’t new or particularly surprising, but it’s disgusting all the same.
Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull (better known as her pseudonym Posie Parker), who is known in the United Kingdom for her strident anti-trans activism as well as in the United States for harassing the trans rights advocate Sarah McBride, recently appeared on the YouTube channel of French-Canadian far-right nationalist Jean-François Gariépy. Gariépy, for his part, believes in the need for a “white ethno-state” and regularly features the noxious Richard Spencer on his show. And while the two, during the 80-minute interview, debated and disagreed about women’s role in the family and gender disparities in the criminal justice system, their anti-trans bigotry united them.
“There is a war against sexual signifiers and it shows itself in the publicities around transsexualism,” Gariépy said at one point. “So what you stand for, if I understand it correctly, is simply a definition of woman in which you say being a woman is not an experience that you can make up in a sex-change surgery. It is an experience that you get as a woman, as a biological woman, and there is nothing to replace this fact.”
Parker agreed: “Well, yeah. We’re all what we’re born into. Our bodies are the bodies we have, and that’s what makes us male and female.”
On the British parenting website Mumsnet, which has become a toxic breeding ground for transphobia, many women praised Parker for appearing on Gariépy’s show. One commenter thanked her for “bringing the truth about genderism to a wider audience.” The approval often noted how hateful Gariépy’s ideologies are before setting that concern aside and agreeing that it’s good to spread the word on anti-trans bigotry however they can: “She’s bloody brilliant, and I’m glad she’s talking to anyone who will listen. The comments in the vid are often MRA or anti-Semitic. It’s a tough call, but I agree with her policy of getting the message out,” one Mumsnet poster wrote.
“This guy I don’t like at all, but if a few women watch his channel and see what Posie has to say then that may prompt them to get involved. This is such a massive issue that I’m glad there are some GC women who’ll talk to pretty much anyone,” another wrote, referring to the term “gender critical,” which is the term many TERFs prefer to use to describe their anti-trans ideology. One commenter added, “If there’s anyone who can confidently debate with anti-feminist right wingers it’s Posie. It’s a really brave and interesting way to go.” (There were also some dissenting opinions: “If you’re going on alt-right shows, hoping to get a sympathetic hearing, then you might want to rethink your strategy. I think Posie hurts the cause here,” one poster wrote.)
It’s not particularly surprising that Parker here is attempting to find common cause with white nationalists, who have long espoused violently anti-LGBTQ views. As the Southern Poverty Law Center reported earlier this year, white nationalist groups in the United States are “ramping up their efforts to demonize the transgender community, going as far as calling for the deaths of trans people.”
And as reporter Katelyn Burns noted in Vox, there is a sort of twisted logic in TERFs uniting with far-right white nationalist men. “Defending the purity of white womanhood has always been a significant axis of common bigotries, and gender-critical feminism operates in the same fashion,” Burns wrote, pointing to the similarities between TERFs who raise the specter of men committing sexual assault in women’s bathrooms to men’s rights activists who believe women are using rape accusations as a weapon. In their tactics and in their rhetoric, it’s clear they’re not so different after all.
Update (10/17/19, 11:14 a.m.): Parker, who was very upset that Jezebel did not reach out to her for comment on her affinity for white nationalists, sent in a lengthy statement, which reads in part:
Gariépy’s assistant approached me to go on his show, I gave a cursory glance at some of his video titles, like “hypermodernity” and “the physics of biology”, and saw he was someone that discussed politics such as leaving the left. Nothing at the time stood out as anything unusual or problematic. Then once I’d seen that Lindsay Shephard, someone I admire, had been a guest I decided to accept. I make it my business to avoid researching or policing the entire spectrum of someone’s views, I think the mutilation of healthy children’s bodies is too important and distractions are unhelpful, and so it’s not usual for me to do an FBI style background check. I am, of course, concerned at the accusations I have heard since recording the show. The misogyny was not something that surprised me, it is very much at home in both the left and the right of politics, whether it be the enforcement of traditional roles and perpetual pregnancy through to pretending we don’t know what a woman is and that prostitution is empowering.
White supremacy and the racism that fuels it has no place in a civilised society, I abhor those views and the people that hold them. As a free speech advocate I think dialogue, even with those with the most odious prejudices, is essential. How are we ever to change or challenge them if we don’t engage? Had I known that this individual held white supremacy in such esteem I would have challenged him directly or chosen not to appear. These days so many people are called Nazis and far right that the prophetic warning that we will no longer recognise the real ones is beginning to come true.