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A Baseless Hit Piece on British Feminists in the New York Times

LGBT rights activist Sarah McBride speaks at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Penn., July 28, 2016. (Mike Segar)

Sophie Lewis, a writer who “theorizes gestation, reprotech, [and] family abolition” (according to her Twitter bio) wrote an op-ed for the New York Times about “How British Feminists Became Anti-Trans.” It features a number of confusing and misleading claims, some of which I have decided to translate.

Last week, two British women stormed onto Capitol Hill in Washington for the purposes of ambushing Sarah McBride, the national press secretary of the Human Rights Campaign.

Translation: Last week, two British women who were already on Capitol Hill in order to meet with politicians to discuss sex-based rights and protections for women stumbled across Sarah McBride, the national press secretary of the Human Rights Campaign.

Ms. McBride, a trans woman, had just been part of a meeting between the Parents for Transgender Equality National Council and members of Congress when the Britons — Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull, who goes by the name Posie Parker, and Julia Long — barged in.

Translation: McBride, a male who identifies as a woman, had just been part of a meeting between the Parents for Transgender Equality National Council and members of Congress – individuals who support contentious transition treatments and sex-change surgeries for gender-confused youth – when the Britons – Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull, who goes by the name Posie Parker, and Julia Long – entered by the door.

Heckling and misgendering Ms. McBride, the two inveighed against her supposed “hatred of lesbians” and accused her of championing “the rights of men to access women in women’s prison.”

Translation: Demanding answers and addressing McBride by sex-based pronouns (he/him), and appalled by McBride’s disengagement, the two inveighed against what they presumed to be “hatred of lesbians” and accused McBride of championing “the rights of men to access women in women’s prisons.” McBride said nothing (much like Jeff Flake when he was confronted in an elevator by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s new chum).

Ms. Parker, who live-streamed footage of the harassment on Facebook, contended that she had come to Washington because “this ideology” — by which she presumably meant simply being trans — “has been imported into the U.K. by America, so, to stem the flow of female erasure, we have to come to its source.”

Translation: Mrs. Keen-Minshull, who live-streamed footage of the incident on Facebook so that viewers could judge for themselves, told the Spectator (in a detailed report) that she had come to Washington because “this ideology” – by which she meant the unfalsifiable theory of “gender identity” now undermining sex-based legal protections – “has been imported into the U.K. by America, so, to stem the flow of female erasure, we have to come to its source.”

If the idea that transphobic harassment could be “feminist” bewilders you, you are not alone. In the United States, my adoptive home, the most visible contemporary opponents of transgender rights are right-wing evangelicals, who have little good to say about feminism. In Britain, where I used to live, the situation is different.

Hmm.

(1) If the idea that holding powerful male lobbyists accountable could be “feminist” bewilders you, you have probably spent too much time reading the New York Times.

(2) In the United States (also my adoptive home), outlets like the Times paint opponents of transgender ideology as religious nuts or associates of religious nuts. But the most voiceless opponents are parents who span the political spectrum and who couldn’t care less about petty partisanship on this issue.

Ms. Lewis does care about partisanship, clearly, since she ends by saying that Keen-Minshull had “made sure to drop by” the Heritage Foundation (a conservative think-tank). Aha! J’accuse! 

Except, of course, that the event Keen-Minshull attended was called, “The Inequality of the Equality Act: Concerns from the Left” and featured an all left-liberal panel… And that it was a “lifelong Democrat”, and progressive mom, who organized the event and said she finds it “ironic that only conservative news outlets have reported my story without bias or censorship.”

Then again, perhaps Ms. Lewis got her information from NBC News who obscured this information in their report which quoted Olivia Dalton, a Human Rights Campaign spokesperson, saying that “anti-transgender extremists” had been “brought to the United States at the behest of the Heritage Foundation.” After complaints about the inaccuracy of this quotation, NBC  has since added a clarifying statement from the Heritage Foundation, though no notice of amendment has been issued.

(3) In Britain — where I also used to live — thank goodness it’s different.

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