Posie Parker in the House

A report back to members, from Capitol Hill

I wasn’t sure what we were getting into when we heard a few weeks ago that Posie Parker and Venice Allan and Julia Long wanted to come to the US to protest Twitter for acting like misogynist jerks. At the least, it sounded like it would be interesting. We offered to help put them in touch with decision makers here, so that people in the US could hear how bad it is living in a country with no First Amendment protections and self-identification of sex treated like a civil right.

On the last three days of their visit, these women spent hours lobbying on the Hill – going from office to office with myself or fellow WoLF board member, Kara Dansky, attending briefings, and presenting feminist arguments against ‘gender identity’ ideology to any Democrats or Republicans who would listen.

Earlier in the process of planning our activities, I’d thought they might be tired the last day of their trip, and suggested that we could go to a Smithsonian museum or something similar if they wanted to build in some rest. No, they wanted to work that day, talk to anyone who would meet with them. Posie said that she felt she had a duty to make every day of the trip count on behalf of the people who had supported her coming. I therefore set up a full day of meetings Wednesday with House and Senate offices who were willing to speak to us. Venice went around to canvass offices where we didn’t have appointments, while Posie and Julia came with us to every meeting.

A note about Venice’s canvassing, she left a sticker bearing the definition of the word “woman” on it among the Post-It notes outside of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s office. Charlotte Clymer, a communications staffer for the Human Rights Campaign and notorious “creepy male feminist,” came along later and covered the woman sticker with another that read, “Nail It.” Nail it. I’ll leave the contextual analysis to the reader.

It is difficult and tiring to tell your story to half a dozen strangers a day — even when they are warm and hospitable, which they all were — and not everyone is willing or able to do this, for a variety of reasons. They didn’t complain once, they were wonderful company. We were listened to for roughly half an hour to 45 minutes every time, incredible generosity from busy people, in no small part because Posie and Julia are captivating speakers who connect with the people they’re talking to.

Outside the office of our first meeting for the morning was a large group of people with a film crew, and people being interviewed in turn. We realized when we got close that it was a delegation from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC,) at whose offices we’d been protesting this past Saturday. (The president of HRC makes close to half a million dollars a year in salary to ostensibly represent women like myself, and I can’t say I’m impressed.) I recognized Sarah McBride in the group, the National Press Secretary at HRC, from their speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

McBride has a very moving life story, and has suffered terrible losses. This is inarguable, and we are sorry for those tragedies. We would be for any person.

McBride is also a public political figure, who was there that morning representing HRC in an official capacity at the Cannon House Office Building, encouraging Congress to support the sterilization of minor children in the guise of a human rights agenda of “acceptance” and “inclusion.” McBride was there that morning to argue that girls in school have no right to bodily privacy when changing for gym class or when first managing menstruation in what should be girls-only bathrooms. McBride was there to argue for an end to girls’ sports, because they want boys to be able to join the girls’ sports teams. McBride was there to overturn decades of women’s rights advocacy, at the head of a movement that has brutally silenced women who dissent.

McBride came to Cannon HOB as a public representative of an organization that claims to represent the human rights of all lesbian and bisexual women, including myself and Julia Long. Yet when Posie and Julia decided to see if McBride would answer their questions, this salaried advocate for the LGBTQ could not even turn around to make a single expression of sympathy to a lesbian woman who clearly felt hurt and betrayed by HRC’s policies, not even to issue a fig leaf of sorry-you-feel-that-way concern. If McBride was truly in too fragile a state to be questioned in public by quite small women then maybe they’re in the wrong line of work

I’m not sure I could have done what Julia and Posie did. But when they rushed over, I thought about the 19-year-old woman who stood behind me on Sunday at the library, where we’d earlier heard from Lierre Keith, Meghan Murphy, Kara Dansky, and Brie Jontry. This young woman came to tell a room full of strangers that she had started transition about five years ago, had been on testosterone and already had a double mastectomy, only to realize that she was a lesbian, and a woman, and to wish someone had told her when she was younger that that was okay.

I thought about that room full of parents who arranged the Heritage meeting, their utter despair and loneliness, their gratitude that anyone would speak for them when they couldn’t be public. I thought about the lesbian mothers heartbroken for their daughter and crying at how isolated they now felt in their church and their liberal community. I thought about the way, in the days after, a couple of these parents had reached out to those of the rest of us who showed up to their Heritage meeting to apologize to us for all the criticism we were getting and ask how we were doing.

The parents asked how *we* were doing. They apologized to *us* for the trouble.

(If any of them read this, they should know that every woman of us who showed up that day counts it as an honor to have helped your stories get a hearing. We are honored that you trusted us to reach out to, when so many have turned their backs.)

And again, there was Sarah McBride, in the Cannon HOB, with a group of proudly happy, very public, gender identity advocates, smiling broadly into the camera for their interviews. Taking up the hall like they had the run of the place, to where you could barely get by.

If anyone wants to express empathy in this situation, I suggest that the people at the top of the list for such concern should be the worried, anonymous parents we met, the ones who couldn’t be in that Cannon HOB hallway or have their pictures tweeted out by friendly representatives, and that 19-year-old lesbian who’s already had a cosmetic double mastectomy and regrets it. If your priorities are otherwise, we aren’t going to see eye to eye about how this went down.

People are saying that McBride was “harassed” at work. If that is what the left is going to call it when visitors to government buildings ask questions of powerful public figures, while they’re walking the halls of Congress and talking to our elected representatives, then they need to have a word with themselves about many of their own allies’ protests and demonstrations in the House and Senate office buildings, and elsewhere.

Mere weeks ago, we were all arguing about whether it was a good idea for environmental activists to protest Nancy Pelosi in her very own office. I think the general sentiment on that, on the left, was that it’s the people’s house and they have the right to be heard by decision makers, even if it wasn’t universally acclaimed as a great plan. There have also been many debates about chasing Republicans out of restaurants when they weren’t even on the job, and I think the collective verdict was a shrug. I am sure someone will rush to correct me if I’ve got all that wrong.

To clarify for a friend: It’s okay with the left to kick Sarah Huckabee Sanders out of a restaurant on her personal time, but not okay to ask Sarah McBride a handful of questions that pertain to their job and the laws that they are currently lobbying for, during working hours, in a House office building, and then walk away to go about one’s own business? Have I got that right?

Also, Sarah McBride, who is paid to represent the interests of lesbians in politics, couldn’t formulate the simplest response to under two minutes of questions about the rights of lesbians and women in general? In our declaration of no confidence in the leadership of the modern LGB rights movement, we alluded to their political malpractice, and to that I would now add their complete incompetence at their official jobs.

How is a representative of HRC getting sympathy for being unable to speak to lesbian rights, or to protections for same-sex attracted and stereotype nonconforming girls? If personnel is policy, McBride is a fitting representative of an organization whose total contempt for women is by now an intrinsic part of their culture.

Given that HRC wrote me asking for money yesterday, my mildest possible response to that is to assume that they couldn’t do the job if I thought that they did represent my views. Why bother including any letter besides the T in their advocacy?

I don’t believe that any adult human female would be given a job like McBride’s as a participation trophy for showing up neatly dressed in public, and talking about how sad we were, without even being able to carry out the expected functions of one’s employment.

Hardly anyone cares when women are sad unless they think they can mock us for it, either. As feminists have explained repeatedly. But hardly anyone listens, because people tend not to listen to women.

Maybe I’m wrong though. Perhaps some of the same people who are sympathetic to McBride’s harrowing experience of being questioned by two five-foot women for two minutes would like to express some sympathy for their fellow travelers having bullied me out of a job in 2015, or to any of the other women bullied at work, bullied in school, punched by trans-identified people for thoughtcrimes, or fired for similar reasons? Perhaps they are feeling differently about all the women who’ve been targeted for death and rape threats over opposing the agenda McBride is promoting for HRC? I will obviously talk to almost anyone at this point, so I would accept that support, but I’m not holding my breath.

Because the left seems to entirely forget about the harassment and abuse of women the instant you say the word “gender” and can imply that there are some men whose concerns they could be interested in, instead. I don’t know why there are any women, anywhere, who still have the patience to tolerate this nonsense.

After we all walked away, we had a lot of meetings still to go to.

I can tell our friends and supporters that we and our allies raised these issues with our representatives’ staff, Democrats and Republicans, and with other conservatives we spoke to over the last few days, many of whom had heard the Heritage panel and were deeply moved, both by the stories of the parents and by Julia Beck’s testimony of being ostracized from within her own community. We told them that …

  • … 13-year-old girls are getting cosmetic mastectomies in this country, and some 14-year-old girls are being put into menopause, also for cosmetic reasons, with seemingly no care for how early loss of ovarian function can shorten one’s lifespan and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • … parents can lose their children in some states if they don’t go along with pronoun changes, with puberty blockers, and with cross-sex hormones administered to their children.
  • … by including gender identity under “conversion therapy” bans, therapists feel they must stop working with patients to explore distress over trauma, abuse, personality disorders, depression, or developmental disorders, as soon as a child says they have a gender identity.
  • … “informed consent” means a waiver of the right to sue, and the on-demand distribution of powerful hormone treatments without any required checks for contraindicated health conditions.
  • … clinicians issue indirect suicide threats to worried parents to force them to comply with the destruction of their own minor children’s reproductive organs.
  • … women in prison are being forced to bunk and shower with violent male offenders, and there’s no way to stop such men being put in with women, in violation of these women’s international human rights, under a sex self-identification standard. We gave them the examples of three violent men in the justice system right now — Michelle Kosilek in MA, Synthia China Blast in NY, and Dana Rivers in CA — who will have the absolute right to be incarcerated with women if the gender identity provisions of the Equality Act are passed into federal law.
  • … women in homeless and domestic violence shelters are being forced to room and shower with men because the shelters are afraid of either losing federal funding or being sued by angry, entitled men. Vulnerable women have been kicked out of shelters for complaining about being forced to room with men.
  • … autistic girls are ridiculously over-represented among children and young people claiming a gender identity, and this current rush to sterilize them so they will “look right,” or to tell them that their real problem is that they are “in the wrong body,” is a eugenicist violation of their human rights and an abdication of responsibility by those who should protect them.
  • … girls in school will have to deal with menstruation in bathrooms where boys are allowed to walk in.
  • … girls’ and women’s sports are being destroyed, and with them, scholarship and mentorship opportunities for women and girls. (In one of the meetings where we brought up sports, a conservative man we were talking to volunteered on his own that he knew that was a road to college for many girls and he was quite concerned.)
  • … women and girls will lose the right under self-identification, and the total elimination of sex as a bona fide occupational qualification, to request female medical or intimate care, or a female supervisor for state-mandated urine tests, or a female security officer to pat them down. Conversely, women holding such employment will lose the right under the Equality Act’s gender identity provisions to refuse to perform intimate care or examinations of male clients.
  • … Muslim women cannot relax or function as if they were in private at all in shelters or accommodations shared with males, many Christian women would be very offended and worried as well, and we have concern for them. But religious exemptions will not protect these women from all these other circumstances, and also secular women like myself do not wish to be forced to undress in front of men or be confronted by unwanted male nudity.
  • … in the UK, people can be questioned by police for their opinions on these topics, or for calling the removal of children’s genitals “castration,” or for talking about public figures in the gender identity movement who are paid by the government to advocate for the sterilization of children.
  • … that advocacy for gender identity and the sex industry travel together, and that men who solicit commercial sex and share porn of themselves online have been given the power by Twitter to censor public health conversations about teenage girls.
  • … based on the definitions in the Equality Act, “gender identity” protects no definable class of persons, and has nothing to do with gender dysphoria or any other medical condition or diagnosis that anyone may be concerned about alleviating.
  • … if people are genuinely concerned about mental health or suicidality, it’s odd that the policy goal comes down to allowing people into different rooms, changing a few letters on official forms, hormones, plastic surgery, and enrolling the whole world in their treatment plan, rather than asking for something like more counseling services.
  • … they have barely heard these concerns before because journalists and doctors alike are worried they will lose their jobs for talking about it, and so we asked them to please, as elected representative who cannot be no-platformed, speak out about this so that families who are worried about what this means can hear that they aren’t alone with their questions and concerns.
  • … we don’t want anyone harmed, or denied employment or housing because they like to dress quirky or want to have an unusual name, but when the law is prohibited from seeing sex, you can’t ban discrimination based on sex stereotypes; a stronger prohibition of sex stereotype discrimination would protect everyone the bill is meant to support.

They listened. They brought other colleagues to listen. They asked us questions and engaged, many of them with a concern for women that, while it does not necessarily come from the same place as ours or take the same form, was sincere.

As we have seen in our work with the Hands Across The Aisle Coalition, many conservative women do have a woman-centered perspective and are willing to join us in the work of holding institutions accountable for male violence against women. We met women on the Hill who care about domestic violence victims and girls’ rights in the education system. We met conservative women who were offended on behalf of our lesbian sisters over their treatment by men on the left. For the women who come from a religious perspective, many of them come to support for victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence in line with their faith (not despite it, as I think some on the left would uncharitably assume,) and some conservative women have been organizing their opposition to it with admirable boldness, even in the face of being called “feminists” as if that were a bad thing.

Should we have a stronger need to set aside half the population as a permanent enemy class than we do to work for the liberation of all women, and to meet them where they are, or than to work together where we can for women and girls?

Because feminism is not an ethnicity, it’s a political perspective of putting women first. I wasn’t born with my current views, either, I was persuaded to them.

Do we not believe in persuasion anymore? Do we not have the courage of our convictions that our ideas are good, and that people given a fresh reason to listen to us might actually do that? Are there people about whom we would really say, “I want better for women and girls in the world, but not from them. … I want my government to help us, but not *that* part of it. … I want this policy changed, but it can wait until someone I agree with can implement it. … I want to petition my government for a redress of my urgent grievances, but maybe later.”

The work of politics is fundamentally to deliver results to your constituents. Sarah McBride is working to deliver the requested destruction of my rights and yours to their favored constituents, and they’re not going to get any hassle if they win over a few conservatives to their cause in the process.

Are the rights of women and girls in the US supposed to be martyred to an endless conversation about how we’re allowed to talk and to whom? Are so many women really that scared of the accusations of porn-sick leftist men, who sell their organizations to the pimp lobby, that they’re willing to just watch as these policies destroy what our foremothers worked so hard to give us?

As leftist or liberal men reserve bipartisan coalition-building as an activity only for themselves, and imply that we are the political equivalent of “fake gamer girls” for being strategic, are we all ever going to be tired enough of them telling us what to do?

Anyone who thinks we handled this week wrong is more than welcome to go out and show us how to do it better. I’ll take notes, because I have room for improvement. I, and my colleagues, consider this situation an emergency for women’s rights, so constructive ideas from just about any quarter will be considered.

In the meantime, I went to Capitol Hill with Posie Parker, Julia Long, Venice Allan, and Jennifer Chavez yesterday. I’d gladly do it again. Thank you, sisters. Thank you to all the sisters who organized tirelessly for weeks to make everything happen, including especially fellow WoLF board member Kara Dansky, and thanks to every sister who stood with or met with us this past week to demand that girls’ and women’s voices be heard in the gender identity conversation.

— Natasha Chart, WoLF