Filed under: Action, Anti-fascist, Pacific, Queer, Trans
Report on rally by far-Right aligned TERFs in Oakland, California that was met with resistance. Originally published to Indybay.
by Dave Id
What’s the biggest issue facing cis-gendered women today? Equal pay? Domestic abuse? Theocratic control over women’s bodies? Patriarchy? Fascism? If you guessed any of those, you guessed wrong, according to Kara Dansky and Lierre Kieth, who are literally obsessed with punching down to some of the most marginalized folks on the planet. The outstanding threat to cis women, they’d have you believe, is trans women. While they wave their hands around and point to outliers like Dana Rivers, it’s the mere existence of any and all trans women that actually bothers them.
Transgender woman Dana Rivers was recently convicted of murdering three people in Oakland in 2016 and her sanity hearings were set to begin on December 5. Transphobes Kara Dansky and Lierre Kieth thought that’d be an opportune time to promote their anti-trans agenda. What’s their supposed demand? They want Dana Rivers in a “men’s” prison (or a “men’s” state mental health facility, presumably).
These TERFs must think they have an easy sell in demanding bigotry behind bars, a way to broaden their limited appeal. It’s become a central focus of theirs. But, this is California, not Arkansas, and trans rights have been increasing here, not degraded further by theocrats. California already allows some trans folks to serve time in prison in accordance with their gender identity. So, the TERFs have incredibly long odds in trying to roll that backwards. It’s essentially impossible at this point, unless they manage to find a right-wing judge willing to overturning state law.
And so, their event at the René C. Davidson courthouse in Oakland was more of a publicity stunt for an online audience of fellow bigots than a genuine lobbying attempt. They didn’t even go inside the courthouse for the hearing itself. They don’t actually care about what happens in the case. They are simply staging demagogic theater, to lift themselves up and financially profit on the backs of marginalized folks.
It’s possible they may have even wanted to spark a street confrontation in order to drum up sympathetic publicity for themselves, because they posted an announcement for this TERF event on Indybay, which has always been supportive of trans-gender rights.
Their “demonstration,” which they livestreamed for god knows who, if anyone, was a bizarre show. There were only ten TERFs present. No one else showed up in support of their cause. They stood in a line on the Alameda County courthouse steps holding two banners, while four of them took turns reading their little scripts in dreadfully monotone voices. It came off like some kind of self-gratifying religious ceremony of hate. Not going to transcribe their trans-obsessed fearmongering here.
After less than 15 minutes on the courthouse steps, the TERFs walked over to Lake Merritt Blvd to display their signs for passersby. Then, they headed over to the amphitheater at the south end of Lake Merritt, for what looked like a scenic photo op. Presumably, they felt they were in the clear as their had been no obvious counter-demonstrator presence.
Strategically, it was a bad move by the TERFs to linger at the lake, away from any possible police state protection near the courthouse. They didn’t realize there were 20+ trans-rights activists in the vicinity.
“Get out of Oakland!” was yelled as counter-demonstrators quickly moved in and snatched both of the TERF banners. At least one cream pie was delivered, perhaps two or three. Kara Dansky says she was hit by an egg. It all happened in a matter of seconds. A little tug of war over the second banner and that was it.
Someone noted afterwards that a few of the TERFs were crying about their banners being snatched, poetically remarking, “TERF tears water the garden of resistance.
These TERFs, in particular, are working to create a leftist to fascist pipeline, co-opting the radical rhetoric of “liberation” to guile the unsuspecting. Lierre Kieth’s group is called the Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF). Kara Dansky founded an organization called Women’s Declaration International (WDI), which has something of a faux-socialist ring to it.
But, these are not radicals. These are not leftists. Dansky, for years, has been a regular guest on Tucker Carlson’s reactionary white nationalist TV show, which should tell you all you need to know about their true political alignment.
[Word to the wise: although there are several links in the following paragraph, avoid venturing too deeply into that social media world. It’s only for the strong of heart. It’s a dark and dank place filled with a never-ending stream of hateful anti-trans bile spewed by the foulest of right-wing fascists. Kara Dansky and Lierre Kieth can’t claim ignorance of the shit that swirls around them. It’s a sewer they’ve chosen. It’s their milieu. Those are Kara Dansky’s and Lierre Kieth’s brothers in arms.]
The biggest story online right now expressing sympathy for these TERFs is on Andy Ngo’s Post Millennial website, tweeted out by far-right cretins with hundreds of thousands and even millions of followers. Ngo himself, on a roll begging Elon Musk to ban leftist accounts, tried to use the Oakland banner-snatching to get more accounts banned.
Laughably, the Post-Millennial story features “exclusive” video of the TERFs at the scene discussing events as if they were being interviewed by a reporter or some other outsider, when it’s obviously the TERFs’ own video. No right-wing press was present. No one was present, except for the TERFs themselves and about twice as many trans-rights activists. (And two Indybay reporters.)
So, why are fascists so excited about supporting and defending these “feminists”? Don’t fascists typically hate feminists? In every other instance, unequivocally, yes. But, if said feminists are punching down toward a group of people that fascists hate even more than feminists, then those “feminists” become allies.
Hate makes strange bedfellows. On our latest podcast, we map out how an organization that set out to lead a guerrilla war on industrial civilization ended up making common cause with Tucker Carlson, the Heritage Foundation, and white nationalists. https://t.co/XPF4y0keVD
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) December 1, 2022
It’s sort of the reverse of the fascist love of police. Fascists cry out “blue lives matter” until the very second that police are perceived as a hindrance to their fascistic ambitions, as made plain during the January 6 insurrection. Then, police instantly become an enemy worthy of a medieval pummeling, or even death. Police are only worthy of praise when they are seen as brutal enforcers of white supremacy.
There’s a huge irony and hypocrisy — and danger — in what TERFs like Kara Dansky and Lierre Kieth are doing as they push courts and legislatures to enshrine anti-trans bigotry, to foster a hostile environment where trans folks are shunned and further marginalized. These TERFs pose as defenders of cis-gendered women’s and lesbian rights, but they are stoking a fire that will most likely burn them, too.
Throughout this country’s history, women were second class citizens with few, if any, rights in the law. Women didn’t have the universal right to vote until the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution went into effect in 1920, and even then it was only for women of European descent. Full voting rights didn’t come for another half of a century. Indeed, progress has been made, yet the Equal Rights Amendment was never ratified.
It wasn’t until the 21st century that homosexuality was effectively decriminalized, when sodomy laws fell across the board, when marriage equality became the law of the land. And this legal progress is tenuous at best, with the current reactionary Supreme Court eager to roll back equal rights precedents.
Socially, gay folks continue to face a torrent of hostility across this country, false accusations that they are mentally disturbed, that their orientation is sinful or a reckless lifestyle choice, that they are somehow more criminal, more harmful to those around them than others. Everywhere you look these days, apart from community-led safe spaces, bigots are screaming “pedo” at anyone who seems different. It’s an old trope, newly reinvigorated.
And transphobic groups like WoLF and WDI are running the same hateful game, pushing false narratives about “lifestyle choices” and mental instability, working to turn their bigotry into law. Essentially, they want to pull up the ladder behind themselves, to declare that the expansion of human rights is done, that it ends with them, that they are the last to get on board as equally empowered members of society. But, human rights are never set in stone. They must be constantly defended and reinforced.
my latest piece is on how a group known for its rampant and aggressive transphobia infiltrated one of the most important environmental movements of the moment — and how @jholz__ uncovered it https://t.co/6yxq6aQcTH
— molly taft (@mollytaft) February 9, 2022
And, that’s how TERFs are fooling themselves, to think they can freeze in time whatever progress has been made regarding gender and sexual orientation, that if they align with fascists on anti-trans bigotry, that they themselves will be safe. It’s not possible to straddle the fence with fascism, to pick and choose favored elements of fascism, to hope that fascists being supportive of you today means they’ll be supportive of you tomorrow, especially if you’re not a cis-gendered heterosexual white Christian male.
It’s obvious to anyone who doesn’t have their head stuck up their own hateful ass which way the winds are blowing with fascists in this country, and it’s not toward a greater tolerance. They’re fucking fascists, after all. And their goal isn’t to merely take the country back to the first half of the 20th century, before the Civil Rights movement. They want to reinstate the 19th century, the status quo prior to the US Civil War, when genocide was effectively legal. And they feel more emboldened than they have in a generation.
Whether Kara Dansky and Lierre Kieth, in their own heart of hearts, are fascists is besides the point. They use the same cruel gaslighting tactics as fascists. They rub shoulders with fascists. They work with fascist media outlets — and provide them with “exclusive” video — in their common cause of fostering anti-trans hate through disinformation. In short, they willingly and knowingly do the dirty work of fascists, with an extremely thin veneer of leftist rhetoric over top.
And Oakland wasn’t having it.