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Boys Will Be Girls ... and Feminists Will Be Furious


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In January, the august New York Public Library withdrew as host of a forum organized by a self-described radical feminist group called the Women's Liberation Front, or WoLF. The irony was palpable: The planned meeting was titled “An Evening With Canceled Women,” since the five speakers from WoLF all claim to have been “deplatformed” – i.e., shouted down by hecklers or kicked off speakers lists – because they questioned claims made by transgender advocates regarding sexuality and identity.

In other words, as some conservative news outlets gleefully reported, the New York Public Library canceled the “canceled women”! Why?

The library had no comment, but it likely feared that it too would become a target of activists who have demonstrated and even threatened violence during other programs sponsored by the group.

“It's very common for people to say we deserve to die,” Kara Dansky, a board member of WoLF, said in a phone interview.

Actual death threats seem rare, but there are plenty of signs of an angry front opening up in the culture wars. Although religious figures and people on the right have challenged the transgender movement, the conflict with WoLF involves feminist stalwarts of the social justice left who support their fundamental rights but reject the idea that a man can truly become a woman, or vice versa.

Specifically, the ire of trans activists and their supporters has been aroused by some basic positions taken by WoLF and others, namely: 1) that a person's sex is biologically determined and can't be changed, even by surgery; and 2) that the pieces of legislation passed or pending in several countries and American states to extend civil rights protections to transgender people, usually called Equality Acts, are wrongheaded and harmful to women and children.

The number of liberals making those arguments publicly is still small. But it is growing. And it has already given rise to a strange reshuffling of the political deck, as some feminists of otherwise impeccable leftist credentials have formed alliances with conservative and evangelical groups that would fervently disagree with them over just about everything else – abortion and gay marriage most conspicuously. In January, the conservative Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., hosted a panel called “The Inequality of the Equality Act: Concerns From the Left,” during which several speakers from WoLF explained their point of view to a supportive Heritage audience.:snip:

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