Erasing Women from the Public Square
July 6, 2023
This post is being sent to all subscribers to this Substack. It is free and shareable. If you would like to be able to access content that delves deeper into the movement to protect the sex-based rights of women and girls and to stop the abolition of sex, please consider a paid subscription.
This is a guest post from a reader. The author emailed me last month and her email message became public in this Twitter thread, which I made with her permission. I invited her to expand on the story for a Substack post, and she took me up on the offer. The Twitter thread was posted anonymously; her name and attribution appear at the end of this post.
I live in one of those American college towns historically known for its progressive vibe. Think Yellow Springs, Ann Arbor, Boulder, Madison, Austin, Athens, Minneapolis. Think the kind of places that welcomed Jewish students when Jews were unwelcome elsewhere, the kind of places that inspired young people to show up for Freedom Summer, the kind of places that fomented resistance to Vietnam. Think the kind of places that passed local anti-discrimination ordinances protecting gay and lesbian people in housing and employment decades ago. Women used to find these places safer, and built infrastructure here - women’s cafes and feminist bookstores and arts scenes and softball leagues and resources for women and girls.
Over the last couple of decades, feminist institutions, and especially lesbian the anchors of lesbian community, have been displaced here. The “gay and lesbian” flagship organization is now functionally trans, and a hostile place for lesbians to work. The women's bookstores are now trans, too. The women's bar is gone, as is the women's pop up dance scene that replaced it. As elsewhere, it's clear that Pride is hostile to lesbians, and there can be no such event as a bare-breasted dyke march - the threats and hostility toward single sex spaces make creating them dangerous, not to mention functionally impossible to create.
Now, there's a new development. Individual women - mostly lesbians - are being ejected from public accommodations like restaurants and bars - not because we're being unruly or confrontational or obnoxious, but because someone in the establishment believes the targeted women "are transphobic." This really is happening. Women are being told they will not be served at more than one restaurant because someone working in the establishment perceives them to hold a belief considered objectionable. Trans Rights Activists are attempting to have other businesses - groceries, bookstores, coffee shops - refuse service to particular women in an attempt to intimidate all of us.
The very same kind of place that has supported women's right to abortion, that has objected to various kinds of suppression of free speech, that resisted the McCarthyism of the 1950's, is now nurturing the most egregious forms of misogyny, authoritarianism, and discrimination, all in the name of trans inclusion, and without evidence of any wrong-doing on the part of the targeted women.
Let it sink in: we are being ejected from public spaces not because of behavior but because of beliefs and the perceptions and projections of beliefs and perceptions.
The good news is that we are finding each other. We are organizing. We are supporting each other. We are resisting the pressure to disavow each other, and we are becoming stronger. Every week there are more of us, and more of us known to each other.
Our common denominator is Women’s Declaration International. Many of us found WDI before we found each other, and found each other through WDI. We have signed the Declaration [on Women’s Sex-Based Rights]. We have treasured the webinars. We have watched the brave women carrying banners and making speeches and inspiring the rest of us to feel braver and stronger and to find each other. When one of us is ejected from an establishment, three more or thirty more will return. We must shine a light on this new authoritarianism while we still can, and we must push back against it. I am so grateful that WDI lets us all know that none of us has to go it alone.
In that spirit, some of us here recently returned to one of the restaurants that had refused to serve two members of our feminist community because of alleged “transphobia.” We ate breakfast without incident, and then, on the way out, asked if we could have a word with the proprietor. We vulnerably, politely, and assertively asked him questions about the situation, and about his criteria for his customers’ thoughts, beliefs, and politics. He eventually asserted that he recognizes the rights of people to enjoy public accommodations without passing a purity test or taking a loyalty oath. He justified his decision to decline to serve our friends as “feeling protective of the servers,” who had reported that they knew someone who knew someone who told some kind of story about the women dining defending the rights of women somewhere, some time ago. He acknowledged that whatever allegedly happened didn’t occur at his establishment, was not a crime, and involved no police report. So: one of his workers was distressed that women were dining while feminist, and rather than assign someone else to serve them, he chose to eject the women dining as a show of support for his staff. I have the impression that the proprietor actually is a decent sort. In the face of the monsterization of feminists, I imagine he thought he had taken righteous action. His acknowledgement that customers can think what they want and hold diverse opinions encourages me to think he has the capacity to reconsider.
The conversation was calm, though certainly not comfortable. My heart rate was up before, during and after. One of our party observed that the proprietor also seemed anxious. My hope was to signal that more people are in solidarity with the targeted women and their purported beliefs than this business and the broader community might guess, to make sure that the owner of the establishment can at least articulate an appreciation of freedoms of speech and assembly and the local anti-discrimination ordinance that protects us from discrimination on the basis of politics, and to demonstrate that civil conversations about difficult issues can be held, even among strangers. We didn’t get an apology or any sort of reparations for our friends, but I do think something happened that was worthwhile. I hope that this new trend of ejecting women from restaurants because of our politics (or assumptions about them) will stop.
I know that watching WDI actions from afar and listening to the webinars and reading the legal briefs coming out of WDI and WoLF this last year helped me to have the courage to suggest that we take this small, direct action. It feels good to be part of an ever expanding local group of activists, and to feel connected to a world wide network of women and men raising consciousness about gender ideology and pushing back against it. On our way out of the restaurant, we walked by a staffer wearing a “Protect Trans Kids” tee-shirt featuring a threatening-looking blade, in one of the most disturbingly ironic visual tells of trans ideology. I found myself proud to be part of a movement that will defend the right of a person to signify such an oxymoronic belief in such a disturbing way even as we disagree with it. By doing so, we exemplify the values we ask others to afford us: freedom of speech and expression, freedom of assembly, and protection from violence when and where we speak and gather.
Amber Alt is the author of the audiobook It’s Not Transphobic to Say Your Daughter is a Girl: The Wise Lesbian Guide for Progressives, released in June on Audible. Reach her at Amberaltwrites@proton.me.