As was announced by Secular Woman, it is unlikely that the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) will list Gender Identity Watch (GIW) as a hate group.
The SPLC’s reasoning has been consistent all along and we knew this was going to be the sticking point: Gender Identity Watch appears to be mainly the work of one person, and even though a few other people may be involved, it does not rise to the level of “group”.
When the SPLC says “group” – they are referring to a more formal organization than GIW appears to be. Even among those who are very familiar with the organization, it’s difficult to know (for certain) who is doing what and what the connections are between the various players.
There is also evidence that Cathy Brennan has used deception to make her groups look more populous than they actually are. For example, several thousand followers were purchased for the facebook page of Organizing for Women’s Liberation (OWL).
As the petition gained signers, Gender Identity Watch seemed to make a joke out of the situation. In fact, Cathy Brennan signed the petition herself.
As the petition gained more attention, Gender Identity Watch (GIW) attempted to control the narrative. Here is a blog post by GIW implying that the reason the SPLC did not list GIW as a hate group is because “gender is not immutable”.
If you do a quick search of twitter, you can easily find the tweet that GIW omitted; deceiving their readership.
And that’s the opinion that seems to be getting under Cathy Brennan’s skin. The official announcement from Secular Woman says the same thing. GIW just isn’t a “group”.
(Of course, that’s not the only problem with the post. Just a few notes for those that do not know: 1. Melody Hensley is not a Men’s Right’s Activist (MRA), but a prominent secular feminist who organizes a highly regarded women’s free thought convention in the U.S., Women in Secularism 2. The people behind the petition are not asking the SPLC to list GIW as a hate group because GIW supposedly advocates for women’s rights but because they regularly doxx and out trans women and promote transmisogyny and 3. The TransAdvocate does not denigrate women, but is a respected news source that reports primarily on trans issues. They debunk many of the lies TERFs cling to.)
Let me restate the essence of SPLC’s response to calls for GIW to be listed as a hate-group in a way that brings this home:
The protection of transgender people against hate is part of the SPLC mission. (check)
GIW targets transgender people, particularly trans women. (check)
GIW is hateful enough to be placed among other hate groups that the SPLC monitors. (check)
GIW is a group. (no check)
The only stated reason that Gender Identity Watch is not listed as a hate group is that GIW is simply too pathetic an organization to even merit being called a “group”. Of course, that’s probably not the story that GIW wants to feed to their avid readership of a dozen or so people – hence the blog post.
South Florida Gay News reported a quote from the SPLC:
“It’s not that we don’t consider some of the things that have happened there to be really ugly,” Beirich said. “It doesn’t qualify as a hate group under our definition because a hate group has to have some membership, like a group.”
The pretense that Cathy Brennan is some sort of friend to the SPLC (because they are an ally of feminists against the vitriolic and violent fringe of Men’s Rights Activists) is starting to fade, regardless of how much she seems to think that $1000 will buy her respectability.
At the very least, it seems that GIW wants everyone to know that they are indeed a “group” and not just one over-zealous abusive internet troll who makes a new twitter account every month or so and has a hand full of hangers on (some of which may or may not just be her talking about herself in the third person.)
Cathy Brennan responded to the South Florida Gay News article on the GIW site, including the line, “We invite Beirich to contact our group, as a group of people run this blog, and specify what exactly she considers “ugly.””
I hope someone from Hate Watch takes her up on her offer. Even if it is understandable that the SPLC is declining to place GIW on their official geographically organized hate group list; it is only ethical that they make good on their commitment to fight anti-trans hate. Listing GIW as a hate group is not the only thing in their power to do.
However, there is still hope.
Apparently, Cathy Brennan isn’t happy about their decision either, and if the SPLC won’t consider GIW a “group” the last-ditch effort is to attempt to make it an organization by setting up an official membership!
I’m starting to wonder if, when she signed the petition, she was serious. You know, and not just a lawyer signing a document that she actually disagreed with, indicating that she agreed with it.
(Posted here for maximum irony meter calibration.)
So Cathy, I support your current project of trying to convince the Southern Poverty Law Center that Gender Identity Watch is actually an organization, and therefore is eligible to be listed as a hate group! Please tell them all about your many websites (such as Name the Problem) and social media groups, and the dedicated team of members that are involved in making your campaign of doxxing and outing transgender activists and allies and accusing them of “harassing women” (or any number of other things) sometimes directly to their families and employers based on flimsy evidence and exaggerations; a lived reality.
I’m sure, at some point, you might consider registering Gender Identity Watch as a real honest-to-goodness non-profit with all the legal requirements that brings.
We’ll see how things sit next year when the SPLC reviews groups for inclusion again. Or, I don’t know, GIW could decide to just jump into the free market place of ideas, sans trolling OkCupid and filing false fraud reports against transgender lesbians and all the other hateful shit y’all do.
That’d be nice.