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I was introduced to Rebecca Reily-Cooper via Ophelia Benson, who’s a big fan. RRC is someone who many people wouldn’t call a TERF. Oh sure, she denies trans* women are women…

38. We can support trans people without pretending to believe in something that is quite clearly false, namely the current dogma which insists that that there is no such thing as male and female, that trans women are female and have always been female, that there are no important social and political differences between trans women and biologically female women.

… but she also swears she’d never harm a trans* woman.

37. Transsexual people are a marginalised group who need and deserve support, empathy and compassion. They are human beings trying their best to live and to flourish under the constraints that gender imposes upon them, just as everyone is. They should be provided with whatever support and treatment they need to live happy, healthy, flourishing lives, and be treated with the same respect and kindness as anyone else. They have the same right to privacy as anyone else, and therefore there can be no justification for doxxing trans women or publicising their past identities, or bullying, abusing or harassing them, either in person or on social media. They have a right to physical integrity, safety from violence and protection from harassment, access to medical care, and protection from discrimination in education, employment and housing.

It seems strange to put RRC in the same category as Elizabeth Hungerford and Cathy Brennan. So she denies a label; what’s the harm?

Houston’s controversial equal rights ordinance failed by a wide margin Tuesday, with voters opting to repeal the law that offered broad non-discrimination protections, according to incomplete and unofficial returns. […]

Largely conservative opponents of the law allege that it would allow men dressed as women, including sexual predators, to enter women’s restrooms.

The harm is that by endorsing that statement, she’s endorsing the premise that bigots use to discriminate against trans* people. She is indirectly responsible for the harm she claims she’s against. This is exactly why I define TERF to include denying gender identity, because that’s a crucial tool for denying trans* people their humanity.

I don’t know if RRC is consciously aware of the harm she’s causing, but I’m pessimistic she’s change her ways. After all, she thinks people who think trans* women are women are being brainwashed into a cult.

No, seriously.

The response to Greer and her alleged transphobia is just one example of a creeping trend among social justice activists of an identitarian persuasion: a tendency towards ideological totalism, the attempt to determine not only what policies and actions are acceptable, but what thoughts and beliefs are, too. Contemporary identity-based social justice activism is increasingly displaying the kinds of totalising and authoritarian tactics that we usually associate with cults or quasi-religious movements which aim to control the thoughts and inner lives of their members. […]

If you haven’t witnessed this first hand, this might sound a touch hyperbolic and overwrought. But in the methods and reactions of those who espouse the doctrine of gender identity, we see many, if not all, of the features of thought control identified by Robert Jay Lifton in his classic study of indoctrination in Chinese re-education camps, to varying degrees.

It hardly needs a debunking, but Stephanie Zvan does the job with flair and good knowledge of psychology on her side, so I’ll defer to her. I’ll just add that RRC is too disconnected from reality to see the real harm she’s doing to trans* people. About all we can do is route around the damage, by calling out her bigotry and ensuring it isn’t taken seriously.

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