Kara Dansky is a self-avowed radical feminist, but she’s much more likely to appear on a Heritage Foundation panel or as a guest Fox News than any left-tilting forum.
That’s because Ms. Dansky and her organization, the Women’s Liberation Front, or WoLF, have struck up an unlikely alliance with conservatives over the increasingly influential transgender-rights movement, specifically its implications for the lives of women and girls.
“The Women’s Liberation Front has always stood for the right to privacy and safety of women and girls, and we see the trans movement as a threat to those,” Ms. Dansky said. “We absolutely think that women and girls have the right to intimate spaces without the presence of men.”
By “men,” she also means biological males who identify as women, known as transwomen — a stance that puts her at odds with progressive powerhouses like the Human Rights Campaign, Planned Parenthood and the ACLU, as well as feminist groups such as the National Organization for Women and UltraViolet.
Leftists call women like Ms. Dansky “TERFs,” or “trans-exclusionary radical feminists,” and it’s not a term of endearment. They have also been called “transphobes,” “misogynists,” and worse, while WoLF was described by the National Center for Transgender Equality as a “hate group.”
“They are basically a spectacle to distract the media because those organizations would love nothing more than to watch reporters flock to cover a manufactured fight between so-called feminists and transgender people,” said NCTE media-relations manager Gillian Branstetter.
Meanwhile, conservative groups such as Heritage, Concerned Women for America and Independent Women’s Forum have aligned with WoLF to challenge what they see as a campaign to erase women.
“I guess you would call it strange bedfellows, radical feminists and conservatives and religious people who are all just trying to protect women and girls,” said Emilie Kao, director of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at Heritage. “It’s that simple. It’s not a big mystery.”
Given that “politics is the art of coalition building,” the partnership shouldn’t come as a surprise, said Jennifer Braceras, director of the Independent Women’s Law Center.
“But I do think that there is something deeper here, and that is that some feminists and many women on the right share an essentialist view of what it means to be female,” Ms. Braceras said. “We share the view that sex — as opposed to gender — is biological, and we understand that men and women are different in some important ways that impact policy.”
Their priorities include opposing the Equality Act, passed by the House in May, which would amend federal civil-rights law to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” Foes warn that it would outlaw sex-specific public accommodations such as restrooms, locker rooms and prisons, as well as women’s sports, which supporters deny.
Conservative groups and WoLF have also filed amicus briefs in the pending U.S. Supreme Court case Harris Funeral Homes v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, concerning a transgender employee, Aimee Stephens, who was fired after dressing like a woman instead of a man at work.
“Legally redefining ‘female’ as anyone who claims to be female results in the erasure of female people as a class,” said the WoLF brief filed in August. “If, as a matter of law, anyone can be a woman, then no one is a woman, and sex-based protections in the law have no meaning whatsoever.”
‘My conservative sisters care’
With their appearances on Fox’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” WoLF leaders may be the most prominent of the U.S. feminists aligning with conservatives to oppose the transgender agenda, but there are others.
Hands Across the Aisle was founded in 2017 by Kaeley Triller Haver, a Christian activist and rape survivor, and Miriam Ben-Shalom, a former Army sergeant and the first person to be reinstated to the military after being discharged for homosexuality.
Ms. Ben-Shalom has paid a price her politically incorrect stance. She was disinvited as grand marshal of the 2016 Milwaukee Pride Parade for her “transphobic” posts on Facebook, prompting her to retort, “I see that Milwaukee Pride cares more about men than it does about women’s safety.”
In a May interview with the Christian outlet Q Media, Ms. Ben-Shalom said that she takes “more balderdash, pish-posh, and folderol from people who are on my side of the aisle — ‘Oh, you’re hanging out with them conservatives, my God. You all don’t like gay people.’
“And my response to that is, education is a two-way street,” she said. “I have learned that my conservative sisters care as much about me as anything else.”
Certainly the leftist women receive plenty of abuse. In Canada, feminist Meghan Murphy was kicked off Twitter for saying men can never be women — she’s now suing — and drew mass protests at a speech last month on her opposition to “trans activist doctrine.”
“She had to cancel another event because she was getting death threats and the transgender activists showed up with a guillotine,” said Ms. Kao. “If you look at some of the harassment against her and other feminists who oppose the transgender mandate, it’s appalling.”
Efforts on the left to counter the transgender agenda are also afoot abroad. In the United Kingdom, the newly formed LGB Alliance “supports freedom of speech, accurate biological definitions of sex and fact-based education.”
“The drive to move toward mix-sex facilities is not driven by the needs of women, it is driven in defiance of our needs,” said alliance founder Allison Bailey in an Oct. 22 tweet. “It is being driven by the needs of men who wish to live as women. That’s going to stop, right now.”
Critics have questioned whether self-described feminists who oppose transgender rights are actually as progressive as they say they are.
“I would encourage people to approach these organizations with deep skepticism because while claiming they are doing what’s best for women’s equality, they’re projecting extremely archaic views opposed to the feminist movement for the better part of 40-50 years,” Ms. Branstetter said.
That’s not how Ms. Dansky sees it. Despite working with the right on transgender issues, “we haven’t found common cause with conservative organizations on other issues,” she said.
“For example, the Women’s Liberation Front stands unapologetically for complete reproductive sovereignty for women, including abortion on demand without apology,” she said. “And we are not backing down from our principle on that topic. It’s a single-issue collaboration to protect women and girls in the law and throughout civil society.”