SPLC Response to Petition

Secular Woman recently presented a petition asking the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) to list Gender Identity Watch as a hate group.  

“I think that what the petition does is show that several thousand people regard the behavior of Brennan’s groups to be consistent with the behavior of a ‘hate group.’ Also, I think that the petition offered a safe space – perhaps for the first time – for Brennan’s victims to publicly share their many stories,” said Cristan Williams, editor of Transadvocate.

Despite the evidence presented to them by trans activists and the outpouring of support for the petition (over 7,000 signers), it is unlikely that the SPLC will officially list Gender Identity Watch as a hate group.

Given the criteria that the organization uses to define a “group,” the SPLC communicated that they were unable to justify that Gender Identity Watch constitutes a “group.”  Although Gender Identity Watch refers to themselves as a “team” and various individuals are reported to be involved in their actions, the bulk of the activities appear to be performed by one person and the connections between various involved individuals are not formalized as a demonstrable membership.

The SPLC gave the following statement to Secular Woman:

Thanks for talking with me today. Let me reiterate that the SPLC is committed to working against discrimination and violence against the transgender community. We have in the past written about this issue several times. Here are some recent examples of our work:

Obviously, this is disappointing.  However, we are hopeful that the petition and the ongoing communications that the transgender community and allies have made with the SPLC may further impress upon them the depth of the need for support against anti-trans hate. We are confident that they will honor their commitment and play an important role in delegitimizing the dehumanizing rhetoric, fear-mongering and hurtful actions, advanced by Gender Identity Watch and other anti-trans hate groups.

They have asked for our help:

We'd very much appreciate any information you or your allies could provide of the major players, websites, etc., in the anti-trans world. We would like to take a look at this for a possible investigative story for our magazine, Intelligence Report. I'm especially interested in links between the groups. Any help will be greatly appreciated.

Information can be provided to the SPLC through their website:


Secular Woman, as a feminist organization, will continue to stand against transmisogyny.  As intersectionalists, will be continue to stand against cissexism.  We will continue to seek various avenues to advance the goal of gender equality and attempt to minimize the toxic impact of trans exclusionary radical feminism.

Feminist Petition Fighting Anti-Trans Harassment Reaches 5,000 Signatures


For more information, please contact:
Kim Rippere, Secular Woman President: 404.669.6727 E-mail
Elsa Roberts, Secular Woman Vice President: 906.281.0384 E-mail
M.A. Melby, Petition Author Email

A petition urging that Cathy Brennan’s organization Gender Identity Watch be monitored as a hate group has accumulated over 5,000 signatures in just one week. On November 23, members of the secular feminist organization Secular Woman teamed up with fellow social justice organizations Skepchick and Stop Abuse Online to present the petition opposing the group’s repeated targeting of transgender individuals for bullying and harassment, and asking the Southern Poverty Law Center to officially designate and monitor Gender Identity Watch as a hate group.

“The response has been amazing. The petition has been promoted by several trans activist and feminist organizations, shared on Facebook, re-blogged hundreds of times on Tumblr, and retweeted more times than I could possibly know. There are signers from over 60 countries. It’s very humbling,” says M. A. Melby, primary author of the petition.

The petition describes Brennan and her organization––fringe feminists known as “TERFS” (trans-exclusionary radical feminists)––exposing the private information of transgender individuals including former names and also reportedly contacting doctors, employers, and other authorities of those she targets. Several petition signers have shared their personal stories of being targeted and victimized by Brennan’s organization, in an attack on privacy, health, and safety.

“If the SPLC recognizes violence, harassment and bullying against trans women as a whole, which is currently ignored and enabled by the mainstream, it would be a pivotal step towards making the lives of transgender individuals safer,” says Trinity Aodh, Secular Woman Advisory Council member.

“Secular Woman is proud to stand with others that are supporting this petition,” says Kim Rippere, president of Secular Woman. “Thank you to all that are promoting the petition, working to raise awareness, and communicating to Southern Poverty Law Center ensuring that this petition is meaningful in the long run.”

(Below: screen shots of responses by petition signers)