Gender Identity Watch Petition

Secular Woman supports gender equality and affirms that gender expression, sexual orientation, and matters of intimacy are for individuals to determine. We abhor hate, sexism, intolerance, and misogyny.


Secular Woman members have teamed up to present a petition opposing the transphobic actions of Cathy Brennan’s Gender Identity Watch. She and her group forward an agenda that is abusive and harmful to transgender women.  Their tactics include targeting named individuals.  


The Gender Identity Watch group include those who intersectional feminists refer to as trans-exclusionary radical feminists (TERFs)––spreading hate and silencing transgender people under the guise of feminism. “The TERFs essentially take the patriarchy to entirely conspiratorial levels where trans women are seen as infiltrators,” explains Veronica Berglyd Olsen, author of the blog Purple Noize. “They will gladly reduce a human being to their genitals or to chromosomes or to whatever they find suits them at the moment.”


Olsen adds, “Aside from the complete lack of understanding of human biology, they also claim to be an authority of what identities people are allowed to have. They feel entitled to deny people both their gender identity and their sexual orientation. They will frequently deny cis lesbians who are trans allies the identity as lesbians. Reducing human beings to carefully selected biological properties is a basis of both oppression of women and of racism throughout human history.”


“Silencing is one of the techniques that TERFs use, which is ironic as they cry about being silenced every single day. Their silencing technique is to make people scared to death of them,” says Dana Taylor, founder of Taylor has personally experienced silencing in the form of a coordinated attack via her employer. “When we see these kind of attacks but have never experienced them before, it is hard to fully understand the damage it causes. It has caused some to commit suicide,” she says.


Secular Woman is an intersectional feminist organization; we reject definitions of feminism that erase transgender people’s identity. Kim Rippere, president of Secular Woman, says, “Gender Identity Watch and related sites work in direct opposition to the vision of Secular Woman; namely, a future in which women––anyone who presents herself as a woman or says she is one––without supernatural beliefs have the opportunities and resources they need to participate openly and confidently as respected voices of leadership in every aspect of society.”


“Brennan, and TERFs at large, are one reason people often refuse to label themselves as feminists,” explains Trinity Aodh, member of Secular Woman’s advisory council. “Feminism, which should be about empowering those who are oppressed along the gender spectrum, is instead being used to attack those who are vulnerable. Instead of embracing people whose experiences undoubtedly show the modern need for feminism, she goes out of her way to place their lives in danger.”

We invite fellow feminists and secularists, as well as others concerned, to proactively affirm the inclusion of all women as women.  Condemn the toxic ideologies used to rationalize hate, fear, and discrimination based on gender.  Stand with us in petitioning the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) to track the activities of Cathy Brennan’s Gender Identity Watch as a hate group in accordance with SPLC’s stated mission.

It Is Not Okay

The last couple months of the year are difficult for many people.  Seasonal Affective Disorder kicks in for those unlucky enough to deal with it.  Family gatherings become somewhat of a theme, often causing stress in claustrophobic situations, or reminding those of us separated from our families for whatever reason of what we’re missing.  This time of year so classically painted as cheerful can be particularly dark for a large portion of us.

Thanksgiving is what most people, at least within the United States, associate with November.  Families across the country gathering for their respective feasts, celebrating together each with their own traditions.  However, the last couple of years, I’ve found myself far too distracted in the month of November to even remember that Thanksgiving exists.
Today, November 20th, is the Transgender Day of Remembrance.  Today I look back on the previous year and realize I’ve lost no less than 265 siblings to violence caused by people’s hatred and fear.  Today, I look over a list spanning over 70 pages roughly outlining the known information of each and every one of those crimes, and see the trend of overkill and sexual violence.  Today, I remember that the victims aren’t just those murdered, but so many more, driven to hurt themselves because of the way society has treated them.  Today I remember it could have been me or any number of close friends, and that things like passing aren’t really about personal satisfaction, they’re about survival.
I am no stranger to being bullied, I had been the target of one school boy or another since the third grade while in public school.  I remember being physically assaulted by the boys on the playground, twelve or fourteen on one quite often.  I had very few friends.  The ones I had were picked on and sometimes also attacked for their choice to associate with me.  The girls all said I had “cooties” and screeched if I got within a few feet of them.  This was just in elementary school, within a group of eight year olds, and I was being “othered,” made somehow different in their minds in a way that made it okay to pick on me, to isolate me, and to hurt me.
In middle and high school, the bullying continued, and so did the othering.  It was around then that I first was called gay, and that I was made fun of for a perceived femininity.  These things were so different, so abnormal, so feared that it was easy to look at someone associated with them as less than human.  It made it easy to hurt me, psychologically or physically.
Now  I’m nearly 23 years of age. The othering hasn’t stopped, and neither has the bullying, the stakes have just gotten larger.  It’s othering on a national and often a global scale.  It’s the constant bombard from the mainstream media, from politicians and community leaders telling the general public that I’m different, that I don’t deserve rights or guarantees to safety.  That I’m an abomination and that my mere existence goes against some deity’s will, or against some “natural order.”  It’s othering that tells people on a global level that I’m less than human, that it’s okay to hurt me, that it’s okay to kill me.
It is not okay.  It’s not okay to hurt me.  It wasn’t okay to hurt any of the people who were named on that list, it wasn’t okay to hurt the many who were not, who we didn’t even know about.  It isn’t okay to drive so many of us year after year to suicide.
It is not okay.
We need to stop.  To stop the violence, the bullying, the othering.  To stop the hatred and the fear. Being transgender is not a protected status in so many parts of the world, including most of the United States.  You can be fired from your job, can be excluded from public restrooms, and crimes committed against transgender individuals are not considered hate crimes.  Our only media representation is the punch line of a cruel joke.  When there are stories about us in the news, journalists don’t even bother to learn and use the correct pronouns, using the wrong ones, jumping back and forth, or just calling us “it.”
The misconceptions need to be stopped.  People need to be educated and told why it isn’t okay to other.  We need to stand up when we hear it happening, whether explicitly through a nasty comment, or subtly through a joke someone might honestly believe does no harm, and say “no, that’s not okay.”  We need to tell our politicians, that trans* people are in fact people, and should be afforded rights and protections.  We need to tell the world it is not okay.
By Trinity Aodh, Secular Woman Advisory Council

I am a Secular (Trans) Woman by Trinity Aodh

I am extremely proud to be able to stand up and say “I am a secular woman.”

Growing up in North Carolina, I was treated less than nicely by my peers for being an atheist. To the other elementary school students, you couldn't not believe in "God". It simply didn't work that way, it wasn't something they knew or understood. At that age it was about as different as I could have gotten, and it was tough.

That kind of treatment continued throughout all of public school, and it wasn't until I went away to university that I found relief. The school I chose to attend actually had atheists in the majority, and even the religious people who attended were far less likely to bother me, and the campus, as a whole, was a much more accepting place that I had ever been. This environment contributed in no small part to me finally making the decision to transition, and the lack of religion breathing down my neck made it much easier to accept myself after I had made that decision. I am extremely proud to be able to stand up and say “I am a secular woman.”

This statement means a lot to many of us. We're not just atheists, we're female atheists in a world dominated by male voices, and we're ready to stand up and be heard. We're fighting for diversity within a group that is already a minority, and the ways we are doing that extends beyond simply the gender gap. To me it means something very special, to stand up and be recognized not only as an atheist, but as a woman.

A friend of mine, Bridget Gaudette, recently mentioned in a blog post that she has a responsibility to be “extra visible” as a secular woman of color. I am realizing more and more not only how correct she is, but how I share a similar responsibility as a secular transgender woman.

Transgender individuals on a whole are very often misunderstood and misrepresented. Just today I've seen two or three atheist blog posts use improper terms to refer to us. Usually it's at least not the slurs, as it is starting to become more common knowledge that “tranny” and “shemale” aren't acceptable, but surprisingly few people seem to know the word is “transgender” not “transgendered.” Someone isn't “gayed” or “bisexualed,” these words are adjectives, not verbs. Similarly, they aren't nouns, and calling me “a transgender” won't put you on my good side.

I was designated male at birth, or DMAB (though you might also see coercively assigned male at birth, or CAMAB, depending on the person), but my gender is female. My preferred gender pronouns (PGPs) are she, her, and hers. One of the questions I get asked rather often is if I am “pre or post op,” and besides the fact that that question excludes the rather large group of people who are non op, it's really impolite to go around asking people about their genitals. I am about six months into hormone replacement therapy, or HRT, and am quite literally going through a second puberty. I deal with gender dysphoria almost daily, which is the discomfort caused by one's physical characteristics not aligning with one's gender.

Some terms have varying degrees of acceptance among the transcommunities (trans* being a broad term for any number of identities that might start with "trans"). Transsexual used to be the general term for people whose gender doesn't align with what they were designated, but has fallen out of common use for being too reminiscent of sexuality, as well as until recently being classified as a mental disorder. Female-to-male (FTM) and male-to-female (MTF) are still very often used, but can give the impression that a person used to be one gender, then switched.

A great majority of people reading this likely aren't transgender. This doesn't make you normal, this makes you cisgender. Further from that, gender is far more than a strict binary of male and female. You can be both, neither, somewhere in between, something different all together. You might be genderqueer, neutrois, androgyne, hard femme, butch, third gender, gender fluid, or any number of different genders.

My experience is very unique, and I'm not asking anyone to try to completely understand. What I am asking is to be respected as any woman deserves to be. If there is something you don't understand, all you have to do is (politely) ask. Remember what applies to me doesn't necessarily apply to other trans* people, or even other trans women.

I have fought hard for both my non-belief and my womanhood, and I won't let anyone deny me either. I will stand up, I will be counted, and I will not be silenced. I am Trinity Aodh, and I am a Secular Woman.

Trinity Aodh, Secular Woman Member