What are we Talking About

Weekly Roundup: What Are We Talking About?

Straight from our Member’s Only Group to you, what we and our members are reading and discussing!

We and our member’s were very saddened to hear of Anne Nicol Gaylor’s death. Gaylor was the founder of the Freedom From Religion Foundation and a tireless advocate for women’s rights.

Much excitement has been growing in our group too around a new app released by the ACLU in multiple states – the app enables you to record the police and have that recording automatically upload to the ACLU so that your recording can’t be erased. The app has other features as well, including a comprehensive rundown of laws in your state that relate to your civl rights.

When Tim Hunt showed his sexist beliefs about female scientists to the world, our member’s had a field day posting articles and participating in the epic takedowns on twitter such as the #distractinglysexy tag used by women scientists to post pictures of themselves.

As discussions of Caitlyn Jenner continue all over the world, members posted a number of interested articles on Caitlyn and on trans women’s issues generally, such as this article on the violence faced by trans women of color and letters to the editor from the NYT, many of which criticized the coverage of Caitlyn by Elinor Burkett due to her transphobic framing of trans women.

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)

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 StopAbuseOnline.org. 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.

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