Petition Started to Encourage Southern Poverty Law Center to Label ’Gender Identity Watch’ as Hate Group
History was made in a most unexpected way in late 2013 when the petition titled "Southern Poverty Law Center: Monitor Gender Identity Watch as a Hate Group" appeared at Change.org. At press time, the petition had garnered more than 7,000 signatures.
The petition raised many eyebrows, receiving an outpouring of support from within the transgender community. Gender Identity Watch (GIW) was founded and is run by Cathy Brennan, a Maryland based attorney with a long history of involvement in the radical lesbian feminist movement.
Many of the comments posted in response to the Change.org petition accuse Brennan of outing transgender people to their employers, publishing the names and addresses of transgender people, and celebrating transgender suicides.
Brennan is profiled on RationalWik.orgi, a website which, according to it’s homepage "analyzes pseudo-science and the anti-science movement," as well as "documenting the full range of crank ideas." Many of the individuals featured on RationalWiki.org are conservative, anti-gay Christians.
According to RationalWiki.org, Brennan claims that no transgender people were killed during the Holocaust because the word didn’t exist at the time. The site also claims that Brennan contacted a transwoman’s personal physician and further reports that Brennan has networked Pacific Justice Institute, a conservative Christian organization, in the Institute’s now debunked claim that a transgender teen was harassing other students at a girl’s restroom in a Colorado school. Pacific Justice Institute’s home page states its goals as "defending religious freedoms, parental rights, and other civil liberties."
Scrolling through GIW’s homepage reveals posts in which transwomen are referred to as "men pretending to be women." Lesbian identified transwomen are referred to as "pretendbians."
Brennan’s issue with the trans community is vague at best. She claims that transwomen are "erasing female identity and histories."
SFGN could not reach Brennan for comment; the only way to reach her is at the public comments section of GIW’s website, or in the comments section of her blog, BugBrennan.com.
However, SFGN staffdid encounter Brennan commenting on a transgender rights thread on Facebook. Her response at my attempt to converse with her: "BACK OFF MEN!" At the time, the banner of her personal Facebook page stated, "The bearer of this card has been labeled transphobic and doesn’t give a fuck."
"Southern Poverty Law Center has been aware of the Gender Identity Watch Petition from the beginning," said Kim Rippere, president of Secular Woman, Inc., who posted the petition. "We know that they have an internal process for determining what groups are considered hate groups. We assume they will make a decision based on evidence and their definition of ’hate group.’ The petition does clearly show that thousands of people are supportive and think that GIW’s actions are within the definition of a hate group."
Rippere said that she was pleased with the number of people who signed the petition and hopes more will sign on. "We think this sort of behavior sets back women and that ignoring this behavior only serves to further alienate populations."