I’ve been feeling recently a bit like the popular online discourse around transphobia and trans liberation is living in another world and to the extent that social media is very much still a media world that’s the truth. This was prodded most abruptly by seeing Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists (I’ll call them TERFs from now on) visibly annoyed that prominent Queer Theorist, Judith Butler, had written an article for the New Statesman on Gender Ideology and hadn’t condescended to mention them even once!
This gave me some pause for thought about the last several months worth of campaigning in both legacy and social media and the gap from my experiences offline regarding the wider issue of the fight over what is being billed as “Gender Ideology” in general.
In the offline world, the last transphobic death threat I had was direct to my face 3 years ago by my neighbour’s (ex) boyfriend. As a frumpy fat queer mid-thirties trans woman I receive a lot less abuse (and attention generally) than I did as a young person, but I still receive direct threats and jibes from time to time and they are still almost universally from conservative men (not “feminist” men, whatever they are, much less TERF men, certainly not men who are ever going to be influenced by the contents of Gender Hurts by Sheila Jeffries or The Transsexual Empire by Janice Raymond).
The idea that TERFs are the main driving force behind transphobia is just wild to me. The incidents I’ve had of of discriminatory experiences which were proposed as being feminist or LGB liberation activity have been almost entirely procedural and bureaucratic — attempts to curtail the healthcare of people like me, petitions by women’s organisations attempting to paint people like me as a threat to women, efforts by some members of my student union LGB society years back to question my involvement in LGBT stuff at all on the basis that while I was a trans woman with a girlfriend at the time. In my understanding TERFs are engaged in something far more mundane — putting a commentariat friendly feminist or gay-liberation gloss on defending a set of norms which cut across trans people, which TERFs neither invented nor are they even remotely the vanguard of.
There’s an amount of implicit violence which results from in denying trans people political voices, attacking our organisations, spreading hatred in our allied liberation movements, defunding bodies that seek to support us or in the impact on policy that their petitions demonising us can have, and it’s certainly not nothing but TERFs are themselves not the most significant political force in society affecting our lives. They have a very significant presence in the media (thanks in part to their ability to serve as a fig leaf for more conservative interests) and this makes them very difficult in general to pay no attention to.
However at the same time, it’s abundantly clear that it takes no media savvy, no widespread public support, nor anything else for Gender Conservatism to remove trans people from valued places in public life.* It’s so straightforward it’s practically background to any but those affected directly by it.
What is Gender Ideology?
The impression you could get from life online, including from TERFs themselves, is that TERFs had invented this heroic struggle against “Gender Ideology” from whole cloth. As a rough and ready overview, the phenomena and ideas which seem to comprise Gender Ideology appear to be:
- Trans people, as individuals and collectively, having gone too far to tolerate anymore.
- Trans people inventing new genders and showing no respect for established ones widely seen as belonging to them.
- Decoupling our concept of the physical matter of our bodies from the sexed and gendered cultural constructs we use to relate to them.
- Teaching children about health and biology in ways that accommodate the existence of trans people.
- Increasing inclusion of gender ambiguous performance artists anywhere near children.
There is actually also a pre-existing feminist sociological use of Gender Ideology which this runs the risk of being conflated with; that being the coinage to describe the prevailing cultural ideological environment regarding gender (which is to say gender stereotyping in general) in a way which does not particularly concern itself with trans people (except in rare cases where the appearance of gender variant people in historical records illustrates something about gender from a sociological perspective in general). And it would be easy given their loose proximity for Gender Critical people online (who are often not even particularly that feminist to be sure) for them to try and claim that resistence on the grounds of the bullet points above is strictly from an ideologically Women’s Rights basis.
As we shall see that is very much not the case.
It turns out, that if (as I did) you use Google to search for the term “Gender Ideology” and you set the date using the search tools to articles before 2016, you find, almost exclusively, two sources for literature on the topic:
- Academic Sociologists studying how society creates and reproduces gender as an ideology (in a very strictly technical use of the term).
- Catholics and the wider Western conservative tradition panicking about trans people.
You might be inclined to ask “Why would I want to search before 2016?”, and the reason is, in July 2016, the British Government issued a proposal to review the Gender Recognition Act with a view to “improving transgender equality”.
There have admittedly long been old and often bitter fractures in feminism over how feminists should understand or analyse the ideas and activities of trans people, and particularly trans people in political activity, but the idea of a monolithic Gender Ideology which is not so much about the wider prevailing social ideology of gender but instead addressing trans people as an invading force conquering society and overturning previous defended norms has a more interesting history, and it is in particular this conception (the one that specifically targets trans people as its main focus of fear, anger and frustration) that sets the colloquial idea of Gender Ideology apart from previous radical feminist theories of transsexualism and so on (which were often rooted not in the idea of trans people destablising things too much but instead in the fear that trans people may not destabilise them enough).
I’m collecting instances tracing the early course of this term with regard to its specific use targeting trans people and the breakdown of gender role stability following from the rise of Queer Theory in the 90’s (as opposed to its wider use discussing sociological cultures of gender in general) to illustrate my point. As a rule I will include any and every instance I find regardless of whether it is from trans-skeptical/critical feminists or from any other source. My sourcing method is explicitly following the approach of searching textually for references to “Gender Ideology” by date, and only excluding those sources which are using the non-pertinent definition.
I’ve also had to eliminate some entries due to Google’s mis-dating of some hits (for instance a 2018 piece was misdated as occurring in 2013, due to prominently displaying a reference to an event in 2013 and only less significant references to the date of publication).
As an example of the sort of thing I’ve excluded based on using the distinct, strictly technical sociological version of “Gender Ideology” I left out a link to a study on the impact of gender ideology on participation in microtransaction economies, on the logic that it is studying the relationship of women to traditional gender roles and how it affects their behaviour as economic actors with absolutely no relation to or critique of Queer Theory and Trans Liberation.
One consequence of this is that this chronology is missing a massive actual feminist literature on housework.
1990–2008: Pretty much nothing other than bog standard sociology. Technically in 2004 Pope John Paul II puts out a statement which the catholic church says later was “against Gender Ideology” but he doesn’t actually use the term. In general there’s a lot of gnashing of teeth from the Catholic and Evangelical churches over post-modern gender and sexuality theories.
- October: Irish Catholic news site has a post from 2009 about “Gender theory’s Ideology” being “foisted” on the church. This is the first instance I can find of anything like Gender Ideology being used in the context under discussion in this article.
- July 9th: Dale O’Leary (Catholic traditional gender and family values author) blogging against the “Gender Ideology”. Dale is the originator of the idea that Gender Ideology is a global conspiracy by the UN.
- January: “Much of what goes by the name of Feminism is nothing more than Gender Ideology” — Jordan Trudgett
- March 5th: Catholic World Report describes sympathetic views to homosexuality as Gender Ideology.
- March: Society of St Pius X publish “What is behind the Gender Ideology”. As you may have guessed, they’re a Catholic organisation.
- July 5th: Agensev.de (Pro family values political party) celebrating lampooning of nordic attempts to end gender as “Gender Ideology”
- September: The catholic Iona Institute writes that Gender Ideology is at conflict with science, slamming “ feminist theorists who insist that the differences between the sexes (or ‘genders’), apart from the obvious physical ones, are purely cultural and are not innate”.
- September 5th: Catholic writer Dale O’Leary again writing that Gender Ideology is a Totalitarian Ideology for “Homosexist indoctrination and … social engineering”
- September 5th: Catholic blog celebrates Nordic countries “defunding Gender Ideology”
- March 11th: MRA blog on the Nordic “defunding” of Gender Ideology.
- March 12th: Mens health/rights blog in Australia posts about the Nordic defunding Gender Ideology situation.
- October: Feminist academic Magdalena Grabowska writes about the Catholic Church and the Polish Far Right’s attacks on the bogeyman of Gender Ideology with particular focus on educational settings (interestingly, Gender Ideology here isn’t referring not only to relaxation of gender roles/trans inclusion issues, but to the government’s demonisation of feminists and Gender Studies in general!).
- October 14th: Gabriele Kuby (who is almost as prolific as Dale O’Leary) makes an outing proclaiming that Gender Ideology is the successor in totalitarian ideologies to Communism and Fascism.
- December 17th: Men’s Rights blogger writing against “Toxic Gender Ideology” (i.e. contemporary Feminism)
- January 11th: “Poland’s Catholics and socially liberal clash on ‘gender ideology’”
- January 24th: “The Polish Church’s Gender Problem” — on conservative backlash
- January: The Polish Church “Declares War on Gender Ideology”.
- February 1st: French boycott “Gender Theory”/”Gender Ideology” — in this case school teaching against gender roles.
- February 6th: The economist on Polish Catholic reactionaries against Gender Ideology.
- February 11th: “Poland is having a Sexual Revolution in Reverse” — documenting the backlash to “Gender Ideology”.
- February 11th: Plan C collective signal boosting French essay on reactionary and neo-fascist conservative responses to (postmodern) “Gender Ideology”.
- Early: Sr. Mary Prudence Allen writes her theory of “Gender Reality” (a critique of what she describes as Gender Ideology as well as an explanation of why Gender Ideology has “gone viral”.
- March 13th: Catholic.org blog post on the Dangers Stemming From Gender Ideology.
- May 7th: The Evangelical Gender Dilemma from Traditionalism to Feminism and In between
- May 8th: Christian Trouble: Catholic Church and the Subversion of Gender.
- June 15th: German Feminists discuss the Gender Ideology panic in relation to science/epistemology.
- June: Pope Francis allegedly declares “Gender Ideology is Demonic”.
- August 12th: Jacobin discusses the spread of “Gender Ideology” panic (specifically referring to Butlerian Gender Theory) into France.
- August 27th: Catholic blog: “The Rising Dangerous influence of Transgender Ideology”
- September 17th: Gabriele Kuby again, claiming that “Gender Ideology” is a global totalitarian conspiracy.
- September 21st: “Anti Gender Movements on the Rise?” Journal with some tracking of anti-feminist actions carried out against “Gender Ideology”.
- September 24th: TGEU speak out against the backlash to “Gender Ideology” from conservative sectors, The Istanbul Convention.
- October 29th: “Gender Ideology is an Inhuman Revolution” : Croatian Bishops
- October 30th: “What is Gender Ideology and How do Catholics Respond?”
- Also October 30th: “The War on Gender Ideology from a Transnational Perspective” — an article tracking the spread of strong resistance to Feminism by the conservative right.
- December 3rd: Fear being spread by conservative christian press that Catholic parents in Malta may be fined over resistance to “Gender Ideology”
- December 12th: Polish Feminist Agnieszka Graff gives a lecture on the widespread demonisation of Gender Ideology in Polish society as referring specifically to the “man in a dress” demonised trope. THIS IS A REALLY GOOD HISTORY IN GENERAL OF THE ATTACK ON FEMINIST AND TRANSGENDER THEORIES RE GENDER BACK TO 1995 BTW
- December 15th: “Resist Gender Ideology” — Christian blog.
- January 1st: The Gender Ideology in the PNE discussion: the intervention of the Catholic Hierarchy
- January 6th: Gender Crisis in Poland, Catholic Ideology and the Media
- January 15th: ‘Gender as “Ebola from Brussels”: The Anticolonial Frame and the Rise of Illiberal Populism’ — documenting the demonisation of Gender Ideology.
- February 15th: Polish academic Lukasz Pakula raising the alarm about the state of backlash to Gender Ideology.
- March 2nd: “Pope Francis Compares Gender Ideology to Nuclear Bomb”
- March 16th: More Catholic concerns about Gender Ideology.
- April 2nd: Catholic News Blog: “Are we being gaslighted by Gender Ideologues?”
- May 15th: Parents furious over schools plan to teach gender spectrum — primarily discussing conservative Family Values orgs kicking off a backlash.
- June 3rd: San Francisco Bishop blasts gender transitions
- June 8th: Pope Francis says Men and Women are different for a reason
- June 9th: Pope Francis attacks ‘gender ideology’
- June 15th: “Divine Discrimination” — discusses religious “Gender Ideology” theory
- June 16th: Dale O’Leary writing for Family Research Council on Gender Ideology and Transgender issues
- June 17th: Pope States “Gender Ideology is Demonic”
- June 25th: “Pope Blasts ‘Gender Ideology’”
- June 30th: Christian org Family First NZ “Parents & Schools Warned About Harms of Gender Ideology”
- July 10th: “Gender Ideology’s Completely Mad Attack on Family and Society”
- July 31st: Gabriele Kuby (conservative catholic theorist critical of Gender Ideology) “Gender Activists Alarmed”
- August 15th: “Satan’s Minions? — Gender Neutral marketing to kids” a theory that the craze for little toy minions was somehow a feminist conspiracy in aid of the Gender Ideology.
- September 1st: Academic article documenting the use of the concept of Gender Ideology by the Catholic Church in Croatia
- September 7th: American Society for Defense of Tradition Family and Property, “Gender Ideology Must Be Resisted”
- September 15th: Pope Francis at the UN, “Reject Gender Ideology and abolish nuclear weapons”
- September 28th: “Media, Religion and Gender in Europe” — refers to religious responses to “Gender Ideology”
- October 6th: Pope Francis vs the “Demon” of Gender Theory
- October 7th: Cardinal Sarah “Gender Ideology and ISIS are the two greatest threats to the world”.
- c. October 8th: Focus on the Family (christian conservative group) publish a fact sheet on Gender Ideology.
- October 12th: Cardinal Sarah: “ISIS and Gender Ideology are like apocalyptic beasts”
- October 14th: Cardinal Sarah draws a moral equivalence between ISIS and Queer Theorists about 2 years before Julie Bindel gets there.
- October 15th: Diverse Synod groups united in concern over Gender Ideology.
- October 21st: Blog by Dale O’Leary again denouncing 20 years of Gender Ideology tracking it back to the 1995 Gender Summit at the UN.
- October 21st: Irish times covering Gender Ideology strife in Poland
- October 27th: Breitbart mocks Rainbow Catholics indulging in Gender Ideology
- November 3rd: The Polish Parliamentary Elections: A gender analysis — discusses the significance of conservative backlash to Gender Ideology.
- November 15th: Conference “Confronting gender and Faith” discusses religious demonization of Gender Ideology.
- December 11th: “US Bishops Issue new document decrying ‘Gender Ideology’”
- December 15th: Controversy among German Catholics over takes on “Gender Ideology”.
- December 21st: Controversy among German Catholics after 3 German bishops publish a flyer allegedly “supporting gender ideology”
- December 21st: A proposal for a session at AtGENDER conference to resist the anti-feminist backlash to Gender Ideology.
- December 31st: Family values organisation: “Gender Dysphoria, Gender Ideology and School policies”
2016 — I’ve had to stop adding in every single reference from August 15th onwards, there are simply too many. The conservative backlash against a demonised “Gender Ideology” meaning precisely a post-modern deconstruction of gender roles is too much at this point in history to list exhaustively. but this is the year that this conservative conspiracy theory is adopted by ostensible feminists.
- January 2nd: “Courting Disaster” — on the polish religious crisis against the perceived threat of Gender Ideology.
- January 4th: “Coming out as..” …
“These struggles provoke what we term ‘gender panics,’ situations where people react to disruptions to biology-based gender ideology by frantically reasserting the naturalness of a male–female binary.”
- January 15th: Ukrainian Catholic patriarch “Gender Ideology threatens a ‘new enslavement’ of our people”
- January 21st: More criticism of “Gender Sensitive Catholicism” and “Gender Ideology” from the Catholic church.
- January 24th: Canadian Pro-Lifers against teaching Gender Identity (“Gender Ideology”) to children.
- February 11th: More Catholic anxiety about “Gender Ideology” and schools.
- February 11th: Gender Dysphoria and Hope (references to Catholic panic over Gender Ideology)
- February 12th: (Conservative traditional values group) Family Research Council issue a comment on Gender Ideology.
- February 15th: Australian christians rejecting anti-bullying policies in schools as Gender Ideology.
- February 29th: Australian Christians rejecting anti-bullying policies in schools as “Gender Ideology”
- March 2nd: Catholic Diocese of Lincoln [edit: originally this was presumed to be Lincoln UK, but is in fact Lincoln, Nebraska] publishes a lecture by Father Sean Kilcawley on Anthropology and Gender Ideology
- March 7th: “Why the War on Gender Ideology Matters — and not just to Feminists”, blog about how feminism is under assault from claims that it is pushing a Gender Ideology.
- March 8th: Hungarian feminist critiquing “Gender Ideology” as a dog whistle demonological term for contemporary Feminism, essentially.
- March 18th: “Gender Ideology is Child Abuse” — Father John Peck
- March 19th: Commenter RudyM on transphobic blog “4th Wave Now” passes on link to the ACPediatricians article “Gender Ideology Harms Children
It’s worth noting here that there are actually a large number of conservative Christian commenters responding to this article by 4thwavenow, many of whom are very clearly seeking to build bridges with the radical feminist movement.
- March 20th (this is wrong by being a few days late, but probably the latest edit, it will have been published ealier in the week): Religious/political organisation which poses as a well known similarly named scientific institution American College of Pediatricians published “Gender Ideology Harms Children” This document ends up being significant as it ends up going viral among sources who wouldn’t otherwise credit a religious political institution if they had realised.
- March 21st: “Boom of Transgender Children is child abuse” Italian conservative family values observatory.
- March 22nd: Gender Ideology Harms Children (Catholic, also has the same gender cut up iconography graphic as below, with more obviously visible same sex hand holding etc as part of it).
- March 22nd: Gender Ideology Harms Children hits Russian orthodox bloggers
- March 22nd: References to the Vatican’s Gender Ideology theory (Italian).
- March 22nd: (Christian conservative site) 8 reasons why Transgender Conditioning is Child Abuse.
- March 26th: “Transgenderism of Children is Child abuse ACPediatricians rules” — Conservative blog
- March 27th: “TIE Time to Indoctrinate Everybody” — reference to the ACPediatricians
- March 28th: Religious blog: Gender Ideology as a consequence of Secularism
- March 29th: Pseudoscience paper Gender Ideology Harms Children immediately spreading through the catholic blogosphere.
- March 29th: Newman Society: Human Sexuality Policies for Catholics Schools (anxiety about ‘Gender Ideology’)
- March 30th: Baptist press repeats “Gender Ideology Harming Children” story.
- March 30th: Gillian Kane in the Guardian warns that ‘Gender Ideology’ is “big, bogus and coming to a fear campaign near you”. This warning seems to have generally gone unheeded by certain parts of the left.
- March 31st: CatholicMom blog (Brazilian?) on Gender Ideology and the destruction of the Family.
- March 31st: Conservative family values group: “New Documentary Exposes the Global Threat To Children From ‘Comprehensive Sex Education’” — Christian group basically raising the alarm that “Gender Ideology” is out sexualising children (a claim which is increasingly widely being attributed in general to gender and queer theorists).
- April 1st: Theology: “…forward a Gender Ideology that denies that human beings were created as male and female in the image of God.”
- April 6th: Italian Christian group catches up with Gender Ideology Harms Children
- April 7th: [amended: typo] Southern Poverty Law Center release statement criticising the ACPediatricians over their Gender Ideology Harming Children.
- April 8th: Pope Francis talks more about Gender Ideology.
- April 8th: Same day, another Pope Francis article on the dangers of Gender Ideology.
- April 8th: “Catholics cannot accept……. Gender Ideology”.
- April 10th: Illinois Association of School Boards references the pseudoscientific paper alleging harm against children by “transgenderism” and “Gender Ideology” briefly
- April 12th: This time the Anglicans are repeating the “Gender Ideology as a Consequence of Secularism” thing.
- April 12th: Sociologist giving a talk about the demonisation of Gender Ideology by conservatives.
- April 15th: Tasman Catholics speak out against Gender Ideology.
- April 16th: DesMoines Register picks up critically on the growing panic around “Gender Ideology” by hardline Christians.
- April 19th: “Gender Ideology” panic in Armenia leading to gaybashings.
- April 21st: “Navel Gazing about Gender While the World Burns” — conservative Christian blog.
- April 28th: The New Polish government and Gender Ideology (Conservatism, nationalism, Catholicism)
- April 30th: Helen Lewis describes her disagreement with trans activism as a disagreement with Gender Ideology, although due to her claims to being “on the same side” as trans activists, it would appear that she’s using gender ideology in the sociological sense in this instance and not describing a gender ideology which peculiarly only seems to belong to trans people.
- May 2nd: “Gender Dysphoria: When Feelings Replace Fact” — This is by Christian conservatives again. I think the most interesting thing about it is the fact that it is tagged “homosexuality” which seems to feed the later instance of trans people being accused of being mis-led homosexuals (regardless of our actual sexualities in practice honouring our gender identity or not).
- May 4th: Women in the Duma (conservatism and the “Gender Ideology” panic in post-soviet Russia)
- May 4th: Catholic Colleges Embrace ‘Demonic’ Gender Ideology in Housing Policies.
- May 5th: The Christian Right’s Trans Dorm Panic-by the Daily Beast
- May 5th: California Catholic Daily “USF embraces Gender Ideology in Housing Policies”
- May 6th: American Conservative blog: “Localism Globalism and Gender” the dog whistle neofash stuff is starting to wind up here.
- May 6th: Catholic blog editor in chief’s speech contains multiple neo-fascist dog whistles about the “New Global Order”, denounces Gender Ideology.
- May 9th: (Catholic blog) “What the bathroom Wars are Really About”
- May 11th: Gender Ideology panic has infected Brazil.
- May 11th: Politico.eu writes about the dangers of being gay in countries where there is an ongoing backlash against “Gender Ideology” in the EU.
- May 11th: Women of Grace (‘Authentic Femininity’ — catholic blog) “Understanding Gender Ideology (and how to fight it)”
- May 11th: American Conservative blogging “Texas Schools Go Trans”
- May 12th: Conservative bloggers still shilling the ACPediatricians statement.
- May 12th: Youtube fake news network “Exposes the Fraud of Transgenderism”
- May 13th: American Pastors Network, “Transgender Ideology”…”Gender Ideology
- May 13th: Jesuit press: “Schools, the next big arena for the Transgender Debate”
- May 13th: Breitbart on Catholics needing to have anti-Gender Ideology policies for schools.
- May 13th: Breitbart again this time saying “Black pastors slam Obama for … gender ideology…”
- May 14th: Gender Ideology “Worse than Fascism and Communism put together!” say the Polish conservative movement.
- May 14th: Breitbart have another Obama targeted shot at Gender Ideology.
- May 14th: Australian conservatives rail against gender diversity education for school children.
- May 14th: Daily Mail pick up on Australian “Gender Ideology” panic, noting that this horrific experience includes such terrors as talking with kids about breaking down gender stereotypes. This is a big deal because the Daily Mail is one of the biggest press organs in the world on the internet.
- May 15th: Description of ISIL’s ideology and its reaction against “Late Modern Gender Ideology”. Quote “If men were men, then women would be women”
- May 17th: Catholic Strength Now “The Ecology of the Body: Pope Francis says NO to Transgender Ideology and Homosexual Marriage” — Interesting old-timey Raymondesque ecology reference there.
- May 17th: Cardinal against “Demonic” attacks on the family.
- May 18th: Cardinal Sarah is pushing the idea that trans liberation is ideological colonialism again.
- May 18th: [Edit: Hardline Catholic org] American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property claiming Transgenderism is “Exterminating Human Identity”
- May 19th: Italian Cardinal slams gay civil unions and, of course, “Gender Ideology”.
- May 20th: “Envy and Malevolence, the Shaky Foundation of Gender Studies” by a conservative “professors”
- May 21st: Atheist quoting Cardinal saying that Transgender people are bringing about the “Death of God”.
- May 23rd: Conservative blog, “3 ways Conservative Lawmakers should Fight Obama’s Bathroom Directive”
- May 23rd: Family First New Zealand now spreading panic that a “Marxist” is an LGBT advisor in schools. [edit: Cultural Marxism is a common conspiracy theory dog whistle which traces back to original fascists].
- May 25th: Christian Examiner speculating about Caitlyn Jenner.
- May 25th: “A De-Sexed Society is a De-Humanised Society” — Witherspoon Institute, describing certainly one of the earlier times in the western alt-right sphere, “Gender Ideology” as “Cultural Marxism”
- May 25th: Anti-postmodern religious people deconstructing the semiotics of Transgender Bathroom Signage. Which is hilarious if you really think about it.
- May 26th: Cardinal Donald’s blog “The nature of the human being, male or female” — are we getting echos of “Adult Human Female” here? It feels that way.
- May 26th: “Rendering the Sexed Body Legally Invisible: How transgender law hurts women” — by the Witherspoon institute (see also May 25th), who call themselves an independent research institute. They are however described by Wikipedia instead as a “Conservative Think Tank”[edited: and more clearly are known for involvement in campaigning against LGBT equality/civil rights legislation]. This is one of a range of examples where even when there are pseudo-feminist objections to “the gender ideology of Butler and Foucault” under claims of “Gender Ideology”, these in fact turn out to simply be efforts at astroturfing. Of course, there are feminists and leftists who were taken in by this, which means the only possible analysis that can reveal this behaviour is following a chronological view of the literature to view the spread of the term as a meme through the blogosphere and see when and where particular ideas appeared and who introduced them.
- May 27th: “The Mark of the Beast seems a probable reality”
- May 29th: Catholics for America “It’s about more the bathrooms”
- May 31st: The Federalist (a popular american conservative blog) on “Why you should stop using the word ‘Gender’”, (By Stella Morabito who also wrote for the Witherspoon Institute above) presaging contemporary TERFism’s fixation with “sex based oppression” and denouncing any discussion of gender as a wider system of oppression and ideology that might also factor in the ways it affects trans people.
- May 31st: The Federalist “Why the LGBT Community will Self Destruct”. Nice try guys. Didn’t happen.
- June 1st: “World Congress of Families gathering in Tblisi showcases anti-LGBT rhetoric and conspiracy theories”… (more refs to Gender Ideology further in)
- June 1st: “Cardinal Wuerl: The Nature of the Human Being, Male or Female”
- June 1st: “Gender Identity, a Complex Battleground for Religious Freedom”
- June 1st: “Cardinal calls out Demonic Gender Ideology …”
- June 2nd: “The Devil behind Obama’s Demonic Gender Ideology”
- June 2nd: “Transgender teachers in Catholic Schools?”
- June 3rd: “Transgender teacher comes out in Avon School” (catholic blog anxious about Gender Ideology/Bathroom Debate)
- June 3rd: More catholic social media around Gender Ideology.
- June 3rd: Archdiocese of New York mad about Gender Ideology.
- June 6th: More religious analysis of “Gender Ideology”
- June 8th: Repost of Why You Should Stop Using the Word Gender (conspiracy theorist)
- June 8th: “Gender Ideology 5: Subversion of the social order” (conservative)
- June 9th: “New Gender Identity Law Risks Not Helping Transgender People” — bishops angry that they didn’t get enough debate about “Gender Ideology” ahead of law being passed, and the risk of eliminating the “complementarity of the sexes” in language that makes clear they consider Gender Ideology to be far to liberatory.
- June 9th: (Catholic) “Reality Check: Gender Diversity is Driven by a Top Down Ideological Movement”
- June 10th: (Far Right) German Far Right Alternative Fur Deutschland politician mocks “60 new genders” of modern “Gender Ideology”.
- June 10th: Australian Marriage Forum on “Safe Schools” gender ideology (i.e. the australian anti bullying program)
- June 11th: (Catholic) More ideological colonisation claims in the global south.
- June 12th: “You’re Teaching Our Children What?” Conservative family values campaign against anti bullying education in Australia publishes a laundry list of complaints about what it is kids are being taught about Gender Ideology. Marketing campaign following a strikingly similar pattern of accessible albeit easily misunderstood infobites to the later incarnations of FP4W.
- June 14th: More alt right press “Transgender Dorm Rooms”
- June 16th: (Catholic) “Gender Ideology and the Future of the Family”
- June 16th: Report which discusses the increasing recruitment of anti-feminist activism in the form of opposition to “Gender Ideology” and “Gender Theory” for the purposes of Nationalist causes.
- June 17th: “Transgenderism is a Fake Legal Construct” Federalist (conservative/alt-right news and opinions blog)
- June 17th: “Missionaries for a Post Christian America”
- June 20th: Breitbart up in arms about Oregon’s first legal non-binary person (and therefore Gender Ideology).
- June 20th: Illinois Family Institute blames Socialism.
- June 20th: Theologists discuss Gender Ideology in Round Table debate.
- June 20th: (conservative blog) “Is it possible to change your gender?” critical of gender ideology.
- June 23rd: “UN Safe Schools programme is Gender Ideology”
- June 23rd: “Safe Schools is Extreme Sex Education” says flyer sent around people’s houses in Victoria area.
- June 26th: More Transgender Satanic Panic in the Catholic Church
- June 27th: Gender Neutrality has gone too far in schools in England according to this slideshow.
- June 27th: Catholics for America: “Pope Francis on transgender ideology: Leads to laws radically separated from biology, a sin”
- June 27th: Breitbart claim president banned single sex bathrooms for parks, painted as gender ideology.
- June 28th: Cardinal Sarah speaks out again against Gender Ideology.
- June 30th: Conservatives critical of Obama’s “Gender Ideology” again, this time in terms of the Pentagon.
- June 30th: “Fight for religious freedom” (from ‘Gender Ideology’)
- July 1st: Deep Green Resistance talking about “Transgender Ideology” and whether it’s up for debate.
- July 7th: “What is Gender Identity?” ask Focus on the Family, a conservative traditionalist family group.
- July 8th: (catholic) “How a Rolling Sexual Revolution is Crushing Freedom”
- July 19th: (Witherspoon institute, see above) “The Problem with Gender Studies”
- July 20th: Catholic Medical Association: “Gender Choosing” statement against trans treatment for minors.
- July 22nd: Federalist: “Why is this Catholic University Trashing Catholic Teachings On Sexuality?”
- July 25th: Women’s Liberation Front Thinking Differently Conference. Specific references to Stephanie Davies-Arai (of Transgender Trend fame) explaining how groups in the UK are pushing “Gender Ideology” on Young Children. This narrative almost perfectly matches the existing narrative established by the conservative right as a scare story internationally. It’s conceivable that many feminists present who would be used to the Sociological usage of Gender Ideology may be unaware of the widespread and now very well established religious right wing attempt to defame feminist activism generally as “Gender Ideology” — especially when they include figures such as Julie Bindel and Sheila Jeffries who are known for their strong anti-trans points of view. [Edit: I’ve been informed Women’s Liberation Front attended but were not convening this conference.]
- July 30th: “10 Reasons why Transgenderism is The Family’s Worst Enemy”
- July 31st: (Catholic) “Gender Ideology has Permeated into American Students” — describes postmodern feminism as “degenerate” (a Nazi term).
- August 5th: Pope Francis with more “Ideological Colonisation”
- August 5th: “Pope Denounces Transgender Ideology”
- August 7th: Peruvian mayor denounces Women’s March as Gender Ideology.
- August 8th: “Pope Francis condemns transgenderism as ‘annihilation of man’ as Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine vow ‘legislative enactments’” — it looks like Clinton is one of us now?
- August 8th: More Catholics gnashing teeth about Gender Ideology.
- August 8th: Youtube denunciation of “Gender Spectrum Bullshit”
- August 8th: Petition in North Carolina against Gender Unicorn (uses Christian Post as its source of information)
- Auguest 9th: National Catholic Register “Religious Students From Disadvantaged Backgrounds Could Be Most Affected by California Bill”
- August 9th: “Refuse the New Idol Worship”
- August 9th: More re-hashing that ACPediatricians statement by the Catholic right.
- August 11th: “Babyradfem TV” publishes a video “Decide for yourself: Transgender Crime (Jane Williams). This seems to mostly be more and more evidence of buy-in to the idea of a specific trans related Gender Ideology. Although it’s worth pointing out, the channel first uploads footage of a protest in January 2016, which is to say, it doesn’t really have a long timeline predating the Gender Ideology panic. It’s also connected with Deep Green Resistance (who appear earlier) the Ecofeminist transphobic organisation, which has hosted Graham Linehan calling transgender “ideology” as a similar threat to the Nazis recently.
- August 11th: Abortion rights under attack in former Yugoslavia under the auspices of reaction to “Gender Ideology” and particularly sex education.
- August 11th: Thousands of Colombians join nationwide protests against Gender Ideology in public schools. — This is explicitly a reaction to what’s perceived as a “gay agenda”.
- August 11th: (Catholic) Pope Francis, Gender Ideology and Our Colonialist Blinders
- August 12th: Weird homophobic smearing here in the name of calling out “Gender Ideology” and “elites” pushing a “new world order” — that is to say Nazi Dog Whistles.
- August 12th: Orthodox Christian news picking up on the “Gender Ideology” protests in Colombia
- August 12th: Australian Chrstians pick up on connection between their own reactionary right protests against Safe Schools and the protests in Colombia.
- August 12th: Union of Orthodox (Christian) Journalists on the Colombian protests.
- August 12th: Youtube video “Gender Ideology is Child Abuse” by Tuxic Hamster, continental European accent.
- August 12th: National Organisation For Marriage “Stunning Statistics on the Impact of Radical Gender Ideology on Children”
- August 13th: “Pope Francis vs Gender Ideology”
- August 14th: Legal Insurrection (conservative blog) criticising the “Gender Unicorn” idea and advancing the ACPediatricians statement.
- August 14th: “Mary Destroyer of Heresies” by Father Paul Scalia on “The New Gnosticism”
- August 15th: Christian News posting more about the ACPediatricians statement
- August 15th: Research noting the increasing trend of using counter terrorist rhetoric to refer to trans and feminist activity from the backlash to “Gender Ideology”. [edit: This link was corrected thanks to a comment]
- August 15th: Philosophical responses to “Anti-Genderism” the movement backlashing against feminist gender theory, linking the Vatican to Islamophobic movement Pegida.
- August 15th: The first direct linkage of Gender Ideology with “Gender Critical” identity and appears very clearly to be about the conservative sense of Gender Ideology also. Notably this is made to look like the work of ecofeminists, who as any scholar of Janice Raymond knows have a history of being the connection between the Catholic church and radical feminism. It also seems important to note the content of this pamphlet seeks to claim that Gender Ideology is part of a backlash against feminism, contrary to either the sociological view of gender ideology as a collection of ideas about gender which permeate society, or the Catholic view that feminism eroding gender roles by supporting trans people is Gender Ideology and must be stopped for the preservation of the family. Also worth noting this group is based out of Sheffield as demonstrated by the ebay link flogging their pamphlet at the time of writing.
At this point I am taking a break reproducing the missing data from a draft that got destroyed when I first tried to publish. I have managed so far to get a complete (at least complete as I can make it) timeline of the rise in adoption of the transphobic idea of a specific trans related “Gender Ideology”. I’ve stated some constraints on which model of Gender Ideology I’m talking about to distinguish it from the wider sociological concept and distinguished some anti-trans feminist uses of the term from more reactionary ones where that seemed appropriate.
- Summer: Margaret McCarthy writes “Gender Ideology and the Humanum” in the Catholic journal Communio.
“The Theory of gender as a ‘social construct’ is one of the ways that we ‘crucify’ our human nature — and those who speak for it.”
- Winter 2016: Transgenderism, “Marriage Equality”, and Liberalism’s Tragic Error — very conservative and religious.
- February: The Catholic Church issues a listing of teaching material on the issue of Gender Ideology.
- CEPS Journal: The Anti-gender movement in Europe and the Educational Process In Public Schools discusses the rise of widespread mass protests against “Gender Ideology” focused primarily in reaction to marriage equality and the idea that children are being taught “Gender Theory” in schools and being made vulnerable to pederasty.
The same year, the Catholic pro-life website LifeSiteNews.com start advertising Gabriele Kuby’s book on how Transgenderism is a “New Totalitarianism” and slamming “Gender Ideologues”.
- November 29th: Czech blog supposedly on “Violence Against Women”, actually seems mostly concerned “Homosexuals will be declared a superior class”. Very obvious reactionary right take on the pro-transgender Istanbul Convention.
* I’ve been actively anti war since my teens, this is not a defence of the military, but as has been widely pointed out this clearly sends signals to the rest of the US legitimising discrimination.
This text was first published at Mallory’s Medium blog.