OPEN LETTER TO DEMOCRACY NOW: COVER THE CASS REPORT ON LACK OF EVIDENCE FOR “GENDER-AFFIRMING CARE” FOR MINORS!

This letter was sent out on May 9, 2024 to Amy Goodman and Democracy NOW, written by a FIST committee, and approved by FIST’s membership.

Feminists in Struggle (FIST)
Attn: Democracy Now!
RE: Coverage of the Cass Review

May 9, 2024

Dear Amy Goodman and team at Democracy Now!

We are Feminists in Struggle, a national female-only, radical feminist network fighting for women’s liberation from sex-based oppression. Many of our members have been long-time listeners and supporters of Democracy Now! We appreciate your contributions to U.S. journalism over the past several decades – and for the information you continue to disseminate every week.

That said, we are curious about the conspicuous lack of coverage into The Cass Review, an Independent review of gender identity services for children and young people, conducted by British Pediatrician Dr. Hilary Cass, and released on April 9, 2024 to major headlines around the world. The Cass Review constitutes the largest and most comprehensive examination of the evidence base to date for pediatric gender medicine, including 237 papers from 18 countries and 113,269 children and adolescents.

Dr. Hilary Cass was commissioned by the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) to lead this exhaustive, systematic review due to her decades of renowned work as a British pediatrician with research interests including autistic spectrum conditions, cognitive impairments, and the care of children with multiple disabilities. Conducted over a four year period, the Cass Review contains nearly 400 pages and 32 recommendations — with a rather damning commentary about the “lack of an effective evidentiary base” supporting youth gender medicine practices. This includes the effectiveness and safety of prescribing puberty blockers, and emphasizes the importance of using “extreme  caution” when prescribing hormone or other medical interventions for minors due to the risks for causing permanent infertility, chronic medical conditions, and impairment of the permanent infertility, chronic medical conditions, and impairment of the ability to experience sexuality outweighing the possible benefits.

The UK formally closed its pediatric Gender Identity Services (GIDS) on March 24, 2024 and other nations (including Finland, Norway, and Sweden) have also been rolling back their services for youth and favoring a much more conservative approach to treatment
and clinical care with this vulnerable population. The Cass Review specifically highlights the necessity of using comprehensive, “holistic” clinical screenings and assessments in treating minors, as childhood and adolescence are unique developmental stages distinct from adulthood, and require non-medicalized approaches to care.

Additionally, the Cass Review underlines the fact that there is often an extremely high rate of co-occurring mental health conditions in minors seeking gender identity services (including complex post-traumatic stress, major depression, eating disorders, and neurodevelopmental conditions such as autism) that must be considered, addressed, and treated using a bio-psycho-social model, rather than an affirm-and-medicalize approach. Evidence also demonstrates that a significant number of gender confused youth will eventually  “grow out” of their distress – as many are simply gender nonconforming, neurodifferent, and/or bisexual, lesbian, or gay. To medically transition an autistic, gay, lesbian, or bisexual child on the basis of “gender identity” alone constitutes reparative therapy and eugenics as well as what has been long delegitimized and rejected as “conversion therapy.”

The Cass report also raised alarms about the striking, historically unprecedented increase in the number of adolescent girls referred to the UK’s Gender Identity Services (rising from 15 to 1,071) over the seven year period from 2009 – 2016. What, exactly, is driving this entirely new cohort to seek services from gender medicine clinics? Reem Alsalem, the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women and Girls, recently expressed her concern about the “devastating consequences on the human rights of children and girls” being caused by the blind adherence to gender identity ideology over sound, long-established clinical practice.

It is beyond time to bring all of the evidence to light in the discussion of gender identity ideology and to return to the use of unbiased journalistic principles —we’d like to see your fair and unbiased coverage of the Cass Review.

In solidarity with other radical feminists:

● We request a published explanation as to why the Cass Report, taken very seriously in Europe, and covered by all major European media outlets, has not been mentioned at all on Democracy Now!

● We request that Democracy Now! repair this serious omission immediately.

● We request that Democracy Now! differentiate between sex and gender in reporting.

● We request that Democracy Now! cover gender identity issues going forward in compliance with basic rules of journalism — balanced, presenting multiple opinions from multiple sources.

Again, we thank you for the valuable work you do and look forward to your future reporting on the important findings of the Cass Review.

Sincerely,

FIST

EXCITING PROGRAM PLANNED FOR FIRST NATIONAL FIST CONFERENCE July 5th to 7th 2024

THIS JULY, DECLARE YOUR INDEPENDENCE FROM THE PATRIARCHY!

Registration Open Now

OUR RADICAL ROOTS:
A Women’s Liberat
ion Organizing Conference

July 5th to 7th 2024 in a beautiful location with gardens, walkways, good food, comfy beds and swimming pool approx. one hour from San Diego

The Program starts Friday night with a plenary on “No More Witch-hunts: Tactics & Strategies for Defending Feminists Jobs, Livelihoods and Public Activism.”  The panel consists of four speakers, Ann Menasche (founding member of FIST), Thistle Pettersen (singer-songwriter & founder of Women’s Liberation Radio News) , Christy Hammer (Univ. of So. Maine professor of Education) and Denise Traina (co-chair of the Georgia Green Party & Green Alliance for Sex-Based rights) who have lost jobs and/or have been subjected to harassment or witch-hunting including within the Left because they recognize that sex exists and support the rights of women based on sex and the rights of lesbians based on sexual orientation. We will discuss strategies for how to fight back successfully against these misogynistic and homophobic attacks.

On Saturday morning after a short walk, we will participate in a plenary “Our Radical Roots: Taking Back the Left for Feminism” with presentations by Max Dashu (feminist historian) Fran Luck (host of WBAI Joy of Resistance multicultural feminist programming), and Kathie Sarachild (one of the founding mothers of Second Wave Radical Feminism).   This will be followed by two workshops to choose from, one on working with other feminists who are not yet gender critical on core feminist issues (led by Dena from FIST), and the second one on Guerilla Strategies led by Jessika Gonzalez, (TERF Collective).

After lunch, there will be a brief presentation on feminist strategy by Hilla Kerner (Vancouver Rape Relief), and then FIST members will  participate in a discuss and vote on a proposal outlining plans for our future work, “Looking Forward;   Proposal for Growing FIST and building a multi-issue radical feminist movement.”  We will then take a two hour break to swim, socialize with our sisters, take a nap, or whatever we’d like to do.  Before dinner we will break up into regional causes to discuss how to carry out the Looking Forward proposal in our local and regional areas.

Saturday night should be great fun. We will begin with an inspiring pre-recorded talk about the importance of the Equal Rights Amendment by ERA attorney Wendy Murphy.  We will then be treated to a concert by Thistle Pettersen performing her original feminist folk music, followed by dancing and socializing.

Sunday, after breakfast, there will be a second set of workshops, one on “Transing Away the Lesbian: Strategies for Ending the Homophobic Practice of Gender Affirming Care”  led by Carol (a detransitioner), and Arianne (LBG Alliance USA); and the second on Defending Women’s Spaces let by Hilla Kerner (Vancouver Rape Relief) and Amie Ichikawa (Women II Women).  There will then be a plenary presentation and discussion on “Strategies for winning back abortion rights”  led by abortion rights pioneer and author Merle Hoffman,  Merle is a founder of one of the earliest abortion clinics in New York, a founder of the National Abortion Federation, a leader of Rise Up for Abortion Rights https://merlehoffman.com/and recently authored a book,  Choices: A Post-Roe Abortion Rights Manifesto. The final plenary will be a participatory exercise in envisioning a future of women’s liberation.  We will enjoy a final meal together and may stay after lunch for a final swim.

Throughout the conference, presentations will be short to allow plenty of time for discussion and sharing of ideas.  We are building a movement and all of our voices and energies our needed.

Sign-up soon as there are limited spaces at the venue.  Deadline for registration is May 31, 2024.  Payment is due on or before June 15, 2024.  Any last minute requests to register after the deadline, please contact us at admin@feministstruggle.org and we’ll check with the venue.

ALSO, HELP WITH OUR FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGN TO FUND SCHOLARSHIPS AND SPEAKERS’ TRAVEL EXPENSES FOR THE CONFERENCE!  You can donate here: https://feministstruggle.org/donate/. Please indicate in the notes that it is for the Conference. We aim to raise $5,000 before June 15, 2024.  Individuals, male or female, are encouraged to donate, but we do not take money from right wing groups or corporations. 

SISTERHOOD IS POWERFUL!

ZOMBIE LAWS AND ZOMBIE STRATEGIES

by Ann Menasche

The opinion below is that of the author and does not necessarily represent those of Feminists in Struggle.

The contemporary anti-feminist backlash is reaching far back into our nation’s history – the mid to late 19th century – to revive horrible misogynist laws that should have been long dead and buried.  These laws arose during an earlier backlash against the First Wave of Feminism, in response to women organizing against our oppression.  That was a time when women still didn’t have the vote, and could not own property.  However, the birthrate for white women had fallen to 3.5 child per couple from seven in 1800, with abortion commonplace and performed by women.  This was of great concern to the white fathers running the country including those of the medical establishment just consolidating their power.

One such “zombie law” is Arizona’s draconian anti-abortion law which outlaws virtually all abortions, recently upheld by the Arizona Supreme Court.   Under this law passed in 1864 anyone who provides supplies or administers an abortion or abortion drugs can be charged with a crime and if convicted, receive between 2 and 5 years in prison.  The only exception is when the abortion is necessary to save the life of the woman.

Another “zombie law” is the 1873 Comstock Act against obscenity, a law that bans the use of mail to transport “lewd” materials.  This law was used to imprison and deport lesbian Jewish radical leftist Eve Adams in the early twentieth Century for authoring a book containing lesbian love stories. She ended up dying in the Holocaust. The Comstock Act’s anti-abortion provisions are being resurrected by the Christian Right in the case against the FDA currently pending before the Supreme Court aimed at stopping the distribution of the abortion drug, mifepristone.

But it gets worse.  The current backlash is impeding the ability to fight back effectively against this attack.  The strongest argument for abortion rights especially post-Dobbs is the equality argument, i.e., that abortion bans and restrictions discriminate against women as a sex.  This was recognized by Justice Ginsberg decades ago when she wrote, “Legal challenges to undue restrictions on abortion procedures do not seek to vindicate some generalized notion of privacy; rather they center on a woman’s autonomy to determine her life’s course and thus to enjoy equal citizenship stature.”  It has been successfully argued in states that have state ERAs such as Pennsylvania where that state’s Supreme Court opined that pregnancy is a sex based condition and abortion restrictions impact women’s status.  The sex equality approach to abortion rights would be even stronger if abortion advocates argued that the fully ratified national ERA should be treated as the law of the land and a strict scrutiny test utilized to challenge anti abortion laws as discriminatory against women.

Yet, abortion rights groups like Planned Parenthood, the National Abortion Federation and Trust Women are helping the enemy by disappearing women from the picture, talking about “pregnant people” and “birthing bodies.”  To make matters worse, Trust Women recently force- teamed abortion rights with access to so-called “gender affirming care” the euphemism for the sterilization and mutilation of lesbian/gay and gender non-conforming adolescents and young people  through puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, double mastectomies, and genital surgeries.   This is a kiss of death to the abortion rights struggle.  As the Cass Report issued by the National Health Service in the UK documented, child transition is without a basis in scientific evidence and is far more harmful than helpful.  It is causing untold harm to a generation of mostly lesbian and gay youth who have been indoctrinated to believe their body is “wrong” and in need of these drastic medical interventions to be themselves. “Gender affirming care” has nothing to do with the right to safe legal abortion which is essential for women’s freedom and is shown to save women’s lives.

Abortion is about the fundamental right of WOMEN to decide if and when they will bear a child.  A feminist struggle is what won abortion rights to begin with and it is the only force that can win it back.

FEMINISTS IN STRUGGLE’S FIRST NATIONAL CONFERENCE

Welcome to

Feminists in Struggle’s
FIRST NATIONAL CONFERENCE

Registration Open Now

OUR RADICAL ROOTS:
A Women’s Liberation Organizing Conference

July 5th to 7th 2024

in a beautiful location with gardens, walkways, and swimming pool
approx. one hour from San Diego

FEATURING:

  • Max Dashu (remote, feminist historian & author)
  • Ann Menasche (FIST)
  • Christy Hammer (FIST)
  • Thistle Pettersen (folk musician & founder of WLRN)
  • Hilla Kerner (Vancouver Rape Relief)
  • Carol (de-transitioner)
  • Amie Ichikawa (Woman to Woman, advocacy group for women in prison)
  • Wendy Murphy (remote, ERA activist & attorney)
  • Dr. Suzanne Vierling (FIST)
  • Arianne (LGB Alliance USA)

Schedule still being finalized.

The Conference is Women-only.

Register Now

OUR RADICAL ROOTS: A WOMEN’S LIBERATION ORGANIZING CONFERENCE 7/5 TO 7/7 SAN DIEGO

Tickets will be on sale soon to attend the first national conference of Feminists In Struggle.  The women-only conference entitled “Our Radical Roots: A Women’s Liberation Organizing Conference”  will take place in a beautiful location with gardens, walkways and a swimming pool approximately one hour from San Diego from Friday night 7/5 to Sunday afternoon 7/7.

The conference will feature renown feminist speakers such as Max Dashu (feminist historian & author who will appear remotely), Ann Menasche (FIST), Christy Hammer (FIST),  Thistle Pettersen (folk musician & founder of WLRN) who will be performing her original feminist music, Hilla Kerner (Vancouver Rape relief, Carol  (de-transitioner), Amie Ichikawa (Woman to Woman, advocacy group for women in prison, Wendy Murphy (ERA attorney who will be appearing by video), Dr. Suzanne Vierling (FIST) and Arianne (LGB Alliance USA).

Attendance is relatively low cost with some full and partial scholarships available.

This will be a highly interactive organizing conference with plenty of time to ask questions, and discuss a variety of feminist issues.  A focus will be how to build FIST as a grassroots left-wing democratically-run membership organization dedicated to a renewed multi-issue radical feminist movement.  There will also be plenty of time to socialize, make new friends, and enjoy the surroundings with your sisters in the struggle.

This event is not to be missed!

HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY – REMEMBERING OUR RADICAL ROOTS

International Women’s Day (IWD) this year is the fifth anniversary of the founding of Feminists in Struggle!  It is also the year that we will FINALLY have our national conference, long-delayed due to Covid.  Ticket sales for the July 5th to 7th FIST organizing conference in the San Diego area will be announced in the next couple of weeks. STAY TUNED!

One of our members prepared the article below on the history of IWD, which provides lots of useful information for all of us. The opinions contained herein are her own.

Sisterhood is Powerful! 

Let’s keep our eyes on the prize! We WILL prevail!

 

THE HISTORY OF INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY

By Feminist Writer

International Women’s Day (IWD) falls on the 8th day of March every year and Women’s History Month (WHM) spans the month of March. Both of these markers have histories that we need to know about if we are to take on the considerable challenges we face in the present–a time when, although we have come very far and have much to celebrate, critical rights that women have already won are being taken away! These include the right to decide when and if we will bear children (since the overturn of Roe v Wade in 2022) as well as the erasure of the very word for our sex–“woman”. The study of our history and how women and our movements have, time after time, triumphed over every kind of obstacle, can help us find inspiration and lessons that can help us win the struggles we face today.

What follows is a chronology of the histories of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, followed by an overview of our present situation as women.

How International (Working) Women’s Day came to be:

1909–On November 23, 1909, sparked by an impassioned call to strike by a young woman garment worker named Clara Lemlich, an 11-week general strike against the horrific working conditions in New York’s shirtwaist industry was called. It was dubbed the “Uprising of the 20,000″ and started five years of revolt that transformed the garment industry in New York City  into one of the best-organized trades in the United States.

1910—At a meeting in Copenhagen of Socialists from all over the world—The Second Socialist International—socialist Clara Zetkin proposed an annual celebration of “International Working Women’s Day” to commemorate the 1909 labor uprising in New York—the motion was seconded by Lenin himself.

1911–International Working Women’s Day is celebrated for the first time.

March 8, 1917—A women’s uprising in St. Petersburg, Russia, “for bread and land and peace” is the spark that ignites the Russian Revolution, with a Strike that topples the Czar within four days of the women’s protest. Thereafter, around the world, International Working Women’s Day or IWWD is celebrated on March 8.

1947–The last year that there is any record of IWWD being celebrated in the U.S. (until the 1960’s), as after World War II, the “Cold War” with the Soviet Union puts IWWD under suspicion, because people who are seen as in any way participating in groups or events associated with Socialism or Communism are being brought before the House Un-American Activities Committee and are often blacklisted and lose their jobs. This “black list” period puts a chill on events, groups and beliefs associated in any way with Socialism, Communism and International Women’s Day is one of the casualties.

1960’s—In the mid-1960’s, the “Second Wave of Feminism” begins—both the Betty Friedan wing (National Organization for Women)–which fought for pay equity–and the more radical wing, known as the Women’s Liberation Movement, which questioned everything about the position of women and laid the foundation for a wide range of issues we still fight for—the right to abortion, against sexual harassment and rape, available childcare and more. The movement also uncovers the lack of inclusion of women in conventional “history”.

1969–A Berkeley Women’s Liberation group, organizes the first street action to celebrate IWWD in the U.S. since 1947, led largely by a woman known as Laura X. There’s a parade; women dress as female historical figures–and Liberation News Service (a Left movement news service of the day) picks up the story that IWWD is once again being publicly celebrated in the streets of the U.S. and spreads the story to other news services, internationally.

Many around the world are inspired–and the next year, International Women’s Day Celebrations are held in 30 countries!

Women’s History Month chronology

1981— After the Civil Rights Movement and the Feminist Movement have taken off, there is pressure on Congress from women’s groups, such as the National Women’s History Project, which causes Congress to officially institute Women’s History Week, which is inspired by the parallel struggle by Black activists for a Black History Week.

1987–After five more years of pressure, Congress expands Women’s History Week to a full month: Women’s History Month–as happened when Black History Week was expanded to Black History Month. The impetus is the growing awareness that the histories of both groups have been erased and need to be studied and publicized widely.

International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month and our present day reality

Each year women have defined IWD and WHM in terms of how they see the politics of the present moment. Some recent expressions have been regressive, such as calls in 2023 for a celebration of “International Women’s and Non-Binary Day” that removes the focus away from our rights as a sex, and a concentration on the achievements of “famous women”, while ignoring the historical context of their achievement and the need for movements that will move all women forward.

In 2024 we face a landscape that is especially challenging since the overturning of one of the feminist movement’s greatest (though far from perfect) achievements–Roe v Wade, and a right wing determined to take away every reproductive right we have won, including contraception, as they work toward declaring every fetus, zygote and embryo a “person”, thereby making every abortion a ‘murder’!

We also face, from the supposed “Left” the erasure of the very word for our sex–”woman”, along with attacks, including violence, when we try to meet in women-only settings; we’re also facing the erosion of another feminist legislative victory–Title IX–which enabled the growth of women’s sports and is now being threatened by allowing biological men to compete with women.

Aside from these new threats, the old ones persist: the everyday threats of violence, including sexual violence, from male strangers as well as intimates; the the disparities in pay and promotion between women and men (which are even worse for women of color) and sexual harassment on the job as well as the sexist stereotypes women are subject to in every walk of life. So, along with much to celebrate, as our movement has made a huge difference overall in the lives of women, we still have a long way to go. Let’s celebrate what we’ve won for our sex and move ahead together with a vibrant and strengthened feminist movement, drawing sustaining energy from our history and also not forgetting our very great achievements!

 

 

 

 

 

FEMINIST FORUM 3/30 – CRUEL & UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT – MEN IN WOMEN’s PRISON

Please join us for this fascinating and controversial topic on Saturday March 30 at 11:00 a.m. Pacific time!

TICKETS ON SALE NOW! 

FEMINIST FORUM : CRUEL & UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT – MEN IN WOMEN’S PRISONS Tickets, Sat, Mar 30, 2024 at 11:00 AM | Eventbrite

 

Women prisoners are among the most vulnerable women in our society. They are often poor and disproportionately women of color. Many have experienced sexual and physical violence and abuse often at the hands of men. Women in prison are frequently raped and sexually abused by male prison guards. Now, under a new California law, they are being placed in even greater jeopardy: male prisoners who self-identify as women are being placed into women’s prisons. Many of these males have been convicted of raping, abusing and/or murdering women and girls.

Hear two speakers who represent the perspectives of the incarcerated women who have had this law imposed on them:

1) AMIE ICHKAWA is formerly incarcerated and a founding member and executive director of Woman II Woman. She works directly with women in prisons nationwide with a large focus on California. Woman II Woman champions the rights and welfare of sisters through advocacy and education, along with providing services for parole suitability hearings, commutation preparation, and one-on-one re-entry support, welcoming women back into the community with dignity and respect through a team who have lived the experience.

2) DR. SUZANNE VIERLING has extensive experience in higher education, mental health administration and international consultation. She is a global leader with proven capabilities for driving initiatives and programs across all organizational levels. Dr. Vierling’s expertise includes assessment and accreditation, online learning, compliance, as well as poverty, child welfare, community psychology, foster care, women & bioethics, human trafficking, mental health and juvenile detention. She is a member of Feminists in Struggle.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape by Sohaila Abdulali: A Book Review 

Jocelyn Crawley is a FIST member who authored this review on the important topic of rape. The opinions are that of the author and do not necessarily represent the positions of FIST.

Rape remains central to the way patriarchy operates. In her important book What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape, Sohaila Abdulali discusses how the ongoing reality of sexual assault impacts survivors and the communities in which they live. Reading this work provides radical feminists with fresh insights regarding why rape is still prevalent and what we should be doing about it.

The introduction of What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape is meaningful for many reasons, including the presence of an important question: “How have we managed to evolve as a species that is riddled with rape? When did we give ourselves permission to become this way?” (2) These interrogations are important because they prevent us from falling into the normal mental pattern of perceiving rape as an inevitable part of life and cause us to think of sexual assault as the horrific, dehumanizing reality that it is.

One of the most compelling sections of the text unfolds in Chapter Two, where the author recounts public response to the brutal gang rape and murder of Jyoti Singh in New Delhi. People protested by raising signs which read “Don’t tell your daughter not to go out. Tell your son to behave properly” (8). However, negative messaging and response to the rape and murder of Jyoti Singh coincided with the protests. Specifically, one of the rapists stated on film that “only about twenty percent of girls are “good.” If they go out at night with boys, they are asking for trouble. If they don’t want to be killed, they should just lie back and submit. He and his friends were teaching Jyoti a lesson, he said, and her death was an accident. (8). Here, feminists can see that misogyny is still a prevalent element of male socialization such that rape is permissible because men identify traits in women which make them worthy of their wrath.

For many years, many radical feminists have pointed out that while many aspects of rape are problematic, one of the most disquieting, discouraging realities of sexual assault is the lack of concern for the victim. The term “victim-blaming” was coined to reflect the lack of empathy and positive attention given to survivors, and Abdulali speaks to this reality by noting that “the victim remains the least important factor” (33). To recognize how this abstract impression works on the concrete level, consider Abdulali’s assertion that “Sometimes women tell but everyone acts as if they said nothing at all. One woman emailed me: “I told my parents about it and they did nothing. Absolutely nothing. I felt so betrayed. Everyone in my family knew but still he was there at each and every family function. He even works at my uncle’s shop” (18,19). Here, women who are committed to global female liberation can see the need to recentralize the holistic recovery of rape survivors when strategic acts of resistance to patriarchy are being developed.

As 2024 continues to unfold, rape must remain an integral element of radical feminist discourse and strategic work towards the liberation of women and girls from the sexual tyranny of men. Women-centered women can refer to Sohaila Abdulali’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape to obtain more information regarding how discourse regarding sexual assault unfolds and what strategies feminists can develop to resist the minimization of female experiences under patriarchy.

 

JOIN US FOR A ZOOM FORUM: WOMEN, WAR, AND THE PALESTINIAN-ISRAELI CONFLICT ON FEBRUARY 10th

FEMINIST FORUM: WOMEN, WAR, AND THE PALESTINIAN-ISRAELI CONFLICT

Feminists in Struggle presents a diverse group of feminists from the United States and Israel who all share a pro-peace perspective for a panel discussion on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and issues of war, peace and occupation as they impact women and girls.

Saturday, February 10th, 11:00 a.m. Pacific time, 2:00 p.m. Eastern.  

Tickets on sale now for only $5.00 plus service charge.

FEMINIST FORUM: WOMEN, WAR, AND THE PALESTINIAN-ISRAELI CONFLICT Tickets, Sat, Feb 10, 2024 at 11:00 AM | Eventbrite

SPEAKERS:

1) CINDY SHEEHAN – is an American anti-war activist, mother and grandmother, whose son, U.S. Army Specialist Casey Sheehan, was killed during the Iraq War . She attracted national and international media attention in August 2005 for her extended antiwar protest outside President George W. Bush’s Texas Ranch. Her memoir, Peace Mom: A Mother’s Journey through Heartache to Activism, was published in 2006. Sheehan was the 2012 vice-presidential nominee of the Peace and Freedom Party and ran for California Governor in 2014. She runs a substack podcast called “Cindy Sheehan’s soapbox” and continues to speak out against war and imperialism, including against the genocide in Gaza.

2) DORIS BITTAR – Artist, writer, educator and civil rights organizer, Doris Bittar has lived in California since 1986. She was the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee West Coast Coordinator for three years, San Diego Chapter President for seven years. Bittar was born in Baghdad, Iraq of Lebanese and Palestinian parents. She is nationally and internationally exhibiting artist whose works are in collections in the US, the Arab World and Europe. She was a professor of art for 25 years at UCSD, Cal State San Marcos. the American University of Beirut, and was visiting scholar at NYU in 2017. Her current project, Colonial Colonnade premiered at the Arab American National Museum in November 2023.

3) HANNAH SAFRAN – Feminist, lesbian, peace activist and veteran of Women in Black in Haifa, Israel. She was one of the women who started the vigil with the slogan “An End to the Occupation” in March 1988, close to the beginning of the first intifada. She has been active at Isha L-lsha the Haifa feminist center and is currently involved in its feminist archive and library.  She has done research and taught in Women’s Studies in academic institutions. Her work on the history of the Jewish suffrage movement in Palestine in the 1920’s and the beginnings of the feminist movement of the 70’s was published in a book. She has also published articles on the history of the feminist-lesbian movement and the women’s peace movement. She has been actively involved in the protest movement against the war on Gaza and for the return of the kidnapped people

4) ROMI ELNAGAR – is a retired teacher-librarian with long-standing personal ties to the Middle East. She majored in Third World colonial history (modern Asian, African and Latin American histor), and has lived and travelled in the Middle East. She converted (“reverted”) to Islam more than forty years ago, has made the hajj to Mecca, and has studied the Koran extensively in English translations. For many years, she has helped families in Gaza with their basic needs. As a teacher, mother and grandmother, she is especially concerned with the struggle of Palestinian women under the Occupation, and the special challenges women face in that struggle. She is a proud member of Feminist in Struggle.

5) ANN MENASCHE is a life-long radical lesbian feminist, socialist and anti-war activist proud of her Sephardic Jewish heritage. Members of her family lived in Turkey and Greece under Ottoman rule and some were murdered in the Holocaust. While in college, she rejected the Zionism she grew up with and came to advocate peace, justice and equality between the two peoples living in the holy land and an end to occupation, discrimination, and apartheid. She is horrified at the genocide going on against Palestinians in Gaza and believes “never again” means for everybody. She works as a Civil rights attorney for low income tenants and unhoused clients. Ann is a founding member and member of the Coordinating Committee of Feminists in Struggle.

THIS IS A WOMEN-ONLY EVENT. Male allies are welcome to watch our zoom videos on Youtube.

FIST ENDORSES CALIFORNIA’S PROTECT KIDS INITIATIVE

After vigorous discussion and a vote of our members, Feminists in Struggle has endorsed California’s Protect Kids Initiative https://protectkidsca.com/, a voter initiative that is now being circulated for signatures.  The Initiative would protect children and teens under the age of 18 who are lesbian or gay, gender non-conforming, autistic or otherwise “different” from their peers, from sterilization and permanent bodily harms as a result of so-called “gender affirming care.”  It would require that parents be notified should a child publicly adopt a “gender identity”  that denies the physical reality of their sex, leading to a path of life-long medicalization, worsened health and shortened lives.  And it would preserve girls’ changing rooms and girls’ sports programs for junior high and high school students as female-only in the interest of girls’ privacy and equal opportunity.

As radical feminists and Leftists, we reject the idea that children who fail to conform to rigid sex roles and stereotypes are born in the “wrong” body.  We disagree that such children’s heathy bodies need “fixing” by drastic quasi-medical interventions such as puberty blockers, cross sex hormones, double mastectomies and genital surgeries.  “Masculine” girls (traditionally referred to as “tomboys”) and “feminine” boys are fine just as they are.  They should be free to dress and express themselves as they like and pursue whatever interests they desire regardless of their sex. Lesbian, gay and bisexual teens should be free to explore their sexual and romantic attractions with their peers just as their heterosexual counterparts do, without discrimination or stigma.

We in FIST name the medicalization of these children as the sexist and homophobic practice that it is, harming overwhelming girls, many of whom would grow up to be lesbians.  This practice is also the biggest medical scandal of the past three quarters of a century, leading to not only sterilization, but early onset osteoporosis, undeveloped brains and respiratory systems, an inability to ever experience sexual pleasure as an adult, and an increased risk of stroke and cancer.

As one of our members, Javiera, explained it, “As a mother to 2 young children, it feels very important to me that we protect children from these harmful practices. These are children’s lives and futures at stake here.  It is important to me that we redirect and correct course. Yes, a lot of work needs to be done…adults need support in supporting their gender non-conforming and/or gay/lesbian children. But I really believe we must come together and stop these institutions and corporations from implanting the ideas of “born in the wrong body,”  protect our children from being “at war” with themselves, and come back to being embodied people working towards loving and accepting ourselves.”