WoLF’s Tactical Error in Taking the Aimee Stephens Case

Certain activists have succeeded in painting “radical feminists” as people who oppose any and everything transgender people happen to get up to.

This is not our business.  Our business is protecting the rights of women and girls. How and whether that affects transgender people is beside the point.

Unfortunately, the public missteps of some radical feminists serves only to perpetuate this rumor.

Let’s talk about WoLF’s decision to intervene in the Aimee Stephens case. This was a lawsuit brought by a male transgender person who was fired for dressing in clothing the funeral home deemed appropriate for women.

A couple of points, out of the gate:

  • There were no women or girls involved in this case. Thus, radical feminists should not have shown any interest in this case.
  • To the extent that radical feminists should have an opinion on this case, our opinion should be to support sex non-conformity, just as we’d support it in the case of a woman who wanted to wear pants to work.

We’ve spoken elsewhere about the necessity of plain language that ordinary people, who don’t follow the “gender” debate, can follow and understand. If your position or your justification for it is tortured and difficult to follow, you’re not helping.

On the face of it, this seemed to be WoLF’s position:

  • As feminists, we support non-conformity to sex stereotypes
  • Aimee Stephens is a man
  • Aimee Stephens was fired for dressing in a way that was non-conforming to sex stereotypes
  • We support Aimee Stephens’ termination.

Wait, what?

The tortured bit of information that allowed WoLF to pursue this end, and that completely escaped the general public, as well as many other radical feminists, was this:

  • Aimee Stephens believed he was a woman, so supporting his clothing choices in this case is like validating his belief

There are several things wrong with this:

  1. Who cares! Aimee’s mistaken belief does not, in this case, directly take away the rights of any women or girls.
  2. If something is acceptable, like non-conformity to sex stereotypes, then it’s acceptable regardless of what thoughts people are having while doing it. Ditto with what’s not acceptable. Otherwise, we’re seeking to punish “thought crime,” which isn’t an acceptable legal precedent.
  3. A win for sex non-conformity is a win for women, and we should not interfere with that.

We understand that WoLF prepared a rebuttal for an anticipated argument from Aimee’s lawyer that the lawyer did not, in fact, end up making. But we hold that this doesn’t matter. Again, our proper involvement in this case was no involvement at all. And our proper position in this case was the one that supports sex non-conformity. And a position that stands or falls based on the thoughts swirling in Aimee Stephens’ head is not a good one.

We love WoLF, by the way, and this is not meant in the spirit of in-fighting. This is meant to illuminate the many ways in which we must sharpen our focus, clarify our language, and keep our eyes on what’s important.