(11th April 2021).
Donna Hughes, professor of Women’s Studies at the University of Rhode Island, recently published an essay entitled “Fantasy Worlds on the Political Right and Left: QAnon and Trans-Sex Beliefs”. In response, the university has come under huge pressure from activists who want to force her to resign. Bev Jackson of LGB Alliance wrote a letter of support to the dean and other university administrators, urging them to resist this pressure and instead encourage – and engage in – dialogue.
To: Jeanette Riley, Dean of the College of Arts and Science, University of Rhode Island
Rosaria Pisa, Chair of Gender and Women’s Studies Department, University of Rhode Island
Cc: Provost Donald DeHayes
April 7th, 2021
Dear Dean Riley and Professor Pisa,
I am writing to you in relation to the negative publicity that has arisen around a recent essay “Fantasy Worlds on the Political Right and Left: QAnon and Trans-Sex Beliefs” by Professor Donna Hughes.
I am the co-founder of an organization set up to protect and promote the rights of lesbians, gay men and bisexuals. This sadly proved necessary since all the organizations once set up to champion our rights no longer do so. Instead, they have signed up to the belief that everyone has a “gender identity” that supersedes biological sex in all areas of life. I can well appreciate that since this view has been adopted by the HRC, the ACLU, GLAAD and all other LGBTQ+ organizations in the United States, and is promoted by leading publications such as the New York Times, the Washington Post and even the New Yorker, you may have concluded, whether baffled or otherwise, that this is some new frontier in terms of civil rights that all lesbians, gays and bisexuals, and more generally all progressive Democrats, enthusiastically applaud.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Despite frequent claims to the contrary, there is no scientific evidence whatsoever of the existence of “gender identity”, which is more in the nature of a spiritual belief than anything based on objective evidence. The propagation of the myth that it is possible to change sex is doing untold harm to an entire generation of young people. Those suffering most are young women, especially those who would grow up lesbians if their development were not arrested and placed on an artificial medical pathway to sterility. Many of these young women are on the autism spectrum and/or have other comorbidities. At present, over 40,000 girls and young women are fundraising on GoFundMe to have their breasts amputated. The 4-part documentary on YouTube “Dysphoric” provides useful background on this ongoing flight from womanhood.
Lesbians who refuse to consider persons with male genitalia as potential sexual partners are vilified as “transphobes” and “genital fetishists” and excluded from LGBT+ spaces. Does that sound to you like homophobia? That’s because that is precisely what it is.
Professor Hughes has boldly argued her case. This case is rarely presented by progressive thinkers in the United States. That is not because she is wrong, disrespectful, or “transphobic,” but because of a powerful movement that seeks to silence these opinions and discredit those who express them – as you have experienced since she wrote her essay.
Would you like evidence? We can provide evidence that most girls who self-identify as “trans” are attracted to other girls. We can provide evidence that puberty blockers do not lead to any improvement in psychological wellbeing. We can provide evidence that the suicide statistics bandied about with such irresponsible abandon are highly misleading. We can provide evidence that it is completely unfair to girls and women – and in some cases, dangerous for them – to admit males who identify as women/girls to their sports, prisons, rape shelters and so on.
Our organization, LGB Alliance, was founded in the UK in October 2019. It struck an immediate chord with other lesbians, gay men and bisexuals worldwide, leading to the establishment of 15 similar groups around the world, including the United States.
We bear no ill will to persons who identify as “transgender”. Like everyone else, they deserve to be treated with dignity and accorded equal rights. Equal does not mean more rights than other people. It does not mean the right to abolish a hundred years of women’s rights or fifty years of LGB rights. Above all, it does not mean the right to call hormones and double mastectomies “gender affirming health care” as if this were a benevolent, progressive course of action.
I understand that these ideas may be new to you, or strike you as reactionary. I wish to make it clear (since these accusations are often falsely levelled at us) that we are not politically aligned, that we have no link whatsoever, whether financial or otherwise, to any organization of the religious or far right such as the Heritage Foundation, the Witherspoon Institute etc.
Please look up my background. Until recently I was a pro-refugee activist. I was a founding member of the UK Gay Liberation Front in 1970. I was fighting for gay and lesbian rights then and am doing so again. I never dreamed that it would be necessary to take up this campaign again 50 years later but we are where we are.
I urge you to reject calls to take any disciplinary action against Professor Hughes and instead to stand firm in upholding academic freedom. I strongly support her position and am confident that she will ultimately be proven right. Professor Hughes has a long career of advocating for women’s rights and her most recent essay pursues the same line. It is not hateful to advocate for the rights of women and LGB people. And it is not hateful to speak the truth.
I would be happy to talk to you off the record on Zoom, together with my colleague Lynette Hartsell of LGB Alliance USA, and explain our position at greater length.
Co-founder, LGB Alliance