Phyllis Schlafly did extensive damage to the Feminist movement in the 1970's but associating Feminism with Lesbianism. This resulted in scaring mainstream Feminists away, who at that time were for the most part suburban housewives tired of being treated like chattel.
Today's divide and conquer proponent is Cathy Brennan a woman that identifies as a radical Feminist but vociferously opposes the exsistance of Transgender women as Feminists of any stripe. She is a Feminist separatist to the nth degree. And blatantly calls Transgenter Women rapists or worse at every opportunity.
As a Transgender Man I consider myself a Jedi Level Feminist, as I have seized patriarchy. In attempting to educate Radfems, including Roseanne Barr, about the caustic nature of the divisiveness inherent in excluding Transgender Women from Feminism Brennan herself referred to me on Twitter as a Transgender rapist, and then subsequently blocked me. So much for educating.
What better way to enact the politics of division than to focus on a group that society deems as less than?
Like Schlafly before her Brennan is losing momentum in her efforts to paint Transgender Women as nothing more than men in dresses. The following editorial in Salon calls her and her ilk out for the hate mongering disguised as Feminism she is really selling.
But the most insidious beat in this nasty narrative has come in the wake of the TERFs’ most recent conference, Radfem 2013 — the TERFs are now painting themselves as silenced victims because of their difficulties in securing space for their conference. Forbes bought into this sob story wholesale. And even the leftist publication CounterPunch has felt the need to cover “both sides” of the issue in a series of articles that debate the legitimacy of transgender identity as if we were theoretical abstractions and not human beings. There are not two sides to a debate about whether a group of people should exist.
Furthermore, if the anti-trans* rhetoric that has appeared on CounterPunch over the last two months were transposed onto gay or lesbian identity, leftists would instantly recognize it as homophobic. If Julian Vigo questioned the existence of “straight privilege” instead of the existence of “cisgender privilege,” she would be instantly shouted down by a chorus of gay-affirmative voices. If she posited that lesbians are “confused” in the same way that she argues that transgender folks “confuse sex with gender,” she would be shown the door at any leftist publication worth its salt.
Let there be no mistake: the only reason this bigotry can proceed unchecked, unexamined and unquestioned in leftist circles is because trans* folks are so vulnerable. We don’t have access to enough avenues for publication, we don’t have enough financial resources, and we don’t have enough political clout to fight back as ferociously as we would like to. This is bullying at its simplest: pundits of both liberal and radical varieties can demonize us, ignore us, and question our legitimacy because they can get away with it. We are strong and resilient in the face of this pushback; we have to be. But we can’t do it on our own.
P.S. I'm not giving up on Roseanne Barr unlearning this hate. She said homophobic things in her act in the eighties. And after she was educated has gone above and beyond what non-LGBT's have done for the LGB movement since learning more.