Matt Walsh has spent the last year and a half on a ruthless campaign against the transgender community, an effort that culminated with his 2022 documentary, What is a Woman?
Now TERFs, an acronym for “trans exclusionary radical feminists,” want Walsh and the Daily Wire to stop taking credit for launching their movement.
While Walsh has become one of the loudest transphobes on the internet, he was far from the first to crusade against what he and his ilk call “gender ideology.”
The term “TERF” was first coined well over a decade ago to broadly describe feminists who reject that transgender women are women, deserve equal rights, and should be allowed in women’s spaces. They’re also described as “gender critical feminists.”
Like Walsh, TERFs don’t take nearly as much issue with transgender men. Both maintain a hyperfocus on trans women instead.
In April, the Daily Wire tweeted that What is a Woman? “started a movement to protect women and children from radical gender ideology.”
Kara Dansky, president of Women’s Declaration International, subsequently wrote an essay dismantling the claim that Walsh deserves credit for singlehandedly launching the movement. Women’s Declaration International describes itself as a “radical feminist” organization and advocates against accepting transgender people into spaces and groups based on their gender identity.
“American feminists are on record as having been complaining about this since 1973, and Matt Walsh did not invent the ‘what is a woman’ question,” Dansky wrote. The “this” she refers to is transgender women being accepted as female.
The Daily Wire’s tweet attracted newfound interest after the documentary was streamed on Twitter late last week. Many people are accusing the Daily Wire of failing to credit the anti-trans advocacy of years gone by.
“You have some nerve erasing every woman who paved the way so that you could turn their movement into your brand/profit,” wrote @MeghanEMurphy. “We appreciate your contributions to our efforts but rewriting history to suit your preferred political narrative instead of supporting the women fighting this is lacking in integrity.”
Twitter user @lascapigliata8 added, “This is how women have been written out of history, men stealing their achievements and men generations later using women’s absence from history to claim women are feeble, incapable and that they need to put up and shut up because without men they would be nothing.”
Another person suggested that Walsh and the Daily Wire should make a “film about the women who actually started this movement.”
“Hint: it wasn’t the Daily Wire and Matt Walsh,” she continued.
Similar comments poured in. One called the claim that Walsh created the gender-critical movement “a load of bullshit.”
“Women have been fighting this for much longer than most of us can imagine,” he tweeted. “Matt Walsh didn’t start any of this at all. He just jumped on a very worthwhile bandwagon.”
Some who support Walsh and the film nevertheless took issue with the assertion that he singlehandedly launched the campaign to oppose transgender rights.
Some people opined that if anyone deserves credit for the surge of anti-trans “feminism” in recent years, it’s author J.K. Rowling.
@EverydayisWedn3 described Rowling’s 2020 essay on the subject as “the watershed moment that made TERF Island.”
Another critique that has bubbled up is that Walsh is not a feminist.
In her essay, Dansky of Women’s Declaration International asserted that Walsh “hates all of feminism” and “steadfastly ignores feminists.”
“Feminists have been fighting the stereotypical & regressive idea of gender for decades,” @MikiB007 tweeted on Sunday.
“Matt Walsh, a misogynist who’s been arguing the opposite for 5 minutes, hasn’t ‘started a movement to protect women,’ & isn’t a ‘solution’ to the debate.”