In recent years, the antifa movement has become a household name, as former President Donald Trump and other Republicans stoked fears of the left-wing protest group, blaming it for acts of violence. The movement has also inspired conspiracy theories, as some conservatives tried to claim it was behind the California wildfires in 2018.
Trump even tried to officially designate antifa a terrorist organization—a difficult task considering there is no national antifa organization, only a decentralized network of autonomous groups and protesters.
Google searches of the term antifa peaked in early June 2020, amid the nationwide protests against the death of George Floyd, during which antifa was frequently blamed for vandalism and looting. In reality, those activities were mainly caused by “local hooligans, sometimes gangs, sometimes just individuals that are trying to take advantage of an opportunity,” Seth Jones of the Center for Strategic and International Studies told the Washington Post.
Searches of antifa have since tapered off, but some conservative figures are now reigniting fears about a purported new iteration of the movement: “Trantifa.”
“It’s the same movement really, it’s just their current manifestation,” conservative commentator Andy Ngo told Fox News Wednesday night. He added that “now they’re going after parents and what they call cis women, cis girls, and by that I mean biological, real women and girls.”
Ngo claimed Trantifa “allows for particularly violent, misogynist men to take out their hatred against women under the guise of trans activism or trans rights, and it allows women, who are taking crosssex hormones and taking on some male-typical behaviors for violence to then also partake in that violent criminality.”
Other right-wing commentators joined in voicing concern about Trantifa, including Ian Miles Cheong who claimed it is a “terrorist organization.”
Concerns about transgender violence jumped after a transgender man killed six people at a Christian elementary school in Nashville in March.
Following the shooting, Donald Trump Jr. posted on social media that a new trend was forming, pointing to an alleged “incredible rise” in transgender mass shooters.
Crime data, however, has shown no indication of such a large jump, according to the Associated Press. Instead, it noted a report by a think tank at the University of California, Los Angeles that found trans people are more than four times more likely than cisgender people to be victims of violent crime themselves.
But as right-wingers have tried to paint the transgender movement as filled with violent, left-wing demagogues, it’s only natural for them to pair it with the other far-left movement the right fears.
And the concept of Trantifa is gaining traction, in part because of recent remarks Reem Alsalem, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women and Girls, made to the Daily Mail.
Alsalem said she was worried about “an increasing trend” she had observed, referencing an attack by “screaming trans activists” on Riley Gaines, a former competitive swimmer who has spoken out against trans athletes competing in women’s sports. She added that officials in Western countries must “ensure that the freedom of speech and thought, including on the issues of sex, gender, and gender identity be protected and upheld.”
But the idea of a antifa-trans collab was met with mockery online, given it doesn’t really exist.
“listen im not trans but i would very much like to join trantifa,” joked one Twitter user.
Alsalem has previously been criticized for calling on the Scottish Government to pause its transgender law reforms.
“In response to [Alsalem’s] harmful position against legal gender recognition through self-identification, the Sexual Rights Initiative has decided to stop engaging with this mandate-holder, and encourages other feminist organizations and activists to do the same,” the Sexual Rights Initiative said in February.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication.