The Hidden Face of Animal Research

The Hidden Face of Animal Research

Editor’s note: These kind of frankenstein experiments are another creepy example of this culture’s disconnection and total objectification of nature and our fellow creatures.

This article originally appeared in Counterpunch.
Featured image: Plum Island. Source: kyselak – CC BY-SA 3.0


Animal disease research in government or government-funded labs often flies under the public radar and it goes way beyond COVID-19 questions. For example few are aware of the existence of the U.S.’ Plum Island Animal Disease Center even though it is located in New York state near the northeast coast Long Island. During the Nixon era, bioweapons were developed there. Now the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service conducts gain of function-like research into vaccines and other countermeasures against foreign animal diseases like vesicular stomatitis virus, foot-and-mouth disease and swine fever.

The 2005 book, “Lab 257: The Disturbing Story of the Government’s Secret Plum Island Germ Laboratory,” exposed biological meltdowns, infected workers and virus outbreaks at the facility including lab leaks that were seriously underreported by mainstream media.

Recently, a French laboratory worker was diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) leading to an immediate moratorium on the prion research the worker and others conduct at five public research institutions in France.  Prions, misfolded infectious proteins, cause the fatal brain diseases of scrapie in sheep, mad cow disease in cattle (bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BSE), chronic wasting disease (CWD) in deer and elk and CJD in humans. The prion-caused CJD brain-based fatal has been confused with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases in humans because of the severe cognitive and mobility impairments it causes.

While the infected worker is retired, prion research has been halted for three months to determine if a lab accident or exposure explains the illness.

In 2019, a French lab employee who also worked with prions, Émilie Jaumain, died at age 33 of lab-contracted CJD. Jaumain was infected with variant CJD, or vCJD, normally associated with eating prion-contaminated beef, venison or other meat said officials. In humans, CJD can develop spontaneously from no known cause or have genetic causes. Jaumain had stabbed her  thumb with an instrument while cleaning a machine she was using to cut brain sections from transgenic mice infected with a sheep-adapted form of mad cow disease/BSE.

Prions are Widespread and Almost Indestructible

Though prions lack a nucleus, they reproduce and are almost impossible to obliterate as I reported in my 2012 animal disease expose. Prions are not inactivated by cooking, heat, autoclaves, ammonia, bleach, hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, phenol, lye, formaldehyde, or radiation and they remain in the soil, contaminating it for years.

The prion-caused chronic wasting disease (CWD) has become epidemic in U.S. deer and elk and humans can catch itthough urban communities remain mostly untouched and unaware. Human cases of variant CJD (vCJD) caused by mad cow disease (BSE) in meat that was eaten have occurred in the U.S. but in recent years have been dismissed as “atypical” and thus not requiring herd and offspring searches for “Cow 1.”

Mad cow outbreaks in cattle threaten beef producers, exports and financial markets and CWD outbreaks in deer and elk threaten hunting income and state revenues. Both are barely reported as public health stories by mainstream media because of their serious financial implications.

And, with Midwest deer now carrying COVID-19 including one half of deer tested in Michigan, how might prions interact with the coronavirus? Why is that possible disease adaptation not being reported?

Brave New Animals Are Created for Lab Research

The creation of transgenic, hybrid and chimeric animals is underreported and disturbing. Transgenic mice like those infected with a sheep prion used by Émilie Jaumain are not new and date back to the early “oncomouse” and knock-out mice. “hACE2 mice” were developed to study SARS but interest waned when the COVID-19 predecessor seemed to hide. The mice are now greatly in demand for such research which is back with a vengeance. COVID-19 is, after all, SARS-CoV-2.

Because of the ethical and disease spread/security dangers presented by transspecies experiments, some Western scientists have outsourced such research reported the Sun earlier this year. “Human-monkey hybrids, souped-up viruses, head transplants and gene editing are just some of the tests known to have been carried out by Chinese scientists,” the news outlet wrote.

Most Pandemics Are Zoonotic Including COVID-19

The 1918 flu epidemic originated in birds and the HIV epidemic originated in apes but the zoonosis of COVID-19 has been all but ignored for political reasons. It is now found in U.S. minks, zoo animals and deer.

Whether a fatal animal disease is bred in labs, hunting ranges (CWD), factory farms (BSE) or unhygienic wet/wildlife Asian markets, the possibility of animal-based human pandemics and their variants is the biggest lesson of the 21st century.

Martha Rosenberg is an investigative health reporter. She is the author of  Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health (Prometheus).

Undercover Investigations Expose Brutal Wildlife Killing Contests

Undercover Investigations Expose Brutal Wildlife Killing Contests

Welcome to the cruel world of wildlife killing contests, family events where children play amidst piles of slaughtered animals—and legal in 42 states.

Featured image: Killing contest contestants bring their dead coyotes to be weighed and counted, Williamsport Fire Department, Williamsport, Indiana, December 6, 2020.
This article was produced by Earth | Food | Life, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

By Katie Stennes

You would really have to try hard to find anything more depraved than a wildlife killing contest, which targets coyotes, foxes, bobcats, squirrels, raccoons, crows and even wolves and cougars in some states, for the sake of a prize that could range from cash to hunting equipment. These contests are responsible for the mindless killing of an inconceivable number of animals, all under the guise of sport.

Contests like these should be relegated to history books; instead, these events still take place in nearly all of the 42 states where wildlife killing contests are legal and result in the killing of thousands of animals every year.

Participants in these events, billed as family-friendly and often sponsored by bars, churches, firehouses and other local groups, compete with each other for prizes for killing the largest or smallest animal or the highest number of animals. Hundreds of animals may be slaughtered during a single contest. After the bloody piles of animals are weighed, prizes are awarded and the celebration ends, the bodies of the dead animals are often dumped like trash. Contestants frequently use cruel electronic calling devices to lure animals in for an easy kill and then shoot them with high-powered rifles—including AR-15s.

Referring to a custom-built rifle, a competitor in the De Leon Pharmacy and Sporting Goods’ Varmint Hunt told an investigator from my organization, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), that these rifles, “they’re like a .22-250 on steroids.” He had just used the rifle to gun down animals during the 21-hour contest that culminated in the pharmacy’s parking lot on a January morning in Texas. The rifles are “not very fur-friendly,” he added as he stood over a row of bloody bodies he had killed. “I wouldn’t use something like that if you want to save the fur.” To illustrate his point, he nudged a coyote, bragging, “I shot this one up here in the throat from high up and it blew out the whole bottom of his chest.”

Other participants at the contest unloaded more dead animals from the trucks, which were outfitted for prime killing with raised decks, cushioned chairs and gun mounts. A team of three men, who called themselves “Dead On,” won the event, killing five coyotes, two bobcats, a fox and a raccoon. Contest organizers handed out more than $3,000 in prize money.

At another killing contest in December 2020 that took place 1,000 miles north of Texas, an HSUS investigator saw firefighters helping to drag dead coyotes to the weighing station in the parking lot of the fire department in Williamsport, Indiana. The grand prize went to those who killed the five heaviest coyotes, with side pots awarded to those who killed the greatest number of coyotes, the “big dog” and the “small dog” (referring to the size of the coyotes). The winning team, which had all its teammates dressed in matching jackets, killed about 16 of the roughly 60 animals lined up for display when the contest ended. One competitor told investigators from the HSUS that he used an AR-15 rifle with night vision, adding, “I enjoy it.”

Other undercover investigations by the HSUS—in MarylandNew Jersey, New York (in 2018 and 2020), Oregon and Virginia—showed similar chilling images of contests, including children playing among dead bodies of animals.

Some of these contests are high stakes. At the West Texas Big Bobcat Contest in January, participants vied for $148,120 in prize money. The jackpot for “Most Grey Fox” killings went to a four-man team that killed 81 foxes in 23 hours.

Competitors spend thousands of dollars on equipment to achieve an almost absurd advantage. Electronic calling devices amplified across a field by a loudspeaker lure unsuspecting animals into the open using the sounds of dependent young in distress. These animals can hardly be expected to compete with a team of people armed with spotlights and AR-15-style weapons fitted with precision thermal night vision scopes that “troll” habitat areas, obliterating anything that comes their way.

Killing contests have a cousin in the old-school pigeon shoots—another contest based on indiscriminate animal slaughter. At a pigeon shoot, the birds are stuffed into spring-loaded boxes, thrust into the air at the shooter’s command and then shot from a short distance—all for thrills and prizes. Only one state—Pennsylvania—still openly holds these pigeon shoots.

Just like pigeon shooters, participants in wildlife killing contests spout false claims that they’re doing some act of service for society by ridding the landscape of animals they deem as “varmints” and “pests.” But it is a fact that these events are for fun and games and serve no legitimate wildlife management purpose. The best available science shows that randomly killing animals, especially coyotes, creates problems where there were none.

It sounds counterintuitive but killing coyotes causes them to proliferate. In an unexploited coyote pack, typically only the dominant pair reproduces. Kill off a few members, and the pack splinters apart to find other mates. More breeding pairs means more coyotes—and this adds yet another wrinkle. While most coyotes avoid livestock and prefer to munch on rodents, more pups mean more mouths to feed, forcing adult coyotes to find easier targets like sheep just to survive.

It’s a “paradoxical relationship”—kill more coyotes, lose more livestock. Haphazardly removing coyotes who haven’t been proven to threaten livestock before leaves voids that may be filled by coyotes who are more likely to prey on livestock. Most coyotes can even serve as “guard coyotes” for ranchers, keeping other carnivores at bay.

Native carnivores like coyotes and foxes provide a range of free ecological services to our communities—including controlling rodent and rabbit populations, indirectly contributing to the boosting of plant and bird biodiversity, and scavenging animal carcasses, which keeps our environment clean—and removing them en masse upsets the natural balance of our ecosystems.

We can’t make wildlife management decisions based on anecdotes or intuition or cater to misinformation that competitors use to justify their actions—we must follow the science. State wildlife agencies recognize that ethics must come into play, too. The Arizona Game and Fish Commission outlawed these killing contests in 2019. When the commission was still considering the ban, its chairman, Jim Zieler, who is also a hunter, was quoted by the Washington Post as saying, “There has been a lot of social outcry against this, and you can kind of understand why. It’s difficult to stand up and defend a practice like this.” Sportsmen and state wildlife agency professionals and commissioners across the country have echoed similar sentiments, and some have noted that these contests are damaging the reputation of hunters and jeopardizing the future of hunting. It’s a reasonable fear—society’s values about wildlife are shifting in favor of greater harmony with nature.

Making matters worse, the pandemic has added another element: virtual competitions where the killing persists but the judging and participation are online. Contestants living anywhere in the United States can submit videos of the animals they have killed nearby, and in these videos the contestants are seen shaking the bodies of the dead animals to show that they have been killed recently. These virtual competitions have also led to new prize categories like “best video of a kill.” People from more than 40 states have joined these contest websites, including from states where the contests have been banned. These virtual events take place nearly every weekend.

We certainly can’t let this continue without challenge, especially since many hunters share the growing public disdain for wildlife killing contests. They understand that no animal’s life should be taken in this cruel manner, and like countless other Americans, they believe that there are limits to what we should permit when it comes to the treatment and use of animals.

The good news is that bills and regulations to prohibit wildlife killing contests are emerging at both the federal and state levels. The reasons to ban these events are supported by overwhelming evidence, and those who oppose these contests will have increasing opportunities to register their viewpoints and convictions about this senseless killing of American wildlife, in letters to Congress and to state legislatures and state wildlife management agencies (contact your HSUS state director to find out what’s happening in your state), and to their local government. Wildlife is important to everyone, and our public policies and practices should reflect that.


Katie Stennes is the program manager for wildlife protection at the Humane Society of the United States. She has worked in the animal protection field for over eight years.

Listening To Earth

Listening To Earth

By Rebecca Wildbear

I was diagnosed with cancer when I was 21. Scientifically, the odds were that I would die. They could have rolled me aside and let it happen, but doctors and loved ones did what they could to keep me alive. They tried to save my life even though they did not know if it would work.

The Earth is suffering. She does not want her rivers poisoned and dammed, her mountains blown up and mined, or her ecosystems and biodiversity destroyed. If she received the same care as me, perhaps we could stop the harm. Efforts to help show care and respect, whatever tomorrow brings.

When I have been abused, the most painful part is when no one sees it. Dismissing the harm that is happening to the Earth makes us complicit, even if particular philosophies seem to justify it (Doctrine of Discovery, Manifest Destiny, the American Dream, Gaia theory, the Sixth Mass Extinction, “it’s already too late”).

If your child or lover were drowning or trapped in a burning house, you would try to save them. If it’s a reflex to save our endangered loved ones, why can’t we develop an auto-response to save bears, prairie dogs, mountain lions, horses, and forests?

To belittle or discourage those who work to save the last remaining species and wild places seems like a betrayal of the Earth and those on the front-lines, the majority of whom are indigenous peoples (whose on-going genocide feeds the destruction of the planet).

Social psychology reveals that individuals commonly find ways to ignore those being harmed and consciously or unconsciously align with those in power, because it is safer.

Humans have imagination, soul, and agency. We can listen to the Earth, not only for our own re-wilding, but for what species, land, and ecosystems need too.

Rivers, forests, and oceans can be restored. Once they are, the climate dramatically improves. Perhaps humans can stop those destroying the biosphere and the last remaining species and lands. Why not support those who try?

Visit a clear-cut forest, plowed prairie, or concreted wetland. Ask them what they need. Ask the squirrels, rabbits, owls, and blue jays who live once lived there. Ask the bears in Asia, tortured for their bile, if their suffering is Gaia’s plan. Ask wild buffalo or horses routinely slaughtered, if people should stop helping them because it’s too late. Ask the last remaining birds, orcas, polar bears, fish, rhinos.

“Please help us,” they tell me. Don’t take my word for it. Go ask them yourself. The narratives and people that inspire me most are the ones that make listening, honoring, and keeping alive these voices central.

Biden Budget Fails to Address Extinction Crisis

Biden Budget Fails to Address Extinction Crisis

Editor’s note: The Biden administration’s budget to address the extinction crisis for the year 2021 is $22 million ($22,000,000). That is $60,273 per day, $2,511 per hour, and $41 per second.
The Biden administration’s military budged for the year 2021 is $705.39 billion ($705,390,000,000). That is $1,93 billion per day, $80,527 million per hour, and $1,34 million per second. The US military is also the single largest polluter in the world, burning about 269,230 barrels of oil per day.
The numbers alone show the preferences of this “culture” very clearly. (In my view, the term “culture” seems inappropriate to describe a societal structure that follows the logic of a cancer cell.)

Featured image: “We Live Here Too” by Nell Parker.

This is a press release from the Center for Biological Diversity, May 28.

WASHINGTON— With today’s (May 28) release of President Biden’s first full budget, the administration signaled that stemming the wildlife extinction crisis and safeguarding the nation’s endangered species will not be a top priority, despite the warnings of scientists that one million species are at risk of going extinct around the world without intervention.

The Biden administration is proposing just $22 million — a mere $1.5 million above last year’s levels — to protect the more than 500 imperiled animals and plants still waiting for protection under the Endangered Species Act. It is at the same level as what was provided for in 2010.

The budget proposal increases funding for endangered species recovery by $18 million. While this represents a modest increase from last year’s budget, the Endangered Species Act has been severely underfunded for decades, resulting in species waiting years, or even decades, for protection and already-protected species receiving few dollars for their recovery.

Based on the Fish and Wildlife Service’s own recovery plans, at least $2 billion per year is needed to recover the more than 1,700 endangered species across the country. The proposed budget fails to even come close to closing the gap in needed funding.

“It’s distressing that President Biden’s budget still ignores the extinction crisis,” said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “What’s especially tragic is that restoring abundant wildlife populations would also reap huge benefits in helping to stop the climate crisis, reduce toxic pollution and protect wild places. This was a missed opportunity.”

During the presidential campaign, President Biden touted his early support for the Endangered Species Act when the law was passed in 1973. In January President Biden launched a review of the Trump administration’s rollbacks of the regulations implementing the Endangered Species Act and decisions to weaken protections for the monarch butterfly, spotted owl and gray wolf.

To date, however, the Biden administration has not moved to alter or reverse any Trump-era policies or decisions related to endangered species. With today’s budget, President Biden is adopting the measly funding levels of the Trump administration.

Over the past year, more than 170 conservation groups have asked for additional funding for endangered species. This request echoes similar pleas from 121 members of the House of Representatives and 21 senators.

“Every year, more of our most distinctive animals and plants will vanish right before our eyes. Perhaps for the sake of his grandchildren, President Biden will reconsider this disastrous budget proposal,” said Hartl.

Around 650 U.S. plants and animals have already been lost to extinction. Some of the plants and animals that have been deemed extinct in the United States since 2000 include: Franklin’s bumblebee from California and Oregon; the rockland grass skipper and Zestos skipper butterflies from Florida; the Tacoma pocket gopher; the Alabama sturgeon; the chucky madtom, a small catfish from Tennessee; a wildflower named Appalachian Barbara’s buttons; and the Po’ouli, a songbird from Maui. Scientists estimate that one-third of America’s species are vulnerable to extinction and 12,000 species nationwide are in need of conservation action.

Contact: Brett Hartl, (202) 817-8121,

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

The beef with Animal Rebellion and the synthetic meat revolution

The beef with Animal Rebellion and the synthetic meat revolution

Editor’s note: It’s sad and ironic how easily contemporary youth movements like Extinction Rebellion/Animal Rebellion are being coopted by neoliberal capitalism and how easily they are made to believe that big business, big tech and big agriculture can save the world. As Kim Hill points out in this article, they obviously completely lost connection to any physical and biological reality.

By Kim Hill

On May 22, activist group Animal Rebellion blockaded four McDonalds distribution centres in the UK, demanding the chain transition to a fully plant-based menu by 2025.

Bill Gates thinks “all rich countries should move to 100% synthetic beef.”

Bill Gates invests in Beyond Meat, a manufacturer of synthetic meat products. Beyond Meat uses a DNA coding sequence from soybeans or peas to create a substance that looks and tastes like real beef.

Gates also owns 242,000 acres of farmland in the US, making him the largest private owner of farmland in the country. He uses the land to develop genetically modified crops (in partnership with Monsanto) and biofuels.

In February, Beyond Meat announced a strategic agreement with McDonalds, to supply the patty for McPlant, a plant-based synthetic meat burger, and explore other plant-based menu items, to replicate chicken, pork, and egg.

The Animal Rebellion protests were designed for media attention, using theatrical staging, colourful banners and elaborate costumes, prominently displaying McDonalds branding. Several protestors were dressed as the character Ronald McDonald.

The police showed little interest in the blockades, arresting very few people, and at one site, barely engaging with the protest at all. It seems McDonalds has no objection to the action, and likely sees it as good advertising for the total corporate takeover of the global food system, and transition to synthetic food for the entire population.

This action appears to have the effect of introducing synthetic meat and other genetically engineered foods to the broader population, to normalise these foods, and make them acceptable to the public. People are seen to be taking to the streets to demand the introduction of these foods, and the corporations are giving them what they want.

The protests were widely reported in local and international media, despite involving only 100 people, causing minimal disruption, and being of limited public interest. The media portrayal was overwhelmingly positive, even in the conservative press. This is in stark contrast to almost non-existent reporting of anti-lockdown protests a few weeks earlier, which attracted many thousands of people, had strong public support, and related to an issue that affects everyone.

Animal Rebellion spokesperson James Ozden said “The only sustainable and realistic way to feed ten billion people is with a plant-based food system. Organic, free-range and ‘sustainable’ animal-based options simply aren’t good enough.” But genetically engineered, additive-laden, lab-grown, pesticide-infused food-like substances produced in ways that cause pollution, soil degradation, extinction, exploitation of workers, plastic waste, chronic illness and corporate profits is absolutely good enough for these rebels, and is apparently sustainable and realistic.

While Animal Rebellion concerns itself with the wellbeing of animals, nowhere on its website is there any mention of:

    • Corporate control of the food system
    • The necessity of machinery, and synthetic pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers to maintain a completely plant-based food system
    • The harm caused to animals, humans, plants, soil and water by these chemicals and machines
    • The unsustainability of chemical and industrial farming
    • The fossil-fuel dependence of monocrop farming
    • The environmental harm of tilling and monocropping: soil degradation, salinity, desertification, water pollution, destruction of habitat for native animals, birds, and insects
    • The necessity of animals in natural and cultivated ecologies, to cycle nutrients
    • The takeover of farmland in many places around the world to supply McDonalds, to the detriment of local farmers, and traditional farming methods
    • The UK government’s net-zero emissions plan to convert farmland to biofuel production
    • Exploitation and under-payment of farmers and suppliers of McDonalds products
    • Destruction of local food cultures and local economies by fast food giants
    • Drive-thru takeout culture
    • The poor nutritional value of fast food and fake meat, and the many health problems that result
    • The nutritional limitations of a vegan diet, which would leave the majority of people with multiple chronic illnesses
    • Disposable packaging and litter
    • The possibility of humans, animals and plants all living together in (relative) peace and harmony, in a world without fast-food outlets, genetic engineering, multi-national corporations, global trade, and plastic packaging
    • The need for animals to regenerate soil that has been damaged by cropping

McDonalds is committed to ‘reducing emissions’, another favourite term used by corporations to greenwash their operations by investing in carbon offsets to make themselves sound like they are part of the solution, while continuing to exploit, profit, and destroy the planet. The corporate approach of emissions trading/net-zero/climate action is enthusiastically embraced by climate rebels.

On the same day as the McDonalds protests, a short film featuring Greta Thunberg was released, calling for a global transition to a plant-based food system. The film’s website calls on viewers to “urge some of the world’s largest restaurant chains, including McDonald’s, Domino’s, Subway, and Popeyes, to expand their global plant-based options.”

Yes, the proposed solution is to expand the business operations of multi-national corporations. The film is produced by an organisation called Mercy for Animals, which “works to eliminate the worst animal abuse and grow market share of plant- and cell-based foods.”

Mercy for Animals states: “Cell-based meat, which is animal meat grown by farming cells rather than by rearing and slaughtering animals, is fast-approaching the market and will transform the meat industry. These strides in the plant- and cell-based economy are too large to be ignored. The meat industry will adapt or perish and knows it. Meat industry giants Tyson and Cargill have both invested in cell-based meat technology, while Maple Leaf Foods has acquired plant-based food companies Lightlife and Field Roast.”

Animal Rebellion is just one more protest movement that has been captured by corporate interests, and used to market neoliberal reforms and greenwashed new products which cause more harm than good.

A movement that aims to be effective needs to see the big picture, address the root causes of climate change and animal exploitation, and have the goal to completely dismantle the corporate-controlled economic system. Another world is possible.

Alberta women are fighting for their rights in the tradition of the suffragists

Alberta women are fighting for their rights in the tradition of the suffragists

Editor’s note: Gender ideology is another form of postmodern insanity becoming a norm in this insane culture. Disguised as Human Rights, this sect-like ideology is even being embedded into the legal system of many countries. It’s also another example of how this culture, and neoliberalism specifically, destroys any form of identification (as a sex-based class in this case), replacing it with superficial, abstract ideas that have no relation to physical or biological reality whatsoever.

This article originally appeared on Feminist Current.


Women in Canada are joining together in increasing numbers to oppose the ever-growing impacts of gender identity legislation, as gender ideology takes root in our country. There are now numerous feminist groups across Canada, advocating for women’s sex-based rights. On May 2, 2021, four of those groups — WHRC Alberta, Alberta Radical Feminists (ABRF), Alberta Women’s Advocacy Association (AWAA), and Canadian Women’s Sex-Based Rights (caWsbar) — gathered in Edmonton, on the steps of the Alberta legislature, to take a public stand in support of our sex-based rights and in protest of the wholesale dismissal of women as distinct group and the insistence that we should redefine “woman” to include men.

The attack on women’s rights is nothing new. Several bills have been passed or are in the process of passing which impede women’s rights and, more broadly, limit the ability of Canadians to question or challenge gender identity ideology and protect kids from dangerous, irreversible medical procedures.

Bill C-16, Canada’s gender identity legislation, passed in 2017, adding gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination in the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code. The effect has been that males who identify as women now have unrestricted access to women’s spaces like rape shelters, change rooms, and prisons.

In 2020, David Lametti, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, proposed amendments to the criminal code, which would criminalize “conversation therapy.” Bill C-6 is currently going into its third reading, and would prevent therapists, for example, from taking a moderate, exploratory approach to so-called “trans kids,” rather than immediately affirming a child’s self-declared gender and putting them on the path to medical transition.

More recently, the Liberal government proposed a removal of Section 4.1 of the Broadcasting Act, the clause excluding “user-generated content” from regulation by the CRTC, Canada’s public authority in charge of regulating and supervising broadcasting and telecommunications. The reforms, should Bill C-10 pass, will curtail free speech online, ensuring individuals who challenge government-sanctioned ideology cannot speak out about their criticisms and concerns on social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube, a form of censorship feminists are already experiencing in our attempts to remind the public, media, and politicians that human biological sex is important, real, dimorphic, and immutable. If Bill C-10 passes, the platforms women use to connect with each other and advocate for women’s sex-based rights will be forced to censor our words and content, under threat of fines from the CRTC.

Women who speak out about gender identity ideology are threatened with sexual assault, murder, beatings, job loss, social alienation, and silencing, and because trans activists have labelled us “TERFs,” and therefore “hateful,” “bigoted,” and even “Nazis,” this response is passed off as righteous and even progressive. Today in the West, this form of misogyny is accepted and supported. In the 20th century, suffragists faced similar attacks — slander, propaganda, violence. If you look at anti-suffragist imagery, you can see the parallels.

Criticism of trans activism and gender ideology has been labelled “hate speech,” but defences of women’s rights are not an attack on people who believe they are transgender. This response is revealing, though, in terms of the foundation and goals of trans rights activism. Women fought for decades to be considered persons under the law, for our right to sport, access to public toilets, the right to vote,  and have autonomy over our own reproductive choices. Many of these efforts are being undone by the work of trans activists who want women to set aside our safety and comfort in favour of the desires, fetishises, and demands of men.

The May 2 rally in Edmonton was not advertised, and for good reason: we were concerned about interference or assault from groups who oppose women’s rights advocacy. We wanted a safe place to peacefully meet up (in compliance with Covid restrictions), talk, and share. So we limited knowledge of the event to our own circles, opting to livestream it to the ABRF and AWAA Facebook pages, later uploading the video to the WHRC Alberta YouTube page. An hour before it started, we shared an event poster across social media.

We were really happy with the turnout, with women coming from Calgary, Cochrane, Lethbridge, and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Some were afraid to attend in person, but watched online and sent us supportive messages. Some passersby stopped to listen to us speak. Just the opportunity to meet with one another in person was inspiring and galvanizing, as many of us had only known each other from social media and zoom meetings. There is power and energy in women gathering — especially for the purposes of feminist movement building or activism — that is hard to come by in mixed-sex groups. It may sound cliché or contrived, but it is invigorating — women can support and lift each other up in a space where we all know that womanhood is a shared experience of growing up female, not an identity one adopts.

I emceed the event and emphasized that this fight is not a partisan issue, saying:

“This isn’t about being a Liberal or a Conservative, it’s about being adult human females who have experienced oppression on the basis of our biological sex. This isn’t something we can just identify out of. This isn’t a magic trick that will cure the real issues we are faced with. Do not misunderstand: we are explicitly and exclusively pro-woman. Any insistence that we are hateful or bigots or fascist is a deliberate misrepresentation of what we are saying and our goals.”

Thousands of Canadian women have begun calling themselves “politically homeless,” because we are not represented by any party. We seem to be faced with voting against our own interests no matter who we choose.

I then introduced Charlotte Garrett, a teacher who spoke about children’s rights to a complete, accurate education. She said, “If a child is taught that five plus five equals whatever you feel it to be, you are destabilizing material reality; the very ground the child occupies.”

She also spoke about the female experience as an inherited birthright that goes “back and back and back.”

We then played a recording from Kathleen Lowrey, a University of Alberta anthropology professor who was punished for speaking out in defence of women’s rights, who encouraged us all to persevere, saying:

“Resistance to one mode of male aggression leads inexorably to other resistances. That’s why we face so much ferocious opposition for asserting common sense on gender identity ideology. But it’s also why we’re finding so many women swelling the ranks of feminist political action these days. They see what we see. They’re making the connections we’re making.”

Alline Cormier, WHRC Alberta coordinator, followed with a message in French, reiterating the message advocated in The Declaration on Women’s Sex-Based Rights: that women and girls’ sex-based rights exist, are important, and the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and girls that result from replacing the category of “sex” with that of “gender identity” must be prevented.

The last speaker was Coach Linda Blade, who invoked the Famous Five in her call to courage:

“Like the Famous Five of old, we gather today in this new century to serve notice that we will not stop asking ‘why?’ until we reclaim our sex-based rights. Female persons of today, as well as future generations of Canadian women and girls, have the right to live in dignity and security.”

It is pivotal that we speak out loud about these issues, not just online, where powerful men can shut down our accounts, censor our content, or monitor what we’re saying in secret groups and private messages. We have to be able to talk about these things in public.

The feminist movement began because women talked to each other in person, and realized banding together and getting out in public to speak and fight could make a difference, and it will continue to grow the same way. We have to protect our free speech rights and our spaces. On June 13, we will be holding another rally — this time in Calgary, presented by organizations from across Canada, including Canadian Gender ReportLGB Alliance CanadaWe The FemalesAlberta Women’s Advocacy AssociationCanadian Women’s Sex-Based RightsAlberta Radical Feminists, and WHRC Alberta. The location and final list of speakers will be announced at a later date. I hope you can take the time to watch, be it online when it is live streamed to the ABRF and AWAA Facebook pages, or in person.

On May 2, I said:

“Today we stand in the footprints of the Canadian feminists who came before us, who demanded that we be acknowledged and protected on the basis of our sex, who fought tooth and nail for the rights that we have today, the same rights being undermined by a new cult-like religion that requires obedience and acceptance of medical experimentation without question and without complaint, under threat of social and professional alienation and blacklisting. We have to stop staying quiet, we have to stand up.”

Any woman who does is not alone. If you reach out, you will find someone. We’re here and there are so many of us. We aren’t the first women to do this and we won’t be the last.

Transcripts of all of the May 2 speeches are available on the AWAA website.

Raine McLeod is a project coordinator and editor based in Calgary and is president of Alberta Women’s Advocacy Association and the founder of Alberta Radical Feminists.