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Petitioning Gloria Steinem

Gloria Steinem: Apologize for past transphobic statements


Gloria Steinem is lauded as a leader of the women's movement and has recently won the Presidential Medal of Freedom (America's highest civilian honor), yet often ignored is the darker side of her legacy where she publicly demonized transgender people.

In 1977, she publicly attacked pioneering transgender athlete Renee Richards, referring to her and other trans people as "a frightening instance of what feminism could lead to" and "living proof that feminism isn't necessary." 

In an article she wrote at the time, she claimed support the right of individuals to identify as they choose, but said that transsexuals "surgically mutilate their own bodies" and that "feminists are right to feel uncomfortable about the need for and uses of transsexualism." 

She concluded the article with one of her most famous quotes: "If the shoe doesn't fit, must we change the foot?" This quote and others like it from her are used to this very day by trans-exterminationist radical feminists to demonize trans people and justify their discrimination.

In her 1983 book Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions, Steinem wrote:

"[T]ranssexuals are paying an extreme tribute to the power of sex roles. In order to set their real human personalities free, they surgically mutilate their own bodies: anything to win from this biased society — where minor differences or hormones and genitals are supposed to dictate total lives and personalities — the right to be who they individually are as human beings."

and praised Janice Raymond's notorious transphobic screed The Transexual Empire:

"Instead of serving more lifesaving but often less lucrative needs for their surgical and hormone-therapy skills, some physicians are aiding individuals who are desperately trying to conform to an unjust society. It’s a small group of successful physicians she [Janice Raymond] names ‘the transsexual empire’."

Steinem has never apologized for or recanted her many attacks on trans* people in general and athlete Renee Richards specifically. If she is to be held up as a hero, she must be held to a standard where such attacks are unacceptable and must at least be apologized for.


Letter to
Gloria Steinem
You have in the past made many statements attacking transgender people and characterizing them, among other things, as "surgically mutilate[d]" and "living proof that feminism isn't necessary."

You have also singled out athlete Renee Richards for this abuse.

Since you are often characterized as a leader of the feminist movement and a hero, to this very day statements you have made are used by some to demonize transgender people and justify discrimination against them.

Part of being a leader is being willing to apologize for past mistakes. The undersigned request that you issue a public apology to (a) the transgender community as a whole and (b) to Renee Richards as an individual for past statements you made against them. We further request that you publicly express endorsement of equality for transgender people.

You have done a lot of good but that does not erase the bad. Please, mend your legacy before it is too late.