People in San Francisco and California have long prided themselves as global leaders in the movement for the respect and freedom of women. California was, in 1911, the sixth and largest state to give women the right to vote, proving decisive for national victory. In 1955, four lesbian couples founded the Daughters of Bilitis, the first national lesbian activist organization in the US. And between 1968 and 1970, progressive women’s rights groups met in San Francisco, giving birth to the modern feminist movement of the following decade.
But that commitment to respect and freedom for women was nowhere to be found last week when a group of six masked trans activists dressed in black climbed over a locked gate and aggressively pursued two women’s sex-based rights advocates, K. Yang and Meghan Murphy, in downtown San Francisco. The two women were speakers at the Women’s Declaration International (WDI) USA's second annual convention. The terrifying event was captured in the video above.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the women’s rights campaigners were anti-trans. “Anti-trans group, advertising as feminists, descends on S.F. for an annual convention,” read the headline of an article it published on its homepage. The WDI, according to the Chronicle, was pushing "anti-trans policies.” The Chronicle quoted an organization claiming that WDI members were “bigots masquerading as feminists” and linked them to organizations labeled as hate groups.
But neither Murphy nor Yang is anti-trans, and both are women's rights advocates in the same tradition of the women’s suffragists and other progressive women’s movements. Yang is a former trans rights activist, and Murphy is a long-time campaigner against the sex trafficking of women and other feminist causes.
Murphy was terrified by the attempted assault. In the video, she had to flee to the safety of the hotel. “I've never felt such fear,” she said. “I've never had to flee from someone, let alone a group of intimidating men. Their intentions seemed hostile, possibly even violent."
Initially, three officers from the San Francisco Police Department were present, anticipating the planned protests. Then, as the number of trans protesters grew to around 100, additional officers from multiple districts arrived, totaling around 20. Police chased and detained one activist who vandalized property.
Murphy had intended to attend the opening night of an art exhibit presented by Women Are Real, an independent non-partisan organization advocating for women's sex-based rights, but said, “After the day's events, I was too scared to step out.”
The next morning, the art exhibit attendees discovered that the venue's windows had been spray painted with the antagonistic phrase, “NO TERFS ON OUR TURF!” TERF is a derogatory term for feminists who do not think a man can become a woman through drugs, surgery, or mentality.
It wasn’t the first violent assault on women’s rights activists in San Francisco. Earlier this year, activists reportedly physically assaulted Riley Gaines, a female champion college swimmer, and prevented her from leaving a dangerously crowded room at San Francisco State University.
Trans activists chanted slogans and held signs with aggressive messages. “Millions of dead TERFs,” read one sign.
The events shocked many San Francisco residents, including many women. The violence raises the question: what in the world is happening to San Francisco? How did the city go from celebrating women’s rights to assaulting women?