Cathy Brennan

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[Cathy] Brennan, in case the name isn’t met by you with immediate, horrified recognition and a shiver down your spine (as thunder claps and the horses whinny), is one of the most vocal, adamant and bitter of the transphobic wing of radical feminism.
—Natalie Reed[1]

Catherine "Cathy" Brennan is a lawyer[2][3] in the state of Maryland and a prominent lesbian trans-exclusionary radical feminist and fake goth. She has co-written a letter to the United Nations, insisting that trans people's gender identity should not be legally recognized and protected.[4] She had also been a frequent columnist for Baltimore OUTloud's LGBTQ blog section, which she used to warn of the coming "lesbian annihilation" at the hands of "the queers" and trans people[5] and stridently argue against legislation protecting gender identity.

She justifies some of her actions, such as the outing of queer youth to their schools,[6] by pointing to the things some people have said in response to her attacks (trivialization of violence against women, e.g). However, she seems completely apathetic about similar behavior among her "intellectual" kin.[7]

Fighting for Women's Rights[edit]

Brennan and other transphobic feminists seem to believe that trans women desire to transition to (and live as) females solely to enter female-only spaces and commit rape. This appears to be the entire premise of her letter to the UN.[4]

No woman would ever exercise agency in a way that Brennan does not approve of. Therefore, people designated female at birth who identify as, live like, or transition to male are necessarily suffering from patriarchy-induced self-hatred.

One of Brennan's favorite hobbies is scouring the internet for naked pictures of transfolk and reposting them on her blog.

Another example of Brennan's attitude to transgender people is the claim that no trans people were killed in the Holocaust because the term "transgender" didn't exist at the time,[8][9] a bizarre twist of logic bordering on Holocaust denial. Apparently, she has a strict personal definition of "transgender": "Males who shoot themselves up with hormones and demand others accept them as female".[10]

Making the second wave even more useless[edit]

Building on the radical feminist distinction between sex and gender, she likes to use a distinction between male/female and man/woman because, apparently, the insidious trans activists have stolen the term "woman" for their own nefarious purposes. A significant portion of her blog consists of yelling "But you're not female!" at trans women.[11]

She’s also a self-identified "gender atheist," describing gender as a religion and equating it with "fashion".[1] Ironically, the analogy between gender and religion has been used by U.S. courts to help extend nondiscrimination rights to transgender people.[12]

She also believes that lesbians who identify as butch "have not understood radical feminism".[13] Presumably, this is because "butch" is defined by reference to traditional ideas of maleness, so it supposedly perpetuates gender stereotypes — even while subverting them! In other words, she apparently thinks "though you should definitely have the right to be butch if you so choose, you shouldn't actually call yourself butch".

Call the FBI![edit]

In June 2012, the feminist group Oakland Occupy Patriarchy began organizing a protest of police harassment of sex workers. Brennan pitched a fit and claimed to have called the FBI on them, thereby outing herself as a SWERF as well as a TERF.

A year later, ran an article on transgender rights which outlined some of Brennan's activism.[14] Brennan responded by sending at least one cease-and-desist letter, threatening to sue the blog for defamation.[15] To date, no such lawsuit has been filed. In fact, Brennan has not been listed as the plaintiff on any civil case in Baltimore County Circuit Court, her home jurisdiction, as of March 11, 2015.

The cease-and-desist letter alleged that Jacobin Magazine had published defamatory content, insofar as the article alleged that Brennan had been removed from her post at the ABA's LGBT section because their anti-trans activism inspired a petition aimed at getting the ABA to ask her to step down. Although this claim was fact-checked, Brennan alleges she stepped down of her own volition before the petition was circulated, and therefore that Jacobin Magazine's article was defamatory (source: telephone interview with B. Sunkara conducted on October 22, 2013). Jacobin subsequently printed a correction.

Hypocrisy re: "harassment"[edit]

Brennan likes to post long lists of how people who supposedly share "her views" on transgender identities have been "attacked" because people disagreed with them or because their Tumblr or WordPress blogs were taken down. This doesn't just include her fellow transphobic radfems like Janice Raymond but even random media personalities who were criticized online for using the word "tranny." In Brennan's eyes, this is apparently a serious violation of personal boundaries that invites Holocaust comparisons (as she reblogged a post paraphrasing the famous Martin Niemöller poem "First they came..."). Yet, this supposed crusader against harassment does far more invasive things to her critics, like posting the personal information of trans and allied activists on her page while encouraging its followers to harass them or outing them to their schools. Brennan also regularly trolls lesbian- or queer-women-focused blogs that are inclusive of trans women, even creating sockpuppets when she’s been previously banned for her hateful comments such as insisting trans women commenters are men. She has also used language like "retarded" in comments on her blog to describe people who criticize her.[16]

In addition, she also cried harassment and abused her position as a lawyer when a woman (who Brennan and her ilk incorrectly assumed was trans since they can't comprehend a non-trans lesbian disagreeing with Brennan) said on Twitter that she wanted to spit in Brennan's face (archived). This is, apparently, much more severe than posting the addresses of people you don't like and encouraging your followers to harass them.

Violating doctor-patient confidentiality[edit]

On September 10th, 2013, it was revealed that Cathy Brennan had directly contacted a trans activist's general practitioner in an email, misgendering the activist in question and implying that a "real woman" does not bully other women (ironic, given her history of bullying anyone she disagrees with), further implying that the patient's "mental health" is in jeopardy. The letter was CC'd to the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Ontario. The GP, of course, did not receive this letter well.[17] She repeated the stunt of contacting a doctor directly not long after, claiming that their patient was having an "unstable episode" (see below).

Brennan joins religious right group in attacking teen who is now on suicide watch[edit]

The Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) is the ex-gay organization that stirred up the right-wing world by claiming that a trans kid (whom we will refer to as Jane Doe, for reasons of privacy) in Colorado was harassing cisgender girls in the restrooms. Right wing media outlets jumped at the story without conducting any fact-checking, prompting members of the right-wing community to call for the death of the trans kid.[18]

Cathy Brennan's Gender Identity Watch site jumped in to help the PJI attack the trans teen.

The Pacific Justice Institute claims that a male student, NAME CENSORED, who claims to be transgender, has allegedly harassed female students in the girls room at Florence High School.[19]

Even after Brennan learned that the teen was on suicide watch,[20] she left the teen's real name on her blog as well as updating it recently.

Coordinated attack to trans woman's employer[edit]

Cathy Brennan sent an email to at least a couple of people instructing them to contact the employer of a trans woman. Cathy Brennan, Janice Raymond,Wikipedia and Nicky Chaleunphone sent emails[21] regarding the trans woman's activism to the police department of her employer, apparently in an effort to silence the activist. Nicky Chaleunphone confirmed this was coordinated in the email he sent.

Contacts doctor of trans woman suffering from PTSD[edit]

A trans woman who was suffering a 5 day intense PTSD attack ended up in the emergency room as well as a crisis center after tweets indicated she may harm herself. Cathy Brennan found a photo of her doctor on her Twitter timeline and used Google reverse images to find and make contact with that doctor, which caused greater problems for the trans woman by compromising and interfering in her medical treatment.[22]

Fake goth scandal[edit]

In 2016, Brennan repeatedly had people's accounts on Facebook banned for calling her a "fake goth".[23][24] Several hundred people have been banned from Facebook for posting the phrase 'Cathy Brennan is a fake goth' or variations thereof; in a perfect demonstration of the Streisand effect, this resulted in the phrase 'Cathy Brennan is a fake goth' becoming an Internet meme that was shared publicly on Facebook approximately 45,000 times in the three days since the original incident. Tumblr concurs.[25]


Brennan does not think very highly of us here at RationalWiki, writing:

Miranda Martell [nom de plume[note 1] of User:Blue] is a student ... who likes to harass Lesbians and Females in her spare time by moderating RadFeminist Scorpions and writing for RationalWiki, a known manarchist bro space![11]

Brennan thinks RationalWiki (and, indeed trans women!) are "MRAs" (apparently because you can use words to mean anything you like), tweeting:

Transgender women, the MRAs in ladyface...[26]

Her associated site Gender Identity Watch also takes issue with the page on Brennan.[27]

Conflicts within the anti-trans movement[edit]

Not content to limit herself to harassing members of the transgender community, Brennan is also known for abusive behavior towards other radical feminists, notably her attempt at copyright-trolling popular transphobic blog GenderTrender.[28] GenderTrender says, "One might speculate that such claims represent harassment, censorship, and abuse by a wealthy financial services legal partner against a low income working class lesbian feminist blogger, possibly due to ongoing political disagreements.". GenderTrender has since been suspended by, though not because of Brennan. Brennan opposes the alliance between anti-trans feminism and the right, and is now a critic of the Gender Critical movement and some of its leaders.[29]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Aggravation warning!



Watch as new moles appear and just as quickly get whacked!



  1. French for pen name.


  1. 1.0 1.1 The "Gender Atheist" vs. The Transgender Atheist
  2. Cathy Brennan Speaks to Bustle About Her Stance on Transgender People
  3. Hudson Cook: Catherine M. Brennan
  4. 4.0 4.1 Cathy Brennan & Elizabeth Hungerford take their anti-trans activism to the UN
  5. Pride, In the Name of Lesbians
  6. Cathy Brennan outs 17-year-old to his school and to the internet; uses student's full name and school's address
  9. "Transgender didn’t exist in the 1930s and 1940s.", Cannot be accessed without registering.
  10. [1], Cannot be accessed without registering.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Cathy Brennan, RadFeminist Scorpion and Its Anti-Lesbian Agenda., 19 June 2012.
  12. Macy v. Holder, 2012. Decision by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
  14. Samantha Allen, "Counterpunch and the War on the Transgendered,", 10 July 2013.
  15. Bhaskar Sunkara, "Help Defend Jacobin," 12 July 2013.
  16. Cannot be accessed without registering.
  17. A pastebin of the exchange between the doctor, identified as Dr. Chan, and Brennan can be found here: [2]
  24. It's official.
  25. e.g.
  26. Julia Serano on Twitter, archived on 29 July 2014.
  27. Cathy Brennan on Rational Wiki. Archived from, 14 November 2013.
  29. Cathy Brennan on Twitter, 25 July 2023.