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The way that FiLiA’s transphobia operates is insidious. They deliberately veil their transphobia behind ‘feminist’ rhetoric in a way that is calculated, tactical and deceitful. [...] By hiding their active trans-exclusion behind the guise of doing good feminist work, FiLiA make it more difficult for those less literate in trans rights to detect and oppose their hate. This leads to venues, organizations and individuals engaging with transphobic groups without clear understanding of the violence of their views
—Glasgow Trans Rally[1]

FiLiA ("daughter" in Latin) is a British TERF group that hosts a conference in the United Kingdom, that it claims is the largest of its kind. It is described as one of "the most important 'gender critical' [TERF] groups" alongside Women's Declaration International (WDI), Fair Play for Women, Woman's Place UKWikipedia, Re-sisters, and Sex Matters.[2] The group says it supports "sex-based rights", a TERF dogwhistle, opposes what they refer to as "gender ideology,"[3] and claims to be radical feminist.[4][5] It has been described as an organization that primarily uses feminist topics, such as violence against women, to justify them obsessing about and attacking trans people. Accusations of transphobic sentiments and protests against it follow FiLiA to every appearance.[6]

There is a noticeable overlap between the leadership of FiLiA and another TERF group, WDI. FiLiA's precursor Resist Porn Culture was founded by Heather Brunskell-Evans,[7][8] who was also the founder of WDI and the first spokesperson of FiLiA.[9][10] The two groups not only promote the same kind of transphobia and the same pseudolegal arguments to support their idea about "sex-based rights," but also use remarkably similar and suspiciously slick visual aesthetics, hinting at a close relationship and possibly a common financial backer.

The Daily DotWikipedia has described FiLiA as "openly transphobic" and "opposing the idea that you can even be trans".[11] The group has been described as characterised by "a disturbing trend of anti-trans extremism, conspiracy theory and harassment of trans and GNC people" with "much of the content on their website [indicating] a hostility to trans women [and] conspiratorial beliefs," including George Soros conspiracy theories.[4] It has become the main anti-trans conference in the United Kingdom and thus belongs to the broader anti-gender landscape in the UK. As such it is showered with adulatory media coverage by far-right and "anti-woke" media outlets. FiLiA has campaigned against changes to the Gender Recognition Act 2004Wikipedia, and their rhetoric has been described as aligned with the anti-gender movement.[3]

"Sex-based rights" and "gender ideology"[edit]

The pseudolegal TERF concept and dogwhistle of "sex-based rights" underpins much of FiLiA's ideology. Legal scholar and human rights expert Sandra Duffy has described the concept of "sex-based rights"—as promoted by WDI and FiLiA—as "a fiction with the pretense of legality".[12] The Association for Women's Rights in DevelopmentWikipedia said this discourse co-opts the "Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against WomenWikipedia (CEDAW) framework to claim that ‘sex’ is an immutable category and 'gender' is not a legitimate concept",[13] and the "‘sex-based’ rhetoric misuses concepts of sex and gender to push a deeply discriminatory agenda".[14] The use of pseudolaw and hijacking and distortion of (seemingly) human rights-based language is characteristic of many anti-gender organizations.

FiLiA has opposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act 2004Wikipedia. Sociologist Madeleine PapeWikipedia notes that "FiLiA argued that de-medicalizing the gender recognition process would embed “a nebulous concept of internal gender identity” in legislation. In language that bears a striking resemblance to the wider anti-gender movement, FiLiA also described being “aware of a growing concern in society about the prevalence of ‘gender ideology.’"[3]


The group's financial backing remains shrouded in secrecy, a characteristic it shares with other anti-gender organizations. Evidently, it enjoys substantial financial support, as evidenced by its size, its lawfare against opponents and its indulgent investments in impeccably crafted media productions and design aesthetics, bearing a striking resemblance to those of other entities advocating against transgender rights, such as Women's Declaration International (WDI).

Protests and reactions[edit]

The organization has often faced protests against its conferences.[15] The Trans Safety Network noted that the FiLiA conference is characterised by "a disturbing trend of anti-trans extremism, conspiracy theory and harassment of trans and GNC people" and said that "much of the content on their website indicates a hostility to trans women [and] conspiratorial beliefs," highlighting that the group has promoted George Soros conspiracy theories, a common feature of antisemitic and far-right propaganda.[4] FiLiA has also claimed that the organization was banned from Labour Party and Liberal Democrat conferences. FiLiA has further accused "Antifa" of being behind claims that "FiLiA are a hate group masquerading as a feminist charity."[16] FiLiA has published a document that states that "we support Liz Truss in saying no to self ID" and "the word woman is taken."[17]

In 2022, the National Education UnionWikipedia executive described FiLiA as a transphobic organisation.[5] The 2022 FiLiA conference featured discussions of so-called "trans ideology" and prominent anti-trans speakers including Maya Forstater, Helen Joyce, Julie Bindel, Rosie DuffieldWikipedia and Sheila Jeffreys.[4] The official program included a panel on being "Gender Critical in Publishing". The 2022 conference featured speeches from people who traffic in antisemitic conspiracy theories, forms of holocaust denial, have compared trans people to parasites and compared using the preferred pronouns of trans people as similar to drugs used to incapacitate women so they can be raped. Ahead of the conference, numerous organizations across Cardiff signed a statement condemning FiLiA's transphobia[4] and the local community showed their solidarity by flying the trans flagWikipedia to condemn the conference.[18] During the 2022 conference, some FiLiA participants also tried to enter local businesses to complain about trans flags or complain about the presence of trans people, while two FiLiA participants were arrested for harassing trans people.[4]

Imagine the Ku Klux Klan booking a Black arts venue, and the law forcing the venue to accept the booking despite staff objecting. Same with Terfs deliberately targeting pro-trans venues. [...] If venues keep telling you they don’t want you, but you use financial muscle from unknown sources (🤔) to threaten a legal battle that could ruin their business, then you’re not standing up for ‘free speech’. You’re a white collar purple-haired gangster.
India WilloughbyWikipedia[19][20]
Glasgow Trans Rally protest against FiLiA, 2023

In 2023, FiLiA had rented Platform, an events venue in Glasgow. Platform is known to be LGBT+-friendly. Less than 12 hours before the conference, Platform gave FiLiA notice that they were not welcome at Platform, due to being a transphobic group, and after staff objected.[21] Glasgow Trans Rally campaigned against the conference and said FiLiA is "dangerously transphobic," "encourages an environment which materially endangers trans folk, especially trans women"[21] and that "the way that FiLiA’s transphobia operates is insidious. They deliberately veil their transphobia behind ‘feminist’ rhetoric in a way that is calculated, tactical and deceitful."[22] The venue's cancellation resulted in legal threats from FiLiA, following which the cancellation was withdrawn for purely legal reasons.[21][23] Glasgow LGBT rights activists,Wikipedia intersectional feminists,Wikipedia and Scottish GreensWikipedia politicians staged a public protest against FiLiA on 13 October 2023.[24][25] Glasgow Scottish Green councillor Holly Bruce said "there’s various workshops and sessions that are under the guise of women’s safety, that are trans exclusionary."[26]

The 2023 conference was basically a who's who of TERFism and featured practically every well-known TERF in the UK, with speakers and visitors such as J.K. Rowling,[27][28] Helen Joyce, Julie Bindel, Joanna Cherry,Wikipedia Elaine Miller,Wikipedia Karen Ingala Smith,Wikipedia Jo Phoenix,Wikipedia Vaishnavi Sundar,Wikipedia Selina Todd,Wikipedia Maya Forstater, Alice Sullivan, Cathy Devine, Raquel Rosario Sanchez, and Jane Clare Jones. Every other well-known TERF group in the UK was also represented at the conference, from Sex Matters to Get the L Out. The official program even featured groups calling themselves TERFs — such as "The Terven Tuppence" — despite TERFs pretending it is a "slur". Several anti-trans books were prominently showcased for sale, including Helen Joyce's conspiratorial Trans: When Ideology Meets Reality, that has also been criticized for peddling antisemitic conspiracy theories.[29] Right after leaving FiLiA, Rowling tweeted the word "no" alongside a picture of the text "trans women are women", as if her position wasn't already perfectly clear.[30] This prompted a series of bizarre tweets in which she fantasised about being sent to prison for misgendering trans people, declaring that she'd "happily do two years" over "compelled speech and forced denial of the reality and importance of sex,"[31][32][33] and culminating with her likening trans people to rapists by bizarrely declaring trans rights advocates to be "rapists' rights activists."[34]

The group's website used to prominently feature anti-Amnesty International imagery, in the form of a prohibition sign featuring Amnesty's logo. In 2020, cosmetics company Lush apologised for donating money to FiLiA and other anti-trans groups, after the company had faced extensive criticism, e.g. from the leader of Young Labour,Wikipedia Jessica Barnard, who said it was "disgusting to see Lush funding transphobia."[35] Labour Students said FiLiA is "an anti-trans lobbying group" and said Rosie Duffield's behaviour "has gone beyond the pale and we echo LGBT+ Labour's calls that she should lose the Labour whip" after she attended the FiLiA conference, calling upon the party to "adopt a definition of transphobia [and] deal with instances of transphobia more efficiently".[36]

In March 2024, Plaid CymruWikipedia barred FiLiA's stall from the party's Spring conference and said FiLiA's views were "potentially contrary to the party's values".[37]

See also[edit]


  1. Glasgow Trans Rally
  2. Beck, Dorothee; Habed, Adriano José; Henninger, Annette. Blurring Boundaries – ‘Anti-Gender’ Ideology Meets Feminist and LGBTIQ+ Discourses. Verlag Barbara Budrich. p. 29. ISBN 9783847418573. "Among the most important 'gender critical' groups [...] are [...] the Women's Declaration International (WDI), formerly known as the Women's Human Rights Campaign (WHRC), Fair Play for Women (FPFW), Women's Place UK, Filia, Re-sisters, Sex Matters."
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Pape, Madeleine. "Feminism, Trans Justice, and Speech Rights: A Comparative Perspective". Law and Contemporary Problems 85: 215–240. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 "FiLiA conference 2022: Transphobia, harassment and arrests at conference in Cardiff". Trans Safety Network. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 "FiLiA Responds to NEU Transphobia Accusations". 
  6. Mills, Lucy. "Glasgow Locals Protest ‘TERF’ Organization FiLia: A War of Generations, Inclusion, and Childhood Authors". "Accusations of transphobic sentiments follow the organization to every appearance" 
  7. Cosslett, Rhiannon Lucy (2015-03-02). "Can porn empower women?" (in en-GB). The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. 
  8. "Message from Feminism in London ..." (in en-GB). 2016-06-21. 
  9. Thurlow, Claire (2022). "From TERF to gender critical: A telling genealogy?". Sexualities. doiWikipedia:10.1177/13634607221107827. 
  10. "Trans Activism vs Feminism (and the Wider World): Heather Brunskell-Evans in Conversation with Julian Vigo". 
  11. "Lush UK has been donating money to anti-trans organizations". The Daily Dot. 
  12. Duffy, Sandra (26 October 2021). "An International Human Rights Law Analysis of the WHRC Declaration". 
  13. "'Gender ideology' narratives: A threat to human rights". Association for Women's Rights in DevelopmentWikipedia. 2022. 
  14. "Trojan horses in human rights spaces: anti-rights discourses, tactics and their convergences with trans-exclusionary feminists". Association for Women's Rights in DevelopmentWikipedia. 
  15. "Portsmouth council flies trans and other inclusive flags outside offices". 
  16. "Response to Malicious Complaints to Portsmouth Council and the Guildhall". 
  17. Women uniting (FiLiA)
  18. "The trans movement has a problem with women". Spiked. 
  19. India Willoughby
  20. India Willoughby
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 "Platform backs down after bid to cancel gender critical conference". The Herald. 
  22. "Conference to go ahead as lawyers overturn decision to cancel: The FiLiA conference, with speaker Joanna Cherry MP, had been criticised for lobbying against gender recognition reform". 
  23. "Venue forced to U-turn on cancelling 'transphobic' event after legal action threat". The National. 
  24. "FiLiA Glasgow: Activists protest against 'transphobic' event". The Herald. 
  25. "FiLiA activist led away by police amid rally at 'transphobic' event". The National. 
  26. "Trans activists stage protest outside FiLiA conference in Glasgow". The Scotsman. 
  27. LGBTQ+ groups protest gender critical conference hosting JK Rowling as a speaker
  28. "JK Rowling speaks at FiLiA conference labelled 'transphobic'". The National. 
  29. Books sold at Filia
  30. India Willoughby
  31. Entertainment Weekly: J.K. Rowling says she would 'happily' do prison time for controversial transgender views
  32. PinkNews: JK Rowling would prefer two years in jail over using a trans person’s correct pronouns
  33. Out Magazine: J.K. Rowling Says She'd Rather Go to Prison Than Correctly Gender a Trans Person
  34. India WilloughbyWikipedia: JK Rowling is an absolutely revolting person
  35. "Lush apologises after donating thousands to anti-trans groups". Dazed. 
  36. "Labour Students stands in full solidarity with the LGBT+ community.". Labour Students. 
  37. Mansfield, Mark (2024-03-23). "Feminist group seeks legal advice after being barred from Plaid Cymru conference".