The new counter-revolutionary women’s movement

By Jonathon Van Maren

This column was first published at First Things

Women are launching a counter-revolution. Powerful female activists are fighting the transgender movement’s massive push to provide sex changes to gender-confused girls; against attacks on the natural family; and against the vile abuse and degradation of digital pornography.

Chloe Cole was 11 when she was exposed to gender ideology on social media, 13 when she started taking testosterone and puberty blockers, and 15 when she underwent a double mastectomy. She was 16 when she realized that so-called “transgender healthcare” had not actually addressed her struggles. She then began her de-transition. When she started asking questions online, trans activists attacked her. You deserve to feel this way, you knew what you were doing to yourself, one told her. At first, she shut up—but then changed her mind. She is now a beautiful 18-year-old girl with an infectious smile, and she has gone to war against the transgender industry. “I don’t think children are able to consent to this,” she told me. “I want transition to be banned for minors.” She is traveling the country to make that happen.

“I knowingly gave my mind and eventually my body to an anti-science movement that reduces womanhood to long hair, Barbie dolls, dresses, and false perception,” she has said on Twitter. The further she went down the “affirmative” path, the more psychiatric issues she developed—including suicidal ideation. Her parents were terrified but were told by medical professionals that transition was a necessity. “My doctors knew about my worsening psychological conditions when I went under the knife,” she said. “They didn’t care. They just chopped off the breasts of a struggling 15-year-old and pocketed the money.” Cole still struggles with joint pain from reduced bone density and ongoing urinary tract infection symptoms. She has filed a notice of intent to sue the medical facilities who did this to her.

On October 28, the “former trans kid” told her story to the Florida Board of Medicine with an entire row of de-transitioners seated at the front of the room. “I have bandages on my chest today over two years post-op because my nipples leak and they stain my clothes,” she told the audience in a terse, controlled voice. “I have no breasts. I want to be a mother some day, but I can never naturally feed my future children. My breasts were beautiful, and now they have been incinerated for nothing.” The Florida Board of Medicine and the state Board of Osteopathic Medicine voted to ban puberty blockers and sex-change surgery for treatments for children in the state. “There’s a wave of de-transitioners coming,” Cole told me. “This is only the beginning of it.” Thousands of other teen girls have had similar experiences, and many of them are now reaching out to Cole. When trans activists attacked her on Twitter, she responded: “I wonder how it feels to watch your entire movement crumble before your eyes.”

Katy Faust, whose mother has been in a lesbian relationship for most of her life, now heads a global movement in defense of the natural family. In 2021, her book Them Before Us: Why We Need a Global Children’s Rights Movement, co-authored with Stacy Manning, was published. In it, Faust, a mother of four, calls for a movement that defends the right of children to be raised in loving homes by their biological parents and opposes revolutionary practices that threaten the natural family. The book’s simple message has been an epiphany for conservatives who have proven reluctant to fight on these complex issues. A coalition of activists on five continents has sprung up in response.

“The most common response to our message is ‘I always felt uneasy about [IVF, sperm donation, surrogacy, promoting same-sex parenting, polygamy, etc.] I just couldn’t put my finger on exactly why,’” Faust told me.

Many conservatives have religious reasoning for their support for man/woman marriage, for example. But this child-centric, story-led, statistically robust perspective helps them understand the why behind what their God says about sex and marriage and provides secular vocabulary for their convictions. The Them Before Us message is transforming people who were squishy or silent into vocal defenders of children. Threats to a child’s right to their mother and father are global. But because children in Italy need the same thing as children in Iowa, the same method of child defense can triumph in every nation, tribe, and tongue.

The book has launched a movement. “Religious and secular supporters have adopted this proactive message of child defense and begun to apply it in their corner of the world, whether that’s addressing the harms of third-party reproduction in their Slovakian doctrinal paper; starting a Polish Facebook page; volunteering to translate our website into traditional Chinese, or refuting surrogacy at an Idaho high school,” said Faust. “The book provides a seamless garment of child protection that ordinary, valiant people can use to do battle on behalf of the least of these. The research, scholarship, and stories captured in Them Before Us are the universal and necessary defense against the global family-redefinition assault.”

Laila Mickelwait, founder of the Justice Defense Fund and the global #Traffickinghub movement, has been doing something that previously seemed impossible: With an army of supporters, she’s taking on Pornhub. Pornhub is the world’s largest porn site, with 33.5 billion visits in 2018. Much of this content features the violent and degrading treatment of women, mainstreaming practices such as “choking” and, as it turns out, criminal sexual assaults. Mickelwait founded the group Traffickinghub to expose these horrors in February 2020. It rapidly became a movement, with over 600 organizations participating and over 2.2 million people in 192 countries signing the Traffickinghub petition.

“When I became aware of the horrific crimes being perpetrated against victims on Pornhub, I had a responsibility to sound the alarm on what I had discovered and how Pornhub was going to great lengths to cover it up,” Mickelwait told me. “It has been a tough fight, but we have collectively seen some incredible victories. Thousands of media articles have been written exposing Pornhub, which has severely damaged their brand. After a long battle, Visa, Mastercard, and Discover have finally cut all ties with Pornhub, leaving them with only cryptocurrency as a payment option. Most of their major advertisers and business partners have cut ties with Pornhub including Comcast, Xfinity, Roku, Grant Thornton, Heinz, Unilever, and countless others.”

It is a stunning fall for one of the most powerful porn monopolies on the planet—and Mickelwait’s movement isn’t finished. She takes to social media daily to detail the sexual assault rampant on the platform. “Meta recently shut down Pornhub’s 13 million follower Instagram account,” she said. “One hundred and ninety-four victims have now sued Pornhub and its parent company MindGeek in individual and class action lawsuits across the U.S. and Canada. The Canadian government also engaged in a parliamentary investigation into Pornhub’s exploitation of victims. We aren’t done yet, but it is encouraging to see the progress made since the movement was launched in early 2020.”

Mickelwait’s movement, like those led by Cole and Faust, includes people of all backgrounds and ideologies. “I am seeing left and right, conservative and liberal, religious and non-religious people all raising their voices and taking action,” Mickelwait told me.

Collectively, these movements form a growing backlash to the sexual revolution that has fundamentally reshaped our society, producing much human rubble in the process. Women and children have suffered the brunt of it—but now, thank God, many of them have had enough. They are stepping forward to lead movements for recovering what we have lost, for rebuilding what has been destroyed, and for choosing a new path forward. The counter-revolutionaries are here—and they are just getting started.

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