TERFs are renewing Hitler’s “Big Lie” conspiracy theory and laundering its reputation

by Mallory Moore

Mon Jan 16, 2023 · 1281 words · 7 min

A TERF rally in Newcastle has drawn controversy for a speech citing Adolf Hitler’s Big Lie theory supportively. Since video of the event went viral, Gender Critical activists have been working hard to find a justifiable explanation for this being allowed to happen.

The “Big Lie” was an expression coined by Adolf Hitler in his propaganda screed Mein Kampf. In it he claimed that Jews had undertaken a brazen propaganda tactic of lying so outrageously about the Great War that it would exploit innocent people’s unwillingness to believe that such an extreme distortion of truth could have been fabricated, and therefore be compelled to believe it was true.

“Big Lie” allegations have frequently been used since Adolf Hitler by people supposing the existence of other attempts at brazen outrageous lies but, perhaps unsurprisingly given the origins of the concept, these frequently play into conspiratorial claims such as (most recently) its use as a rhetorical device by conspiracy fantasists who believe that the 2020 United States Election was falsely stolen from Donald Trump.

The speaker at the Standing For Women rally in Newcastle was Elizabeth “Lisa” Morgan, the head of the UK Guild of Hypnosis Practitioners. UKGHP’s public membership numbers only 20, and they are not approved by the Professional Standards Authority. Kellie-Jay Keen, the organiser of the rally is a long time collaborator with far-right personalities and groups, from appearances on white supremacist podcasts in 2019 to being seen using members of the far right street gang the Proud Boys as security on her recent tour to the United States.

In Lisa Morgan’s speech she said:

The big lie now is Trans Women Are Women. And we know they are men.

We have reproduced the speech below in full to avoid claims that we have edited it to misrepresent Ms Morgan.

Responding to criticism about the speech, Morgan took to twitter to link the Wikipedia page for The Big Lie by way of explanation. The first two paragraphs of this article at the time of her posting it explain in plain English that Hitler used this idea and slogan, of a minority group lying so brazenly that noone would imagine they had made it up, to specifically demonise Jews and to turn already existing long-standing antisemitism in Europe into mass murder.

The very plain interpretation of this is the use of an explicit, cited, Nazi propaganda device. That propaganda device is not “lying so outrageously that noone would question it”, but making allegations of that kind against an already demonised minority with the full understanding that those listening will agree with her belief that trans people are engaged in a “Big Lie” propaganda plot, engaged in a malicious campaign of corrupting the minds of the innocent ordinary people of the nation.

Lisa Morgan was cheered at the end of her speech. Even her direct mention of Adolf Hitler as the source for her theory about trans activism didn’t give anyone at this rally pause. This is another low point in the slide of the gender critical movement into fascism, which Trans Safety Network have been documenting for 2 years. This has moved from crossovers in far right and gender critical talking points in 2021 to mutual sharing of each others’ content in 2022 to open joint events with far right extremists in the UK at the end of last year.

We caution those with a naive understanding of holocaust history not to reflect this “Big Lie” accusation back at gender critical activists, given its Nazi origins, and the seriousness of laundering conspiratorial ideas about propaganda into the mainstream. In the real world, the lies told about trans people aren’t believed because they’re too wild to be fiction, but (like with antisemitism in early 20th Century Germany) because of a pre-existing climate of hatred targeting our community making members of the public ready and willing to accept lies about us.

A note on the anti-trans radicalisation pipeline

Like a lot of recent conspiracy fantasists, Lisa Morgan appears to have had a marked intensification in her transphobic radicalisation during the coronavirus lockdown. Although she had previously posted things in support of radical feminists against trans people in 2019, this sharply increased from around May 2021, with a post last June praising the notoriously antisemitic anti-trans extremist Jennifer Bilek for “following the money” (a clear reference to Bilek’s theory that Jewish financiers are driving the trans civil rights movement).

This follows Trans Safety Network’s understanding of the Gender Critical Movement as providing a conspiratorial echo chamber in the form of a spurious women’s rights movement — one sincerely believed in by its followers, and accelerated by a media that does not give equal space for trans people to demystify false claims about us — which in practice functions to scapegoat trans people and our allies, frequently resulting in violent threats on women’s services. In doing so, the deployment and sanitisation of a wide array of far right and even Nazi propaganda techniques becomes justifiable to the believers through their unshakable commitment to the idea of “Trans/Gender Ideology” as an enemy within controlling our public institutions, corrupting society and sacrificing the youth through brainwashing and “grooming” techniques.

The problem is much more than an individual Cumbrian hypnotist developing bizarre views about a demonised minority. It is easy to dismiss her as a single harmless crank, but the real concern is the movement expanding these sorts of extreme belief increasingly into the mainstream, largely with the tacit sponsorship of the Conservative government, sympathy from the Labour opposition and column inches in the mainstream press. At the end of her speech above, everyone present, including a crowd who are frequently invited onto popular talk news shows to demonise us, applauded her knowing repetition of a Nazi talking point.

Seven years into the appearance of the gender critical movement on the media landscape, their views are now given sympathetic or even supportive space throughout nearly every mainstream media platform. The trans community and our opponents have each engaged with a numerous consultations and debates on the actual political issues in large numbers. We urge those who insist that we simply have not had enough debate yet to reconsider. Instead, we question if enough is being done to confront the echo chambers this ideology currently festers within. There has been increasingly violent hostility towards LGBT people in the UK, across Europe and in America in connection with these anti-gender movements, and this will only get worse as these are encouraged to grow.