Transphobic film ‘What is a Woman?’ to screen at University of Illinois on Oct. 6

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The flyer for Matt Walsh's film tour.

Anti-LGBTQ activist Matt Walsh is bringing his transphobic film “What is a Woman” to the University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign on Thursday, Oct. 6.

Walsh is a columnist and show host for the Daily Wire, a far-right publication run by Ben Shapiro. Trangender people have been a particular focus in his writing and videos. In 2021, he compared gender-affirming care for youth to “molestation and rape.” In just the past month, he accused the Vanderbilt University Medical Center of starting its gender-affirming care program to be a “moneymaker” from gender-affirming surgeries and pressuring patients and staff to have children transition. None of that is true, but the accusations on Walsh’s Twitter account and on his podcast still caused Tennessee legislators to call for investigations and gave a boost to a proposed bill that would ban all gender-affirming care in the state.

According to Inside Higher Ed, Walsh made similar accusations against Boston Children’s Hospital’s Center for Gender Surgery. It’s been the target of death and bomb threats in the months since.

His film is more of the same attacks on the transgender community. It features a speech given by Walsh at a meeting of the Loudoun County School Board that was called so people could express their opinions on Policy 8040, which would allow transgender students to use their preferred name and pronouns as well as allow the students to use school bathrooms and locker rooms that align with their gender identity. During the speech, Walsh said: “You are all child abusers. You prey upon impressionable children and indoctrinate them into your insane ideological cult, a cult which holds many fanatical views but none so deranged as the idea that boys are girls and girls are boys.” He rented an apartment in the area for a single day to be able to speak at the meeting.

The Los Angeles Blade reported that Walsh also tried to lure transgender people into being in the film, though most saw through the ruse and refused to participate.

The film is being presented by Young Americans for Freedom, a far-right college student organization. The group is also presenting the film at other universities as part of Walsh’s tour. Tickets are available for free through EventBrite as of Thursday evening, though the ticket service has removed events in the past. The Daily Dot reported the screenings had been taken down for violating policies on hateful content that targets people for gender expression or sexual orientation. The tour is being promoted by the Daily Wire.

“Matt Walsh is a self-described theocratic fascist and his documentary WIAW is nothing short of transphobic propaganda using misinformation and biased sources to discredit gender affirming care in an attempt to make it appear as if it were medical torture on children,” said Sam, a trans person who lives in Central Illinois. They requested anonymity for their personal safety.

“These are the same tactics used by Nazis to target, harass, other, and ultimately attempt to eradicate trans and gender diverse people – and this is exactly the type of rhetoric Walsh intends to spread on our local University of Illinois campus,” they said.

Sam called the rhetoric “terrifying and frightening.”

The Eagle reached out to the University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign and the school’s Gender and Sexuality Resource Center for comment. As of noon on Friday, despite follow up, the groups had not responded.

As a side note, during the 2020 presidential election, BTS fans and TikTok creators claimed all the free tickets of a Trump rally in Tulsa. None of them showed up, leaving the 19,000-seat venue mostly empty.

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