On October 24, UW-Madison hosted conservative commentator and self-described theocratic “fasicst” Matt Walsh on his tour to promote his anti- trans documentary, “What is a Woman.” Although I have not watched the “documentary,” recent remarks on his Twitter feed indicate exactly what Walsh thinks about gender expression outside of a rigid binary. Blade, a Los Angeles-based LGBTQ news organization compiled several quotes from Walsh’s feed, including, “I believe that gender ideology is one of the greatest evils in human history. There is nothing they can threaten that would make me back down from this fight. I’d rather be dead than surrender to this madness. It’s as simple as that for me,” posted on Twitter on October 3, 2022. He continues in another tweet, according to Blade, with “The medical establishment, Big Tech, and the federal government conspire to punish those of us who criticize the accepted narrative. This is full-on tyranny, and it will of course be defended by every single leftist who spends every day whining about “fascism.”
Blade counters by quoting Alejandra Caraballo, a Clinical Instructor at Harvard Law School’s Cyberlaw Clinic, and a former staff attorney at the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, and a Staff Attorney at the LGBTQ Law Project at New York Legal Assistance Group, with “This is a direct threat and incitement of violence against trans people. When he says, “gender ideology,” he really means trans people. Matt says he’s willing to die to fight it. Some of his followers may take him up on that and engage in real violence.” With trans people being at least four times more likely to face real violence because of their identity, this fear expressed by Caraballo is not just theoretical.
Understandably upset that UW-Madison would host such a person, someone, or a group of people, defaced both the Memorial Union, and Alumni Park with graffiti including “Matt Walsh + Nazi,” “Stop letting Nazi transphobes talk,” and “Trans POC rights now,” according to The Daily Cardinal. UW-Madison spokesperson John Lucas is quoted as saying that “The university is deeply committed to the right to free speech. However, criminal damage to the university’s buildings and spaces—for any reason or purpose—is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”
In additional to the graffiti, about 250 people showed up outside the Memorial Union ahead of the talk by Walsh to protest the event directly. The event, according to The Daily Cardinal, was organized by Madison Socialist Alternative and Madison Abortion and Reproductive Rights Coalition for Healthcare (MARRCH). “We think that we need a mass movement, really, it should be a mass movement of millions, of people pushing [fascist transphobes] back into their holes,” said Luke Eckenrod, Madison Socialist Alternative organizer. “A protest is a good first step to organizing people who do not support transphobia.”