In progressive Madison, Wisconsin, anti-transgender graffiti and stickers are showing up across the city.
A trans activist tracking the hateful messages says it’s the work of trans-exclusionary radical feminists, or TERFs.
“We’ve noticed specifically they’re going after transgender people, and specifically trans women like myself,” activist Jade told Madison’s News 3 Now.
Even in Madison, a college town known for being inclusive, Jade says women like her are under threat.
“It’s a little bit of like, you might be accepted generally, but there’s still a pocket — of women mostly — who just hate my guts.”
The messages have been showing up regularly since February.
“I removed seven today off of public property,” said Jade.
She called the anti-trans messaging “pervasive.” Across the city, pro-LGBTQ+ messages are being defaced, while anti-trans screeds are going up.
Even as city officials say they remove all disparaging graffiti immediately, Jade points out several hateful messages still in public view.
“This was a progress pride flag at some point,” she says, pointing to a scratched-out sticker. Next to it, another sticker reading “Spread love, not hate” was defaced.
Nearby, other progress flags had new messages scrawled across them, including “No more capitalist degeneracy,” “Crush cultural capitalism,” and “Death to liberalism.”
Nazi SS bolts accompanied the declarations.
Printed agitprop included stickers that read “Men’s sexual rights movement” over progress flag colors, a dictionary entry defining “Woman: Adult human female,” and a depiction of a stamped boot with the words, “I will not bow down.”
Jade is tracking the messages on a publicly-shared Google doc. She says rather than relying on the city to erase the hate, it’s important Wisconsinites understand just how pervasive the messages are.
“These are a lot of the ideological underpinnings behind some of the bills you see down in Florida that ban us from bathrooms,” she explained. “We need to keep an eye on what hate groups are doing, what their messages are and how they’re working because that’s important for combating them.”
Knowledge is power, says Jade.
“Saying this is what this is, this is why it’s dangerous, and this is the sort of tactics other hate groups use and can be used by them.”