Women and Children First has been a beacon of LGBTQ+ inclusivity in the north side of Chicago during its 40 years in operation, but now the iconic feminist bookstore is being targeted for its support of trans equality.
Aeries of transphobic stickers have been slapped on Women and Children First’s storefront windows and doors in Andersonville, a historic safe haven for the city’s LGBTQ+ community, on at least three separate occasions. According to the Chicago CBS affiliate WBBM-TV, the messages first appeared in September. When they were removed, two more took its place.
In a separate interview with the Chicago Tribune, store manager H. Melt described the messages as “extremely graphic.” They claim the business says doesn’t want to publicize what was specifically said to avoid causing “further harm trans people in our response to the situation or cause more negative attention.”
However, H. Melt said the vandals’ “ideology is representative of trans-exclusionary radical feminists — otherwise known as TERFs — in that they don’t believe that trans people are who they say they are, and they don’t believe that trans women are women.”
But on Sunday the bookstore sent a message of love and support to members of Chicago’s local trans population by inviting its customers and members of the greater community to chalk the sidewalks of Clark Street. Over 100 people reportedly came out to affirm trans people by writing “Trans Rights Are Human Rights,” “You Are Loved,” and “You Belong Here.”
Others who couldn’t join the public art event in person have been posting messages on social media to show their solidarity with Women and Children First. Over 2,000 people “liked” a tweet H. Melt posted about the harassment on October 11, while an additional 1,000 people retweeted it.
On its website, Women and Children First says it will remain committed to intersectional trans-inclusive feminism.
“We believe books are tools for liberation,” its mission statement claims. “Since 1979, we have celebrated and amplified underrepresented voices. In order for feminism to remain relevant, it must be forever evolving.”