Abstract

This essay observes that a hostile relationship to religion is an elemental component of contemporary debates about gender and sexuality, and this hostility has its origin in a specific movement, freethought. A long line of Anglophone self-described freethinkers argues that human beings embrace religions because they cannot think without direction. TERF voices echo this explanation as they seek to right what they determine are wrong figurations of gender. The freethinker's ritual presentation requires standing at a pulpit determined by their claimed associations with and commitment to reason, and then correcting someone else's view of themselves with a red pen in front of a crowd. Understanding TERFs, and their ability to declare what gender is and is not, requires a foray into the history of religions to perceive why this is such a tenacious prejudicial rite of modernity.

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