Bette Midler has infuriated supporters of transgender rights by claiming that the word ‘women’ is ‘being erased’ in favor of woke terms such as ‘birthing people’ and ‘menstruators’.
The 76-year-old actress and gay icon tweeted on Monday: ‘WOMEN OF THE WORLD! We are being stripped of our rights over our bodies, our lives and even of our name!’
She added: ‘They don’t call us ‘women’ anymore; they call us ‘birthing people’ or ‘menstruators’, and even ‘people with vaginas’!
‘Don’t let them erase you! Every human on earth owes you!’
Midler’s comments generated a swift reaction, with 11,000 retweets and 61,000 likes in less than 12 hours.
She appeared to be referring to a New York Times opinion piece published Sunday.
That saw columnist Pamela Paul blast the use of terms such as ‘birthing people’ and ‘menstruators.’
Supporters say the controversial terms are inclusive of transgender men and non-binary people, but critics say they effectively erase another historically-oppressed minority – women.
Tennis icon Martina Navratilova – who has herself angered trans activists by questioning whether it’s fair to let trans women compete in some sports – was among Midler’s supporters.
She said: ‘Careful Bette- you will be called transphobic too or worse…,’ she said, with the ‘horrified’ emoji.
Bette Midler, pictured in December at the Kennedy Center gala, on Monday sparked anger by tweeting that women were being ‘erased’ by woke terminology
Comedian Shaparak Khorsandi joked: ”I’m excited about drinks with some birthing people I went to school with…we are having a proper mensturators night out!’ Let me know when this happens. Right now it’s just a kind nod to inclusion of a tiny minority.’
And singer Bradley James Skistimas, known as Five Times August, tweeted: ‘I agree with you on this. Is your account hacked?
‘Also, where were you when women of the world were being forced and coerced to get a vaccine jabbed into their bodies?’
But as predicted, thousands of others quickly descended on the famously-liberal Midler to accuse her of bigotry.
‘No,’ said Irish drag queen and gay rights activist Dr Panti Bliss-Cabrera.
‘Don’t fall for the anti-trans panic fake nonsense. No one is erasing women.
‘In a few small healthcare cases where appropriate they are using trans inclusive language. That’s all.’
Derry Girls actress Siobhan McSweeney replied: ‘This isnt true. xxx’
Midler, seen in November 2019, angered many with her tweet – but others were supportive
Dr Jacqui Lewis, senior minister at the Middle Collegiate Church in New York City, said it did not need to be a ‘them or us’ scenario.
‘Using gender-inclusive language does not deny my womanhood,’ she said.
‘Liberation is collective.’
Author Chanda Prescod-Weinstein tweeted: ‘The stupidity of TERF semantics knows no bounds.’
TERF stands for ‘trans-exclusionary radical feminist,’ and is a term used to describe women who don’t believe that transgender women should be afforded all sex-based protection rights that correspond to their gender.
Trans journalist Niko Stratis said: ‘The issue with Bette Midler’s post is how the language is a direct line from that NYT op-ed, the power of the paper of record to play on peoples fears, insecurities and lack of proper information creates this space where the idea that trans people are erasing women becomes real.’
It is not the first time Midler has waded into the culture war battle, although she generally sticks to the progressive side of the online battle-lines.
In May she sparked outrage by responding to the nationwide shortage of baby formula with the message: ‘TRY BREASTFEEEDING! It’s free and available on demand.’
It was immediately met with a wall of criticism from figures as diverse as Stephen Miller, Donald Trump‘s hardline speechwriter, and John Oliver’s executive producer.
Many pointed out that a significant percentage of women are unable to breastfeed, despite their best attempts – one lactation consultant and author, Diana Cassar-Uhl, put the figure at 12-15 percent of all mothers.
Others noted that some babies have specific dietary conditions, and do not respond well to breastmilk.
Others still pointed out that tens of thousands of babies are adopted, and others born via surrogates.
And gay men – who comprise a huge faction of Midler’s fan base – were also angered by Midler’s remark, highlighting that a gay male couple wouldn’t be able to breastfeed their baby or toddler.
Tim Carvell, the executive producer of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, tweeted: ‘Imagine having a large gay fanbase, many of whom are raising kids in two-dad households, and thinking this is a good suggestion.’
Miller, the staunchly loyal Trump aide, tweeted in response to Midler: ‘What a profoundly offensive & ignorant statement.
‘There are countless reasons why breastfeeding is not an option for many mothers—too many to get into here. And if you’ve been using formula you can’t just flip a switch. Not to mention millions of babies with milk/food allergies…’
Ilyse Hogue, president of the progressive social change campaign, Purpose, tweeted: ‘Bette, respectfully, this is a very bad take. I had twins. I didn’t produce enough milk for both. Without formula, I would have had to have chosen which one got to eat. To say nothing of kids that get separated from the birth mothers very young.’
One replied: ‘I love you Bette, but this is not okay. I fought to breastfeed my son, he kept losing weight, despite my best efforts, including lactation experts.
‘It was emotional and heartbroken I felt like a failure and at 3 months switched to formula, because of the stress it put on me and my son.’
Another joked: ‘No biggie, Bette says just get a wet nurse! (Never mind they charge $1000+ per week and that’s something working families cannot afford, especially in a time where EVERYTHING costs more.)’
Midler, however, doubled down.
‘People are piling on because of former tweet,’ she said.
‘No shame if you can’t breastfeed, but if you can & are somehow convinced that your own milk isn’t as good as a ‘scientifically researched product’, that’s something else again.
‘The monopoly news is news to me, tho, no lie. #WETNURSES’
She also said she had confidence in President Joe Biden to find a solution.
Elise Stefanik, the Republican House conference chair, tweeted that Biden ‘has NO PLAN.’
In response, Midler then retweeted a comment from podcast host Brian Tyler Cohen.
‘Aside from the fact that you want to starve babies and accuse anyone who disagrees with you of being a pedophile, Joe Biden actually DOES have a plan,’ said Cohen.
‘It’s right here. You are lying.’
He attached a link to the White House’s factsheet from Thursday, detailing the steps they were taking to get the problem under control.