Doreen Denny takes anti-trans talking points she used at Heritage Foundation to bigger platform: Fox News

Fox has boosted several anti-trans advocates with connections to Heritage on its “straight news” and opinion programming

Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

Fox News opinion host Laura Ingraham hosted Concerned Women for America's Doreen Denny on May 9 to attack the Equality Act, which Denny also criticized during an April anti-trans panel sponsored by influential right-wing group Heritage Foundation. The act, which the House Judiciary Committee passed on May 1, would add “gender identity” and “sexual orientation” to existing federal nondiscrimination protections in employment, housing, public accomodations, and other areas.

Fox News regularly hosts anti-trans groups and figures on both its “straight news" and opinion programming. On May 3, Fox “news"-side anchor Shannon Bream hosted Heritage Foundation President Kay Coles James, who downplayed the organization’s anti-LGBTQ history while discussing her removal from a Google ethics board. Heritage has worked to erode LGBTQ equality for decades. And since June 2018, Bream has hosted extreme anti-LGBTQ group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and its clients five times to discuss its court cases and push misinformation. Bream has even mirrored Heritage and ADF’s anti-LGBTQ language by misgendering trans folks (misgendering is the harmful practice of referring to someone “as a gender other than one that a person identifies with”).

In February, Ingraham hosted Meg Kilgannon, the leader of anti-trans group Hands Across the Aisle Coalition; the group was featured in a 2017 Heritage panel, though Kilgannon was not a part of it. Also in February, Fox’s Tucker Carlson hosted anti-trans lesbian Julia Beck, and in 2017, Carlson hosted Kara Dansky, board member of the self-described “radical feminist” group Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF). Despite its title, WoLF holds extremely right-wing views about transgender people. Both Beck and Dansky appeared on a January 2019 Heritage panel opposing the Equality Act, which featured several other anti-trans advocates who dubiously describe themselves as “from the left.”

In April, Denny’s group Concerned Women For America -- a right-wing group that describes itself as working to “bring Biblical principles into all levels of public policy” --  co-hosted a panel advocating against the Equality Act with the Heritage Foundation. The April 8 event was the fifth anti-trans panel Heritage has held in 2019 and was focused on transgender athletes. During the panel, Denny repeatedly misgendered trans athletes, even at one point correcting herself to intentionally misgender a female athlete after using the correct pronoun.

On The Ingraham Angle, Denny described the Equality Act as at odds with women’s rights, saying it would “erase females” and “turn us back from everything that we’ve gained over the last 40 or 50 years to try to raise our status as women.” She and Ingraham also both repeatedly misgendered hypothetical trans women.

From the May 9 edition of Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle:

Video file

LAURA INGRAHAM (HOST): Doreen, what does this mean for the women of America? Gosh, it sounds so great, the Equality Act. It basically takes gender identity and puts it in a covered category under the Civil Rights Act, correct?

DOREEN DENNY (CONCERNED WOMEN FOR AMERICA): Correct, and what it means is it’s going to erase, not discrimination, but it’s going to erase females. Because the sex of female will no longer protected as a thing that you could claim as a separate category that, you know, in a bathroom, or a locker room, or in a dressing room. Any biological man at any time that wants to come in and say, “I’m now a woman,” could just have access to that. In women’s sports, we have the situation, similarly. They’re already claiming it, with gender, just saying, I'm going to erase -- I'm going to be female racing against women, winning the trophies, winning the medals, possibly getting the scholarships. And so, the Equality Act is a terrible idea for women, and it’s going to really turn us back from everything that we’ve gained over the last 40 or 50 years to try to raise our status as women.  

This is a threat to females. This is a threat to everything that we have tried to work for in this country. I mean, you know, even small business loans, or women’s scholarships, women's, you know, access in the sports, having equal opportunity here. It’s going to be taken away from us, because any time a man would want to claim to be a woman, any time for any reason --

INGRAHAM: Government contracts, under all of it.

DENNY: Under any circumstance. And you know what? There’s no standard about what that would require for him. It would just say --

INGRAHAM: He feels like it.

DENNY: If I feel like it today. Yeah, you know, if today I feel feminine, yeah, I’m going into the women's dressing room and just insist I am a woman.