A Radical Leftist Battles the Intolerant Radical Left Over Free Speech

Thistle Pettersen, a radical Madison liberal/feminist, made You Tube infamy the day after Governor Scott Walker survived a recall election:

Five years after suffering the stinging defeat Pettersen is now engaged in a radical leftist civil war. Pettersen is attempting to sue The Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice for defamation. A Go Fund Me site started to help Pettersen fund the suit says a February statement from the WNPJ “resulted in hundreds of comments and private messages aimed at harming Ms. Pettersen’s reputation and sense of well-being as a community member, as well as denouncing her participation at an environmentalist event that she was a key organizer for.”

The WNPJ statement accused Pettersen of making statements harmful to the transgender community:

Thistle has most recently attended the women’s march in Madison with a sign saying “Trans Activism is Misogyny.” She identifies herself as a Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist (TERF) and promotes these views publicly. She has posted public hate statements via social media directed at one of the WNPJ staff and other trans people. She has said things such as trans men are confused women doing damage to themselves, and that trans women are predatory men dressed in women’s clothes.


She says that being trans or gender non conforming is not a real identity. These statements are commonplace among people such as right wing politicians working to undermine protections for trans youth and adults which lead to institutional and interpersonal violence against trans people and trans suicide. In 2014 we lost a trans youth who was involved in the WNPJ network and are working closely with his mother to fight back and educate people about trans identity and creating trans acceptance.


We do not condone any death threats or threats of violence against Thistle and we hope that she can see that her actions promote this type of violence towards trans people. We hope that she would change her actions to not further this type of violence.


When someone espouses so much intolerance and hate towards a group of people they ultimately only cause harm, regardless of the social issues they are working towards. Thistle’s trans exclusionary politics, her targeting of trans people, and her promoting of hatred towards trans people has no place in our work for justice, particularly in a time where there is so much anti-trans rhetoric we are fighting against. This kind of behavior and tactic has no place in Madison or Wisconsin progressive, environmentalist, racial justice, and social justice communities.

Despite Pettersen’s radical leftist history, WNPJ compares her with conservative politicians. It is unclear if that comparison is what Pettersen considers defamatory. According to the Go Fund Me page, Pettersen faced harassment after she held up signs at a Madison international women’s march in January that some considered trans-phobic:

Starting on January 26th, 2017, Ms. Pettersen was made aware that neighbors and local community members were launching campaigns to get her fired from her day job in addition to de-platformed at local music venues she and her band were booked to perform. She also learned of neighbors stalking her in her neighborhood and taking pictures of her without permission or her knowledge and posting them to public social media forums where multiple neighbors have participated in making violent & hateful statements aimed at stirring up disgust for Ms. Pettersen around town.

The Go Fund Me effort aims to raise $5,000 Pettersen needs to retain an attorney for her lawsuit against WNPJ. In March, Pettersen lost a bid to get a restraining order against Wendi Kent. Pettersen belived Kent was organizing much of the online vitriol against her, which was threatening her livelihood. Kent admitted in she encouraged people to contact Pettersen’s employer in a bid to get her fired. And Pettersen made her position on transgender activism clear:

“I don’t believe in the term ‘transphobia’. I don’t believe that’s a real thing. I feel that it is a made-up term to target women who have questions about transgenderism the ideology. And not just the ideology, but also the policies starting to be put into place, like Title 9, for example, which was put into place in 1972. Well they want to take away sex-based protection for women and girls and replace it with gender identity protection for anyone who identifies as a girl or a woman. And I have concerns about that,” Thistle explained.

Pettersen lost her bid for the restraining order against Kent. According to the Go Fund Me page: “Many are concerned about the hate speech, violence, and vitriol aimed at Ms. Pettersen. We wish to demonstrate that Ms. Pettersen is a valuable member of our community and movements and should be allowed to participate fully without fear of harassment and defamation as we all should be.”

Conservatives have been sounding the alarm about liberal intolerance of their free speech for several years. Rioting and violence were used recently to stifle conservative free speech, particularly on college campuses. Pettersen, a radical leftist feminist, is now accusing liberals of using the same tactics against her. As of Monday, just more than $1,000  had been raised toward the $5,000 goal in the ten days since the Go Fund me page was established on Pettersen’s behalf.