Continued Public Harassment of Thistle due to Interviewing Feminists

In the May/June issue of Our Lives magazine, Emily Mills published a piece called “TERF Wars” about the recent WORT 89.9 FM Access Hour program featuring interviews Thistle Pettersen did with Julie Bindel and Meghan Murphy.

“TERF Wars” is in print form all over the City of Madison and available for free at coffee shops, street corners, community centers and places where the public is out and about.

Many feminists and allies responded to the article, both in the comments underneath the piece and by sending letters via their web site contact form.

Below, is what Ms. Pettersen sent to Emily Mills via the Our Lives web site contact form.

Note to Emily Mills from Thistle Pettersen June 5th, 2018:

“A couple of things…the WORT board president has put out a letter condemning the Access Hour program from March 19th  on June 3rd. He says it was not in alignment with WORT’s mission statement. 

Also, I found the following on the WORT web site. It’s dated December 13th, 2017 and was not written nor posted by me. This proves that there was forewarning publicly posted on the WORT web site about the March 19th, 2018 Access Hour content. You misreported on this in the OL article.

I just wanted you to know that I know that you are lying about me and that all of the shit you have stirred up to make people hate me personally and as an individual is rotten as eggs on the playground of life between adults, some of them bullies.

I am not a mean person — anyone can see that, trans or otherwise. Why incite large groups of local community people to target an individual? How does that further your cause? Further civil and open discussion? Further anything of value?

Anyway, I know you will not see my humanity in all of this, but rather, you will see me as you have painted me as a “hateful bigot.” I am not that and it is a gross misrepresentation of who I am, my character and how I conduct myself publicly and privately. I am a private citizen with the right to pursue happiness just like any other private citizen. It is wholly unfair and inhumane to target me in the ways you have.

I pity the karma you have collected on this one, sister. I am a weed that grows up through the cracks in the sidewalks of our civilization — which is the real news story that you have unwittingly made break further ground.”

Getting Back to Safety

The journey to living a normal life again continues for Thistle as she grapples with all of the implications and repercussions unfolding due to her willingness to go back to WORT to broadcast interviews with Meghan Murphy of Feminist Current and Julie Bindel .

In May, Thistle asked the board president to send her the letters, both pro and con, that were sent to the station privately for her records, but he chose to publish them on the WORT web site along with his response dated June 3rd to the Access Hour program on March 19th.

Below is Thistle’s response to his public publication of the letters and his statement.

“Dave & Jane,

Thanks for giving me access to the letters and for your June 3rd response letter, Dave.

Since you decided to publish all of that publicly, please include a link to the show featured in the title of your post so people unfamiliar can listen to the program in question. You could also just link to it in the WORT archive.

As far as you saying that my guests and I deny the existence of trans people, that is rhetoric that is used to punish and condemn women who have questions about the trans movement and how it impacts women and our ability to have civil discussion in our society about gender. As I have said before, asserting the existence of women as a class of people protected under the law is not to deny the existence of any other group, category or class of people, including trans and transexual people, non-binary people or otherwise self-identified people with regard to gender and sex.

You may remember that I stated the following in a letter to you and the board on May 14th about the existence of Transgender as a category:

We can probably also loosely agree that it is a category of persons who feel they were born into a wrongly sexed body that does not match their internal feeling of gender identity so they have a need (some would say a right) to present as the opposite sex and to be legally recognized as the opposite sex or of no sex or gender at all. Yes, this is a category and class of persons called “transgender” — I am not in denial of that.


I am not a lawyer, but the definitions of “gender identity” and “non-binary gender” and “transgender” differ widely depending on who you are talking to. A current legal definition  of “gender identity” is the following “An individual’s self-identification as being male, female, neither gender, or a blend of both genders.” So as you can see, my understanding of what “transgender” is as a category accepts this definition of “gender identity.


Also, the Left Forum, an annual event in New York City, allowed a panel of women to speak critically about gender this year just this past weekend! The women circulated this statement published by the Progressive magazine in a flier before the panel discussion.

They were inundated with transactivist complaints last year when women tried to hold a similar panel discussion of the topic and the organizers yanked the panel — but this year, somehow, they got in and people were receptive to what they had to say! This is very heart-warming to all of the women I know who are trying to have a civil conversation on the left.

WLRN offered our small platform to the women last year who were dis-invited from the Left Forum. You can hear those interviews here:

My hope is that WORT and the entire left community in Madison will be able to engage in civil discussion of these topics and allow women with dissenting views on gender to be able to use their own language and to represent themselves directly, rather than being misrepresented and further marginalized because they are not allowed to speak — or when we do speak — articles and public statements that follow do not reflect the content of what we have actually said.

Something you should know, also with regard to your letter, Dave, is that many of the women who get called “TERF” do not identify as radical feminists. They are just women, from a variety of backgrounds and political persuasions, who ask questions about the logic of gender identity philosophy and politics.

For now, I need to lay low and hope that all of the harassment and defaming of me as an individual stops so that I can pursue my dreams of playing my original singer/songwriter music that has to do with bike riding around the country and environmental topics, including poetic reference and alarm to climate change, a very real problem that impacts us all.

For the record, I never played one song in reference to trans politics at my regular show I had at the Crystal. I never mentioned the topic on the mic EVER, though curious regulars would try to get me to talk about it while sitting at the bar — which did get me in trouble. I should have refused to talk about it — but I am an open, trusting person to a fault.

I am struggling to find a way to stop the harassment and bullying of me as an individual. I would like to move on, as I am sure many others in our community would like to do too.Your statement and the publishing of it and all of the letters on the WORT web site opens up the discussion of me being targeted again.

If there is anything you can do to let WORT listeners and community members know that it is not okay to harass and defame an individual, I would greatly appreciate that. Thanks.


Long-time WORT listener Thistle Pettersen”

In order to better understand the context of the letter above to WORT board president, David Webber-Deveaux,  see his statement in its entirety about Thistle’s March 19th Access Hour program. 

To all of our WLRN listeners, thanks for staying tuned to Women’s Liberation Radio News.


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