By Joey Brite
As another year of following the money and power behind the gender industry ends for me, my friend and fellow activist Joey Brite suggested an accounting of the money and power behind the pro-reality movement - our side. She asks in this piece, what has our activism cost us? What have we gained, and where do we go from here? Considering what we have been up against, her essay felt like a love letter, a deep acknowledgment of our combined efforts against the juggernaut we face, something to hold onto as we move into the new year.
As I share her piece with the followers of The 11th Hour Blog, I thank you for your efforts and support. Our progress has only come through concerted efforts, even as we struggle with each other. Everyone is a hero/heroine who has taken up the task of facing this beast in whatever way they could. I hope you celebrate yourselves this holiday season, rejoice in your accomplishments, and let go of the stress, if just for a while. A whole new year is coming at us, and we'll need the renewed energy to take care of ourselves while meeting the challenges ahead.
Thank you, Joey, for your continued dedication and giving us something to hold onto.
“Grassroots activism is the first line of defense that the people have directly. We talk directly to these people. We look into their eyes. We hug them. We listen to their stories. Every grassroots activist has had a moment where the last story they heard was more than they could take. It was too hard for them to ignore”. -- Gabrielle Clark, CEO of Affirming Reality
As I was traveling across the U.S. in late September 2023 to represent the film Affirmation Generation at the Richmond International Film Festival, I boarded the plane with a plan to make some progress on another grassroots project I'd started. Like so many, I have a fear of flying, and so I always bring my notebook, hoping that I can distract myself from the terror of being sucked out a window and into the abyss to suffocate quickly. However, instead of getting to that project, I began fretting about how much this two-week trip would dent my budget. I set about making a list of all my known and projected expenses.
Barely upon takeoff, I not only calculated the consequences to my wallet of this current trip, but my mind also began to explode with the reality of an earlier trip I had taken in the spring to Iowa to perform the same role. I tapped into my memory of that final amount in dollars and lost wages. It gave me quite a wake-up call: What about all the close activists I have known throughout the past three years and their finances used for fighting against "gender ideology"? What about the sacrifice of my producer for the film I was representing? I had to consider many individuals and groups that describe and define "grassroots."
I created a list of names of the real grassroots activists across America that I had either worked with remotely or in person or recognized their efforts as witnessed online. The activists that are either working part-time and semi-retired as I am, the retail and service worker jobs of some I know, the office workers and waitresses, the small independent business owners and mothers or fathers, the homemakers, housecleaners, and homeschoolers, the ones who have—or had—professional high paying positions, and the ones holding full-time jobs and straining at balancing and making sense of their lives turned upside-down as a result of "gender ideology" coming into their homes. Only a rare few were financially comfortable, spending money never to be seen again because the immediacy they felt to get to the fight was that urgent.
I was not surprised to find that many of those who got into the early days of activism against female erasure and child medical sex experimentation were feminists and disenchanted Democrats. Unlikely alliances began with Republicans and social conservatives, but economic demographics remained unchanged. Except for a handful, those I met were working or middle-class. As the movement grew by early 2022, more groups arrived with financial resources. Some are suspected of being controlled opposition, while others had noticed the campaigns from us earlier grassroots activists.
Activists reached mainstream America through deeper pocket funding only after strenuous efforts by grassroots organizers working on shoe-string budgets. These types of efforts surged a Mid-Western small business owner's grassroots activism. Beth Stelzer, an amateur powerlifter, mother, and wife, created the first coalition (now disbanded) to fight for saving sports designated for women. At the time she began this, there was no financial backing. It took fundraising, personal donations, and simple merchandise sales to keep it barely afloat. Tremendous effort was accomplished across state lines, delivering testimonies and gathering others to take up the cause. While most of the public in 2023 know Riley Gaines, Save Women's Sports needed to happen first. Activists like K. Yang, Amy Sousa, Jeanna Hoch, and others were instrumental in opening the door for the success of ICONS.
Activists who helped move the needle in exposing the ills taking place in child safeguarding, indoctrination in public education, and child medicalization have been Gabrielle Clark in Nevada and Erin Friday in California. In Washington state, Dawn Land has been instrumental in various issues, such as gathering signatures for petitions against horrible child safeguarding bills, protecting women's sports, and getting Drag Queen Story Hour out of libraries. In Wisconsin, Thistle Petersen and her team have been busy for over eight years, serving up news from all over the U.S. and beyond through the podcast forum. It would take a bit longer—and is still an issue of national concern—to gain the same attention for the plight of getting men out of women's prisons. Grassroots campaigner Amie Ichikawa has worked to address this horrific reality by creating Woman ii Woman.
Fighting the industry of "gender" means different levels of commitment and financial costs. For boots-on-the-ground work, expenses depend on the location and the style of protest, rally, or type of demonstration. Banners, leaflets, permits, posters, bullhorns, whistles, first aid kits, rope, duct tape, clipboards, publicity, and parking costs can all be considerations. If the action is in another city, airfare, gas, hotel stays, meals and car rentals add up. For activists producing more significant events, costs can include a conference, sound equipment, and basic technical expenses. Having speakers can mean paying varying speakers' fees, transportation, and accommodations. Often, activists must consider professional security costs for their safety.
Considering these costs, I wanted to see if I could get at least 20 such grassroots activists to answer this question: "Can you give me an estimated dollar amount that you have personally invested in fighting "gender ideology" that you will never see back?"
The response I received so quickly should not have surprised me, but I made the possible categories of costs to represent a broad range of forced and voluntary financial investments. After 30 women and three men had totaled their expenses, the amount came to $6,610,950.00. If this were the amount from 30 activists polled, what could the actual amount be in the USA? The states represented are Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Montana, Minnesota, New Mexico, Nevada, North Carolina, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin, with the most significant amount coming from California.
This estimated total covers the following:
loss of wages due to either choosing to quit or being forced to leave lucrative employment in the attempt to rescue a child from medicalization, being pressured out of employment, and becoming "unemployable" in one's field due to being targeted for fighting "gender ideology."
moving costs for being targeted in one's neighborhood and relocating to a safer geographic area
legal costs: either fighting lawsuits, filing lawsuits, custody issues, or covering court fines
producing boots-on-the-ground actions
donations to content providers in the form of video, blogs, and independent journalism (e.g., Substack)
upgrades in technical equipment and fees for online access to webinars and online conferences
actual conferences (in-person)
donations to detransitioners
donations to organizations and political campaigns
donations to artistic projects such as film, art installations, original arts and crafts, stickers, t-shirts, bumper stickers, clothing
For those of us in the early beginning, creating and printing posters, buying spray paint and other art supplies for renegade awareness campaigns, and creating postcards, stickers, and t-shirts were the start. Taking photos and videos and uploading them to social media was the only way to get exposure, as no mainstream media would cover us.
Twitter/X began showing signs of rebellion against the onslaught of 'gender' in the form of protest imagery uploaded by unknown disparate activists from around the country in 2021. Alternative media, along with some platforms on the political right, was the first to begin touching this subject as 'cancel culture' was opening these journalistic warriors to a torrent of abuse for acknowledging the harm coming to women and children, due to gender ideology.
By the summer of 2022, The Epoch Times began reporting on the gender wars, interviewing activists, and following our stories in California. The medical crimes committed against children, which grassroots activists were protesting, were finally reported in the press, and the term detransitioners got exposure. Men infiltrating women's prisons and school curricula containing indoctrination into the 'new religion' of 'gender ideology' were being reported about. That platform began producing documentaries on the subject with a keen eye, revealing that California was experiencing a complete totalitarian regime that was encroaching on every aspect of our society. FOX News had dipped its feet into the waters of the subject with Tucker Carlson, but when The Daily Wire's Matt Walsh released What Is a Woman? It cracked open a larger conversation in the general public. These examples showed how, though activists of the original left were involved in this fight, the left's MSM remained silent about these stories.
Since Jennifer Bilek reports on the tremendous machine of propaganda and financing driving this into the culture, I asked her what the most accurate dollar amount was behind the biggest psyops we face against our shared humanity. Bilek replied:
"The figure you're thinking of is the entire LGBT marketing constituency, which is 3.7 trillion dollars. There is no way to assess how much money is being pumped into the 'gender industry' since it happens at so many levels: DEI financing, philanthropic funding, government funding, corporate sponsorship, commerce, etc., and of course, there's no way to separate the financing of LGB versus gender ideology. There is just no way to know."
I want to honor each of you who took the risk and paid the price in many inconvenient ways. Investing personal funds and countless unpaid hours has reached a wider audience joining the fight. Many of us who were early on the frontlines remain in the battle, and new voices have joined it as we have seen more citizens showing up at the school board meetings with parents fiercely taking to the microphone. Increasingly, we hear testimonies being delivered at the capitols in our states, facing the medical facilities and governing bodies forcing this anti-human agenda throughout our language and law and in every facet of our society.
We must join across the lines of polarization that have held us back from the progress we desperately seek. “Gender ideology” as Goliath cannot be allowed to crush our best efforts as David. Hold fast, fellow warriors, and #stayhuman for as long as possible.
“Grassroots has no benefit to the individual activists besides the knowledge that they didn’t ignore human suffering” - Gabrielle Clark, CEO of Affirming Reality.
Joey Brite is an American, a baby boomer, and a 2nd Wave feminist who fell in love with film and pop culture at an early age. She became obsessed with finding the truth behind big news stories after questioning the assassination of Medgar Evers and began writing op-eds at age 10.
Things have mostly stayed the same in her desire to understand perceived power dynamics that impact women's lives in society and within the culture of political movements.
She is the Executive Producer for the documentary Affirmation Generation. Joey Brite has also written for Women Are Human and Uncommon Ground Media.