HOLLYWOOD (NEXSTAR) — Veteran actor and singer Bette Midler is facing backlash Tuesday after a July 4 tweet in support of women’s rights was criticized as being transphobic.
Midler’s tweet read: “WOMEN OF THE WORLD! We are being stripped of our rights over our bodies, our lives and even of our name! 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!”
Some of the phrases Midler refers to are typically used to include trans or non-binary individuals in conversations about pregnancy and abortion. The American Civil Liberties Union recently explained: “The more expansive and more accurate answer is anyone who can become pregnant needs to be able to get an abortion if they need or want one, including many cisgender women, some non-binary people, some intersex people, some Two Spirit people, and some trans men.”
Midler, 76, is a vocal critic of conservative politicians, particularly former Pres. Donald Trump. Recently, the Tony Award winner has advocated for increased firearm regulation. The “Hocus Pocus 2” star’s current Twitter bio reads, sarcastically: “We love our guns more than our children, our families, our friends, our nation, and our world. Without our guns we are nothing.”
Writer Roxane Gay, author of “Bad Feminist,” responded to Midler, saying: “No one is trying to erase women with inclusive language about people who need abortion care. No one is calling you anything but what you prefer. You should extend that courtesy in return.”
Midler’s comments came as a surprise for some, as the star has been a fervent supporter of the gay community, particularly gay men. Some of Midler’s earliest performance days were inside New York City gay bathhouses and through her decades-long career has been widely regarded as a “gay icon.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, Midler had not followed up the controversial tweet. Meanwhile, Midler isn’t the only musician facing flak on Tuesday. On Monday, Grammy-winning R&B/soul singer Macy Gray, best known for her 1999 hit “I Try,” appeared on Fox Nation’s “Piers Morgan Uncensored,” and the topic of trans athletes arose.
“I will say this and everyone’s gonna hate me but as a woman, just because you go change your (body) parts, doesn’t make you a woman, sorry,” Gray told Morgan. “… Being a little girl is a whole epic book, you know? And you can’t have that just because you want to be a woman… I don’t think you should be labeled transphobic just because you don’t agree.”
Both Midler and Gray have been accused of being “TERFs,” an acronym meaning “trans-exclusionary radical feminist”—or a woman who doesn’t consider transwomen women. Gray’s comments were applauded by “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling, whose controversial views on transgender rights have their own Wikipedia subsection. On Tuesday, Rowling tweeted: “Today feels like a good day to ensure I’ve bought @MacyGraysLife’s entire back catalogue.”
Conversations over transgender issues have intensified over the past year, as several state governments enacted laws affecting LGBTQ+ rights, including Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, which makes it a crime to refer to or discuss gender identity or sexual orientation in kindergarten through third grade classrooms. The bill went into affect on July 1.