Hands Across the Aisle Coalition

This content was last updated Nov. 16, 2023, 4:47 p.m. UTC

The Hands Across the Aisle Coalition (HATAC) is an anti-trans activist group co-founded by a conservative anti-abortion activist and a gay and lesbian rights activist. With the explicit goal of creating a political bridge between conservative Christians and anti-trans radical feminists, HATAC has offered input on legislation regarding trans minors via amicus curiae briefs and publicly condoned conservative and alt-right rhetoric regarding transgender people in order to strengthen their bond with the political right. The group seems to have had little or no new activity since 2019.

We refuse to believe children innately require sterilization as minors, by chemical or surgical means, in order to affirm fluid gender perceptions, social stereotypes, or personal expressions.

Letter to Nancy Pelosi, 14 May 2019


HATAC was co-founded in early 2017 by Kaeley Triller Harms of the Seattle area of Washington and Miriam-Ben Shalom of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who both had previous experience in different activism circles. There appears to be no publicly available information on where the organization’s funding and resources come from. The Southern Poverty Law Center addresses the lack of transparency on the HATAC website, suggesting the secular face of the organization may simply be a cover for anti-trans activism used by the right.

History of Anti-LGBTQ+ Activism

Kaeley Triller Harms, previously Kaeley Triller Haver, made national news in 2015 over her public firing from the YMCA over “inappropriate communication with members” while working on a policy that allowed for transgender individuals to use the changing room matching their gender identity.

Harms went on to work as the communications director for the Just Want Privacy group, founded following the failure of Washington’s Initiative 1551, which claimed an intent to “close the predator loophole” by restricting access to bathrooms based on gender presentation and identity. The group was one part of an anti-trans campaign by The Family Policy Institute of Washington, an organization with ties to the Family Research Council and the Alliance Defending Freedom.

By the end of 2017, Harms admitted to sexual relations with a seventeen year old while working as a counselor, leading to an investigation and strike by Child Protective Services.

Conversely, Miriam Ben-Shalom is a long-time gay and lesbian rights activist following her honorable discharge from the Army Reserve in 1976 over her refusal to deny her sexuality under questioning. She spent the next fourteen years fighting for reinstatement.

In 2016, Ben-Shalom’s public Facebook posts claiming “pretenders” might use women’s restrooms and her urging to “get the L out of LGBT” led to the revocation of her invitation to act as the Grand Marshall of the Milwaukee Pride Parade.

In 2017, HATAC co-signed a petition to Ben Carson, then director of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, alongside several other notable anti-trans figures. The petition argued in favor of barring transgender women from accessing women’s homeless shelters, citing general rates of violence against women and claiming trans women are ineligible for sheltering due to humans having “physical characteristics that have long been defined in medicine and science as either male or female.”

HATAC co-signed another 2017 letter, this time to John Weisman, then Secretary of Health for the Washington State Department of Health. Both HATAC and the Women’s Liberation Front argued against allowing transgender individuals to alter their birth certificates, claiming it would cause difficulty in “determining admission to sex-specific spaces”.

In December of 2018, HATAC filed an amicus curiae brief in the case of Doe v. Boyertown Area School District, in which the claimant alleged transgender boys using the boys’ locker room violated the claimant’s right to privacy. In their brief, HATAC claimed victims of sexual assault might suffer from this inclusion, and that “Survivors are entitled to bodily integrity and privacy,” while failing to mention that up to two thirds of transgender people will experience sexual abuse or assault in their lifetimes. Ultimately, the Supreme Court declined to hear the case.

Ben-Shalom spoke at the 2018 Gender and Sex Conference in Madrid, which also hosted anti-trans activists Michelle Cretella and Walt Heyer.

In 2019 Lynn Meagher of HATAC was represented on an anti-trans panel featured by the Values Voters Summit (Pray, Vote, Stand).

Further resources:

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