Thursday, 19 September 2013

A Statement of Trans-Inclusive Feminism and Womanism

I was particularly pleased and heartened to discover the following statement on the blog of  Feminists Fighting Transphobia

"We, the undersigned trans* and cis scholars, writers, artists, and educators, want to publicly and openly affirm our commitment to a trans*-inclusive feminism and womanism.

There has been a noticeable increase in transphobic feminist activity this summer: the forthcoming book by Sheila Jeffreys from Routledge; the hostile and threatening anonymous letter sent to Dallas Denny after she and Dr. Jamison Green wrote to Routledge regarding their concerns about that book; and the recent widely circulated statement entitled “Forbidden Discourse: The Silencing of Feminist Critique of ‘Gender,’” signed by a number of prominent, and we regret to say, misguided, feminists have been particularly noticeable.  And all this is taking place in the climate of virulent mainstream transphobia that has emerged following the coverage of Chelsea Manning’s trial and subsequent statement regarding her gender identity, and the recent murders of young trans women of color, including Islan Nettles and Domonique Newburn, the latest targets in a long history of violence against trans women of color.  Given these events, it is important that we speak out in support of feminism and womanism that support trans* people.
We are committed to recognizing and respecting the complex construction of sexual/gender identity; to recognizing trans* women as women and including them in all women’s spaces; to recognizing trans* men as men and rejecting accounts of manhood that exclude them; to recognizing the existence of genderqueer, non-binary identifying people and accepting their humanity; to rigorous, thoughtful, nuanced research and analysis of gender, sex, and sexuality that accept trans* people as authorities on their own experiences and understands that the legitimacy of their lives is not up for debate; and to fighting the twin ideologies of transphobia and patriarchy in all their guises.
Transphobic feminism ignores the identification of many trans* and genderqueer people as feminists or womanists and many cis feminists/womanists with their trans* sisters, brothers, friends, and lovers; it is feminism that has too often rejected them, and not the reverse. It ignores the historical pressures placed by the medical profession on trans* people to conform to rigid gender stereotypes in order to be “gifted” the medical aid to which they as human beings are entitled.  By positing “woman” as a coherent, stable identity whose boundaries they are authorized to police, transphobic feminists reject the insights of intersectional analysis, subordinating all other identities to womanhood and all other oppressions to patriarchy.  They are refusing to acknowledge their own power and privilege.
We recognize that transphobic feminists have used violence and threats of violence against trans* people and their partners and we condemn such behavior.  We recognize that transphobic rhetoric has deeply harmful effects on trans* people’s real lives; witness CeCe MacDonald’s imprisonment in a facility for men.  We further recognize the particular harm transphobia causes to trans* people of color when it combines with racism, and the violence it encourages.
When feminists exclude trans* women from women’s shelters, trans* women are left vulnerable to the worst kinds of violent, abusive misogyny, whether in men’s shelters, on the streets, or in abusive homes.  When feminists demand that trans* women be excluded from women’s bathrooms and that genderqueer people choose a binary-marked bathroom, they make participation in the public sphere near-impossible, collaborate with a rigidity of gender identities that feminism has historically fought against, and erect yet another barrier to employment.  When feminists teach transphobia, they drive trans* students away from education and the opportunities it provides.
We also reject the notion that trans* activists’ critiques of transphobic bigotry “silence” anybody.  Criticism is not the same as silencing. We recognize that the recent emphasis on the so-called violent rhetoric and threats that transphobic feminists claim are coming from trans* women online ignores the 40+ – year history of violent and eliminationist rhetoric directed by prominent feminists against trans* women, trans* men, and genderqueer people.  It ignores the deliberate strategy of certain well-known anti-trans* feminists of engaging in gleeful and persistent harassment, baiting, and provocation of trans* people, particularly trans* women, in the hope of inciting angry responses, which are then utilized to paint a false portrayal of trans* women as oppressors and cis feminist women as victims. It ignores the public outing of trans* women that certain transphobic feminists have engaged in regardless of the damage it does to women’s lives and the danger in which it puts them.  And it relies upon the pernicious rhetoric of collective guilt, using any example of such violent rhetoric, no matter the source — and, just as much, the justified anger of any one trans* woman — to condemn all trans* women, and to justify their continued exclusion and the continued denial of their civil rights.
Whether we are cis, trans*, binary-identified, or genderqueer, we will not let feminist or womanist discourse regress or stagnate; we will push forward in our understandings of gender, sex, and sexuality across disciplines.  While we respect the great achievements and hard battles fought by activists in the 1960s and 1970s, we know that those activists are not infallible and that progress cannot stop with them if we hope to remain intellectually honest, moral, and politically effective.  Most importantly, we recognize that theories are not more important than real people’s real lives; we reject any theory of gender, sex, or sexuality that calls on us to sacrifice the needs of any subjugated or marginalized group.  People are more important than theory.
We are committed to making our classrooms, our writing, and our research inclusive of trans* people’s lives."

Please visit the blog page and sign if you also support this statement

Added later (19/09/13):
I was also very heartened to learn that another feminist blogger (Sarah Thomasin) has just written and excellent article which challenges why some of the trans exclusionary radical feminists (TERF's) and some people in the LGB sector have difficulty in accepting trans identities.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

In Solidarity with Julie Bindel against Threats of Violence

Following the vile and disgusting rape threats which were reported to have been directed towards Julie Bindel when she was scheduled to speak to an audience of students at the University of Manchester, I would like to issue the following statement:-

"I was shocked and disgusted to learn of a rape threat directed towards Julie Bindel by an alleged trans person (or ally), and condemn any and all such threats in the strongest possible terms.
Ms Bindel was due to speak at a debate at the University of Manchester regarding the porn industry and received the threat shortly before this happened.  A protest had been organised by a Manchester Trans group regarding legitimate concerns being raised by trans activists/ students on campus in the run up to the event because of her historical views on trans rights.
Whether the threat came from a member of the Trans community or from somebody against any possible restrictions being placed on the pornographic industry is unknown, but I applaud Ms. Bindel for her action in reporting this matter to the police and I sincerely hope that the perpetrator is quickly found and punished for their action.
I consider rape threats to be always unacceptable when used to try and silence women and subjugate us.
Whilst I strongly disagree with Ms Bindel on certain points of her philosophy which she has stated in the past, I do not believe that threats of this nature are the way to argue against her beliefs and therefore condemn these threats absolutely and wholeheartedly.
I would like to offer my solidarity with Julie Bindel against any and all threats of violence of this nature"

I would urge other transgender blog sites to condemn rape, threats of rape or any form of violence towards any woman (and trans women are women) as misogynistic attempts to silence all women.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Parental Acceptance or Rejection

I found that a  letter that a mother wrote to her intersex baby which was subsequently posted on the Facebook pages of the Scottish Transgender Alliance to be tremendously moving and warming.  It spoke of the love that a mother has for her child, who was discovered to be intersex.  A discussion followed later on the Facebook pages of Trans Media Watch where I shared that letter which revolved around parental acceptance of trans and intersex children.
Would the parents of a trans child kick their child out or disown them if s/he had been born with a cleft palette, with Downs Syndrome, a heart defect or one of thousands of other possible conditions. Yet so many parents do this if their child is born transgender. They see it as something worse than having a 'Damien' type of child - and if they examined their consciences closely, what it really boils down to is "what will the neighbours think?".  Yes, at the end of the day, they are ashamed of what their neighbours and friends will say.  What that says about them is far more revealing than what it says about their transgender child.
With the proper medical intervention at the right age, their child could grow up into a beautiful happy person and have a full enriching life. Too many transgender people are scarred from parental rejection and hate.