Archive for the 'Feminism' Category

Feeding the troll, part 2

July 17, 2010

this is what a feminist troll looks likeMy old friend Butterflywings – whose attempts at internet trolling I wrote about here – has submitted a couple of comments to my previous post. They have absolutely no relevance to that piece, of course, although in their own little way they’re really quite priceless, so I thought I’d share them here instead: transphobic hate speech of this calibre needs to put into the public domain so everyone can see it.

I’m not going to bother applying the pink sparklehammer of deconstruction to them; they speak for themselves. It is worth noting, though, that these are the words of a cis woman feminist. This, as they say, is what a feminist looks like.

Author : Butterflywings
E-mail :
Fuck you, little child. Your attempts to smear me all over the Internet are hilariously pathetic. You’re the one that hangs out in little cliques of people who agree with you.
Accuse me of trolling? Now I am. No point having a debate with morons, after all.

Author : Butterflywings
E-mail :
You think you’re so great, don’t you? You realise everyone is laughing at you? I could demolish your pathetic attempt to argue against my arguments if I could be bothered, but frankly, posting links that agree with you…isn’t argument. Trannies are a bit thick, aren’t they.

It’s like waking up to find small piles of very smelly cat poo dotted around the place.

Time for some music, I think.


Related post:

From the archives: two posts from Earlbecke’s much-missed Definitions 2.0 blog

March 8, 2010

Direct links to PDFs:

Trans Issues Are Women’s Issues (Originally posted on March 7, 2006 by earlbecke)

There is nothing essential about being a woman (Originally posted on February 7, 2007 by earlbecke)

Why I will not be attending the 2010 Million Women Rise march

March 3, 2010

The first national survey on violence against trans people […] found that 48% of respondents had been victims of assault, including sexual assault and rape, and 78% had experienced verbal harassment. Other research conducted in the US found that 43% of the participants had been a victim of violence or crime, with 75% of those attributing a motive of either transphobia or homophobia to it. (Source)

There is no doubt in my mind that trans women are experiencing escalating levels of violence which are disproportionately high in relation to our numbers. Following last year’s International Transgender Day of Remembrance and the publication of the preliminary results of the 2009 update of the TGEU Trans Murder Monitoring project, it became known that more than 160 murders of trans people had been recorded in the preceding year. This prompted the equality/diversity campaigner Christine Burns to carry out this ‘back of the envelope’ calculation:

If trans ppl are (say) 1 in 10K of the population then 200 trans murders equivalent to 2 million in wider population

I can’t help but think that if 2,000,000 cis people had been murdered for no other reason than that they were cis, there would have been an international outcry. But by anybody’s standards, this is surely worthy of the attention of those with the power to initiate the attitudinal changes that are urgently needed to bring to an end this undeclared war on us.

As we know, cis women are also subject to violence and you might think that all women, no matter how we self-identify, trans or cis, would have a common cause and shared interest in claiming our human rights to life and security. And as the Million Women Rise website says:

A woman’s right to live free from violence and / or the fear of violence has not been achieved.


If you think this needs to change, then join us on a public demonstration to show those in power that it’s just not good enough!

However, it is unclear to me if the “us” that MWR uses is a fully trans inclusive “us” – or whether it refers only to cis women. The insistence on using the phrase “women only” – the website has an entire page of its own on the subject – is a definite cause for concern. To a trans woman like me, the term is contentious because it carries the baggage of nearly half a century of our exclusion from so-called “women only spaces”. The bitter irony, of course, is that we have just as much right to be in these spaces as cis women. The reason we’re not there is because those spaces have been taken from us by cis women feminists, often by force and always without accountability.

Lynne, in her excellent post at The F-Word, says that some may think this is nit-picking, but as far as I’m concerned, and to paraphrase a friend, the point is not whether or not women like me would probably be okay on the march, the point is that we wouldn’t feel safe.

In my opinion, any feminism which causes any woman, trans or cis, to fear for her own safety is a feminism which fails all women, trans and cis. And when this happens at such a high-profile event in one of the world’s biggest cities, it makes me wonder why an organisation which can, apparently without hesitation, turn its back on some women but not others, is considered by so many to be a suitable representative of the womens’ movement, a decade into the 21st century.

That is the heart of it, and that is why I will not be attending the 2010 Million Women Rise march.


Addendum: If this state of affairs leaves you as frustrated/infuriated/despondent as me, you may wish to contact MWR directly to express your views and ask the questions that they have been evading for far too long. According to their website, MWR can be emailed at but, if my experience is anything to go by, don’t hold your breath for an answer.


Previous, related posts:

London anarcha feminist kolektiv is open to new members

February 25, 2010

brave new feminist worldSome positive news over at the LAFK blog:

London anarcha feminist kolektiv is open to new members.

If you would like to get involved with the kolektiv, please come to our next meeting which will be this sunday the 28th of February from 7 at Larc, 62 Fieldgate Street, london E1 1ES,

if you would like to get involved but are unable to attend this meeting, please email us at and we can give you the details of future meetings.

Please note that we are a women and transfolk only group.

Good to see a feminist group explicitly stating that it’s trans inclusive without endless (ignored) requests for public clarification. Are you listening, LFN/RTN and MWR?

No, I thought not…


Trans inclusion is NOT the absence of “no”, it is a clearly stated “yes”. [Via]

Feminism in London workshop: follow-up

October 10, 2009

FiL09-161x162In my earlier response to Lucy’s comments (links here and here) on my posts “Cis Feminism in London 09” and “Reclaim The Night (For Cis Women Only) and the London Cis Feminist Network”, I said that I wanted to write a little more on the subject, and that’s what I’m trying to do in this post.

Additionally, I would recommend that anyone interested in following this thread also reads Laura’s post, Feminism in London workshop, at The F-Word blog.

Before I start, I want to make my own clarification. The views and opinions I express here are mine alone: I do not claim to be representative of transsexual women. Neither is it my intent to invisibilise, marginalise or silence the voices of other transsexual women.


Late on Friday afternoon, the organisers of the Feminism In London event updated their website with the following information:

On the website’s home page:

This event is trans-inclusive and transwomen are welcome in the one workshop that is women-only. The Feminism in London organising group would like to apologise for not making this clear from the beginning.

On the workshops schedule page:

This workshop is for women (including transwomen) only.

Whilst I consider this to be a positive outcome overall and I welcome the clarification, there are a few points I’d like to make.

  1. The whole situation need never have arisen in the first place. The term “women-only” is cissexist, and has been since it was first coined by cis women feminists. That a supposedly progressive and egalitarian movement continues to use it makes it clear that the overwhelming majority of its members have simply not checked their cis privilege.

    Had the original publicity material (and let’s remember that it was only the website that was changed, not any posters/flyers, etc) been clear from the outset that the entire event was open to all self-identified women (for want of another clearly inclusive term), then the risk of misinterpretation could have been eliminated.

  2. I wonder if there would have been any clarification at all from Feminism In London if a member of the FIL organising committee hadn’t seen Laura’s post at TFW (the situation only began to turn after the comment initiated further discussion between the organiser and TFW bloggers).

    And I know this will make me (even more) unpopular in some people’s eyes, but I cannot understate the contribution my TFW co-bloggers made to precipitating FIL’s clarification. The positive outcome is, I believe, due entirely to their input. As well as being my co-bloggers and my friends, I’m more than happy to call them my allies.

  3. I’m not comfortable with the term “transwomen”. It carries its own meanings of objectification and othering and I would have preferred to see trans used as an adjective. We don’t refer to (for example) Lesbianwomen, or Jewishwomen, or diabeticwomen – so why say transwomen?
  4. The FIL event was still strongly biased against sex workers, and that is another aspect which needs to be addressed.

I realise that to some cis women feminists I still sound like Angry Trans Harpy™ – which I’m not. Well… not completely. I am pissed off that this whole discussion even needed to take place, but perhaps that’s just a measure of how deeply entrenched transphobic views still are within cis women’s feminism. And although I’m glad that the organisers of Feminism In London clarified – albeit only at the eleventh hour – that their event didn’t exclude trans women, I remain sceptical that the London Feminist Network is any less transphobic.

So now this transsexual woman waits to see if the lesson learned by FIL will be applied to next month’s Reclaim The Night march.

Reclaim The Night (For Cis Women Only) and the London Cis Feminist Network

October 5, 2009

RTN cis onlyMy previous post (link here) has drawn me into looking further back along the organisational chain of command, and the results are as depressing and predictable as one might expect; as much for the failure of would-be allies as for the actual transphobia of the organisers.

Reclaim The Night and Feminism in London are both organised by the London Feminist Network and one commonality in all their literature is the use of the trans exclusionary phrase “women only”.

The problem arises because the term is grounded in the use of the long-established trope which states that transsexual women are “not really women” – hence my assertion that the phrase women only is trans exclusionary. The definition is essentialist in meaning as it infers that one can only be “born a woman” (and never “become a woman”, to paraphrase de Beauvoir), and in so doing it denies not only the existence and agency of transsexual women and transsexual men, but also the potential for change itself. Thus women comes to mean cis women, just as surely as women only means cis women only. The biological determinism underpinning this rationale ensures that these definitions become permanent, unquestionable, immutable dogma.

However, it also results in the anomalous situation we now see in the cases of both Feminism In London and Reclaim The Night where transsexual men (“really women”) will be welcomed to these events, at the same time as transsexual women (“really men”) will be excluded. The bias in favour of transsexual men not only makes use of one of the most offensive manifestations of transphobia – ungendering us – but silences and further marginalises transsexual women in the process: it is divisive too. At the same time, it reinforces the male/female binary which, in their next breath, those same cis women feminists will tell you they are committed to destroying – because, they reason, gender isn’t really absolute, determined by one’s genital configuration at birth, it is in fact a completely malleable, socially constructed concept.

LFN cis onlyBut regardless of the contorted and contradictory logic employed by LFN to exclude transsexual women, it’s interesting to note how the cis women feminist organisers then go on to avoid being called on their hidden transphobia by saying nothing explicitly about who is included in, and who is excluded from, the term women only. Their cis women feminist supporters at these events, who blithely go along with this hypocrisy by telling themselves that if transsexual women aren’t explicitly excluded then they must be implicitly included, are therefore not only complicit in the silencing of transsexual women, but their complacency allows the organisers to manipulate and exploit them in pursuit of this hidden transphobic agenda.

Which brings me to the real question: who decided this? How many people were responsible for implementing this trans exclusionary policy – and would they have been successful if the majority not been so apathetic? In a situation like this, saying nothing is no different to actively supporting the bigots. And given that transsexual women are highly unlikely to have access to the decision-making process, it falls to those cis women feminists who call themselves allies to take a stand on our behalf.

No more excuses, my sisters.


Cross-posted at Harlot’s Parlour

Cis Feminism in London 09

October 3, 2009

Feminism in London - it's for cis women onlyNext weekend sees the Feminism in London 09 event. There are various workshops and discussions on a range of subjects: for example, racism and sexism, self-defence and assertiveness training, activism training, etc – and nearly 30 speakers scheduled. Any self-identified woman, whether cis or not, would surely find something of interest there.

But what’s this on the front page of the website?

If you are a woman or a pro-feminist man, come along to join the discussion.

Any trans woman seeing that will surely already hear the alarm bells ringing. It shouldn’t need restating that the word “woman” defaults to meaning “cis woman” and excludes trans women as a consequence. And “pro-feminist man”? I wonder if that includes trans men?

But there’s more. At the bottom of every single page of the website is this little gem of transphobia:

Some workshops may be for women only.

I see. And which workshops might they be, then? Close reading suggests that there is, in fact, only one workshop which is open to cis women only, and it’s the Rape and sexual violence workshop.

Because, as we know, trans women never suffer rape and violence.

Scratch the surface and the same old hidden agenda can be seen. Biological determinism: if you were born male-bodied, you will only ever be male. And its corollary – if you were born female-bodied, you will only ever be female – is the flipside. The thinking, if that’s the word I want, is fundamentally cissexist. The implication is that, irrespective of how we self-identify, to cis people we are always and forever the gender we were assigned at birth. It’s interesting that a self-styled feminist event should choose to implement such an essentialist policy. Whatever happened to the idea that gender is entirely socially constructed? And what happened to the feminism that preached equality for all and an end to oppression and discrimination?

And what all of this means in the context of the event is that a trans man will be welcome at the Rape and sexual violence workshop (because cis women have decided that he’s “really a woman”), but not a trans woman (because cis women have decided that she’s not).

But then I suppose it would be foolish to expect anything else of an event organised by the rabidly transphobic London Feminist Network. The same people who were last seen supporting a transphobic bigot celebrity lifestyle journalist at last year’s Stonewall UK protest, and who are no doubt already gearing up for the annual Reclaim The Night (But Only For Cis Women) march next month.

Frankly, if this is state of feminism in Britain’s biggest city in the 21st century you know what you can do with it.


ETA: Because trans women never suffer sexual violence.
(Via This Is South WalesPDF here)


Cross-posted at Harlot’s Parlour

“Safe[r] spaces online”: An interview with Helen from Bird of Paradox blog

September 4, 2009

I was recently interviewed by the feminist activist historian Red Chidgey for the Grassroots Feminism transnational community platform and living history archive.

The result is now online and you can read it here.

Brave new feminist world

July 26, 2009

brave new feminist worldThese days I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of feminist cis women’s blogs I visit, primarily because I’m really not interested in exposing myself to the virulent transphobia that runs rampant on too many of them. Now I can add another reason for disengaging – not that I was looking for one, particularly; the transphobia’s reason enough – having seen this comment by Sam Berg (via Renegade Evolution) it’s clear that her hatred has escalated beyond her usual mindless verbal violence into what is as close to a call to arms as makes no difference.

Being against those who make money from non-consensual/coerced sex acts? Yes, me too. But this self-righteous sister wants to “put AIDS-covered bullets in their brains”.

Talk about overkill. Like a bullet to the head wouldn’t be enough. But just in case it wasn’t, Ms Berg wants to make sure the job is done by making her victims HIV+

So is this what cis women feminists think is acceptable behaviour these days? And if not, why the deafening silence; why haven’t you spoken out against this hate speech?

Because if that’s what a feminist looks like…

Ms Berg, your death threat disgusts me as much as it scares me. Vigilante executions of those with whom you disagree? If that’s your idea of a brave new feminist world, then you can put one of your “AIDS-covered bullets” in my brain right now.

Post-identity feminism and the “problem of agency”

May 10, 2009

transgender-symbol_103x120In his post Feminist Theory and Identity Politics (link here) A Very Public Sociologist writes about a recent talk given by Professor Lois McNay, a cis women academic at the University of Oxford, when she talked about how feminism is “moving into an era of post-identity politics, which is stepping away from issues of difference and is grappling again with the problem of agency”.

Professor McNay’s theory serves only to highlight her own privileged position, comfortably ensconced in the leafy groves of academe. Any trans woman who has had even the smallest brush with cis women’s feminism will know only too well that the overwhelming majority of cis women feminists – if they even give a fuck about trans women to start with – are openly hostile to our presence within “their” movement. That stance, by definition, seeks to deny us not only our agency but our very right to exist at all.

Why? Because our existence demands the rethinking of vast swathes of feminist theory and the reshaping of 40 years of transphobic attitudes. And that, apparently, is simply too much like hard work. Far easier to demand that – in the words of feminist icon and transphobe Janice Raymond – we are morally mandated out of existence.

And to suggest that “the problem of agency” is feminism’s concern when so many cis women feminists flatly deny trans women’s agency is just a joke.

You want to talk about the “problem of agency”? Because I agree that it exists. No question. So where shall we start?

  • The “agency” enshrined in an Equality Bill where trans rights were added almost as an afterthought, and are so poorly protected as to be almost worthless?
  • The “agency” of a non-gendered person living in a state which demands that per identifies as either male or female?
  • And where was this “agency” when Allen Andrade unilaterally decided that Angie Zapata had no right to live, because he disapproved of her genital topography?
  • What about the “agency” of an LGBT solidarity organisation to operate without state-imposed conditions? Or the “agency” of trans people in a country where the state tacitly condones transphobic violence?
  • The “agency” trans people have when it comes to changing our documentation to match our gender identities without having to jump through a needlessly complex series of hoops?
  • Where’s the “agency” of trans people in a centralised database system that requires us to pay for two different ID cards?
  • How about that old favourite, the “agency” that trans women have to use (cis) women’s toilets?
  • Or the “agency” we have in a healthcare system which demands that we submit to being pathologised as “mentally disordered” before it will dispense the medications and surgeries which have been shown countless times to ameliorate a condition which is rooted in how we perceive our identity?

I could find many, many more examples of the forms of “agency” denied to us but, frankly, any cis person – be they feminist, socialist or some high-faluting academic an ivory tower – who doesn’t ‘get it’ by now is demonstrating not only a monumental failure to grasp the simple fact that trans people across the world are forcibly reminded every single day that our “agency” is defined, administered and controlled by cis people – but also that, as long as the situation remains unchanged, there cannot possibly be any such thing as a “post-identity feminism”.