Archive for the 'Will the last trans person to leave feminist Blogdonia please turn off the lights?' 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 : youthinkimtellingyou@yahoo.com
URL :
Comment:
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 : likeintellingyou@hotmail.com
URL :
Comment:
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.

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Reclaim The Night: policing the borders of cis feminism

November 25, 2009

Previously, on more than one occasion, I’ve made it clear that my anger at the members of the London Feminist Network who organise the annual Reclaim The Night march here in London arises from their continuing refusal to make any public clarification of their position on trans women attending the event. For a transsexual woman like me, their use of the phrase “women only” is contentious because it carries with it the baggage of nearly half a century of our exclusion from cis women’s spaces.

That such blatant and toxic cissexism is applied to trans women is, frankly, unforgivable in this day and age, but reading the latest post on the Feminist Fightback blog (link here) makes me realise just how dangerous the march organisers’ attitudes are when applied to other cis women too.

As self-identified women committed to fighting gender-based violence, members of Feminist Fightback attended last Saturday’s march in solidarity with sex workers fighting for the right to self-organise against exploitation in their industry.

From the blog post, it seems that not only were they subjected to physical harassment and verbal abuse from other marchers, but were approached and interrogated by the police, apparently at the request of one of the stewards.

[…] we were extremely surprised to find that one of the basic principles of feminism (and all social justice movements) was forgotten in this instance – namely, that we never resort to using police aggression to silence and intimidate members of our own movement, no matter how much we may disagree with them.

And that is the crux of the matter. Feminism isn’t – or shouldn’t be – about a minority of privileged cis women using strongarm tactics against other, far more vulnerable women simply to prop up their distorted and outmoded worldviews. Might is most definitely not right, and the actions of those self-appointed guardians of a fictitious ‘true feminism’ have revealed the extent of the moral bankruptcy at the core of the London Feminist Network. They should be ashamed of themselves and if they had a shred of conscience, all those concerned would have stepped down by now.

It’s no surprise that the organisers of the Reclaim The Night march have made no public statement about this incident and their silence serves only to underline their desperation to hold on to their positions of power without accountability. But listen well, my sisters: the day is coming when you will be called to justify your appalling treatment of all those women against whom you have consistently used your privilege to discriminate, when the right and proper thing to do would have been to support and assist them in their struggle against a common enemy.

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See also:

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Other, related posts on this blog:

This is not a trans woman

November 22, 2009

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.

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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.

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

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Cross-posted at Harlot’s Parlour

bunnah bunnah

April 18, 2009

carrotblancaRead this. Says it all, really.

This is what cis feminist Blogdonia does to trans women.

Are you proud of that achievement, my sisters?

Rant’O’Rama #01

February 13, 2009

“I’m not finished yet, I’m under construction”

20090213Although I really appreciate the kind words and supportive comments I’ve received, in comments at my earlier post, as well as in emails, messages at Facebook and DMs at Twitter, a couple of replies make me think I need to set out still further clarification of my current thinking.

I’m not denouncing feminism as an ideology; I believe I’ve been quite clear about that when I said:

Although, at the time of writing, I still subscribe to many of the basic principles, I’m increasingly at odds with the interpretation and application of those principles by various members of the UK online feminist community.

But – as I said here:

[A] feminism which only includes trans women as long as we stop self-identifying as trans women, as long as we do as we’re told and question nothing, is an exclusive and conditional feminism, in which equality is defined by the oppressors – and I have a big problem with that.

Furthermore:

And a cis woman feminist, any cis woman feminist, who can’t – or won’t – accept me as the trans woman I am, effectively bars me from identifying as a feminist – even though that decision is not hers to make. From where I stand, she is not espousing any kind of feminism I can support. Her primary concern, and that of others like her, would seem to be the perpetuation of an ideology which is so grounded in an insidiously toxic transphobia that it creates, by its very existence, a space so hostile to me, that I do not feel able to spend any length of time there. It is not a question of whether or not she will ‘allow’ me to be a trans woman (or a feminist): that’s not her decision, either. Nevertheless, on the one hand, she tells me I am a woman, but on the other hand I’m apparently not woman enough to be a feminist. On my planet, we call that trans-misogyny.

And if that’€™s what a feminist looks like, it’s not a face I would want to see in my mirror…

But…

That’s only part of the story. There’s a much, much bigger issue at the back of all this, and it’s that which is currently enraging me most of all. It’s not about any particular, individual cis woman feminist – rather it’s about a prevailing attitude in UK online feminism, that of a dangerous apathy.

My anger is focused on the way in which a minority of transphobic cis women bigots appear never to be called to account by the majority.

It seems to me that UK online feminism can be divided into three parts in the ratio of roughly 10%-10%-80%. The peddlers of hate speech account for the first 10%. In pursuit of their selfish and short-sighted aims they are damaging feminism, perhaps irreparably.

There is another 10% of cis women feminists who I would call allies – they have proven themselves to be allies of transsexual women in this fight. They don’t hesitate to speak out against the bigots, and their understanding of what it means to be a feminist shows up the transphobic bullies for the nihilists they are. I have a lot of respect for this second 10%, I am proud to know them and consider them my sisters and my friends.

Which leaves the 80% majority who, by their refusal to speak out and support their oppressed transsexual sisters, seem to me to be little more than shallow camp followers who wear their feminism as a fashion accessory, and whose claims to wish for an egalitarian society, free from oppression, discrimination and prejudice aren’t worth the paper they’re not written on.

Their silence, their lack of support, and their apathy has created the conditions for the haters to gang together and rampage virtually unchallenged around UK online feminism for far too long.

And this is why I’m hurting so much right now. This is why I’m so damned angry. And this is why I no longer call myself a feminist. Because being a feminist is so much more than calling oneself ‘radical’ when one isn’t. Because being a feminist is so much more than signing a petition, or blindly supporting the rantings of the figureheads of the old guard. Because being a feminist is – amongst other things – about actively working to bring about a society in which transphobia, cissexism, trans-misogyny, hate speech, discrimination, prejudice and the oppression of transsexual women by cissexual women is no more acceptable than racism, homophobia, ageism, ableism, you name it.

“Radical is fighting for all of those who are oppressed by our warped system of values”

Until that 80% climb down from the fence, stop the hand-wringing, the pearl-clutching and looking the other way, the endless repetition of empty promises and meaningless protestations of solidarity and finally start to give a damn; finally take a stand against the haters; finally show some real and active and vocal support; finally stop running scared of the bullies – then there can be no place in feminism for this transsexual woman. I will not be tokenised, marginalised, interrogated about my existence, sidelined or erased by this non-feminism any more.

To see the whole sorry state of affairs that is UK online feminism pains me almost as much as the endless attacks and sideswipes from the transphobes – but right now, I need to find a way to begin to heal myself. From here on out my priority is my well-being and my online safety, in whatever way it takes – because feminism sure as hell isn’t looking out for me. I’ve said this before – and I say it again:

I just don’t see how anyone, trans or cis, can honestly say that what passes for feminism online is anything other than fucked. Totally fucked. And I’ve had enough of it.

…*sigh/sigh*…

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ETA, 19 February: I’ve just read Missing Words thoughtful response, On being an ally, and apart from being sad that she’s sad, it’s perhaps also worth restating that it’s not just a matter of cissexual women feminists speaking out for transsexual women, it’s also important that they stand up to the transphobic bigots. Coalitions and boycotts. Perspective, I gotz it; A Plan – feminism needz one…

The road less travelled (redux)

February 11, 2009

20090211It’s no secret that I’ve been struggling with my crisis of faith with UK online feminism for several months – I’ve written about it in depth and at length in a series of posts here.

In recent weeks this state of affairs has intensified to the point where I am no longer able to identify as a feminist.

Although, at the time of writing, I still subscribe to many of the basic principles, I’m increasingly at odds with the interpretation and application of those principles by various members of the UK online feminist community. Whilst that is troubling enough for me to witness, I am pained more by the reaction – or to be accurate, the inaction – of the overwhelming majority in taking any meaningful stand against those hate-mongering bigots who are appropriating feminism for their own ends. In the process they are continuing an unfortunate tradition of excluding transsexual women like me, and I no longer have the stomach to fight those who, in reality, should be working with transsexual women in pursuit of our common causes, and not seeking to exclude us through their heavy-handed and inappropriate policing of the borders.

This erasure of transsexual women by cissexual women feminists is nothing new but it’s now time for me to cut my losses, forfeit my investment in feminism, and move on.

Over the past few days I’ve realised that my isolation and alienation from feminism is complete. I’ve reached the end of this part of my journey to find a personal ideology, a ‘politics of being trans’, that I can carry with me in my daily life and draw on to give me the strength and comfort I need to see me through my darker personal moments. It saddens me immensely that UK online feminism is either unable or unwilling to offer me the safe space I need to be able to discuss and work through the matters that concern me as a transsexual woman; discussions and debates which would ultimately benefit not only me but also our respective communities.

Therefore I will no longer be blogging at The F-Word, effective immediately.

I would like to thank to those of my co-bloggers who have accepted me as the human being I really am; and who have demonstrated their willingness and ability to work in solidarity with me. They are truly my sisters and my friends, and I think of them with both fondness and respect.

Helen
11 February 2009

Invisible Lives

February 1, 2009

Invisible LivesWhile the existing English-language scholarship on transsexuals inevitably returns to questions of identity, I seek to understand how the world is organized for and experienced by transgendered people. This commitment begins with the mundane assumption that TS/TG people exist, that we live – and die – in the world. And it suggests that we merit consideration not because we have decided to live in a gender other than the one to which we were assigned at birth, but simply because we live in the world. To that end, I am not concerned with how transsexual or transgendered people come to identify ourselves as a member of the “opposite” sex, the strategies we adopt to manage a chosen gender, or the aesthetic or physical functions of our genitals. I take it for granted that transsexual and transgendered people exist, and that we shall continue to do so even as the theoretical frameworks that explain our etiology, celebrate our transgression of a sex/gender binary, or condemn us to psychosis go in and out of style.

[…]

Thus, rather than asking what or why questions about transsexuality, I am interested in learning more about how transsexual and transgendered people live in the social, institutional, and cultural world. And, since I remain somewhat of an idealist (a necessary precondition for social change, in my opinion), I hope that this knowledge of transgendered people can be practically applied to make things a little bit easier for us, as we try to negotiate a world that denies us employment, refuses us access to health care, and undermines our self-respect and dignity.

From Invisible Lives – The Erasure of Transsexual and Transgendered People by Viviane K. Namaste
(amazon.co.uk)

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Enough.

January 29, 2009

20090129_enoughEnough.

It seems that every single conversation about trans issues that takes place in any online space where cis women feminists have access (not only cis women feminists – and not all cis women feminists – but the worst examples seem to originate there) ends up in yet another round of trans people being called on to justify their existence, or to jump through the same old hoops of another Trans 101 circus… The same old entitlement of cis people, the same old cis privilege leveraged as a blunt instrument of oppression with which to bludgeon us into silence.

And I say: enough.

At this precise moment I’m this close (*gestures vaguely with thumb and forefinger*) to just flattening this blog and walking away from it.

I’ve been too ambivalent for too long about my relationship with feminism, but right here, right now, it seems to me that the idea of being a trans woman and subscribing to the ideals of feminism (as presently prescribed by cis women) is an oxymoron, plain and simple.

Because I just don’t see how anyone, trans or cis, can honestly say that what passes for feminism online is anything other than fucked. Totally fucked. And I’ve had enough of it.

Enough.

To quote a good friend of mine: I’m sick of this cis feminist bullshit that says “trans people shouldn’t exist” and “we bloody should” are two equally valid opinions to hold under the wide umbrella of feminism. That is a completely untenable position, glossed over by a lack of understanding of what the word diversity truly means.

I say again: enough.

It’s hard to see how it’s possible to be both a trans woman and a feminist. But I can’t stop being transsexual – even if I could, I wouldn’t want to – so maybe it’s time to just leave this stupid, frustrating and too-often offensively oppressive online existence behind and just get on with living my life. My real life. My mundane, everyday life.

Meatspace.

At least there, the discrimination and prejudice, the harassment and oppression have faces. Those things are directed at me by real people, on the street, at work, everywhere. But at least I see the faces of my oppressors. At least they have to make snap value judgements about the real person, about me, before they direct their abundance of stupid at me…

But, enough, now.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt more strongly that the time is now, certainly for trans only spaces online – and maybe I’m even starting to edge towards a notion of a form of trans separatism too. I sure as hell don’t see anything for me here; it’s painfully clear that attempts to find a state where some kind of mutual respect, understanding, tolerance and maybe even some kind of integration between trans and cis people only ever fail.

And I’ve had enough.

There’ll likely be a blogging hiatus here for the next few days, then I may be back or I may not. Right now it just doesn’t matter any more. That’s enough.

Enough.