On March 22nd, an article about feminism and transgender was published on the site of Socialist Resistance – a British socialist organisation. Although it was called Feminism and transgender: why is there a debate, it turned out to be a piece of someone who doesn’t see trans women as “real women”. No debate, indeed. We – FEL – see this as hate speech, we are a trans inclusive, radical and anti-racist feminist organisation.
Very quickly it became the most read article on their site. The article was later removed from the site by request of the author, she republished it on her personal blog. The article was supposed to be one of two articles, one by a feminist, one by a trans activist, but the author of the second piece hadn’t finished their piece yet because of work and illness.
The article’s appearance was the decision of one member, not a decision of the rest of the redaction committee. There was an uproar about this because – according to many of us – it was not an opinion that needed to be protected, but a form of hate speech. The article was also not representative at all of current thinking of socialist feminists about gender and transgender liberation. And by not representative we’re being nice. We mean outdated and hateful. The socialist fourth international – of which socialist resistance is a member – has a position of trans inclusion, for which we applaud them.
A number of socialist feminists started a petition to remove the original article from the website. The petition text is an interesting read, give it a go if you have the time.
By this time there was already a huge discussion on social media and the website of Socialist Resistance. On March 29th SR published some information about their views and the problems that occurred.
Someone also added an attempt at a trigger warning to the first – transphobic – article. This warning was worded horribly, it also made the author withdraw her article, which can now be read on her own site as mentioned above.
What’s going to happen now: the transactivist piece will be published when it’s ready, and Evie is also working on a second piece. We will be following up on the debate. UPDATE – we are now busy trying to get the dean of a Belgian university fired because he was victim blaming a rape victim. The second piece about transgender lib will be delayed because of this.
While the process around this has been pretty bad for all sides involved, this is still at the very least a learning experience. We’re trying to see the glass as half full here, people.
So what can we do? We can critically engage with some viewpoints which do not promote hatred of an oppressed minority. Our website already has a collection of articles, mostly in English, about the topic.
We need a feminism that is both radical and trans-inclusive. If we can’t have that, our struggle is ultimately meaningless. We will follow up with more articles and news, but some things to remember:
- Neither the mainstream feminist movement nor the mainstream transgender movement is representative of our views. In fact often we are downright at odds with them and they are probably not our best bet at a radical and trans-inclusive feminism;
- Radical feminism is often equated with trans hatred. Luckily this is not so. It didn’t start out that way in the seventies (see e.g. Andrea Dworkin on transgender), we will have to analyse why the enmity between radical feminist and trans activists has grown so much in the past decades.
This debate has been tough for a lot of people. We are activists but we have also experienced violence and explosive arguments like these can be triggering. Take care everyone, and make time for self-care when necessary.
Some more articles
- Liberal feminism isn’t your ally either – Emma Brant
- Whose feminism is it anyway – the unspoken racism of the trans inclusion debate – Emi Koyama
- Feminism has abandoned me – Flavia Dzodan
- If Trans women aren’t welcome, neither am I – Andrea Zanin
- Feminism and Transgender Liberation – Evie Embrechts
- Sex Educations: Gendering and Regendering Women – Lisa
- Why the media depicts the trans revolution in lipstick and high heels – Julia Serano
- Transgender en cisgender – de tweede sekse blog (Dutch)
- Building bridges – radical feminism and trans* – Evie Embrechts
- Where did we go wrong? Feminism and Trans Theory – Two Teams on the Same Side? – Stephen Whittle
- Transphobia and radical feminism – a challenge – Maia
- Irish Survey Reveals Shockingly High Suicide Rate of Trans People – Faith McLay
- Andrea Dworkin on Transgender – Daisy
- The legacies of trans-exclusive feminism (aka why are you angry?) – Emily Manuel
- Moving Towards Solidarity – Laurie Penny
- Becoming a woman: Trans women and male violence