the philosophactivist

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Freedom of Speech and Anti-Trans sentiments

I'm not going to spend a lot of time on this. I've been spurred to write this because one of my favorite "radical" organizing zines posted an article by a known anti-trans "radical" feminist scholar in order to say that the tactics trans activists used to get her not to be able to speak in various venues was not supported by them. I was shocked. I was upset. I was confused...Was I really seeing this? People blaming the victim in "radical" media. Marginalized people coming out against an already marginalized group. And as I posted my response on the short thread of responses I thought...I'm the only trans one here. No matter what I say, no one is going to get why this woman's inflammatory remarks are more than just annoying. Nobody is going to get that her anti-trans agenda incites even more violence and discrimination against trans folks- a group that is already subjugated and misunderstood.

Here's the article posted:

This woman, Sheila Jeffreys, says she is a victim and that she should be able to talk at whatever universities and conferences she wants and that trans folks are out to get her. This woman has published numerous works...spoken internationally. She has no problem being heard. She's even in judges ears telling them to not let trans children transition and collaborating with doctors and psychiatrists.

She says that her words are not "hate speech" but a "critique on transgenderism". Transgenderism? Last I checked a transgender identity wasn't an "ism" or as she calls it, a "practice".

This is the issue. Some feminists think that transwomen are further oppressing women...transmen are trying to gain power and are "choosing" this "lifestyle". Trans folks snap our fingers and have parts added and subtracted...and life becomes just peachy because- yay, now we can assimilate into the patriarchy and reinforce the gender binary. That was our plan all along. To gain power- if we don't get maimed, murdered or martyred that is. Yes, if we can just make it past THAT ( and the health disparities, unemployment, etc) we have it made. 

No one should be bullied or have death threats sent to them. (No, not even Ms. Jeffrey's).  But, groups should be able to keep anti-trans sentiments and hate speech from being presented on campuses and at certain conferences. I'm sure in a similar vein that the KKK doesn't want brown folks to exist and is against "negroism". Should they, too, be given a platform for their agenda? Both identities are murdered specifically because of their identity and sometimes because of erroneous portrayals. Oh but some will say...that's different. Don't conflate things.

No one's identity should be questioned and critiqued as part of some larger political statement while dismissing histories and realities. Not everything is black and white. Not everything can be explained away by some "radical feminist" philosophy.The truth have no idea why anyone is trans. We are not some nameless, homogeneous group. There are more than just transwomen and transmen on the spectrum of gender variance. There are more reasons than "wanting to be male or female"..."not cutting it as our biological sex"...or "being crazy and misguided".  As soon as people begin to see this- maybe we can start an actual discourse. Because it's not actual discourse if you come to me with the thought in the back of your mind that I am crazy, diseased, wayward, upholding some patriarchy, a sell-out, etc.

That is all.

I will leave you with some of Ms. Jeffrey's most interesting commentary:

"The lesbian community needs to address the urgent political task of enabling lesbians to retain and love their lesbian bodies. If the suffering and destruction of lesbians is to be halted then we must challenge the cult of masculinity that is evident in such activities as drag king shows. We must challenge those forms of self-harm which are presently being promoted as progressive and liberating such as butch/femme roleplaying, sadomasochistic self-mutilation and the instruments, drugs and surgeries now being used to enable lesbians to ‘transition.' Though there has tended to be an attitude of liberal tolerance towards these practices on the part of many lesbians, which has allowed them to flourish, there has come a time when the very serious consequences of what have never really been ‘playful' behaviours needs to be recognised. There is a need to recreate the strong, separate, womanloving lesbian community which lesbians need in order to be proud and to thrive." From FTM Transsexualism and Grief- Sheila Jeffreys

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