“Women Up North” Feminist Conference Protested, No-Platformed, for scheduling a Female-Only Survivor of Sex Abuse Workshop
May 30, 2012
After a tumultuous week of controversial protests from the transgender community over “RadFem2012”, a small female-only radical feminist gathering scheduled to be held in the UK this summer, transgender activists against female-only gatherings turned their attention to another feminist conference, this time the Manchester Feminist Network’s “Women Up North” event.
Genderists and their allies expressed “blood boiling” anger at a scheduled workshop for Female Survivors of Sexual Abuse, claiming that such a workshop discriminates against those born male.
The Manchester Feminist Network issued the following statement on their website today:
“We don’t see it as transphobic to have some seperate space for born women. Some of the women in our group are vocal advocates of trans-women’s rights. Some of us advocate for trans-women’s human rights but still want to be in born woman space sometimes and don’t see the 2 as mutually exclusive. Many of us have trans-women as family members, friends and work colleagues. As a feminist network of different women we struggle with these differences and yet try to still work together. The compropmise that we came to for Women Up North was that it would generally be open to trans-women but that the sexual abuse survivors and sexuality workshops could be designated born women only as the facilitators requested this.
The vast majority of sexual abuse is committed on women by men. Most women seek out women only services for support and recovery e.g. rape crisis centres, survivors groups or women counsellors. This doesnt mean that all male counsellors or support services are rapists, but that unfortunately under patriarchy women are understandably sometimes fearful of and uncomfortable around men (just think how differently it impacts on women when having a man or woman walking behind them when alone out at night). Sadly, some of us would not feel as safe/uninhibited in the presence of people who have lived some of their lives as men, however those individuals feel/see themselves and whether they too are survivors of sexual violence. Blame patriarchy for this, not feminist survivors of abuse. Please work with us seperately when requested, and together at all other times to challenge male violence and patriarchy. We have alot of common ground and alot of work to do! Some of us like this article by Jenny Roberts, a trans-woman who used to run the lesbian bookshop and arts festival Libertas http://www.annelawrence.com/buildingbridges.html
This is our response on the matter and we are unlikely to respond to individual comments, apologies.”
In response to transgender anti-female protests the entire Women Up North conference has been “No Platformed” by the same UK F-Word Feminist Network that last week called for all female-only gatherings in the UK to be legally banned in response to complaints that female gatherings discriminate against the rights of those born reproductively male. From the F-Word Facebook Page, with all comments:
May 30, 2012
May 29, 2012
Just published : Sheila Jeffreys response to genderist protests of RadFem2012 conference, accusations of “hate speech”:
“Criticism of the practice of transgenderism is being censored as a result of a campaign of vilification by transgender activists of anyone who does not accept the new orthodoxy on this issue. A recent Comment is free piece by the transgender activist Roz Kaveney, headlined “Radical feminists are acting like a cult”, criticises a forthcoming radical feminist conference, at which I was to be a speaker, on the grounds that I and “my supporters” may be guilty of “hate speech” for our political criticism of this practice.
Though Kaveney’s comments about me are comparatively mild in tone, the campaign by transgender activists in general is anything but. This particular campaign persuaded Conway Hall, the conference venue, to ban me from speaking on the grounds that I “foster hatred” and “actively discriminate”. On being asked to account for this, Conway Hall appeared to compare me to “David Irving the holocaust denier”. The proffered evidence consists of quotes from me arguing that transgender surgery should be considered a human rights violation – hardly evidence of hate speech.
For several years there has been a concerted campaign via the internet and on the ground, to ensure that I, and any other persons who have criticised transgenderism, from any academic discipline, are not given opportunities to speak in public. I have not yet spoken in public about transgenderism, but do speak about religion and women’s human rights, about pornography, and about beauty practices.
Whatever the topic of my presentation, and whether in Australia, the UK or the US, transgender activists bombard the organising group and the venue with emails accusing me of transhate, transphobia, hate speech, and seek to have me banned. On blogs, Facebook and Twitter they accuse me of wanting to “eliminate” transgendered persons, and they wish me dead. One activist has created an image of a pesticide can bearing a photo of me and the slogan “kills rad fems instantly”. These activists threaten demonstrations and placards against me at any venue where I speak.
What is clear is that transgender activists do not want any criticism of the practice to be made. They do not just target me, but the few other feminists who have ever been critical. Germaine Greer was glitterbombed, a practice that can be seen as assault and can endanger eyesight, in Sydney this year, though it is many years since she said anything critical of transgenderism.
Psychiatrists and sexologists who are critical of the practice are targeted too. Transgender activism was successful in gaining the cancellation of a London conference entitled Transgender: Time for Change, organised by the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ lesbian and gay special interest group for May 2011. When, in 2003, US sexologist Michael Bailey published a book, The Man Who Would Be Queen, which argued that transgenderism was a practice based on sexual fetishism, he became subject to a campaign of vilification, which included placing photographs of his children on a website with insulting captions. The effect is to scare off any researchers from touching the topic.
There are many aspects of the practice which bear investigation, including the history and social construction of the idea of transgenderism, the recent increased identification of children as transgender, the phenomenon of transgender regrets, that is those persons who consider they have made a mistake. Given that the drug and surgical treatments have now been normalised and are increasingly embarked upon by young lesbians and sought out by parents for young children, it is most important that the rights of researchers and theorists to comment and investigate should be protected.
Instead, they are subjected to determined campaigns of bullying, intimidation and attempts to shut them down. The degree of vituperation and the energy expended by the activists may suggest that they fear the practice of transgenderism could justifiably be subjected to criticism, and might not stand up to rigorous research and debate, if critics were allowed to speak out.”
May 29, 2012
A female child whose normal reproductive maturity was halted chemically at the age of thirteen, started cosmetic cross-hormone treatments at fifteen, had her breasts surgically removed at the age of sixteen, reflects one year later in this video on the nature of “gender” and the hypocrisy of transition.
She is one of the children featured in yesterday’s NewYork Magazine article on the medicalization of gender in children:
May 28, 2012
May 24, 2012
I'm sure that almost every radical feminist, at one time or another, started out by being sympathetic towards trans women.
Trapped in an unforgiving patriarchy that demands strict adherence to masculinity and femininity, some males are caught out, and are unable to tow the masculine line, leading them to inevitably experience "gender dysphoria".
Unable to act out the masculine pantomime, unable to identify with other males, this small group of vulnerable men reach the conclusion that if they are not men, then they must be...
Posted by Indi Kelly Edwards aka Indiana Kelly Edwards aka Indi X Edwards aka Indi X Roughsedge aka Cindi Edwards Roughsedge aka Cindi Edwards aka Indi Riotgrl Edwards aka Cinditude aka Nora Drenlin of Sydney Australia
His self description: “electronic music producer/sydney/loves2travel/transgendewarrior/traveller/socialworker/ prankster/novicefilmmaker/foody/beerlover/moviehound/earthling ==noradr3nlin AKA Cindi Edwards== Cindi, is a transsexual musician producer based in Sydney of [[noradr3nlin (solo electro artist)| &DreadCircus]], began her music career in the early eighties [[Metrix (band)|supported Pseudo Echo and Eurogliders]] and touring the [[Mid North east Coast of Australia]] Cindi with her band also supported Dymaic Hynotics, The Sweet, Midnight Oil, Matt Finish, The Radiators, Goanna, Uncanny X Men and more up until 85. After a 6 year gap Cindi went on to a solo career around 1996 in live electro however has as yet chosen not to release an album. 2001 appeared on channel V Room 208 to perform Divine Intervention and got on radio circulation on national and regional radio stations. 2002 released 2 tracks for S11 M1 Riots in Sydney 2006 noradr3nlin performed at laptop jam at Sydney University of technology. 2008 is currently playing bass and electronics for DreadCircus. Cindi is planning to release her first album in 2010.”
Much more on Mr. “Edwards” here:
and more threats against Lesbians here:
May 18, 2012
Radfem 2012 is shaping up to be a groundbreaking conference for females organizing for female liberation. The first three speakers have been announced and are Gail Dines, Sheila Jeffreys, and Pragna Patel. From the RadFem 2012 website:
Gail Dines is a long time radical feminist activist, and a founding member of Stop Porn Culture. She is a Professor in Sociology and Women’s Studies at Wheelock College, Boston, and her publications include Gender, Race and Class in Media (ed.) and Pornography: The production and consumption of inequality. Her most recent book, Pornland: How porn has hijacked our sexuality, was published in 2010 by Beacon Press. Gail lectures widely on the radical feminist critique of pornography, and organises regular conferences and trainings on radical feminist anti-pornography activism.
Sheila Jeffreys is a lesbian feminist who has been an activist against violence against women and the sex industry since the early 1970s. She is Professor in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne, and her many books on the history and politics of sexuality include Anticlimax: A feminist perspective on the sexual revolution, Unpacking Queer Politics and The Industrial Vagina: The political economy of the global sex trade. Her most recent book is Man’s Dominion: The rise of religion and the eclipse of women’s rights, published in 2012 by Routledge. She is the founding member of the Australian branch of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women.
Pragna Patel is a founding member of Southall Black Sisters and Women Against Fundamentalism. Having left SBS in 1993 to train and practice as a solicitor, she returned in 2009 as Director. She has been centrally involved in some of SBS’ most important campaigns around domestic violence, immigration and religious fundamentalism. She has also written extensively on race, gender and religion. Her many publications include essays in Black British Feminism: A Reader (ed. Heidi Mirza) and From Homebreakers to Jailbreakers (ed. Rahila Gupta) and Feminist Judgements from Theory to Practice (ed. Hunter, McGlynn and Rackley).
More speakers will be announced soon.
Anti-female activists are already organizing against the rights of females to hold a conference for females. Besides the usual conservative MRA types, some of the anti-female forces against this conference include transgender activists and pro-prostitution pro-trafficking activists who claim that females must be prevented from organizing and meeting together in female-only spaces.
Controversial anti-lesbian University of New Hampshire representative Joelle Ruby Ryan, the male transgender who recently forwarded the theories that “lesbian erasure” is code for “trans bashing” and that males are justified in wanting lesbians dead, has dedicated his entire twitter to the idea that even allowing females to meet and organize together is a form of “hate” against males. (The anti-gay University of New Hampshire rep previously supported a series of seminars called “Breaking Through The Cotton Ceiling” which were male-only sessions devoted to organizing around the “problem” of lesbians not wanting sex with males, and formulating reparative/coercive strategies against lesbians, who the males claimed were “discriminating” against males by not wanting sexual relations with them). Ryan has called for flooding the RadFem2012 website with anti-female spam emails.
The once popular F-Word blog (the “word-too-shameful-to-be-named” is purportedly “Feminist”) has openly declared that female activism “oppresses us all” by excluding males, and suggests that its readers boycott the event.
Commenters on Democratic Underground offer that females organizing around female concerns are “sickening”, “disgusting”, to do so is anti-male “bigotry”.
The twitter hashtag #RadFem2012 is chock full of comments expressing alarm that female liberationists are meeting to discuss female concerns. “I’m kinda surprised #RadFem2012 allow *any* kids or mums, considering that’s all a tad difficult without a bloke being involved somewhere.” Says one. “Smash RadFem2012” says another. One suggests organizing a UK version of Camp Trans, which is a group of anti-lesbian and anti-female activists that conducts harassment, vandalism and terrorism against the lesbian and female-only US Michfest Women’s Music Festival.
And all this within hours of the first three speakers being announced. Clearly even one group of females organizing for female liberation is so threatening to males and handmaidens of the patriarchy that they would like to “smash” and otherwise prevent such a meeting by any means necessary. Anti-female activists have started letter-writing campaigns against the venue holding the event- again WITHIN HOURS of the first speaker announcements.
The rights of lesbians and females –even the basic human right to meet and congregate- are UNDER SEIGE by conservatives, religionists, genderists, anti-gay activists, pimps and pro-trafficking forces, and now even some of those that call themselves liberal or “fun feminists”. Make no mistake. The outlawing of female gatherings and political organizing is NOT a “third world” concern. The very right of females to meet and gather in lesbian or female spaces is under siege by anti-lesbian and anti-female forces.
I urge every female, every lesbian, and every male who supports the rights of females to lend this conference your attention, your attendance, or your financial contribution as appropriate.
From the RadFem2012 website “Why RadFem 2012”:
“RadFem 2012 has developed from the passionate conviction that a UK-based radical feminist conference is badly needed and long overdue.
‘Radical feminism creates an original political and social theory of women’s oppression, and strategies for ending that oppression which come from women’s lived experiences.’ (Rowland and Klein, 1996).
RadFem 2012 puts women, and women’s lived experiences, at its centre. The event takes place in the context of epidemic levels of male violence against women, the ongoing expansion of pornography and the sex industry, cultural misogyny as an everyday reality and the devastating effects of neoliberal economic policies and environmental destruction on women across the globe.
It takes place in a historical moment where structural analyses of oppression have been marginalised, and where those who are oppressed are blamed for their own oppression. At a time when a powerful sex industry lobby has adopted the language of feminism in order to try to persuade us that the sexual objectification of women is a route to ‘empowerment’ and that women’s involvement in pornography or prostitution is simply a matter of individual choice.
Radical feminism is a revolutionary politics for the liberation of all women from male domination. Radical feminists neither seek ‘equality’ with men within a fundamentally oppressive system, nor simply to extend women’s range of choices whilst leaving that oppressive system intact. Radical feminists are engaged in the struggle to end all forms of male violence, and for the liberation of all women from patriarchal oppression. In short, we are engaged in a struggle for total social transformation. In Catherine Mackinnon’s phrase, radical feminism is ‘feminism unmodified’.
RadFem 2012 aims to provide a space to discuss and develop radical feminist theory and action, rooted in the realities of women’s lives. We take the necessity of women’s autonomous organising as a given. In doing so, we recognise the additional oppressions faced by many women, and are committed to building an explicitly anti-racist and anti-oppressive movement that is inclusive and supportive of all women, across differences of race, ethnicity, nationality, class, disability, sexuality, age and caring responsibilities. We celebrate the power of women uniting and organising collectively.
Many of us involved in radical feminist organising feel isolated, even within the wider feminist movement. In our experience, the need for an autonomous women’s movement and the value of women-only organising are seldom recognised. Women-only spaces are either rare, non-existent or under siege. Radical feminism is often misrepresented and maligned. The trend towards post-modernism and queer theory have marginalised feminist critiques of patriarchy, and rendered lesbian feminism all but invisible.
RadFem 2012 aims to provide a space where women can connect to reflect, learn, plan and take action.”
May 16, 2012
May 11, 2012
It deserves to be widely read and warrants its own post. From Lesley213:
I am a radical feminist and a lesbian. I hate the Trans project and how men invade women and lesbian space because they are “really women” or “really lesbians”. I hate the inherent misogyny in the Trans position.
And yet at an individual level I understand the desire of women to transition. My dirty secret is that I have felt it too.
I was not the typical tomboy as a child that many lesbians profess to be. I played with dolls, played happily with other girls and embarassingly for my mother with her feminist ideas, refused to wear trousers as I found skirts more comfortable. This all changed when I hit puberty. Although I was happy to get my periods and see my body become that of a woman, I found the social aspects of puberty very hard.
Suddenly all the girls seemed to only be talking about hair, makeup, clothes and how to get a boyfriend. I had no interest in any of this and felt like a real outsider. I began from 12 to hang around with boys and had a boyfriend from 12 and boys who were friends. I felt like I could fit in more with boys. There was no talk of make up, clothes or getting boyfriends. I look physically at this time, what would have been characterised as a “nerd”. Sensible haircut, jeans (skirts were no longer appealing when I was supposed to wear uncomfortable court shoes and shave my legs), t shirts and jumpers.
It is also at this time I developed my alter ego – Stuart. In all my daydreams I was Stuart. He grew up with me and I day dreamed about my life as a teenage boy and then a man. Of course like all daydreams, Stuart was more popular and better looking than my real female self, but he didn’t always have an easy time in my daydreams. However, crucially he didn’t experience any of the everyday sexism that I found so hard to take as a young teenage women. Every woman reading this will know what I mean by this. Stuart was a big part of my life until literally a year ago when he just vanished from my day dreams. At the time I didn’t understand why, but I think now that I was beginning to understand a year ago at some level that Stuart was a device to deal with my anger around everyday sexism – a sort of, what if daydream.
I have never talked about any of this in real life as I am deeply ashamed of this, so apologies if all of this seems really disjointed and poorly thought out. Its hard to put something into words for the first time.
But the truth is I think if in my early teenage years I had been presented with the discourse of Trans to explain my feelings, I could have easily transitioned.
I have read radical feminists talking about FtoT hating their female bodies and hating their female themselves. Of course at a fundamental level, undergoing cosmetic surgery is a self hating procedure to undergo. But I never hated my female body, beyond the usual insecurities of any teenage girl and young woman. I don’t know if those who actually transition feel differently, but I have always liked having breasts and a female body. But the things that did make me think I would rather be a man were simply that life would have been easier. I wouldn’t have had to deal with all the everyday sexism that as a teenage girl made me so angry. I wouldn’t have had to deal with on an everyday basis
- sexist teachers who treated girls and boys differently
- my parents who in spite of what they professed did treat my brother better. Yes we both had equal chores for example, but whereas he rarely did them, I was made to do mine
- judgements and pressures from other girls that I largely ignored, to wear make up, prettify myself, etc
- pressure to behave in a certain way now that I was a teenage girl, rather than just behave as myself
- casual judgements from men on whether I was attractive or not
I could go on and on, but you all know what I mean. I basically wanted to go back to being treated as an individual and not be faced with being treated as a lesser being with all the pressure to conform to being an acceptable teenage girl and then women.
So what stopped me framing these feelings as “really being a man inside”.
1. I think first of all the Trans project was pretty much in its infancy when I was young and at my most vulnerable. And certainly FtoT was largely unheard of, everyone in the media was MtoT. I was born in 1969 to give this context. As I was a younger adult, anything I read on FtoT made it clear that the surgical solutions around creating a penis were pretty rudimentary as well – and basically I didn’t want to be a freak – someone who in the surface looked like a man but had no penis or a pretty poor substitute for one.
2. I knew I wasn’t a man and that it was not really possible to become a man. If it had been, I would have been much more tempted.
3. Feminism – although I have only come to radical feminism in the last few years along with an understanding of the Trans project, I did have enough of an understanding of feminism as a teenager to recognise that my feelings were really about, as I would have expressed it then, the sexist society I was growing up in, rather than about my own individual feelings and “gender identity”.
4. I have the intelligence and self awareness to analyse and challenge my own internal feelings. Many women, including those who might be much more academically intelligent than myself, often have what I would see as quite a low understanding of their own feelings and behaviour. I generally do understand why am I doing something, even if it is for shameful reasons.
I do think I might have been influenced to go down the transition route if I had been surrounded both by the discourse and by individuals who were telling me that my feelings were really because I was a man underneath and that it was perfectly possible to change my body to that of a man’s.
I also do understand FtoT who then access lesbian space. I have had so much support, good times, a feeling of being accepted and generally nurtured in lesbian space. By nurtured and accepted I don’t mean in a support group type of way. I simply mean being allowed to be myself and accepted for that – a simple thing, but it has felt very powerful. If I had transitioned I suspect I would be wanting to access lesbian only space. it is literally about trying to get the best of both worlds.
I am not butch and so the lesbian discourse around being butch rather than being trans has never appealed to me. All I have ever wanted was to be myself. It terrifies me how the Trans discourse is now being sold to teenage girls and women as a solution to internal and societal conflicts. And it angers me that feminists are silencing objections to the Trans discourse as Transphobia.
May 10, 2012