Victoria Brownworth: Letter to the LAT
July 2, 2013
The following is a letter sent by award-winning, Pulitzer-nominated lesbian journalist Victoria Brownworth to the Rebecca’s Army Motorcycle Club, a texas biker group for heterosexual male transgenders and closeted crossdressers (and chasers) whose mission is to force lesbians and feminists to pretend that gross male bodies are female, that dicks and balls and sperm are vulvas, ovaries and eggs, and that any male pig who claims he “feels like a woman” must be embraced by lesbians as one of us.
Good luck with that boys.
The letter was written in response to a campaign of death and rape threats against Brownworth by male transgenders who took issue with her article exposing the hardships of minority transgender street prostitutes in her neighborhood. Strangely, the men attacking her have no issue with the reporting in her article. What they are enraged about is that she reported on the “T” in the “LGBT” at all. Reason? Thirty years ago she did a piece on a wifebeating heterosexual male transgender who was trying to force his way onto the board of a lesbian organization.
The funny thing is, near as I can figure it, Brownworth could not possibly be more supportive of the transgender community. She believes the government should provide hormones and plastic surgeries to transgender people on demand. She believes men should be permitted into Michfest (as long as they cover their dicks). She calls hetero male cross-dressers “women”. In short, Brownworth is everything the trans claim to want in an LGBT community ally. But therein lies the rub. Brownworth has the two qualities that the male transgender or “transwoman” community hates most of all. She is female. And she is lesbian.
It’s time for the lesbian and gay community to recognize the fact that heterosexual male transgenders despise women and lesbians. The transgender community is conducting a “war” against the feminist and lesbian communities. And no amount of good will, or good deeds, or ally-ship is going to stop the rape and death threats from what Brownworth is now calling “the LAT” (Lesbian-Attacking Trans). Or what GenderTrender likes to call the Trans Revolution Asserting Patriarchy, or (TRAP).
Without further adieu:
Here’s an answer to your email. Also, I have posed questions for you at the end.
I’m sure you would answer an anonymous attacking email, especially from a member of a gang that has spent a couple of weeks attacking, making threatening phone calls which have required my filing a police report and setting up websites specifically to assault me, but since I have continually maintained a level of fairness, decorum and honesty which none of you anonymous attackers has done, here’s my response, which I am sure you will immediately post to one of the websites, print on flyers or send out in suddenly NON-anonymous emails.
The attacks on me–a working-class lesbian–are sexist and classist. Since they are predicated on deliberate mis-readings of my work and selective readings of my work which ignore all the series I have done on trans people (you quote three paragraphs here of one of my responses to one of the attacking comments on part one of my series, but clearly didn’t actually read it), they really only serve to DIVERT ATTENTION AWAY FROM THE POOR, BLACK, TRANSWOMEN I HAVE BEEN SPENDING TIME WITH AND INTERVIEWING SINCE MARCH. Thus, this is also a racist, as well as sexist and classist attack.
Anyone who knows me–which you and your cadre of LATs (that’s like TERF–look it up) do not–knows that I have no problem apologizing when I am wrong or when I have accidentally hurt someone’s feelings.
Since I am not now nor have I ever been transphobic, I have nothing to apologize for. To accuse me of being the cause of suicides and lack of health care is beyond despicable and hateful and frankly, is the reason I shouldn’t even bother to answer this. If you knew ANYTHING about me, or my journalistic career, you would know that I have written about the need for appropriate health care for transpeople so that there is not the dangerous underground steroid/hormone and pumping that puts transpeople at risk. You would have read my AWARD-WINNING SERIES on these dangers. You would also have read my award-winning series on LGBT suicides. You would also have read my many profiles of transpeople like Kate Bornstein, Leslie Feinberg, James Green and Babs Siperstein, among others. You would know that I had written about violence against trans people like Gwen Araujo and Brandon Teena. You would know that I am the standard bearer in the queer journalistic community for Bradley Manning, and that my coverage of Manning’s case throughout has been nominated for awards and referenced pretty much everywhere and followed by both Manning and Manning’s defense team.
But facts don’t seem to matter to you or your cadre which prefers deliberate and insulting ignorance.
I sincerely doubt you were in the meeting in 1981, but here’s what happened: Leslie Phillips, a hateful, vicious, woman-abuser, tried to hijack a lesbian organization. Leslie Phillips was not the victim in that event, the lesbian community was. Oh and Leslie’s soon-to-be ex-wife was as well. That would be the woman who she (Leslie) had been beating throughout their marriage but who Leslie still thought should pay her alimony. (This was in the news, so since you’re so good at finding “news” from 32 years ago–look it up.) Leslie’s wife had filed charges against her, there were numerous police reports.
At that meeting lesbians who had been married to men (remember, this was 1981–still a very newly out community) were SOBBING at the thought of a WIFE-BEATER and WOMAN-ABUSER trying to take over the board of a LESBIAN organization.
Now just try and imagine, Anonymous, that I–who you despise–tried to become the head of the board of a trans organization. Even though your hatred of me is predicated on invented slights, nothing as real as PHYSICAL ASSAULTS, as with Leslie. Think the trans community would be in a state over it? Try looking at the actual story, the whole picture, instead of this narrow revisionist camera-obscura vision.
Everything within this little cadre of attackers seems to happen in some bizarre anti-historical and/or revisionist historical framework. As if time and history are static and as if the only pain and suffering ever incurred has happened to transpeople. As if lesbians and gay men don’t exist, as if we haven’t been at the forefront of activism and creating change–and as a consequence, at risk for our lives–for decades. Change and activism, I might add, that has benefited transpeople.
This isn’t just about YOU. This isn’t just a trans community, it’s QUEER community–LGB as well as T. Your suffering and pain doesn’t supercede everyone else’s. In 1981, lesbians were being victimized by Leslie Phillips. They were suffering. It happened to be at the hands of a trans person who seemed not to understand anything about the concerns of women, especially abused women.
You might understand this from the vantage point of how transwomen suffer. When transwomen get assaulted or raped or worse, murdered, it’s BECAUSE THEY ARE WOMEN. I should not be the person who has to explain this to someone who IS trans. Geez. Leslie Phillips abused women. Get it?
The rabid assaults by a small group of transwomen who hate lesbians (LAT) is hard to fathom and frankly, that behavior damages our whole community. WHOLE. COMMUNITY.
As for your questions, you HAVE to be kidding. The fact that you are even asking these questions proves you have your own distorted agenda and you have mis-read everything I have written–or not read it at all.
Re-read the first three paragraphs of your own email. MY MAIN SOCIAL JUSTICE FIGHT IN MY LIFE HAS BEEN ABOUT VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN. Got it? I took a transwoman–a total stranger–who had had the crap beaten out of her by a man to my house, cleaned her up and drove her home. (You should also know that I am disabled by MS, so I am always at risk if I put myself in a situation where someone else would be able to run or fight back, because of mobility issues. I walk with a cane and I am in a wheelchair when I have to be out for extended periods of time, like when I teach.) I have spent time with this young woman and her friends. (None of whom understand your attacks on me, btw, but then they aren’t “sophisticated,” merely human. Silly them, they all like me and are thrilled by the series. But then they have no idea what TERF means. But they sure have gotten an education in LAT.)
Try READING THE SERIES. Here’s a capsule for you: It’s about THE ABUSE BY MEN OF TRANSWOMEN OF COLOR. Something not one of the people attacking ME in this maelstrom of abusive language has thought about for a nanosecond.
These women–most of them under thirty–have been victimized by (close your ears now) MEN. And a patriarchal society that abuses women, children, gay men and–wait for it–TRANSGENDER PEOPLE.
If you’d read any of the series, you’d see your insulting questions answered already. But if I have to spell it out for you AGAIN because your selective reading/parsing of my work somehow excerpted all of this, here:
I refer to these women as women. They identify as women, even though they all have penises. They have been attacked and assaulted like women–something I have experienced as well. And unfortunately, like me, some of them have been raped.
If you’d read anything else I’d written you’d know I think that appropriate access to medical care is ESSENTIAL for trans people because otherwise, the risk that trans teens and 20somethings face is monumental. It’s hard to even comprehend your asking this question or any of the others which have been answered in DECADES of supporting the concerns of transpeople in my work–way more than any trans activist I can think of in Philadelphia, to be sure. But the insults from the LATs never stops.
Now quick, go back to your cadre of haters and LATs and find a way to excerpt this to further distort me as a person, an activist and journalist.
But remember this reality: The person who has been writing about how trans people (M &F) don’t have access to appropriate medical care, the person who has been writing about how transpeople don’t have access to anti-violence services, the person who has been writing about how transpeople of color face more risks of violence and poverty because of lack of access to jobs and lack of familial supports, the person who has been writing about suicide and HIV/STDs and violence related to being trans–THAT PERSON IS VICTORIA BROWNWORTH, THE ONE YOU KEEP CALLING TERF. For 20 years I have been writing about issues of discrimination against transpeople–in PGN, as a reporter and columnist at the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News, in the Advocate, OUT, QW, OutWeek, POZ, Curve and in numerous books.
If anyone is owed an apology here, it’s me. I know I won’t get one, because hurting and attacking lesbians allies is what this tiny band of haters does, which makes them no better than the homophobic Christian fundamentalist Westboro Baptist types I’ve been threatened by in the past.
When someone cares enough about trans people–your people–to use their role as a nationally known and award-winning journalist to chart those concerns, the proper response is thank you, not fuck you. All the time and energy you have spent attacking me and building websites and doing Twitter and Facebook assaults and parsing two or three pieces out of hundreds–you could have spent that energy doing what I’ve been doing: HELPING ACTUAL LIVING, BREATHING TRANSWOMEN.
So I reiterate: a sexist, classist, racist attack. You may think you are being politically astute, but instead you are just alienating more people, male and female, who would otherwise be your allies. And that just ends up hurting the people who most need help, like the women whose stories I have been charting since March.
Oh and stop being so cowardly. I could have done the same thing Kathy Padilla did and gotten a bunch of screennames to use to launch anonymous attacks (and yes, someone in your own community told me this, so it seems I have trans allies as well), but I didn’t.
I’ll await your apology. But I won’t hold my breath.
I hope you get your political priorities straight, because last I looked, the people in charge were straight white guys with money.
See if you can answer any of MY questions, which might help with some dialogue:
*Why do trans women activists/LAT hate and abuse lesbians?
*Why do trans women activists/LAT think that the violence lesbians have experienced at the hands of men is irrevelant to their experience?
*Why do trans women activists push the cotton ceiling agenda with rapey language?
*Why do trans women activists/LAT think lesbians are the source of their oppression instead of straight white male capitalist society?
*Do you understand that penises are a source of fear and revulsion for lesbians?
*Do you support threats of violence, assault and death against me and other lesbians by LAT/trans women activists?
*Do you support the threats of rape against lesbians by LAT/trans women activists as have been made on Twitter and Facebook against me and other lesbians?
I hope to hear an answer to these questions.