The legendary Sheila Jeffreys. 2018. (photo: Venice Allan)

 

Men’s cross-dressing and feminism now and then

 by Sheila Jeffreys

My new book on the history of lesbian feminism, The Lesbian Revolution: lesbian feminism in the UK 1970-1990, is published on 22 August. It documents the breadth and scope of the lesbian feminist culture, theory, practice and community that we created and shows how this has all been disappeared from history. It demonstrates many differences between the historical context at that time and that of today in which a new generation of lesbians are striving to recreate a lesbian feminist movement. One difference is the existence today of an influential men’s cross-dressing rights movement which enforces men’s access to lesbians wherever we seek to meet or network. Back in the 1970s there were men who cross-dressed and tried to enter lesbian spaces, but these were very few in number. They were isolated individuals such as the man who attended the 1973 West Coast Lesbian Conference in Los Angeles and created hugely damaging divisions. Robin Morgan gave a speech against what she called ‘the obscenity of male transvestism’ at the conference in honour of his presence. In London too, there were just one or two of these men who sought to enter women’s spaces and they were overwhelmingly opposed. The term ‘transgender’ had not been adopted at the time. These men were called transvestites or cross-dressers if they did not have penectomies and transsexuals if they did.

They were unable to divert or prevent lesbian organising at that time not just because there were only one or two, but because they did not have a political movement or ideology to support them. It was not until the 1990s that some male cross-dressers were able to use the Internet to organise internationally and create a unified set of political demands for the right to act out their proclivities in public, under the rubric of ‘gender identity’ or ‘gender expression’. Today gay rights organisations, governments, the UN, political parties, education and medical systems support these men’s rights. The queer ideology which supports them has been taught to generations of young people in universities so that they now assemble to chant and jostle at any feminist meetings they have not been able to get cancelled. This is a very different context in which to recreate lesbian feminism.

In the 1970s cross-dressing was an entirely male and adult hobby. None of us (lesbian feminists) knew of any lesbians who were taking hormones or embarking on surgery to impersonate men. Children were not being transgendered at all. Rather than this behaviour being supported by a global ideology, as it is now, which argues that gender is essential and everybody has to have one and get medical treatment if theirs goes astray, the problem was limited to the weird antics of a few men. Knowing this history is important because it undermines the notion that transgenderism is something essential rather than a very recent political and historical construction. At that time, feminist organising was overwhelmingly and uncontroversially women only. In London, lesbians and feminists opposed the entry of cross-dressing men to women’s discos, meetings, marches and conferences on the straightforward grounds that they were clearly men.

My new book is based upon archive research into newsletters and documents from the 1970s and 1980s and from interviews with 12 lesbian feminists who were active in the movement. It covers the origins of lesbian feminism, lesbian culture, lesbian feminist theory, the critique of heterosexuality, and the forces which contributed to the demise such as sadomasochism, the revival of butch/femme roleplaying, identity politics and the Thatcher government of the 1980s which forbade the ‘promotion of homosexuality’ and transformed the political climate. The clarity with which men’s cross-dressing was understood at the time to be specifically a men’s rights issue, is startling, considering the extent to which transgender ideology has affected popular understandings today. The following extract from my chapter on separatism in The Lesbian Revolution illustrates the determination and strength of feeling that existed in the lesbian feminist movement on the incursion of cross-dressing men into women’s and lesbian spaces:

 

Cross-dressers mostly still kept their proclivities secret and they were not claiming to be women or lesbians. Also, the feminist politics of the time was strong. The very basis of the WLM was a belief in the importance and strength of womanhood, which was based on women’s biology and honed through growing up to face oppression as a girl and as a woman. There was an overwhelming sense, at least as revealed in the London Women’s Liberation newsletter in the late 1970s, that the handful of male interlopers who sought to gain entry to women’s discos could never be women and should be determinedly excluded.

The lesbian feminist, Maria Katyachild, for instance, wrote in the LWLN in 1979 that a male cross-dresser claiming to be a woman had attended a women’s disco,

On Saturday night a formerly accepted ‘womin’ confessed… to being a transsexual (male-to-constructed female) – i.e. a man who has had his prick cut off!… I personally am not a humanitarian, I am a feminist, there’s a difference! … It is a totally political issue…. which must …be worked out once and for all (LWLN 104, 1979, 24 January).

In the next newsletter, Pauline Long, later known as Asphodel, wrote in support of Maria, ‘And all of us say NO. Putting on skirts and make-up, even having “the” operation doesn’t turn a man into a woman. What makes us women is the put-down since birth’ (LWLN 105, 1979, 31 January). She expressed herself with much feeling, saying, ‘I am born a woman, and I reflect the pain that millions of women as well as myself have borne. I will not be put down by this new kind of person…. He does not and cannot feel it. He invades the Women’s mysteries. He degrades us’. Like other feminists at the time who sought to protect their women-only spaces, she exhorts these men to form their own groups to further their own interests. They should not ‘muscle in on us’. She says, ‘Do not divide us…  Transsexual infiltration of our groups is just one more male ploy to get us down’ (Ibid). My interviewee, Sandra McNeill, wrote a piece in the newsletter at this time entitled ‘Transsexuals and the Women’s Liberation Movement’ in which she rejects the idea that such men should be admitted to women’s spaces in no uncertain terms. She writes,

The issue is men.…. Whether there is a place for men in the Women’s Liberation Movement.…. it is an insult, an insult greater than a white choosing to wear blackface, an insult greater than a member of the middle-class choosing to drop out and not use their money or education to call themselves working class, an insult to the suffering and oppression of all women for these ex oppressors to claim to be women. To accept male-to-constructed female transsexuals as women is to allow men to reassert their control over women (LWLN 106, 1979, 8 February).

Lesbian feminist theory on transsexualism was honed by the first feminist book on the subject, which was published later in the same year, The Transsexual Empire, by the American lesbian feminist philosopher Janice G. Raymond (Raymond, 1994 1st published 1979). The issue of the right of men who cross-dress to enter women’s spaces continued to be the subject of passionate commentary in the Newsletter. On July 25, 1979 there was a one-day workshop on “Transsexuals – Men or Women” at the London women’s centre, A Woman’s Place (AWP). The policy of AWP was not to allow transsexuals to have access. The report back said that there were 25 women present and transsexuals were excluded (LWLN 131, 1979, 8 August). The majority of those at the meeting was firmly against the idea that men could become women. Furious discussion continued in the Newsletter.

In August, Mary Stott, feminist journalist, first and longest serving editor of the Guardian Women’s Page, set up in 1956, and later a Chair of the Fawcett Society and one of its original trustees, wrote a piece arguing that transsexuals should be in the WLM (LWLN, 134, 1979, 29 August). Stott’s views were those of an older generation of feminists whose politics were very different from the radical and lesbian feminists of the WLM. The historian June Purvis describes her as a ‘liberal feminist’ (Purvis, 2002). I joined in the discussion in October, stating that whether these men thought they were ‘women, ducks or Boeing 707s’ they were actually simply men and had no place in the WLM (LWLN 141, 1979, 17 October). The vast majority of the opinions in the Newsletter rejected the idea that these men should be admitted. The issue continued to be important, such that adverts for events in succeeding years specifically stated that they excluded transsexuals. The National Lesbian Conference, for instance, in January 1981, stated that they would not admit them (LWLN 199, 1981,18 January). This degree of unanimity is hard to imagine today, when a powerful movement of transgender activists has, in the absence of a strong feminist movement, made strides towards the inclusion of male cross-dressers not just in women’s meetings, but in women’s toilets, prisons, refuges and sport (Jeffreys, 2014).

https://www.routledge.com/The-Lesbian-Revolution-Lesbian-Feminism-in-the-UK-1970-1990/Jeffreys/p/book/9781138096578

[Bolding, images, added by me- GM]

 

More coverage here:

https://gendertrender.wordpress.com/2018/07/08/lesbians-protest-erasure-at-london-pride-march-by-halting-then-leading-the-parade/

 

Lesbian Pride at London Pride, July 7, 2018

Lesbians mounted a parade-stopping protest at London Pride today, July 7, 2018. They objected to the erasure of lesbians caused by so-called allies among gay, bisexual, and transgender organizations and individuals who forcibly rename lesbians as generic “queer people” and who demand that heterosexual men who sexually fetishize lesbianism must be accepted by same-sex attracted women as if they were actual lesbians.

The lesbians first gathered in front of the march, displaying their message. They carried signs and banners that read “Lesbian=Female Homosexual”, and “Lesbian Not Queer”, “Transactivism Erases Lesbians” and “Get the ‘L’ Out!”, among others. Then they lay down in the street, halting the parade and drawing attention. After a few minutes, they stood, and led the Pride March, remaining at the helm for the duration.

Lesbian Protesters halted the 2018 London Pride parade. Then they led it.

Their statement:

Why “Get The L Out” ?

Who We Are

Get the L Out is a group of lesbian and feminist individuals and organisations, opposing the increasingly anti-lesbian and misogynistic LGBT movement and the erasure of lesbians

Why We Protest

We believe that lesbian rights are under attack by the trans movement and we encourage lesbians everywhere to leave the LGBT and form their own independent movement, as well as to be vocal and take action against the proposed changes to the GRA.

Get the L Out believes trans politics (with uncritical support from the LGBT movement) does the following:

Promotes the social transition of lesbians, encouraging them to present as straight men thus favouring the pretence of heterosexuality over lesbianism – this is nothing more than a form of conversion therapy.
Promotes the medical transition of lesbians and pushes harmful drugs (untested hormone blockers, Lupron etc.) as well as unnecessary medical practices on perfectly healthy bodies – these are a form of misogynist medical abuse against lesbians.

Promotes the rights of heterosexual males who “identify” as women and lesbians (despite most of them still retaining their male genitals) over the rights of lesbians to choose their sexual partners. This new ‘queer’ LGBT politics thus coerces lesbians to accept the penis as a female organ and promotes heterosexual intercourse between male and female as a form of lesbian sex. This is simply a new facet to rape culture and compulsory heterosexuality.

What we Believe

“The trans movement with the complicity of ‘queer’ LGBT politics is coercing lesbians to have sex with men. We firmly condemn this vicious form of lesbophobia disguised as progress”.

“We stand for the rights of lesbians to choose their sexual partners on the basis of their sex not their “gender identity” and condemn any pressure on lesbians to accept so called “trans women” as potential sex partners and the penis as a female organ as coercive and a manifestation of rape culture”

“We oppose the transition of young lesbians on the basis that their appearances or behaviour does not conform to socially accepted images of women. Having short hair and disliking pink is not a sign of having a male brain and does not mean one requires transition. The trans movement is a conservative movement which reinforces sexist sex stereotypes.”

“We oppose proposed changes to the GRA and view self-identification as a threat to women’s and girls rights.

“We demand stronger sex-based protections for women and girls and that women maintain the right to sex-segregated spaces at the exclusion of male regardless of their “identity”.”

This action is supported by a number of individual Lesbians and Lesbian supporters, as well as Critical Sisters, Mayday4Women, Object ! and The Lesbian Rights Alliance

More info contact :

GetTheLOutUK@gmail.com

 

Video of the protest here [* THIS IS THE BEST VIDEO EVER! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! The whole thing is testerically narrated by various sick-ass dude-bros- LOLOLOLOLOLOL] :

The lesbian protest was greeted with cheers from the crowd. Up to a million onlookers flanked the streets to view the parade. Some of the men who demand the right to be recognized as “male lesbians” responded poorly- one of the crossdressers claimed he was warned by police to stop abusing the women.

Man fights for his right to be a lesbian.

Another heterosexual man who demands to be recognized as a female homosexual by lesbians reportedly hurled a water bottle at the women, which apparently hit a police officer.

Men representing the UK ‘Pink News’ click-bait website, (which lesbians colloquially refer to as “Penis News” or “Prick News” due to their anti-lesbian and anti-woman editorial slant), ranted on the site’s Pride March video feed about how the parade “Isn’t going the way it’s supposed to be going!”, complaining that the event has “been significantly disrupted!”. On the website’s livefeed of the event, the men from Pink News call for the lesbian Pride marchers to be dragged off by police and arrested. “They’re free to distribute their leaflets? I don’t think anyone from Pride has reviewed them!” one of the men from Penis News exclaimed with distress about the lesbian marchers.

The lesbians were supported by the crowd, and went on to lead the parade at the helm for the entire route. They were widely applauded by onlookers. They handed out informative literature to onlookers as they marched, some of which is reproduced here:

#GetTheLOut

You can SUPPORT THESE WOMEN HERE:

https://www.patreon.com/mayday4women/memberships

 

 

More coverage of the lesbian 2018 London Pride protest (and the reaction to it) will be posted in the thread below.

In The Economist today

 

The gender-identity movement undermines lesbians

Its attempt to rebrand lesbians as queer erases their identity, writes Pippa Fleming, a performance artist

There’s an African proverb that states: “If you don’t know where you come from, how do you know where you are going?” Some of the most powerful black people known for their political analysis, social commentary, activism and legacy during the civil-rights, gay-rights and feminist movements were black lesbians. Oops! Did I just say “lesbian”, that dirty seven-letter word that has the GBTQI community scrambling to apologise for or afraid to associate itself with? Lesbianism is as ancient as the cosmos, yet it is a threat to patriarchy because it does not centre males, nor does it seek male wisdom, power or validation. Instead of finding solace within our community against the threat of misogyny and homophobia, lesbian identity is being written out.

When black lesbians attempt to navigate pop culture’s “gender-identity matrix”, searching for their kindred’s place in history, they often come up empty-handed. What matrix, you ask? It’s that maze that has people running around in circles, as they attempt to reconcile new language and theories forced upon them by the elites in education and the corporatocracy, like “cisgender”, which means you were cool with the sex you were born in, or that biology is irrelevant and as has no connection to one’s concept of self.

Pippa Fleming

Whether it be in feminist studies, gender studies or the history of gay pride, black lesbians often go without their names or sexual orientation being mentioned. The trend towards claiming that “all sexuality is fluid” and to brand everyone and everything queer and transgender, means black lesbians are rendered invisible. A queer identity embraces sexual and intimate relationships with males, females, and intersex people who identify as transgender, gender-queer, trans masculine or gay, just to name a few. My, we are a diverse crowd.

In this current wave of “free to me” gender politics, any man with a penis can claim to be a female and expect entrance into female-segregated spaces, such as locker rooms, sports teams or colleges, without question. But don’t twist it; the generosity does not flow in both directions. Just ask the women who crashed the party at the male lido in Hampstead Heath in London in May: they were promptly escorted out by the police. Lesbian identity is now being dubbed as exclusionary or transphobic. You’re damn right it’s exclusive: lesbians have a right to say no to the phallus, no matter how it’s concealed or revealed. Imagine if white folks ran around claiming they were black or demanded access to our affinity spaces. They would be called deluded racist fools!

Shush, I hear the snickering. Who’s this tired-ass dyke that nobody wants to hear from? And why hasn’t she dropped any names? I like luring in my audience with provocative statements and short-circuiting any thought process that may prevent critical thinking.

Do the names Stormé DeLarverie, Audre Lorde or Angela Davis, ring that black gay history bell? The more important question, especially for those claiming to be the “down”, Black Panther activist type is this. Why don’t you know the roles they played? Without their dauntless activism and allyship, none of us would have the vocabulary of resistance or a notion of what’s required to create tangible alliances and an empowered LGBTQI community.

Let me drop a few herstorical truths.


Read the rest of this post here:

https://www.economist.com/open-future/2018/07/03/the-gender-identity-movement-undermines-lesbians

 

Reports are coming in of a series of violent attacks on lesbian marchers at yesterday’s San Francisco Dyke March 2018. The women were targeted on the basis of their signs which referenced lesbianism as a female-specific orientation. These signs offended the heterosexual transgender marchers who believe males should have the prerogative to “identify as” lesbian and that women who reject this premise should be targeted for violence.

The following are testimonies from various attendees who were attacked:

“I was the one. Knocked down, tripped, purse ripped away from me, glasses knocked to ground and my sign snatched and taken once and then retrieved by a badass stranger first, then again a second time it was forcefully grabbed and taken and later we found remnant blocks away ripped up. [Redacted] was surrounded, pushed down three times, sign grabbed. It was ripped up and she grabbed it back and held up torn pieces of it defiantly until the end of the march.

I kept yelling that we didn’t hate anyone, this was dyke march, we are dykes and that we were NOT transphobic. We aren’t AFRAID of trans people, we were not going to be silenced, we were not going to leave or put our signs down. Over and over again I said “we are not being violent, don’t touch us, we center women-safe spaces, we are fighting lesbian and female erasure, we care about the welfare of children who are being supported and even pushed to chemically and physically alter themselves without advocates for their future health, we are being peaceful, we belong here, this is our right and our space. We are not violent.”

We played an important role in being visible, even if we were knowingly outnumbered and villified. We looked directly into the eyes of those accusing US of hate. They yelled terfs go home, transphobia’s got to go, bullhorns in our ears, a woman stepped on the back of my shoes deliberately repeatedly and when I told her don’t fucking touch me she said “come on, hit me bitch!” I said we were not going away and we were not violent to which she said they would be.

There is so much more to say…. I’m still collecting my thoughts. I’m sore. I will say though, we did exactly what we said we were going to do. We held our signs high. We stared into a mob of anger and did not back down. We were there to show that there IS a contingency of us-RADICAL FEMINISTS- who will fight for lesbian visibility and for female biology and safe spaces. We were small and mighty and older and wiser. We were fierce and powerful. We were the better people. I don’t regret one minute of it because sometimes you just have to walk the walk…. literally.”

Various sources claim to have video of these attacks, they will be added to this post when available.

Men who identify as transgender lesbians were widely represented at the march, including the Anti-Lesbian ANTIFA group Degenderettes, who left their barbed-wire wrapped baseball bats at home, instead marching with tone deaf banners such as “Be Gay Do Crimes” and the female erasing “We stand with women AND cis women” (“Cis” is a modifier used by trans activists to reduce actual women to a subset of a new category of “women” dominated by males.)

More coverage will be added to this post as it becomes available.

Added: Spin from the San Francisco Dyke March organizers – blaming the lesbians for being attacked by men:

Every block there was “TERF Noise” which “needed to be shut down”.

Site of Gay bashing. The Grey Fox: gay culture St. Louis style

Four women attacked and beat a lesbian in a homophobic assault on Tuesday night as she exited the ‘Grey Fox Pub’, a gay bar in St. Louis. The women, all members of the transgender movement who identify as ‘Non Binary Trans’ were angered by the victim’s homosexuality and her belief that sexual orientation for most people, straight or gay, is based on biological sex. The women targeted her because previously she referred to one of them (accurately) as being female. All of the assailants are female and also very femininity conforming.

 

Violent homophobe Natalie Welage

The gay bashing was a premeditated attack carefully coordinated by the women, one of whom, Natalie Elaine Welage, is an employee of the bar, hosting events where she also performs as a male impersonator Drag King under the name ‘Dickie Rebellion’. They harassed the lesbian victim in the bar, elicited a male authority figure to pressure her to leave, then waited to violently attack her as an organized group when she exited.

 

From the victim’s Tumblr blog:

 

After the assault the gay-bashers took to social media to brag about and bond over the attack, referring to the victim as a ‘TERF’.

Natalie Welage and Katy Elizabeth St Louis gay bashers brag about beating a lesbian on Twitter

TERF is a dehumanizing slur used by the transgender movement to target lesbians and other women who recognize that biological sex exists. It stands for “Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist” and is used to denote female apostates of the transgender philosophy which insists that reproductive sex should be defined by adherence to social sex stereotypes instead of biology. TERF is pronounced “turf”, a synonym for dirt or a substrate upon which one walks, as well as a contested territory to be controlled.

Jesse Lee Heriford, St Louis gay basher, threats

The territory that the transgender movement demands control of is every part of society that allows sex-segregated areas (what anti-feminist transgender theorist Dean Spade calls “carve-outs”) for the benefit of the welfare of women: The right of female prisoners to be housed in separate facilities from males. The right to request a same-sex individual for body search or medical care. The right of female athletes to separate but equal sporting leagues and opportunities. The right of females to separate but equal facilities where nudity and intimate biological functions occur: changing rooms, toilets, hospital bed assignments, etc. The right of female homosexuals to organize lesbian publications, events, gatherings, and groups which exclude males.

Affirmative schemes to promote female equality are especially contested “turf” by the transgender and other anti-feminist movements: Women’s Scholarships, Women’s Awards, Women-Only Shortlists, Women’s colleges, Women’s leadership initiatives, etc.

Increasingly, transgender movement adherents advocate violent attacks against those who support women’s rights, particularly lesbians, whose minority sexual orientation is a literal “carve out” which excludes male bodied people.

Homosexuals not welcome at gay bars or drag shows now run by hetero “queers”.

The women in St. Louis who coordinated a premediated hate crime assault of a lesbian woman who recognized that they are female are, ironically, extraordinarily gender conforming and femininity performing individuals. They despise lesbians but colonize gay bars and call themselves “queer”. They are the ultimate female conformists. Female chauvinist pigs.

St. Louis Gay Basher Caleb Fetsch:

Violent homophobe Caleb Fetsch of St. Louis

St. Louis Gay Basher Jess Heriford:

Violent homophobe Jess Heriford of St. Louis

St. Louis Gay Basher Katy Elizabeth Heselton:

 

Violent homophobe Katy Elizabeth Heselton

 

As usual, no LGBT websites have reported on this crime, because hate crimes against lesbians are of no consequence to the male LGBT media and because – as the LGBT media blackout on transactivist Dana Rivers’ ghastly murder of Michfest attendees last year shows- hate crimes (including murder) against lesbians committed by transgender terrorists are considered justified defensible political crimes by the men’s sexual rights movement now operating under the acronym LGBT.