Photo of Germaine Greer that accompanied the letter in theGuardian

Photo of Germaine Greer that accompanied the Guardian letter

Letter from the Guardian:

“We cannot allow censorship and silencing of individuals

Universities have a particular responsibility to resist this kind of bullying

The Observer, Friday 13 February 2015 19.04 EST

The fate of Kate Smurthwaite’s comedy show, cancelled by Goldsmith’s College in London last month (“What could be more absurd than censorship on campus”, Nick Cohen, Comment) is part of a worrying pattern of intimidation and silencing of individuals whose views are deemed “transphobic” or “whorephobic”. Most of the people so labelled are feminists or pro-feminist men, some have experience in the sex industry, some are transgender.

Last month, there were calls for the Cambridge Union to withdraw a speaking invitation to Germaine Greer; then the Green party came under pressure to repudiate the philosophy lecturer Rupert Read after he questioned the arguments put forward by some trans-activists. The feminist activist and writer Julie Bindel has been “no-platformed” by the National Union of Students for several years.

“No platforming” used to be a tactic used against self-proclaimed fascists and Holocaust-deniers. But today it is being used to prevent the expression of feminist arguments critical of the sex industry and of some demands made by trans activists. The feminists who hold these views have never advocated or engaged in violence against any group of people. Yet it is argued that the mere presence of anyone said to hold those views is a threat to a protected minority group’s safety.

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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.”

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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: