Saturday, 7 February 2015

Another Green comes out full TERF.

I have been forwarded, via a friend who wishes to remain anonymous, an article written for publication by Bea Campbell, a prominent Green Party member. It would appear that she is trying to get others to sign it. It is reproduced word-for-word here with my own commentary. I don't know where this is going to be published, I would guess at NS or the Indie, but it could be one of the transphobic blogs like Standpoint. I suspect the other signatories will include the usual suspects.

“Goldsmith's College in London last month cancelled a performance by the comedian Kate Smurthwaite because of concerns about students' safety. Ms Smurthwaite had previously expressed support for a Scandinavian-style law which would make it illegal to purchase sexual services-a measure which Goldsmith's Feminist Society opposes. Her show's theme, ironically, was freedom of speech (no reference to prostitution), and a majority of FemSoc members voted in favour of allowing it to go ahead. However, the minority who dissented decided to picket the event, and faced with threatened disruption the organizers decided to cancel.”

An interesting start, she seems to consider that those who disagreed with Goldsmiths FemSoc do not have the right to free speech also. Picketing an event is free speech, indeed this kind of expression represents the free speech of those who are routinely silenced. These are people who do not have columns in national newspapers or book deals with publishers. Hypocrisy is endemic in the TERF community.

“This is not an isolated incident. It 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 of them are themselves transgender people or people with direct experience of working in the sex industry.”

Here Campbell indulges in the old trick of stating that the people who are being no-platformed are “feminists” with the implication being that all feminists are being silenced. This is of course not the case, in fact only a small group of people describing themselves as feminists are being no-platformed, the vast majority of feminists are neither transphobic nor whorephobic. Her arguments would not have sounded too good had she been more honest in her description; “transphobic and whorephobic people who describe themseves as feminists” isn't so hard-hitting though.

“Kate Smurthwaite's is the third high-profile case in the last few weeks. Last month, there were calls for the Cambridge Union to withdraw a speaking invitation to Germaine Greer (the Union declined to do so);”

Again here Campbell failed to disclose why people had been calling for Greer to be no-platformed, in fact Greer has herself engaged in attempts to prevent trans scholar and writer Roz Kaveney from working in the past. Using Germaine Greer to support her campaign to stop no-platforming is thus both ignorant and hypocritical. Obviously it is OK in Campbell's book for TERFs to try and bully trans people, but an outrage when the boot is on the other foot. The usual double standards trans people have grown accustomed to...

“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 (he was forced to issue an apology).”

Read has in fact made a number of apologies and clarifications, and seems subesquently to have revised these apologies.  All trans people did was point out what Read had said.  I’m not sure who "forced" him to “apologise”.  It also appears that he tried to make out that he hadn’t said some of the things he is on record as having said. A conviction politician, not. To suggest that the Green Party ‘came under pressure’ sounds like the fictional “Trans Cabal” has been operating out of its 1960s-furnished mountain HQ in Switzerland complete with long-haired cats and monocles to force the Green Party to do something it would otherwise not do. 

 “The feminist activist and writer Julie Bindel has been 'no-platformed' by the National Union of Students for several years, and is now effectively barred from speaking to student audiences on any subject.”

Campbell also fails to mention that it was the NUS Women’s Campaign that instigated this no-platforming. Julie Bindel has a regular column in the Guardian, which enables her to reach many more people than anyone speaking to student audiences could ever do, which makes any claim about her being victimised look thoroughly dishonest. Again Cambell fails to mention this important fact. Why be honest when you can be selective?

“'No platforming' used to be a tactic used against self-proclaimed fascists and Holocaust deniers, but today it is being used more and more often to prevent the expression of feminist views.”

Again this is misleading. The majority of feminists are not no-platformed, only that tiny minority who are transphobic or whorephobic.

“The views being targeted are critical of the sex industry, and of some demands made by trans activists, but-unlike the argument that the Holocaust never happened-they fall within the scope of legitimate political debate.”

Bea Campbell may consider my existence to be "Legitimate Political Debate" but I do not. Transphobia is transphobia and in my experience ‘debating’ with transphobes is like debating with racists or MRAs; pointless. The idea that having transphobic bigots spouting their poison on campuses is going to be a positive contribution to debate, is utterly ridiculous.

Here I have to confess to knowing little about the issue of whorephobia amongst so-called ‘radical feminist’ groups, this is not an area I am familiar with,  however I have allowed myself to be guided by people I know who have been, or are engaged in sex work. Their views are unanimous; the Swedish model of criminalising the purchase of sex has, and will, put sex workers in danger of violence and murder.  It has never seemed to me to be at all feminist to enact a policy that puts other women, often women from disadvantaged backgrounds, in danger.

 “The feminists who hold these views have never advocated or engaged in violence against any group of people.”

This is as close to an outright lie as it is possible to get without actually being a total porkie. TERFs have form here, they worked hard, during the 1980s to put trans women in danger in the US so that others do their dirty work for them. Violence by proxy is still violence. Placing someone in danger of physical violence is no different, in my book, from shooting, stabbing or bashing them yourself.

 “Yet it is argued that their views are 'hate speech', and that the mere presence of anyone who is said to hold those views (even if, like Kate Smurthwaite, they are not actually planning to express them) is a threat to the safety of a protected minority group.  You do not have to agree with the views that are being silenced to find these tactics illiberal and undemocratic. What has happened to Julie Bindel, Rupert Read and now Kate Smurthwaite is a warning to anyone who shares their views, or who hasn't made up their mind and wants to explore the arguments further.”

Quite frankly anyone who wants to “explore arguments” about my existence can piss off. AFAIC you have no right to “discuss” my being.  Simply engaging in that debate is a threat to the lives of trans people, an Othering, a delegitimisation in its own right.  There is no middle ground here.

Rupert Read has not been prevented from expressing his views, and has done so copiously, one would have hoped to the embarrassment of the Green Party, Bindel, like I have said, has a column regularly in a national newspaper and Greer publishes books and gets media attention regularly.

 “It says: 'you are not even allowed to hear the arguments. Either agree with us or keep quiet, because if you don't, you'll pay the price’.” 

Sums it up. Want to debate my existence? Fuck off.

“Universities have a particular responsibility to resist this kind of bullying. Freedom of thought and inquiry are central to the mission of a university: allowing a vocal minority to decide in advance which thoughts or arguments should get a hearing is a betrayal of the values academic communities are supposed to uphold.”

As I have said before, universities are probably the most common site for young trans people to come out, and learn to express who they are. Schools are by and large extremely hostile places for trans kids. They need the space and acceptance that universities provide in order to explore their identities in an environment that is free from the bullying and hostility they experience elsewhere. Having to cope with all this as well as constantly justify one’s existence against the repetitive output of transphobic bigots who would like either to see us dead or to force us back into the boxes we were originally assigned, is unfair and in itself discriminatory. Let us be clear what Campbell and her cohorts are doing here;

  • they are trying to make universities less welcoming places for young trans people, so that fewer will come out,
  • if fewer feel able to come out I suspect more will commit suicide - doubtless another TERF aim,
  • they are also trying to provoke. Having transphobes speaking regularly on campuses across the UK will provoke demos and allow them to claim victim status. This has been standard TERF mode operandi for many years. Their arguments have all been discredited many times over, the only thing they can do is provoke and claim "The Tranz" are horrible people, a threat to your kids, want to undermine democracy...etc...etc...etc.

“We call on universities and on other organizations which may be subject to the same pressure, to stand up to attempts at intimidation and affirm their support for the basic principles of democratic political exchange.” 

The idea that contesting another group’s right to exist represents part of “democratic political exchange” has long been discredited. TERFs want women like me to cease to exist and have campaigned for that to happen, in one way or another, through abuse, violence, misrepresentation, disingenuousness, dishonesty and doxxing since the 1970s. They have claimed to be “gender critical” yet offer no critique of gender, just abuse and deliberate misrepresentation of trans people.

TERFs have long tried to use the “free-speech” argument yet a number of TERFs have not only used legal threats to silence trans people, they have attempted to out trans people to their employers to get them sacked (in some instances successfully) and doxxed trans people, including trans children and young people. Ultimately IMO Campbell’s article was dripping in hypocrisy, sadly the kind of hypocrisy to which trans people have become accustomed over the years. 

As for the Greens. No wonder some in the Green Party are getting fed up with people like me pursuing transphobes in their midst.  The Greens have long projected themselves as the way to be ‘cool’ if you are a bit of a middle-class “radical-but-not-too-radical” and have long traded on their “trans-friendliness” to appeal to trans voters. Well transphobia is not cool, and the trans-friendliness of the party has now been revealed to be as thin a veneer as the TERFs’ committment to freedom of speech.

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