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OUT!wear Pridewear Selling Anti-Trans Woman T-shirts! [Jul. 12th, 2011|09:53 pm]
Transfeminist discussion

[Current Location |facebook]
[Current Mood |angryangry]

This afternoon I came across a company selling WBW t-shirts. Their home page states the following.
OUT!wear™ is quality custom Pridewear and Accessories "WORN WITH PRIDE" to promote visibility, unity and self esteem amongst Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Trans-gendered persons.To promote a positive image within our community, whether bold or discreet.

The womyn-born-womyn policy of the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival is rooted squarely in prejudice and has aided the marginalization of trans women for 36 years. The selling of WBW items is clearly anti-trans woman and goes against everything in the companies own statement above. If you don't know what the WBW policy is, please read my (very) brief herstory of the exclusion of trans womyn from womyn only spaces below.

It's astonishing that an LGBt company would actually attempt to profit off the marginalization of trans women. I had made a few posts on their facebook page along with at least a dozen others, asking them to stop selling these items. I also sent an email to the addresses on their contact page with no response. A little while ago they deleted all wall posts and comments from their fb page they deemed negative while leaving many comments in support of the WBW policy at MichFest. They then banned everyone who posted comments asking them to stop selling the t-shirts from posting again. The deleting of the comments was especially sad because there was some really good dialog going on between a few of us and some of the supporters of the wbw policy. I feel like a good opportunity for discussion has just been completely nuked and will never appear again.

As a community, I'm looking for some ideas on how to respond. So far, there has been only silence and censorship from OUT!Wear. I think a good first start is to repost this on your own blog and ask your friends and all trans allies to do the same. I've reposted this already to the blogs below. I was thinking of trying to get a google bomb together to label them anti-trans. Also, they seem to be a large supplier of shirts and other items to PFLAG. If PFLAG truly supports the T, they should cease all business with them until they stop selling WBW gear. At the very least, OUT!Wear should remove any reference to trans people from their website since (at this point) it appears to be an absolute lie!

Let me know what you think!

Love and respect,
Bex Cat-herder

x-posted to camptrans,mtf,trans_feminism,transfeminism
A (very) brief history of the exclusion of trans women from women only spacesCollapse )
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"Femme Means Attack" Call for Submissions [Jan. 21st, 2010|01:41 pm]
Transfeminist discussion

We're looking for submissions from all self-identified femmes who identify with radical politics. If you don't identify as femme, please still pass the word along!

crossposted to anarchafeminist, anarchists, anarchoqueer, butchfemmetrans,camptrans, fiercefemmes, genderqueer, postqueer, queer_punks, trans_feminism, transgender

call for submissions under the cutCollapse )
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Ripping Off the Closeted [Jan. 23rd, 2009|01:08 pm]
Transfeminist discussion

My morning's web browsing brought me, via a roundabout route, to this page (probably NSFW) on a sex shop's website, where they seem to be all about fleecing closeted trans women, and MTF cross dressers for snake oil products.

Here's an excerpt:Cut for marketing babbleCollapse )

Their £25 translates to $41 US - in contrast, a month's supply of Progynova at transition doses, which will actually grow real breasts, from a well known Internet pharmacy, is £17.55. That's still over twice what you'll pay with an NHS prescription, or even a private prescription.

Now, of course, this stuff won't actually grow breasts, but I wonder how unique we actually are in this - after all, preying on the insecurities of ageing women is mainstream big business, with press and TV adverts, to sell scented moisturiser for over inflated prices on the promise of "keeping you young". I wonder if the only real difference is that preying on MTF-spectrum trans people is done in a much more "seedy" way?
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"I prefer feminine pronouns; she and her..." [Dec. 8th, 2008|09:08 am]
Transfeminist discussion
I've decided that I really don't like PGP (Preferred Gender Pronoun) Checks during presentations. For those who haven't experienced them, this is when the facilitator of a group discussion asks everyone in the group to, when introducing themselves, include the pronouns they prefer to be called. It's an attempt to make group discussions more trans inclusive, by ensuring up front that misgenderings will be kept to a minimum.

In theory, I think it's a great idea. And there are times when it's been extremely helpful, such as in groups with closeted or newly out trans folk, or groups with really butch women. And while I've never been in a group where this has happened, I'm sure it's also useful to folks who would prefer gender neutral pronouns, since it's very rare anyone in the room will ever default to using those to refer to you.

But more often what seems to happen is that the PGP Check will happen, and myself and the likely one or two other trans folks in the room will state what pronouns we prefer, and a few of the other people will state what pronouns they prefer. And then, without fail, about half of the cis people in the room say, "Oh, well, I prefer male/female pronouns, but really you can call me whatever you want."

And so, time after time after time, what started as an attempt to make the space more trans friendly becomes another display of the cis privilege I will never have. We go around that circle and I am given my opportunity to beg the people around me not to misgender me, and in return they are given the opportunity to remind me that they don't have to care about that silly gender stuff, that they have never had their identity called into question (or worse, denied outright) with those tiny little words, that this most basic piece of our language has never been wielded as a weapon against them. No, really, you can call them whatever you want, cuz unlike this tranny, they have the confidence to know that nothing bad was meant of it. Just don't call them late for dinner! (Yes, someone makes this joke every single time.)

I seriously wonder if I could call them whatever I want. If I could spend an entire meeting calling that oh-so-confident woman across the room from me "he," and she really wouldn't care. And maybe she wouldn't. Cuz seriously, it's just me doing it. It's not the entire room, it's not the woman at the grocery check-out, it's not the guy who delivers your mail, it's not your boss and co-workers, it's not the cops, it's not your government identification; it's just little old me, so of course you don't care.

I'm not really sure where to go from here, cuz the PGP Check is a good thing, but it gets used to flaunt this privileged cis bullshit so often that I can't stand doing it anymore.

Cross-posted to transgender.
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Sick to my Stomach [Nov. 22nd, 2008|06:14 pm]
Transfeminist discussion

Crossposted from my own LJ, hence the lack of assumptions about the audience's prior knowledge of some of this stuff:

There are certain people out there in Internet-land who spend much of their time writing very unpleasant things about trans people, usually trans women. They tend to come from the same sort of ideological background as Julie Bindel, where trans people represent an obstruction on the road to a kind of "Soviet Town Planner" vision of how the multi-faceted thing we call gender should exist in society.

In this vision of the world, the elite of a decadent society wield a bankrupt ideology in order to retain the status-quo, thus preventing underclass from taking their rightful place in society. There's pretty much a direct mapping:

Soviet ideology
transphobic feminist
The elite
The bourgeoisie
Bankrupt ideology
The proletariat

The allegory continues. The existing system must be overturned in order to realise an egalitarian alternative. Anything that stands in the way of such a goal, or appears to support the existing system, is counter-revolutionary and almost certainly a tool of the oppressors. Sadly, the would-be-liberators end up being "just like the old boss", as The Who might say, replacing one elite willing to resort to very unpleasant lengths to enforce their orthodoxy with another, which is often even more brutal and oppressive with what went before.

In the cold-war Soviet world, everyone got to live the same grey identikit life, devoid of any form of cultural expression which wasn't ideologically pure and officially sanctioned. Individualism was regarded as something very suspect and the true believers in the revolution ensured an eye was kept on anyone who might be "dangerous". If they presented too much of a problem, they were to be branded enemies of the people, disgraced in show trials where they were revealed as agents of capitalism, before being "dealt with" more permanently.

In the transphobic radfem dystopia, everyone will adopt the same vaguely masculine flavour of androgyny. Personal expression, especially when it comes to ones sex life, must be of a strictly approved type (any form of kink, for example, is right out - indeed, it would be better is people refrained from sex for anything other than procreation at all, and they certainly should try to avoid enjoying it. Bisexuality is a great evil which must be stamped out). Bodily autonomy is problematic, as it has traditionally been used to keep women down, so your hair gets to be regulation length, you don't get to do piercings, cosmetic surgery is pretty much high treason, and so on.

Trans people represent a fundamental problem in this world, so we have to be explained away. Either we are deluded dupes of the medical industry (the Bindel view), or we are infiltrators of the patriarchy (the Janice Raymond view).

The people who hold these views tend to end up being quite appallingly unpleasant to trans-people (and queer people, the kink community, sex workers, all women who don't share the same cultural background as these "theorists", which is overwhelmingly middle-class and white anglo-saxon, etc.). One can't expose oneself to trans-feminist thought for long without coming across these people and their vitriol.

I thought I'd mostly become immune to it. They tend to trot out the same stuff all the time anyway, and there's an expectation that they're going to be gratuitously offensive. However, what I read earlier today represented a low I hadn't seen before, and made me feel physically sick.

On the f-word blog, a blog for "contemporary UK feminism", an article was posted about Thursday's Transgender Day of Remembrance. This is the day each year when trans people remember those who have lost their lives simply because they were trans. This includes the ones whose names we know, and the countless ones who died in obscurity, murdered at the hands of someone who decided they were going to "teach them a lesson", or through medical neglect, or at their own hands, unable to cope with their gender dysphoria, isolation, or the stares and abuse that can be relentless for some trans people. It's a day for mourning and remembrance, a day for reflection, a day for remembering our dead.

The first comment on that blog entry was from one of the people I talk about above - a prolific transphobic Internet troll who goes by the name of "m Andrea". You don't have to google for long to find some of her worst excesses.

This was her Westboro Baptist Church-style response to a post made in memory of people who were brutally murdered because of who they are:

Normally, we consider people who use their emotions in place of reason to be utter fucking morons.

The basic premise of transgender ideology is that girl and boy brains exist, and are different from each other. Girl brains luv pink, and are rilly soft and gentle. Boy brains luv blue, and are rilly hard and aggressive.

The basic premise of feminist ideology is that no such difference exists. Oops, we have a discreptancy!

Since some women are quite the aggressive fuck, they must be a boy. Therefore, they are transgendered. Amazingly enough, wanting a penis is not required for women to be an aggressive fuck, so something is quite illogical regarding your theory.

Perhaps insanity is the answer.

That dogmatic adherence to an ideology can lead someone into a position where they abandon the last vestiges of their basic humanity comes as no shock - history has proven time and time again that humans are more than capable of this. Seeing it like that still makes me feel sick though.
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(no subject) [Nov. 2nd, 2008|02:47 pm]
Transfeminist discussion

I posted a response to Julie Bindel's statement here

It is hard to know where to begin. I did consider going through Julie Bindel's statement point by point, but I don't think that would be an especially productive use of our time and attention. However, some obvious points do arise.

1. Julie Bindel seems to be under the impression that her own oppression by homophobes and racists trumps the right of other people, themselves often the victims of violence, abuse, vilification and rape, to defend themselves against her. We might have hoped that Julie Bindel's own experience of oppression might have made it easier to understand the feelings of those who have also been oppressed, but such appears not to be the case.

2. She does not understand why many of us are angry with her, angry to the point of sometimes saying silly and abusive things. Let us be clear - this is a world in which you do not get to tell an entire community of people that they are living lives which are, in their entirety, a lie based on a delusion and have them like you for it.

The abusive language that she used in 2004 is one of the sources of that anger, it is true, and the fact that, under pressure, she has back-tracked from that abusive language is almost irrelevant to that anger. She has never really dealt with the issue of why she used such language in the first place. Defenders of human rights do not normally slip into the language of bar-room bigots, and, when they do, it is important that they sit down and understand how and why they did this.

Hurtful as that language is, it is not the major reason for the righteous anger of much of the trans community both with Bindel herself and with Stonewall for honouring her. That anger comes from the utter disrespect with which Julie Bindel feels it appropriate to discuss our lives; it also comes from the fact that she is advocating talking therapies for trans people in a way that almost entirely parallels the advocacy of talking therapies by the Christian right as a way of extirpating all LGBT people. If she does not understand that, as a lesbian, she is a turkey advocating Christmas for turkeys in an adjacent bit of the farmyard, then she is being obtuse; what she is doing is betraying not only the trans community but the entire LGBT community, and it is wrong to honour her for her other work when there is this colossal stain on her career.

3. It is disingenuous of Julie Bindel to argue that (factually incorrect and hurtful) discussion of whether she was a political lesbian was entirely out of order. Historically, much of the abuse of trans people has come from a particular school of radical feminism which also regarded a lesbianism based on political self-identification as being superior to a lesbianism based on innate personal drives. That discussion here was inappropriate, but there are reasons why some people were drawn to it.

4. One of those reasons is that Julie Bindel has taken from that school an entirely crude, and inconsistently thought through, dichotomy between innate biological drives and socially constructed mentalities. There are a number of problems with that set of ideas, one of them being the simple point that, since everything human beings do is a product of their evolved biology, social interactions included, you cannot draw a simple line between the biological and the social. Aspects of brain/mind architecture like the construction of the narrative self over time are simultaneously biological (in that they happen in the wet-ware of the brain, and socially constructed in that different cultures appear to construe the self in somewhat different ways.

There is a good case that in some real sense both gender identification and sexual object choice are regularly occurring human variations - both appear across societies and cultures, and cultures develop mechanisms for allowing or repressing both. No society has ever managed to abolish either by social engineering, even when the favoured model of social engineering is torture and death. Many of us do not regard our identities as in any sense pathological or malfunctions, merely as human variations like red hair or left-handedness which our particular society happens to have a problem with.

Even were it the case, though, that variations of gender identification were solely and wholly the product of nurture and had no pre-existing biological cause, people would still have to live with them, just as they would have to were non-standard sexual preferences soley and wholly the product of nurture. Decades of experience show that, for most gender-variant people, having access to surgeries and hormone treatment and social acceptance of what people feel is their authentic identity is the way to go.

Julie Bindel's objections to that idea have primarily to do with the problems it poses for other areas of her thought about feminism, problems which are only problems IF you adopt the simplistic and un-nuanced model of biology and life in society which she advocates. We are supposed to suffer emotional misery in order to patch the holes in her reasoning.

Julie Bindel has, ironically, accused us of making her our whipping girl for society's affronts; if so, we are responding to her attempts to make us pawns.

5. She constantly brings up a couple of cases of individuals with regrets - and regards those cases as intrinsically more important than every one who has no regrets. Again, Right-Wing Christians are fond of trotting out former gays and relapsed lesbians as proof that their perception of homosexuality as a sickness is correct; does Julie Bindel not see that what she is doing is precisely parallel.

6. Julie Bindel constantly maintains that trans women and trans men all without serious exceptions lead lives of fierce conformity with percieved societal stereotypical norms, and yet even her own attacks on us refute that perception. If that were the case, none of us would want to say, work in rape crisis centres or be relaxed about gender-neutral toilets, and she would not have to tell us we shouldn't.

A significant proportion of trans people identify as queer in terms of their cultural positioning and homosexual in terms of their sexual attractions. This was always the case but for a while we tended to keep quiet about it in deference to the feelings of those people in the community who identify as straight and felt that we let the side down. Things change - and this is one of the reasons why we are so furious with Stonewall and so unprepared to continue to honour what ever deals were made by the straight-identified trans establishment and Stonewall back in the mists of the 90s.

If Julie Bindel were, as she claims, doing proper research on trans people, then she would be aware of this range of identification. If she is not so aware - or is aware and not mentioning it - then her research, and her journalistic ethics, are worthless.

7. In what universe is a community that with very few exceptions - I being in some small sense one - has no clout and no access to the media trying to censor Julie Bindel's right to free expression? The anti-trans sentiments espoused by her - and a number of other Guardian journalists down the years - have far more public play than considered arguments in our defense - I try to be out in my critical journalism when and as appropriate but have never been asked to provide a countering view.

And yet, without having the kind of access that Julie Bindel and Germaine Greer, say, have always had, we have nonetheless largely won the argument. In the 1980s, when I came out as lesbian, my sexual partners were vilified and I was often barred from clubs at the door - this does not happen so much any more. The common sense of people - and especially of people in the LGBT community - has prevailed in the face of the sorts of remarks of which Julie Bindel was guilty in 2004 - at least by 2004 she felt she had to apologize, however inadequately.

8. On a personal note, may I say that I take exception to Julie Bindel's assumption that she, and only she, is a human rights campaigner. I was first beaten up by fascists on a demonstration against the white supremacists in what was then Rhodesia and is now - hurrah! - Zimbabwe in 1966. I have been involved in feminism and gay rights since my student days - second wave feminist critiques of trans stuff were one of the reasons why I did not transition until my late 20s. My credentials include advising Virago as a reader, working on major feminist reference books like the Cambridge Guide to Women's Writing in English and spending several years as Deputy Chair of Liberty. I take no especial credit for any of this - some of it was also careerism and much of it was my simple duty - but how dare Julie Bindel assume that no trans person has any history as a progressive?

I should also have thought of adding the point that it is a strange model of censoring her views which has allowed her constantly to troll and post in a forum dedicated to opposing her.
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London Transfeminist Group Feed [Oct. 25th, 2008|01:06 pm]
Transfeminist discussion

I created a feed for the London Transfeminist Group website. It can now be seen on your friends-page via london_transfem. Enjoy!
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Sold Out [Oct. 15th, 2008|10:44 pm]
Transfeminist discussion

[Current Mood |angryangry]

Most people are probably aware by now of the fuss over the well-known lesbian feminist and transphobe Julie Bindel being nominated for a Stonewall award. Behind a cut, because it's crossposted to a few placesCollapse )

I, for one, am calling the Gender Trust out on this. Why have they so quickly done a U-Turn and sold out the community they are supposed to be representing? One can only assume politics are involved somehow. Someone knows someone, or someone put pressure on someone on the Gender Trust board and they turned their back on the community they were supposed to be helping over the one issue that has the community the most incensed it's been since I've been a part of it - and all without doing any basic research on the issue at all.

It's clear there's a growing grass-roots movement against many organisations that inadvertantly act transphobically. It's sad that it seems that the "grass roots" are also turning against many of these groups that claim - but fail - to represent us.
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Second Letter to Stonewall [Oct. 14th, 2008|01:37 pm]
Transfeminist discussion

After getting their form letter back in response to the first letter I sent, I responded:

Dear "Info"

I think your form letter is missing the point by a considerable margin. I am a lesbian, and I resent the suggestion than Julie Bindel is "representing a lesbian perspective in the press". Julie Bindel has made it a matter of public record that she feels that "ex-gay" style treatments should be used to eradicate a portion of the GLB community that she does not feel is idealogically pure. I am upset that
Stonewall would consider nominating someone who would side with the US homophobic religious right on this issue, and the damage this risks doing to the cause of GLB rights.

Julie Bindel does not represent the perspective of this lesbian, for one. Quite aside from the trans issue, I am ashamed and embarassed that an organisation supposedly fighting for my rights, as a gay woman, would nominate for "Journalist of the Year", someone who would so readily side with those who would deny us those rights in order to further her own career.

Please, please, please reconsider.

Sarah Brown

I am hoping that this approach will have more currency with them. They don't care about trans issues, that much is obvious, but Bindel harms the GLB community as well, and I don't think a gay rights organisation should be honouring her for it.
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i think this is what you call a brush-off [Oct. 13th, 2008|08:55 am]
Transfeminist discussion
Dear Sophia,

Thank you for your email.

Julie Bindel was shortlisted for a Stonewall award in recognition of her journalism during the last 12 months which often brings a lesbian perspective into the mainstream press.

The awards nominating panel are not endorsing everything she has ever written. A nomination in any category does not mean that the awards panel agree with all of someone’s opinions. Stonewall recognises that some people may disagree with shortlisted nominees.



To Whom It Concerns,

I appreciate you taking the time to send me a response.

I did not simply point out that I have disagreed with her writing in the past, or that her "lesbian perspective" does not represent the views of much of the lesbian community with which I am acquainted. The issue is that her writing has been consistently transphobic. It has shown the public that right-wing bigots are not alone in wishing to deprive trans people of necessary health care - that privileged members of our own community are willing to throw us under a bus for their own gain. Regardless of whether or not Stonewall may shortlist nominees who those on the awards panel may sometimes disagree with, as I see it there is nothing one can celebrate about Julie Bindell's journalism career without taking her transphobia into account - and this reads as an endorsement regardless of intent.

Sophia Kiernan

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