Freedom Collective Statement on the London Anarchist Bookfair

  • Posted on: 21 November 2017
  • By: thecollective

via Freedom News

Regarding the announcement by the London Bookfair collective that, following events at this year’s gathering, they will not be organising another one in 2018, the Freedom Collective has drafted the following statement:

The Freedom Collective condemns the actions of trans exclusionary radical feminist (Terf) activists at the London Anarchist Bookfair 2017.

Distributing and displaying transphobic literature is an explicit attack on trans people’s existences and the safety of those people at the event. We stand in solidarity with our trans comrades, particularly trans women and other transfeminine folk, and all who were affected by the actions of Terf activists at the bookfair. We recognise that a politics and feminism that excludes the experiences of trans people has no place in the anarchist movement. Terfs regularly employ tactics of harassment, stalking and doxxing of trans people; outing them to their workplaces and families and exposing them to state violence. Again, this has no place in the movement.

Events at the bookfair have highlighted ongoing issues with the exclusion of marginalised groups from the anarchist movement. It is clear that the bookfair had reached a size and scope such that the current organising model needs to change to accommodate new demands and pressures.

In the light of the bookfair collective’s announcement that they will not be doing one next year there are now opportunities for others in the anarchist community to step up and look to organise events in 2018 that are inclusive and responsive to the movement.

We have been thinking about how we can work to show solidarity with the trans community in the aftermath of this, beyond our words and this statement, so put together a resources and suggestions list below. If you have suggestions for other things, let us know. If you’re unsure what all the fuss was about, educate yourself about why those leaflets were so messed up, on the history of Terf politics and of trans-misogyny in order to challenge it and fight it, some articles are provided (CW: some of these articles quote Terfs in order to challenge them, so do include examples of transphobia and trans-misogyny).

Resources

Being active

  • Organise an action, a film night or something else for the next Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20th to remember all of the people that have been killed due to anti-transgender violence (overwhelmingly trans women and other trans feminine people of colour) See https://tdor.info, https://www.glaad.org/tdor and #TDOR for more information.
  • Organise a letter writing night, a benefit or some other event for the Trans Prisoner Day of Action and Solidarity on January 22nd.
  • Support Action for Trans Health who raise money and campaign to improve access to healthcare for trans people. You could become a member with a monthly subscription
  • send a one-off donation or buy a t-shirt on their ebay store.
  • Listen, centre and amplify the voices of trans people, particularly trans women and trans feminine people of colour.
  • if you are on twitter you can start doing the above by checking out: #30DaysofTransResilience, @travisalabanza, @junodawson, @reinagossett, @janetmock, @RaquelWillis_, @audrelorde, @TransActualUK, @TPrideBrighton, @TransMediaWatch, @BlackTransMedia, @act4transhealth, @LDN4TransHealth, @qtipoc_CC, @TransLawCenter, @tgijp, @theMAJORdoc.
  • Challenge the trans-misogyny we see and hear in our everyday lives.stand up if you see someone facing transphobic abuse, including online when people get a torrent of hate from Terfs and other transphobes. e.g.show @travisalabanza some love at the moment who continues to be targeted for demanding they use the changing room of their choice at topshop.

    Freedom Collective (majority view)

category: 

Comments

What a lazy, ignorant statement compared to the other texts that have come out on this. Why even bother writing this?

notice how long it took them to publish it. They probably had to hold a dozen committee meetings before they reached consensus about it.

Yes, and that's the exact same bureaucratic socio-political context responsible for their incredibly lame billboard in front of the infoshop. Platformism: what is undead cannot die, obviously...

this is all well and good; i appreciate and unhesitatingly support all trans* people and i love me some Julia Serano. but it remains worrisome that the violent swarming tactic used by the anti-TERF folks goes unmentioned. the choice to deploy intimidation and shaming of anarchists and other potential allies is always going to be problematic. if it were actually possible to create something like an anarchist safe space, then that safety couldn't be upended by a few anarchists handing out flyers, not matter how provocative. threatening behavior like intimidation and mobbing, on the other hand, definitely made that space unsafe. no question TERFs need to be challenged on their acceptance of patriarchal assumptions (biology as destiny, binary dichotomies, hierarchies of domination), but a little self-reflection from anarchists who support violence as a method of policing what can and can't be said among anarchists is definitely in order.

The liberals are wrong in asserting that the post-truth zeitgeist only applies to Trump and its supporters. It is a widespread cancer of the contemporary world that is affecting the entire spectrum. The rationalists that anarchists are supposed to be, due to their rejection of received notions produced by either or both herd mentality and hierarchies, would be rather opposing pragmatic values to those systems of make-beliefs, but some have fallen into siding with these totalitarian call-out politics, probably for the aims of self-preservation.

violence against terfs is self defense.

"violence against terfs is self defense."
this sort of rhetorical excess is typical of vigilantism. it's trans exclusionary, not trans exterminationist...

This is reminding me of those viral ad campaigns where the only evidence for a claim is the hysterical coverage surrounding it (for example, please point to someone who is actually upset about Starbucks' holiday cups?)

I'm not trying to be lazy, but I skimmed through the links provided in this statement in search of actual statements made by these so-called "TERFs" (which I assumed would be easy given the content warning) and I saw nothing. Can anyone point me to exactly where 'TERF's are making claims that are so malicious and violent they require a content warning and a response equal to that given to open white supremacists?

Relatedly, can someone point me to anywhere on the internet where people who advocate this anti-'TERF' rhetoric have given any space or benefit of doubt for cis women to have an opinion about, you know, women's issues? Something along the lines of "gee, I can maybe kinda sorta understand why (cis) women might be concerned about having women's only spaces, even if that concern is unfounded" ?

I am being sincere. I understand that trans women experience hardship and I am glad that people are advocating for them. I am perfectly happy embracing trans women as women. But I have to say, I find it deeply distressing that apparently a statement like "we should have specific medical provisions for biological females who bear children" warrants violence and collective statements of condemnation.

Honestly, I'm finding trans people and their leftist allies really annoying when they hysterically fling this empty slur, TERF (similar to fascist), against anyone who wants to discuss the idea that trans-women are in some ways different than cis-women, and cis-women face unique challenges, biases, and forms of oppression (just as trans-women face unique challenge, biases, and forms of oppression). I actually think radical feminists, many of whom are called TERFs, make a lot of good points about transgenderism and womanhood. Some might overdo it, but overall when I hear A call B a "TERF", I assume B is probably more reasonable person than A.

You realize those are trollbots designed to whip up more hostility, right?

Wait, you think the comments above were written by bots? That's hilarious.

Maybe quit laughing and read more? The link.

Transactivists can't lose.

they arent troll bots. they are nerdy trans girl memes.

The posted link has an assortment of troll accounts, it's pretty obvious if you do any reading on the subject. Not saying all of them are but if you think all of those accounts are actual people, I'll sell you some land on the moon.

Why do these people place an emphasis on trans-women? Sometimes I get this weird misogynistic vibe from supposed trans-activists. Do these "terf's" target trans-women for something in particular? Does criticizing aspects of trans-feminism, or handing out a pamphlet, automatically make one "a violent trans-phobic terf stalker?"

I don't understand on how these anarchist book fairs can be expected to provide a "safe space" for every identity and/or view point. It's unreasonable and would require a lot of book fair policing to make sure everyone falls in line. And if they don't fall in line, they face the wrath of a mob trying to fight you for a view they don't really like, it seems, which doesn't sound safe to me. All these Dramanarchist book fairs seem to just be laughable shit-shows of whiny drama over minute stuff blown out of proportion. It doesn't seem worth the effort to set up. Maybe go to, if the pop-corn is provided.

We definitely need to focus on trans and terf issues more. Its incredibly critical at this moment in time.

And by critical i mean it's not at all critical, nobody gives much of a shit either way and focusing on it wont do shit for the anti authoritarian movement other than have an appeal to shitty middle class activists. And yeah I get it, most of the people who go to these things are shitty middle class activists. Which sucks.

Also, lol at the concept of the "doing something" suggestion. How about YOU do something first you nitwits.

being trans, terfs upset me. But yeah i dont think fighting wingnutty feminists is really crtitical at all.
Its nice to see people have "solidarity" with me. I think that means they wont be dicks.

I just wish there was an anarchy that "Terfs" have no interest in even being around. And that trans people would never even question whether it was for them or not. As it is, it's an absurd question. And since it is being spent so much time on (along with other stuff) it just seems like there is more to it than meets the eye. Like if Mecha wanted to table an anarchist bookfair or an LGBTQ club, like what is your association with an anarchist bookfair?

Its like the dick circumcision people that show up everywhere. Basically, it's like spending time on that.

That actually IS a valid issue for obvious reasons.

It's valid but not worth spending this much time on or within the anarchist discussion space. At least at this level. Reddit and Facebook whatever but like a collective coming to a consensus...likely not.

just as common as circumcision itself, i find it a little tragic that my foreskin is gone forever

Fucking ridiculous.

The nexus here: zero tolerance for discourse which is taken to be an existential threat. An approach copied directly from the neocon "war on terror" playbook.

It makes a certain sense when there's a real, *immediate* existential threat - like with cops and Nazis.

But with idpol it extends to anyone who "erases" a group's identity, opposes its vital interests, or sometimes even just disagrees on a point of dogma. Because the existential threat is to a *spook*, not to actual people - and of course, other spooks, or removal of spooks, are existential threats to a spook.

There's a lot of anarchists who feel existentially threatened by the police. Also a lot of black people, people with mental health problems etc. Does this mean that, if someone advocates calling the police or cooperating with the police *in any circumstances*, they should be shunned as a racist, ableist and anti-anarchist, and banned from all anarchist events? That seems pretty ridiculous to me. But that's the level that the anti-terf campaigns operate on.

The average idpol advocates using the police and courts when it's convenient for their group. They also make very few allowances for mental health issues - far less than other anarchists from what I've seen. So of course by this standard, they'd have to ban themselves!

Also, most of them are highly intolerant of other groups' claims when these tread on their own group's toes. Issues of the trans-terf kind are actually prevalent throughout idpol. Islamophobia vs homophobia. Islamophobia vs misogyny. Racism, vs classist stereotyping of the white working-class. Feminist "believe the victim" vs black nationalist concern about the history of false accusations in lynching cases. Islamophobia vs anti-Semitism. Refugee rights vs indigenous land claims. Cultural pluralism vs women's rights. All aggression is "abuse", vs not tone-policing others' anger. Feminist calls for polite, calm discourse, vs anti-classist objections to excluding working-class speech styles.

It's a slippery slope of everyone protesting and disrupting everyone else, until nobody can organise except the largest, loudest coalition of groups.

Whichever side people take, this kind of thing will continue to escalate until people lay down a strong line that anarchist space is free space, not safe space - and defend this line online and offline against idpols.

well said. I agree.

"safe space" centers a person at the center of my concern. I'll enter a room, locate this person, and try not to bash my hip against the protrusion. Whereas, "free space" is cluttered, messy, stacked, piled, pulled apart.

A preferable anarchist vision.

Both (safe space and free space) are shit, because they are asserting a political value of a box where people live or do things, thus indirectly expecting people to conform to this politicial vision. In claiming that "this is a free (or safe) space", this forces down an abstraction upon people, through casting a kind of enchantment on a space.

I agree that I don't want any abstractions forced down upon people. Would this be an argument to have spaces-without-adjectives, so to speak? To negate, to negate, to negate. At what point is it silly?

tbh "safe space" means that the bs I have to deal with is patronizing concerns about me feeling ok instead of the usual result of someone making an honest mistake that they didnt know might upset me a for a second.

And I'm reporting you to the Commisariat on Hate Speech!

Does this mean that, if someone advocates calling the police or cooperating with the police *in any circumstances*, they should be shunned as a racist, ableist and anti-anarchist, and banned from all anarchist events? Uh, yes, bootlicking nerd, calling the police is always anti-anarchist.

And how do you propose putting down a hard line that anarchist spaces are free spaces not safe spaces except through self organized violence of one kind or another? I'd argue that's exactly what happened. You are free to go to a bookfair and talk about how it's ok to call the police but if it's a free space I will also be free to get my friends together and toss you out the door

Once again the Identity Politicians have ruined everything. And this is exactly why I don't hang out with A scenesters, they usually suck. Nothing like policing yourself!

Instead make your own danger. Forget the Maoists.

Jsut sayin... simple withdrawal won't change a thing, other than maybe further consolidating the power of these fakesters over their "milieu".

Hey TErf. If the "trans bathroom debate" AKA us trying to be safe from getting attacked in a bathroom is Rape Culture then

1. why are trans women many times more likely to experience sexual assault than cis women (both in general and in bathrooms)?
2. Why do half the trans people I know only use single stall bathrooms or plan when they use the bathroom because they have already experienced being harrassed or assaulted in bathrooms?

It seems ridiculous that you call yourself an anarchist when you say that you want the state to say "trans people can only use X bathroom".

Its concern trolling. Cis women are almost never attacked by anyone in a bathroom. For trans women its almost a right of passage to at least be made to feel unsafe. If you want to prevent rape in bathrooms, maybe you should start with the people who it actually happens to instead of making up hypotheticals.

This idea that trans women are misogynist because you cherry pick a few who've made misognyst statements. There are cis women who maek those statements, but for some reason we're the only ones who are held collectively accountable for other people grouped into the same identity. That doesn't apply to you for some reason.

Im glad your types are excluded from anywhere that isnt explicitly terfy. I like it even more when I read that people like you are afraid to express your views in places for fear of being hated or excluded. because your brand of feminism, reducing people to their arbitrary genitals and categorizing them based on that is a shitty identity politic thats on its way out.

Heres a better reading list than that short lived terf one. Maybe people can stop calling trans anarchists vs terfs a war between identity politicians. Only the terfs embrace identity.

What is Gender Nihilism?
http://littleblackcart.com/books/anarchy/what-is-gender-nihilism/

Gender Nihilism: An anti-manifesto
https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/alyson-escalante-gender-nihilism...

Dangerous Spaces: Violent Resistance, Self-Defense, and Insurrectional Struggle Against Gender
https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/alyson-escalante-gender-nihilism...

Xenofeminism: A Politcs of Alienation
http://laboriacuboniks.net/

is clearly ridiculous. many trans folks embrace identity.
can there be a conversation based on @critic's analysis that both trans and radfems have real, valid, even though conflicting, concerns that deserve attention?

"many trans folks embrace identity."

Trans folks isnt an ideology or a coherent group so I dont see how this is relevant. Why is it that those who are at the margins of society are always seen to be some sort of cohesive ideological mass. Some trans people are into alt right sutff, some love the democratic party, some are into anti-civ stuff, some really embrace the widening of identity, others love the current gender binary, some seek to destroy it. You can't compare trans people in general (a rough grouping of people based on a loosely shared experience) to TERFs (an ideology that wants to maintain identity based on gender assigned at birth). Its apples and oranges.

and the "many trans folk" comment was responding to a previous comment saying that trans folk don't do something categorically, which is clearly incorrect.

the issue with your comment though is that people are being labelled TERF when they may or may not be, as happens with any super intense conversation where people are having a hard time listening to each other.

to 10:45

That is a good point about being labeled terfs as a gut reaction. Existing while trans is exhausting and leaves a lot of people prone to that sort of thing. TERF is a specific way of thought and not just anyone who seems to hate or seeks to use the state against trans women.

although i was going more the other direction. if radfems have something valid to say, but don't say it using the correct words, or have the wrong friends, or are just catching someone on a bad day, it's easy for a valid concern to get lumped in with other bullshit (either the radfem's or other conversations that they haven't even been part of). this happens, again, with any side of a polarized conversation. not pointing fingers at anyone--or more, pointing fingers at everyone, i guess.

So how do Trans people and their supporters feel about RadFem Trans? One of the speakers at a seminar I attended maybe three years ago identified as such.

How can you not be a radical feminist if you know anything about it? I can understand being a terf or a tirf but what else are you going to be a liberal reformer?

Radical feminism isnt entirely transphobic. Or at least its been used in a lot of ways. In the hay days of 2nd wave feminism, it seemed like there was a minority of white college educated women who were trans exclusionary (to the point of issuing death threats), but that minority was very much a minority.

So, what I've gathered from reading about this incident is the pamphlet pissed people off, and a bunch of people who like the word "fascist" started harassing the people distributing it at the book fair. Now I really want to know what the pamphlet was called and what it said.

Am I the only one irritated with the fact that there is no information in this regard??

Re: Nihlist (not verified)
Thu, 11/23/2017 - 11:44

I believe the pamphlet is on the original Anarchist News thread that raised the London Bookfair dispute. By rights The Collective should have crosslinked to it at the top of the page when they started off a new thread.

Hostility by Terfs towards Trans is misogyny. How do you like them apples?

There was a quote from a rad-feminist video: "I am not afraid of your penis; I am afraid of your socialization."

Hostility by Terfs towards Trans is probably not misogyny. I would say that it could be a number of other things such as a traumatic response to violence from people with dicks, a desire to experience "being present" without the symbolic policing of dicks (as interpreted by TERFs), or perhaps an unfortunate upholding of the same patriarchy from which the TERFs hope to escape.

I think of transphobia as a consequence of patriarchal thinking, but sympathize with people so traumatized by people with dicks as to want to find "spaces" without dicks.

I don't know where transmen fit into this. Are TERFs opposed to transmen?

Personally, I work in abolition of all gender, but will not tolerate gendered-violence against any gender deviants. When I say "gender deviants" I mean all "non-men," this includes the populations on either side of this ridiculous, if tragic, binary. Men gender-police people with dicks as much as they police people with cunts. (Think about that cute British kid who wanted to learn ballet.)

But to happily weaken my own argument, I don't know if patriarchy and misogyny can be separated, or if they are synonyms. Perhaps patriarchy is the organization and misogyny is the technology?

the "but" after your say "abolish gender" says a lot - you sympathize with the "being there" that these idiots are seeking despite the fact that the "there" they're seeking is well within the gender regime. Ahh, but it's because of trauma, right? How can we blame them for their behavior and shitty thinking if they've been wounded! Incredibly, you also place women (apparently as a whole) in the category of "gender deviants" - either this is a lack of clarity in your statement or your "sympathy" goes quite a long way for this sort of thinking.

TERFs are not seeking an exclusionary politic(?) within the gender regime, they are seeking exclusion based on genitals.

The TERF narrative that I've heard goes something like this, "I was born with a vagina. They called me a girl. Society treated me like shit (and I have also treated myself like shit) because of the patriarchal constructions centered around genitals."

Patriarchy does not lift the newborn up and ask, "What is your gender?"

I don't think TERF seek exclusion based on genitals ONLY because of trauma. That is the easiest reason for most people to sympathize with their desire. Patriarchy demands people with vaginas to center their existence around people with penises. Perhaps TERFs hope to lubricate their communication, work, and play by excluding the the protrusion of the "male gaze" into their spaces, physically and psychically.

"How can we blame them for their behavior and shitty thinking if they've been wounded!"

I don't know. Perhaps we should make them survive an accountability process. Maybe we could tie then to chairs and throw them into a lake. I hear that if they float, then they are not sorry for being TERFs, but if they sink, then they are truly against patriarchy.

People born with vagina's are gendered "variants" by patriarchy. They are gendered "not male." Honestly, I would not recommend getting born with a vagina these days. It kind of sucks.

"vagina's"
Every time you use an apostrophe to indicate a plural instead of a possessive, a puppy dies. Every time.

Since my "true" comment was deleted, I suppose you want me to point out the hypocrisy of having my grammar corrected with sentence fragments, ECT?

"Every time THAT you use an apostrophe to indicate a plural instead of a possessive, a puppy dies."

btw

"if the verb in the main clause is both high frequency and simple, we tend to prefer to omit *that*" (stackexchange.com)
Inserting "that" here does nothing to correct the alleged fragment. Hypocrisy? Hardly. The best editors are those who offer the least interference with their authors' prose, especially in an informal context. An ignorant misuse of an apostrophe is always inexcusable, while the use of a sentence fragment (when it's actually a fragment rather than an imagined one) -- especially in a quip -- can be used for humorous effect. Try harder.

Being trans kinda sucks even more. All the gendered violence that cis women face for beign women with vaginas, trans people tend to face more often and with less resources get through it with.

No trans anarchist is denying the specific form of gendered violence inflicted on cis women, but terfs are denying the gendered violence that trans people face and working to make it worse based on fear mongering and lies spread about what living as a trans person is like (its not some sort of comfy existence)

I found a lot of value in a recent forum post that uses the Trans vs. Terf topic to point to the affects of neoliberalism and precarity on anarchist discourse and exclusion wars.

https://anarchistnews.org/comment/244727#comment-244727

"It's a fight between two groups who are both oppressed, about whose oppression is more important. It's therefore a fight about validation, social power, and patronage.

And it's a fight by both groups, to import into anarchist spaces the dominant logic of Third Way, post-Washington Consensus politics...

...First we are seeing anger and frustration which are effects of *neoliberalism* and *precarity* (which affect everyone to some degree), being taken out horizontally, downward, or against proximate "oppressors" - rather than against the biggest oppressors or the system. All the rage and frustration and desperation and trauma, being taken out on another anarchist or a leftist or a random internet target, or one's partner or neighbour. Idpol is the form of this we see most often in radical spaces. But ultimately, anti-crime bigotry and criminalisation of nuisance, alt-right neo-fascism and misogyny, ethnic conflict, gang violence, even random spree-killings, all have a similar structural nexus....."

good read. I recommend it.

I think I need to point out

trans people by large (this isnt an ideology grouping, but a loosely shared experience) do not deny the oppression of cis women face. Instead, they just want to be left alone.

TERFS deny the things that trans people face and often desire to use the state to increase the shit that trans people go through.

That's fucked up. I don't want people to have to go through that.

Do you have any tips for living communally for anarchists who are currently broke and isolated from other anarchists? Because my fucking welfare got cut off today, and I'm like FUCK. You know? Like, should I move somewhere? I've only lived in my current city for about a year, so I don't have many connections. And I don't know any other anarchists.

I should say, I don't know any other anarchists here. I know anarchists from when I lived in other places, but either 1) I don't like those people or 2) they live in extremely drought-prone, US red-states.

https://www.facebook.com/EmptyCagesCollective/posts/869908503160124

It seems kinda funny to me that bookfairs and anarchist spaces are all about banning and excluding certain viewpoints. It would make sense that nobody would have to go to prison, all the legislative stuff is vague to me: there are obvious safety issues about women or trans women being in male prisons, but this witchhunting muddies the waters so much that there isn't any point in me trying to add to understand the laws in the UK being put forth or that are said to be in need of updating. Thanks for polarizing and ruining the discussion...jeez...if you equate every position you don't agree with for being a fascist, and blame a bookfair for not controlling the dissemination of ideas enough, then to me you are pretty similar to being an actual fascist, thought-controller, cop, ect.

trigger warning: grammar content!
FFS, the correct abbreviation is *etc.*, which is short for two Latin words: et cetera (meaning "and the other things"). writing "ect" is thoroughly meaningless as well as being crassly igonrant.

ect = emotionally comatose terf ;)

You spelled 'ignorant' wrong, officer. Just saying.

I go 'n rant at the prisoners in the holding cells after abusing my wife on the phone on a busy night at the precinct all the time!? I DON'T ignore ANY prisoner once they are under my power !

Mebbe our boy.turned off spellcheck, bein an imperzishun of other people’s highfalutin grammer n all, combinated with fat n greasy fingers. Jest hypothesizin.

TBH terfs feel trans women should go to male prisons. If you check their social media and the conferences they hold, they by large embrace carceral feminism, celebrating prison sentences for violence against cis women as a victory. They are not anarchists and are simply jumping on the london book fair to promote their view of how the state should act.

Some trans people do want prison reform, others who want abolition just know that prison reform will make the time they may face there less shitty.

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