Statement on events at (London) Anarchist Bookfair 2017

  • Posted on: 4 November 2017
  • By: Anonymous (not verified)

From - By Helen Steel

I was in the process of writing a longer article around the events at the Anarchist Bookfair on Saturday, but I am also trying to stay on top of the rest of my life while dealing with the horrendous bullying of people around me which is underway by some trans activists and allies. I have been traumatised by my experiences on Saturday and by events since, resulting in a lack of sleep and inability to concentrate. I wanted to complete the longer article, but as lies are being circulated by those who attacked me, I feel I have to put out a shorter statement now.

When I refer to trans activists in this statement I mean people who are activists on trans issues, I do not mean that all of them were trans, nor that they represent the views of all trans identifying people. For those who don’t know what TERF means, it is an acronym for Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist, but whatever its origins it is currently used as a term of abuse to dehumanise women and so excuse violence and bullying against them.

I thank everyone who is taking a stand against bullying and I urge more people to stand in solidarity too. Those trans activists and allies who are carrying out the bullying can be defeated by growing numbers of people resisting that bullying. This will facilitate a proper space for the concerns of women and trans identifying people to be discussed.

Short statement on the facts:

  • The Tories are planning to amend the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) to include Gender Identity as a protected characteristic in law. This does affect women and as such, women have a right to express their views on this issue.
  • I am aware of three leaflets which were distributed at the Bookfair. I did not actually write or distribute any of them, but I supported other women’s rights to distribute them.
  • The three leaflets that were distributed can be found below
  • None of them call for violence against trans identifying people, obviously I would not have supported them if they had.
  • Refusing to validate other people’s belief systems is not the same as threatening to harm them.
  • Bullying people to force them to accept your views does harm people.
  • If you think that other people should not be allowed to question your ideology, it makes you an authoritarian NOT an anarchist.
  • Women are oppressed in our society on the basis of our sex, those who deny this perpetuate that sexism.
  • It is a basic concept of progressive politics that oppressed groups have the right to self organisation and autonomy in their fight against their oppression.
  • I intervened to stop the bullying of two women who had been distributing leaflets about the GRA at the Bookfair and who were surrounded and being threatened by trans activists. Women’s voices have been silenced throughout history, which is why so many people have internalised misogyny and the assumption that women’s concerns are unimportant.
  • Half an hour later, I was surrounded for over an hour by a baying mob of around 30 trans activists who shouted misogynistic abuse in my face and at others, and who would not leave me alone. This included: ugly Terf, fucking Terf scum, bitch, fascist and more. That kind of behaviour should have no place in anarchism or any other progressive politics.
  • Despite that provocation, I did not at any time threaten or assault anyone. No trans activists were threatened by anyone else in my sight or hearing.
  • While I was surrounded, I saw a man’s hand moving towards my face and when it was within inches of my face I blocked it and pushed his arm away. He then started shouting that I had assaulted him and I should be thrown out.
  • Some of those in the baying mob tried to stoke anger and division by calling me a snitch, making false claims that I had filmed them assaulting a feminist at Speakers Corner and had handed that footage to the police. Footage of the incident is available and actually shows me intervening to protect the victim of the assault, not filming it. The videos embedded in this article show what actually happened, please do watch them and see the truth for yourself.
  • Their claim of ‘snitch’ in the circumstances is obscene in any event – when you assault women you do not get to claim the moral high ground by complaining that they have reported your behaviour to the police.
  • Those in the mob asserted that the leaflets setting out women’s concerns about the GRA should not be handed out because they amount to violence against trans people. They then used this to justify actual physical violence and intimidation. They didn’t care about the distress caused to others in close proximity, including children. Nor did they care about the trauma they cause to women by surrounding us, threatening us and using violence to silence women’s voices, repeating the patterns women face throughout our lives when reporting sexual harassment or assault or other sexist behaviour.
  • Women’s experiences are always erased – we are asked what were we wearing at the time, what did we say and do. Always the message is; as a woman it’s your fault, shut up. So what’s new here?
  • It is absolutely ludicrous that anyone could think that the behaviour of the mob was justified in any way by my actions or those of other women. That is victim blaming. People need to take a reality check.
  • Progressive people need to call out sexism, male dominance and violence and stop protecting sexist behaviour. Those offering support to bullies need to stop appeasing sexist behaviour.
  • Nonsense claims equating feminism to fascism are an insult both to feminists and to those who have endured racist and state violence under fascist regimes.

Of course I believe that all trans identifying people have the right to live their lives free from harassment and abuse, as does everyone. But I note the double standards that while women are repeatedly told to explicitly affirm that right, there is never a requirement on those advocating for trans issues to acknowledge the level of violence and harassment that women face or to state their opposition to sexist abuse, or to challenge the outrageous statements made by some trans advocates which repeatedly deny women’s experiences and silence women’s voices. This is a power imbalance based on the long held expectation in society that women should be subservient.

It is notable that a statement issued a few days ago calling for groups to boycott the Bookfair in future, makes no mention of sexism or of women’s rights or for the provision of women only meeting spaces. There is no acknowledgement at all that women are subject to oppression, sexual violence and harassment on the basis of our sex. It appears that those who have signed the statement are in denial about women’s experiences in much the same way that the rest of society is. Only the recent and snowballing reports of sexual harassment and assault in Hollywood, Parliament and via #MeToo have started to awaken people to reality. It is time those who signed up acknowledged that reality too.

The Anarchist Bookfair organisers do a huge amount of work to facilitate an amazing event which allows thousands of people to learn about alternative views and experiences of oppression and to discuss ways to improve society for the benefit of all. The self entitled mob attacking women for leafleting thought they had the right to dictate who could say what in that space rather than arguing their views and listening to the counter arguments to develop critical thinking. They need to think again.

I am lucky to have so many friends and comrades who put themselves in the line of fire to protect me, I thank them for this, especially those who were assaulted and abused. I also thank everyone who has sent messages of solidarity and support which are enabling me to get through this horrendous experience. I include in my thanks those trans identifying people and supporters who may not agree with my views but who recognise the importance of women being able to speak too and are resisting the intimidation they face from people claiming to act in their name.

I want to add that a couple of people have commented that while they agree with women being able to speak on these issues, they feel that in a few places the wording used is not helpful. The problem with requiring leaflets to be perfectly worded before they can be distributed is that it excludes very many people from being able to express their opinions. Only the confident will feel able to speak. It particularly excludes those born female who are generally socialised from a young age to keep quiet about their views and so who are less confident about expressing them. Perfection is certainly not a qualification used to prevent men from speaking. And ultimately, who decides what is right? That is the purpose of having debate, so we can all clarify our thinking.

-Helen Steel

 

Leaflets distributed at the bookfair about the Gender Recognition Act

I am attaching the leaflets so people can read for themselves rather than speculating about what they said. Before people jump to conclusions about the leaflets, I would like them to understand the violent misogynistic bullying and death threats that women are being subjected to by a really vile subset of trans activists, so that they are aware of some of the context of women’s concerns. This abuse has been going on for a long time now. People need to understand just how frightening and intimidating it is for women, and why women are fighting back and need allies to stop this abuse and create the space for discussion on these issues. Here are a few examples, there are plenty more on https://terfisaslur.com/

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Comments

well, this is transphobic garbage.

anyone who thinks that cismen are going to en mass to be a transwomen to get access to women's spaces doesn't understand how masculinity under patriarchy works.

Masculininity is only the most obvious expression of patriarchy. But if you think that it's all what makes male domination patterns of behavior happen, then you're in for a big deception.

And of course patriarchic men don't go trans en masse. Some DO. Some are clever and wily enough to play the genderfuck ganmes in order to get what they want.

Janice Raymond is that you?

>But if you think that it's all what makes male domination patterns of behavior happen

Can we please do without the behaviourist psychology?

"Behaviour" as an external, selective, biased perception of phenomenologically intentional actions, emerging from some mixture of (invisible) desire and will, and (invisible) unconscious drives. Look at Labelling Theory to really understand the fallacy of the idea of "behaviour".

I agree that there are parts of these claims that seem extreme to me. However to call this transphobic also feels extreme.

As a woman, these days I am feeling more and more concerned with this belligerent campaign to completely eliminate all legal and social boundaries between biological males and females. This has nothing to do with an inability to recognize gender as a social construct or an unwillingness to appreciate and respect the experiences of trans-women as women. It has to do with a very real feeling that all of my experiences as a woman, the ground I've fought for to feel safe and empowered,

I can't help but notice that I'm not seeing trans-men agressively proclaiming entitlement to bio-male experiences and space.

I'm not even demanding that we focus on the differences or boundaries, just... I don't think it's cool to be told to "die in a fire cis scum" for merely expressing the opinion that maybe I don't want to see dick. Or maybe even that I just want to have a say over whether I have to or not. like, I'm a woman, don't I get a say over what that means at all?

It's extremely distressing to me that there are people who are demanding that I sit down and shut up about what womanhood means. If transwomen are so invested in being women, don't they care about that at all?

So as much as I think that the points in these fliers are extreme, I would really appreciate a thoughtful critique from the trans community that goes beyond demonizing people as TERFs and actually addresses these concerns with the care and consideration that we (cis) women are women and our concerns fucking matter.

So you seem to be aware that gender is a social construct. Yet you then go on to engage in blatant biological essentialism. Let me ask you this: Suppose scientists established that there was a "gay" gene, and that everyone who had this gene was necessarily gay, and that everyone who did not could only be "gay" as their own choice. Would you then find it acceptable for only those who have this gene be treated as legitimately gay? I can only guess no, because that would be fucking ridiculous -- the social implications of being gay are not fully expressible in terms of genetics of physiology. Yet this is precisely what you're doing when you argue that only those with two X chromosomes are the only *real* women (and as much as you try to sugar-coat it in terms of "discussion" about the meaning of womanhood, this is what you are saying).

>expressing the opinion that maybe I don't want to see dick. Or maybe even that I just want to have a say over whether I have to or not.

Nobody is making you look at dick, what the fuck are you talking about? This is exactly the type of shit that gets you labeled as transphobic, because it fucking is. Nobody is demanding you look at their dick ffs (or if they are, that isn't a trans issue). Trans women don't go around flashing dick everywhere any more than cis women go around flashing vaginas. It's a total non-issue, and to express concerns about it is like a homophobe saying "I would by fine with the gays, if they just stopped trying to flaunt it so much everywhere!" or a racist saying "[race] people are fine, I just think we should all keep to our own kind." It betrays an ignorance of the issues at hand and reflects a fear that results from that ignorance.

Although I suppose I should also clarify: I do agree that TERF is overly used, to the point of basically just being a generic insult (not a slur though, good god whoever runs that site, get your heads out of your asses). It was a legitimate, useful term even only a year or two ago, but today, it's just become a replacement for transphobe. I've seen MRAs on Twitter get called TERFs, which is just... fucking what? I suppose that might just be how language evolves and we should just live with the fact that TERF is now a word with a meaning distinct from the acronym, like "PhD" or "lol", but I personally have just dropped the term from my vocabulary since it's so ambiguous (outside of meta-discussion like this).

Do the trans ideologues who reject even the slightest trace of "biological essentialism" fully accept and endorse transracial identity and otherkin identity? The very same arguments they make about gender could be used to defend these identity positions.

I see no reason why there would be any consensus on the issue, so asking "trans activists" and "trans ideologues" at large seems silly.

those things function entirely differently.

The Heruclitusian aspect of me doesn't have an issue with it in and of itself. The difference comes down to the levels of mediation and role functions of gender(as 15:36 said) that doesn't exist with transracialism or otherkin identity. I do agree with Jordan Peterson though on the issue of impelled speach. Don't add to the totality of laws to solve your problems.

To 15:26, I didn't say or suggest there was a consensus - I am asking how anyone who rejects completely biological essentialism with gender and/or sex how they deal with race and species.

To 15:36: That is a naked assertion, and I would to hear your reasoning for making such a distinction.

Curious - You're not getting a real response to your question because there is no good response to it from the pro-trans position - I have asked essentially this same question dozens of times to dozens of different people within or around trans communities, and no one has given me a satisfying answer. In fact, most just get angry and resort to saying you're a transphobe or even "genocidal" against trans people for questioning the validity of their identity, which is just the classic IDPol move, so classic that even the alt-right use it now when you question what whiteness is.

Only two have bitten the bullet like Sir Einzige and said they accept transracialism and otherkin identities, meaning they must define identity as purely subjective (since no one with the slightest trace of an intellectual conscience thinks catkin *literally are* cats), which is just silly (identity is obviously intersubjective, as is implicitly admitted by the pro-trans position of wanting chosen pronouns recognized).

If gender is "just a social construction" and "playing with it" is really cool, radical, and empowering, then, hey, why not do with it race, too? Don't you think race is "just a social construction"? Why not go trans-black and begin your "transition" by listening to a lot of hip-hop and talking in ebonics, and later follow it up by getting racial reassignment surgery? Maybe because you'd be run out of town for acting like a racist, delusional moron? Damn, fuck those goddamn TERNs (Trans-Exclusionary Racial Nationalists)! Don't they realize that any problem a black person faces is "a thousand times worse" for transblacks, who have "infinitely fewer" resources to cope with those problems!? It's like they have no understanding of how white supremacy affects us, too! Don't they realize how suspiciously people look at me *every time* I enter a store!?

*Of course* racist and sexist social constructions exist and have been used as ideological weapons against women and POCs (e.g., the ritualized submission of femininity or the Sambo ideology in regard to captured Africans and African-Americans). In *that sense*, race and gender are social constructions whose deconstruction is liberatory for all involved. How in the fuck this gets turned into "these social constructions are cool things to play with and put on as radical pantomime" is a mystery to me - as I mentioned above, no one *dares* say the same thing about the social construction of blackness as they do about femininity, and for good reason. People of African descent would be absolutely correct to be totally insulted by the mere idea of it, as many were with Dolezal.

Moreover, the fact that there is a social construction of femininity does not mean there is no such thing as biological sex - it is a huge, nonsensical leap to say that there is, as some do, "no such thing as biological sex" or that sex is "a slippery concept". I think it is clear as day that there are physical differences between male and female humans, that these differences evolved in accordance with a specialization in function, and that these differences imply differences in mental as well as physical tendencies in males and females. As one example, women tend to have a higher pain tolerance than men (which would make sense adaptively in terms of childbirth), something that seems unlikely to be mere social construction since it goes, if anything, against gendered expectations of men as tougher and women as delicate. Adherents to the Five-Factor Model of personality claim that there are distinct personality tendencies that hold cross-culturally, and that pre-natal exposure to testosterone induces the corresponding neurological changes. I think it is very difficult to disentangle biological influences from social ones, of course, probably ultimately impossible. In Indonesia, for instance, many of the American gender stereotypes are inverted and people tend to behave accordingly. None of this, though, means that there is no biological difference acting reciprocally with social ideology - it only means that ideology is a powerful thing, as every anarchist knows.

Of course it is correct to say that there are intersex people, that there are people with varying levels of hormones, and that environmental factors affect gender expression. But this is akin to saying that on a spectrum of color ranging from blue to yellow, there are greens, blue-greens, and yellow-greens and that they are all going to look a bit different depending on the light in the room. All of that is true and correct to say, but it is still the case that there are many instances where you can clearly say "This one here is blue; that one there is yellow; and that one there is green, which is a blend of blue and yellow." Many people (including most importantly the hard-boiled social constructionist ideologues who want to say that biological sex does not exist) seem to think that saying something is "a spectrum" means one can say nothing meaningful at all about either the general tendency or the particular manifestations, and that simply isn't true - even the metaphor of a spectrum that they like to use shows that it isn't true, as no one could reasonably look at the spectrum I described and say, "The existence of green means that blue and yellow don't really exist". Rejecting rigid categories does not entail abandoning any kind of categorization at all. Different species of organisms have often shown a capacity to interbreed and produce fertile offspring, calling into question the viability of rigid distinctions between closely related species - no one is arguing therefore that it is meaningless to distinguish among species and that one can therefore be trans-species (except for otherkin and otherkin allies!).

I think NA anarchists suffer from a Maslow's Hammer problem with social constructionism because of excessive Leftist influence. Yes, many things are social constructions; yes, there are probably many social constructions that even anarchists take for granted and do not notice; and, yes, you could even say that suicidal civilization itself has at its origins the social constructions of religion and human supremacy and thus toxic social constructions lie at the core of our crisis - but that does not mean that every fucking thing is a social construction. I have heard people make utterly insane commitments to social constructionism, like that (when, in a discussion group, I suggested that some level of temporary, informal specialization in group distribution of labor was not toxic and instead desirable, such as on the basis of biological sex when it came to tasks demanding a lot of upper body strength), "We can't prediscursively say that men tend to have greater upper body strength" - what in the actual fuck? So, it is only linguistic norms making it appear that men tend to have greater upper body strength? What was going on before language - did musculature only start existing when we started talking about it? In another case, in a debate I watched about transgender identity, a pro-Bill C-16 person, who was a Canadian professor, claimed that biological sex in nonhuman organisms was just a social construction we imposed on them. Incredible assertion, given the often extreme forms of sexual dimorphism nonhuman animals.

How can someone who is biologically male and socialized as a man know anything about what it is like to be female or ideologically created-as-Woman (or be POC, or be another species) except by listening, imagination, reason, and inference? I think they cannot. How can they *be* anything like female or woman (or African/Black, or a snail) except by imagination or superficially through surgery? I think they cannot. Some trans people say they are "born in the wrong body" because they identify with the opposite gendered ideology; they are therefore *really* the other gender, and they should be treated as such ideologically and adjust their bodies materially. I say they *are not* the sex biologically, whatever they do surgically; and they *have not been* socialized as their chosen gender ideologically, however much they love and confusedly endorse gender ideology.

Act how you want, dress how you want, fuck whomever you want - seriously, go be the best version of yourself you can be because you only live once and fuck the haters - but don't be delusional or endorse authoritarian means (e.g., Bill C-16, which, as Sir E mentioned, is a great leap forward in the power of the State since it sets a precedent for compelled speech) to force others to enforce your delusions.

to 05:37

I'm trans. I don't have any strong feelings either way about otherkin/transracial people. As far as I know, I've never met them and they feel irrelevant to my personal anything.

I do think that each of these things play out very differently in society. The only common thread is identity, which Id agree is a subjective experience.

Being a trans woman is a unique experience
being a white person who darkens their skin and gets a perm is a unique experince
being black is a unique experience
being a cis woman is too.

And honestly, its generally a shitty experience for all those people.

I don't disagree that social construction isn't everything pertaining to gender, however, the question concerning biology is what it is exactly. I see no evidence of biology consisting of generative local production. I personally entertain Sheldrake's idea of morphic resonance which is a different from the mainstream idea of biology. If biology is anything it represents subtle changes over time driven by inside and outside feedback loops. I would say that if someone resonates with being a female then that settles it for me. The other examples don't have the same level of social functions. The kin thing comesn off to me like secular age spirit identity which doesn't really bother me though again I want no compelled speech.

"The kin thing comes off to me like secular age spirit identity which doesn't really bother me though again I want no compelled speech."

BOI! Do you ever read yourself, just to make sure you make ANY sense whatsoever!?

I reject any kind of Aristotelian Platontic categorical being and take an anything goes approach with how people ID themselves on a 1st personal level. Not hard to understand really.

Oh cmon, I couldn't bear to live somewhere where dicks and fannies aren't waved around in ones face, soooo boring where you live honeybunch

"I can't help but notice that I'm not seeing trans-men agressively proclaiming entitlement to bio-male experiences and space. "

Cis dudes are way more accepting than cis women. there is no ideology that targets trans men for exclusion from cis men dominated spaces. So there is no need to oppose that. Also, places like mens bathrooms are dangerous spaces for anyone read as trans, especially trans women but also for visibly trans men. We just want to feel safe in the world.

The reason there aren't periodic disputes over trans men's access to male spaces (in the US, Europe, UK, Canada, etc) is that male-only spaces are pretty much illegal in all these places. It's because of the exception for "reverse discrimination" that the trans women/women's space issue arises. Any space which has already been desegregated due to feminism, is (on a legal level) also accessible to trans men.

This said - I wouldn't like to be a trans man, hanging round any of hundreds of hypermasculine spaces, unless I could pass very effectively as cis. And I wouldn't like to try accessing all-male spaces in the global South as a trans man, either. As to "no male equivalent to Terfs", I think alt-right and religious ideologies are opposed to trans men in male spaces.

Also related:
https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/09/the-undergroun...
I don't know if they count as "trans men" in the western sense, but I bet the Taleban hate them.

Is this Helen Steel from London Greenpeace? My, how the mighty have fallen. She used to fight for the earth against the state... now she devotes her energy to stupid trans versus TERF identity-wars.

As usual with idpol, everyone's being ridiculously extreme. No, trans activists aren't trying to "silence women" and deny the history of oppression. This isn't some "shut up and get back in the kitchen" thing, it's other oppressed people kicking off. This recurring idea that someone disagreeing with your point of view or thinking your ideas are unimportant is somehow world-historic violence is ridiculously self-aggrandising. No, someone's not an abuser if they call you a TERF (how many "die antifa scum" comments are there on Twitter? does that make "antifa" a slur?) Not sleeping because you're involved in a flame war isn't being "traumatised", it's being upset (PTSD = life-impeding symptoms persisting six months after the event). Trans women demanding entry into female spaces isn't "rape culture" or "taking away women's boundaries". But, some cis women wanting spaces for cis women only, not wanting to be around penises, is not necessarily transphobic, and I can see the worry about abusers strategically "changing gender" to get into refuges and so on (it shouldn't be a problem, just make trans or third-gender refuges as well). And equating criticism of someone's views with violence against them as a person or calling for their death is just absurd - as is throwing around labels like "Nazi" just because you don't like someone taking the other side in an argument. I'm not really sure which side I'm on, but I'm disgusted that all this righteous rage against oppression is being turned against one another instead of against the system - *especially* by someone like Helen Steel, who has such a pedigree of real activism. 99% of the time, women's rights and trans rights are completely compatible - so why is there this huge fucking oppression Olympics as to whether trans women are really women, and whether cis women who say trans women aren't women are Nazis? It's a waste of energy, attacking people we mostly agree with over whose rights rank highest.

How would all this be handled in bolo'bolo? Probably the TERFs would have their own TERF-bolo, the trans people would have their trans-bolo or gender-free-bolo or trans-inclusive feminist bolo, they'd ostracise each other but that's fine because everyone's self-sufficient and there's thousands of other bolos to interact with. So how about we just start creating bolo'bolo instead of fighting for the attention of papa state by beating up our sisters and brothers.

You know what? Women's refuges and domestic violence services are being closed all over the UK because of Tory cuts, and that's a much bigger threat to abuse survivors than trans women being allowed in.

you consistently create a distinction between women (sic) and trans people, which shows you don't acknowledge trans women as women. that is trans antagonism and pushing that narrative actually does lead to actual violence against trans people.
you talk about progressive politics and rights, as if anarchism has anything to do with that. perhaps you were at the wrong bookfair?
you stood in defense of biological essentialism (thats what those flyers boil down to). what about intersex people? are they welcome in your club? why do you think you get to be the gatekeeper?
misogyny affects all women, cis or trans or nonbinary or fluid and silencing certain of those voices only perpetuates it. why are you spending your time creating distinctions, claiming authenticity and authority instead of standing with your sisters?
your politics are poison and uphold the dystopia we all live in.

Terf garbage that wants to reinforce identity and hold on to it at the cost of trans women. Lets face it, terfs have the most rigid essentialist views on gender that exist. way more so than the new liberal queer views on gender.

The reason why I want my gender legally recognized is simple. Last time I was in jail, my license said M. Its in contrast to my body and presentation. I was mocked and sexually assaulted by a group of male prison guards. changing my gender marker would help avoid that. Yeah its reformist, but it'd have saved me a lot of pain. Since it happened, ive talked plenty of other trans women with similar experiences from being read as trans and having conflicting documents while in police custody.

This cis "anarchist" wants the state to be super rigid and prevent me from changing something on a document that would have prevented this.

The most interesting part is a lot of the concerns about what life might be like for cis women are things trans women face regularly and theres no reason to belive they will be the result of this bit of reform besides some wingnut bigot's speculation.

Anything cis women face, trans people face with greater frequency and have infinitely less resources to deal with it with.

protections or prisoners' rights which are actually enforced, whether there's prisoners' unions, the balance of power between screws and prisoners... I am 99% certain you would have a better time as a trans prisoner in a Swedish prison than you would as a cis straight white male in ADX Florence supermax. Except you probably wouldn't go to the Swedish prison because the bar for going to jail is a lot higher. So maybe focus your reformist efforts on prison reform or prison abolition, shorter sentences and enforcing prisoners' rights, rather than bickering with terfs about access to "women's" spaces.

>Anything cis women face, trans people face with greater frequency

Oppression Olympics, and asking for flame war which has duly followed.

Actually I'm sure it varies interpersonally. Helen Steel is a former political prisoner who has survived a famous persecution case (McLibel) and then found out her long-term partner was an undercover pig. That's probably worse than anything Caitlyn Jenner or Monroe Bergdorf ever suffered. On the other hand, I'm sure your life is tougher than the Queen of England or Hillary Clinton.

In any case, there's no way to make the comparison. With the idpol way of framing things, nobody can understand anyone's experiences outside their own group, which means that a cis woman can't understand your experience, you can't understand a cis woman's experience, and a third party can't understand either of your experiences. So there is no basis for saying whose experience is better or worse.

Is risk of pregnancy from rape a greater or lesser trauma than being forced to use male pronouns when you feel female? Is trans/homophobic abuse by macho men better or worse than being sexualised by macho men? Nobody can say, because they're such different kinds of traumas, and because each of them impacts different individuals differently. But it doesn't really matter, because there isn't a fundamental conflict between fighting one kind of abuse and fighting the other kind of abuse. The conflict is a product of rigid idpol intolerance and polarisation.

>The reason why I want my gender legally recognized is simple. Last time I was in jail, my license said M. Its in contrast to my body and presentation. I was mocked and sexually assaulted by a group of male prison guards

1. Prison guards sexually assaulting you is illegal. Did the law stop it? No. Why do you think another law would?

2. Trans prisoners in Britain are already sent to the prison for their chosen gender. There's been a few exceptions because people the people hadn't registered their gender and in that case, it's up to the judge. So, this isn't at all the issue at the bookfair.

3. Trans prisoners are also likely to get bullied by cis women prisoners and screws. Cis women prisoners in US prisons are also routinely sexually abused by male guards (UK women's prisons last I heard only have women guards, but immigration detainees are routinely sexually abused by male guards). Cis male prisoners in US prisons are often raped by other prisoners (which is rare in England, possibly because sex offenders are segregated from the main population).

4. The best protection against abuse in US prisons is to have a gang on your side. You'd do better putting your efforts into convincing one of the big prison gangs to accept trans members.

5. How you would be treated as a trans prisoner (and whether you'd be jailed in the first place) is also affected by a load of variables about how many people are jailed, whether there's human rights protections or prisoners' rights which are actually enforced, whether there's prisoners' unions, the balance of power between screws and prisoners... I am 99% certain you would have a better time as a trans prisoner in a Swedish prison than you would as a cis straight white male in ADX Florence supermax. Except you probably wouldn't go to the Swedish prison because the bar for going to jail is a lot higher. So maybe focus your reformist efforts on prison reform or prison abolition, shorter sentences and enforcing prisoners' rights, rather than bickering with terfs about access to "women's" spaces.

>Anything cis women face, trans people face with greater frequency

Oppression Olympics, and asking for flame war which has duly followed.

Actually I'm sure it varies interpersonally. Helen Steel is a former political prisoner who has survived a famous persecution case (McLibel) and then found out her long-term partner was an undercover pig. That's probably worse than anything Caitlyn Jenner or Monroe Bergdorf ever suffered. On the other hand, I'm sure your life is tougher than the Queen of England or Hillary Clinton.

In any case, there's no way to make the comparison. With the idpol way of framing things, nobody can understand anyone's experiences outside their own group, which means that a cis woman can't understand your experience, you can't understand a cis woman's experience, and a third party can't understand either of your experiences. So there is no basis for saying whose experience is better or worse.

Is risk of pregnancy from rape a greater or lesser trauma than being forced to use male pronouns when you feel female? Is trans/homophobic abuse by macho men better or worse than being sexualised by macho men? Nobody can say, because they're such different kinds of traumas, and because each of them impacts different individuals differently. But it doesn't really matter, because there isn't a fundamental conflict between fighting one kind of abuse and fighting the other kind of abuse. The conflict is a product of rigid idpol intolerance and polarisation.

"For those who don’t know what TERF means, it is an acronym for Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist, but whatever its origins it is currently used as a term of abuse to dehumanize women and so excuse violence and bullying against them."

Helen, violence against terfs and their sympathizers is OK. Terfs attack other women under some weird essentialist ideology. They shouldn't be surprised when those women fight back.

You know the difference between disagreeing with someone's political views and committing physical violence against them, right?

You know the difference between attacking/erasing a *category* and killing *you*, right?

yeah. I know. I've been attacked for being trans both physically and as an individual by terfs.

I'm still 100% for violence against terfs.

The petty side of the Orwellian future, sort of individualism 101 for beginners, the folk who still have trouble defining and locating power dynamics in everyday life, like how the merchant stacks the expensive items out of reach behind the counter, yet the person who helps a woman with a pram is seen as a sexist predator seeking sexual reward, and chivalry as patriarchal, but if one helps a gay person lift their suitcase onto a rack, you are the revolutionary hero, actually there is a lot of Orwellian double talk in the whole idpol mentality, Its a real mixed up with class distinction UK thing, their society is so confused and obsessed with appearances and imagery, pompous superiority complex of global proportions, like Michael George, OMG, or the majority Monarchists, how could anything out of London have any relevance actually, Orwell was right, 70 years ago he had them all worked out, and the colonial tribes, read "Shooting an ephalant", a brilliant critique of the primitivist tribes and their love of the white man's rifle, the power, oh yes the power of gunpowder, hasn't the UK legacy turned the world into a gigantic tea party?

tbh my experience tells me when a man tries to help me with a thing theres a 50% chance hes gonna be creepy.

OK a few questions on this.

>my experience tells me

Have you controlled for well-known phenomena of perception-bias?

>50% chance

So #notallmen, right? And not even enough men to make a probabilistic claim that a particular incident will end in creepiness.

>gonna be creepy

Subjective claim projected onto the man. 50% chance you're going to *feel* creeped. But, what makes you feel creeped? All sexual advances, or just those which involve coercion or pressure? If the former, then in what circumstances are relationships ever going to be "non-creepily" formed?

There's a huge problem in western culture that the "rules" of sexual approach and relationship formation are vague and arbitrary, and that simply proposing a sexual or romantic relationship (without coercive pressure) is often seen as "creepy". Add to this the traditional expectation that men will approach women and not the reverse, and it's a recipe for generalised "creepiness". There's also a problem with men not taking no for an answer, or using manipulation to obtain sex, but this is a side-effect of the same root problem: the absence of direct sexual/romantic communication.

To point one thing in particular out: you have shit reading comprehension if that's what you got out of "Shooting an Elephant".

JZ was in it, he was living with the Burmese ephalant handler, the sadhu or sumptin? It was cool Orwills composure under colonial oppression, he actually became a cop in abscence, cool work exprerianced dood

Its always bout turf wars brah in the hood

In da hood tho there is no old spinsters or proods, heh even the ol gospel nun got sum groove, she aint gonna get creeped out by no dood ofring sum little muscle ta help out, dats da hood, every helpin da nayboor like christian ralayshonships dood my bro

In da hood dere is no creepy doods hittin on da hoes cos if da doods get horny dey just go ta yo momma

I have good reading comprehension and the only thing I got out of Shooting an Elephant was that if Orwell had stuck to short stories Id have read more of his writing.

If you drink it'd be a fun game to take a shot every time you identify a terf dog whistle in Helen's text or images.

It's easy to pretend to be a woman and take the advantages of it when you had a boy education ... this things that are really deep in our minds, that are building our behaviors and the way we are socializing ... being a woman it's not having a vagina, having a chest, or whatever ... it's a social construct, nothing else. So, someone that had a boy education, that had all the advantages of being a boy, that didn't grow as a girl, could never pretend being a woman ... and by the way, menstruation is also something that is making our daily life ...

Pretending being something doesn't make it true ... I love horses, and I would like to be one, but is that enough to pretend to be one ? Even if I am making a surgery to have a horse tail, would I be a horse ?

Being a woman is not a luck ! I would love to switch and being a man, so I could have an other education, more confidence, I could travel wherever I want, I could do works I am more interested on, I could have the right to be angry and to show it, I could have more strength, and I could have friendly relations with men I appreciate, without being afraid that they just want to fuck me ... If I were a man I would probably be more respected into the anarchist milieu, people would be more interested in my projects, they would listen to me ...
I would like to be a man, but I am not ... and I hate that people are trying to show that being a woman is so cool ! Give me your life and I would be glad to give you mine ... I would be happy no to be afraid just to walk in the streets, I would be happy to e able to choose not to have creepy guys peeping at me ...

The existence of transmen stops your non subjective reasoning in its tracks. Gender is just as much a mind mental resonance as it is constructed(I actually don't think humans are capable of qua de novo construction we're apes after and language likely had mutifactoral origins stemming from physical resonnance/dissonance).

Being a trans woman who is pretransition is a vastly different experience than being a cis dude.
Being a trans man who is pretransition is a vastly different experience than being a cis woman.
ofcourse you probably couldn't articulate what its like to experience the world pretransition nor the trauma that accompanies it. Nor have you even likely made an effort to try to do so. Instead you base it on assumptions and a weird essentialist theory thats incompatible with anything Id want to call anarchism.

To me, the experiences of cis men and cis women under patriarchy sound way more alike than the experiences of trans women and cis men.

you have zero understanding of trans women, so you write long winded essays that do little more than just demonstrate that?

Maybe its just me, but oh the vanity, how the theme swings to what basically comes down to genital self-consciousness, when I'm more concerned with difusing sexual morals and raising the bar (pun not intended) to the level of intellectual ethics concerning the aesthetics of sexuality, which by the way transcends "dicks" and "vags", oh damn it, here we go again, the libidinal economy as the dominant force behind social formation is still at the Neanderthalic level of "Me Tarzan you Jane", and domestic harmony is still about fashion and how clothes represent ideological preferences. This is all so crass, men should wear burkahs for Chrissakes, instead of Hannibal Lecter masks,,,,,

Dear Catastrophe Waitress
Dear Catastrophe Waitress
I'm sorry that you seem to have the weight of the world over you
I cherish your smile
There's a word of peace on your lips
Say it, and with tenderness I'll cherish you

Dear Catastrophe Girlfriend
Dear Catastrophe Girlfriend
I'm sorry if he hit you with a full can of Coke
It's no joke
Your face is bleeding
You'll soon be leaving this town to the clowns who worship
No one but themselves
No one but themselves

Dear Catastrophe Waitress
Dear Catastrophe Waitress
I'm sorry if the kids hold you in cool disregard
I know it's hard
Stick to what you know
You'll blow them all to the wall
When they realise what you've been working for
You've been working for
You've been working for

I think the dispute is to do with some cis-women wanting cis-women-only spaces. Which is a complex intersectional thing about cis-women wanting spaces without cis-men, and hence, wanting to make sure cis-men can't pass as trans-women to disrupt women-only spaces. Unfortunately, since "trans" is taken as a self-validating identity-claim, the only way to stop cis-men passing as trans-women to get into women's spaces is to ban trans-women. So the dispute comes down to a dilemma between two claims which are both legitimate on anti-oppressive/social justice grounds: which is more important, a trans-woman's right to access all women's spaces without discrimination, or a cis-woman's right to exclude cis-men from women's spaces? Since this basically comes down to "which oppression matters more" (which is not the same as "does one of them not matter at all"), it's pretty much insoluble when framed in these terms. And, framed in idpol terms, it leads to massive (defensive) hatred and fear in both directions, and a lot of abuse and inflated hyperbolic claims which actually *are* sexist or transphobic.

I'm not completely comfortable with the idea of cis-women-only spaces, but only on the same level that I'm not entirely comfortable with women-only or LGBTQ-only or POC-only spaces - reverse discrimination reduces people to categories and may be unfair to individuals. On balance I think oppressed-group-only spaces are a good idea so long as they're either partial/localised, or limited-scale projects for small groups of separatists.

Outside of idpol, this can be reframed as a harmonisation problem: different people have different desires and needs; how can different people's desires and needs be satisfied without mutual conflict or frustration? I think possibly the solution is: In the case of women's refuges, it seems quite likely that some women traumatised by male domestic or sexual abuse will have developed effective phobias of dicks or of people-with-dicks - because there's an involuntary unconscious process of phobic imprinting on aspects of a traumatic situation, not limited to those directly relevant to the trauma (e.g. combat-traumatised people often react to all sudden loud noises). This really needs to be considered akin to other phobias, sensitivities and allergies - some people need to live in an environment without dogs, or cat-hair, or bright lights. (There might also be rare cases where this is true of right-wing prejudices as well, though this seems unlikely in most cases). It's an irrational fear, but it's also part of the person's current involuntary psychological constitution as a result of trauma. It's not a justified true aversion based on conscious perception of male violence as Terfs claim, but nor is it a case of politically-motivated hatred or socially-conditioned fear of trans people, as trans activists claim (if anything it's a conditioned fear *of cis men* which trans women happen to fall foul of). It doesn't need to be turned into a zero-sum conflict where everyone thinks the other side is trying to rape or kill them. Someone with an allergy to dog hair couldn't share a house with a blind person who has an assistance labrador - nobody's oppressing anyone, no-one's denying anyone's right to exist, it's just incompatibility.

By the way, from the wording of the law in question, it appears that it also bans trans-only spaces (since trans-only spaces also "discriminate on the basis of gender identity"). This is fairly typical of how "anti-oppressive" laws are framed in the UK and Europe. For instance, the Race Relations Act and the Equalities Act ban discrimination "on grounds of race", "inciting racial hatred", "racially aggravated" offences - not discrimination against black people or POC. Reverse/anti-white racism exists in law, even if not in idpol - there's cases of people being tried for reverse-racism in the UK (e.g. Kriss Donald murder case; Islamists accused of inciting racial hatred; prosecution for using #killallwhitemen hashtag; case over the "souchiens" slur in France; ban on BDS in France; cases against Dieudonne, etc). By extension, this new law will make trans-only spaces and "die cis scum" illegal - so the benefits for trans people are ambivalent to say the least. Also, it's quite likely that Terfs who want to keep trans women out of spaces will find other excuses to do so - probably by banning *individuals* on various pretexts (which is very easy and commonly abused in the UK). For example: a Terf says something legal, but deliberately provocative; the trans person flips out; the organisation bans the trans person for "abuse" or "bullying". As long as the trans woman is too poor to sue, or can't convince a bigoted authoritarian conservative upper-class white cis male magistrate to the magistrate's satisfaction that their exclusion was "beyond reasonable doubt" on grounds of being trans and not of any other factor (tip: they can't), the law is a dead letter. (Along similar lines: they can't ban you for being autistic, but they can ban you for having meltdowns, or because you might have meltdowns - which all autistic people *might* do... they have to make "reasonable adjustments", but allowing meltdowns is deemed an "unreasonable" adjustment - so in reality, they *can* ban you for being autistic. The same kind of thing applies to pretty much all psychological conditions). Discrimination on grounds of race and gender has been illegal since the 1970s - that solved those problems, right? ;-) Well, employment statistics say otherwise. Actually it didn't even stop the BNP (Nazis) from refusing to admit non-white members until the late 2000s. Because you need to actually have a non-white person who wants to join the BNP and is refused on grounds of race, before there can be a court case. In other words, equalities laws - and benefits of equalities laws - and threats posed by equalities laws, are all overplayed. Mostly, this is a symbolic contest - which side gets a pat on the head from the government, a bit of narcissist supply. It's certainly not life-or-death. And if people are framing it this way, then either/both: 1) they have a very stilted understanding of the nature of the state and the current political situation, and/or 2) they are displacing emotional energies from *other* situations of suffering and precarity onto this particular (internecine) issue, rather than fighting the *real* causes.

Heh dood there no dickphobics down in da hood like there no fannyphobics my man stay kool

Ok so if women develop phobias from traumas and thats an ok reason to ban trans women then the logic is simple...

Every trans woman I know, myself included, has trauma from harassment from cis people that includes women. Can we ban cis women from women's restrooms?

Can you have trans-only spaces? At the moment, yes. I've never come across trans-only, but there's LGBT-only halls of residence, complete with (presumably) LGBT-only restrooms.
https://www.theguardian.com/education/2016/may/16/no-straight-people-all...

And, hell, you'd probably get less fuss about trans-only restrooms than you do about using women's restrooms. Alternatively, since gender doesn't exist and segregation is bad, we could just scrap segregated restrooms entirely, and have unisex restrooms. Or all shit in the street. But we all know this isn't about restrooms, it's about which group gets a pat on the back from daddy state.

Hell, why is it impossible to post on a thread about an idpol issue and not get people acting out all their idpol anger and intransigence in a way they don't on other threads?

Just wanted to say that of the many, many posts I have read on this issue since the Bookfair, I found this one the most illuminating. Whoever wrote it, thanks.

Not clear from the way my previous comment (below) has been placed in thread, but it refered to the post 'no need for trans v terf wars'.

"Just wanted to say that I have had to read hundreds of posts on this issue over the last week, and I found this one the most illuminating. Whoever wrote it, Thanks. "

"case over the "souchiens" slur in France; ban on BDS in France; cases against Dieudonne"

Are you victimizing antisemitics personalities ? Because actually, BDS, the person who had the trial for saying "souchien" (meaning "under dogs" ... wich sounds specist and racist), and Dieudonné are all very public antisemitics, and proud to be ...

So yeahhh, poor of them, Dieudonné had trials because he passes his time making XIX° centuries jokes on Jewishs, he's close friends with negationnists, with Soral, and all this galaxy of racists there's in France ... a galaxy very close to anti-imperialist and "decolonizing" movements ... which is not surprising, because all identitarians are reactionaries, whether they are obsessed by their religion or their "race" or other people "race" or religion. So yeahh, being a racist or a sexist or a piece or shit is a choice ... and everyone one can be such a bastard.

Point is, idpol anti-hate laws get used against idpols. All idpols come out with hateful shit against "privileged" groups and/or other "oppressed" groups.

The souchien woman is a typical idpol, keeps telling white French people they're scum and they need to check their privilege. "Souchien" refers to native French (not Jews specifically, though I bet she's anti-Semitic too), and it's a play-on-words because it can mean "less than dogs" but it's also an adjectival form of "people of the homeland" or some such. I think she meant the play-on-words but gave it plausible deniability. Point is: souchien is basically "white scum", and saying "white scum" is illegal in France under race-hate laws.

BDS is illegal because it's illegal to discriminate against "national origin" - i.e. for discriminating against Israeli products, not for being anti-Semitic. Of course, Israeli nationalists try to portray opposition to Israel as anti-Semitic - standard idpol ploy.

Dieudonne I'll give you is racist. Thing is, so is Farrakhan, so is NBPP. So are a lot of black idpols. That whole "black people are bottom of the pile so it isn't racism" line doesn't work once there's race-hate laws written by white politicians on the books.

That's going to be part of the shitstained legacy of IDPols, a far greater harm then anything fascists are capable of.

I could totally see this epoch of new laws being blowback against a future insurgent revolutionary epoch if there is one.

anarchy's biggest impediment (and it's getting worse)

I have read this on my phone three times. It seems Helen is carefully avoiding saying trans can be women. Is that true or have I misread it?

Its true. Terfs talk a ton about how they'd be ostracized if they came out as a full on terf. When in mixed company, they mediate their language in the same way that alt-right types do. Most people cant pick up on it. Other terfs recognize it and most trans people do too, but your average person doesnt realize what they are reading.

Heresy of heresies right? Yes, she is avoiding it, not everyone is going along with the sex roles fundamentalism of the transcult.

Also, I'm plugging https://www.reddit.com/r/GenderCritical/

The first time I came across Trans hatred (a far more fitting term than TERF) was in the 1970's but many of the feminist trail blazers of that era like Gloria Steinem and Judith Butler have reconciled themselves long ago.
Incidentally Camille Paglia near the end of this talk identifies as transgender. If Helen returns to this discussion board it would be nice if she thinks about the above examples before responding.

Yeah set up those persons as trailblazers and ones who "reconciled" themselves, eh mafioso?

You know who really says it like it is? Judith Butler.

Not going along with sex roles fundamentalism is not "hatred," only psychotic transcultists think like that. (And not all transes are psychotic, there's self-aware ones like Miranda Yardley and legions of detransitioners.)

According to Lacanian and Derridean theory (which is bollocks, btw), people's subjective identities are effects of language. The unconscious desires underpinning language are revealed through slip-ups, blind-spots and mistakes (such as "Freudian slips"). Whoever situates themself in the "critical theorist" or "analyst" point of view can read, "name", and "call out" the unconscious desires - which, of course, are invisible to and often disavowed by the person so accused.

This is how we get from "TERFs don't want trans people in women's refuges in case cis male predators start using the trans thing to get in", to "TERFs hate and want to exterminate trans people".

This is also how we get from "trans activists don't want to be discriminated against by being excluded from women's spaces" to "trans activists are a cult who demand that all women submit to the view that gender is 100% self-chosen and trans activism is rape culture".

Reply to 14:26.
Go back and read Helen on the rights of and erasure of women. She hasn't expressed any recognition that trans are women. In effect Helen so far at least is privileging cis women while she erasing trans.

Since the kerfuffle a few produced their own responses to the organisers of the London Anarchist Bookfair titled Response to London Anarchist Bookfair 2017

Following that the London Anarchist Bookfair issued a statement this morning. As it was in a downloadable Word document over two pages in length a pastebin seemed appropriate.

The bookfair collective also posted a response to the above open letter (pastebin).

TERFs are an element of the far right. They seek biologic purity in the same way as the Nazis did. We don't work with Nazis and won't work with TERFs. Smash trans-hating bigots.

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