Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Transgender politics

Labour Controversy over Gender Recognition.

with 7 comments

Activists divide on issues such as trans women on all-female shortlists.

A veteran feminist and opponent of government plans to streamline how people can legally change their gender aims to set up a “new women’s liberation movement” to lobby a future Labour government.

Ruth Serwotka, convener of the Socialist Feminist Network, said she and others on the left had been “frozen out” of voicing their concerns to the party leadership about what they believe would be the impact of the government’s proposed Gender Recognition Act. The act would make it easier for people to self-declare their gender without having to be assessed by clinicians.

Nearly 500 people from Labour, the Greens, the Women’s Equality party and trade unions attended the latest meeting of the group, which took place in London at a location that was kept secret because of what the group alleges is intimidation by trans activists.

I think that in time there will be an impact on Labour’s support among women and trust in the party from women,” said Serwotka.

Further meetings are planned around the country, she said, and will lead to the establishment of “a new women’s liberation movement” later this year.

“It will talk about wider issues than just transgender issues and really go back to the founding principles of the women’s liberation movement, look at whether they are fit for purpose, and consider what any new founding principles might look like. We want to do that because we certainly want to be able to influence a Labour government.”

The campaign by Serwotka and other feminists comes against the backdrop of divisions in Labour over whether transgender women can be included on all-women shortlists for parliamentary seats. The party is embarking on a consultation after confirming they are welcome to stand without a gender recognition certificate.

Factions in the bitter split had both been encouraging supporters to join the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy, which met in central London.

Rest of article via link above.

Row.

Leading members of hard left group the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy are set for a showdown at its AGM this Saturday in a bitter dispute over the status of trans people.

CLPD executive member Jennifer James sparked the row by launching a campaign to ban trans women from all-women shortlists, leading to her suspension from the Labour Party. Now James, who has spoken alongside Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott at a fringe event, is pushing for her own proposals on Labour’s approach to trans people to be officially adopted by the CLPD at its AGM this Saturday 3rd March.

The acrimonious row has seen James threaten opponents saying “say it to my face one time and you’ll find out”, while a supporter of hers burned a copy of Owen Jones’ book following statements of support for trans women in Labour.

I am still absolutely fuming after reading this below – the attacks against comrade Pilgrim Tucker.

Pilgrim is one of the best, most respected, activists and writers in the UK today. 

In the past few weeks I have been called trash, disgusting, despicable, f**ing scum, compared to a Nazi, a white supremacist, and a supporter of apartheid South Africa. I have had the insults ‘TERF’ (trans exclusionary radical feminist), transphobe and bigot aimed at me too many times to count.

I am one of the women Labour Party members who recently put my name to a crowdfunder to raise money for a legal examination of whether Labour is abiding by the Equality Act 2010. Currently the Gender Recognition Act states that a transgender person wishing to legally change their sex must meet certain criteria – to ‘live as’ the opposite sex for two years and a have a doctor’s diagnosis of gender dysphoria. Once they’ve been through this process they are given a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC), can change their birth certificate to say female instead of male, and access sex-segregated spaces currently reserved for women such as female dorms in backpacker hostels, hospital wards, women’s prisons or domestic violence shelters (basically spaces where women are likely to be vulnerable or in a state of undress).

..

But what’s happened to me, and every other woman I know in the Labour Party who has publicly stated they want to examine the impacts of these proposed changes, is an onslaught of abuse of the type I mention above. My name has been put on a ‘hit-list’ and an active campaign launched by a number of Labour members to have us expelled for ‘transphobia’. Two women on the list have been suspended from Labour, one for saying ‘women don’t have dicks’. So far nobody in a senior position within the party has spoken up for the many, many women (and good numbers of men) who have serious concerns about these issues.

Meanwhile women have had their employers contacted by anonymous activists accusing them of transphobia for simply questioning the trans rights agenda – every single meeting that women have tried to organise to discuss the issues has been targeted by activists attempting to shut it down.

Huffington Post.

 

The below is intended to give carefully thought out presentations of different sides in this controversy.

One thing that stands out is that the Socialist Feminist Network makes a contribution which is as far as possible from the ‘hate speech’ its critics allege.

Socialist Feminist Network.

“I urge transgender people to join us in that fight and to speak out against the sexism and misogyny in the self identity movement.”

Finding a progressive way forward for women and trans people

On 17th January 2018 Kristina Harrison addressed the second Woman’s Place meeting in Manchester, following is a transcript of her speech, which is also available on YouTube.

It’s a cliche but I really am honoured to be invited to speak at this meeting and to speak alongside socialists, feminists of the calibre of Ruth Serwotka and Bea Campbell.

As a transwoman I have identified not ‘as’ a girl or a woman but with girls and women for most of my life…. I’m also a socialist who understands with absolute clarity, that there can be no progressive agenda that uses abuse and harassment to silence women, there can be no socialism of any kind, that tells women, we’re re-defining you, be quiet and submit and there can absolutely, never be any human liberation without women’s liberation. As someone who understands that, I value women’s rights as highly as I value my own trans rights.

That is why I’ve not only marched through these very streets here in Manchester against section 28, not only stood tall as a proud and unapologetic transwoman, demanding rights, but I have also demonstrated and picketed in defence of women’s abortion rights and their right to control their own bodies. It’s also why I am implacably opposed to both the proposals for self-recognition of gender identity and the current ideology of I’m sad to say, the majority of transgender activists.

There’s simply too much to try and cover all the problematic aspects of the self-identity proposals and current trans ideology in this speech and hopefully much more can come out in the discussion so I’m just going to touch on a few issues but before I do I want to put these things into a wider context that I think is crucial to a fuller understanding of what’s going on in what I think are very complex issues of gender as well as I think, critical distinctions between everyday social sensitivities and status or even to a large extent legal protections on the one hand and on the other more fundamental political, biological and philosophical distinctions which must also be reflected in law.

So, context. As one of those troublesome Marxists I’d argue that oppression is rooted not in individual prejudice but in systematic discrimination arising from the needs of various male dominated class societies, most recently, capitalism. One of those systemic aspects of discrimination are gender roles, their deliberate propagation and policing across generations. Such ideas are propagated through newspapers, film, TV and advertising industries and very much policed by right wing politicians, by corporate media, religious groups, by families influenced by the ongoing justification of these norms and still today here in Britain they are occasionally policed with violence by usually male bigots.

The idea that the extraordinary richness and diversity of human personality and interests can be adequately accommodated by two roles based upon a child’s genitals at birth is an absurd one. If it wasn’t such a deeply damaging and fundamentally inhumane notion it would be simply laughable, so why are we still subjected to these deeply restrictive rules that limit and suffocate the scope of girls aspirations, that tell girls they are weak, frivolous, vain and valued principally for their looks and boys that they must not cry, that tenderness, sensitivity and heaven forbid, playing with girls or with girls things is for cissy’s… and who wants to be one of those?

The reason we are still subjected to these arcane and artificial roles is they serve an important purpose for our ruling elite. These ideas have evolved over centuries fundamentally to keep women in their place in a subordinate role that now seeks to control their ability to bear and raise children in ways that maintain, nurture and replenish a healthy and productive workforce at very low cost or no cost to big business or the state and to control and exploit women’s sexualised bodies to sell commodities, to titillate men and to further divide and divert working people from recognising our common interests and common humanity. The system benefits hugely from all that. That’s partly why many establishment politicians, the likes of the Daily Mail, the Sun and other right-wing forces constantly push these norms.

Another is the gender role for males which has also evolved in ways which attempt to control and shape men, in particular working-class men, preparing them for their exploitation at work or for war. Though occupying a more socially valued and higher status category the gender role for men is still fundamentally restrictive and exploitative, setting unrealisable standards of toughness and emotional constipation for instance.

When trans identitists talk about ‘cis’ people as individuals who are somehow congruent with their gender, not in conflict with it all, I have to stifle a little laugh. I think it’s fundamentally misleading. Even a man who sees no conflict with his gender role but ends up committing suicide as all too many young men do, because his ‘role’ and the rules he thinks he has to live by as a man render him incapable of addressing and dealing with his emotional needs or feelings is in fact in a very real and all too human sense, in conflict with his unhealthy, unnatural and mentally corrosive gender role even if he doesn’t know it.

Only a minority of adults fully conform to the gender stereotypes for their sex. Most people find that their real lives and real personalities are more complex than stereotypes and whilst most conform in broadly socially acceptable senses they do not do so fully.

Many people, especially women become aware of the oppressive nature of their gender norms and actively rebel against them. Feminists and socialists such as myself are for the complete removal of these artificially created rules and roles. However, whilst women in particular are oppressed by them, as well as in many other ways, some children discover that major or central aspects or our natural personalities and childhood interests are so completely incompatible with the gender role and norms inflicted on us that we find our core sense of self completely rejected and delegitimised as children.

The very same traits and interests that bring us shame and rejection seem to bring love and pride toward children of the opposite sex….and boy do we notice! In my opinion this is one of the major reasons children can begin to feel trapped by their bodies because it is our bodies that determine whether our personality is treated with love and approval or shame and illegitimacy.

Full version:

From a standpoint critical of this view:

The setting up of a socialist feminist network/website should have been worth investigating.

But a look at its contents indicates that the network/website has been set up purely to voice concerns over forthcoming possible amendments to the Gender Recognition Act (GRA), specifically that transgender people will be able to register a change of gender by self-declaration.

The site includes a Q&A on the GRA and promotion of a new campaign Women’s Place UK. That campaign’s statement says that while it supports transgender rights it believes self-declaration may undermine the integrity of women-only spaces; in the forthcoming consultation on the GRA women’s groups (unspecified) should be consulted.

I disagree with this stance against self-declaration. If self-definition (and thereby self-declaration in a registering process) is a false or insufficient basis on which people should be allowed to live their lives, in this case be a woman, what do you put in its place? It can only be a more or less elaborate system of institutionalised vetting procedures where a transwoman is not a good enough woman, a semi-woman, and second class citizen, who can never gain entry to parts of society that other women have automatic access to.

But these arguments have been dealt with in previous issues of Solidarity (448 and 452) and are not what I want to take up here. As a socialist feminist I was annoyed by the description of socialist feminism which the site puts forward. For brevity, I’ll focus on this statement from the Q&A:

“Feminists do not conflate sex and gender. Sex is a scientific term for one’s biology, and this cannot be changed. As materialists we believe the root of women’s oppression lies in her biology, a view underpinning socialist theory for generations. Gender theory does not provide an alternative credible analysis and it is regressive. Queer theorists see the intimate connection between biological sex and oppression and react by trying to dismantle the notion of biological sex whilst socialists and feminists react by seeking to dismantle oppression.”

More background:

Marxism, feminism and transgender politics. Sue Caldwell ISJ December 2017.

 No, Corbyn is not throwing women under the “trans bus”! Helen Rutherford Gregory. Clarion. September 2017.
Advertisements

Written by Andrew Coates

March 5, 2018 at 2:01 pm

Feminists Attacked by Transgender Activists.

with 13 comments

Image may contain: 1 person, text

 

Yesterday evening I went to a meeting. It was a meeting similar to any other I have been to in my 40 years of socialist political activism. It involved a discussion about legislation, it was a feminist meeting. I was meeting up with friends to go.

And there the similarities end because this meeting was actually unlike every meeting I have ever been to. Firstly the meeting was targeted by activists, not of the right but claiming to be on the Left who harassed the venue and got the meeting closed because of fears of the “risk” posed by a left wing feminist meeting. Sisters spent the day organising a new secret venue that could not be targeted. The trans activists spent hours trying to find and close down the second venue.

We were given Hyde Park Corner as our rendezvous. A big group of women were there when I arrived. One woman approached me saying are you here for the feminist meeting and I said Yes, how did you know? And she laughed saying :because you look older”. This was true the point being we looked like a group of older, mainly middle aged women. How threatening is that?

Also at the rendezvous were a group of trans activists with banners. At the time I was there they were in a huddle. A couple had banners, one saying ‘support trans’ another something about TERFs. There were several males amongst them wearing military type boots and make-up. I don’t want to make an assumption about how they identified but want to say this mobilisation for a meeting of feminists was sickening. One of them randomly yelled ‘kill TERFs’ at us whilst I was there.

Each of us was given a piece of paper with venue details written on it. We were told to drift off in small numbers to make our way to the venue. I heard that the trans activists had snatched the phone from one of our speakers, Transwoman, Miranda Yardleyand been threatening towards her. How deeply ironic and sickening i thought that Miranda was being harrassed.

I left Hyde Park Corner with my friend and we went to the meeting so I did not see what happened next. A 60 year old woman was knocked to the ground and assaulted by the military bearing males. Her statement is attached.

The meeting started late. The trans activists found out where we were meeting. They made trouble on the door. 60 of us gathered finally in a room. There were many young women there as well as the stalwarts. It was an amazing room, books lined the walls, a wooden lecturn was placed at the the front, outside a group of people were chanting “burn it down”.

The meeting took place. The police arrived and stood outside. The speakers were brilliant under the pressure. We had the meeting. Outside the protest seemed to be losing it’s momentum. We left in groups for protection to just five people shouting “shame on you”. I still have the paper on which the venue was written and I will keep it because This was a watershed meeting.

This was a feminist meeting in 2017. Everything has changed.

This is beyond belief, as are attempts by some people to try to explain this away.

It is not the time to make points about the difficulties that transgender issues and feminist responses in ‘intersectional politics’ face except to note that “no platform” is the worst possible reaction in these conditions.

 It is not the first time that a hostile  protest has happened, but it the first occasion on which such violence has been seen.

There is no doubt that violence in these conditions is beneath unacceptable.

Update: Trans Activist Men Attack, Beat Dissenting 60-Year-Old Woman

The DailyWire.

The “tolerant” transgender activists beat up a 60-year-old woman at a protest meant to silence a transsexual speaker with whom they disagree.

On Wednesday night, 60-year-old U.K. woman Maria MacLachlan was attacked by male transgender activists while she was videotaping a protest at Speakers’ Corner in London.

A scheduled forum on gender and the 2004 Gender Recognition Act set to take place Wednesday night was initially cancelled due to “safety reasons,” according to New Cross Learning, the host of the event. A number of trans activists posted threats against “TERFs” (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists) online before the forum.

(Note from TC, it’s worth looking at the unpleasant comments this Tweet met, from all quarters) 

The discussion, which included guest speakers Miranda Yardley, a writer who identifies as transsexual, and Dr. Julia Long, a lesbian feminist, was eventually relocated but was cut short due to the protest outside the event, where MacLachlan was assaulted.

Per MacLachlan’s account, which is backed by video evidence, the 60-year-old was first attacked by a transgender activist who attempted to steal her camera. As the scuffle over the camera broke out, another trans activist ran over and punched the 60-year-old before others piled-on.

MacLachlan told The Daily Wire she estimated her assailants to be males in their 20s, whom she classified as “students virtue signalling.” To her knowledge, none of protesters were trans; in fact, MacLachlan suspects “the only trans person was our speaker Miranda, who they were trying to silence.”

“Basically I was hanging around at Speakers Corner, chatting to people as we waited to be told the new location for the meeting that New Cross library had cancelled thanks to the actions of trans activist bullies. A load of these bullies had turned up at Speakers Corner and one or two had shouted ‘Kill all terfs’ and there were a few arguments going on between people on our side and some of them,” wrote MacLachlan of the incident.

The woman said the protesters then began chanting, “when terfs attack, we fight back” before the unprovoked attack against her:

“Nobody was attacking anybody but they were obviously trying to intimidate us,” she said. “As I was filming I asked them, ‘Who’s attacking?’ They had no answer of course, they just increased their volume, so I asked again and again and then suddenly some kid in a hoodie ran past me and tried to knock the camera out of my hand but it was attached to a loop round my wrist so he came back at me, I think trying to get my camera. I was determined not to let him get my camera and I was also terrified that my glasses were going to get broken because then I wouldn’t be able to see. I don’t remember much else except that somehow I ended up on the ground and it felt like a few of them were punching and kicking me and it seemed to last forever but I guess it was just a few seconds.”

Further Update, Background: Trans-exclusionary radical feminism (TERF; also Trans women exclusionary feminism or TWEF) is a subgroup of radical feminism characterized by transphobia, especiallytransmisogyny, and hostility to the third wave of feminism. They believe that the only real women are those born with a vagina and XX chromosomes. They wish to completely enforce the classic gender binary, supporting gender essentialism.

1. THREATS OF VIOLENCE, HARASSMENT, AND ABUSE

Threats of violence towards ‘TERFs’, lesbians, radical feminists, and anyone critical of the ideology

More via  link.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 15, 2017 at 11:48 am