By Joelle Ruby Ryan
May 29, 2012
Reposted with Permission
I truly enjoyed reading Roz Kaveny’s spot-on article on Rad Fem 2012 that was recently printed in the UK Newspaper The Guardian. If you have not read it, please read it here.
While reading Roz’s article, I discovered that “rad fem” anti-trans ideologue Sheila Jeffreys is working on a new book. Entitled Gender Hurts: A Feminist Analysis of the Politics of Transgenderism, and slated to be published by Routledge in October 2013, the blurb for the forthcoming book reads as follows:
“Transgender describes those who seek recognition as the opposite sex or gender on a long-term basis. The idea and practice of transgenderism now affects legal systems, schoolteachers, parents, wives and partners, and the politics of gender in profound ways. Gender Hurts examines the wider social and political context and implications of the phenomenon of transgenderism. Jeffreys and Gottschalk propose that gender in western culture is socially constructed as the basis of male domination and that the concept of gender has the potential to hurt many. They argue that in transgenderism the hurt can take several forms; psychologically, physically and socially. This book explore how the phenomenon is affecting people’s lives from exploring the implications for the children and adults who are diagnosed as having gender identity disorder, to the survivors’ movement who claim to have been misdiagnosed, and the impact on the partners of transgenders. This controversial book is a must read for all students and scholars of the politics of sexuality, women’s studies, gender studies, queer studies, transgender studies and cultural studies courses.”
When perusing the page on Amazon, I noticed that Jeffreys has a co-author for the book, another Australian professor named Lorene Gottschalk. I had never heard of her, so after a Google search I found this page, which is principally about Jeffreys’s slate of research. However, Gottschalk name’s had come up because:
“Phd supervisions completed:
2000: Lorene Gottschalk’s ‘Feminism and the Construction of Lesbianism. A Comparison of Lesbians’ Experiences in Feminist and Non-Feminist Contexts’.”
So, Jeffreys is writing a new transphobic book with her former dissertation advisee. Can you say déjà-vu? Back in 1979, Janice Raymond released her anti-transsexual screed The Transsexual Empire and poisoned the feminist well against trans folks for many years to come with her vitriol. And guess what? Raymond began the project at Boston College under her dissertation adviser, lesbian separatist Mary Daly. Nearly 35 years later, we see history repeating itself. But my question is this: given how far we have come in terms of transgender liberation, activism and civil rights in the past three decades, how has it come to pass that another bitterly anti-trans book in the name of “feminism” (The Transsexual Empire 2?) is being written at all, much less published by a reputable publisher of gender studies books, Routledge? I mean if it was Spinifex, I would be highly unsurprised, but Routledge?
Jeffreys wrote a sort of rebuttal to Kaveny’s piece complaining bitterly about Conway Hall’s decision to disallow her from speaking on the Rad Fem 2012 platform of scheduled speakers. See here. She particularly does not like us transgender activists spreading the word about Jeffreys vile work on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, as well as all over the Blogosphere. Jeffreys has the audacity to complain about this commendable action by Conway Hall as “censorship” and bemoans trans activists like myself for calling her out for her hatefulness. SHE IS HATEFUL! Sorry, but given that the kind of person she is talking about is my kind of person [trans folks], WE get to decide what is and is not hateful to us, not her privileged, cisgendered behind. And this is from a woman who has published eight books, is a Full Professor, and someone who has lectured around the globe? And yet she is claiming to be “censored”? Is this a joke? And you are going to make outlandish, outrageous, and deeply offensive claims about trans people and not expect to get any push-back and paint yourself as the victim? And you are going to frame yourself as contributing to a “debate” about transgenderism? Really??? And since this “debate” was to happen at Rad Fem 2012, how in the hell were transgender women going to take part in the debate given that we are officially banned from attending?!?
If Sheila Jeffreys had her way, gender confirmation surgery, hormone replacement therapy, puberty blockers, etc. would not even be available to transgender youth and adults as the necessary medical treatments that they are. She would, like her transphobic predecessor, Raymond, gleefully like to “morally mandate” the “problem” of transgenderism out of existence. Well, the good news is that it is not 1979 anymore. The trans community is exponentially more powerful than it was then, and the Internet has help to propel our activism like never before. I, of course, strongly support freedom of speech and freedom of expression. But frankly, that is neither here nor there in this case. Just as I do not want to roll out the red carpet for Klansmen and Neo-Nazis, nor do I want to aid and abet cis-supremacist Jeffreys from getting more and larger platforms from which to spread her transphobic vitriol. I hope that people continue to speak out against Jeffreys and use whatever power and agency they have to expose her dangerous bigotry and her attempts to negatively affect social policy regarding one of the most vulnerable and discriminated against groups in the world.