“RadFems'” openly discriminate against the transgendered while clinging to a reactionary definition of sex
By Samantha Allen
Thursday, Jul 11, 2013
I’m an endangered species. Nearly half of people like me attempt suicide. Hundreds of us are murdered annually and, worldwide, that rate is only increasing. Those of us who have a job and a place to live often lose them both; too many of us can’t acquire either in the first place. What I am is a transgender woman, one of the lucky ones.
I’m lucky because I’m white, and because I have employment, housing and health insurance. I can’t get too comfortable, though, because every few days, a tragic headline reminds me of how fragile we are as a group: “Anti-Transgender Bathroom Bill Passes,” “Transgender Inmates At Risk,” “Transgender Woman Shot.” The world is not kind to us and the news never lets me forget that sobering fact.
In some bizarre alternate reality, however, I’m seen as a villain who invades “real” women’s spaces and perpetuates harmful gender stereotypes. A small but vocal band of activists known as “Radfems” see transgender women like myself as a blight on the feminist movement, but — because their views are not representative of the feminist movement as a whole — many trans*-inclusive feminists refer to them as TERFs, or Trans*-Exclusionary Radical Feminists.
The chief TERF figurehead is a Maryland attorney named Catherine Brennan who once served as a liaison on the American Bar Association’s Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. In July of 2012, a petition circulated to have Brennan removed from that position because, to put it mildly, she flatly rejected the “Gender Identity” half of her job description.
Apart from a sordid internet history of harassing, misgendering, and mocking trans* people, Brennan co-authored a letter with Elizabeth Hungerford to the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, to argue against — yes, against — legal protections based on “gender identity or expression.” In so doing, Brennan has effectively allied herself with those on the Right who viciously deter trans* folks’ attempts to secure employment, housing and safe public spaces.
Since vacating the American Bar Association liaison position, Brennan has continued to spread her anti-trans* viewpoints at the annual Radfem conference. Every year, the Radfems gather in a “women-only” space to promulgate their politics of exclusion. Every year, however, conference organizers find it even more difficult to book space as people begin to recognize the Radfems for what they are: a hate group.
See Jacobin for the original article: CounterPunch and the War on Transgender People
Original Counter Punch article: The Left Hand of Darkness
From Socialist Worker: http://socialistworker.org/2013/07/15/jacobin-needs-our-support
Jacobin needs our support
July 15, 2013
On July 10, the left-wing magazine Jacobin published an article by Samantha Allen titled “CounterPunch and the War on Transgender People,” which challenged a strand of radical feminism whose proponents, in Allen’s words, see a transgender woman as someone who “invades ‘real’ women’s spaces and perpetuates harmful gender stereotypes,” and who acts “as a blight on the feminist movement.”
In particular, Allen singled out Catherine Brennan as a leading proponent of trans-exclusive radical feminism–to the extent that Brennan has argued “against legal protections based on ‘gender identity or expression,'” according to Allen. Allen also cited the CounterPunch website for publishing an article by Julian Vigo that defended Brennan and condescendingly attacked transgender activists for daring to criticize those who consider them a “blight.”
Jacobin editorrecently announced that Brennan, in response to Allen’s article, has reportedly begun legal action against the magazine–and that Jacobin is raising funds for a legal defense. Here, we reprint his call to contribute to Jacobin’s legal defense–and hope SocialistWorker.org readers will support it.
This week we were pleased to publish a wonderful essay by Samantha Allen on “CounterPunch and the War on Transgender People.” It’s a moving piece that brings to life the type of discrimination that trans* people experience on a daily basis.
In the piece, Allen laments the fact that portions of the Left, including some self-described feminists, are still bullying this vulnerable population. What’s more, these reactionary voices are even finding outlets in some of our best publications, like CounterPunch. As Allen writes, “…pundits of both liberal and radical varieties can demonize us, ignore us, and question our legitimacy because they can get away with it.”
As is the case with many other issues–and largely due to a lack of time and resources–Jacobin hasn’t provided a very good counterweight to these tendencies. That’s why we were so proud to publish Allen’s piece, and it’s one of the many reasons we stand behind it without reservation.
But not everyone is so pleased with its publication. Catherine Brennan, whose views are critiqued in the essay as being transphobic, has instructed her lawyer David Diggs to prepare litigation against Jacobin magazine.
Any money raised in the next few weeks will be held in escrow and reserved for a long overdue legal defense fund. Our payment pages are all secure and encrypted, but for those who prefer they can donate via PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your generosity is vital and appreciated. It will help safeguard our writers and our publication and enable us to continue what I believe to be valuable work.
First published at Jacobin Magazine.