By Jeanne Neath
I am continually puzzled at how so many feminists and feminist groups and organizations whole-heartedly endorse the politics of “gender identity” and “inclusion” when trans and queer (TQ) activists have created a culture that promotes verbal and physical attacks on women.
Attacks on Women by TQ Activists
I was shocked earlier this year when I saw the saw the video and read the accounts of a male transactivist in Argentina physically attacking Ana Marcocavallo, a radical feminist who was trying to speak at a Ni Una Menos event on February 15th, 2019. Equally disturbing about this violent episode was the response of many in the audience. Before the attack, even before Ana began to speak, the audience chanted “kick her out.” After the male transactivist was pulled off Ana, the audience then chanted “trans resistance lives here.”
I guess I shouldn’t have been shocked because this is just one of a string of episodes where TQ activists have physically assaulted a feminist at a political event. Here in the U.S. last June (2018) two lesbians marching with a small group of old lesbian feminists were physically attacked at the San Franciso Dyke March. Here too, the crowd verbally assaulted the old lesbians, continually yelling slogans such as “TERFS go home.” Eventually, greatly frightened, the lesbians did manage to escape from the jeering crowd. One lesbian said afterward that she was more scared by this incident than when she had been “chased by police with machine guns in her home country.”
The TQ Culture Promoting Attacks on Women
There are many incidences of violence of a male to transgender (M2T) individual toward female targets, but the ones I’ve described are all very public incidences taking place where feminist activists are at a contested political event. These outcroppings of physical violence against women and lesbians by TQ activists may seem like isolated incidences. But, the physical violence of a few was supported by surrounding crowds of trans and queer, mostly young, people. This crowd support for physical violence is one terrible example of the culture promoting attacks on women that permeates TQ activism. I won’t describe that attack culture right now – most or maybe all of you are familiar with it anyway – but I will point out that the accusations of TERF, the t shirts saying “I punch TERFs,” transactivists training with weapons and posing and marching with bats, the silencing of feminists, the de-platformings, the “otherizing” of those who disagree with trans ideology, the death threats, are all part of this culture promoting attacks on women.
The TQ culture likewise damages the girls and women who join that culture. Lesbians are pressured into sexual encounters with M2T persons wanting validation for their claim to be Lesbian. Transitioning females are encouraged to harm their own bodies by breast binding, taking risky hormones, undergoing mastectomies of healthy breasts and surgery to remove reproductive organs (creating irreversible sterility).
And They Accuse Women of Hate Speech?
TQ activists and their supporters justify their attacks on women by claiming that those who question their claims to be the “other” sex are invalidating them and perpetuating hate toward trans people. The problem here is actually with trans ideology – no one can change their sex. Anyone who pretends that they have changed their sex cannot help but have an insecure sense of self that can never be validated. With its dependence on the concept of “gender identity,” a completely subjective “sense of being a man or a woman,” and its purposeful confusion of sex and gender, trans ideology cannot withstand critical thinking. Accusations of hate speech and hatred of trans people – “transphobia,” “transmisogyny” and so on – is the defense TQ activists have resorted to.
The accusations of hate and hate speech have actually been an offense and a very useful political ploy for transactivists. Everyone on the Left can understand that hatred of a minority group is wrong. The problem is that sound byte thinking does not work well in a complex situation where one minority group – trangender people – is claiming the identity of another minority – women – and is screaming “hate speech” over any criticism. Recently, one woman in a women’s/lesbian organization I belong to (that has a few trans members) claimed that just using the term “woman born woman” is hate speech. She said, “It is hurtful to some of our members … and is like using the ‘n’ word or ‘spic’.” Another woman said she couldn’t “support the WBW [women-born-women] having meetings … because of the anti-trans hate speech and public exclusion of some folks. What if WBW Nazis wanted to meet [here]?” These accusations of hate speech are not only used to justify attacks on women, but they are attacks on women and part of the TQ culture promoting attacks on women. Not long before the attack on Ana in Argentina, a left wing newspaper published this comment: “we will put you [radical feminists] on trial, just like we did with nazi genocides, and wherever you are, we will seek you out.” (see the final sentence in the original Pagina 12 article in spanish, quoted in english in Feminist Current.)
Some males who identify as transgender probably resisted socialization into the conspiracy of violence, but others did not. Those who joined the conspiracy of violence are trained dominators and and there is every reason to think they are dominating the direction of transactivism, hence creation of a culture promoting attacks on women. These males may not be lashing out when their “manhood” is shamed, but they certainly are when their “womanhood” is questioned.
Why the woman hating, threats and attacks against women? There are other ways that trans people could handle invalidation of a shaky self. Carol Gilligan and Naomi Snider in their book, Why Does Patriarchy Persist, describe a “conspiracy of violence” that many boys and men become part of during their socialization. These boys and men “turn away from relationship, turn women into objects, and lash out when their manhood is shamed or their vulnerability exposed.” Some males who identify as transgender probably resisted socialization into the conspiracy of violence, but others did not. Those who joined the conspiracy of violence are trained dominators and and there is every reason to think they are dominating the direction of transactivism, hence creation of a culture promoting attacks on women. These males may not be lashing out when their “manhood” is shamed, but they certainly are when their “womanhood” is questioned.
Why the unquestioning support for transgender ideology among so many feminists? Why are some feminists going beyond providing support to transgender people and whole-heartedly supporting the transgender movement and its TQ culture of attacks on women?
One of the chilling characteristics of trans ideology is its demand for complete agreement – otherwise you are transphobic or a transmisogynist, or maybe even a “TERF” and you deserve to die. In contrast, feminism has always been based in wildly diverse, highly contested points of view. It is therefore not surprising that some feminists think trans ideology is A-OK while others view the invasion of M2T persons into women’s spaces as a very real threat to women’s liberation. What is surprising is the close-mindedness and unwillingness to civilly discuss and debate differences of opinion about trans ideology by many feminists who subscribe to trans ideology.
It is possible to support trans people and advocate for specific trans rights, like freedom from job discrimination, without endorsing trans ideology and acquiescing to the ever-expanding demands of transactivists. Many radical feminists do this. However, many feminist trans supporters have abandoned critical thinking and are unwilling to see how harmful trans ideology is for women, including females who transition. (Others may be toeing the line established by transactivists in fear of TQ attacks.)
Still, women who have been true believers in the trans narrative do sometimes reach “peak trans,” the moment when they realize that there are problems with trans ideology. Alicia Hendley recently provided a very thoughtful description of how “I Supported Trans Ideology Until I Couldn’t Anymore.” Hendley had been one of those women vehemently defending trans ideology against any feminist (or other) criticism.
For Hendley, the first “tiny crack in my previously impenetrable armour” came when she learned about the behavior of the M2T person, JY, who filed human rights complaints against 16 Canadian women who refused to wax his male genitals and went on to brag about his predatory behavior toward young girls. Hendley was appalled when she learned that women discussing their concerns about JY’s behavior were banned from Twitter due to accusations that they were “misgendering” him. Hendley wrote, “How was it acceptable that those sounding the alarm about egregious actions were the ones being reprimanded?”
Then Hendley contacted Morgane Oger, the Vice President of the ruling party in British Columbia about her concerns about JY. Oger seemed concerned, but then commented that a recent event at the Vancouver Public Library on gender identity ideology and women’s rights was “like 1933 Berlin.” Hendley, whose husband and children are Jewish, found this simile to be extreme, especially coming from a well known representative of a political party. Hendley had reached her breaking point as a believer in trans ideology: “It was at that point — when I was told challenges to and questions about gender identity ideology in defense of women’s rights were equal to the lead up towards one of the worst genocides in human history — that I had my “WTF?” moment, and I began to tip.”
What inconsistency could be more dramatic for a feminist than the realization that the TQ movement she strongly supports has created a culture promoting attacks on women? I tested the waters by talking to a small group of women who are hard core believers in the trans narrative about the San Francisco Dyke March and the TQ culture of violence against women.
I have been part of an ongoing task force with these women at the women’s and lesbian center I mentioned earlier. At a meeting I pointed out that unreservedly supporting the trans movement meant support for a culture of violence against women and led to incidences like the physical attack and threatening crowd at the San Francisco Dyke March. The immediate response of many of the women was to say that the trans people they knew weren’t like that and to demand local examples of a TQ culture of violence against women. They tried to discount the local example some of us gave them (see the description of the de-platforming that took place in Fayetteville Arkansas at the Goddess Festival.) The conversation stayed relatively calm with some participants making an effort to hear each other.
One woman was apparently troubled enough by the discussion of the TQ culture of violence against women to do some research, but her research included only the trans propaganda about the SF Dyke March. She felt that the TQ activists who surrounded the old lesbian feminists were completely in the right because they were chanting slogans she agreed with like “transphobia’s got to go!” I don’t know if her one-sided research failed to uncover the words in other chants like “TERFs go home” or if she just doesn’t care that TQ activists are verbally and physically assaulting lesbians. She actually commented that there wasn’t a problem with the surrounding crowd chanting so long as the words of the chant expressed something she (and others) agreed with.
I don’t know if her one-sided research failed to uncover the words in other chants like “TERFs go home” or if she just doesn’t care that TQ activists are verbally and physically assaulting lesbians. She actually commented that there wasn’t a problem with the surrounding crowd chanting so long as the words of the chant expressed something she (and others) agreed with.
I count this encounter as a half success. The women who heard me talk about the TQ culture of violence against women were made aware, even if briefly, that there is a problem with unreservedly supporting the TQ movement. And the one woman was troubled enough by the inconsistency of being a feminist and a supporter of the TQ culture of violence to seek out trans propaganda in an attempt to justify her existing belief system. I haven’t (yet!) had the opportunity for follow up. I would like to present this woman with the actual words of some of the women attacked at the SF Dyke March and see if she is able to dismiss them.
Like much else in the trans movement, thinking about the TQ culture of attacks on women leaves me wondering: however do they get away with this? This is a social movement that seriously proposes that a person can be born in the wrong body! And then millions of other people take the idea seriously? This is a minority group whose male members are claiming the identity of another minority group, women! And liberals and progressives let them get away with this theft? Anyone other than a M2T person would be challenged for cultural appropriation. Look at what happened when the white woman, Rachel Dolezal, claimed to be Black! So maybe it isn’t that surprising that transactivists get away with threatening and attacking women.
There may be a relatively small number of trans extremists leading campaigns against “TERFs,” making rape or death threats, or physically attacking feminist activists, but many, many transgender and queer people join in and fully support the culture of attacks on women, as do so-called progressives and the feminist women I’ve focused on here. All of these groups of people are responsible for their own misogyny and the continuation of the TQ culture of attacks on women.
There is only one ethical choice available for trans supporters. They must take a stand to demand that the threats, the de-platformings, the name-calling, the campaigns against women-only spaces, the hostile crowds, and the verbal and physical attacks on women end immediately. Yes, support trans people and trans rights (where those rights are not harmful to women), but end the TQ threats and attacks on women.