An open letter to the left regarding silence

The smearing, harassment, no-platforming, and silencing of women who express feminist opinions about gender and prostitution is unacceptable.

Cherry Smiley

I can’t remember the exact words, who said it or when, but the general message was: courage isn’t the lack of fear, but doing something even when you’re afraid. I am writing this with lots of fear about a backlash that will almost certainly happen. However, I’ve reached the point where I can’t stay silent any longer and need to muster whatever courage I can and do what I think is right, regardless of the cost.

This past week, a woman I’m proud to call a sister ally, Yuly Chan, was no-platformed by a small group of individuals who appointed themselves judge and jury of acceptable ideas and speech. They claimed Chan was a violent, hateful woman whose political opinions were too dangerous to be shared in a public venue and demanded she be removed from a panel scheduled as part of this weekend’s Vancouver Crossroads conference. Chan had been invited by conference organizers, the Vancouver District and Labour Council (VLDC), the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), and Organize BC, to speak on behalf of her group, the Chinatown Action Group. The Chinatown Action Group organizes to improve the lives of low-income residents of Vancouver’s Chinatown, many of whom are seniors. She was to speak to the incredibly important work of this group at the conference.

A recently-formed group called the Coalition Against Trans Antagonism (CATA) wrote a letter to the organizers, then an open letter that included a link to a website CATA had built, documenting supposed evidence of Chan as a threat to public safety. Although Chan was not speaking on the panel about debates around gender or prostitution, Organize BC members interrogated Chan about her politics regarding these issues and eventually refused to move ahead with the panel unless she was removed. Instead of condemning the unethical tactics and behaviour of CATA, intended to silence Chan and smear her as a hate-filled oppressor, the organizers cancelled the entire panel, sending a message that the organizers and their supporters were not willing to take a stand to ensure the needs of low-income Chinese residents were heard. As a result, the Chinatown Action Group was no-platformed right along with their representative.

CATA also demanded that the conference organizers issue a public apology for daring to invite Chan to speak about the activism of low-income Chinese residents of Vancouver. They also demanded that a policy be instituted with the guidance and approval of only “trans women and sex workers,” banning anyone “who promote[s] any form of oppressive, supremacist, and fascist ideology from being offered and/or provided a platform at any of VDLC, CUPE, and Organize BC’s future events.” But who decides which ideologies are “oppressive, supremacist, and fascist”? And why, in activist and academic circles, has it become common and acceptable to engage in witch hunts to rid “the community” (that is made up of whom?) of particular political positions that are grounded not in hate or violence, but in a radical feminist analysis (radical meaning “the root”)? Chan, and so many others who question and critique systems of power are being persecuted for having these feminist or critical politics. It is not violent oppressors, supremacists, or fascists that are being silenced and no-platformed in this case and others like it, it is feminists. There are limits, of course, to the idea of “free speech,” but what I am addressing is specifically discourse among activists and academics on the left.

Organize BC privately and publicly apologized to CATA for inviting Yuly Chan to speak on the panel. But I will not apologize for standing next to Chan and the Chinatown Action Group, and next to all people who have been no-platformed, threatened, intimidated, bullied, and even beaten for their political opinions.

What was Chan’s crime? Having a political analysis and sharing it. She is accused of promoting “SWERF/TERF” ideology. “SWERF” stands for “sex worker exclusionary radical feminist,” and “TERF” stands for “trans exclusionary radical feminist.” These terms are used as insults against women with a radical feminist or class analysis of prostitution and gender. “SWERFs” and “TERFs” are accused of hating, oppressing, harming, and sometimes even killing trans women and sex workers, despite the fact no feminist engages in these practices.

I am of the political opinion that prostitution is a form of male violence that should be abolished. I am also of the political opinion that gender is a social construct and hierarchy that traps and harms women and should also be abolished. Today, these two sentences are enough to mark me as a violent, hate-filled, supremacist/fascist, and have the ability to destroy my reputation, livelihood, and potential academic or employment opportunities now and in the future. I have already been passed over for some opportunities due to my political analysis of prostitution, asked to leave conferences, told I’m not allowed to speak about prostitution when invited to speak about Indigenous research, and threatened with police involvement. I have been intimidated and harassed due only to my politics, not my behaviour. These are only some examples of some of the backlash that I, and other women, have experienced for speaking our opinions. This backlash, however, doesn’t just include no-platforming, but also threats and acts of violence. To many, this may sound unbelievable, as though I am exaggerating. I wish this were the case. I wish I were exaggerating. Unfortunately, this is the reality of activist and academic circles in Canada and elsewhere.

Speaking of academia, in 2016 I was publicly accused online of being an oppressive “SWERF” and “TERF” by a former employee of the Centre for Gender Advocacy at Concordia University, where I am a student. This is the first time I am speaking publicly about this incident, as I have been too afraid to do so since it happened. Although this individual is no longer employed by the Centre for Gender Advocacy, going on instead to become the president of the Fédération des femmes du Québec (FFQ), this issue has not been resolved. In the public post, I was accused of oppressing sex workers and being “transphobic,” funders and the university were tagged, a quote was attributed to me that I never said, and individuals went on a hunt to dig up evidence of my supposed bigotry. One person attempted to publicly engage in discussion about these allegations against me, which I’m grateful for, but they were not heard. Some faculty members were concerned that a staff person at a student support organization was making these types of public allegations about a student and alerted some in positions of power at the University, but got little, if any, response. The manager of the Centre for Gender Advocacy was made aware of the situation, and I am not aware of anything that was or is being done to resolve and rectify the situation. No one has reached out to me to apologize for the online bullying I had experienced, or to speak about concerns or questions they had about my politics, leading me to believe this type of hostility is directed at me not only by one staff member, but the Centre for Gender Advocacy as an organization. I explored different options myself, but was unable to find a way to formally hold the individual and Centre to account. I attempted to find support at the University, but those I approached refused to speak out against the behaviour of the individual and the Centre.

Regardless of your politics, this behaviour is unacceptable. It is not ok to tell lies about people or subject them to political persecution over disagreements. It’s important to note that the Centre houses Missing Justice, an Indigenous solidarity group that hosts the march for murdered and disappeared Indigenous women and girls every year in Montreal. As an Indigenous woman who works on these issues, I was already alienated from Missing Justice when, a number of years ago, non-Indigenous organizers told me to stop speaking and attempted to literally grab a megaphone out of my hand when I was invited to make a statement at their gathering by another Indigenous speaker. My crime was a decolonizing and feminist critical analysis of prostitution and speaking out against men buying sexual access to Indigenous women and girls. In other words, my crime was having a political opinion that differed from the organizers. Rather than attempting to silence an Indigenous woman at an event supposedly held for Indigenous women, a better way forward would have been to publicly acknowledge at the event that my statement does not reflect the organizer’s politics and to encourage those in attendance to learn more about the issue.

Although this incident happened many years ago and the online bullying at Concordia happened two years ago, it continues to severely impact my life as a student in different ways. The message I received from the inaction by the University and the Centre for Gender Advocacy is that it is entirely acceptable to attempt to silence those who are critical of prostitution. I still hear this message today. I feel fear about publicizing these experiences. The very fact that I feel intensely afraid to speak about my own experiences speaks volumes about the climate of activism and academia today.

These incidents are bigger than Yuly Chan and bigger than myself. They have and continue to happen against women with a radical feminist analysis of prostitution and gender. Campaigns are launched against us to silence us, destroy our reputations, paint us as violent, hateful, and oppressive fascists. A 61-year-old woman was even physically assaulted by a young trans-identified male for daring to show up to attend a panel discussing gender and legislation in England.

Regardless of your perspective on prostitution or gender, you have a right to be heard. This means that I may not agree with you and I may challenge your ideas, and you may not agree with me and challenge my ideas, but you have a right to your political analysis and to share that publicly, as do I. Threatening women (for example, tweeting that “TERFS” should be raped or killed), destroying women’s reputations, and compromising women’s incomes is completely unacceptable behaviour. This is not how we build and maintain relationships. Relationships with political allies are incredibly important, but so too are the relationships between political adversaries. These relationships are much more difficult and challenging to navigate, but maintaining good relations means being respectful even to those we may disagree with or dislike. Being respectful can mean you passionately disagree, that you challenge ideas and behaviour — even that you express frustration or anger — but always recognizing the humanity of the person you disagree with. “SWERF” and “TERF” are made up categories of women — they are not accurate descriptors of anyone’s politics, certainly not the politics of feminists. These terms take away the ability of women to name ourselves and describe our own political positions – a situation all too familiar for Indigenous women.

Disagreement is not violence, and I worry about the impacts of the term “violence” being redefined to mean almost anything, rendering it meaningless. Causing offense is not the same as committing violence. Words that question or critique political positions are not violence. Words can call for violence, yes, but being critical of prostitution and gender is not calling for any type of violence. Rather, this is a legitimate critical analysis of systems that impact us all. Words and images can contribute to a culture that devalues some, and for many reasons, encourage, normalize, or passively accept acts of violence, but to say that making a statement others find offensive or that challenges their political analysis equates to literal violence right then and there is inaccurate, and is a means to silence those of us who hold critical feminist opinions. This new definition of “violence” also impacts women who do experience male violence, such as rape, physical assault, murder, or emotional abuse, to name just a few examples.

The name of the conference, “Crossroads,” speaks to our current culture, which silences women deemed dangerous. We are at a crossroads: we can choose to open up dialogue and encourage respectful disagreement and really work to hear from as many as we can who are impacted by an issue — even if the political position is unpopular — or we can choose to let only a few individuals decide that radical political opinions are dangerous, and allow them to dictate the terms of their and other people’s public engagement with those ideas; then silence, threaten, intimidate, and attempt to harm anyone who does not agree with their politics.

Doing nothing is no longer an option — staying silent only gives more power to those who wish to silence women with politics that differ from their own.

I stand with Yuly Chan, the Chinatown Action Group, and all women who have dared to speak up and share their critical perspectives on prostitution and gender. I’m proud to be considered a dangerous woman, as I try to be as dangerous to the patriarchy as possible. As women, we are trained to tolerate, accept, and accommodate patriarchy, racism, capitalism, and colonization.

Too often, activists and academics who claim to be working for justice choose to side with individuals who use bully tactics to shut women that they don’t agree with up. There is nothing new or progressive or inclusive or diverse about telling feminist women to shut up. A strategy grounded in recognizing another’s humanity would include engaging, debating, and disagreeing passionately and respectfully at public events or holding an event to highlight one’s own particular political analysis and engaging in public discussion and advocacy around the issue at hand. Silencing women considered dangerous for having thoughts and sharing them is not how we treat each other when we recognize each other as equals.

I encourage all dangerous women and allies to speak out against the no-platforming and assault on women who express radical feminist opinions or critical ideas about prostitution and gender.

Update 05/06/2018: I want to express my gratitude to those who support a woman’s right to speak and to disagree, but I also want to express my gratitude to the women who have spoken out before me and to those who support me and the right to academic freedom at Concordia and in academia and activist circles generally.

Cherry Smiley is a Nlaka’pamux and Diné feminist who refuses to be silent.

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  • Bev Jo

    Thank you so much for this courageous, excellent, needed article. Thank you for defending Yuly Chan. Know women all over the world support you both, but we are prevented from seeing our numbers because of censorship.

    I so much want to share on facebook, but I’m locked out for 30 days for mildly objecting to the San Francisco Public Library’s exhibit advocating women who say no to men posting as women be beaten to death.
    https://www.feministcurrent.com/2018/05/01/trans-activism-become-centered-justifying-violence-women-time-allies-speak/
    https://gendertrender.wordpress.com/2018/04/27/san-francisco-public-library-hosts-transgender-art-exhibit-featuring-weapons-intended-to-kill-feminists/

    With this level of censorship, the Feminist Current is more important than ever for women to find out the truth.

    • hyperjoy

      I’ve shared it, Bev Jo. Can’t wait to have you back.

      • Bev Jo

        Thank you so much!!! xoxox

  • Karla Gjini

    thank you so much for standing for women and sharing your thoughts and analysis with us.

  • Layla Alexandrovna

    Amazing letter. Thanks so much for your thoughtful and impassioned writing.

  • Melissaisasnob

    Disagreement is not violence, and I worry about the impacts of the term “violence” being redefined to mean almost anything, rendering it meaningless. Causing offense is not the same as committing violence. Words are not violence.

    On the internet, the word violence is already meaningless. Stay strong.

  • お茶

    Limiting only current sex workers to the debate on sex work is like limiting only employees of the tobacco industry to a debate on tobacco. We will only get half the story as very few will publically bite the hand that feeds them.

    • Melanie

      Exactly. A woman who’s been in prostitution can be impacted years down the track as far as health, mental health, personal and relationship problems, employment and financial security. These are the women we need to listen to the most because they have a much broader perspective and usually more clarity about the nature of this supposed ‘industry’.

  • LisB

    A truly wonderful letter. Thank you for the courage it took to write this. I know what you face will be more bullying and more violence aimed at feminists. We can only hope the actions by these small number of individuals we finally be seen for what they truly are:the embrace of patriarchy.

  • Hekate Jayne

    You are brave for speaking out, Cherry. I wish that I could actually do something to support you.

    From the post:
    “Threatening women (for example, tweeting that “TERFS” should be raped or killed), destroying women’s reputations, and compromising women’s incomes is completely unacceptable behaviour. This is not how we build and maintain relationships. Relationships with political allies are incredibly important, but so too are the relationships between political adversaries. These relationships are much more difficult and challenging to navigate, but maintaining good relations means being respectful even to those we may disagree with or dislike. Being respectful can mean you passionately disagree, that you challenge ideas and behaviour — even that you express frustration or anger — but always recognizing the humanity of the person you disagree with.”

    Unfortunately, males are not interested in building or maintaining relationships with us. Males have never recognized our humanity, either. At times they put on a good facade of treating us as human, but it is just a manipulation to keep our behavior under their control.

    Male government is aware of what trans males are doing and they are actively ignoring it. Expecting patriarchal systems to mitigate male violence directed at us never works because males need us to be in fear to keep us enslaved. And males are experts at creating fear.

  • acommentator

    “I encourage all dangerous women and allies to speak out against the no-platforming and assault on women who express radical feminist opinions or critical ideas about prostitution and gender.”

    And everybody else as well. No matter whether one is gender critical or not, sees oneself as a feminist ally or not, IMO no one should disagree with the points made by Ms. Smiley here.

    This all scares the heck out of me. Right up until the present almost everybody recognized that no one has all the answers. And that it is inevitable that people of good will, including highly intelligent people, will disagree on many things of vital importance. This is just human nature, it is not a sign of ignorance, or an evil mind. And the presence of divergent opinion was seen as both a cause and effect of freedom of thought and speech.
    I won’t describe the people Ms. Smiley discusses as “liberals” because there is nothing liberal about them. They don’t believe in liberalism. They do not value freedom of thought or freedom of speech. They appear to have little doubt that they are in possession of perfect knowledge of what is good and just, as well as complete confidence in how to implement it. And if their attitude becomes more widespread and influential, everybody will be in deep trouble, IMO.

  • Cassandra

    “There is nothing new or progressive or inclusive or diverse about telling feminist women to shut up.”

    Yup. This is it in a nutshell. People (mostly men) telling females to shut up. So much modern!

    Thank you for writing this, Ms. Smiley. I believe our numbers are growing.

  • Amazing letter, I can sense so much kindness and sincerity from you Cherry. I hope that those who disagree with you get the same take away.

    This smal quote from the letter – “always recognizing the humanity of the person you disagree with” – is powerful advice for all of us and I will definitely be reflecting it. Thank you!

  • Meghan Murphy

    Cherry is currently in grad school, so I think she would just like political support. I encourage all women and allies to speak out, in their own names, about this issue and against the silencing and harassment of women. The more of us who speak out, the less vulnerable we all are. Solidarity!

  • It seems that the organizing groups that set up and sponsored the Vancouver Crossroads conference were almost as interminably cowardly as the CATA was interminably perverse. How the hell (and CATA belongs in Dante’s 9th Circle) does a pathetically ludicrous and half ass “org” like this even get some hint of a hearing with a mainstream professional conference unless… unless it has the financial backing of billionaires, Big Pharma, the medical and psychological establishments, and, of course, the big guns of male supremacy behind it.

    As has been said so many times of late the mtf trans men are a maniacal version of the MRAs.

  • Ruth Barrett

    Thank you for sharing this post and for the courage to speak up for Yuly Chan who holds another view on these issues. The fact that the panel was cancelled due to this bullying, rather than standing for this woman who was invited, only adds to the voluntary suppression of other points of view – a dangerous direction pointing to fascism on the left that sadly mirrors the fascism on the far right. What an interesting and disturbing mirror. You are not alone, however, and we all must continue to speak out about silencing diverse points of view. This is America, not Gilliad – yet. http://www.femaleerasure.com

  • Jen Miller

    Jesus, this is appalling. The fact this blatant censorship is tolerated and encouraged by the mainstream left shows the left was never there for women in the first place – and that allowing our struggles to be captured by academia, government, mainstream media and non-feminist charities was a terrible mistake. I applaud your courage in speaking out.

  • Zoë Lafantaisie

    I’m so sorry you’ve been caught in the trans misogynist net Lucia. Sending you lots of love and support. Take good care of yourself and I hope you have some real life support. ♥️

    • yrba

      I agree. It’s transmisogyny in the truest sense of the word.

    • Lucia Fiero

      <3 <3 <3

  • Susan Wiseheart

    Thank you Cherry Smiley and Yuly Chan. There is a group of us in the Missouri Ozarks in full support of both of you. Here is the website three of us created with some of our story. xxamazons.org

  • Thank you for this. I’ve recently stepped inadvertently on the trans minefield simply by mentioning my 18-year support of Vancouver Rape Relief in context of a run for city council. Even at the much lower level of blowback I’ve received (no threats of violence – yet!), it’s been baffling and unnerving. It seems there are people out there who would de-fund and destroy an organization that helps hundreds of women and their children to escape violence, simply because of their policies and politics. And who feel that I have no right to serve my city due to these policies of another group I (gasp!) refuse to condemn and stop supporting. Maddening.

    I attended the Saturday Vancouver Crossroads event but hadn’t yet heard details of why the Friday seminar was cancelled. It’s horrifying. Your points about defining violence were spot-on.

    You have my total support, and let’s hope (a faint one perhaps) that rational, even heated, discussion, instead of hatemongering and mob rule, prevails in the end. I for one have just about given up trying to convince angry trans folk (a pointless task) but will focus on my support of those affected by their tactics. I’ll also write Crossroads to tell them how disappointed I am with their decision.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Sigh. This is all SO incredibly misguided, it’s hard even to get our heads around it. Attacking an organization that helps so many women and has helped women for so many years is just beyond appalling.

      Thank you so much for your support for women and for Vancouver Rape Relief.

    • Candice Smith

      HI Adam, best of luck to you! You have my support!

  • Alienigena

    A member of the executive at my university has her pronouns listed in her email signature. As far as I know she is a natal woman and her pronouns reflect this. I wonder if this is an example of considering yourself too cool for the rest of the plebs. Just pointless virtue signalling.

    • Eva Jasmena

      Good idea. May I include ‘Her royal Highness’ as my preferred pronoun to my signature? I’m still new at all of this, that’s why I’m asking.

    • Lucy Potato

      I’ve been in meetings where we were forced to declare our pronouns during introductions. Even though everyone in the room beyond the facilitator was like “Duh, it’s pretty fucking obvious we are all women.” Some people seem to be working from the premise that these kind of routines should become social convention.

      • Meghan Murphy

        Baaaaaarf

      • Elise

        I use I, me and mine when speaking of myself

  • Meghan Murphy

    Bashing the suffragists is beyond ignorant. Anyone who does so is only displaying their misogynist and/or their lack of knowledge of history. This was a HUGE and long fight for women. The vote was seen as such a radical and crazy thing to fight for, at the time, that even some feminists didn’t support it, because they thought it would make them look nuts, leading them to lose their other fights (around married women’s property laws and educational reform, for ex). There are very good lessons to learn from that time and that fight, that few seem to be learning, specifically because the left (and the third wave) have worked so hard to rewrite history, dissuade anyone from actually READING the history, and to generally paint suffragists are uptight, boring, conservative, racist prudes. It drives me insane.

    • Alienigena

      Suffragists in Canada (members of the famous five) were taking hits from the ‘holier than thou’ crowd in the late 1990’s when a play was performed in Calgary about one of them who was considered the most racist of the group, Emily Murphy, I think. Some of their activities, like involvement in the eugenics movement, were truly awful but this play was a way to cast aspersions on all acts of all suffragists. Funny that it took the same kind of people 20 years to complain about John A. McDonald’s policy of institutional racism around the treatment of indigenous people.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Well, what I think is interesting about how the ‘sufragettes are racist’ story is told is that they are accused of abandoning the fight for suffrage for black men in favour of suffrage for white women, when in fact it was black men (and some abolitionists/suffragists, like Lucy Stone) who abandoned women. The suffragists were insisting that both black men AND women get the vote, and when they discovered they were being left out of the 14th and 15th amendments, which guaranteed suffrage for black men, but not for black or white women, they separated from those groups. It was women — all women — who were abandoned, not black men. I have no idea how this story got twisted around so badly.

    (This is not to say there weren’t racist white suffragists, but to say that we reeeeally need to actually look back at history and see what really went on instead of just learning our ‘history’ from social media and the third wavers writing for mainstream/liberal media.)

  • Bev Jo

    I’m also working class and really agree that most Leftists I’ve known have been incredibly classist and even some longtime socialist feminists never seemed to have learned basic feminist politics against classism, but start spouting Marx if I mention classism.

    I agree about what else you said too, except that I think legalizing all drugs would help people in so many ways. My new article about how people suffering and dying are denied basic pain relief:

    https://bevjoradicallesbian.wordpress.com/2018/05/04/the-opioid-crisis-or-business-as-usual/

    I also have an article on classism, and am finishing a second one soon.

    • Yisheng Qingwa

      OMG, Bev Jo, I love you and I quote you all the time.

  • Bev Jo

    It really is the connection between men (“transwomen”) fetishizing women and Lesbians, and being into porn and sado-masochism. So of course they fetishize prostitution and have no understanding or concern for the girls and women suffering and dying.

  • I’m a detransitioner. Transition brings no objectively definable physical benefit, and it guarantees physical harm. I was told it was necessary, and it wasn’t. My life is a shambles now in realizing this. Thank you for speaking truth to power.

  • Alienigena

    Or including former drinkers with non- or never drinkers. The former category includes people who are very ill and who have only recently quit drinking (e.g. for a week in case of one study). Which explains all the claims that never drinkers are magically less healthy than drinkers. These types of studies never seem to account for other aspects of the person’s life, such as their diet, their overall health, other addictions, etc.

  • susannunes

    The male left has always been worthless when it comes to issues involving women. That is because these men worship the idiotic sexual revolution of the 1960s, which wasn’t “freedom” for women at all but instead freedom for men to use, abuse, and discard women like piles of trash. The pill made it harder for women to say no to abusive men. Then these same dudes came out for porn and prostitution for the same reason, all about sexual access. They have no use for women except as objects to use and abuse. They are the flip side of the male right.

  • Tobysgirl

    Yes, they would be construed as violence by some male who identifies as an egg.

  • Eva Jasmena

    The Chinese even have a derogatory name for western leftist elites now: bai zuo, or the white left. I think it quite appropriate. From my own experiences, the white left often hate whites including themselves more than non-whites do, with even non-whites taking pity and heaping ridicule on such self-flagellation on the part of such whites.

  • Meghan Murphy

    word

  • Tinfoil the Hat

    Oh God I miss Violet Socks so. fucking. much.

  • Tinfoil the Hat

    I wish you lived near me and we could meet for coffee and shore each other up.

  • Hanakai

    The NYT again today has another piece by its resident male pretending to be female. Here: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/09/opinion/britain-transgender-debate-caitlyn-jenner.html?WT.nav=opinion-c-col-right-region&action=click&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-right-region&pgtype=Homepage&region=opinion-c-col-right-region#commentsContainer

    Interestingly, the NYT today is posting comments critical of transgenderism and its ideology. While comments used to run 25-to-1 in favor of transgenderism (due to the NYT’s moderators censoring out comments unfavorable to trans insanity), it appears the tide is turning and more and more people are speaking out against the insanity of trans ideology. If you are so inclined, get over there and speak your piece.

    • One to Nothing

      Yes. Though they did not (yet) publish my (diplomatic and necessary) critique of the author’s glib smear of Elinor Burkett (while publishing my reply to someone else’s comment, not sure if they have a quota?!).

      • Hanakai

        In the past, the moderators rarely allowed comments critical of trans ideology. I noticed this time that the majority of the comments are coming down on the side of “sex cannot be changed, choosing an identity does not change the reality, transwomen are not women.” The more we speak the truth about trans ideology and practice, the more other women are encouraged to speak up.

  • One to Nothing

    This is exactly my question. I’m not the first to point out that all the battles on this topic seem to pit transwomen against *feminists*. Are transmen bullying AMAB men and saying their experiences of their gender are indistinguishable? Are transwomen confronting AMAB men about their transphobia? Why is it feminists/women who are constantly hectored over this, who, having been confined in gender oppression, are being told yet again what our gender is and means? (Rhetorical.)

  • One to Nothing

    This hits the nail on the head. Thank you. I will be citing it.

    Especially this:

    “Gender is a social construct and hierarchy that traps and harms women”—a reality which gets completely erased in transactivism, like it’s liberating to have an eyebrow treatment (whatever that is, even—I am thinking of an actual example).

    And this:
    “Too often, activists and academics who claim to be working for justice choose to side with individuals who use bully tactics to shut women that they don’t agree with up. There is nothing new or progressive or inclusive or diverse about telling feminist women to shut up.”

    Indeed. I am an academic who has experienced years of mobbing (like bullying but distinct) from my three male “peers.” The jump-cut from “shut up and lick his boots, he’s in charge of the narrative of your experience” to “shut up and lick her boots, she’s in charge of the narrative of your experience” is literally sickening.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Gambling is exploitative. Those who profit know they’re exploiting and hurting people. Of course, you could say the same about drug dealers…

    That said, I don’t believe drugs should be criminalized… I mean, what do you mean by ‘drugs’ anyway? Most people are addicted to prescription drugs. The drugs that are illegal aren’t necessarily inherently harmful/bad, but they’re dangerous because they’re street drugs. Addiction isn’t so much about the product as it is about past trauma, untreated mental health issues, etc.

    • Eva Jasmena

      I never said drugs should necessarily be criminalized. Just that if we are going to legalize drugs, then we should provide a self-exclusion option similar to what Singapore has for its casinos and then strictly enforce the self-exclusion policy. We could expand it to alcohol, nicotine, drugs, etc. Some addicts might not want easy access. Make it legal for the rest, but ban it for those who do not want easy access. It works reasonably well in Singapore for gambling, and I think some bars in some jurisdiction have tried it for alcohol too, though that has met with less success due to lack of enforcement like self-exclusion from Ontario’s casinos.

    • Tobysgirl

      And MONEY. In the Shetland islands, there was no drug problem (in my understanding — please correct me if I’m wrong) until there was lots of oil money. Here in these United States we have way too much money, way too much stuff, and way too much unhappiness, a lot of it due to too much money and stuff. I totally comprehend drug addiction when you are black or indigenous, live in a horrible neighborhood in substandard housing, and have few if any opportunities. However, the U.S.’s opioid epidemic is an epidemic because it is white and often middle-class people addicted to narcotics; we didn’t care when it was the urban poor using drugs.
      And it should always be noted that there are many very harmful prescription meds which ruin people’s health and are not narcotics. The MDs tell people that SSRI’s are not addictive; they ARE addictive and people must wean themselves off them slowly. Additionally, they ruin the gut which is where our enteric nervous systems are; this system runs our immune response, our heart rhythm, etc. And on and on and on. My only objection to narcotics for intractable pain is that they should be combined with cocaine, which is also a painkiller but permits people to be awake and engaged.

    • Alienigena

      “Most people are addicted to prescription drugs”

      I know you are referring to prescription pain medication but a lot of people take other prescription drugs that keep them alive and that have no ‘fun’ aspects except maybe, ‘keeping them alive’. You can talk about big pharma all you want but I don’t see the angry pot smoker in my neighborhood coming up with a cure for asthma (given that it is a complex disease with many different ways of manifesting). And the angry pot smoker believes (in the absence of real scientific evidence) that pot is a cure-all apparently even for those of use for whom smoke is a trigger for asthma. Ordinary people are not helping to treat my asthma they just busy demonizing all pharmaceuticals on the market and claiming (in case of my mother) that I could use over an counter herbal remedies to treat my severe asthma.

      • Meghan Murphy

        I didn’t say that to say I’m opposed to all prescription drugs. Just talking about addiction and the question of how legalization/criminalization impacts addiction.

  • Eva Jasmena

    You might enjoy this pertinent video:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IzNGkwGYE4E

  • Tobysgirl

    I’ve read the first essay — excellent though depressing. You might be interested in an assignment my sister had in high school: The students had to identify their families’ economic, social, and cultural class. We were economically working-class, socially middle-class (this meant subscribing to bourgeois values such as privacy and quiet), and culturally upper-class, which made us real oddballs in our working-class neighborhood. My grandmother had to go to work when she was 12 years old, but my mother got her first library card when she was three, and my grandmother went to the theatre, etc. (Back in the days when cultural events were not priced out of most people’s range.)
    And your comments about behavior! I am always judged as college-educated because I use standard grammar, but I do not behave as a well-trained female should — I am extremely intelligent and quick, and do not suffer fools gladly. I sent Meghan’s interview with McDonagh — the woman who was called transphobic, etc — to a local lefty trans supporter who wanted to have a class discussion group (and I know the trans supporter is a trust funder). I titled the email “why I do not want to have class discussions with the bourgeoisie” and she screamed at me via email about my discrimination against trans (because I do not want them in sex-segregated spaces). Ho hum.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Sure, I mean, I have no opposition to people ‘self-excluding’ if they want to, I was talking specifically about the question of legalizing drugs.

  • Meghan Murphy

    What alternate universe are you living in? Even the language of “sex work” has been totally mainstreamed. It’s unacceptable in mainstream feminism to criticize the pro sex work narrative or to support the Nordic model.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Criminalizing certain drugs doesn’t stop people from doing drugs… It certainly doesn’t curb addiction.

    • Eva Jasmena

      I can speak from my own personal experience as an addict. If we just legalized all drugs without any controls, Canada would soon look like China did soon after the opium wars with addiction running rampant in epidemic proportions across the country.

      I had a much easier time managing my gambling addiction when I lived far away from any gambling venue than when I lived near one. I also know that had Ontario enforced a semi-competent self-exclusion policy with actual ID scanners at the door and turned self-excluded people away at the door as they were supposed to, I could have learnt to manage my gambling problem much sooner than I had. In fact, I had to move to a smaller town away from a casino because their self-exclusion form wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on. Living farther away deterred me, but I had to live far away. Having to move to a smaller town farther away also limited my employment and other prospects as I was struggling to leave a trade I so desperately wanted to leave. There were more employment opportunities in the cities, but that’s where the casinos were too and they wouldn’t keep me out even though I was on a self-exclusion list.

      I’ve read stories of drug addicts wanting to go to jail so that they could get away from the drugs. I’ve even watched interviews with drug addicts expressing their happiness at being in jail because it freed them from the drugs. The people who want to legalize all drugs are not the addicts but the casual users who just want to be able to get their hands on their drugs of choice hassle-free. God forbid a business should hassle them by demanding that they scan their ID at the door. Oh my! Addicts want to keep the drugs (whether chemical drugs, gambling, or whatever) as far away from us as possible and as difficult-to-access as possible, not as easy to access as possible at every corner shop. Anyone who believes that a struggling addict wants easy access to her drug of choice has never experienced an addiction in her life.

      If we are to legalize drugs, then let’s improve the self-exclusion policy for casinos and expand it to other drugs. A seller should not be allowed to sell to a person who has asked to be excluded.

      • Meghan Murphy

        This, again, makes no sense because, a) most drugs are legal (i.e. perscription drugs, and b) drugs are very easy to get. It’s no more difficult to buy coke than it is to buy any other legal drug/medication. In fact it’s probably easier, since you don’t need a prescription.

        And you definitely don’t get away from drugs in prison… There are plenty of drugs in there…

        I don’t want to legalize drugs so I can get them easier. Again, it’s incredibly easy to buy drugs. I just think it’s ridiculous and nonsensical to criminalize certain drugs, but not others. Also, the reason things like heroin is so dangerous is because it’s a street drug, unregulated, and, as a result, full of fentynal.

  • Meghan Murphy

    You keep talking about gambling addiction, whereas I’m talking about legalizing drugs, which really has little to do with addiction. I lived with an addict for years, and his addiction was not rooted in availability (though surely lack of availability may have helped in the moment/temporarily). The drugs he was addicted to were so easy to get, despite not being legal, so I just don’t think there’s anything to the notion that addiction will be avoided if we make drugs illegal (or keep drugs illegal). Also, again, the drugs most people are addicted to are prescription drugs (i.e. legal drugs), not street drugs. I feel like you are wanting to have a different conversation than the one I am having though, because we don’t seem to be getting anywhere and you keep coming back to gambling…

  • Melanie

    There’s no such thing as a SWERF. It’s just a term invented to shut women up, including women who have been or are in the sex industry who don’t conform to a particular ideology. When you talk about ‘our’ experience you’re not talking about all women in prostitution. You’re only talking about the ones you agree with, who have a similar experience to you, who are usually the most privileged.

  • Julie Katz

    Actually, I think many of them are really misanthropes–they hate humanity in general, and they hate themselves for being human instead of something more perfect. They are men who are angry they are not gods and that no one worships them for their insight. The rabid SJW type leftist is trying to maintain a place within what Emerson called a “community of opinion” when he dressed those who belong to them and their opinions as hobgoblins of little minds. We call them bubbles now, but the virtue signaling is part of maintaining membership among those who would like to see humanity fail and be annihilated, not an actually deeply held belief. The fact that they end up dwelling among a subset of the left instead of the right is an accident of birth, geography, and most likely wherever they ended up most successful finding women willing to have sex with them.

  • Helen

    Just wanted to thank the author, but also everyone commenting – what a fabulous collection of women (and man). I’ve learned so much just from reading the comments! The treatment of women in the trans debate burst my comfortable lib fem bubble a while ago, and there’s no way back. Solidarity!