A Statement of Trans-Inclusive Feminism and Womanism

Feminism is and must be a home for trans women, in solidarity with trans rights. In response to transphobia in feminism, almost 100 activists, writers, artists and academics from across the globe signed this statement.

Author: has written 5281 posts for this blog.

Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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136 Responses

  1. GallingGalla
    GallingGalla September 16, 2013 at 5:58 pm |

    This is a good statement. I’m pessimistic, though, that it will have much impact on societal attitudes or even attitudes amongst feminists.

    1. Karak
      Karak September 16, 2013 at 10:41 pm |

      I see your point, but I am also willing to beat my head against that wall till it comes down or I die trying.

      Some hills are worth holding.

  2. Timmy Twinkles
    Timmy Twinkles September 16, 2013 at 8:18 pm |

    [deleted because off-topic, please resubmit your comment on the #spillover thread ~ mods]

  3. Kathy
    Kathy September 16, 2013 at 8:47 pm |

    I signal boosted the link to Twitter and Tumblr, but I’m neither an academic, nor am I an activist in any concrete way, and I only have a small, personal blog. Can anyone sign the statement?

    1. EG
      EG September 16, 2013 at 9:16 pm |

      Not that I know anything or anything, but I’d say that if you’re commenting here, you are somebody helps make feminist “discourse and action,” as they say, so why not?

    2. SkyTracer
      SkyTracer September 16, 2013 at 10:30 pm |

      You might want to email your question to the address shared in this comment.

  4. DannyChameleon
    DannyChameleon September 16, 2013 at 8:56 pm |

    It’s sad that this even needs to be said.

  5. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune September 16, 2013 at 11:34 pm |

    A good step. Here’s hoping this thread doesn’t devolve into crap. FWIW I’d sign the thing, but seriously, 90% of my blog is fandom, so it’s not like I’m anyone.

    1. EG
      EG September 16, 2013 at 11:37 pm |

      I will force anybody who tries devolve this thread into shit to step on myriad legos…

      Nope, that isn’t at all satisfying…

    2. Donna L
      Donna L September 17, 2013 at 8:35 am |

      Mac, if you want to sign, just send an email, and I have no doubt your name will be added.

      Besides, you would represent Canada! — There are signatories from 13 countries so far, but not one from Canada yet!

      1. Andie
        Andie September 17, 2013 at 8:38 pm |

        I signed. Maybe they didn’t add me. Most of my blog is random shit, with some feminism, so there’s that. Mac you and I can be team obscure canada.

  6. Donna L
    Donna L September 17, 2013 at 12:04 am |

    Thank you so much for blogging about this, Jill. And for signing it!

    I think it’s very important for feminists and womanists — especially cis feminists and womanists — to start speaking up collectively in support of trans people in general and trans women in particular, and specifically in support of trans-inclusive feminism. It’s never been done before, so far as I know, not collectively.

    Galla, look at it this way: The collective transphobic statement by feminist activists, writers, academics, etc., that came out a month ago? 37 signatures; five countries.

    This statement? 150 signatures from a dozen countries, and rising — 50 of them added in the first six hours after this went public at 4 pm EST today. This is a link to a new post listing the additional signatories who signed on today: http://tinyurl.com/pmrf7ox

    The great silent trans-inclusive feminist majority speaks!

    I will also say this: two regular commenters here were among the three originators, authors, and organizers of this statement, and the blog where it appears. One of them was me — although I didn’t sign the statement, because I’m not in a position to be out that widely under my real name. (Besides, I’m not an academic, educator, writer, blogger, or artist!) The other person I won’t presume to name, although some of you could probably hazard a guess — it’s someone who’s been a steadfast ally to trans people ever since I’ve been here.

    1. DannyChameleon
      DannyChameleon September 17, 2013 at 12:18 am |

      Donna (and everyone else involved really), never stop being awesome!

    2. GallingGalla
      GallingGalla September 17, 2013 at 9:35 am |

      Galla, look at it this way: The collective transphobic statement by feminist activists, writers, academics, etc., that came out a month ago? 37 signatures; five countries.

      This statement? 150 signatures from a dozen countries, and rising — 50 of them added in the first six hours after this went public at 4 pm EST today. This is a link to a new post listing the additional signatories who signed on today: http://tinyurl.com/pmrf7ox

      Yeah, I guess that within feminism, the TERFs are fighting a rearguard action and slow-w-w-ly losing, and they are being very vocal because they see the tide turning against them. I suppose that my recent experience of being detained at the airport for daring to fly while trans, as well as the recent murders of trans women in Philadelphia (Diamond Williams and Kyra Cordova) has left a bitter taste in my mouth, and I wish that that turning tide would reach society in general.

    3. magistra
      magistra September 19, 2013 at 9:50 am |

      Donna,

      I appreciate you probably don’t want to link to it, but would it be possible to provide a more precise reference for the earlier transphobic statement, so that I could find it on the web? I’d like to know who signed up to it, so I can be aware of their transphobia if I come across any of their other academic work on gender, and so if I blog about trans-inclusivity I can talk more about the problems specifically in academia.

      Thank you

      1. Donna L
        Donna L September 19, 2013 at 10:16 am |

        You will find links to the “37 Transphobes” statement, as well as the earlier anonymous statement purportedly signed by transphobic feminist academics, as hyperlinks within the Statement of Trans-Inclusive Feminism and Womanism itself.

  7. Kyosuke
    Kyosuke September 17, 2013 at 5:32 am |

    I’ve asked to sign. My work at my US grad school (even while in Japan) at a women’s university probably would have qualified me, but I decided not to name my institution. Instead, I think the fact Jezebel has published 14 of my articles on its main page, mostly on trans issues in feminism, probably makes me a “feminist blogger” at this point.

    1. Donna L
      Donna L September 17, 2013 at 10:17 am |

      Thanks! About 60 additional people (including you) have asked to sign on since I went to sleep last night, and we will try to do a new post listing all of them by the end of the evening tonight.

      The total, with these additions, will be well over 200, so the support has more than doubled in less than 24 hours.

  8. Matthew
    Matthew September 17, 2013 at 6:26 am |

    Excellent, excellent!

  9. Angel H.
    Angel H. September 17, 2013 at 8:15 am |

    I actually got a little choked up…

    This is just awesome.

  10. 30ish
    30ish September 17, 2013 at 8:31 am |

    I’m happy to see this statement & and hope that there will be many more signatures. Wanting to educate myself more on this issue (I’m a cis woman and have only done limited reading on this so far), I read some of the links posted here and also the transphobic statement. Even though I knew there was a lot of transphobia in the radical feminist sphere, I admit I was still a bit shocked to see the degree of it and the outright hatred they express. It’s just so, so appalling for radfems to claim that they are being silenced by trans women criticizing them and asking for inclusion. This turning of the oppressed into the oppressors – and likening trans womens’ demands to be included to men’s rights activitists’ demands – is absolutely sickening. Thanks to everyone putting in the work to make feminism more friendly for trans women (and men).

  11. Donna L
    Donna L September 17, 2013 at 10:19 am |

    Meanwhile, the TERFS are already dismissing this as “liberal feminist lies,” and demanding proof, with citations, of their own violent rhetoric. Please.

    1. roro80
      roro80 September 17, 2013 at 11:28 am |

      “liberal feminist lies”

      …when you’re taking your rhetoric straight out of the Republican playbook, you know your movement has derailed. I mean, do they think a bunch of proudly liberal, proudly feminist people are going to think “liberal feminist” is some sort of insult? The request for proof with citation verges on comical, considering the statement itself cites some recent, prominent proof quite explicitly. Please indeed.

      1. EG
        EG September 17, 2013 at 1:16 pm |

        Oh, I take offense! I’m a leftist, not a liberal!

        Fortunately, TERFs have a long record of misidentifying people.

        1. roro80
          roro80 September 17, 2013 at 4:13 pm |

          Ah, my apologies, then. I suppose I prefer the term “progressive” to “liberal” myself, but eh.

        2. Kyosuke
          Kyosuke September 17, 2013 at 5:15 pm |

          Likewise. Liberal for me when talking about feminist movements means economic parity largely gained through legal action.

          I’m an intersectional feminist with womanist leanings.

        3. EG
          EG September 17, 2013 at 6:30 pm |

          Don’t apologize–I was joking! I mean, yes, I describe myself as a leftist rather than a liberal, but I don’t actually take offense! It was mock-outrage, really.

  12. Donna L
    Donna L September 17, 2013 at 2:41 pm |

    The great and powerful Cathy Brennan has spoken, and this is what she has proclaimed:


    Pegasus ‏@PegasusBug 3h

    Feminists Fighting Transphobia http://wp.me/p2HgjD-zA We shall refer to this group as Men and Women for Homophobia and Lesbian Hatred.

    Right, because we all hate gay and lesbian people so very much. That’s what this is about.

    1. Echo Zen
      Echo Zen September 17, 2013 at 3:22 pm |

      “We shall refer to this group as Men and Women for Homophobia and Lesbian Hatred.”

      Huh?

      1. Donna L
        Donna L September 17, 2013 at 3:29 pm |

        The theory, of course, is that any cis woman who thinks that trans women are in fact, women, is (1) lesbophobic, (2) suffering from false consciousness, (3) delusional, (4) suffering from Stockholm Syndrom, (5) a handmaiden of the patriarchy, or (6), all of the above. Because it’s obviously completely impossible that a single one of the 200 or so self-identified cis women who have expressed support, could possibly have reached a conclusion different from Ms. Brennan’s a result of an actual intelligent thought process.

        Also, too: she has further opined that all the signatories are — by the very fact of signing — narcissists.

        1. GallingGalla
          GallingGalla September 17, 2013 at 3:57 pm |

          And also that trans* women are supposedly “men”, hence the “Men and Women” in Brennan’s made-up title.

        2. DannyChameleon
          DannyChameleon September 19, 2013 at 12:19 pm |

          (2) suffering from false consciousness

          = I am capable of making a choice for myself, but you are not. Because I say so.

    2. roro80
      roro80 September 17, 2013 at 4:10 pm |

      Ugh. Cathy Brennan is the worst. Not only does being a cis person supportive of trans* activism not lead in any logical manner to hatred of lesbians, but I quite honestly don’t know of any trans*-supportive cis people who are not also extremely supportive of LGB rights as well. Like, not a single one. I truly don’t get where she’s coming from. I’m not going to worry about not getting it too much, because, as stated, she is the worst.

      1. EG
        EG September 17, 2013 at 4:20 pm |

        I think she has this bizarre fantasy that by supporting trans women’s right to live as they women they are, we’re going to force her to sleep with them or something. It’s…really quite…something.

        1. TMK
          TMK September 17, 2013 at 4:35 pm |

          Ah, so THATs Brennans thought process. I was somewhat confused here.

        2. roro80
          roro80 September 17, 2013 at 5:15 pm |

          Ooohhh…so she’s having a constant trans-panic thing going on? Like she might accidentally sleep with a “man” if she isn’t given explicit genital history of every woman in the world? Jesus. What an asshole.

        3. Donna L
          Donna L September 17, 2013 at 6:54 pm |

          Not so much accidentally; the theory is, basically, that trans women — who are men or, at best, “male to constructed females” — are, because they are men, inherently violent and prone to rape. Either with their original anatomy, or, if they’ve had genital surgery, by failing to disclose that their vaginas (which, of course, aren’t really vaginas but are variously referred to as “fuckholes,” “second assholes,” and “surgical wounds”) aren’t original.

        4. roro80
          roro80 September 17, 2013 at 7:09 pm |

          Good god, that’s even worse.

      2. DannyChameleon
        DannyChameleon September 17, 2013 at 4:30 pm |

        Well, this is a person who sees trans activism as men’s rights activism. I’m not sure logic enters the picture here.

    3. Alcharisi
      Alcharisi September 17, 2013 at 4:41 pm |

      Oh, joy. Now I get to be both a self-hating Jew AND a self-hating dyke.

    4. PrettyAmiable
      PrettyAmiable September 17, 2013 at 5:17 pm |

      CN for transphobia:

      Jill Filopovic, who famously told lesbians they are bigots for not accepting penis as female.

      Just to clarify, if I’m straight and I am not transphobic, am I still a bigot? Would like Jill, the apparent arbiter of bigotry, to weigh in.

    5. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune September 17, 2013 at 6:30 pm |

      Well, that’s disgusting.

      Also, I wonder what the hell BugBrennan (hey, she said it, not me) would make of me. Am I homophobic or lesbophobic? MRA or trans? O_O so confused.

    6. Aydan
      Aydan September 17, 2013 at 9:58 pm |

      We shall refer to this group as Men and Women for Homophobia and Lesbian Hatred.

      How very Orwellian of her.

    7. shfree
      shfree September 17, 2013 at 10:04 pm |

      What an ugly, ugly human being. I mean, there are large swaths of people I dislike, but that is because they got their hate on first, like the TERFs. And it is always because of what they do, not because of who they are.

      1. Donna L
        Donna L September 18, 2013 at 7:43 am |

        I am beginning to think that every time she or some other TERF tweets something unpleasant, another person signs on to the Trans-Inclusive Feminism/Womanism statement! She serves as one of the statement’s best recruiters.

  13. Ally S
    Ally S September 17, 2013 at 7:08 pm |

    Awesome. I’m glad you and many other feminists signed that statement.

  14. BroadBlogs
    BroadBlogs September 17, 2013 at 7:58 pm |

    So important for everyone who cares about the worth and dignity of each individual to join together.

  15. Disemvoweled: Out of Ignorance
    Disemvoweled: Out of Ignorance September 17, 2013 at 8:43 pm |

    the head of a giraffe against a bright blue sky: its mouth is pursed sideways
    Wht s th fmnst dfntn f “wmn”?

    [this comment has been disemvowelled by a moderator, because we see what you're doing there]

  16. Donna L
    Donna L September 17, 2013 at 11:14 pm |

    A new post just went up with today’s additional signatures: http://tinyurl.com/nsb6s7h

    The total number of new signatures today was 230 additional individuals, and 9 additional organizations. The grand total as of 10 pm EST today: 383 individuals, 17 organizations. So, exactly 400! (300 of them since we went public yesterday at 4 pm.)

    There’s also a link to the new post at the bottom of the original statement and list of signatories.

    There’s at least one new signatory some of you have probably heard of: the writer Tamora Pierce.

    1. shfree
      shfree September 17, 2013 at 11:34 pm |

      Woo! My daughter LOVES Tamora Pierce’s books. They are good YA fantasy books with female protagonists, for anyone not in the know.

    2. H-naught
      H-naught September 17, 2013 at 11:36 pm |

      That’s awesome! Well, everything about this statement but also that Tamora Pierce signed – she was one of favorite authors in middle/high school and one of the authors who got me into scifi/fantasy.

    3. Willemina
      Willemina September 18, 2013 at 12:31 am |

      Yay Tamora Pierce! Loved her Song of the Lioness series when I was younger.

    4. Donna L
      Donna L September 18, 2013 at 1:04 am |

      Also: 26 different countries represented now. With several from Canada — who could easily include Mac and Andie, for all I know! I hope so.

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune September 18, 2013 at 1:07 am |

        >_> Eep, not yet. Still not sure if I want to be “out” that much.

        1. Donna L
          Donna L September 18, 2013 at 1:48 am |

          Keep in mind that pseudonyms are OK for people not in a position to use their real names.

        2. Donna L
          Donna L September 18, 2013 at 2:06 am |

          Obviously, I’m not trying to suggest that you “ought” to sign if you’re reluctant for any reason. Hey, I didn’t sign, for some of the same reasons you’ve expressed, and I wrote part of it!

        3. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune September 18, 2013 at 2:36 pm |

          >_> OK, I did it. *grin*

    5. tigtog
      tigtog September 18, 2013 at 5:17 am | *

      I *still* don’t appear to be on it. There must be some gremlin sabotaging communications/data-entry on this for me.

      1. Donna L
        Donna L September 18, 2013 at 7:21 am |

        Hmmm. I don’t remember any email from you?

        1. tigtog
          tigtog September 18, 2013 at 7:30 am | *

          I was approached by one of the other coordinators last week. It’s all been fixed now, apparently.

      2. Donna L
        Donna L September 18, 2013 at 2:14 pm |

        OK, you’ve definitely been added. You ruined the round number, though — with you, it’s 401 signatories, not 400!

        1. tigtog
          tigtog September 18, 2013 at 6:24 pm | *

          Thanks for checking, Donna. It still doesn’t say that I’m “aka tigtog” though, and it also says I’m from New Zealand, which I’m not. The gremlins appear to still be having their fun with me!

          “Viv Smythe aka tigtog (writer and blogger, Sydney Australia)”

        2. Donna L
          Donna L September 18, 2013 at 10:24 pm |

          Ugh. Sorry; it will be fixed.

        3. Donna L
          Donna L September 18, 2013 at 10:27 pm |
        4. tigtog
          tigtog September 18, 2013 at 11:59 pm | *

          Thanks!

    6. number9
      number9 September 19, 2013 at 9:37 am |

      This is awesome! The whole thing is amazing and outstanding to begin with. But I’m pleased to see that so many really cool genre writers I enjoy also signed it (I also see Catherynne Valente, Lauren Beukes, and Jo Walton)! It’s nice to see people whose work I love do the right thing and take a stand!

    7. thinksnake
      thinksnake September 19, 2013 at 7:09 pm |

      I’ve sent a link to the statement to Kate Elliott’s tumblr askbox, since my impression of her awesome work is that she’d be right at home in this list of signatories.

      1. Donna L
        Donna L September 19, 2013 at 7:22 pm |

        Kate Elliott is already one of the signatories! (See Update # 1.)

        I’m very happy to see the large number of well-known sf/fantasy writers who’ve signed.

        The loathsome Cathy Brennan noticed that too; this was one of her many repulsive comments on twitter and elsewhere regarding the Statement:


        It’s no wonder many of these signers are into science fiction – – it is science fiction to think penis is female

        Of course!

        1. thinksnake
          thinksnake September 19, 2013 at 11:32 pm |

          Somehow I’d missed that. Yay!

          Ugh Cathy Brennan Ugh. Didn’t she get banned from twitter? Or did I dream that?

        2. Donna L
          Donna L September 19, 2013 at 11:48 pm |

          She got banned under one name (or more), and simply came back under another one.

  17. GallingGalla
    GallingGalla September 18, 2013 at 2:26 pm |

    I want to apologize for my negativity on this thread. This statement and its large list of signatories is an outstanding effort, and puts the lie to TERFs’ claim of legitimacy, and to their bigotry. I’m sorry for diminishing that effort.

    1. EG
      EG September 18, 2013 at 3:17 pm |

      I don’t think you have anything to apologize for. Your negativity is the result of decades upon decades of transphobia. It’s all too often the realistic response.

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune September 18, 2013 at 3:21 pm |

        Yep yep. Optimism’s a luxury sometimes.

  18. Tim
    Tim September 18, 2013 at 4:54 pm |

    It seems like this was going on in the early 90s. Back then, it was women’s music festivals that decided to exclude trans women, i.e., only “women-born women” were to be allowed admission. There was a big blowup, a lot of publicity and pressure against the festivals. There eventually were meetings and negotiations and the festivals opened up to all women.

    I would have hoped we had moved on, but apparently these battles have to be refought over several generations.

    1. Donna L
      Donna L September 18, 2013 at 5:35 pm |

      It seems like this was going on in the early 90s. Back then, it was women’s music festivals that decided to exclude trans women, i.e., only “women-born women” were to be allowed admission. There was a big blowup, a lot of publicity and pressure against the festivals. There eventually were meetings and negotiations and the festivals opened up to all women.

      You’re kidding, right? Exclusion of trans women from the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival may be only a tiny sliver of the entire universe of transphobia, and its importance as an issue over the last 20+ years has been more symbolic than anything else (in my opinion), but the MWMF certainly hasn’t ever opened up to all women!

      1. Tim
        Tim September 19, 2013 at 12:57 pm |

        Donna, my sincere apologies both for being factually wrong about the MWMF and for the trivializing or minimizing of transphobia by making more of that aspect than it deserved.

        As to the first, I followed the MWMF controversy in some detail back when — as I said, mostly in the 90s, and mostly in the “gay” press and actually thought I remembered reading that they had become more inclusive and then I lost track of the issue.

        And the second, I realized after I commented that it could probably sound sort of trivializing. I didn’t return to look at this and see your reply until late last night and was really tired and didn’t want to try to write any kind of reply under those conditions.

        What I was trying to get at in my OC was, well … what was I trying to get at, exactly? I guess just the discouragement and dismay at seeing issues that people have worked so hard on for so long boil up yet again into backlash. And obviously, trans people are in the center of this as targets and I am not trying to say poor me. I’m baffled by these TERF people and I should probably go back to doing more reading on the topic rather than commenting quite as much.

  19. Donna L
    Donna L September 18, 2013 at 10:28 pm |

    The total is now 537, although the post with the most recent 137 has not yet been put up. But I am given to understand that both Rebecca Watson and Skepchick have now signed on. Which is very cool.

    1. Donna L
      Donna L September 18, 2013 at 11:05 pm |

      Actually, it’s 538, and here’s a link to the new post:

      http://tinyurl.com/l45rbum

    2. Ally S
      Ally S September 18, 2013 at 11:15 pm |

      That’s wonderful. I’d love to sign the statement as well, but I don’t write much anymore, and a lot of it is just about my own life. And I wouldn’t know what pseudonym to pick. Oh well.

      1. Donna L
        Donna L September 19, 2013 at 2:03 am |

        What people are doing who want to express support in a personal capacity (under any name they choose), and say as much or as little as they want about themselves or their thoughts about the statement, is to go to the comments at the bottom of the original statement, and express support there, rather than asking to be included in the “official” list, which is more for people who want to be included in a professional capacity.

        Just a suggestion!

        1. number9
          number9 September 19, 2013 at 10:52 am |

          That’s a great tip, Donna. I don’t have an online presence and I’m out of academia, but I’d love to be able to support the statement. Heading over there now!

        2. afb1221
          afb1221 September 19, 2013 at 5:37 pm |

          done! thanks!

        3. Ally S
          Ally S September 19, 2013 at 5:49 pm |

          All right, I did it. I used my full name because technically it isn’t my legal one.

        4. Donna L
          Donna L September 19, 2013 at 5:57 pm |

          I see your comment, Ally! Thank you. I don’t know what names number9 and afb1221 used — and I’m not asking! — but if you submitted them, I think they are probably up by now.

        5. afb1221
          afb1221 September 19, 2013 at 8:05 pm |

          Thanks so much! I’m there

  20. Donna L
    Donna L September 19, 2013 at 12:45 pm |

    Zombie Janice Raymond has crawled out of the grave in which her ideology should have been buried decades ago:

    http://genderidentitywatch.com/2013/09/19/janice-raymond-norway-2/

    And you will all be pleased to know that her views on “mutilation,” and her citations to Johns Hopkins having closed its gender identity clinic more than 30 years ago — as if it had happened last week! — haven’t changed a bit.

    1. EG
      EG September 19, 2013 at 1:37 pm |

      She would be a joke if she weren’t so harmful. Thirty years and she hasn’t done any new research? If I were she, I would be ashamed of that, even if nothing else.

  21. Denise Winters
    Denise Winters September 20, 2013 at 7:29 pm |

    I am glad to see this statement and the large number of signatories and nations represented.

  22. Donna L
    Donna L September 21, 2013 at 12:35 am |

    We’re up to 650: http://tinyurl.com/k9675w9

  23. LotusBecca
    LotusBecca September 22, 2013 at 3:26 pm |

    Yawn. I know some of the signers are trans, but a lot of them are cis, too. And I know that as a trans woman, I probably will be expected to be “grateful” for and laudatory of this meaningless symbolic gesture. Well, Jill (and every other cis person who signed this), your view of trans people is simply not relevant. I couldn’t care less. How about this for progress–learn to shut up and not share your opinions about trans folks?

    And if y’all are going to state an opinion, at least make it interesting. It doesn’t take any courage to call out Sheila Jeffreys or trans women getting murdered. What about the systemic oppression that cis people perpetuate against trans folks since the day we are born, oppression that has gone on for hundreds of years? Maybe focus on that and your individual role in that. When was the last time you hired a trans woman for a job, gave her a place to live, or paid for her medical care? Ever? Also, isn’t it true that you gender people you don’t know on a daily basis just based off their appearance (including gendering pre-verbal babies. The brainwashing process starts young). Basically, you’re a lot more complicit in my oppression than you think. It really is pretty galling to me when y’all paint yourself as the good guys, in a position to benevolently offer trans folks inclusion in exchange for cookies.

    So get your shit together, walk the walk, and afterwards begin signing meaningless letters. The signing meaningless letters part should be the last step of the process–not the first and only step.

    1. EG
      EG September 23, 2013 at 12:09 am |

      Becca, as one of the people who helped make this statement happen, I can assure you that nobody who wrote it, posted it, or sought signatories for it cares about or expects your gratitude. Feel however you wish, but do know that your gratitude or lack thereof is completely immaterial to the people who put it together.

      If it’s meaningless to you, it’s meaningless to you, and that’s fine.
      The only part of your response I would ask you to reconsider is this:

      Why do you suppose, or, rather, assume that signing the statement has been the cis signatories’ “first and only” step in working for trans rights and acceptance in feminism, rather than an organized public declaration of work they have been doing for years?

      Of course, I cannot claim to know all 600+ of the signatories. But I do know several cis signatories personally. The cis signatories I know have provided emotional and sometimes material support to trans friends and partners during their struggles; they have indeed hired and employed trans people; they have edited and published trans people’s writing; they have worked and fought to make their campuses, classrooms, and programs/departments trans-supportive; they have worked to make conventions they organize trans-inclusive. They have done these things in the face of no small resistance. And you do not owe them gratitude. But you do not have the right to erase their work, either.

      Do not make the mistake of assuming that if you personally do not know about something, it is not happening. It is a strangely solipsistic attitude to take.

      As for “learn to shut up and not share your opinions about trans folks”–Becca, silence is not solidarity. Silence is not support. Silence is tacit acceptance of the status quo. As a cis signatory myself, remaining silent means allowing TERFs to speak for “feminism.” I prefer not to. And while my signature may represent the first time my support of trans people, trans rights, and trans-inclusive feminism has come to your attention, at least under my actual name, it does not represent the first step I have taken or the last I will take. Fortunately, I require neither your attention nor your gratitude for my work to be effective.

      1. LotusBecca
        LotusBecca September 23, 2013 at 2:48 pm |

        EG. . .it is structurally impossible for me to “erase” what cis people are doing on behalf of trans women. If cis people want others to know what they are doing on behalf of trans women, there is nothing any trans woman can do to “erase” that. I don’t have the power or the privilege on this axis of oppression. Don’t be ridiculous.

        And despite your claim that I am not expected to be grateful. . .it does seem to be oddly galling to you that I’m making my so-called “assumption” that the cis signers have done nothing to truly stand in solidarity with trans women. Why is my critique threatening to the validity of this work. . .so much so that my critique has the power to “erase” it? Are you really sure this work is being done without an expectation of cookies, or at least an expectation of not getting unfounded criticism? Well, sometimes when you work with an oppressed minority it can be difficult and people in that minority can be mean to you. . .especially when you have privilege over that minority, which makes it structurally impossible for you to truly understand their point of view.

        People who signed this letter have hired trans women or given trans women money for their transitions? Good. That’s as it should be. I bet they could still be doing more. Because there is always more to do. If some help is good; more would be even better. Furthermore, I made no assumptions as to the work individual people were doing; I was simply asking questions.

        What are the only actual “assumptions” I made?

        First, that “you’re a lot more complicit in my oppression than you think.” Which is true. Of every “ally” ever and also of every actual ally ever. The nature of privilege is to render it very difficult to recognize one’s role in people’s oppression. That’s not the fault of allies, but it is something they need to constantly be reminded of.

        Second, this letter does not include any real analysis of the cis letter signer’s privilege or the more subtle ways in which even well-intentioned people prop up cis supremacy. This is a problem. This is the gist of my “you paint yourself as good guys. . .” comment. Making feminism something that represents trans folks and cis folks equally (although maybe a new name besides “feminism” would be good. I’m pretty skeptical of this desire to reform existing institutions rather than start new ones) well, it doesn’t just mean ideologically overcoming TERFs or right-wing Republicans. It also means people who think they are trans allies need to (publicly and without prompting) examine the ways in which they might not actually be allies.

        As to my “silence” comment, I was not saying that you should not stand in solidarity with trans folks. You should stand in solidarity, provided that’s something you can do without inadvertently causing even greater damage to us. I was specifically saying that your view of us is not relevant. And it’s not. I don’t care if you think I’m a woman. Cis people shouldn’t be saying “trans women are women,” “trans women belong here,” and similar things. Cis people shouldn’t be responding to TERFs point for point. You don’t respond to fascists point for point; you deny them a platform. What cis people should say are things like “trans women are whatever they say they are, and our opinions about them are comprised by our privilege and therefore are inaccurate, based in stereotypes, and irrelevant.” Please focus your discourse on undermining the validity of your privilege and your social position in the gender hierarchy (cis women are above trans women, for example). Work on undermining the validity of cis people even taking a stance where they can judge and measure trans people. Please don’t simply try to publicly judge and measure us in a more favorable way. Include more statements like “cis people are fundamentally ignorant about trans people (especially trans women) and what they go through, because our artificial position of privilege renders it extremely difficult for us to see how gender and sex actually function in this society.”

        Also, actions speak louder than words. So performing actions and not making grandstand-y statements is not silence. As you note, many of the signers of this letter have been doing a lot of actions, many of which I support, so I’m not sure why you are concerned that I’m suggesting that they stay “silent.” I’m asking cis people to recognize that sometimes what they think about trans folks just doesn’t matter and doesn’t need to be shared. I need people to be allies in my struggle to end my oppression; I don’t need loud-mouthed saviors.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune September 23, 2013 at 4:36 pm |

          You don’t respond to fascists point for point; you deny them a platform.

          I’d also like to take exception to this, though more civilly. I absolutely think it’s important to respond to -ists point for point, simply because that way they don’t get to triumphantly resort to “WELL YOU NEVER ANSWERED MY QUESTIONS”. At least that’s what I’ve learned talkign to racists on the internet. And I always appreciate when allies speak up on my behalf (though I don’t bother to fawn all over them for it), simply because it gets tiring as fuck.

        2. EG
          EG September 23, 2013 at 5:00 pm |

          Becca,

          You are mistaken. What you are reading as being galled at ingratitude is more accurately described as exasperation with yet another iteration of the left’s favorite game, more-radical-than-thou. I’ve been around this particular mulberry bush before. I grew up with people who were so very more-radical-than-thou that no action short of wholesale revolution was good enough (but no revolution was good enough either), and so some of them did almost nothing. I am exasperated to be playing that game again, and I am irritated that you seem to be presenting it as if it were a Brand! New! critique that nobody had ever thought of before. Versions of this critique are the typical response on the left to any movement short of wholesale revolution.

          Now, you are right that you cannot erase allies’ work. I should not have edited that sentence down. Originally it read “But nor is it right to erase that work in your comment for the sake of pumping up your fiery rhetoric in a more-radical-than-thou critique that was tired and predictable when my parents were young.” I edited it down because we’ve always been on friendly terms, and I didn’t see the point of unnecessary meanness. But for the sake of accuracy, I’ll ask to reinstate the original phrasing. Happy?

          The assumption you made, as is evident in your comment, is that this statement was the “first and only step” for the cis signatories. That assumption is incorrect for the cis signatories I know personally. Thus my actual knowledge suggests to me that your assumption is incorrect.

          I bet they could still be doing more. Because there is always more to do.

          More radical than thou because it’s never quite good enough? Yep, been there, bored now. I’m terribly sorry if you, sight unseen, assume that cis allies should sacrifice all other priorities in their lives (like personal safety, as noted below) on the altar of the struggle, and are disappointed that almost nobody agrees. That too has been a very common stance on the left–what was Emma Goldman doing, dancing when oppression was rampant and there was work to be done? Bored now.

          this letter does not include any real analysis of the cis letter signer’s privilege or the more subtle ways in which even well-intentioned people prop up cis supremacy.

          That’s because this letter is not meant to be an analytical document. It is a statement of support. Those are two different things. If you want an analytical document, write one. But this criticism is like criticizing Beloved because the meter doesn’t scan. It’s not supposed to. It’s not poetry; it’s prose. The complaint “this thing isn’t a different thing that I want” is not particularly convincing.

          Cis people shouldn’t be responding to TERFs point for point. You don’t respond to fascists point for point; you deny them a platform.

          Indeed. And if the letter had been a refutation of TERF talking points, you would have a point. As it stands…no. The letter–again, written by a committee equally composed of trans and cis women, so the idea that it can’t possibly represent an accurate view of trans people’s reality is odd–is not. It establishes the existence of a group in opposition to TERFs. It describes the harm done by TERFs. At no point does it actually engage with TERF talking points or “analysis.”

          I’m not sure why you are concerned that I’m suggesting that they stay “silent.”

          Because of the part where you said cis signatories should “shut up.” I’m not concerned, mind you–I’m disagreeing.

          Actions may speak louder than words, but that doesn’t mean that words don’t speak at all, or that words are unnecessary, particularly when organizing an effort among many people. Or is it your position that if every individual just puts zir head down and makes individual good actions, systemic oppression will be alleviated?

        3. Donna L
          Donna L September 23, 2013 at 11:04 pm |

          Cis people shouldn’t be saying “trans women are women,” “trans women belong here,” and similar things.

          Bullshit. That’s exactly what they need to be saying. Most trans women need and appreciate that kind of validation and acceptance. And solidarity. Especially when it’s asked for, as it was here. (What part of “this statement was written by cis and trans people together” do you not get?) We’re not all as evolved as you seem to be.

          cis people are fundamentally ignorant about trans people (especially trans women) and what they go through, because our artificial position of privilege renders it extremely difficult for us to see how gender and sex actually function in this society.”

          Please think about where that kind of rhetoric leads you. Not a place you’d like very much.

          Of course it’s generally impossible for people who aren’t trans or gender dysphoric to understand exactly what it’s like for people who are. Whatever they try to think of as analogies, it’s not quite the same. But fundamentally ignorant? Unable to empathize? Just not true.

        4. Donna L
          Donna L September 24, 2013 at 12:08 am |

          And enough. The last thing I want to do is get in a prolonged argument with another trans woman about something like this. I’ve hated that kind of thing since I first was on the Internet 15 years ago. We’re going to have to disagree about whether this statement means anything.

          But you know what? At least we’re trying; at least we’re actually doing something within our capabilities to try to accomplish something — something that nobody has tried before — to benefit trans women, even if it’s only an emotional benefit right now.

          That’s more than most people do.

    2. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune September 23, 2013 at 12:16 am |

      When was the last time you hired a trans woman for a job, gave her a place to live, or paid for her medical care?

      Cosigning everything EG said. Also adding: aren’t you beautifully classist here, assuming every non-trans person on that list is rich enough to do any of the above. *is a signatory, and broke as fuck*

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune September 23, 2013 at 12:17 am |

        THough to be fair I’m not cis. But whatever. You’re assuming every cis person on that list is rich enough to do that, and that right there is some bullshit.

        1. LotusBecca
          LotusBecca September 23, 2013 at 3:06 pm |

          I was assuming no such thing. I intentionally included a list of actions of a varied nature, some of which certain people would be in a position to do, others of which certain people wouldn’t be in a position to do. I acknowledge some of the things I listed require a degree of class privilege (offering a trans woman a job, for example), but many of them do not. Giving a trans woman a place to live, for example, doesn’t require class privilege. If you have a place to live yourself, it takes no money to let a trans woman crash on your couch or sleep on a mat on your floor. And if you are without housing, it takes no class privilege to take a trans woman under your wing, help protect her on the street, and make sure that even if she doesn’t have a house she feels like she has a home.

          Also, it costs me $50 for an hour of electrolysis. I know a lot of poor folks and am not particularly well off myself. The majority of people I know (though not all) could afford to once in a while give someone $50 for a dire need if they budgeted for it in advance.

          In short, I’m not “expecting” anyone to do anything they aren’t able to do. I’m asking people whether they are truly doing what they can, or are they do some degree substituting nice-sounding words for concrete actions?

        2. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune September 23, 2013 at 4:11 pm |

          Giving a trans woman a place to live, for example, doesn’t require class privilege. If you have a place to live yourself, it takes no money to let a trans woman crash on your couch or sleep on a mat on your floor.

          To take myself as an example:

          1) If a trans woman I knew (most of the trans women n here for example) needed a place to crash, for instance, my place would be open. I wouldn’t let a stranger crash in my house no matter what their gender, because the wife and I are both survivors and having people we don’t know in the house with us and the kid leaves us too panicky to sleep, which is like 90% of the reason we don’t have a roommate even though we have a spare room.

          2) If I’ve got $50, it’d go towards my wife’s healthcare, then mine, then the kid’s school (and if she has medical needs all else is dropped in favour). Sorry not sorry that I don’t feel like paying others’ medical bills when I have to pick between eating decent food and paying all medical expenses already.

          3) All I’ve got for trans women are nice words, at this point. It’s also all I’ve got for WOC, POC, women, LGBQ people, disabled people, and any number of other people for whom I feel greatly, and in whose numbers I count myself. I’m fucking disabled. I’m working two jobs, on top of a full courseload, being primary housekeeper and caring for a disabled spouse who’s working despite not being remotely well. So, if you don’t want said nice words because I don’t want to wreck my mental health by hosting women I don’t know in my house, or putting myself in (greater and more constant) physical pain to get a stranger electrolysis, well, fuck you sideways, I guess I’m a terrible ally, and I’m happy to be.

        3. EG
          EG September 23, 2013 at 4:29 pm |

          I wouldn’t let a stranger crash in my house no matter what their gender

          I’m not even a survivor, and I sure as hell wouldn’t open my home to a stranger. Ever. And, you know, I’m not sorry that protecting myself takes a higher priority for me than housing anybody homeless. Just as I’m not sorry that Becca doesn’t think I give enough of my money away (not that she knows how much I do give away, mind you, or what my financial straits are–she’s just pretty sure the answers are “not enough” and “not that bad”).

        4. Donna L
          Donna L September 24, 2013 at 2:14 am |

          I wouldn’t either. Male or female, cis or trans. (So, no, it’s not as if I — or, I’m sure, Mac or EG — think trans woman = man = dangerous.) I’d be so nervous I wouldn’t be able to function.

    3. DannyChameleon
      DannyChameleon September 23, 2013 at 2:02 am |

      LotusBecca,

      I am a little confused as to who your comment is addressed to. It starts out addressed to cis people, but, by the end, I’m not sure if you are addressing cis people, all of the signers, or everyone except trans women.

      1. LotusBecca
        LotusBecca September 23, 2013 at 3:09 pm |

        The comment is me expressing myself. It is addressed to people who are reading this particular thread on Feministe. Individual people can decide for themselves to what extent which portions of my comment may apply to them.

        1. DannyChameleon
          DannyChameleon September 23, 2013 at 4:36 pm |

          O.k., I think you are pretty off base labeling other trans people as complicit in your oppression.

    4. Ally S
      Ally S September 23, 2013 at 4:20 am |

      Yawn. I know some of the signers are trans, but a lot of them are cis, too. And I know that as a trans woman, I probably will be expected to be “grateful” for and laudatory of this meaningless symbolic gesture. Well, Jill (and every other cis person who signed this), your view of trans people is simply not relevant. I couldn’t care less. How about this for progress–learn to shut up and not share your opinions about trans folks?

      Some? Quite a few of them are trans*. This is not a cis-centric statement.

      Granted, this is a meaningless statement to you, and that’s fine since you’re entitled to your opinion, but you should bear in mind that many trans* people – myself included – are very glad to see this statement. In my view, at least, I find it comforting and supportive. I know a lot of cis allies who have problems when it comes to being allies, but the overwhelming majority of cis allies I’ve met on the internet has been overwhelmingly helpful and supportive to me.

      I can name many kind and supportive cis allies here on Feministe. EG, the one above me, is a great example. Given what she has said here on this blog, I can see that she’s not someone who waves some kind of “I’m totally not cissexist, and that means I’m entitled to cookies” flag and then goes back to pretending that transness isn’t a thing. To my knowledge, she has been doing actual advocacy work for LGBTQIA folks.

      Look, Becca, I understand and even sympathize with your cynicism. Your gripe, as I understand it, is that you want to see cis allies actually doing things rather than trying to gain cookies from trans* people. However, you should bear in mind that not only does this statement mean a lot to many trans* folks, but it also is being backed by genuine cis allies who are doing real meaningful work for trans* people. Do you need to be grateful for this statement? Of course not. No one does. But I really can’t see any kind of expectation that trans* people be grateful for this statement.

      1. Donna L
        Donna L September 23, 2013 at 9:03 am |

        I don’t think this statement has anything to do with people wanting “cookies” or expecting gratitude. The statement is so unprecedented as an expression of collective solidarity for trans women that it’s a case where word really does = deed. Why isn’t it a worthy goal by itself to make trans women feel that they aren’t unsupported and ignored — and actively rejected — by feminism and feminists anymore, when some have felt that way for 30 years and more? (And all one has to do to know that it has had that effect is to read some of the comments to the statement, as well as the commentary elsewhere on the Internet.)

        And I don’t think it even matters whether the signatories have previously engaged in trans-advocacy in their lives. Why can’t this be a first step? Also, people shouldn’t underestimate the fact that it isn’t necessarily so easy for cis people to come out publicly as being trans-supportive, even in academia — especially in feminist academia, where people who agree with Sheila Jeffreys and Janice Raymond and Mary Daly and their fellow- travelers have held sway for the last 30+ years, and still do in some departments.

        1. Donna L
          Donna L September 23, 2013 at 9:05 am |

          In other words — this is “meaningful” in and of itself, and I think it shouldn’t be contrasted with “real meaningful work for trans* people,” as if it’s meaningless by itself. Not a criticism, Ally, just a clarification!

        2. Donna L
          Donna L September 23, 2013 at 9:16 am |

          This is not like, say, “Lean In,” which as far as I can tell is pretty meaningless for 99% of working women. See the terrific Susan Faludi article which Safiya Outlines has linked to on the Weekly Open Thread.

        3. Ally S
          Ally S September 23, 2013 at 11:27 am |

          I was mostly addressing her point that this statement is objectively meaningless by saying that there are many people for whom this is a meaningful statement and that she shouldn’t dismiss how those people feel.

          But yes, it is an unprecedented statement of support for trans* people from feminists and womanists. When I said that stuff about cis feminists trying to gain cookies from trans* people, I was referring to her concern about pro-trans* statements in general, not describing the motive behind this statement – I definitely think this statement above is genuine.

          I suppose I should have just clarified things from the beginning by saying that I totally agree with what you, EG, and macavitykitsune have said in response to Becca.

        4. EG
          EG September 23, 2013 at 11:52 am |

          I didn’t take your statement as anything else, Ally!

          I agree with Donna (hardly unprecedented, I know!)–I think a case could be made that this statement is a speech-act, that by virtue of so many feminists, cis and trans, speaking out to support trans-inclusive feminism and womanism, that act itself is recreating and reconfiguring the nature of the movements with respect to trans people, thereby changing what trans people can expect from feminism and feminists and resituating TERFs as a far less meaningful minority. That itself is an act that has repercussions insofar as what feminism is and what feminists do.

        5. LotusBecca
          LotusBecca September 23, 2013 at 3:54 pm |

          I agree with Donna (hardly unprecedented, I know!)–I think a case could be made that this statement is a speech-act, that by virtue of so many feminists, cis and trans, speaking out to support trans-inclusive feminism and womanism, that act itself is recreating and reconfiguring the nature of the movements with respect to trans people, thereby changing what trans people can expect from feminism and feminists and resituating TERFs as a far less meaningful minority.

          The whole idea of “inclusion” is flawed. Cis feminists need to start over with trans people as equal partners from the beginning (actually, more than being equal, trans people must be centered and institutionally favored within progressive movements). Basically, the great majority of the ideas, theories, and practices of feminism have historically been created by cis women to serve (the most privileged) cis women. I personally don’t want to be included in that. You all act like it is some sort of privilege for me to be able to help you out in your movement. I think. . .what a pathetic world we live in that merely “including” me after decades of irrational exclusion is treated like some wonderful accomplishment. I believe it’s time to abandon ship and start over.

          It doesn’t matter “what feminism is and what feminists do.” What matters is that trans people are liberated, that women are liberated, that people of color are liberated, that poor people are liberated. What matter is results, not feminism’s public relations campaign (feminism’s public image has long been something that many feminists are seemingly obsessed with). I’m willing to be grateful. Get back to me when there are results. Get back to me when feminism has been a net benefit to trans women instead of a net harm. Then what I expect from it will change. Until then, I will continue to expect oppression from feminism and not much else.

        6. EG
          EG September 23, 2013 at 4:38 pm |

          So basically, Becca, what you’re saying is that you no longer have any interest in feminism, and no other trans person should either (“what needs to happen…”). Instead, you’re going to hold out for a new movement to take its place that somehow arises completely discontinuous from all the injustices and power dynamics of previous movements.

          Good luck with that. Let me know when it happens. Let me know if it has ever happened in any context whatsoever. I’ll be over here in the actual world, doing exactly what I can do within circumstances not of my own choosing–no more, and no less.

      2. LotusBecca
        LotusBecca September 23, 2013 at 3:28 pm |

        I know a lot of cis allies who have problems when it comes to being allies, but the overwhelming majority of cis allies I’ve met on the internet has been overwhelmingly helpful and supportive to me.

        You’re lucky. The majority of cis “allies” I’ve really gotten to know and trust (and this wasn’t on the internet in my case) wound up betraying me. . .some of them even wound up publicly denouncing me. I don’t feel like going into the details because it’s too painful for me, and I don’t feel this thread on Feministe is a safe environment for me, given what I’ve been saying here. But suffice to say these were people who read the right books and said the right jargon. These were people who I listened to as they complained about their boyfriends, who I went out with to get drinks, who I did tarot card readings with. Perhaps you may wonder if their betrayals of me were justified by how confrontational and bitchy I seem toward cis people. But I don’t start out this hostile and mistrusting of cis folks. The betrayals created the hostility and the mistrust–not the other way around.

        That said, this is just my experience. I’m shaped by my experience. I’m not objective. I’ve never claimed to be objective or to speak for all trans women or for all trans folks. In fact, the very reason I said what I said is that I know most trans folks will not agree with me and will not say what I just said. So it’s important that I say it because somebody needs to say it. I don’t have to be some sort of representative of or goodwill ambassador on behalf of my people in order for my views to be something that cis folks need to hear.

        1. yes
          yes September 26, 2013 at 3:16 pm |

          I’m surprised that someone with your obvious tendency towards a measured, intelligent, and intellectually honest way of responding to an issue would find yourself alienated from allies.

  24. Donna L
    Donna L September 23, 2013 at 12:39 am |

    As someone who was also involved in this, Becca, I find your statement incredibly and personally insulting. Meaningless? Tell that to all the trans people who have found this first expression of collective support by feminists — with 700 signatures to date — to be extremely meaningful. This is intended as a first step, not a last step — a first collective show of support for trans people by massive numbers of feminists and womanists. It’s the foundation, not the roof; the beginning, not the end.

    Plus everything EG said about how presumptuous your underlying assumptions about the signatories are. And about nobody asking for, or caring about, your gratitude. That isn’t what this was about.

    And, yeah, sure. It’s wrong for cis people to “share their opinions” about trans people by expressing solidarity through signing a statement supporting trans-inclusiveness, after being expressly invited to do so in a statement partly written by, and endorsed by, trans women.

    You want to advance trans women’s rights without any help whatsoever from cis allies in general or cis feminist allies in particular? Go right ahead. But stop being a dismissive asshole towards those of us who disagree. Those of us who understand that we are so small in number that we will never make progress without cis allies, and that feminists, despite the history of the last 40 years, should be, and are, our natural allies.

    Your comment is such a caricature of someone with your political views sneering at those who aren’t sufficiently radical for them. As such, with a few words changed here and there, it could have been written at any time in the last 100 years, about almost any political subject. And would have been just as wrongheaded then as it is now.

    1. GallingGalla
      GallingGalla September 23, 2013 at 10:10 am |

      I’m seconding everything that Donna, mac, EG, and ally have said here, Becca. It has been personally very heartening for me to see the broad base of support for trans inclusion in feminism / womanism in this statement.

      As far as cis people sitting down and shutting up goes, no, just no. We trans* folks cannot do the work all by ourselves, and we need cis folks to step up to the plate. 700 have done so in the last week. I can’t ignore that.

    2. LotusBecca
      LotusBecca September 23, 2013 at 1:57 pm |

      Actually, no. Trans women are expected to be grateful about this letter. Everyone’s reaction to me proved this. Trans women are never truly allowed to criticize “allies,” especially if other trans women are happy with what those allies are doing.

      I suggest you reflect on the totalitarian aspirations of this letter. Why should one random trans woman’s opinion–which is (obviously) sure to get no traction anywhere, be so threatening, so personally insulting?

      If this letter were actually a positive thing, then what I said would be viewed as a given. Of course writing this letter is unimportant (even though hypothetical “we” signed it) and what actually matters is ending the oppression of trans women. But the fact that the people behind this letter don’t agree with what I said about the letter proves that what I said about the letter is true. Namely, this letter, like most “allyship” on trans stuff (and other issues of oppression) is a substitute for real action, real risk-taking, and a real examination of privilege.

      What a great “first step.” These people should have taken their first step decades ago, not this week.

      Finally, I’m fine with cis allies in general. They just have to be allies. Allyship is demonstrated through results, not through talk. Talk is cheap. All I’m asking for is some results. I really want my burden to be lighter; I want to be less oppressed. Let’s focus on that–ending my (and your) oppression–not how cis allies need to be respected because otherwise they won’t help us.

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune September 23, 2013 at 4:03 pm |

        These people should have taken their first step decades ago, not this week.

        OK, I’ll remember that I should have travelled back in time to engage in activism for decades.

        1. EG
          EG September 23, 2013 at 4:21 pm |

          Hey, decades ago I was a fucked-up teenager in the midst of an all-encompassing bout of depression, mac! Little did I know that a couple decades later, I would be running so late on my ally-ship.

        2. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune September 23, 2013 at 4:29 pm |

          Yep yep. A couple decades ago this month, I lost my first milk tooth. LITTLE DID I KNOW I SHOULD HAVE HAD IT KICKED OUT IN A POLICE ACTION AGAINST HEROIC ANTI-TRANSPHOBIA CRUSADERS. I humbly beg pardon. Also, my deepest apologies to not participating in the fall of the Berlin war; my not being able to talk at the time was no excuse.

        3. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune September 23, 2013 at 4:29 pm |

          *wall

      2. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune September 23, 2013 at 4:15 pm |

        Trans women are expected to be grateful about this letter. Everyone’s reaction to me proved this.

        I’m not asking you to be grateful. I’m cleaning MY house and telling disreputable, hateful assholes they have no damn place in MY movement. That it clears the way for you is a happy side effect, and given your general cluelessness on race and the number of times I’ve called you out on ableism, I’m frankly kind of out of fucks on what Lotus Becca Thinks OfThe World in general.

        Trans women are never truly allowed to criticize “allies,” especially if other trans women are happy with what those allies are doing.

        I’m going to give you a revolutionary thought – maybe people have differences of opinions!

      3. EG
        EG September 23, 2013 at 4:25 pm |

        I suggest you reflect on the totalitarian aspirations of this letter.

        Disagreeing with Becca’s assessment of this letter and its importance signifies “totalitarian aspirations”! Indeed, what better route to totalitarianism than through a statement regarding feminism?

        Becca, it is possible to disagree with you without espousing totalitarianism. You are not actually as infallible as all that.

      4. GallingGalla
        GallingGalla September 23, 2013 at 6:01 pm |

        Thank you, Becca, for disappearing trans* and gender variant people who feel supported by this statement, including several of us commenting in this thread.

        1. Donna L
          Donna L September 23, 2013 at 6:31 pm |

          Thank you, Becca, for disappearing trans* and gender variant people who feel supported by this statement, including several of us commenting in this thread.

          What Galling Galla said.

          Also:


          I want to be less oppressed.

          Believe it or not, many trans women — especially those who support women and women’s issues in general — have felt oppressed by the weight of transphobic feminism, and its pretense to reflect the overwhelming opinion of feminists in general, for a very long time. Knowing that that isn’t really what most feminists believe has lessened that burden already. For me, and for others. So it isn’t unimportant or meaningless, “of course” or otherwise. And please don’t pretend that your pronouncement of meaninglessness was limited to saying that it has no meaning for you. Your opinion was very much phrased in universalizing terms, which is exactly why it angered me and others.

          Can more be done? Of course. As I said before, this is a first step. But it’s one that’s never been taken before, and it’s necessary, and I’m as proud of my involvement in it (and of EG’s, given that she has now “come out” here as being part of this!) as I am of any activism I’ve ever been involved in — not for egotistical reasons, because I have no interest in taking any public credit for this under my real name, but because I genuinely believe that it has already helped people, and will continue to do so.

      5. EG
        EG September 23, 2013 at 6:19 pm |

        But the fact that the people behind this letter don’t agree with what I said about the letter proves that what I said about the letter is true.

        I love this sentence. It’s very Freud or Marx or Christian or any other closed world-view–your disagreement actually proves I’m right about your feelings for your mother or false consciousness or your sinfulness! Tell me, Becca, what would someone have to say for you entertain the possibility that you just might be wrong?

        1. piny
          piny September 24, 2013 at 1:04 am |

          GIRAFFE! GIRAFFE! THIS THREAD NEEDS A FUCKING GIRAFFE! RIGHT NOW!

          [thank you for sending a giraffe alert ~ mods]

          This is bullshit. This is entitled transphobic bullshit.

          LotusBecca has every right to have whatever pissy, angry, alienated, malcontent reaction to the trans-supportive feminism petition she wants. She is a trans woman. She gets to decide for herself.

          It is not ever appropriate to lecture a trans woman about being insufficiently appreciative or optimistic about any given gesture of support or allyship. Nor is it appropriate to browbeat that woman for being a wet blanket in the struggle, or a cynic, or for asking too much.

          Nor is it ever appropriate for an ally to complain that she and other allies are being unfairly treated by members of their adopted community. It is not something you ever have any right to take personally, EG. Full stop. If it’s not about you, don’t make it about you. And don’t engage in Rand Paulian quibbling about whether Lotus Becca literally meant that you’re a bad person because you don’t currently have any trans teenage runaways sleeping on your floor. It’s embarrassing.

          And for fuck’s sake, of course you’re not obligated to apologize for something someone else did when you were a child. You do need to acknowledge that your movement has spent decades ignoring a mile-wide streak of transphobia (and rape and torture apologism) among its leaders. That’s what she means by belated. It’s embarrassing that it took this long for trans equality to become part of the feminist mainstream, just like Hugo Schwyzer is shameful.

          And even if she has given up feminism as a bunch of bullshit – something she as a trans woman has every right to do – it is her movement, because it is supposedly dedicated to equality for her. Defining equality for her, a trans woman, as a happy side effect of a petition swearing off transphobia and promising to do better is selfish blinkered transphobic bullshit.

          And you ought to be ashamed of yourself, and tigtog should shut this down before you embarrass your beloved trans-inclusive blog any further. I am glad to see this long-overdue petition, but if it becomes an excuse to tell a trans woman to shut the fuck up about her lingering scorn for feminism and cis people, because some cis people really are working hard to be allies, and she needs to acknowledge that, there are serious problems with your outreach strategy.

          I never thought I’d see the day.

        2. Donna L
          Donna L September 24, 2013 at 9:21 am |

          Piny, it wasn’t EG who referred to the benefit to trans people as being a happy side effect. (That bothered me too.)

          And don’t forget that I’m a trans woman (and so is Roz Kaveney, who has come out publicly as being one of the authors of the Statement), so you cannot so easily dismiss this Statement as the belated product of cis feminism.

          I’m entitled to disagree with Becca to whatever extent I wish, and to criticize her in any way I wish for being so dismissive of the importance of the Statement to so many trans women. You certainly don’t get to tell me what to think or what to say.

          And, it’s not a fucking petition. We’re not asking anybody anything.

          Also:


          You do need to acknowledge that your movement has spent decades ignoring a mile-wide streak of transphobia (and rape and torture apologism) among its leaders

          You must be kidding me. Did you even read the Statement? Did it occur to you that that’s what much of it is? Exactly the acknowledgement you want?

        3. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune September 24, 2013 at 11:10 am |

          Note: my comment to the effect of “happy side effect” referred to Becca personally, as I find her views on several things to be fairly objectionable and problematic. As in, I was thinking of “this is my statement of support for trans women, and yes, that includes Becca incidentally since she is a trans woman as well”.

        4. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune September 24, 2013 at 11:19 am |

          if it becomes an excuse to tell a trans woman to shut the fuck up about her lingering scorn for feminism and cis people

          Though I have to say: other trans women expressed scorn for this statement on this thread and EG agreed with them. I dunno, doesn’t seem like she was fishing for an excuse to me. I freely admit to being annoyed as fuck by Becca’s “ALL MUST CHANGE and nothing about the status quo or movements is in any way useful” rhetoric on this and past threads, and that that pissed me off more than the comment would have otherwise.

        5. Donna L
          Donna L September 24, 2013 at 1:05 pm |

          Nor is it ever appropriate for an ally to complain that she and other allies are being unfairly treated by members of their adopted community

          EG was complaining just as much about how Becca’s universalized accusation of meaninglessness was unfair to all the trans women whose position Becca was dismissing. Is she allowed to do that? Defend a group of trans women against the words of one trans woman? Or is that only OK for me to say (along with everything else I said, including the fact that I thought Becca was straw-manning all over the place), and EG can’t agree with me?

          Beyond that, it’s pretty much pointless to continue the discussion. Becca is entitled to disagree with me. I am entitled to disagree with her. And am not sure what more there is to say.

        6. EG
          EG September 24, 2013 at 2:01 pm |

          LotusBecca has every right to have whatever pissy, angry, alienated, malcontent reaction to the trans-supportive feminism petition she wants. She is a trans woman. She gets to decide for herself.

          No shit. If you refer to the first sentence in my first response to her, you’ll see I said more or less the same thing: “If the statement is meaningless to you, it’s meaningless to you, and that’s fine.” The only part of her pissy, angry, alienated, malcontent reaction I suggested she rethink was her assumption that signing the statement was the cis signatories’ “first and only step.” I stand by that. Her entitlement to any pissy, angry, alienated, malcontent reaction she likes does not encompass having her factually inaccurate statements respected.

          It is not ever appropriate to lecture a trans woman about being insufficiently appreciative or optimistic about any given gesture of support or allyship. Nor is it appropriate to browbeat that woman for being a wet blanket in the struggle, or a cynic, or for asking too much.

          And again, I didn’t do that–you’ll note that I supported Galla’s cynicism. If you’d like to include quotations indicating that I did do any of that, I’ll apologize. I did say that I find the more-radical-than-thou, nothing-short-of-revolutionary-phoenix-from-the-ashes-rebirth stance to be boring and fundamentally unproductive, and I stand by those assessments based on my previous experiences with that stance (you’ll note that Donna made the same observation, in slightly less detail).

          Nor is it ever appropriate for an ally to complain that she and other allies are being unfairly treated by members of their adopted community. It is not something you ever have any right to take personally, EG.

          First of all, I would never call trans women my “adopted community.” I find that…condescending and, to use your word, embarrassing. Second, as with your previous assertions, I never complained that any “allies” (again, not a word I would ever use about myself, as it personalizes political decisions in a way that doesn’t sit right with me) were being treated unfairly. I informed Becca that she was actually, factually incorrect regarding her assumptions about the cis signatories I know. Again, her right to her reaction does not include the right to say things that are incorrect without being called on it.

          As for sleeping on the floor–we’ll have to disagree, piny. Becca made statements about what acceptable “ally” actions would be to her; I and others (including Donna, who is trans) have every right to point out that those actions are simply not feasible (in part for me because I am currently crashing on someone else’s floor), and so if that is her standard, she will always and only be disappointed.

          You do need to acknowledge that your movement has spent decades ignoring a mile-wide streak of transphobia (and rape and torture apologism) among its leaders.

          …yes? That’s…what the statement does? In myriad places? The statement that I signed and helped organize? So…agreed, then.

          Defining equality for her, a trans woman, as a happy side effect of a petition swearing off transphobia and promising to do better is selfish blinkered transphobic bullshit.

          Which I didn’t do. Again. Piny, you need to read my words and get a grip on what I have said and done and what I haven’t, because I’m getting bored correcting you.

          to tell a trans woman to shut the fuck up about her lingering scorn for feminism and cis people, because some cis people really are working hard to be allies, and she needs to acknowledge that

          Again, I didn’t do that. Any of that. I never told Becca to shut up, I didn’t tell her she needs to acknowledge cis people’s work. I told her that her assumption, that the cis signatories haven’t been doing that work, is factually incorrect.

          Further, not pushing back on what Becca said–note, she didn’t say “this statement is meaningless to me because I simply can’t trust feminism or cis people any more”; she said that the statement was objectively meaningless–would have meant betraying the trans and genderqueer people I worked with, am friends with, and have read to whom the statement is meaningful. I trust Kaveney’s political acumen far more than Becca’s, and I’m not willing to accept anybody telling the trans people I know–in real life and on the internet–that their political and emotional reactions are wrong.

          That said, I never told Becca that she was wrong to find the statement meaningless. I do think she’s wrong to dismiss the statement as objectively meaningless, given that plenty of trans and genderqueer people disagree with her. Nor did I tell her to shut up, not here, and not ever; I’ve always liked Becca–reading her ardent leftism has always made me happy.

          So before you flip your shit at me next time, please go back and read a bit more carefully.

  25. tigtog
    tigtog September 24, 2013 at 8:22 am | *

    Due to a giraffe alert being sent this thread is now on full moderation.

  26. Jennifer
    Jennifer September 24, 2013 at 10:56 am |

    First—my reaction to the statement is very positive, and I appreciate that it was a lot of work to draft it, create the website, read and incorporate all the comments, etc. So, I’m not intending to criticize the statement at all.

    With respect to LotusBecca’s comment, I feel like I personally very much need this kind of reminder to be critical of my own advocacy efforts, to question what results I’m getting from the things I’m doing. I’m a cis-woman, and I don’t really call myself an ally because I don’t feel like that title is for me to decide—it’s up to members of whatever group I’m attempting to advocate with/for to decide what they think of me. I definitely don’t expect cookies—BUT—I am susceptible to patting myself on the back too quickly for actions that are easy for me to do and don’t carry much risk to me, such as liking or sharing something from a trans-focused facebook page or signing a change.org petition. I’m not saying these things are meaningless because they’re not, but there’s more that I can and should do. I need to be vigilant about that, and I am always happy when people feel they can speak freely to criticize advocacy efforts, because there is always a criticism to be made. It may be a criticism I hadn’t thought of, and I’m free to decide whether I agree with it, and whether or not it applies to me. There are always differences of opinion on how best to move forward in any endeavor, and I want to be able to listen to all of them.

    LotusBecca, I like and value your voice on this site. I haven’t always agreed with everything you’ve said, but I’ve seen you consider and change your positions, and you’ve said a lot in this thread that is helpful to me. I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been betrayed by people who have represented themselves as allies to you.

  27. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune September 24, 2013 at 12:19 pm |

    On further reflection: it doesn’t matter what I meant, considering I said it so poorly. And whether or not I find Becca objectionable in some things, and whether or not she identifies as a feminist and is thus the “target” of this statement has fuck-all to do with whether there should be a space for her in the feminist movement should she choose to be in it at some point, and whether I should be working to make that space safe and available and unmuted, as someone with privilege in that area. I am sorry.

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