Tuesday, August 9, 2011

"What Do We Do About Transphobic Feminists?"

"Ally Clarke is a blogger and activist for, among other things, the rights of trans women. She/Zie lives in New York and runs the blog 'Nuts and Bolts: A Project to End Transmisogyny,' and is an avid weirdo, kinkster, role-player, and online gamer."
Transphobic feminists occupy a lot of my time. They really do–one of the biggest factors of Kyriarchy in the oppression of trans women (especially non-hetero ones) is the fact that our safe spaces, full of other women more or less just like us, are behind walls of angry political bad blood. So we do what we do best–we organize the small scraps of trans rebellion together and bring our sights to bear upon the source of our discontentment.
I, for one, am willing to consider the concession that this isn’t the way we should be going about it. Today marks an interesting day for N&B, because I’m about to tell you to do something I would feel uncomfortable about doing myself. See, the thing is, transphobic feminists may be transphobic, but they’re also feminists. We don’t have to agree with them about trans stuff. There’s plenty of other things I won’t agree with them about–sorry, but I don’t agree with proscriptive feminism, sex positive or sex negative.
There are a few things I do agree with them about, though. I agree with them that there are times that men need to give us a safe space. I agree with them that we need to take everyday steps to combat oppression, and not just hang around in whatever liberal mass happens to be near you and expect them to listen to us. That, sisters/ziesters/cisters and brothers, is what makes us radical feminists.
I think one of those steps we can take in our everyday lives is to reach out to our Dworkin-loving relatives. They may be transphobic, but they’re women just like us, and many of them are, contrary to their time output, ultimately more interested in fighting sexism/misogyny than they are at fighting trans people.
I’m also not saying we have to do this. I don’t believe in proscriptive feminism, and I especially don’t believe in allowing people to put the burden of change on the oppressed. There’s a reason we have become two separate movements, and I’m certainly not advocating that we take up their political beliefs. We’re a different movement from them, and there are many good reasons for that happening, and many for that staying that way. But, for those people who have the chance, and the will, and the patience, and the thick hides, now might be a good time to take opportunities to fight the mutual enemy of both us and our transphobic relatives–after all, the kyriarchy isn’t getting smaller anytime soon.
A final word of caution, however–don’t forget in the process of this that your views are different, even if your enemy is the same right now. Forgetting to do this is tantamount to using the master’s tools, and if you’re going to do that, you might as well get in the master’s hot tub and have some masterwork smoothies with him. Don’t get in the master’s hot tub.
Why am I suddenly recommending this? Because it’s been a few months (long enough to finish reflecting on it) since Dworkin-lover Twisty of I Blame the Patriarchy put herself under some serious heat in support of trans people. Nobody’s quite sure why, but I’d wager it has something to do with her having met and fought alongside a trans person, who she occasionally mentions in posts. We can only hope for somebody that important to have that revelation again.