"Solidarity for both trans rights and women's rights" by Janine Booth

Discussion in 'theory, philosophy & history' started by Fozzie Bear, May 22, 2018.

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  1. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Well-Known Member

    A recent article by Janine Booth. (summary below)

    There have been a few threads about this recently which have descended into unpleasantness and then been locked.

    I hope that won't happen to this thread, but I'm not going to post up rules or anything except to say that, whilst there are strong feelings about this, people should try to be respectful and respect each other.

    I will post my thoughts on the author and her text below.

    Summary of the article (please read it all though):
    • We support transgender rights and express our solidarity with trans people. We oppose prejudice, hostility and discrimination against trans people, and advocate support and compassion towards them.

    • We accept people in the gender they identify as. We reject the assertion that it is impossible for a man to become a woman, or vice versa, and support scientific inquiry, which is increasing backing up this view.

    • We recognise and oppose the social construction of gender.

    • We recognise the flaws in current gender recognition law and support proposed changes to it, including self-declaration of gender. We have considered, but are not convinced by, arguments that these changes threaten women’s spaces or legal protection from sex discrimination.

    • We support the established labour movement practice of including trans women in women’s structures and on all-women shortlists.

    • We advocate that these issues be discussed in a rational and empathetic way and are addressed through such debate rather than through bureaucratic moves, censorship, no-platforming and violence related to this issue. We avoid, and ask others to avoid, terms that are inflammatory and/or inaccurate.

    • We analyse women’s oppression as taking advantage of women's biological sex rather than being rooted in it. We believe women’s oppression to be linked to the biology of women in general rather than of each individual woman.

    • We believe that identity politics and privilege theory are not playing a helpful role in these discussions.

    • We assert that trans rights and women’s rights need not be in conflict. We contend that there has been a failure of solidarity on this issue, and that centring class politics will enable us to unite against women’s, gender and all oppression.

    • We agree on these key points but continue to discuss them and also to debate differences on various issues and nuances in a comradely way.
  2. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Well-Known Member

    I've met Janine a couple of times (though I doubt she would remember me) and recently saw her in action with "Picket Line Poets" during a protest outside Hackney Picture House about gaining workers there the living wage.

    Despite being in the Alliance for Workers Liberty (an organisation I have very little time for) I found her to be sympathetic and unsectarian about Hackney IWCA/Independent when I was involved with that.

    I found the text quite useful and balanced personally, particularly in identifying the extremes of arguments and trying to find common ground based on class.

    I would be interested to know what other people think of it.

    I would be less interested in people reproducing completely batshit stuff that one person has posted on social media as if this was representative in some way.
  3. belboid

    belboid TUC Off Your Knees

    I found her to be one of the most 'typical' AWLers, and almost entirely unbearable, but that isn't the point.

    The summary is basically sound, I think, tho I can imagine the line 'We analyse women’s oppression as taking advantage of women's biological sex rather than being rooted in it.' will prove somewhat controversial
    Fozzie Bear likes this.
  4. Athos

    Athos Well-Known Member

    Whilst I don't particularly like her or her organisation, I think the sentiment of what she's saying is encourging. But, I don't think the detail stands up to much scrutiny.
    8ball likes this.
  5. emanymton

    emanymton A cat politely sat on the flaming gardener.

    Yes, I'm not entirely sure what they mean by that. At first I thought they meant 'no longer rooted in' which would sort of fit with the rest of the paragraph but later stuff makes me think I was wrong. Might have to read that bit again latter on.
  6. emanymton

    emanymton A cat politely sat on the flaming gardener.

    Which details exactly?

    I think if suffers a bit from being what it is, a position paper, presumably to be voted on at some AWL conference .
  7. bimble

    bimble noisy but small

    One of the bits I like about that paper is their apparent view that conversations do need to be had, that's how to change people's minds, by talking. It says 'Censorship is wrong and counterproductive. It does not answer anyone’s questions or persuade anyone to rethink anti-trans views. Instead, it feeds the impression that trans-hostile people, rather than trans people, are the real victims of oppression.'

    I agree with that, making it sad news to my mind that, yesterday, 3 prominent accounts on twitter that talk about this were banned/ suspended. Including miranda yardley (the wrong kind of trans person) and mayday4women the ones whose leaflets caused all the fuss at the bookfair. That's just not going to help bridge the divide, imo.
    kabbes likes this.
  8. Rutita1

    Rutita1 Scum with no integrity, apparently.

    One of the banned accounts is VA/Dr Radfem...are actually you lamenting the loss of her ramp-it-up-to-the-max vileness? She is also behind some of the Mayday4women stuff isn't she? Nothing sad about shutting her style of bile up IMO... It's that extreme, polarising shit on both sides that is putting others off getting involved in these discussions more publicly, they are increasing the divide not trying to bridge it.
  9. LynnDoyleCooper

    LynnDoyleCooper Up against the wall motherfucker.

    I had a look at the Mayday4Women Twitter account yesterday, and really thought it was terrible. Surprised it was so bad tbh, don't know how representative of the wider group it, or whether it's one person really. It had terrible politics, and really read a bit unhinged.
  10. Rutita1

    Rutita1 Scum with no integrity, apparently.

    It really was fucking batshit.
    frogwoman and LynnDoyleCooper like this.
  11. bimble

    bimble noisy but small

    I don't know what they've been tweeting tbh wasn't following any of them, and yes definitely agree venice allen was consistently awful. Still though, don't think banning them is the answer, when so much else goes on that platform with no bannings. Just my opinion.
  12. stethoscope

    stethoscope Well-Known Member

    Precisely this, dreadful shit politics. And more fool anyone that retweets, likes, or perpetuates it imo. And I apply that equally to the shit I see from opposing/trans quarters too.

    If you actually care strongly enough about this stuff, whatever 'side' you're on, stand outside this bullshit which is preventing any real dialogue from ever happening. Also why, I'd rather actual meetings/forums take place between feminist/womens/trans/left groups than allow this tit-for-tat social media battle (misgendering, slandering, propagandering, blocking, banning) to 'control' the narrative. But I fear this is how it will forever be now.
    iona, Wilf, Thimble Queen and 10 others like this.
  13. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Well-Known Member

    I think that you're right - in that the paper is bang on with the need for conversation.

    But I also disagree with your second paragraph. I think Janine's piece is very good at setting reasonable grounds for discussion. It rejects #nodebate but also says that it is not reasonable to [ETA deliberately and in bad faith] misgender people. Screaming on social media (or at Hyde Park or the Anarchist Bookfair) is not a discussion. And if there are going to be real attempts at reducing the polarisation of this issue, there will have to be ground rules - boundaries over which sensible people cannot step.
    Last edited: May 23, 2018
  14. Athos

    Athos Well-Known Member

    For example, this bold assertion when considering concerns regarding women's spaces and self-identification:

    "Should a man simply pose as a woman in order to gain access, this can be prevented."
  15. belboid

    belboid TUC Off Your Knees

    Why is it wrong? Considering the specific set of circumstances in which the point was raised.
  16. Athos

    Athos Well-Known Member

    Because it's fundamental to many women's concerns, and effectively dismissed without any explanation of how it could be done. How can anyone distinguish between a male who says he's a woman but doesn't believe he is, and a male who says she's a woman and earnestly believes it?
  17. belboid

    belboid TUC Off Your Knees

    Because, as it says fairly clearly, it already is done, in a largely uncontroversial way. Most refuges do take trans women in, without need for any certificate or further documentation. There have been no cases brought to wider attention about fraudulent men trying to 'pass.' So it is done, easily and (in all probability) daily. It's an issue that sounds plausible, but which doesn't seem to play out in reality (like most of the 'gender criticals' fears).
  18. Athos

    Athos Well-Known Member

    It says they let trans women in; it doesn't say that/how they keep men out. And, even if we ignore the (controversial) case of Christopher Hambrook (in Canada), the fact that a risk hasn't materialised in the UK in the past, doesn't mean it won't in the future.

    As it happens, I think the risk is negligible. But many women don't. And it'd be more honest in addressing those concerns to say that the risk of harm to women is greater as a result of excluding trans women than including them, rather than to assert that there's any way of eliminating that risk that men can enter women's spaces under a system of self-id (accepting that this happens at present).
  19. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Well-Known Member

  20. belboid

    belboid TUC Off Your Knees

  21. newbie

    newbie undisambiguated

    clearly not, just as choosing the most vituperative words to describe opposing politics is barely discussion, but that's what happens on these threads on here. It wouldn't be Urban if people toned down their language, and the divisiveness of this issue make such passion almost inevitible.

    that might be lovely but it seems impossible given that the opposing positions are so clearly illustrated by differing applications of words like 'her' and 'he'. Saying "it is not reasonable to misgender people"' doesn't help because both sides insist they're using language correctly.

    It doesn't seem likely either side is going to accept politeness which cedes central descriptions to the other, nor that some compromise terms would be acceptable to either side.

    Which means both sides will continue to use language which is certain to cause upset, doesn't it?
  22. littlebabyjesus

    littlebabyjesus one of Maxwell's demons

    Yep, agree with this. I think Miranda Yardley is badly wrong about lots of things and in many cases full of shit, but I see no reason not to have the arguments out with them.
  23. LynnDoyleCooper

    LynnDoyleCooper Up against the wall motherfucker.

    Hmmm, think that's very different to the possible situations people are scared about. It was clearly a publicity stunt to provoke a reaction, not a genuine attempt to deceive.

    Think there's a way to get people to overcome their irrational fears, and pointing to things like this isn't one of them.
  24. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Well-Known Member

    The aim is not to create a happy clappy utopia where everyone agrees. The point is to mark out lines which should not be stepped over, on both sides - so that sensible people can have a discussion based on mutual solidarity.

    Janine's piece is quite clear that transwomen are women. It is also clear that TERFs are not the same as fascists and should not be dealt with as if they are. I agree with both of those positions.
    Wilf and likesfish like this.
  25. newbie

    newbie undisambiguated

    where would you draw those line such that there's a chance they'd be acceptable across the spectrum of views?
    bimble likes this.
  26. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Well-Known Member

    I refer you to the link in the OP as a starting point. Of course it isn't perfect - it can't be. But I think it does take the wind out of the sails of wrongheaded people on both sides, IMO.
  27. bimble

    bimble noisy but small

    Fair enough. Thing is though, I get that misgendering someone on purpose might be hurtful and rude and not helpful. However, just abiding by that courtesy of using whatever pronouns a person wants is not the same thing as truly believing that 'trans women are women' is it. Does that matter? Is everyone to be forced to abide by that rule of engagement whilst not addressing the underlying differences of opinion that lead people to say those things? Not sure how pointful / meaningful that is personally. Should people be allowed to articulate for instance what their understanding of the word woman is if that definition is not trans inclusive? Just don't think the lines of whats reasonable are as simple as you're suggesting.
  28. newbie

    newbie undisambiguated

    and I refer you to my point about her/he and misgendering.

    I can't see that statement being an acceptable starting point for the gender critical side of the argument, so any 'ground rules' based on it will effectively exclude them. That isn't going to lead to much of a conversation.
  29. Athos

    Athos Well-Known Member

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