Why the new Trans Politics is not Radical?
I was deeply surprised to find the Shadow Equalities Minister and the Labour Party Leader both assuming that there is something radical about the new Trans Politics, admittedly it had taken me several weeks back in September last year to recognise how different the current Trans demands are from the more sensitive and inclusive politics of the Trans men and women I have known for nearly 20 years. Being disinvited to speak to students at a Cambridge College was one thing but to be lied about and abused was something completely different to my experience of politics in the previous 50 years. But even if I leave the distortions aside I am horrified by the politics of this new Trans (sexual) wave. It is, at the very least anti-women and as worrying is that it is proclaiming to be radical and progressive. To me it is a progressive as Apartheid, it claims that it is a progressive politics which recognises the distinctiveness and superiority of these men who now claim to be women, just as White people claimed to be superior to Black people. As a Black woman and a political activist since the mid-1960’s. I have seen and been involved in a lot of politics especially in Black Sections of the Labour Party and before that the Women’s Liberation Movement. I saw power being exercised to silence those of us who were oppressed because we were/are women and/or Black and who sought a new society in which we would/could all be equal. Gender, like race, are categories of humanity designed to allocate power to some and inequality to others. And what I am seeing and hearing now is a group of people who were designated male at birth, telling us that they are now women and we had better shut up because we are ‘terfs’ and have no right to be gender critical. I have no objections to men being critical of masculinity, indeed I might even agree with them, and I definitely am critical of femininity and have been since before I could spell the word. But what the new Transsexual politics seeks to do is reinforce gender rather than replace it with respect for all manifestations of humanity. We feminists, that is heterosexual and lesbian feminist are not being anti-trans we are simply rejecting a system that codifies and reinforces our oppression based on gender. I can understand why the Tories could be taken into reinforcing such reactionary politics but Labour? And Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party- surely not? I cannot help but draw parallels from my lived experience of oppression as a Black person born in London in 1950 and later as a lesbian feminist who gained awareness of the myriad ways that oppression operates through our social conditioning. Yes, the Personal is Political’, and reinforcing gender is like reinforcing racism in my World. So, as I did not stay silent when Neil Kinnock and his sidekick Peter Mandelson tried to silence me and other Black activists, I will not stay silent now, when all that feminist have worked for in seeking to eradicate sexism are now being told to shut up.