Fix Your Hearts or Die

Opinion

7th March 2023
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I'm a cisgender woman who’s active in the North East Anarchist Group. We recently had a visit from Posie Parker and her gang of bigots, in which they showed up in Newcastle, got cold, decided quoting Mein Kampf was a good move and then left again, much to the bemusement of the Geordies. It was not a visit that went unchallenged, and we will continue to fight bigotry where we see it. Here’s why I was there on the day.

Trans-exclusionary "radical feminists" don't really know what to do with women like me, because I fall into squarely into their core demographic. I'm not quite young enough for them to dismiss me as a silly naive girl who's been somehow fooled into supporting trans rights, and I'm not quite old enough for them to call out of touch. The best they've mustered so far is that I'm involved in activism to impress men. How little these feminism-appropriating transphobes know me. I have never done anything to impress a man.

It was direct experience of misogyny that made me a feminist a couple of decades ago, and which in turn made me an activist. I wasn't being treated fairly, and neither were other people like me, and I wanted to change that. And over time, I realised that people didn't need to be like me for me to stick up for them. As any woman who's spent time in activism can tell you, however, being an activist does not make the misogyny stop. If anything, it's more potent when you experience it within activism, because you expect better. And yet many if not most of us have been subject to the full spectrum of leftist misogyny, from microaggressions up to and including assault.

All the people who have made me afraid have been cisgender men. Trans women are not, and never have been, a threat to me. I know what misogyny is, and I know who is doing it. I don't know how to resolve misogyny - maybe that's a question for another day - but the answer almost certainly does not lie in curbing the rights that cis men currently enjoy, just as it does not lie in attacking people or discriminating against them due to their gender identity. Every other woman I know who's been involved in activism for any significant length of time has their own stories, their own battle scars. So many capable friends of mine have been pushed out of activism because some man with an ego that eclipsed his capacity to listen didn't like them. We've been talked over, we've been patronised, we've been dismissed, we've been stonewalled, we've been bullied, and we've been hurt. Sometimes - all too often, in fact - by men we loved and trusted.

Why would we let trans people be treated the same way?

Gender critical ideology is poisoning the left because it attacks the very essence of solidarity. You do not have to have had the same experience as somebody else to show up and to stand up for them. Nobody looking at what trans and non-binary people are put through in this country could honestly say that they do not face constant discrimination, oppression and bigotry. If you are not sticking up for people facing oppression, you are not a leftist. Solidarity is the basic principle of being on the left.

Feminism-appropriating transphobes take the struggle that we, as women on the left, have been through, and they are using it as a weapon to attack others. I am not having my pain used by hatemongers to create more pain and more suffering and to feed into this self-defeating, doomed gender critical ideology. Like patriarchy, it ultimately harms us all to some degree or another. The rigid idea that men have to be and act a certain way harms them too, and has a knock-on effect on their mental health. And like fascism, it is bound to lose.

More than anything, it's the relentless and bitter cruelty of trans-exclusionary "radical feminism" that unfailingly transports me right back to the bullying me and my friends experienced at school. I remember exactly how that felt, and I don't want anyone to have to go through that. The transphobes who sit on Twitter all day, mocking and sniping at trans people they'll never meet, never have a conversation with, and never come close to understanding because they have no interest in trying, all for no gain whatsoever and at the cost of their own rapidly-eroding sense of compassion, will one day be consigned to the dustbin of history. For now, it's too late in the day for cisgender women like me to stay silent on the issue of transphobia in this country, and I'm proud to be in a group like NEAG which fights back against this appalling bigotry. ■

A member of the North East Anarchist Group (NEAG)

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