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#UK: Trans women are our sisters: the Anarchist Federation statement

Statement by Anarchist Federation from the UK. The statement is in solidarity with trans and non-binary people who face persecution by feminists frequently called TERFs (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists). Read also the comment below the article. 

Originally published by Anarchist Federation.

Note: Enough is Enough is not organizing any of these events, we are publishing this text for people across the US and Europe to be able to see what is going on and for documentation only.

At our national Federation Delegate Meeting in September, The Anarchist Federation agreed unanimously to sign a statement “It’s spelt Sisterhood not Cis-terhood” by the group Sister not Cister. The statement is in solidarity with trans and non-binary people who face persecution by the supposed feminists frequently called TERFs (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists). The statement itself explains the situation and context, which has arisen as TERFs use proposed reforms to the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) to impose their transphobic and bigoted version of feminism on all women.

But why does it matter that we signed? Because trans issues are not just a fashionable modern fad, or a ‘subculture’, as some on the left see things (and, illogically, some anarchists do too). Supporting the existence of trans women as women is not a bourgeoise diversion or cross-class ‘identity politics’. Neither is it just a simple matter of individual human rights – the right of people to identify as and to be treated according to who or what they consider themselves to be, as the GRA envisages. The struggle of trans people overlaps with the wider revolutionary struggle to which Anarchists contribute. That is to say, Anarchists should, and do, operate at the intersection between class struggle and the struggle for gender equality, to create a feminism which is open to everyone who wants to live both as freely and safely as individuals, and as people economically equal to everyone else.

It is a brilliant thing that so many trans women identify as anarchists. We want everyone identifying as anarcha-feminists to understand that tolerating views which undermine the struggles of trans women is akin to tolerating racists hate speech. A trans woman faces a type of abuse and violence in the street in addition to that which a cis woman from an otherwise identical socio-economic background does. Hate speech by TERFs against trans women is an attempt to deny them a voice and not to acknowledge their presence. In other words, to dehumanise them and deprive them of the sorts of social and political solidarity that other feminist women have access to. So it is vital that TERFs are not provided a platform.

Also important to anarchists is the fact that trans issues are also class issues. For example, because of the lack of appropriate free counselling, drugs, surgery, and the high price of good clothes etc. that make ‘passing’ easier, working class trans people are forced to spend money on presenting as the correct gender or on transitioning, which cis people don’t have to. Working class trans people are therefore likely to have less choice than richer people about where they live, where they hang out, how they travel safely etc. Likewise in prison, where working class people and people of colour are disproportionatley incacerated, trans people are likely to be mis-gendered in being sent there in the first place, and suffer even worse as a result. So working class trans people are disadvantaged and endangered on top of having to live in the same world of class-privilege, racism and patriarchy that we all do. It is no surprise then, that trans people are also statistically more likely to commit suicide.

The aim of TERFs is to spread lies and fear about trans women and about their intentions, so that cis-women feel afraid of them. Supporting a TERF’s right to do this makes the lives of trans people more physically and psychologically difficult and dangerous than it already is.

Here is the statement, and you and your organisation can sign the statement and contact Sisters not Cis-ters here. It’s spelt Sisterhood, not Cis-terhood statement hosted by Freedom News: https://freedomnews.org.uk/its-spelt-sisterhood-not-cis-terhood-statement/

And at sisternotcister(at)protonmail.com.

And you can also get your comrades, friends and family to put the case in the GRA public consultation, and use the consultation to help us put our case. https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/reform-of-the-gender-recognition-act-2004

Anarchist Federation, September 25, 2018


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4 thoughts on “#UK: Trans women are our sisters: the Anarchist Federation statement

  1. Trans women are my sisters too. But I don’t want cis men to be able to declare they are women, and get into women’s spaces like prisons and refuges where they can take advantage of vulnerable women (cis and trans alike). I’ve met lots and lots of people who have this view. It upsets me that we get called transphobic for having this view. It would be great if everyone could be trusted and if a man says he is a trans woman then he is always telling the truth. But we don’t live in that world. It’s not anti-trans or anti-male to say that. All kinds of people have the capacity for deception. And some men want to hurt vulnerable women. Why wouldn’t a man lie about his gender identity in order to achieve this aim?

    As an anarchist I would ultimately prefer the state not to have any say over who anybody is. But I would also want to see organisations and spaces having the autonomy to include or exclude people as they chose. This should also not be dictated to them. A working class woman might want to have a meeting with other working class women and exclude middle class women. That doesn’t mean the middle class women are not her sisters. A stay-at-home mum might want to meet with others in the same position, and exclude those who work outside the home. It should not be the job or the state or of anyone else to tell them they cannot organise how they choose. And as a female bodied person I might want to meet with other female bodied people because we have particular experiences in common and particular ways of being oppressed. It seems that AFAB people are the only oppressed group that is being told they cannot have exclusive meetings, whilst this is tolerated happily with other oppressed groups, e.g. a meeting exclusively for refugees or for elderly people.

    I think that by making this statement, the AFED is ignoring the very real concerns that women have about abuse of self-id by cis men, and also depriving their female-bodied members of the right to organise around their particular oppression.

    1. We have assed something at the introduction of the article and referred to your comment.

    2. added not assed… double typo..

    3. “It would be great if everyone could be trusted and if a man says he is a trans woman then he is always telling the truth. But we don’t live in that world” – – yes we do because this doesn’t happen. One in ten million odds is not good enough to alienate all trans women. You are just transphobic and opening with “I’m not transphobic, but..” or “Trans women are my sisters too” doesn’t mean you aren’t.

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