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Unknowingly protesting with a lesbian transphobe!

Commentary: Trans Progressive

Germaine Greer

Nov. 15, 2010, is the anniversary of when I participated with GetEQUAL in handcuffing myself to the White House fence for the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT). I’m not sure I’d do it now because of something someone said on my Facebook timeline this week that says something about them that is anathema not only to me, but to a large portion of the trans community.

Way over across the pond in the United Kingdom, a second wave feminist named Germaine Greer was scheduled to speak at the University of Cardiff. Because she stated in her book The Whole Woman that trans women are men “who believe they are women” because they have been “castrated,” she’s been identified as transphobic and a number students at the school objected to having her as a speaker. These students were so upset by the idea of her being a speaker at the school that one of them started a Change.org petition to have her “no-platformed” — in other words, not given a platform to speak at the university (or anywhere else, for that matter) because of her views on trans women.

Greer then went on BBC’s Newsnight and reiterated her “opinion” on trans women, stating, “I’m not saying that people should not be allowed to go through that procedure, what I’m saying is it doesn’t make them a woman.”

Greer withdrew on her own from speaking at Cardiff. She used an anti-gay slur to make her point: “Bugger it. It’s not that interesting or rewarding.”

I posted about all of this on my Facebook feed. I’m no fan of these trans exclusionary radical feminists, which were dubbed by other non-transgender feminists by the abbreviation TERF. Many trans women have embraced the abbreviation, myself among them.

Not every woman or feminist who is trans exclusionary is self-identified as radical, and many self-identified trans exclusionary radical feminists consider the term TERF to be a slur. TERF however, isn’t the only way to identify as trans exclusionary.

There’s a dog-whistle term, and it’s woman-born-woman, sometimes spelled womon-born-womon. The abbreviation for it is WBW. It’s a way of stating trans women aren’t female.

Perhaps the most famous of spaces where trans women weren’t ever welcome was the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. Lisa Vogel, a co-founder of the festival and person who, till the last festival this past summer, never welcomed trans women, calling the desire to exclude trans women in the end “the intention.” History will no doubt remember her as a transphobic bigot.

Unfortunately, I found out Oct. 25 that one of the women I handcuffed myself to the White House fence with didn’t believe trans women were fully women. Mariam Ben-Shalom, one of the women who I was protesting with, used the WBW dog whistle on one of my Facebook posts on Germaine Greer.

“This is just another attempt, IMHO, to negate WBW, I think,” Ben-Shalom wrote in response to an essay by Helen Boyd, where Boyd wrote a feminist take on why trans women wore both women and female.” I am no TERF, but I feel that WBW are under attack not only from Dominionist Christians, but from trans-folk and their allies as well.”

I’ve literally been sick to my stomach since I read that. I participated in LGBT activism with a lesbian I now consider a dog-whistling transphobe. She might as well of called me a man.

What a sad commentary: I went to support my lesbian, gay and bisexual community when trans people didn’t have a stake in repealing DADT. I’m left with the feeling now that I wouldn’t have participated with GetEQUAL in that November trip to the White House fence if I knew there was a lesbian transphobe in the group I went with.



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Posted by on Oct 29, 2015. Filed under Bottom Highlights, Trans Progressive. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

9 Comments for “Unknowingly protesting with a lesbian transphobe!”

  1. 18 months ago one hardly heard a TERF argument anywhere. Now they are blasted all over the mainstream media with most commenters agreeing heartily with the TERF philosophy. Is this some sort of backlash by all these “WBW”s? I don’t even know if the women feminists who support TERF still believe that, there’s been so much backsliding. What next, gay guys fed up with people asking them when they are having THEIR sex change operations?? The ignorance!!!

  2. Why repeat lies? Why? Where is the rigor of real knowledge or experience?
    No one had heard of a “terf” argument because the activists that needed an enemy to point to, hadn’t made it up yet.

  3. Concerned Transbian

    Next thing you know these lesbian transphobes will be saying that penis = male!

  4. Dear Autumn,
    You would be so surprised to know the list of people who are TREFs and many signed a letter a couple of years ago attesting to it. You know I vehemently disagree with them.
    However I want to tell you with all my heart that you did the right thing protesting at the White House. Heck, I am anti-war but all Americans have the right to serve and I am proud of what I did to end DADT.
    You showed up. You risk everyday of your life. You were not diminished in anyway that one of the people at the fence is a TERF.
    You are an activist. I am proud of you.
    Thank you.

  5. I understand how insulted you are, Autumn, and how much pain someone stupid like Greer can cause. Her problems, though, take nothing away from the noble action you were a part of. You are a good person with good actions and good intentions. Do not let a moron like Greer take any of that away from you.

  6. What constitutes femaleness? It is my considered position that femaleness is conferred by the final pair of XX chromosomes. Otherwise I don’t know what it is.
    — Germaine Greer

    J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2008 Jan;93(1):182-9
    A 46,XY mother who developed as a normal woman underwent spontaneous puberty, reached menarche, menstruated regularly, experienced two unassisted pregnancies, and gave birth to a 46,XY daughter with complete gonadal dysgenesis.

  7. How can you claim to support the lesbian and gay community when at the same time you insist that genital preference is transphobic?

    Lesbians desire natal women with vulvas (not neovags) and gay men are turned on by their partner’s penis.

    Demanding lesbians desire penis is outright homophobia. Odd that it’s lesbians (typically smaller and weaker) who get bullied by the trans lobby far more than gay men. But of course the sexual boundaries of males must be respected, whereas the sexual boundaries of females are always up for grabs.

    There’s a certain type of MtT who is almost indistinguishable from the MRAs.

  8. When you deny being transphobic and then go on to use dogwhistles like “natal women” and “neovags” and TERF expressions like “MtT” (that’s not even a dogwhistle, that’s a downright transphobic slur that denies the womanhood of trans women outright), you shouldn’t be surprised when people don’t take you seriously. The lady doth protest too much.

  9. And of course calling trans women “males” and implying that they all have penises and (despite HRT) are all bigger and stronger and can easily overwhelm a cis woman (news: no, they’re definitely not, and they cannot). THAT is exactly the reason why people consider your “genital preferences” not preferences, but pure bigotry and transmisogynistic hatred.

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