New Challengers to Prioritizing the Transgender Issue, and a Report on the Radical Feminist Panel Critiquing “Gender Identity” at the Recent Left Forum

You’ll find below an account of the recent Left Forum’s lively workshop on “Deconstructing Gender Identity Under Male Supremacy,” announced and described in our last blog post. The report is from Kathy Scarbrough, one of the panelists. 

Meanwhile, as the principles and ideology of “sex class” vs “gender choice” oppression got debated by panelists and participants at the Left Forum workshop, two African-American women are courageously raising the movement priorities question, challenging the attention and support that the U.S. president, corporations, and the mass media are giving the transgender issue over more urgent concerns of larger minorities and injustices. This of course includes the injustices faced by the female 52% majority and the even larger 99% majority whose level of health, wages, and other living standards have been declining for decades.

Maya-Dillard-Smith

In Atlanta, Maya Dillard Smith, Director of the Georgia ACLU chapter, has left the organization because of disagreements over the priority of transgender rights in the group’s agenda. She calls the ACLU “a special interest organization that promotes not all, but certain progressive rights. In that way, it is a special interest organization not unlike the conservative right, which creates a hierarchy of rights based on who is funding from the organization’s lobbying activities.” This image is from an article in Saporta Report, “ACLU’s Maya Dillard Smith: ‘I am unapologetically Black'”

Maya Dillard Smith has taken a strong stand questioning such priorities. She resigned as board member of the ACLU in Atlanta. Margaret Kimberley, columnist for the Black Agenda Report, also pursues this question in a post on her “Freedom Rider” blog, “Transgender Rights but No Rights for Black People.” Debating “intersectionality” and what it really means is all very well when it comes to trying to change ideas and culture, but for actual struggles to address the most pressing needs and help the lives of the most people, resources for campaigns have to be justly allotted and battles picked on the most defendable criteria.

A Report on the Radical Feminist Panel and Discussion at the Left Forum, May 22, 2016

Here’s the report that Kathy Scarbrough sent about the Left Forum panel. She writes that there may soon be a video of the panel available – for an update, keep checking this blog or the Redstockings facebook page (you don’t have to be “on” facebook to read it).

The Left Forum panel I participated in, Deconstructing Gender Identity Under Male Supremacy went very well on Sunday May 22nd.  We had an interesting variety of perspectives represented by 4 members of the Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF) on the panel — I did the biology of sex , including “brain sex”, we had a lawyer who talked about how gender “identity” is not yet a protected class and the current drive to expand the use of Title VII and Title IX overriding the protections in place for women. Someone else talked about the politics of all the new terms: TERF, uterus-bearers, chest feeding, front hole, etc. and testified how she became the target of trans advocates for doing anti-prostitution work.   The last panelist gave a personal story as a mother whose daughter wanted to transition from the ages of 13 until she changed her mind at age 17.  This mother discussed clearly how it was male supremacy, particularly our pornified culture that made this child want to be a boy.  It was interesting how some people tuned in to one or the other presentations, particularly the personal story seemed to touch a number of people.

Interestingly, the crowd was rather open to our analysis that male supremacy is the cause of the misery that both women and transgender people face.  We talked about the overlap in analysis– and the differences– between feminists, the conservative right and transgender ideology. Lots of murmurs of support while we were speaking.  There were about 30 people in the room, a decent mix of young, older, white, black, hispanic.  Majority female but not overwhelmingly so.  During the discussion following the presentations one young person started out her comment with “I feel like you are transphobic” but she didn’t press it and she didn’t elaborate.   There were a couple other skeptical young ‘uns and I don’t think we changed their minds but I was really glad they came and heard our position.

Another woman said she disagreed with my biology but didn’t elaborate then went on to another subject.  I suspect she didn’t like the statement that women’s oppression is based on sex, in particular on reproduction.  We were talking afterwards about how many women who choose not to use their reproductive potential argue against that potential as being related to their oppression.  Like somehow because you don’t use it, you aren’t part of the class of people who have that potential.

Most of the “questions” were a chance to pontificate, as usual, but I had the impression that the conversation could have kept going for quite a while longer if our time wasn’t up and the next panel wasn’t moving into the room.  We arranged to have the panel videotaped and the link will be available sometime in the future.

All of the members of our panel were WoLF (Women’s Liberation Front) members and following our panel we went to support the WoLF members who have started a chapter of Warrior Sisters self defense group (warrior-sisters.org) in NYC.  Warrior Sisters presented an explanation of their goals and how they see women’s self defense playing a role in women’s liberation. They argued basically that its a grassroots feminist recruiting tool, feminist development project.  All their self defense classes are free.  Right now they hold one every Saturday in the Bronx.  The founding chapter is in Eugene Oregon and they also have a group working in Tulsa, OK, and British Columbia, CA. They do an interesting combination of thinking/talking about self defense and women’s rights and learning physical techniques.

– Kathy

For some of Kathy’s scientific, feminist analysis of gender, read her “Short Take: Sloppy Science Invoked to Support Trans Ideology” and her talk, “Women’s Liberation Is Based on Sex not Gender” from the 2014 “A Revolutionary Moment” Boston University Conference. As she mentioned, Kathy Scarbrough is a member of Women’s Liberation Front, or WoLF, an active group whose members strive to produce radical feminist analyses on many fronts. Read a recent article by a WoLF member who calls out capitalist patriarchy in the mainstream transgender conversation, in “Gender, Patriarchy, and All That Jazz,” published on Counter Punch.

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