Preserving Women’s Space?

This was originally written as a comment on the posting of an article on the facebook wall of my dear friend and collaborator barbara findlay. Being a generation or 2 older than me, and with a long history of involvement in legal activism on behalf of LGBTQ+ communities and individuals, her network includes individuals with positions which either never existed, or self filtered out of my own nets some where along the process of my unapologetic trans liberation positions being declared. I wrote this to that larger net, but then when attempting to post it, FB informed me that tomes in excess of 8000 characters are not comments. So I c+p’ed it off that platform, emailed it to barbara directly and have been sitting on it for a couple of days. I have re-worked it a little bit to make sense outside the context of the thread it started in.

I need to get it out there and yet I do so with an anxiety that such writing will either


*Not be read by those who could benefit from reading it. If it resonates with you, please do share it with others who may also find value.
*Be a call for fire from the far right and terf factions in my general direction. As much as I navigate with some caution in regards to preventing doxxing, I cannot let this fear silence me. If you are reading this and fuming over it because the far right epidomizes your values and you are here to be a jerk a)please don’t b)take a moment to sit with yourself. Maybe a really long moment. Let yourself be offline. Sit in silence. the silence is really important. Great. Thanks. We all appreciate it.
*Be taken as a blanket position that is representative of transmasc perspectives on who is included in women’s space, ignoring the specifics of my race, class, age, ability as well as the truth of the matter that trans perspectives and positions fall all across the spectrum.
These are some of my stories and my opinions.

I also ask that if you find truth in this and have the financial means to do so, seek out an individual or organization that is raising money for mutual aid to support marginalized folks. Some potential directions to support include:

https://support.lgbtiqrefugees.com

https://houseofgg.org/donate/

https://www.transgenderdistrictsf.com/donate

https://www.transjusticefundingproject.org/

https://www.theokraproject.com/

https://www.snap4freedom.org/home

https://www.lgbtqfund.org/

https://2spirits.org

http://blacktranstravelfund.com/donate

https://www.wavaw.ca/

Or look up on IG: @fundsforcaregivers, @btfacollective, @sloanejett, @transnormativity

Or on Twitter: @PayBlkTrnsWomen


Hey there, I noticed there was a call for trans masculine perspectives on this issue. I have been trying to take more distance from social media comment threads, because quite honestly this way of advancing our positions as comrades in a much larger and more pressing tide change is a waste of my time and fragile mental health. But barbara and I are tight in a way that warrants me leaving a short book in her comment threads every so often, so here you are.

As always, my critiques on haters aren’t for the haters, it’s all about you undecided moderates watching this go down and wondering which side you find yourself on.

I have invested myself and worked my ass off to preserve “women’s space” that had been brought in to being by the fight of hard working women in the 70s. We wanted to make sure that those spaces could make it through the coming tide changes by getting solid in policy and practice around really foundational human rights issues like being in good relationship with Indigenous teachings and decolonization, as well as ensuring equitable access to the much needed services a women’s center has to offer. We were doing so for all people who identified as women, as well as, within a different time of the week, with trans by-and-for support services for all marginalized genders. We worked to integrate these changes on institutional levels and solidify the organization in hopes that we could move into the future with a greater capacity to solve “women’s issues”; namely food insecurity, housing insecurity, access to childcare, access to mental health, and isolation in more robust and financially sustainable means, including social enterprise and public partnerships.

I was asked to apply for that position by members of the board. I went to the woods and dropped acid in an older midwife grower ladies cabin and tuned into an ancient tradition of feminists who reminded me that gender weirdos have ALWAYS been a part of the matriarchy. We have been sitting around the table preparing the feast, we have been tending the babies and making things happen behind the scenes. I took 1/2 the position, which I shared with a cis woman. We were really excited to work together and had a great crew of people on our staff and board.

Then.

A group of women spouting this sort of ideology started showing up and speaking up. They are each individuals and can only be responsible for their own actions, but when lumped together I can tell you they included such demonstrations of solidarity towards feminism as:

-scoffing and verbal disparagement at the notion of me (the chest feeding single parent co-ED) nursing my child in the centre because it was confusing, and “what was I anyways?”

-virulent posting of fear based memes on the centers social media community. This not only impacted community members targetted by such posts, but ended up being a huge draw on staff resources to attempt to moderate “debates” that were laden with all manners of circular logic, straw man arguments and dog whistles about violence and free speech. These staff hours were taken from serving the needs of women.

-verbally harassing the cis-women staff not only at work but also out in the community on the “problems” that would come with trans inclusion. This made women in the community unsafe.

-attempted mail fraud in an effort to tamper with AGM elections.

-an organized filibuster of the 2018 AGM wherein this group refused to let the meeting take place in ways that incorporated First Nation’s teachings or ever move forward to the part of the meeting where trans inclusion would be up to discussion. This meeting turned into yelling, pushing, and name calling. Mostly, honestly from the older white women, towards the indigenous women elders, but also to younger POC and trans people. Despite the efforts of the violent boomer aged white women to get their falsified versions of events into police reports first, many cis allies took the time to go in and speak to those accounts, correcting them and preventing false charges being laid.

-Ongoing harassment campaigns that have resulted in the closure of the space, because the TERFS, not the trans people, were making it unsafe for anyone, even cis women to work there. Trans people had been accessing the space since the early 90s; efforts to get this onto paper and into governance structures brought an exclusionary militancy out of the woodwork that closed the space this year. They may say it’s cause of covid, but it’s not.

There are a lot of things about this whole thing that are impossibly challenging. One is that I think a lot of women who worked really hard for us to have the spaces we have or have had also accrued heaps and heaps of trauma in that process. Some, but not all of these women have had the support in order to do good healing and keep learning past where they may have entered a somewhat locked down state for the maintenance of their well being. Healing is hard work, and we still live in a kyrarchy that has kept many women working their asses off for their 76 cent dollars, while also managing households and taking care of their aging and dying parents etc etc etc. We can see tendencies that are surely skewed through not only gendered, but also classed and generational patterns, wherein addressing one’s healing work isn’t waged, is therefore inaccessible to many, and also can be treated as sort of a last thing to get to. I’m not saying this to call anyone person out and say, “look at your wounds before you start waving that stick…” but rather that I have watched over the past few years that this “ideology” has grabbed hold of more and more women within our movements. I can see the threads that track from that to a shared enemy that ‘radical feminists who just aren’t sure about the sanctity of womens’ space’ for some reason can’t see- and I have a theory about that. The far right (and I don’t see a need at this point to mince words, terf idology is a speaking point of the far right) have a big lobby, they have investment behind them because the business of preventing intersectional liberation movements is big business with tendrils in every single industry.

The far right is drawing attention to and taking advantage of the wounds of living in patriarchy, and telling women to turn their blades to trans folks.

We have all gotten the memo that there is a mission to turn those on the left against each other right? We have seen during previous election cycles that the amount of this conflict feedings seems to ramp up as campaigns run. I’ve heard it pinned back to Russia, but I think the idea is that no one has to do much if they take our wounds and fears and traumas and shake them up and sic us on each other.

So the couple of women who are really concerned about women, womens safety, etc.

Come on. Wake up.

Trans women are experiencing misogyny. Misogyny is the enemy. Not trans women.

Misogyny operates within all people of marginalized genders, including us trans mascs. No matter how much male privilege I might be able to muster, I can’t undo the track that cut deep from living as a woman in a world that treats women like garbage. I see women treating trans women as worse than garbage, because why, because they need to pee? Because they didn’t shave? Are you fucking kidding me? What the fuck was any feminism for if we are expecting women to perform femininity in a specific certain way?

ooooooo ok deep breath. inhale. exhale.

I get really upset seeing the women who we are indebted to being baited by the lobby of the far right, buying these bullshit blog posts and poster women like JK and MM, and being taken for a ride. Their fears and unresolved traumas are being exploited and it is not ok.

I get even more upset when I see those women take the bait and become hell hounds for their own oppressors.

Keeping trans women out of women’s spaces doesn’t save women’s spaces.

It closes them. It burns out good staff. It exhausts resources.

Like the huge amount I just did here.

Now I am gonna do what I can to unwind, relax and ground. Cause I know that being here, baited on the edge of my seat to go to bat in the next round of the battle of the comment threads doesn’t work. There are always battles to go into, but if I have learned anything from organizing within a intergenerational intersectional matriarchal orders (of which I would say I have been embedded in for ~30 years) it is that we need to value the labour that is quiet, slow, internal.

I know that when I can find that place; with my trans ancestors, meditating in the bath, tied up and swinging upside down, whatever, the petty nattering of terfs melts to the insignificance it deserves, and that allows me the strength to live in my whole self another day

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