Not in Our Name

You know what I hate? Transphobia. You know what I hate more? Transphobia in the name of feminism and lesbianism.

Once a year there’s this conference on Radical Feminism that produces vile transphobia in the name of defending feminism from penises or something. So once a year I search for the RadFem13 or whatever that year’s hashtag is, read something transphobic and get sad, then read all the feminists – cis and trans* – speaking out against it and get happy again. It’s a weird way to spend your time but if you do it for more than an hour your face starts to hurt. I imagine these ‘Radical’ so-called ‘Feminists’ spout their transphobia more than once a year but I don’t hear about it quite as often. However, today I discovered transphobia in guise of feminism and promoting lesbian identity is alive and well in Glasgow.

Today I discovered something called ‘Dyke March Glasgow’, This group wants a march to show,

‘young lesbians who are not out. Can see that they are not alone that they are not freaks. Also because I really would like to meet more Lesbians in and around Glasgow who would be interested in doing actions… Making zines having group meeting or just organising more space for lesbians to get together and talk / support one another’.

Well that sounds lovely. The Gay Agenda UK wants a nice safe space for queer women and a sense of community too. However, that’s where the comparison ends. In fact I should retract any comparison. I missed out the first part of their post that begins ‘I want to create a Woman Born Woman Lesbian Dyke March’. Yep that’s right – only ‘women born women’ can celebrate their identity and community. I don’t know many people that see us as ‘born’ ‘women’ instead focusing more on social construct but that, dear reader, is an argument for another time. I looked at the comments to see if they would clarify their position on ‘Woman Born Woman’ or ‘WBW’ as they refer to it just in case there was something I’d misinterpreted and my fears of transphobia were wrong. I’m about to repost some very transphobic things. I apologise for reiterating their bigotry but we need to know what kind of ideas we’re up against.

One person claimed: ‘Trans women are not women. they do not have the right to my space or my vagina, if that makes me ‘transphobic” so be it.’

Another claimed: ‘Men are not lesbians. No matter what they are wearing. Pro tip: the clue is the dick.’

And another: ‘Trans is a myth and illusion. Men can never be women.’

And finally: ‘A person with a penis is a male. A male with his penis removed is still a male – but now he is a male without a penis. That is fact, and no, it cannot be changed. All the ‘preferred gender pronouns’ in the world can’t change that reality.’

What gives you the right to name another person’s gender? Transphobia is not something that can just be shrugged off because it doesn’t hurt you specifically. When cis-people in the queer community shut trans* people out it damages our entire community as feminists, queers, LGBT people and as lesbians. When we say that we as women share oppression and as lesbians we share other different forms of oppression we have no right to say who gets to be counted as a woman or a lesbian. You define as a ‘queer’ ‘woman’ some or all of the time? Come on in to The Gay Agenda UK! We don’t check you genitalia at the door. There is a worrying reduction to biology here that suggests unless you have a fully functioning vagina, menstrual system and when you were born the doctor shouted ‘it’s a girl!’ you don’t get to call yourself a woman. When I introduce myself as Rhianna people don’t say to me ‘No you can’t call yourself that – you can’t sing’. That would be ridiculous. Yet this group are attempting some gender policing on who gets to define as a woman!

And, it isn’t just trans* women that don’t get to play at ‘Dyke March Glasgow’!

‘Het and bisexual women take from Lesbians’.

‘Dykes are lesbians. Transgender is anti-lesbian’.

Unfortunately these comments offer no explanation as to how or why trans* might be ‘anti-lesbian’ or what it is that is being taken from lesbians. Thankfully, lots of commenters are speaking out against this transphobia. One writes ‘Trans women are women too. Keep prejudice out of my lovely home city’ to which Dyke March Glasgow responded with ‘Stop being Lesbophobic.’ I am deeply troubled by a definition of lesbophobia that refuses trans* women to be called women. Dyke March Glasgow, I think you need to take a look at who you’re speaking for and why. Are trans* women really against your identity? The only lesbophobia I read on your page was directed at trans* lesbians.

There are only 31 people that like this Facebook page and there is a danger that promoting them with a blog post does more harm than good. However, we need to call out transphobia or bigotry. We can’t let it go unchallenged. Dyke March Glasgow claim to speak for young lesbians growing up gay in this city I live in. Being 25 I just about fit into that young lesbian in Glasgow category. Let me be perfectly clear here: when you hurl transphobic abuse at women under the guise of promoting lesbian identity, you do not speak for me. When you insist on some form of gender policing to keep women you don’t want to acknowledge as women out, you don’t speak for me. When you want to march for being born as a women ignoring any shared experience of lesbians, you you don’t speak to me.

Not in our name.

We are proud to stand with our trans* sisters. Photo by Kellie Parker:

We are proud to stand with our trans* sisters.

Photo by Kellie Parker:

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3 thoughts on “Not in Our Name

  1. Christina says:

    Hi Rhianna,

    Just to wanted to point you in the direction of this post by the Glasgow Feminist Network

    The ‘dyke march’ group, (not affiliated with the previous Glasgow Dyke March by the way) is part of a small group of TERFs who took over the Glasgow Feminist Network group on Facebook by banning all it’s mods. Also, there were a large number of comments calling them out on their transphobia on the dyke march page, all of which have been deleted, so I can see why it would look like the only voices there are ones of agreement, but this definitely isn’t the case.

    I can assure you that the majority of feminists in Glasgow find this kind of transphobia abhorrent and what you are seeing are the views of a transphobic, but unfortunately highly vocal, minority.

  2. Hi Christina, thank you so much for your comment. It’s incredibly reassuring to know that this group isn’t representative of Glasgow feminists. Is the Glasgow Feminist Network alive and well despite the Facebook problems? If so I’d love to know more about what you do and how to get involved. Rhianna

  3. […] Not in Our Name ( […]

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