July 21 2012
London Radical Feminist Conference, July 2012
Statement from organisers
Scroll down to also read <Let us be free to debate transgenderism without being accused of 'hate speech'>
This July saw radical feminists from across the globe converge in London for the first women-only, radical feminist conference in 25 years.
What happened was important, urgent and necessary. Women of all ages and from many different backgrounds connected, discussed and organised, and the result was truly electrifying.
The agenda of the conference was shaped by some of the most significant issues affecting women today, with a particular focus on male violence against women and girls in all its forms.
Keynote speakers were Professor Sheila Jeffreys and Gail Dines. Panel sessions and workshops addressed topics including male violence against women and girls; prostitution; disability and women’s oppression; lesbian feminism, women-only organising and feminist culture; sharing knowledge across feminist generations; and challenging misogyny, along with several sessions focusing on organising. Some of the speeches may become available at a later time.
The organisers would like to thank all the speakers, panelists, chairs, facilitators, volunteers and delegates for making the event so incredibly vibrant and energising. We also thank all those who helped and supported the conference from a distance.
We believe that this conference, along with others taking place around the world, heralds the mobilisation of a new era of radical feminist activism. In the face of the ongoing economic, political, social and cultural oppression of women, and relentless male violence and misogyny, such mobilisation is essential and urgently needed.
We look forward to more.
London ~ Tuesday 29 May 2012
Let us be free to debate transgenderism without being accused of 'hate speech'
Researchers and theorists who question the practice of transgenderism are subjected to campaigns of intimidation
By Sheila Jeffreys
Criticism of the practice of transgenderism is being censored as a result of a campaign of vilification by transgender activists of anyone who does not accept the new orthodoxy on this issue. A recent Comment is free piece by the transgender activist Roz Kaveney, headlined "Radical feminists are acting like a cult", criticises a forthcoming radical feminist conference, at which I was to be a speaker, on the grounds that I and "my supporters" may be guilty of "hate speech" for our political criticism of this practice.
Though Kaveney's comments about me are comparatively mild in tone, the campaign by transgender activists in general is anything but. This particular campaign persuaded Conway Hall, the conference venue, to ban me from speaking on the grounds that I "foster hatred" and "actively discriminate". On being asked to account for this, Conway Hall appeared to compare me to "David Irving the holocaust denier". The proffered evidence consists of quotes from me arguing that transgender surgery should be considered a human rights violation – hardly evidence of hate speech.
For several years there has been a concerted campaign via the internet and on the ground, to ensure that I, and any other persons who have criticised transgenderism, from any academic discipline, are not given opportunities to speak in public. I have not yet spoken in public about transgenderism, but do speak about religion and women's human rights, about pornography, and about beauty practices.
Whatever the topic of my presentation, and whether in Australia, the UK or the US, transgender activists bombard the organising group and the venue with emails accusing me of transhate, transphobia, hate speech, and seek to have me banned. On blogs, Facebook and Twitter they accuse me of wanting to "eliminate" transgendered persons, and they wish me dead. One activist has created an image of a pesticide can bearing a photo of me and the slogan "kills rad fems instantly". These activists threaten demonstrations and placards against me at any venue where I speak.
What is clear is that transgender activists do not want any criticism of the practice to be made. They do not just target me, but the few other feminists who have ever been critical. Germaine Greer was glitterbombed, a practice that can be seen as assault and can endanger eyesight, in Sydney this year, though it is many years since she said anything critical of transgenderism.
Psychiatrists and sexologists who are critical of the practice are targeted too.
Transgender activism was successful in gaining the cancellation of a London conference entitled Transgender: Time for Change, organised by the Royal College of Psychiatrists' lesbian and gay special interest group for May 2011. When, in 2003, US sexologist Michael Bailey published a book, The Man Who Would Be Queen, which argued that transgenderism was a practice based on sexual fetishism, he became subject to a campaign of vilification, which included placing photographs of his children on a website with insulting captions. The effect is to scare off any researchers from touching the topic.
There are many aspects of the practice which bear investigation, including the history and social construction of the idea of transgenderism, the recent increased identification of children as transgender, the phenomenon of transgender regrets, that is those persons who consider they have made a mistake. Given that the drug and surgical treatments have now been normalised and are increasingly embarked upon by young lesbians and sought out by parents for young children, it is most important that the rights of researchers and theorists to comment and investigate should be protected.
Instead, they are subjected to determined campaigns of bullying, intimidation and attempts to shut them down. The degree of vituperation and the energy expended by the activists may suggest that they fear the practice of transgenderism could justifiably be subjected to criticism, and might not stand up to rigorous research and debate, if critics were allowed to speak out.