This is our truth, tell us yours
This might be called a think piece, as in I am kind of thinking aloud.
I have observed with interest how the usual suspects over at the New Statesman have circled their wagons regarding *that* letter in the Guardian. One of the things that I have noticed is how an attack on sex workers and trans people has been moved into an attack on trans people. The letter may have opened by repeating the lies that Kate Smurphate had her gig cancelled because of her views, and not because of a picket she invented, but the aftermath has been one of “mouthy trans activists”.
This intrigues me. It was afterall my tweet to the LSE fem soc that Miss Eight Tickets used as evidence a protest was planned. Yet, as CArter pointed out at the time, not a single person ever contacted me to ask if there was a protest. Nor of course did Nick Cohen bother to do basic journalistic spade work by contacting Goldsmiths security, who Smurphwaite claimed had informed her of the threat of protests. The speed with which a fabricated story which even a 6 year old could spot the holes in was spread shows just how poor a state UK journalism is in. There is I think another issue here though.
The now infamous Guardian letter seems to have used the events at Goldsmiths to attack trans women when there is no link between a whorephobe publicity stunt and the violent transmisogy perpetutated by people like Bindel and Greer. I dont like things that confuse me, so I have been pondering this for the past couple of days.
It seems there are two possible answers. Firstly that the terfs knew without the non existent no platforming of Smuphy this would have been more easily seen as an attack on trans women. People like Mary Beard, whose signing made the letter appear a lot more more respectable, might have been put off from such a blatant attack on trans people. Of course given the reaction over the past couple of days I may be being too kind with the benefit of the doubt there.
My second answer is more complex, and speaks to the near irrational hatred exhibited by an number of UK feminists for trans women. There are very few out sex workers in the UK, even fewer who speak out in a way that challenges patriarchal norms. There are, within that tiny group, quite a few trans women. They tend to speak as the choice to sell sexual services as one that was forced upon them by circumstances, but still a choice. This is the most challenging thing to the rescue industry, to people like Bindel who make their money from pushing the idea that sex workers are passive victims.
If some women can chose sex work, even within huge constraints of prejudice and poverty, and acknowledge that it was a choice, so much as any work under capitalist patriarchy is a choice, then the whole of the swerf effidice starts to crumble. One of the things about the trans women who talk about having been sex workers is that no one can accuse them of being privileged, of being happy hookers, of being “unrepresentative”.
Thus it becomes part of the agenda of a small group of very powerful women to link and attack the sex workers rights movement and those fighting for equal rights for trans people. I often say that there isnt a terf who isnt a swerf, but I am beginning to think separating the two is in some ways a false distinction. For those claiming trans women are not women part of the reason may well be in order to silence a group who understand that sex work can be a choice, even when you are homeless, impoverished, desperate for the drugs that will keep you alive. Its a feedback loop, part of the reason they want to silence sex workers is so they can remove a group who in fighting for sex workers rights will make trans people safer.
I am unsure if it is helpful, or necessary to see which came first, is it a transphobic chicken and whorephobic egg or vice versa? What the Guardian Letter does tell us is that the transphobe/whorephobe link in those claiming they are no platformed by lesser women is huge. I am not sure they always separate out why they hate lesser women. We are simply lesser and therefore deserving of hate.