Cissexism and You

Sharing a six year old column from Gender Apostates, a blog of gender critical women and trans folks. After s sharp debate in a FB group of gender-critical leftists (women and men) [Can trans people be gender critical? Do we block anyone trans because they’ve drunk the koolaid by naming themselves trans? Or do we block people for what they say?] I found this a helpful clarification.

“In ‘The Second Sex’, De Beauvoir talks at length about the oppositional nature of minority classes. For example, blacks possess an alterity to whites. Homosexual people possess an alterity to heterosexual people, etc. As such they can be said to be “Others” in relation to the Normative or ruling class. Another word for the ruling class would be the “One.”

After skipping through the most recent alarms on, teacher accused of bigotry for quoting James Baldwin on, Why he said ‘I am not your N–‘ and the TV masters edited it to be less offensive. Offensive was the point.

I am not clear this minute on why these appear connected to me– oh, wait…

Baldwin was describing the reality, again and again, of racial oppression and his refusal to go along quietly, submit to the dominant power even in the form of language. This essay from a trans identified man, a transwoman, points out we women are submitting again by using ‘cis’, by othering ourselves.

The ruling ideas of a period are the ideas of the ruling class. We used to know that, see it, describe it. We need more practice.

No long worked-out screed, but an effort to start practicing speaking.

Finishing with another quote,

“… and when we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard not welcomed but when we are silent we are still afraid. So it is better to speak, remembering we were never meant to survive.” Audre Lorde

Thoughts on Non Binary…

Found this brilliant take on, non-binary, “I’m not a woman because I say so”, written in Big Mouth Girl five years ago. Nedra Johnson took the words right out of my mouth, right down to not wanting to NEED a bra. So, while I put off again, writing my own words, I’ll share hers. Material reality still asserts itself, whatever we wish

” When I was younger, there was not this same identity focused culture among people my age. There was no opportunity to bond with other young women/girls and name what I was feeling with a collective. And I have to say, I think that was probably a good thing. Yes, I dissociated from and did what I could to hide my body. I think I did that in part, because I didn’t identify with what my body meant to other people. I dissociated, because I did not like, or rather, because I hated my vulnerability and the inherent subjugation that comes with being a female in patriarchy. I layered and did what I could to hide my femaleness. I had no idea about binding, otherwise I really might have done that. I refused to wear a bra, because I didn’t want to need one. Looking back, that didn’t make sense in any kind of practical way. Not wanting to need a bra and so not wearing one, meant I stopped being athletic, because running was physically painful and also made it very obvious that I DID in fact need a bra or some kind of support. Again, the material reality trumped my internal desire. But that said, my real internal desire was not to be male. It was to have my body not inform how I am treated in the world…..”


“Here is the thing… With sex, meaning the actual biology and reproductive systems human beings are born with, there comes a material reality that places those of us who are AFAB (Assigned Female at Birth) into the subjugated sex caste and those of us who are AMAB (Assigned Male at Birth) into the dominating sex caste. And no matter how we ultimately identify, this material reality will inform our lives. It will inform how people see and treat us and how we are socialized even when, internally, we are fighting to not be a part of it all….”

Gender-critical articles


Sharing here various articles, and Redlines’ list of articles on a number of subjects, all about gender-critical or abolitionist or radicalfeminist perspectives. I share these links and know, I have a lot of explaining to do, to use my own words. What is peak-trans? Why I stand with JK Rowling. What’s the timeline, whats the reason this bizarre identitarian cult has taken over feminism, lesbian and gay liberation, etc. I plan to share resources on the two pandemics we’re experiencing, too — the virus one and the racism one, and the falling-apart-at-the-seams-why-haven’t-we-launched a-new-society-yet thing. Reality has caught up and surpassed irony, comedy, surrealism.

In the meantime, WITH links, and without links.

Redline, a New Zealand leftist website (paper? Organization?) posts a list here of all its gender-critical articles, some of which I have already shared. A collection of articles from the left which rejects self-definition, and criticizes the trans-cult. To find specific articles, search their website for the content listed.

‘TERF’: A handy guide for irresponsible journalists, shady academics, and irate men

From Meghan Murphy, Canadian journalist banned from twitter for stating that Jessica formerly Jonathan, Yaniv was a man. He’s now known publicly after his suit against several waxing salons demanding they wax his “female” balls lost. Quick skim through many issues, possibly places to start looking for more discussion   The Making of Trans Children  and  Conservative writer, conservative magazine, thought-provoking questions. Why are young girls being pressured into changin their bodies, instead of changing the unacceptable conditions of a misogynistic society that makes them hate themselves?

An Open Letter to the Guy on Twitter Who Wonders if Biological Sex is Real, by the Gender Detective on Medium (either Medium or WordPress won’t let me publish the link, but you can find it). Brilliant, succinct – and it uses railroad track metaphors!

So, this is J.K. Rowling’s tweet that got her targeted:

Dress however you please. Call yourself whatever you like. Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you. Live your best life in peace and security. But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real? #IStandWithMaya #ThisIsNotADrill
You can read her ACTUAL words here, not what was attributed, nor all the vilifications and threats. ( They’re easy to find, the threats and trashing.)

Reddit purged many, many gender-critical subreddits. Twitter did it ages ago, Reddit is catching up. Free press= the press is free for those who own the press. Learn code!



View at

There are various groups, some private, some closed, to join on Facebook,  with names like Resisters United, Gender Critical Leftists, Radfem— or Radical Feminist— (something), Desisters (women who no longer see themselves as trans) and networks of women on the web. Here’s two

Feminists in Struggle (“FIST”) is a national female-only radical feminist network, democratically run, and composed of individuals born female and affiliated female-only feminist organizations.

The home page is a blog format. On the dashboard you can look up our principles, campaigns, and resources.

The Declaration of Women’s Sex-Based Rights, an international campaign for women, has a clear statement and an impressive list of feminist organizations and individuals who support it. Includes links.


Male pattern violence and female pattern violence

In the UK, prison authorities announced plans to build transwomen wings for biological males, after complaints from women prisoners. Someone shared this fascinating article based on statistics, not just anecdotes, on who commits violence and who’s imprisoned, in UK. 99+% violence done by males, and >1% by biological females. It would be interesting to know the numbers in US, with all the caveats about, # punishments don’t always reflect # acts, based on racism, class. “Transwomen Sexual Offenders — a Closer Analysis of MoJ Statistics” by Pomgolian

Actual Lesbian History, Stormé DeLarverie


( Stormé standing guard by The Cubby Hole in the West Village, probably in the 1990s.)


Weathering the storm of the gender ideology wars has been harder than I expected. I intend to return to writing my own material, when I can, while I have only succeeded in short snappy returns to facebook posts. In the meantime WordPress has shut down Gendertrender for writing J_____ Yaniv, former name of the transgender person who filed 16 human rights complaints against waxing salons. There was a youtube video on the complaints. It’s gone, too.    and


In the meantime, I leave here an article on Stormé DeLarverie, lesbian singer and activist, from a socialist writer, Ann Montague.

Stormé DeLarverie: The lesbian spark in the Stonewall Uprising

The Social Contagion – The Toxic Aspect of Transactivism (and thought policing at Brown)

Dead Wild Roses posts

–“From The Times:

–Hey folks just your weekly update from the Queer Ministry of Truth:

–“Natacha Kennedy asked people to list academics deemed to be transphobic”

–“A transgender lecturer orchestrated a smear campaign against academics across the UK in which universities were described as dangerous and accused of “hate crime” if they refused to accept activists’ views that biological males can be women, it can be revealed.” See the whole story by clicking on link.

UK Transactivist working on enemies list, academics who don’t toe the line. The gender wars are partly about content, the difference between sex and gender, looking at science and sociology, the lived experience of young girls and boys in a world where the gender rules are ever more sharply enforced. They are also about silencing anyone who calls things by their right names.

One can react with fear, keeping one’s head down, repeating what we know to be false. Or one can resist, and organize. I’m going out to get my new tshirt, “There are four lights.”

via The Social Contagion – The Toxic Aspect of Transactivism

AND in US, Objecting to the attack on Lis Littman’s research on rapid onset gender dysphoria

AND Littman’s research

Vancouver Dykes

I came across these wonderful pictures of the West Coast Womyn gathering for the (August 4) Vancouver Dyke March.


Then I read about what happened.

Thanks to Danielle Cormier and Max Dashu’s post on Facebook August 14—

The Vancouver Dyke March (which i shared photos of not long ago) was much worse than I knew. They even banned the lesbian symbol! but the harassment followed the same aggressive pattern as in SF, complete with megaphone chanting and surrounding the targeted lesbians — with the difference that it was done by march officials themselves: “While we were gathering near McSpadden Park, where the march was to begin, we were approached by two members of the Vancouver Dyke March board. They told us that our T-shirts and placards excluded transwomen and since this was an “inclusive march” we would have to remove them if we wanted to participate. We were additionally told that if any of our signs, banners, or t-shirts included the venus symbol — representing “woman” — (the two interlocked venus symbols have always meant lesbian) or “XX,” symbolizing the female sex chromosome, we would also have remove them. We were warned to not touch anyone and keep our hands to ourselves. Nothing was offered in terms of how our inclusivity and safety would be protected.

“We respectfully declined to follow their demands to get rid of our signs and T-shirts, and proceeded in a calm, respectful, and peaceful tone, and joined the march. During the march, board members, organizers, volunteers, and their supporters — male and female — surrounded us, yelled “TERF bigots;” pointed a megaphone at us, chanting, “Tranwomen are women,” “This is an inclusive march,” and, “There is no room for hate at the Dyke March.” One particularly aggressive trans-identified male ran through our group repeatedly, yelling “Get your ‘Fuck TERFs’ pin!” in the faces of individual women in our group, and trying to hand out said pins, which we refused.

“Others formed a human barricade in front of us, separating us from the rest of the march, which had the effect of insulating us within the crowd of people who were harassing us, and shielding the rest of the march from witnessing this harassment. The yelling and hostility became increasingly frenzied as the march progressed and as more onlookers joined in. We were grateful it was a relatively short distance from the beginning of the march to its end destination. Notably, not a single person intervened, but approximately 10 more women quietly joined us. [Thanks, brave women.] By the end of the march, we were 50 strong.

When we asked a board member what they planned to do about all this hostility and harassment, we were told that no one was in violation of any Vancouver Dyke March guidelines (except us) and that anyone had the right to protest hate speech (except us, apparently), and informed us that “TERF” is not hate speech.

“Being branded a “TERF” forever guarantees a “shoot now, ask questions never” approach tied to a “you asked for it” attitude where, increasingly, any and all retaliatory behaviours are considered justified.”

See also, story in feminist current (You won’t see it in local LGBT papers)

Should narrow gender roles be cured with surgery?


July 4, 2018 Anonymous

Originally published in Aftenposten 1. July 2018 [Oslo]

There’s no wonder many feel uncomfortable with the sex they were born as. But the only alternative shouldn’t be corrective surgery.

When A​nki Gerhardsen wrote in Aftenposten​* about the lack of critical analysis o fthe transgender phenomenon in the media, particularly the treatment of transgender children, it set off a furious debate. But an important part of the puzzle is missing. What happens when gender reassignment (transitioning) doesn’t turn out the way the individual had imagined? Where are those who choose to stop the transition (to desist or detransition)? And what sort of help do they really require if transitioning haven’t helped them?

Over the last few years we’ve seen a rapid increase in trans identifying people. ​

Sweden saw a 2000 percent increase of individuals who sought help from one gender reassignment clinic between 2010 – 2016.​ **

A lot has changed in the discourse concerning this demographic. Previously it was adult biological males who dominated the statistics, today it’s young girls.

The queer community’s solution: I was a man.

As so many other teenage girls, I didn’t identify with many aspects of femininity. The queer community had a solution to this – I was really a man. I didn’t feel comfortable with what was expected of me as a woman with regards to expression and personality. The queer community confirmed this as me being transgender, and transitioning seemed like the only healing solution to my problem.

It could just as well have been me who had completed gender reassignment surgery, but through reflection, over time, I began to understand that there was more behind my complex emotions.

I realised that it wasn’t me there was something wrong with, but society. It felt better trying to accept reality than attempting to escape from it.

From my own experience as a previously trans identified person, and from my engagement with the detransitioning community, I see four main, reoccurring, reasons for why people identify as trans.

Reasons for transidentification:

1. The first one is obvious: A girl who doesn’t fit into the female sex role. She may experience being ostracised for not performing femininity “correctly”. If she in addition is a lesbian and therefore gains access to the queer community, it’s easy to feel as if she’s born in the wrong body.
2. I’ve also known many girls who started identifying as trans because they had experienced sexual abuse which meant they wanted to distance themselves from their bodies. They felt that as males they could been saved from both previous and future abuse.
3. There’s a connection between trauma, psychological diagnosis and the wish to change one’s sex. There is for example a disproportionate amount of autistic people who identify as trans. ​A study from the Netherlands​ show that 7,8 percent of transgender people are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. I believe one of the reasons for this could be that people on the autistic spectrum often have a greater difficulty understanding social norms and therefore in a number of ways don’t feel like they fit in.

4. The fourth reason I have witnessed is trend, and there’s no doubt that identifying as trans has increased in popularity. As a young person one has a need to feel special, to find one’s tribe, to explore one’s own identity. There isn’t anything wrong with this in itself, but it does make queer communities very attractive for identify seeking teenagers. Teenagers have a lot of questions, and queer communities have many (self declared) answers.

The trans community are focusing less on exploring underlying feelings and more on blindly confirming any feelings one might have as fact.

When the identification builds upon social factors, what happens when this leads to serious and irreversible consequences?

Offer of surgery, not therapy.

This isn’t an attempt to stop people seeking help. My point is that we’re talking about a minority in society which is growing rapidly, the vast majority of whom are young girls. And the “help” we as a society have to offer this very vulnerable group, is proving to be less of a helping hand and more a push over the edge.

If someone wishes to undergo gender reassignment surgery, they must refer themselves to the main hospital in Oslo (Rikshospitalet).
There they’ll go through an assessment which to a large degree centers around whether they fit into the stereotypical roles associated with their biological sex. They must fulfil a certain amount of feminine or masculine qualities. Many are rejected, and some choose to seek treatment privately instead where there are no gatekeepers.

If they do receive a diagnosis, they may be offered surgery and / or hormone treatment. The only alternatives they will be offered are medical interventions, not therapeutic help. There isn’t any other diagnosis which is almost entirely caused by external pressure, where the only treatment offered is one which bends to the same pressure.

I wonder if this can be considered responsible practice, particularly as we know so little about the long term effects.

Monopoly on terminology.

The health service haven’t managed to get up to date while the latest trans revolution has happened. This has meant that transactivists now have a monopoly on definitions.

Identity politics first rule of always confirm, never question, is now also expected to be practiced by the health service.

In the trans community, also internationally, I experience strong pressure around transitioning.

You’re not allowed to ask if a young woman who wants to remove her breasts has this wish because she doesn’t like the sexualisation of her body – you must simply agree with her given reasoning. The reality is that we can never become a different sex to the one we’re born as, and that narrow gender roles can’t be cured with surgery.

Suicide risk.

If transitioning helps, then surely we don’t need to be so critical?
A Swedish study***​ which is often cited both by professionals and transactivists in Norway, concludes that transitioning minimises gender dysphoria.

However, one important detail which is often left out, is that the same study shows that there is a ​19 times higher risk for suicide after transitioning than there is for the majority population.​ These are alarming figures. There is no research that justifies the fact that we have a public institution which perform these medical interventions, when there is no conclusive evidence to show that they do help.

“A few exceptions of regretters”

The few times detransitioners are brought up in conversation, they’re presented as “a few exceptions of regretters”. But regret assumes that one has a choice to begin with. Are we really giving trans identified people a choice, if the only treatment offered for dysphoria is surgical procedures and hormones?

For these people transitioning doesn’t feel like a choice, but a decisive step to ensure their lives are improved, as this is being promoted as the only option.

In the trans community, also internationally, I experience strong pressure around transitioning. Being in an environment where there is a lot of talk about which body parts people want to remove and which they want added, has an effect on you, regardless of who you are.


Many detransitioners want to speak out about the pharmaceutical industry and the trans community, but experience being silenced and told they’re a far too small minority to be considered relevant.

But there are more than we might think. ​Statistically 2.2 percent of trans people detransition​, however this only takes into account those who’ve completed the entire process of transitioning including having undergone surgery, and who have since gone through the legal process of changing all their documentation back to match that of their birth sex. I know many who would not be included in this statistic.

In addition, this statistic only covers those who transitioned before year 2000. Going forward we can expect to see a growing wave of detransitioners as a result of the current large group of young transitioners.

A need to make detransitioners visible

For this reason I want to stress the importance of visibility and representation of detransitioners. Even though there are many who feel the way I did when I realised transitioning wasn’t going to improve my life, there are many others who choose to continue their transition. Despite the feeling of aiming for something that can never truly be achieved, they don’t see any other solution.

Much of the reason for this might be that there aren’t anyone in the media or in politics who they can see themselves in. Nobody wants to be the first of their sort. In addition to this it can be difficult to detransition, because the only people who can speak for them are in the trans community. The trans community in Norway do not deny that detransitioning happens, but they’re not open to discuss why some might do it, or to what degree it happens.

“Simply made the wrong choice”?

The community are no strangers to no platforming and censorship, this is also the case internally. Many feel isolated and surrounded by a view of sex and gender which no longer match their own beliefs about themselves. Therefore there are many who consider detransitioning, but who don’t feel able to go through with it.

The conclusions about sex and gender that detransitioners often come to are some of the more controversial opinions in queer circles. This again presents detransitioners as people who have simply “made the wrong choice” and brushes over the enormous social pressure to fit into the stereotypical sex roles.

Mistakes made by the medical profession affects the general population, so where does the responsibility lie when the mistake has been made? Detransitioners and desisters is a growing group all over the world, we’re organising ourselves and sharing our experiences with each other. Our perspective have rarely been written about on our own terms in Scandinavia, but ​we exist.​ It’s about time our voices move out from beyond closed forums and into the public domain.





Why Do We Transgender the Dead?

DietrichSharing Julian Vigo’s post. Rewriting history especially bothers me and this post captures why. From Joan of Arc to Marlene to Stormé DeLarverie,


“These cultural grave-diggers imagine themselves to be fashionably transgressive. But what they are really peddling is a deeply conservative notion of what it means to be male or female. According to this conception, the lesbianism of historical figures is reimagined as a rejection of womanhood itself, just as the act of dressing as a woman for stage or fetish is reimagined as a rejection of manhood. The dead cannot possibly speak for themselves. So it is up to the rest of us to ensure that the true narratives of feminist pioneers, gay men and lesbians are not removed from the pages of history.”

Feminist Samizdat

For writing and sharing the letter, bibliography and posts below, I was denounced as a “notorious TERF”. Sharing the document here so you can read the material yourself and decide if it’s “bigotry”, “part of a toxic movement” or “a tumor”.* Or MUST reading for radical feminists, gender abolitionists, and materialist socialists.

I cannot stay if we cannot discuss sex-based oppression

Tuesday [May 1, 2018] over 200 women resigned from the Labor Party in the UK, when it opens the all-women’s shortlists to any men who self-identify as women, and its support to the Gender Recognition Act. Women who opposed these policies have already been thrown out of the Labor Party.
The San Francisco Public Library opened an exhibit featuring the ‘blood’-stained shirt proclaiming ‘I punch TERFS’, along with bats, axes and other weapons for attacking feminist women. While they were compelled by public pressure to remove the shirt, the weapons are still there, along with shields stating “Die Cis Scum.”
And our organization has a rule which prohibits discussing these events, or discussing bodies and life experiences of half the human race born female, as distinct from gender identity, to analyze sex-based oppression [On our listserve -rev]. The effect of this in our organizations to silence comrades, to compel us to agree to things we know to be false. This is deadly. The consequences of being unable to sustain honest discussion are becoming clearer every day. I have found the ban in Solidarity on discussion of certain forbidden ideas extremely disrespectful and dehumanizing to me as a woman, as a gender-non-conforming female, and as a lesbian.
As a revolutionary socialist and a radical feminist, I can no longer remain in an organization which has disarmed itself, which no longer has the capacity to identify and organize the oppressed.
Women have always been asked to ignore our own experience of oppression, and deny what we know to be true. Understanding the origins of women’s oppression is a pretty basic requirement for any self-respecting organization or current which advocates any kind of change, much less a revolutionary organization, or one that claims feminist as part of its name.
Are these statements allowed?
“The overthrow of the mother-right was the world historical defeat of the female sex. The man took command in the home also; the woman was degraded and reduced to servitude, she became the slave of his lust and a mere instrument for the production of his children.”
“The truth not fully recognized even by those anxious to do good to women is that she (woman), like the labour classes, is in an oppressed condition; that her position, like theirs is one of merciless degradation. Women are the creatures of an organized tyranny of men, as the workers are the creatures of an organized tyranny of idlers … Both the oppressed classes, women and the immediate producers, must understand that their emancipation will come from themselves.”
“ progress will not be made until it is once again possible (and legitimate within the progressive and socialist movements) to discuss the bodies and life experiences of half the human race born female (defined in Merriam-Webster as “the sex that typically has the capacity to bear young or produce eggs”) as distinct from and regardless of gender identity, to analyze sex-based female oppression as such and the problem of pervasive male violence under a still sexist still patriarchal capitalist society, and to support the right of persons born female to self-organize based on our sex.”
“Tragically, both radical feminists and transgender persons experience oppression and violence (overwhelmingly at the hands of heterosexual males) as a result of the strict gender norms, sexism, and homophobia of our society. Women as a group are subjected to systemic physical and sexual violence. Moreover, many radical feminists are lesbians who remain a marginalized and stigmatized group because of their sexuality. Most lesbians are also gender non-conforming in other ways and many have themselves experienced “gender dysphoria.” To the extent that conflicting ideologies and interests have developed between activists from two oppressed groups – transwomen and radical feminists – we are challenged to find ways to enhance communication and debate and to ensure that all voices are heard.“

The first two statements are from Engels and Eleanor Marx, of course. The third, the simple statement Ann M. wrote on the listserve commenting on misogyny on the left. The last is a line from the petition Anne, I, and others circulated in the Nov/Dec issue of Progressive magazine. (appended at end of this letter)
Basic ideas I agree with include
–Radical feminism is the global movement to end sex-based oppression. We cannot end sex-based oppression without ending gender. Females are not oppressed because of their gender. Gender itself oppresses females.
–There is a difference between sex and gender. The millennia- old system of patriarchy oppresses female sexed people because of our reproductive capacity, our biological sex. Gender is not a rainbow of choices. It is the mechanism of oppression of women.
–The term, Cis woman is a sexist term, implying a woman who naturally performs femininity, the set of ritualized submission gestures taught to female-sexed people from birth. Natal women do not experience privilege because we are born women; we are subject to the social institutions which constitute patriarchy because we are born women

I have been a feminist and revolutionary for most of my adult conscious life. When I came to understand that you had to overthrow capitalism and transform society even to make possible the elimination of patriarchy, I embraced revolutionary socialism. I read second wave feminists and anthropologists who explained, every single society and culture had rules defining real men and real women. They were everywhere, absolute… and completely contradictory. [See Women, Culture and Society, (1974) e.g.]
When the radio story aired on March 31 on the acceptance and celebration of a transgender teacher, I could only imagine what it would have been like, for my whole school to celebrate the lesbian high school teacher — instead of creating a climate where a homophobic student would burn up my car. I am outraged when I hear about the violence committed against trans people – and I flash on my own experience. Besides the hate-crime I was subjected to when my car was burned, I was targeted for rape because I was a lesbian. I worked for over sixteen years in “men’s” jobs, on the railroad and in a mine, where I experienced the range of sexual harassment and physical threats many women can describe. So it grieved me much to hear about a young woman considering transitioning, because she wanted to work in the trades. Or to hear from the detransitioned person who described the toxic misogyny she encountered when male coworkers perceived her as a man.
Many, many topics demand to be discussed, but if I do that, I will never send this letter.
Instead, I append a few things here: Mary Lou Singleton’s statement on, Cis women; the petition mentioned above; a list of sources to read and watch.
As long as is it not possible even to discuss basic premises of what women’s oppression is, I can’t remain a member. In truth, I haven’t functioned as one for some time now.
Thank you, all those who engaged in comradely discussion, who raised issues of democracy in the organization, and who reached out to urge me to stay….
I include here, a list of readings, for anyone who does wish to examine what a radical feminist perspective is. And I welcome respectful discussion. Anyone who wishes, feel free to contact me off list. See you in the streets. In Struggle, Tina Bea Nothing about us without us

Letter sent May 2, 2018 to Solidarity

Mary Lou Singleton on cis woman
I am about to be interviewed about the oppressive nature of gender by a male reporter who called me a “cis woman.” Here is my (slightly edited) written response to him before agreeing to the interview:

“When I see the unquestioning use of the word “cis” I assume I am dealing with someone who adheres to gender ideology. This word is degrading and designed to enforce the idea that sex-role stereotypes are innate. “Cis woman” implies a woman who naturally performs femininity, the set of ritualized submission gestures taught to female-sexed people from birth. You do not seem to understand that there is a difference between sex and gender or that the millenia old system of patriarchy oppresses female sexed people because of our reproductive capacity. When male authority figures like Rick Santorum (who supports transgenderism btw) get on the airways every election cycle and announce that women should be forced by the state to birth rapists’ babies, these men are not participating in gender oppression; they are oppressing women on the basis of sex. Transwomen have never worried about being forced to give birth, going to jail for a suspicious miscarriage, or giving birth at home in a state where that act is illegal. Transwomen’s bodies are not and have never been church and state regulated breeding units. I fight for the class of people oppressed on the basis of biological sex. I call these people female, girls, and women.

If transwomen would like to join this fight in a way that does not eliminate this group of people from having concise words for ourselves and the ability to name what is happening to us (sex-based oppression; males oppressing females), I welcome that help. Instead, many transwomen are upset that female people are not using our resources and energy to fight for the rights of males who declare themselves female. Your questions imply that those of us who fight against global sex-based oppression are doing wrong by the people who say there is no such thing as sex, that female is just a feeling that a person with a penis can have, and the most important women are the women who are actually men.

Are you asking gender activists questions about how it may be harmful to the class of people who are oppressed on the basis of sex to no longer have a word for ourselves? Are you asking transwomen how girls and women (who live under a constant threat of rape by people with penises) might feel about being forced to have people with penises in our locker rooms, changing rooms, DV shelters, jail cells, etc? Are you asking why men like Rick Santorum and the religious authorities of Iran support transgenderism? Why will the government of Iran kill someone for being gay but happily pay for “sex-change” surgery? Could it be because being gay actually challenges the sexist behavioral caste system called gender while being transgender does not? And on the subject of Iran, are you asking how the women of Iran feel now that half of their national women’s soccer team consists of biological males?

As a female person, I am very aware of what would have been my fate had I been born elsewhere in the world. I agonize every day over what my sisters are enduring globally. No transwoman would have been at risk of being aborted in the womb when a vulva showed up on an ultrasound or being smothered to death for not having a penis or being fed less than bepenised siblings. Transwomen would not have been at risk of being sold to an old man as a rape and breeding slave while the world called it “child marriage.” Transwomen would not have been abducted from school by Boko Haram, raped and impregnated then shunned by the whole village upon returning from that hell. Transwomen would not have been denied education provided only to male children. Transwomen would not be the ward of male relatives, unable to leave the house without being covered head to toe and accompanied by a male over the age of 13. If transwomen would like to join the fight against these and other sex-based atrocities, I would welcome that. Instead, trans activists are more interested in forcing women to adhere to the linguistic demands of males who assert they are female and forcing women to pretend to agree that penises can be female organs.

I support all trans people in their right to perform gender and to believe whatever they believe about themselves and the world. I believe trans people should have freedom of expression and be free of discrimination in housing, healthcare, and employment. I condemn physical violence against trans people. I do not believe transwomen have a right to insist that I capitulate to gender ideology or to compel me to use words I do not believe are true.

Radical feminism is the global movement to end sex-based oppression. We cannot end sex-based oppression without ending gender. Females are not oppressed because of their gender. Gender itself oppresses females.


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As socialists and progressives, we are committed to building a united movement of the Left rich in our diversity capable of creating a just, democratic and egalitarian society freed from all forms of oppression and discrimination. To build such a movement for fundamental change will require an atmosphere of mutual respect, and an ability to tolerate political differences among our movement sisters and brothers. It will also require a willingness to engage in open debate and discussion in order to find common ground and build solidarity among various oppressed groups with at times divergent interests.

Radical feminists have been an essential part of the broader progressive movement for social justice from the Second Wave of feminism in the 1960’s through the present. Radical feminism puts front and center the question of female liberation, i.e., how to end female oppression and subordination by a patriarchal society, therefore raising important issues for the Left.

We are therefore disturbed by recent demonization, intimidation and threats of violence against radical and lesbian feminists by certain segments of the transgender community and their supporters that have attempted to silence feminist voices and have had a chilling effect on the ability to have open discussion and debate on complex issues of sex, gender and sexuality, a debate that is sorely needed in order to build an effective and united movement.

These disturbing incidents include the following:

Ann Menasche, a long time social justice activist, socialist, Green, and civil rights lawyer was cyberbullied on Facebook in March of 2017, by a group of trans-activists and their supporters. She was labelled a “TERF” (“Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists”), “Nazi,” “rapist,” “racist,” and a supporter of “genocide” who, like other “TERFs” are hateful bigots that deserve to die. Several people contacted her employer in an unsuccessful attempt to get her fired from her job. Her “crime” was to respond to a post by writing that persons born female are oppressed on the basis of sex, (a position taken by many Leftists since the time of Karl Marx) and that it was unfortunate that many males fail to recognize this fact.

Feminists involved in the Vancouver Women’s Library faced similar threats and epithets by a group calling itself “Trans Communist Cadre” during its opening night event in February of 2017. Though the Library welcomed transwomen to participate in the event and to join the library, more than two dozen protesters showed up, blocking and assaulting female patrons, tearing a poster from the wall, pouring red wine on the bookshelves and books, and tripping the fire alarm. They labelled library supporters “TERFS” and “fascists,” demanded that the library take “TERF” books off the shelves (authors such as Adrienne Rich and Mary Daly) and made groundless accusations of violence against library founders.

In March of 2017, Tasha-Rose Hodges, a mother of six with children in the St Paul, Minnesota school district, announced her candidacy for Board of Education. The focus of her campaign was to improve the quality of education in St. Paul and address problems like lead in the drinking water. She had also taken a strong stand against bullying of any kind in the schools, including on the basis of gender identity. However, because she had expressed gender critical views, within 24 hours of announcing her candidacy, an on-line campaign began to bully her into dropping out of the race. They described Hodges as a “loathsome snake,” accusing her of spreading “venom” and “hate”, with one writer telling her crudely to essentially go home and masturbate. Another reminded readers “to punch your local TERF.” The harassment escalated to include death threats. Hodges ended up dropping out of the race because it was no longer possible for her to focus on the issues that had motivated her campaign to begin with.

In January, 2017, the Working Class Movement Library in Salford England, a small volunteer-run library which archives stories of working class people’s lives and activism, announced that it would be hosting feminist journalist Julie Bindel as a speaker. Julie is a founder of Justice for Women, a movement for women who live with domestic violence. She was to speak on her experiences growing up as a working class lesbian. In response, hundreds of people began a petition campaign demanding that the library rescind the invitation claiming that her work and her views on gender constituted bigotry. Julie was accused of “violence,” and was called a “fascist” and “Nazi.” The protesters even went so far as to go after the library’s funding. However, many women around the world voiced their support for her right to speak. Ultimately, the Library did not cave into the pressure to no platform her, and on February 4, 2017, Julie gave her talk.

In January, 2017, Casey Callahan, a person who has de-transitioned from a transman back to female, posted on her blog a link to screen shots of responses a friend of hers, also a de-transitioner, had received to a post she had made on twitter. Her friend had tweeted that she believed that there was a need for female-only space. Two transwomen responded by providing a detailed description of how they would rape her and sending her pictures of their genitals. Casey, who describes herself as “invested in the well-being of anyone with gender dysphoria, whether trans-identified or not,” declared that she was done with taking seriously people who use the word “TERF” because of the harassment and threats that go along with the word.

Tragically, both radical feminists and transgender persons experience oppression and violence (overwhelmingly at the hands of heterosexual males) as a result of the strict gender norms, sexism, and homophobia of our society. Women as a group are subjected to systemic physical and sexual violence. Moreover, many radical feminists are lesbians who remain a marginalized and stigmatized group because of their sexuality. Most lesbians are also gender non-conforming in other ways and many have themselves experienced “gender dysphoria.” To the extent that conflicting ideologies and interests have developed between activists from two oppressed groups – transwomen and radical feminists – we are challenged to find ways to enhance communication and debate and to ensure that all voices are heard.

We, the undersigned, as supporters of feminism and progressive politics believe that regardless of one’s views on gender, the tactics of name-calling, no-platforming, and threats to individual feminists’ jobs, livelihoods, and personal safety must be wholeheartedly rejected by progressives. Such tactics have no place on the Left.

[See link for signers
Sources: Radical feminist, gender abolitionist, basic feminist, socialist feminist– NOT exhaustive, updated as I find material TB

Female Erasure ed. by Ruth Barrett What You Need to Know about Gender Politics’ War on Women, the female sex and human rights, also has website ; see esp, Hungerford, Dobkin
The Disappearing L: Erasure of Lesbian Spaces and Culture by Bonnie J. Morris
Dispatches From Lesbian America, Cheela Romain Smith, Xequina Berber, Giovanna Capone et al
Origins of the Family, Private Property and the State F Engels (International Publishers, NY 1969), p. 50 cited above, in Barbara Winslow, “Women’s alienation and revolutionary politics” From International Socialism, 2:4, Spring 1979.
also AT
The Woman Question ,Eleanor Marx and E. Aveling,(London 1886), p. 6. Marx did not believe women were a class. She was attempting to compare the special oppression of workers as workers and women as women.op cit
Women, Culture and Society, Michelle Zimbalist Rosaldo, Louise Lamphere ed. 1974, Sixteen women anthropologists analyze the place of women in human societies, including “Is female to male as nature is to culture?,” Sherry Ortner

Online Stop Harassment and Demonization of women petition

Women in Media Conference (WimCon) 2018: Ninotchka Rosca and other speeches, by Meghan Murphy, Ruth Barrett Sheila Jeffreys, Julie Bindel, and others Pippa Fleming’s article in the Economist (Her blog is ) Vancouver lesbians excluded from Dyke March, and other timely news an analusis, like the following site includes daily update and collected videos, We Need to Talk tour, Linda Bellos, Helen Steel (11/23/17) on her experience being threatened at an anarchist book fair, when she defended two women leafletting against the new Gender Recognition Act. See also same meeting. Intense. The Youtube channel A Woman’s Place UK updates regularly. What do Socialist feminists say about gender identity ideology site includes daily update Maria MacLachlan’s blog, on her experience getting beaten up for photographing trans disrupters and on detransitioning. A community of parents & others concerned about the medicalization of gender-atypical youth and rapid-onset gender dysphoria (ROGD)

blog and and reprint from Offourbacks by Karla Mantilla 1999 Basic feminist definitions

for the Combahee River Collective Black Feminist statement on the original definition of identity politics or the,
“We realize that the only people who care enough about us to work consistently for our liberation is us. … This focusing on our own oppression is embodied in the concept of identity politics. We believe that the most profound and potentially the most radical politics come directly out of our own identity, as opposed to working to end somebody else’s oppression.”

Mary Lou Singleton Also, her blog and ON CONTACT, Chris Hedges interview with Maya Dillard Smith and Mary Lou Singleton, Miranda, for gender abolition, by Miranda Yardley, a transexual profeminist writer

Blood and Visions Womyn Reconciling with Being Female, Autotomous Womyns Press 2015 Essays by ten women who stopped their transition Review of Fine’s research on sex, gender, brains, and so on. Fine’s text is HERE



On the Sovereign Violence of Women

Came across this in the verbal wars over woman-born space. While I have been struggling with what to say myself, I find this piece brilliant, so here you are.

reposted from

So it is when feminism is no longer directed toward a critique of patriarchy, or secured by the categories of ‘women’ and ‘gender’ that it is doing the most ‘moving’ work.

Sara Ahmed, The Cultural Politics of Emotion

So it’s extremely important the people think a little bit more critically about what they’re saying when they are talking about essences and I have probably been as guilty or more guilty in not thinking quite clearly enough. So if someone were to ask me if the category of woman is something without which we cannot do, I would say absolutely it is a category without which we cannot do.

Judith Butler, The Future of Sexual Difference

Nan_beach_scene     I am trying to understand – I have been trying to understand – how, having steeped ourselves in a similar tradition, we could come to such different conclusions.

It is claimed that certain women should not say certain things. That a woman who finds healing from male violence in the company of other women should be silent about the power of that healing. That she should not try to protect that space (or even raise questions about protecting that space). That she is wrong to be concerned that it will no longer be there for the women who come after her. Because that healing comes at the expense of others. Because that healing, therefore, is violence.

I understand something of the logic. I have spent my life thinking the resistance to sovereign violence, unpicking the way the impossible conceit of safety is used to appropriate and exclude. We see it everywhere. Indeed, it is everywhere. But when I first read the demand of unconditional hospitality, and felt the ethical power of openness resonate, I also thought, a moment later, and what of a woman’s need to say no?

Unconditional hospitality is impossible. We know this. Without a home, without some degree of safety, there is no place from which to be hospitable. And more than that, people – women – in the grip of a profound trauma created and perpetuated by a system of power invested in the annihilation of their needs, are the very last people from whom it is appropriate to demand unconditional openness. They are the very last people who are capable – or should be capable – of answering this demand.

The system of power attributed to women is not theirs. Women are not guilty of exercising an excess of sovereign power. Sovereignty, in its fundamental denial of dependency and relation, in its incessant imperial expansion, is a structure of the patriarchal-colonial imaginary. Women suffer not from its excess, but from its deficiency. We are raised to say yes to the needs of more important others, are we not? And our political practice has been, and remains to be, about lending each other an affirmation, the affirmation of the necessity, and justice, of our need to say no.

You are arguing for the pre-eminent violence of women’s no. You do understand that. That in a society in which the emotional and physical and sexual and reproductive labour of women is appropriated day in day out, with more or less explicit violence, the violence you are most compelled to resist is that of a woman saying no. The people whose needs you prioritize are those who show not a single shred of empathy for why, in this world, a woman might need to say no. And what saddens you most, when a woman recounts how female space helped her recover from violence, is the abuse of the language of feminism to support this no.

But what is feminism without this no? What is a feminism that is concerned, above all, with the sovereign violence of women’s no, and with exerting pressure on women to surrender their no? What is a feminism which functions, therefore, by denying the reality of women’s lives in order to attribute to them a sovereignty which they do not possess? There is no way to read women’s no as an exercise in sovereign violence – analogous, as is so often claimed, to the exclusions performed by whiteness – without denying that the entire system of power bearing down on women is predicated on granting them no sovereignty at all. It makes sense only as a denial of the oppression of women as women, or as the denial of the existence of women at all. It makes sense, therefore, only as a form of anti-feminism.

This is what we are fighting about. We are fighting about who is the sovereign, and who is the appropriated. (And here we should note, if oppression is motivated by appropriation, then not all forms of exclusion are evidence of oppression). We are fighting against the (ab)use of the critique of metaphysics to erase the political category of woman (while being told, with slings and outrage, that to object to that erasure is an act of hatred, on par with, and indeed, responsible for, the patriarchal violence of men). We are fighting against the deployment of the discourse of intersectionality to deny that the oppression of women as women affects all women, and that all women exist under conditions of appropriation which render their no a resistance to, rather than a performance of, sovereign violence. We are arguing about whether the fact that other oppressions intersect with, amplify and modify certain women’s oppression, should be widely used in practice (often, we note, by left-wing men) to suggest that actually, women (if they exist) are not really that oppressed as women at all (convenient that).

We are fighting against a feminist discourse which positions women as the oppressor, and repeats the foundational patriarchal gesture of denying us the affirmation of our needs, and an explanation of why we are wounded by this world. Feminism – the practice of love and understanding, passed between women – has saved many of us from lives blighted by the violence drilled into our bodies and souls by the needs of men. And so, above all, we are fighting to ensure that this healing is not denied to the women that come after us. That when their youthful confidence in (neo)liberal empowerfulment and the shock of the new – their absurdly Platonic belief in the possibility of neatly dismantling an age-old structure of material appropriation with pronouns – runs headlong into the implacable violence of domination, we, the dried-up hate-spewing bigots they have been schooled to despise, will still be there for them. And for them, we will not give up.
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Posted in Uncategorized on February 27, 2015. 8 Comments
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← Language isn’t magic

February 27, 2015 at 10:34 pm

This is incredible, I am going to reblog it if that’s okay!
February 28, 2015 at 12:51 am

Reblogged this on There Are So Many Things Wrong With This and commented:
Beautifully put.
Corine Judkins
February 28, 2015 at 10:50 am

Reblogged this on Thou wouldst still be adored.
February 28, 2015 at 10:52 am

Reblogged this on eachone.
February 28, 2015 at 11:15 am

I am without the words to express how much this resonates with me. To all the women who were and still are here for me when I needed the hand of women to reach out and save me, I thank you from the bottom of my battered heart.
February 28, 2015 at 11:16 am

Reblogged this on naefearty and commented:
We are fighting against a feminist discourse which positions women as the oppressor, and repeats the foundational patriarchal gesture of denying us the affirmation of our needs, and an explanation of why we are wounded by this world. Feminism – the practice of love and understanding, passed between women – has saved many of us from lives blighted by the violence drilled into our bodies and souls by the needs of men. And so, above all, we are fighting to ensure that this healing is not denied to the women that come after us. That when their youthful confidence in (neo)liberal empowerfulment and the shock of the new – their absurdly Platonic belief in the possibility of neatly dismantling an age-old structure of material appropriation with pronouns – runs headlong into the implacable violence of domination, we, the dried-up hate-spewing bigots they have been schooled to despise, will still be there for them. And for them, we will not give up.”


At the foot of the hill of the street where I lived, there was a seawall. Not next to the sea, actually, but next to the fouler-smelling bay on the inside of the spit of sand we called Hull. The seawall had the big lumpy rocks I’d learned to make my way on, up by Atlantic Avenue, on the sea-side. But it also had great cement blocks where you could sit in the sun next to the water on those bright days of summer when there was really nothing to do. To sit on the wall, you had to cross that windy road from the main boulevard, past the milk-pop-and-candy store with the big verandah.. It was roughish and hot on your thighs, sitting there in your bathing suit.

But the best part of this sea-wall on the bay was that the sandy floor was a lot closer. The water caught between the rocks, forming dozens of dappled tidal pools you could see. And, if your arm was long enough to reach between those rocks, you could touch the water and the creatures living in it, the slow ones at least. The rocks were covered in barnacles with their razor-sharp little volcano-cones. On the bottom, all around the rocks, moved ever-so-slowly the periwinkles of the bay.

My step-father’s father made his living, such as it was, on this bay. He dug clams and, in the good days when he wasn’t too drunk, tended lobster pots. He’d drop off a bucket full of clams from time to time, and we knew how to wash them a bit and them steam them, quick, and eat them.

It seemed like the best thing in the world to be able to bring home food from the sea, the gatherer bringing abundance. I’d read something in a book about snails, very elegant food in France. I spent the day (Alone? With someone? Probably not.) filling up my sneakers with these periwinkles. Plucking them off the rock, touching their smooth blue-black beauty, trying to feel their squeegee softness before their bodies closed behind that impervious cover they pulled shut behind them..

When I remembered the periwinkle, this was the picture I got first: the pseudo pod sneaking out, the tongue sensing and moving, its tiny eyes on stalks, gathering in as much information as possible, terrifyingly slow, easily shocked into shutting. Probing human fingers were not any part of what the periwinkle found safe.

The only way for it to detect its environment, to move itself, was an incredibly risky venture: Look out. Touch. Inch. Test the air, the ground or rock or solid surface. Was it air or water? Nobody’s eaten me yet? Okay, another step. Motion! Coming at me–Danger! OUCH! Snap! Safe.

In the moment, that summer, all I could think of were these little bodies, cooked and smothered in butter. Maybe it was because I was reading the “Walrus and the Carpenter.” I would certainly eat them every one. Or I’d bring them home to my mother, who would praise my industry and hard work, and she would dip them in butter and eat them every one. I played that scene out, where I didn’t burn the dinner and I didn’t forget to cook it. I made dinner and she was happy and grateful.

In the actual event, of course, she told me they were poisonous, that all that work had been for nothing. I am ashamed now to remember that we probably just threw them away in the dry and deadly garbage, not even throwing them back in the water. It was probably too late that day to go back down the hill to the wall. They might have been dead already, anyway. No thanks, no smile, no yes. Stupid girl, didn’t you know? Was that my mother? Or my stepfather, who had known such things since he had been a kid. That was the summer my mother came up the stairs and found, maybe, us in bed. I was 12. I felt so guilty, even now it feels like a burn, all the way through me. Snap.

Now, I don’t remember the anticipation of eating those little creatures. I think of the remarkable courage of an animal which went out, time after time, sticking out the toe-tongue. Something nice? Food? Water? Yes? NO! Snap! And venturing out again and again. I don’t look for food so much–a different kind of sweetness. Touch? Yes? NO! Snap!

Since you asked

Since you asked.

“The only thing that we did wrong was staying in the wilderness too long.
The only thing that we did right was the day we begun to fight.

Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on. Hold on. [Repeat]”

Since you asked. Riding on the bus, to celebrate, fifty years ago, riding on the bus.

Was it your fear of violence because you are a lesbian that radicalized you?
Since you asked. You wondered why I was so damn adamant about, women-only space. Was it your fear?
And I will not even bother to explain how insulting that question is.

Or maybe I will.
I was radicalized from the time my mother brought me to hear King, on the steps of the Boston statehouse, in a town that had friendly liberals supporting the movement down south- ten years before school desegregation came Upsouth, to Boston.
I was radicalized by the time I was writing stories about antisemitism for my junior high writing class, and joking with my friend about our crazy teacher, the communist who drove a Cadillac. I was radicalized when I led the quiet campaign for girls to wear pants, until they stopped suspending us and let us wear pants.
I was radicalized the first time my mother forced me to see, you do what is right, not what is easy. You don’t call people “mental” (Wow did I not know why THAT was important.), and you don’t let the one Black girl sit by herself.  I sat by myself already— and she was uneasy to be seen with me, an unpopular girl.  But we shared jokes about how we talked– we were both not Boston-typical. She said Ont (the sister of your mother) and I said Mum, in my clear Liverpudlian. And we joked about other people’s wickit, and yahd.
I was radicalized going to high school in Cambridge during the biggest upsurge in the antiwar movement  when we got our news from leaflets on the walls, and when there was a movement to close the school until we were taught Black history, and we called an assembly to talk about what to do about the invasion of Cambodia, and teachers  let their students out of of class, and later we marched back and forth out of Cambridge to the big peace rally, and back again across the Mass. Ave bridge with the little split-off crew, chanting, Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me ’round, borrowing and stealing our songs when they fit, to be welcomed by the police who’d been waiting for hours to come bust our heads. And when my mother brought to the METCO kids, in the suburban high school where she taught, the Black Panther paper to sell. And they tried to fire her. And they succeeded. And I was suspended for pasting appeals for food donations– for the Panther’s Philadelphia convention, bring your cans to the high school paper office. It was the wheat-pasting that did it. The suspension, I mean. Proppity.

The understanding that the whole world is fucked, because it’s capitalism, came later. When I traveled around South America and understood, or got to see, what poverty looked like. When the kids came in the restaurants to beg what you had left, and we had nothing, because we’d split a sopa y seca.  That people lived like this, not because they were attached to the old ways, but because they had no choice. How picturesque to carry the water in tin pails or your head, or wrapped in a manta, the weight on your forehead. And that it was a class-thing. Where great green lawns were protected by chain-link fences labelled “Coca Cola” and “Barclay’s”, in towns where people had no water. When I came back to my own country seeing what had been invisible, with my new eyes. Learning there was a ruling class. But that is a talk for later.

But no, fear of violence didn’t make me a radical. Fear doesn’t do that. Fear makes you cower, and take it, and keep your head down and say yes when you mean no, and go along, and don’t make waves and maybe they won’t notice you. It doesn’t make you a radical. It makes you shut up and lie back and think of England. And don’t struggle because that makes it worse and don’t cry out so you won’t get hit and maybe if you say nothing they won’t actually notice you. Crying. Or screaming inside. Or yelling back. Inside.

Because that is a another story too, about learning to  fear violence because I was girl-child. Not this story.

Here’s this story.
The moment you helped me recover was this. I was the target of a hate-crime, twice. And yes, it has an effect. Not once, but twice. The second, when I was teaching, sponsored a Gay-Straight Alliance, and my car was burned up by a homophobic student. Thirteen years ago, around Thanksgiving. That’s not the story either. That’s the one I have carried around, which ate at me from the inside out, and made it unsafe to continue working. I’ve told that story before, and I’ll tell it again, in time. But that’s not the story either. No.

Here, actually is the story.

The first time was when I was raped because I was a lesbian. Two young men broke into my apartment expecting to find two women to rape. I’d come out, while I was at college, but I wasn’t very good at leaving my boyfriend behind. Not wanting to risk… displeasing him. One weekend, my girlfriend visited me back in Cambridge, coming to my little two-room flat overlooking the park. Lisa was very affectionate, and we were both oblivious, walking about arm-in-arm, hugging, holding hands, going to the beach, flirting and kissing.
The next weekend Joe visited, trying yet again to bring me back to him, and I was being my usual polite self, and letting him in.
So when the two boys climbed up the fire escape and through the window, they stood and watched awhile. Me and Joe, in the bed.  Surprise to them.
One was a Vietnam veteran already, at the age of eighteen. I remember many things, many pieces. I’ll tell you one or two. I’ll tell you enough so you know.

I knew already in the moment, that what he did to me, he’d done to Vietnamese women in hooches — when he held a knife to my throat and told me to shut up or he’d put a box in me from chin to… there. And ordered me, there. Do that. I didn’t know what “box” meant then. I do now. I knew how to be compliant. To make my fury invisible.
The police sergeant, telling his men to search for the kid, said,  tell them he made her boyfriend watch.
There was no room for the real story– that this was corrective rape. The boys had expected to find two girls to watch. Than rape.  What those girls needed was a good fuck.
That didn’t radicalize me. And it wasn’t something that hadn’t happened to hundreds of women before me. Thousands. Millions. Exactly.
It made me go deeper into hiding, deeper into isolation. I went all the way to Peru again, the next year, retreating from my lesbian friends, back into, what I saw as the real world. The bigger picture. Where ordinary people lived. No lesbians there.

Being who I was, was just too dangerous. Too hard to stand alone, and too hard to find my kind, a thousand miles from home. Even though the patriarch in the house where I stayed, sent out for a skirt for me to dress me proper. And brought us to the restaurant where the other dykes hung out. He knew, watched what I did. I followed them. But I couldn’t talk to them. I didn’t have my voice.

It was just too difficult to bear.  Just, be obliging to that next man who turns up asking– because they seemed to turn up with annoying regularity. Just. Lay. Back. Much easier. Just say yes.
And it would take another, what? Eleven years to get myself back, let myself get back, to who I was. All those years of pushing myself away, pushing the women away,  I’m not like that. Years again, to meet the woman I fell head over heels in love with, to be dazzled by my own joy, to dare to act on what I felt, to step out. To come out.

So thank you. All this time, I thought I was imagining things. But I was just remembering. So here I am, letting the memory go. Water running through my fingers.

By the way, (Did I say this?) you don’t source the will to struggle from fear, but from overcoming it. From the capacity you have, that you know, to stand in the wind and not get blown over. To take whatever blows you take, and come back again. And deal out the blows yourself. To do what is right. And to do it again, when they say no. You do whatever is necessary, to right the wrongs, to interrupt injustice, on whatever scale you see it. Whatever scale you can. And to understand better every day, what will be necessary. And who is the “we” who will do it with you. And how to take care of yourself, so you can come back and do it again. There is always, again.