On April 19, 2023 I gave a reflection on an elaborate written introduction to the theory group of the CCINDLE project. The abbreviation stands for “Co-Creating Inclusive Intersectional Democratic Spaces Across Europe”. The project aims to contribute to the strengthening and re-invigorating of intersectional feminism and European democracies through theoretical and practical feminist theories, coalitions, and strategies. It assumes that feminist theories and activism are vital and essential sources of resisting anti-gender discourses and undemocratic politics, and to re-kindling citizens’ engagement with democratic institutions and values. They recognize that the increasing challenges posed to European democracies and the escalating dynamics of anti-gender, homophobic and xenophobic mobilizations require a combination of excellent academic research and well-informed practical solutions which: a) are clearly feminist, anti-homophobic and anti-racist, b) could efficiently support high quality democratic governance, c) may strengthen responses to authoritarian and anti-gender efforts.
So when project leader prof. Mieke Verloo invited m to speak – as a valued activist, I didn’t hesitate and wrote (and spoke) the following.
Good afternoon everyone.
I want to thank the organisers for inviting me and granting me the opportunity to reflect on the CCINDLE project and the statement of the project at hand. The project couldn’t be timelier with the anti-gender movement winning state by state in the USA and also getting stronger every time here in Europe. My reflection will be a personal one, as I have been invited as an activist. I still read my share of academic work, one or two articles a week; I used to read chunks of monographs and dissertations over lunch and dinner, but I have left that habit. This just serves to show I am not ‘just’ a street activist, I once aspired to be a rogue scholar [emphasis on rogue] 😉 Part from founding several trans groups, organisations and some board memberships, I do research into What constitutes good trans health care.
I want to thank the WP1 [Work Package; many projects are chopped up in sub-projects these days] preparation group for their elaborate document that I will use to reflect on. In the panel I will pay more attention to some questions posed to the panellists.
I will give a more personal political story (an oxymoron in a sense, as the personal is always political and vice versa). I am from the days that in Europe transgender meant someone who was uncomfortable with the mainstream medical, social and legal approach that a trans person had to change their body “as far as possible”. It was a rare phenomenon in the early nineties, but got more attention every year. It was a typical normalisation process with an aim of acceptance for both the medical interventions and the people undergoing them because of their gender identity issues.
For lack of better words, I used to consider myself a lesbian transsexual. Never a woman, as a woman was submissive according to Monique Wittig. Only with the reading of Kate Bornstein’s “Gender Outlaw” did I get a first glimpse of what was possible. Soon after I discovered Sandy Stone’s “The Empire Strikes Back, a Posttranssexual manifesto”. This manifesto was a reaction by Sandy Stone on Janice Raymond’s “The Transsexual Empire, the making of the she-male.” Raymond is the transphobic goddess that the author of Harry Potter prays to. They may even be friends. Raymond – Godmother of TERF – was responsible for the closing of many “experimental” trans clinics in the USA in the 1980s. Raymonds denials of her influence on this are decently dissected by Cristan Williams on transadvocate.com. The O.T., Original Terf, doubles down on her terfiness in her most recent book “Doublethink” that saw the light end 2021, and of course works with social contagion and “Rapid Onset of Gender Dysphoria”. Those stories haunt me in my nightmares and nowadays during the days too. So I am pretty familiar with all the rhetoric of the anti gender movement.
I am one of the first trans political activists in the Netherlands, as someone who politicised being trans. In the early 1980s we had a group of trans women petitioning the government for a real regulation for legal gender recognition, and they were very brave for accepting to be interviewed on TV news, while everyone had their medical assistance abroad, mostly in Casablanca, later USA or Thailand. Some found a decent surgeon in Germany but everything was quite complicated in the days before legal gender change was really possible. Before the 1985 law trans people depended on judges accepting an “Oops, different sex development” argumentation from doctors, as we were mostly using legislation meant for intersex people whose sex development turned out differently than expected from a passing glance at the baby’s genitals.
Having started in the trans inclusive lesbian scene of Amsterdam early 1990s and thanks to the starting public and then still web-less internet with its Usenet discussion groups, many of the contemporary “discussions” are old to me. Only Rapid Onset Of Gender Dysphoria is a new kid on the block, but actually just a cloning of the age old adage “But Ze Childrenz!” that we know from the homophobic conservatives, secular and religious.
One of the ideologies and political practices this work package of CCINDLE looks at, is fascism. To that I want to add something I very recently found out thanks to someone bringing it to my attention on social media.
In the wake of ISIS genocides in Iraq, an enormous grassroots interest in ending the cycle of violence and promoting a lasting peace, became visible. For the Iraq Project for Genocide Prevention and Accountability that was the reason to change their name to Lemkin Institute for Genocide Prevention. Among their projects is an Ukraine project, one on Somaliland, on Iraq, Arenia. But also a Transphobia project. That must have been a reason for them to issue their November 29. 2022 statement equating the “gender critical” movement in the USA with a fascist movement with genocidal intentions. The institute is not affiliated with big human rights players as Amnesty or HRW, not cooperating with the UN, but they work form a clear vision of the intention of Rafal Lemkin’s work on the Genocide Convention.
I give you two quotes
The Lemkin Institute believes that the so-called “gender critical movement” that is behind these laws is a fascist movement furthering a specifically genocidal ideology that seeks the complete eradication of trans identity from the world.”
While members of the gender critical movement may argue that they do not seek to kill the physical bodies of transgender people, they do openly seek to eradicate transgender identity from the world, following a genocidal logic similar to the US, Canadian, and Australian boarding schools that sought to “kill the Indian, [and] save the man.”
So I think it is pretty clear what kind of a danger we are dealing with here. For trans people and anyone not conforming to the WASP ideal. And that means we have a bigger fight than ”just” the anti gender movement to engage with. That is visible in the fact that those who try to whip up the masses to speak out against gender non-conformity in any form, also against drag queens like last Sunday in Rotterdam, are indeed plain fascists. And TERFs are the National Socialist Women’s Movement.
I put an emphasis on this because I think it does help. If we reason with the comparison of roughly a hundred years ago, we may see some developments clearer. Though we should not fall in the trap of seeing it as history repeating itself. Fascism was always already very gender reactionary. Of course we must look further and deeper, as the passing of time and this new iteration of never really defeated fascism can highlight hitherto less invisible tendencies. Also, we should ot stop by highlighting its ugly racist and sexist face, it is a whole restructuration for a mega profit capitalist 0.00001%. Not in a mechanistic way of course. That ias the surplus value of this CCINDLE project to do feminist knowledge and strategy production on this.
I often feel like the old woman of the memes saying “I can’t believe we have to fight this shit again”. That has everything to do with the current day capitalist crisis – weirdly enough I find the word capitalism only once in the statement where it is the main protagonist of the whole shit we are going through.
The only way out of this gendercide crisis that we are in, is to fight for a human and planetary rights solution, for queer, feminist, antiracist, anti ableist luxury space communism. I sincerely hope this CCINDLE project will be able to develop tools to effectively battle the gender fascists and related capitalist fellow traveller ilk like Tories everywhere.
Adalet, özgürlük, ekmek.
Hasta la victoria siempre.
(19-4-2023, Amsterdam. CC v4.0, vreer)