12 May 2018

Some history of trans politics

This isn't a post, more like a goad to myself to make a post.

A few times recently I have encountered people opposed to the current moment of acceptance for transgender people, and they had a telling of history that took me by surprise. According to them, the terrible trans women who showed up suddenly and demanded to barge in to every private women's space, harassing cis women from the very beginning, blah blah blah. This is, of course, pretty much the opposite of how things went down, given my second- and third-hand understanding.

Since my knowledge is fragmentary, facing this line of critique I want to be able to think and speak from a more grounded sense of the history. So I'm collecting some resources I have picked up from people much better informed than I will ever be about trans cultural politics. I hope to turn this post into a survey of those resources at some point, but for the moment, it's a pile:

  • An archive of articles about the early emergence of trans-exclusive radical feminism (I'm told that the interviews with Sandy Stone and Robin Tyler merit especially close attention)
  • More from Sandy Stone
  • Early articles from Emi Koyama
  • I'm told that Susan Stryker's book Transgender History has a particularly instructive chapter on Beth Elliot and the Daughters Of Bilitis and the West Coast Lesbian Conference. I'm told that Beth Elliot had helped to organize the conference but then Robin Morgan called a vote on Elliot could stay ... and when the vote went in Elliot's favor, Morgan's group threatened to shut down the conference.
  • An article about Margaret O’Hartigan has some more leads.
  • Perspectives on PantheaCon 2011 (note that I played a small part in some discussions about related events at PantheaCon the following year)

I also cannot resist capturing this little dialogue between a pair of experts, which I will anonymize:

All I can really say is that it was obvious that MWMF's organizers were deliberate and very much premeditated in causing as much pain as they could get away with.

There is a direct connection between MWMF and what we saw in the pagan world too, not least due to Ruth Barrett and her followers being active in both scenes. Same people, same TERF bigotry in both cases.

Yup. MWMF served as an incubator, a radicalizing center, and a rallying point in both propaganda and organizing.

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