Transphobia at the London Anarchist Bookfair 2017

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Rob Ray
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Nov 21 2017 08:33

I'll break my silence on here briefly to note that Northern Voices are habitual doxxers and liars, and their admin tried quite hard to get someone from Freedom arrested after he himself had assaulted our members. I'm mildly surprised Dave Douglass would want much to do with them tbh.

As for "glaring omissions" if groups do or don't want to make statements that's up to them, tbh this smacks of stirring a bit.

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Serge Forward
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Nov 21 2017 08:36

Aye, that Brian Bamford is a cunt who should be fucking shunned because of the balls he wrote after my old comrade, Bob Miller, died and because of the Freedom episode. Meanwhile, Dave Douglas's article occasionally hits the spot but has also got tons of holes in it and is just wrong.

Mike Harman
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Nov 21 2017 11:56
MH wrote:
NB: if anyone does know of any other functioning ABC group in the UK please let us know!

While not ABC, there are a handful of groups doing immigration detention/deportation support.

SOAS detainee support: https://soasdetaineesupport.wordpress.com/

Detained voices: https://detainedvoices.com/

Unity Centre Glasgow: http://unitycentreglasgow.org/

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Nov 21 2017 16:03

Freedom Press statement (better late than never)

https://freedomnews.org.uk/freedom-collective-statement-on-the-london-anarchist-bookfair/

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Steven.
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Nov 21 2017 16:20
Oranj wrote:
Freedom Press statement (better late than never)

https://freedomnews.org.uk/freedom-collective-statement-on-the-london-anarchist-bookfair/

I was about to post that link as well, but there is no need to be a dick. While I welcome the statement, there is no obligation on anyone to put out a statement. For some people statements are more important than actions, and it's important not to perpetuate this idea.

I would suggest to the Freedom crew that they add a link to this helpful text to their links section: https://libcom.org/library/trans-101-wobblies

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Oranj
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Nov 21 2017 16:49

No obligation on anarchists to condemn transphobia? That's an cisnormative take, which I shall duly ignore.

MH
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Nov 21 2017 17:20

Partially quoting myself here:

Quote:
Well those comment pieces/statements on the London Bookfair keep rolling out, although with some glaring ommissions - AFed & SolFed nationally, Freedom collective amongst others?

Rob Ray (of the Freedom Collective) states:

Quote:
As for "glaring omissions" if groups do or don't want to make statements that's up to them, tbh this smacks of stirring a bit.

Really, me 'stirring a bit'? Have you looked back at this thread? It's not me shouting and screaming, swearing & using violent language, nor tossing around rumours, myths & half-truths.
A weird accusation to make from someone whose own Freedom Collective issues their own statement some 3 hours later - Freedom statement. Of course it's only at the very end that we discover that the Freedom Collective statement is signed by 'Freedom Collective (majority view)' so we can only guess as to whether Rob Ray agrees with it or not? Or indeed why nobody else has banged it up on this thread before now?

Personally I've now offered up 4 links to 4 very different statements, in an attempt to indicate the very broad range of opinions across the wider movement on both the events at the London Bookfair and the reasons for them. This thread has generally not reflected this breadth of opinion, which makes for a very blinkered discussion. Anyone offering an alternative viewpoint on the thread seems to be censored, banned or immediately trashed in comments by a collection of admins backed up by their online comrades...which sadly leaves the discussion very one-sided and unlikely to bridge the differences that exist. It also means very few people will actually dare come on here now, further diminishing the usefulness of the discussion.

I'm surprised by the lack of statements/positions from the 2 national organisations (AFed & SolFed), and from Freedom (now rectified). Individual local groups or similar from both AFed & SolFed have issued statements, and individuals have also made comments (not necessarily on this thread or indeed publicly at all), but the lack of an agreed position from the 2 national orgs is surprising given this is probably the greatest schism I've witnessed across the anarchist movement in over 30 years. It could be its taking them time to get together on a national level, but then again we do know AFed had a national meeting on the 29 October in London, which resulted in the AFED TRANS ACTION FACTION (their caps not mine) statement...but no statement on behalf of AFed nationally, nor indeed from London AFed. Maybe they're waiting for their 2 longest standing members to return from abroad? Or maybe they just cant reach a consensus - in which case why not say so? It's not a crime not reaching a consensus, many groups who were not bounced into signing the original Open Letter on the Tuesday after the Bookfair, have been unable to reach consensus - and have stopped discussing it. Or perhaps more importantly, are finding the time to discuss it in a mature nuanced fashion and refusing to be bounced into this or that pre-defined political position.

As for Freedom, it's taken them 3 weeks, several tense meetings and email exchanges, to come up with only a 'majority view'. What, one wonders, is the minority view? And how much of a minority is it? Maybe Rob Ray's series of 4 tweets shortly after 3am on 29 October didnt help? Here's the last of the 4 tweets:

Quote:
Freedom Press‏ @Freedom_Paper

Not gonna take this down but should say the collective hasn't discussed (still waking up tbh) so not a formal position (RR).
3:35 AM - 29 Oct 2017

Perhaps Freedom's national status as a newspaper, publishing house, and anarchist centre requires them to be a bit more open, accountable & transparent about what on earth is going on there?

As it is Freedom's statement misses a trick, and makes no attempt to bridge the schism. They rightly note the terrible discrimination & abuse faced by trans people, especially trans women, and offer up some useful resources & possible activities to counter this. But they make no attempt to reach out to all women, that is cis-women and trans women, in the face of a global femicide (see here and here and here). Maybe the #metoo movement and the storm of MSM interest in high-profile instances of systemic misogyny has passed them by, but by failing to acknowledge the abuse & discrimination against all those who identify as women, they are merely widening the schism, not reducing it. If you are going to oppose patriarchy, you need to side with & act in solidarity with all its victims, not just a specific group.

Personally i'm holding onto this quote, from an article by Michelle O'Brien, written in 2003 in the US, for a little bit of hope. It comes from the second section under 'Gender skirmishes':

Quote:
When we are rooted in our fear, it is easy to find enemies, to find anger, to find fights with those people close at our sides. Our fear fuels our desperate, defensive need to hold onto particular ways of being that are legitimately ours. It is easy to believe that others are inauthentic and should be denied access to what little we have, when we are scared we have almost nothing at all. Evaluating who should have access and who shouldn’t relies on developing elaborate systems of ranking, judging and dismissing people based on degrees of oppression, privilege and suffering. Our right to liberation is not based on our degrees of suffering. Our fear fuels a politics of competition and scarcity, a dead end of judging and attacking each other.
Something else is profoundly needed.

Full article - http://anarchalibrary.blogspot.co.uk/2010/09/trans-liberation-and-feminism-self.html

Edit - apols for cross-posting the Freedom statement, 2 others banged it up whilst i was writing this.

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Rob Ray
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Nov 21 2017 18:19

Edit: Actually fuck it, I don't have to be justify my voting decisions to anyone but the Freedom Collective.

radicalgraffiti
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Nov 21 2017 17:58
MH wrote:
I'm surprised by the lack of statements/positions from the 2 national organisations (AFed & SolFed), and from Freedom (now rectified). Individual local groups or similar from both AFed & SolFed have issued statements, and individuals have also made comments (not necessarily on this thread or indeed publicly at all), but the lack of an agreed position from the 2 national orgs is surprising given this is probably the greatest schism I've witnessed across the anarchist movement in over 30 years. It could be its taking them time to get together on a national level, but then again we do know AFed had a national meeting on the 29 October in London, which resulted in the AFED TRANS ACTION FACTION (their caps not mine) statement...but no statement on behalf of AFed nationally, nor indeed from London AFed.

for some reason nothing about the bookfair incident was submitted to the IB 3 weeks before hand and and so the delegates have no mandated position on any statement about what happen

Mike Harman
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Nov 21 2017 18:15
Oranj wrote:
No obligation on anarchists to condemn transphobia? That's an cisnormative take, which I shall duly ignore.

Someone on Freedom's twitter posted this just after the bookfair (short thread) which condemned the leaflets being handed out and criticised the framing of the initial bookfair collective tweet:
https://twitter.com/Freedom_Paper/status/924578246942973952

libcom admins haven't issued our own collective statement on this either or signed any of the statements yet, some of us have individually posted on this thread through and we RTed some of the statements other groups have done.

Moderating this thread (let alone posting on it) has taken much more time than writing let alone signing a statement would have. We could have let the thread run and drafted a statement in that time, but the thread would have been more of a trainwreck and at least two people banned might not have been. This is a concrete case where addressing transphobia directly (on this site) was more important to us than drafting a statement, we might have prioritised that more if we'd had a stall or sponsored the bookfair this year though (as we did a few years ago).

MH wrote:
Anyone offering an alternative viewpoint on the thread seems to be censored, banned or immediately trashed in comments by a collection of admins backed up by their online comrades...which sadly leaves the discussion very one-sided and unlikely to bridge the differences that exist. It also means very few people will actually dare come on here now, further diminishing the usefulness of the discussion.

Two people were banned for actual transphobic comments, apart from that you seem to be complaining about people disagreeing on the internet.

When you say 'bridge the differences' do you want to bridge the differences between trans anarchists and Green Party parliamentary candidates who brag about their group reporting trans anarchists to the police? If not, exactly what differences, and between which people?

MH wrote:
It's not a crime not reaching a consensus, many groups who were not bounced into signing the original Open Letter on the Tuesday after the Bookfair

We got an invite to sign the open letter, we discussed it briefly with the person who invited us to sign and discussed it internally. The short version is we didn't have sufficient background on previous bookfair incidents to be able to sign the statement and know exactly what we were signing up to, so we didn't. Then the bookfair collective announced they wouldn't organise 2018 and signing either of the statements with specific demands seemed moot at that point.

Absolutely no one, not a single person as far as I know, has asked us to sign anything else or complained that we didn't. There wasn't any pressure to sign at all, just a heads up, so 'bounced' is a funny choice of words.

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Khawaga
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Nov 21 2017 18:34
MH wrote:
As it is Freedom's statement misses a trick, and makes no attempt to bridge the schism. They rightly note the terrible discrimination & abuse faced by trans people, especially trans women, and offer up some useful resources & possible activities to counter this. But they make no attempt to reach out to all women, that is cis-women and trans women, in the face of a global femicide (see here and here and here). Maybe the #metoo movement and the storm of MSM interest in high-profile instances of systemic misogyny has passed them by, but by failing to acknowledge the abuse & discrimination against all those who identify as women, they are merely widening the schism, not reducing it. If you are going to oppose patriarchy, you need to side with & act in solidarity with all its victims, not just a specific group.

Nice whataboutism right there. You're rather daft (or it is telling of what you believe) if you think that a statement in support of trans people somehow means that "instances of misogyny has passed them by".

I can do the same to your statement; you didn't mention systemic racism or homophobia, hence you are merely widening the schism, not reducing it since you clearly are completely ignoring how misogyny is also articulated through a person's skin colour and sexual preference.

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Nov 21 2017 18:50
Oranj wrote:
No obligation on anarchists to condemn transphobia? That's an cisnormative take, which I shall duly ignore.

I don't really know if you are getting it from seeing your number of down votes, but by your petty, pointscoring and unhelpful behaviour on here you're actually making all of us who condemned the transphobia, and criticised the response of the Bookfair collective look bad by association.

So you can take your bullshit strawmen somewhere else.

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Serge Forward
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Nov 21 2017 20:51

What??? So that Oranj isn't a "TERF provocateur" then???? Coulda fooled me grin

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comrade_emma
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Nov 21 2017 21:44
Quote:
transgendered people

Just a side note: just say "trans people" or "transgender people", the term "transgendered" is a bit problematic.

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Khawaga
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Nov 21 2017 23:01

Thanks comrade_emma, I did not know. I've now edited my post.

gamerunknown
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Nov 21 2017 23:16
Quote:
It's not a crime not reaching a consensus, many groups who were not bounced into signing the original Open Letter on the Tuesday after the Bookfair, have been unable to reach consensus - and have stopped discussing it.

To be honest, there's also not really any internal procedure as to what to do if there's no consensus on a particular issue (other than a faction forming). There's a procedure for releasing emergency statements which don't have consensus on them too, but that's not really applicable.

I'm not sure how much of the internal mechanisms of AF I should discuss (to the extent they actually mirror activity), but there is a work in progress statement on transphobia that the AF as a whole is producing.

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Nov 26 2017 12:13

This incident has now made it into the Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/nov/26/transgender-anarchist-book-fair-transphobia-row

Mike Harman
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Dec 6 2017 09:53

Just a note that following the discussion about T. Chances on here, I got in touch with them and wrote this up. https://libcom.org/news/battle-t-chances-05122017

Short version:

- there is no call for a boycott or strike by workers at least not yet. They do have some requests of groups that book the venue of things they should say to management etc.
- the situation is fucked - a property developer has been added to the board of directors of the charity that runs the venue, and it's being prepared for sale
- on top of that, a far-right youtuber (has holocaust denialists on their show) records their show at the venue and is also a director of the charity now.
- several community groups that were using the venue have been evicted, more eviction notices being served

So there's no suggestion that the after-party organisers did anything wrong booking it, but generally that campaign could really use some more support/publicity (and since I said that earlier in the thread, tried to make a start by writing it up).

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Dec 6 2017 13:36

Thanks for the update Mike. So that is basically more evidence that some people were just opportunistically trying to attack the Bookfair collective about baseless things. Which unfortunately served to further divide people and undermine legitimate criticism of their poor handling of transphobia at the event.

Personally I am pretty upset with the Bookfair collective, as in their statement they complain that the groups who signed the open letter criticising them did not contact them to try to discuss the issue. Now the libcom group and myself individually did contact the Bookfair collective to try to discuss this matter seriously, in a comradely fashion and try to have constructive dialogue (I have known some of the collective for about 15 years, and libcom group has had meetings and stalls at the Bookfair, and given them a few hundred pounds over the past few years). However collective only sent a holding reply, did not reply to us until they put out the public statement criticising people for not contacting them, and saying they would refuse to contact further. We have reached out to them again but have received no response.

So unfortunately the Bookfair collective have actually legitimised the people and groups who signed the open letter, because clearly if those groups and individuals had contacted the collective privately, as we did, they would have been ignored as we have been.

On a related note, saw this video from shortly before the Bookfair from the channel of a veteran London anarchist many of us will know about transphobia which I think is helpful:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ATglmLQHF_k&t=9s

Spikymike
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Dec 6 2017 14:35

Martin's You Tube blog piece is very good - straight forward and to the point even if it rightly still leaves open a whole area of possible critical discussion around 'identity' and versions of 'identity politics', but I wish people including libcom admins would give criticism of the London bookfair collective a rest as it achieves nothing now.

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Steven.
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Dec 6 2017 15:14
Spikymike wrote:
Martin's You Tube blog piece is very good - straight forward and to the point

I agree, and really I think the issue is that simple.

Quote:
I wish people including libcom admins would give criticism of the London bookfair collective a rest as it achieves nothing now.

in terms of this, actually I started my post with a defence of the Bookfair collective. In terms of my latter comments, as you would expect I disagree, because I think this issue is still very much unresolved and my hope is still to have a decent productive discussion with the Bookfair collective, however it has been nearly 3 weeks since my last email and I haven't heard back. I think unless this issue is resolved there will never be another "Bookfair collective" bookfair, so I would like to have constructive discussion on the issue.