Transphobia at the London Anarchist Bookfair 2017

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Mike Harman
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Oct 29 2017 01:03
ajjohnstone wrote:
Shows how out of touch i am

What is a terf?....something something something feminist?

Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist. Germaine Greer is perhaps the most famous.

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Fall Back
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Oct 29 2017 01:04

Absolute fucking disgrace that people are quibbling over the word "fascist" or whether the violence Helen Steele advocates is "physical" when transphobes have felt free to leaflet transphobic shit at the bookfair, put up vile stickers in the toilets etc, and then gotten fucking support from the bookfair organisers (via their official Twitter account).

Get a fucking grip and reevaluate yr priorities.

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Oct 29 2017 01:14

"Get a fucking grip" yourself. I asked for proof "that Helen Steel has endorsed the physical assault of trans women" - I've yet to see it. Carelessly labelling people fascist is also sloppy and dishonest.

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Oct 29 2017 01:16
Mike Harman wrote:
There's only Rat's post mentioning the word 'fascist', but there's a whole TERF leaflet photographed that is very fucking bad and should not be anywhere let alone the bookfair.

So, ultimately, it's the organisers that are at fault?

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Fall Back
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Oct 29 2017 01:19

She's serially transphobic (which as been demonstrated) and has just attacked trans people at a public "anarchist" event, so seriously, fuck off with your quibbling about the fact someone casually misused fascist (which for the record, was repeated screamed by the transphobes today at trans activitists), or that her calls to vioence weren't really "physical".

Sorry, but in this immediate context if this is your priority you are a piece of shit, and can go fuck yourself.

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Craftwork
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Oct 29 2017 01:20

IMO, all communists (anarchist or otherwise) should aspire to running a separate, communist bookfair, which welcomes ICC and SPGB. The present one is a bit of a mess.

radicalgraffiti
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Oct 29 2017 01:21

there's a distinct overlap between terfs and certain sections of the fascist movement, a lot of the newer fascists are completely obsessed with gender and regularly use insults and jokes mocking gender identity to attack there opponents. i've also observed terfs using identical terminology. i alo note some terfs have seem to be getting engaged with alt right individuals, while some of the Christian right seem to have decided that suppressing trans rights is there current campaign.

So while calling this individual a fascist may not be technically accurate that is definitely the trajectory of that kind of politics

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Red Marriott
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Oct 29 2017 01:21

FB's on a big mouth aggressive trip again... yawn. Get back to me when you can be a bit more sober.

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Fall Back
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Oct 29 2017 01:23

Glad you like to d0x ppl along with your support for transphobia!

Cunt.

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Red Marriott
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Oct 29 2017 01:29

Distortion and smears for asking for proof of a claim. What does that make you? Still over compensating for your past years of laddish macho behaviour on here? Ah well.

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Fall Back
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Oct 29 2017 01:32

It's been proven she's a transphobe, quibbling about details serves fuck all but to defend the cross shit that went down today. D0xxing me just makes you scum.

Sure loads of shit I posted years ago was gross. At least I'm not keeping it up now and trying to divert from the vile transphobia that happened today with whataboutery.

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Oct 29 2017 01:44

"Quibbling" about the actual truth of that claim? I see it as important, if untrue it's as concerning as doxing. It doesn't mean I defend transphobia, that's ridiculous - unless you're seeking 'support' as a blanket uniformity.
So-called "dox" edited - evidently you doxed yourself years ago. I didn't know yr old forum posting name unwisely had any link to your ID. I used it to refer to yr previous forum behaviour.

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Red Marriott
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Oct 29 2017 01:46

"Diverting" lol.

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Fall Back
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Oct 29 2017 01:26

Ignoring for now your (tbh, ludicrous) claim that you didn't know the name I haven't used for about 6 years had "any link to (my) ID" (lol) lets review events.

At the largest anarchist event in the country, organised transphobes repeatedly leafleted against trans rights and put up anti trans stickers in the toilets. This happen in a context of a fairly widespread national backlash against trans rights.

The response to this was for the organisers - via their official Twitter account - condemned those who responded to these repeated provocations by telling some of the ppl doing them to fuck off. (giving them the benefit of the doubt it was just a rogue individual with access to the account, but at this point the tweet is still up there and multiple other things have been posted)

The response here was for several cis men (without any reference to how disgusting the actions of the TERFs was) was to refer to take issue with the fact that (apparently) some of the women and trans ppl responding to this called the instigators "fascist". Do I think it's the exact correct term? No (not that it really matters what I think here tbh) - bigot, transphobe or TERF work fine. But to focus your attention on this right now is absolutely shitty - it's like focusing during an anti-deportation action that the person being deported calling the UKBA fascist was technically incorrect. When someone from a marginalised group is yelling at someone directly oppressing them, demanding exact correct terminology is super shitty.

So, yep, I absolutely stand by my claim that if anyone's response to bigots deliberately targeting an event like this is a disgrace.

Organised bigots have just openly intervened at the Anarchist Bookfair, followed by the apparent backing of the organisers. If that's not your focus in this situation then yep, "diverting" is the exact right word.

I'm sorry that Helen S. is a long time comrade of some people, but tbh you need to get over that, and look at the shit she is spouting right now about some of the most fucked over marginalised people in society. Trans people are - at massive personal risk - taking a lead in confronting these people and asserting their right to do pretty basic shit like take a piss safely. Anyone who can't stand behind this, rather than taking issue with the exact correct words being used needs to fuck off.

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Oct 29 2017 01:52

Get over yourself - it's your aggressive rants that diverted this thread and fixated on my simple request for proof/clarification of a claim of HS "endorsing violence". Of course people will want to know if someone is doing exactly that or not, aside from the various other issues and contexts. I wasn't at the bookfair, don't know much of the background to this conflict etc. What is disturbing is that this request for clarification is seen by the likes of you as unreasonable and "diverting" - as if it's somehow a threat to some demanded unconditional support. It's a simple specific request with presumably a simple answer. It doesn't divert from anything. Don't judge me by your own miserable standards - it's not me trying to distract, discredit or smear by asking that or me trying to suppress enquiries. I could be 100% against what HS says and still validly seek the truth or otherwise of the claim that she endorses physical violence against trans people.

Mike Harman
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Oct 29 2017 07:14
radicalgraffiti wrote:
there's a distinct overlap between terfs and certain sections of the fascist movement, a lot of the newer fascists are completely obsessed with gender and regularly use insults and jokes mocking gender identity to attack there opponents. i've also observed terfs using identical terminology. i alo note some terfs have seem to be getting engaged with alt right individuals, while some of the Christian right seem to have decided that suppressing trans rights is there current campaign.

So while calling this individual a fascist may not be technically accurate that is definitely the trajectory of that kind of politics

Yes Milo outed a trans student at one of his university talks. Prominent 'feminist youtuber' Laci Green recently started dating some alt-right bloke while also going TERF. Also it sounds like that particular insult was thrown in both directions.

Red, do you think TERF leaflets are appropriate bookfair material?

Craftwork while theoretically I like buying books, maybe going to a session, seeing old comrades, I also think the bookfair format is bad. If the organisers are letting this happen, and it's my understanding it's not the first time, then people should consider withdrawing participation from this one though.

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Serge Forward
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Oct 29 2017 07:45
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It's been proven she's a transphobe

It hasn't. If you have proof, please can we see it? Just repeating that Helen is transphobic doesn't make it so. What is proven is that a group of people surrounded, harassed and threatened Helen Steele at the bookfair. That kind of behaviour seriously needs justifying because those involved came across as the abusers rather than the victims. So, it's been alleged that Helen endorses violence against trans people. Evidence please.

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Oct 29 2017 08:41

Her transphobia isn't really hidden, tbh. She has been fairly publicly vocal in opposition to transfer stuff for a good while. Lots of people are particularly upset due to her otherwise good work.

2 minutes scroll down her Twitter (www.twitter.com/helensteel12) - some of her most recent tweets over the past week. She primarily uses twitter to retweet (share) other ppls stuff, but anything listed here as an RT was shared positively:

Sharing a transphobic leaflet (under a free speech pre-text) - https://twitter.com/helensteel12/status/924542352861159424

RT of the claim that "cis" is a box to put women in and TERF is a slur - https://twitter.com/passie_kracht/status/886509245763641344

RT of this misgendering trans women and calling organising against transphobes "make violence" - https://twitter.com/ruthserwotka/status/923661370859671553

RT of this saying Mermaids shouldnt provide training for public bodies https://twitter.com/transgendertrd/status/921797756234190849

If you look down her Facebook (feel less ok about linking to it than twitter, but it's all public and there - search her name and it comes up) there's several TERF articles posted and robustly defended in the comments.

More provided by MH in post 52, including link to her support for the TERF side in the Speakers Corner incident. I presume, given the woman in question was violent to a trans woman and Helen expressed her support for over the incident that this is what was meant. Flour has already been clear by what she meant when she said it and had backed it up.

But as I said before, arguing over the precise semantics of whether she personally supports direct violence against trans people or just supports people and advocates policies that do so is just quibbling, and isn't particularly important. She's still a transphobe, and her politics are still exclusionary - and deadly - to trans people either way.

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darren p
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Oct 29 2017 14:40

Having been there I can only say that the people doing the harassing of HS have pretty shitty politics and just seem intoxicated on their own sense of moral self-righteousness TBH. What are they hoping to achieve by harassing and bullying a lone woman? Things like this jeopardise the future of the bookfair.

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Oct 29 2017 09:23

I note you say arguing over semantics of whether she supports violence against trans people is quibbling. If it's quibbling, then were those who surrounded Helen and threatened violence also quibbling? This "endorsing violence against trans people" actually seems to be central to this row, if you want to justify what happened yesterday. So if Helen isn't endorsing violence then it's hardly quibbling.

Thanks for posting those links. What comes across is that Helen's views would be offensive to many trans people and I have to say I also find them somewhat disagreeable on those issues. I don't see her endorsing violence against trans people, though I accept her views would be offensive.

In the end though, what we have is people disagree with each other at the bookfair and it ends up in a ruckus. I suspect a fair few of us find the politics of many people at the bookfair to be frankly awful, sometimed deranged and often utter dogshit, but if we kicked off everytime then the bookfair would disintegrate into a mass brawl as soon as the doors opened.

So why is this disagreement with Helen different to everyone else's beefs with the usual bookfair rubbish?

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Fall Back
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Oct 29 2017 10:25
Serge Forward wrote:
I note you say arguing over semantics of whether she supports violence against trans people is quibbling. If it's quibbling, then were those who surrounded Helen and threatened violence also quibbling?

No. Disputing whether someone calling a bigot a fascist in a heated row is quibbling. Disputing whether someone endorses physical violence or supports others who enact physical violence is quibbling.

Arguing against someone politically organising to deny you the ability to be able to safely access services - or christ, even go for a piss safely - isn't the same thing. At all.

Quote:
This "endorsing violence against trans people" actually seems to be central to this row, if you want to justify what happened yesterday. So if Helen isn't endorsing violence then it's hardly quibbling.

No it isn't? Her politics are reactionary and bigoted whether or not she supports direct violence or not. Transphobe politics are fucked and should be challenged whether or not someone directly supports physical violence - especially when someone is actively pushing these politics at an anarchist event.

Quote:
Thanks for posting those links. What comes across is that Helen's views would be offensive to many trans people and I have to say I also find them somewhat disagreeable on those issues. I don't see her endorsing violence against trans people, though I accept her views would be offensive.

The links were simply to demonstrate her transphobia. Fleur separately demonstrated what she meant when she said HS endorsed violence. I think it stands up, but if it doesn't, it really doesn't matter - it was clearly neither pulled out of the air, not does it alter the substance of her transphobia.

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In the end though, what we have is people disagree with each other at the bookfair and it ends up in a ruckus. I suspect a fair few of us find the politics of many people at the bookfair to be frankly awful, sometimed deranged and often utter dogshit, but if we kicked off everytime then the bookfair would disintegrate into a mass brawl as soon as the doors opened.

That's it tho, it's not just people having a little disagreement over Bakunin. It's a handful of bigots literally organising to deny trans rights, which serves to exclude trans people from the event.

I mean say a handful of homophobes decided to leaflet the bookfair, arguing for a roll back of gay rights, arguing they needed to protect children from predators etc. They might even claim not to be homophobic - they don't hate gay people, they just want to keep children safe from the dangerous ones. You would (I hope) know right away that they could fuck off, and you certainly wouldn't think it just a little bit of bookfair drama. And if they were allowed to do it totally unchallenged, then an gay person definitely wouldn't feel welcome at the event.

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So why is this disagreement with Helen different to everyone else's beefs with the usual bookfair rubbish?

Because the bookfair organisers have put out something in support of the bigots in this instance (at this point, still up). For me, that's what makes it different - especially when in the recent past the bookfair organisers have refused to take any action to tackle shitty behavior (eg, banning known abusers) and telling people they needed to confront such things themselves, and that they couldn't be "movement police" apparently that doesn't count when its about yr mate.

zugzwang
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Oct 29 2017 10:45
darren p wrote:
Having been there I can only say that the people doing the harassing of HS have pretty shitty politics and just seem intoxicated on their own sense of moral self-righteous TBH. What are they hoping to achieve by harassing a bullying a lone woman? Things like this jeopardise the future of the bookfair.

Is it really "bullying/silencing" to stick up for trans people, who were apparently coming under attack in these pamphlets? That is after all a typical response of the right when people decide to stand up to them. Being no expert on the intricacies of trans/feminist issues, the real question is whether there's any truth to the positions HS's and co take. If not then they rightfully shouldn't be around an anarchist bookfair distributing their pamphlets.

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darren p
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Oct 29 2017 12:09
zugzwang wrote:
Is it really "bullying/silencing" to stick up for trans people

I'm sure those people thought they were doing that. But wether they really were doing that, or if their actions or methods were justified is another matter. Just because you think you have a strong sense of social justice doesn't mean you are right...

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Oct 29 2017 12:28

What is revealing is the mode of arguing used here;

MH wrote:
Red, do you think TERF leaflets are appropriate bookfair material?

Like many things at the bookfair, no. But why are you asking me in this context? Why should my query provoke that question in your mind? To imply that anyone who doesn’t immediately toe the line of uncritical unconditional support and acceptance of a dictated narrative is transphobic is quite stalinistic. To ask whether claims that give the impression HS thinks it ok to beat up trans people are true or not is not a “diversion” (and wasn’t called so when the claim was made, only when questioned) ; the video – whose interpretation is highly disputed – doesn’t at all prove that to me and that was the only evidence offered.

Similarly, FB’s attempts to smear me with a claim of doxing; cos I don’t remember the name of someone I met once or twice 10 yrs ago – a name he unwisely used to post with on here for years despite warnings from myself and others about basic security that were dismissed by his clique as paranoia. Well who’s paranoid now? If that kind of distortion is how you misuse evidence I wouldn’t trust you with the time of day.

Ironic to contrast this disinterest in the validity of facts with the obsessive fine hair splitting the same admins made over the facts of the Aufhebengate case when trying to excuse the inexcusable Dr J.

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Oct 29 2017 13:05

The comparison with the Aufhaben thing came immediately to my mind.

I imagine that many people who read libcom have even been to London, let alone been to the bookfair, or know these people. I think that Red, and Serge, who do know her, but I'd imagine aren't in that close contact with her, asking for facts is a totally reasonable thing to do. It also allows people from afar to make at least some sort of informed judgement. I think the reaction to this is a bit extreme.

Devrim

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jef costello
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Oct 29 2017 14:49

I saw all the posts and was hoping that we would hear about the meetings or stalls.

Is the wider anarchist movement (a few hundred people maybe) capable of agreeing on anything? When there are actual murders of transwomen and when women are murdered and oppressed every day under the patriarchy is this really where we need to fight the battle? I understand that the bookfair is supposed to be a safe space and those leaflets really do not respect that, but I don't think this is how we deal with things at the bookfair, if there's any point to having it then surely we should be able to discuss things.

Is there a point to having a bookfair when it just allows mainstream politicans to come along, provoke a reaction that they can shit all over twitter?

Helen is a decent person and comrade that I respect and I would have intervened if she was being threatened, that said, I would have also challenged those leaflets. It's not about past actions making you unaccountable, it's about recognising that maybe we shouldn't write off people immediately. If we can't persuade people who are on the same side as us on most things then who on earth are we going to persuade?

I do think describing her as "lone woman" seems to imply that those confronting her were not women, which is not helpful.

As she knows some of the organisers and has been active politically with them for years it is hardly surprising that they would back her up.

I hope she wasn't hurt and I hope she changes her mind about trans-women, I don't think yelling 'fascist' at her is going to achieve that.

eyewitness
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Oct 29 2017 16:44

The mob chants from the bookfair yesterday were "Fuck TERFs", "Fascist" and "Out". The "Fuck TERFs" chant was accompanied by the trans women making the finger in what I took to be a rape threat. I did not see the same gesture made by female or male supporters. The "fascist" accusation was made repeatedly, especially by one trans woman.

From what I saw the violence came exclusively from the trans women and not their female supporters, and certainly not from Helen.

The attitude of the mob, and their supporters here, is that Helen be excluded from the bookfair because she holds a different opinion from them, an opinion which they accept as Feminist (hence terF).

I have just watched a video of the Hyde Park scuffle again. It is some of the same group that attacked feminists at Hyde Park that made up the core of the mob yesterday.

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Oct 29 2017 17:28
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I understand that the bookfair is supposed to be a safe space

Just on this, I think people would like it to be a safe space, but both from what the organisers have previously said and in terms of its practice, it isn't (and tbh, can't be).

Fact is any claim to a safe space, especially when you're talking about 2-3,000 people with lots of history and aggro background between them, needs to be something that can be backed up with force, otherwise you're just waving bits of paper around and moaning on social media after the event. And the only two ways to do that would be a) hire security — which would be all but guaranteed to start a fight, b) get together a volunteer group, at which point you get into a whole mess of trouble over exactly who is put in this group and why, what does and doesn't constitute a safer spaces rule that should be enforced by them, how they do so, whether they have prior history, whether the snap judgement they make is the right one, etc etc.

I was trying to get elsewhere when it kicked off so didn't see exactly what happened, but as with frankly everything I've seen so far of all this no-one comes out smelling entirely of roses.

If you've been to the Bookfair before you'll be aware that pushing (pretty nasty imo) Terf stuff will spark a strong reaction. All this "I can't believe people tried to shut us down" stuff is just bollocks — as though deliberately courting a confrontation in a public space over a massively febrile political topic where you know your opposition will have a strong showing would have any likelier outcome than a shouting match and some jostling.

That said if Helen, who is not some sort of intimidating tough, was getting surrounded and bullied I can well see why people who have been her friends for many years and seen her go through hell for the very best of causes would be appalled to see that happen, and there's a human response to be had here in saying their response is understandable and not the worst thing in the world. Sometimes we forget that people aren't just political actors, they're people.

Mike Harman
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Oct 29 2017 17:25
Red wrote:
What is revealing is the mode of arguing used here;

MH wrote:
Red, do you think TERF leaflets are appropriate bookfair material?
Like many things at the bookfair, no. But why are you asking me in this context?

You asked for evidence/links to the arguments that Helen Steel was making. I found a photograph of a leaflet that was being handed out at the bookfair (something you could have done yourself with a twitter search). Rather than address the content of the leaflet (one of the things that actually provoked the incident at the bookfair directly), you immediately went back to Fleur's statement (a not great paraphrase of 'took the TERF side in the Hyde Park scuffle and subsequent transphobic media controversy' which I also found the context for).

Red wrote:
Why should my query provoke that question in your mind? To imply that anyone who doesn’t immediately toe the line of uncritical unconditional support and acceptance of a dictated narrative is transphobic is quite stalinistic.

There's a range of answers to the question I asked from 'No', to 'I don't agree with it but I don't think people should confront Helen Steel in a large group about it' which doesn't require you to be transphobic. To be able to discuss whether the content should be challenged at the bookfair or not, you'd have to have an opinion on the content. No such opinion had been forthcoming so I asked what it was.

I'll note that when you ask a question, it's just asking a question, but when I ask a question, it's 'quite stalinistic'.

eyewitness wrote:
trans women and not their female supporters,

Why do you insist on making the distinction between trans and other women in the group, and using 'female' instead of cis, person who registered just 54 minutes ago?

Mike Harman
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Oct 29 2017 17:30
Rob Ray wrote:
b) get together a volunteer group, at which point you get into a whole mess of trouble over exactly who is put in this group and why, what does and doesn't constitute a safer spaces rule that should be enforced by them, how they do so, whether they have prior history, whether the snap judgement they make is the right one, etc etc.

That's pretty standard now, not just at anarchist bookfairs but also various subcultural and tech conferences - have a code of conduct and a code of conduct response team for the event. By doing that it would be clear what the parameters are for attending (like not handing out transphobic literature).