Transphobia at the London Anarchist Bookfair 2017

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potrokin
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Oct 29 2017 23:58
Serge Forward wrote:
Juan Conatz wrote:
What is the difference between arguing for free speech for TERFs at an anarchist book fair and arguing for free speech for the alt-right or anti-immigrant arguments from people like Paul Mason at an anarchist book fair?

Nobody was arguing free speech for terfs (at least not until the idiotic shortshanks and eyewitness set up their accounts here). Though that is the kind of stuff that is being chucked around here. If you criticise how some bullying bunch of divs act at the bookfair, then you get labelled terf supporters or anti-trans. Playground stuff.

Juan, if you cannot see the difference between Helen Steel's mistaken views and some alt-right anti-immigration bollocks, then you're seriously losing your critical faculties.

Being pro-porn is certainly idiotic, it is to support patriarchy.

Fleur
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Oct 30 2017 00:08

I never called Helen Steel dim, I called the terf version of feminism which is predicated on a narrow biological essentialism dim, especially given that feminism has fought for a very long time to reject defining women by their reproductive capability. If you think the decades long bullying of trans people in the name of feminism is a good thing, well you're no sister of mine. I am given to believe that Helen Steel was not the only person there with transphobic views, I assume that leaflet didn't just materialize out of the ether. People went there with a deliberate aim to provoke and now they're trying to garner sympathy because they elicited a reaction, a reaction I suspect they were looking for to prove their point that they are at the receiving end of "male violence." Despite being a group with far more power, a much bigger platform and much larger allieship amongst the wider world.

For fucks sakes, Terfs (a name they coined for themselves, which when people you disagreed with them started using it they started bleating on about it being a slur,) represent a small number of actually radical feminists, most of whom have enough actual empathy to not pick on minorities. FWIW, I am a survivor too. I don't feel this gives me any legitimacy to pick on trans people. There are so few trans people in the world and the mentality these people have to try and deny them the few dignities and rights that anyone should expect, in the name of feminism no less, it's just weird, obsessive and vindictive.

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you could stop being a church goer who supports more than one form of patriarchal oppression from where I'm standing (porn and the violent silencing of female anti-capitalists

What the fuck are you talking about? No one's silencing terfs. You lot have got platforms in major media all over the world, friends in the church, the Whitehouse ffs, For every trans person on TV a whole fuck ton of terfs turn out to "add balance." You don't ever let up. Silencing, my ass.

If you support the oppression of marginalized people then you are a shit anarchist. If people don't want to listen to you because you're a bigot, I really don't care. Terfs are oppressive to other women and cry me a river for all their boo hooing about being silenced. Climb down off your cross and try showing a bit of empathy for other people.

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Red Marriott
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Oct 30 2017 00:12
Mike Harman wrote:
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

Wrong – I never asked for “evidence/links to the arguments that Helen Steel was making” anywhere on this thread or elsewhere – so all your assumptions following on from that are based on a fiction. My only query on this thread was in post #49;

Quote:
Fleur wrote:
Given that Helen Steel has endorsed the physical assault of trans women
Red wrote:
Can you show some proof for this?

Nearly everything else I’ve said here has been dealing with idiotic misrepresentation, distortion and attempted smears.

MH wrote:
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 never expressed any desire to discuss this; all I ever asked was for proof of the claim that HS endorsed violence against trans people – and still none has been shown.

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Juan Conatz
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Oct 30 2017 00:14
Serge Forward wrote:
Nobody was arguing free speech for terfs (at least not until the idiotic shortshanks and eyewitness set up their accounts here). Though that is the kind of stuff that is being chucked around here. If you criticise how some bullying bunch of divs act at the bookfair, then you get labelled terf supporters or anti-trans. Playground stuff.

Juan, if you cannot see the difference between Helen Steel's mistaken views and some alt-right anti-immigration bollocks, then you're seriously losing your critical faculties.

I think the problem here is that you seem to think TERF is a question that’s yet to be settled or an ongoing discussion and maybe even if you don’t agree with it, you view it as “mistaken” rather than dangerous or reactionary.

I don’t see it that way. I think the question is settled, there’s no discussion to be had really and it isn’t merely “mistaken”, having or arguing for TERFs to be able to spread their ideas is quite dangerous and reactionary. I don’t really see the difference between this and someone leafleting “British Jobs for British Workers! Kick the immigrants out”. Maybe the main difference is that older lefties haven’t been a part of the TERF stuff or even encountered it and so are less familiar with it.

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Oct 30 2017 00:44

Bit patronising there, Juan. By the way, when I've encountered people at work giving out reactionary views, I do tend to talk to them about it rather than just shouting, threatening to give them a kicking or setting of fire alarms, if I can help it. Bookfair though innit and there's always a few who are given to getting shouty and aggressive about summat or other. If these bookfair shenanigans were set to music, it'd probably be "send in the clowns".

Mike Harman
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Oct 30 2017 00:44
Serge Forward wrote:
Juan Conatz wrote:
anti-immigrant arguments from people like Paul Mason at an anarchist book fair?

Juan, if you cannot see the difference between Helen Steel's mistaken views and some alt-right anti-immigration bollocks, then you're seriously losing your critical faculties.

While we're misquoting. Paul Mason has done talks at the anarchist bookfair. He also has argued for stricter immigration controls and about cultural anxiety in the Guardian. On Newsnight then twitter he argued to bar entry for anyone earning under median wage. He knows a lot about the Paris Commune, goes to European protests and talks about Post-capitalism though so lots of people give him a pass compared to when alt-right/UKIP push the same arguments on immigration.

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Juan Conatz
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Oct 30 2017 00:48

Your co-workers who have dodgy ideas is a different thing than people who are actively organizing around a set of reactionary politics or defending the “right” of people who do, to do so at an a left event.

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Oct 30 2017 00:56

Give over. We're talking about someone who's fought the good fight for years but whose views on this area need challenging. What happened at the bookfair was not the way to do this.

Mike Harman
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Oct 30 2017 01:03
Serge Forward wrote:
Bit patronising there, Juan. By the way, when I've encountered people at work giving out reactionary views, I do tend to talk to them about it rather than just shouting, threatening to give them a kicking or setting of fire alarms, if I can help it.

An equivalent situation would be you having several trans co-workers, then another group of co-workers including one senior and we'll respected one start sending company-wide emails that they should be barred from the ladies' toilet, are violent men, potential rapists and child molesters. Then at the staff party hand put leaflets and put up stickers all over the place.

admin edit - to clarify, HS didn't hand out leaflets at the bookfair, but defended the people who did

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Oct 30 2017 01:32

It would be if that's what Helen did at the bookfair, but as far as I know, that's not what she was doing. Now do you have anything more reality-based to offer?

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Juan Conatz
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Oct 30 2017 02:07
Red Marriott wrote:
I never expressed any desire to discuss this; all I ever asked was for proof of the claim that HS endorsed violence against trans people – and still none has been shown.

Supporting a platform for TERFs to spread their hate I think is endorsing violence against trans people.

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Rob Ray
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Oct 30 2017 06:46

Thanks for the report past tense, I know there's discussion going on about public statements and such and there's a lot of partial reporting going on from people who didn't see it all so it's good to have a coherent account.

From having helped run (way smaller) stuff before I know it's really difficult intervening on stuff like this (at what point is it more than just a little tiff requiring you to step in, keep the peace etc). And as much as I *really* disagree with her that the people hanging those out should be supported in doing so it sucks that as someone who wasn't responsible for the leaflets Helen had to put up with the inevitable kickback as easily identified bookfair person/ lightning rod while the people actually handing them out evaporated.

Job done having achieved their unpleasant bit of reaction-prodding I suppose. Chances fair they'll reach out to Helen/ Bookfair people to "apologise" and offer their solidarity with the very people they set up for a shit storm.

potrokin
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Oct 30 2017 08:27

I would just like to make it clear that I was drunk lastnight and should not have been logged in. I do not think Serge is an idiotic person. I do ,however, have different views on porn than him and believe that porn, in all it's forms, to be a form of patriarchal oppression. We have a different set of personal morals.

It seems to me that with this thread, people have leapt to a side (and leapt to insults, and getting far too personal, myself included) without necessarily checking all the facts first. I was at the bookfair but did not witness what we are 'discussing'. Past Tense was there and is a witness to this and has a detailed account of what happened and I agree with the sentiments of PT's post. I find it very sad that people who are supposed to be comrades are ripping into each other over this and I find it very sad and rather demoralizing to discover the way Helen Steel has been treated, especially considering what she has been through and the contribution she has made.

Having said that I would like to express this; Shortshanks also has a different set of personal beliefs (though also shares libertarian and anti-capitalist beliefs with those here) and that should be respected, she should be able to freely express her views (which in my opinion are not hateful of trans people), shortshanks has made it clear that she knows that trans-women suffer from patriarchy in a similar/if not the same way as non-trans women. That is all I wish to say about this for now, I am now going to commence trying to get over a hangover and deciding whether or not to go to uni today.

Mike Harman
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Oct 30 2017 08:09
Serge Forward wrote:
It would be if that's what Helen did at the bookfair, but as far as I know, that's not what she was doing. Now do you have anything more reality-based to offer?

I see so you can do analogies but no one else then.

Looks like Steel didn't hand leaflets out personally, although she's now promoting them online. She's made a twitter statement saying she supports the right of women to do so and it looks like from a couple of accounts she intervened on their behalf, first when a previous argument was happening then going up to someone she apparently recognised from the Hyde Park incident:
https://twitter.com/helensteel12/status/924567294415720448

Here's her quote tweeting another leaflet that has fuck all to do with 'effects on women of proposed legislation' calling the person tweeting it a 'bigot', the only word in that tweet that could draw that charge is 'terf':
https://twitter.com/helensteel12/status/924553936945799170

Yet another tweet encouraging people to read a leaflet distributed at the bookfair, this is more pamphlet length and first time I've seen it
https://sages.org.uk/publications/sages-factsheet.html

Some 'highlights':

"It is impossible to change sex, even with medical treatment. Rather, a trans-identifying male who lives as a woman identifies with the feminine gender role"

"The proposed changes would allow trans-identifying males to access woman-only spaces such as changing rooms, refuges, hospital wards, prisons, and shared sleeping arrangements, with no exceptions."

The consequences of this are forcing trans women to use male changing rooms and be locked up in all male prisons, with no protections when they try to fight it. Here's an account of what that's like in the UK: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/an-insider-s-guide-to-being-transgender-in-prison-a7740566.html
And one from the US: https://www.out.com/news-opinion/2017/7/13/trans-woman-eyricka-king-attacked-denied-medical-treatment-new-york-prison

Note this also would mean trans men going to women's prison, although the leaflet doesn't acknowledge the existence of trans men at all, harder to claim gender identity as 'rape culture' if you have to deal with actual gender fluidity going in both directions rather than 'men living as women'.

There are several complaints that cis women might get a trans woman when seeking medical attention or searched by the police after requesting same-sex staff, something that's statistically likely to happen very infrequently. The converse is trans women being searched by male police officers with no recourse which could happen to them 100% of the time.

Also trying to prevent trans women from competing as women in sporting events.

"If a person of the opposite sex cannot be challenged for being in a single-sex space, it becomes harder to teach children how to stay safe." this is exactly the same as the toilet moral panic the US right (and far right) are obsessed with.

"There is no consensus among experts as to the best approach to treating childhood gender dysphoria.13 But children are already being taught about gender identity and transition as early as primary school, and parents are not being given the option to withdraw them from those lessons" looks like a new section 28 to me. Whereas bullying of trans kids in schools is rife and there have been several suicides.

"there is evidence of social contagion"

"Recording gender-identity in official records instead of sex will make it more difficult to solve crimes." might make things harder for the police...

There's a lot more but those stuck out.

shortshanks red...
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Oct 30 2017 08:23
Fleur wrote:
I never called Helen Steel dim, I called the terf version of feminism which is predicated on a narrow biological essentialism dim, especially given that feminism has fought for a very long time to reject defining women by their reproductive capability. If you think the decades long bullying of trans people in the name of feminism is a good thing, well you're no sister of mine. I am given to believe that Helen Steel was not the only person there with transphobic views, I assume that leaflet didn't just materialize out of the ether. People went there with a deliberate aim to provoke and now they're trying to garner sympathy because they elicited a reaction, a reaction I suspect they were looking for to prove their point that they are at the receiving end of "male violence." Despite being a group with far more power, a much bigger platform and much larger allieship amongst the wider world.

For fucks sakes, Terfs (a name they coined for themselves, which when people you disagreed with them started using it they started bleating on about it being a slur,) represent a small number of actually radical feminists, most of whom have enough actual empathy to not pick on minorities. FWIW, I am a survivor too. I don't feel this gives me any legitimacy to pick on trans people. There are so few trans people in the world and the mentality these people have to try and deny them the few dignities and rights that anyone should expect, in the name of feminism no less, it's just weird, obsessive and vindictive.

Quote:
you could stop being a church goer who supports more than one form of patriarchal oppression from where I'm standing (porn and the violent silencing of female anti-capitalists

What the fuck are you talking about? No one's silencing terfs. You lot have got platforms in major media all over the world, friends in the church, the Whitehouse ffs, For every trans person on TV a whole fuck ton of terfs turn out to "add balance." You don't ever let up. Silencing, my ass.

If you support the oppression of marginalized people then you are a shit anarchist. If people don't want to listen to you because you're a bigot, I really don't care. Terfs are oppressive to other women and cry me a river for all their boo hooing about being silenced. Climb down off your cross and try showing a bit of empathy for other people.

You seem to be putting words into my mouth now, and for the record, I am not a TERF. I really don't think I can be bothered going through this if you are going to misrepresent what I am saying and what I belive, I simply can't be bothered and have more important things to do. All I will say is that the way those people treated Helen Steel is disgusting and clearly wrong and it was clearly an ordeal that alot of people were forced to suffer when they shouldn't of had to, I do indeed hope that those involved apologise for the disruption and intimidation they have caused,aswell as the vile misogynist language they used to describe someone who has fought for the greater good and is a survivor and I hope they can genuinely see what they did wrong.

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Oct 30 2017 08:20

Account by an AF comrade (a couple of notations by me in italics)

"First sign was flyers in the women's loos. Then there was leafletting of even worse flyers causing a gathering in the entrance against the TERFs distributing them. By the time I arrived at that the ones distributing them had gone, leaving Helen Steele, EC (name of known TERF redacted) and somebody I don't know who apparently hadn't been flyering but were defending the flyerers and coming out with TERFy shit while claiming not to be TERFS. Lots of shouting and a bit of pushing, but the only punch I saw thrown was later when a cis guy jumped right in the middle to deck one of the trans women who was leading chants to get the TERFs out. He then got hit back with a rolled up magazine. Organisers refused to remove TERFs, various older Cis guys came in to tut about freedom of speech and oh so helpfully point out that we needed dialogue. Fire alarm was set off. Later somebody tried to photo TERFS and it nearly started again, with surprising people more concerned about breaking the bookfair rule on photography than distribution of actual hate speech.

Basically, the TERF grinches have stolen anarchist Christmas."

zugzwang
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Oct 30 2017 08:27
potrokin wrote:
I do ,however, have different views on porn than him and believe that porn, in all it's forms, to be a form of patriarchal oppression. We have a different set of personal morals.

It's a bit of sweeping claim to say that all porn (which includes literature, drawings, etc.) is oppressive toward women, including porn that doesn't even represent women.

RobberBurns88
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Oct 30 2017 10:28

I was attending the bookfair(for the first time) so I can give some eyewitness account.

TERFS were handing out transphobic leaflets- a woman I was with was handed ones similar to the above.

Other TERFS were someone from Feminist Library and someone near to the Earth First Stall at a stall fronted by the green/black flag.

While Helen Steel may not have been that person, she was defending both the right to do this and the content of the leaflets.

She was protected by a female organiser of the bookfair who let her have(ironically) a safe space at the info point beside them and it quickly became obvious they were friends and the issue would not be addressed.

The bookfair organisers refused to act despite a number of people making( as calmly as humanly possible in this situation) objections to the TERFS presence at least TWICE that I saw.

Quite unsurprisingly TERFS saying trans people don't have a right to exist/ are fake didn't go down well at an ANARCHIST bookfair and it built towards a physical confrontation- though I saw no violence myself

If the organisers had acted soon this could've been avoided.

I do know that for siding with the trans folk the organisers of the bookfair moved to grab me as I headed to the toilets - to do who knows what - Beat me up? have me arrested? kick me out?

RobberBurns88
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Oct 30 2017 08:41
Fall Back wrote:
Account by an AF comrade (a couple of notations by me in italics)

"First sign was flyers in the women's loos. Then there was leafletting of even worse flyers causing a gathering in the entrance against the TERFs distributing them. By the time I arrived at that the ones distributing them had gone, leaving Helen Steele, EC (name of known TERF redacted) and somebody I don't know who apparently hadn't been flyering but were defending the flyerers and coming out with TERFy shit while claiming not to be TERFS. Lots of shouting and a bit of pushing, but the only punch I saw thrown was later when a cis guy jumped right in the middle to deck one of the trans women who was leading chants to get the TERFs out. He then got hit back with a rolled up magazine. Organisers refused to remove TERFs, various older Cis guys came in to tut about freedom of speech and oh so helpfully point out that we needed dialogue. Fire alarm was set off. Later somebody tried to photo TERFS and it nearly started again, with surprising people more concerned about breaking the bookfair rule on photography than distribution of actual hate speech.

Basically, the TERF grinches have stolen anarchist Christmas."

Sounds pretty accurate. Though being a man I didn't see the stuff in the toilets or the punching but this gives a good sense of the atmosphere.

Class War who I spoke to about it shrugged their shoulders. Their was quite a bit of apathy about it.

Fucking disgrace!

RobberBurns88
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Oct 30 2017 08:53

Disappointed by defence of TERFS/ TERFY views and the person PAST TENSE on this page.

Why did these folk even come in? How can their be a 'debate' on trans people existence?

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Oct 30 2017 09:51

You're disappointed that Past Tense has posted an account that differs from that of your friends? So how do you propose that we as a small movement get beyond this weekend's stromash? Aside from a couple of people who have just registered on here to post terfy comments, no regular poster has been posting pro-TERF stuff. Yet anyone who has criticised those surrounding and threatening Helen Steel or who presents an alternative account are portrayed as pro-TERF and anti-trans.

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Oct 30 2017 10:02
JuanC wrote:
Supporting a platform for TERFs to spread their hate I think is endorsing violence against trans people.

If language is to be misused and debased like this, it’s usually sign of a weak argument and/or an attempt to deliberately mislead. It works for lawyers, but... There is a factual difference between advocating physical violence against people – which was the claim - and having a disagreeable theoretical position about those people. One could on occasion lead to the other but they’re not the same thing.

There is a decades-long ‘anarchist’ attendee of the bookfair who (from a populist ‘pro-indigenous working class’ view) for years expressed his anti-immigration views on urban 75 forums. He’s a long-term otherwise-lefty-‘good comrade’ too. (I think he stopped his anti-immigration stuff since he got into supporting Rojava and linked up with local Kurds). It was a really divisive stupid theoretical position, but not one that advocated violence against immigrants or led to that. Various people have challenged him verbally about this. The libcom admins knew about all this but never called for his attack, nor banning from the bookfair, never shunned him, seemingly never mentioned it on here or publicly criticised him, he has freely posted on here on occasion etc.

Similarly, after years of defending Aufheben’s Dr J, admins have been forced to accept that he is indisputably helping cops develop policing strategy http://libcom.org/forums/feedback-content/why-article-has-been-removed-07102011?page=13#comment-597829 – yet they still haven’t called for his banning from the bookfair, for him to be attacked, for people to prevent the distribution of Aufheben etc. And they had to be pressured to ban him from the forums. Ironically, admins had complained that the criticisms put him under threat of physical attack.

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rat
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Oct 30 2017 10:30

I’d like to apologise to Fleur for the stupid remarks I made earlier in this thread when she wrote that she was fed up with aspects of the anarchist movement.

I was certainly really out of order. Sorry.

On a different note,

I don't want to derail / change the current discussion on this thread but...

The were aspects of the Bookfair I did enjoy. The two AF discussions that I went to, both of which I thought offered a genuine communist perspective on the reactionary cult of Corbyn and the question; “Is the Working Class Movement Dead?” given by Serge. There was a very interesting, and dare I say, slightly optimistic discussion after Serge’s intro talk. There certainly seemed to be a significant range of voices and ideas illustrating the different struggles developing outside of the unions and political parties. I started to wonder if it is at all possible that these small expressions of resistance may well keep developing and escalate into a new wave of antagonism?

Mike Harman
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Oct 30 2017 10:08
Serge Forward wrote:
Aside from a couple of people who have just registered on here to post terfy comments, no regular poster has been posting pro-TERF stuff.

For reference, Shortshanks has been registered on the site for nearly six years, not a prolific poster but they have posted before on a few threads. Only 'eyewitness' appears to be an account created specifically to post TERF stuff on this thread unless I've missed another one.

RobberBurns88
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Oct 30 2017 10:20

I was also an eyewitness. I was there. I've given an account of what I saw. I can back up what Mike Harman, Fall Back and others have said.

I can't comment on any alleged violence because I wasn't present for that.

Fleur
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Oct 30 2017 10:25

"I am not a terf" said someone who thinks trans people are severely mentally ill and reduces women to walking wombs. Post #103
Walks like a duck.....

RobberBurns88
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Oct 30 2017 10:26

I don't think the original leaflets were helpful myself.

They were transphobic and trans and non-binary folks said so. How about listening to the group affected?

Happy and proud to have stood in their way, really.

You stood on the side of a woman I saw arguing for transphobic ideas. And what was she doing there and why were the bookfair allowing it?

There's a real debate to be had around trans rights and feminism,

That's exactly what terfs say. There's no debate to be had on trans folk's right to exist. We either stand against oppression or for it. Choose a side. Intersectionality is a thing.

Attacking one person in this way unlikely to advance any progress on this question, in my view. Neither is attacks & silencing of anyone who questions assertions or doesn't immediately fall into line behind them.

Would we apply this to other oppressors- police, fascists, sexual abusers etc?

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Oct 30 2017 10:38
Quote:
Would we apply this to other oppressors- police, fascists, sexual abusers etc?

Again, based on your last comment, do you really think Helen Steel can be equated with "police, fascists, sexual abusers etc"?

RobberBurns88
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Oct 30 2017 11:01

Okay maybe there is not complete equivalent BUT Helen steel has firmly chosen to stand on the side of oppression/oppressors.

TERFS deny trans people's existence and their identity. They are feeding into the transphobia which means trans and non binary folk get bullied or commit suicide.

Feminism has moved on and intersectionality is a thing. It's accepted by most feminists that the heart of Patriarchy is the Gender Binary which these TERFS wish to reinforce.

I can't for the life of me understand how that could be interpreted as anything other than oppressive, as acting in defense of the patriarchy, as acting on the side of the state which denies trans folk their rights/ their identity.

Fleur
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Oct 30 2017 11:02

Just caught the church goer thing. I'm an atheist, been to church about a dozen times in my life, all for weddings & funerals. I just don't like sweeping assumptions that all people of faith are evil. I guess you were looking at my previous posts to dig that one up.