Transphobia at the London Anarchist Bookfair 2017

447 posts / 0 new
Last post
Mike Harman
Offline
Joined: 7-02-06
Oct 30 2017 20:08
shortshanks wrote:
I'm not a TERF because I don't believe in excluding and hating on them.

No just calling them mentally ill, addicted to surgery, not real women (since only people who get periods and who can reproduce are real women? how's that work exactly?) etc. "I'm not a TERF but..."

shortshanks wrote:
I understand that they have the same enemies as other women and feminists, those being alpha males and patriarchy.

You left out the people campaigning for them to be locked up in male prisons and denied healthcare?

shortshanks wrote:
Oh and good luck bringing people around to your way of thinking if you are just going to label people like me 'transphobic' or 'trans-exclusionary' because a huge fucking swathe of the world's population thinks how I think and people like you will be excluding them and putting them off libertarian communist/anarchist/anti-capitalist politics if you continue to take that approach.

In the early 1900s people in the US socialist party were trying to exclude black people in the name of unity with racists. In the 1910s many suffragettes campaigned against black women getting the vote, because they were especially concerned with it being granted to black men (and just generally racist. there was a WKKK movement set up in the 1920s after the vote was granted to keep going). While these are different issues to transphobia and there's been too many analogies on this thread already, at the time people definitely made the same arguments that if these were inclusive movements, it would exclude bigots from getting involved.

as an admin
I've unpublished several posts by both eyewitness and shortshanks due to transphobia and banned eyewitness.

Fleur
Offline
Joined: 21-02-12
Oct 30 2017 20:09

Where did you get your medical degree? There's an 8 year post graduate training before you can practice as a psychiatrist, where did you do your residency? I assume you are a professional, otherwise you wouldn't be able to competently diagnose mental illness. Or are you just being a wee bit ableist here, and assigning someone you do not understand or agree with as mentally ill.

I would label some as trans exclusionary if they refuse to recognize someone's gender. And yes, a lot of people think the way you do but I tend to hold anarchists to a higher standard. Fuck knows why, I'm so frequently disappointed. Do better. Be better. Be more open to differences.

Jesus, alpha male. Lol. We're not elephants you know. The only people I hear regularly talking about alphas and betas are MRAs.

Steven.'s picture
Steven.
Offline
Joined: 27-06-06
Oct 30 2017 20:25

I wasn't able to attend the book fair but have been following what happened. Absolutely unbelievable.

I'm so disappointed that it turns out Helen Steel, who I always thought was a solid comrade, is a trans-hating bigot. And it is perhaps even more disappointing that so many people, like the book fair collective and John Active, have supported her.

Regardless of what happened at the book fair, you can see on her Twitter and Facebook accounts she posts loads of trans-phobic hate, that has no place in any radical or working class movement. It is absolutely disgusting and contemptible.

She is also a Unison rep, and I think she is in breach of union rules. How could any trans member have faith in her to adequately support her when she doesn't even acknowledge their right to exist?

Past Tense, forgetting about what happened at the book fair, what do you think about the transphobic propaganda Helen spews publicly on her social media accounts?

I would also like to ask that same question to her other supporters like the book fair collective, John Active etc. It's one thing to defend a long-term friend if you think people have been aggressive towards her. But it's quite another to defend bigoted hate speech.

On the matter of the book fair collective, just for information the libcom group are drafting an email to send to them to give them a chance to address and correct their behaviour. If they decline then we may cosign the above Edinburgh AF statement.

Oranj's picture
Oranj
Offline
Joined: 18-03-13
Oct 30 2017 20:26
Serge Forward wrote:
RobberBurns88 wrote:
You can't go to an anarchist bookfair knowing trans folk might be present, hand leaflets to folk you assume are Cis women then expect to be greeted with applause or with anything other than absolute fury and disdain. Then for folk to defend this, to protect this and to allow this is extremely telling about where our supposed anarchist movement is at.

Anarchism is not for anything goes. Anything goes opens the door to fascists,cops, reformists, authoritarians of all types.

Are we for trans/non binary people or not? This is the fundamental question and everything else is hot air.

As has been stated earlier in this thread, Helen was not handing out those leaflets but defended someone who was. It appears she then became the convenient next best target when the person(s) distributing the flyers disappeared. If Helen holds TERF positions, then she is wrong and should be challenged on those views. However, how she was challenged at Bookfair was also totally wrong and should never have happened like that. Lumping her in with cops and fascists is not only sick, it's cult-like behaviour and very worrying to see.

Oh, and I forget who implied that "older anarchists" probably didn't "get" trans politics, but you need to realise the whole trans thing goes back a long way and some of us have been well acquainted with such "issues" for a long time, you patronising bugger.

If someone behaves like a cop, they will be treated as a cop. Outing people to TERF's is cop behaviour. Reporting trans women to cops is cop behaviour. She is FB friends with 'Dr' Julia Long, the terf equivalent of Nick Griffin, who regularly boasts about her transphobic poetry.

Why must we deploy analogies for you to 'get it'? If a bonehead was handing out C18 flyers, and someone defended their 'right to fash', they'd be out the door with them.

Serge Forward's picture
Serge Forward
Offline
Joined: 14-01-04
Oct 30 2017 20:42

If Helen behaves like a cop, how come she's the one who got kettled? Seriously, listen to yourself. She's neither cop nor fascist but yes her views on trans matters are piss poor and need challenging - in a way that doesn't involve the bookfair version of flaming torches.

wojtek
Offline
Joined: 8-01-11
Oct 30 2017 20:49

Isn't there quite a history of pathologising women, gays and those with anti-authoritarian leanings?

Oranj's picture
Oranj
Offline
Joined: 18-03-13
Oct 30 2017 21:12
Serge Forward wrote:
If Helen behaves like a cop, how come she's the one who got kettled? Seriously, listen to yourself. She's neither cop nor fascist but yes her views on trans matters are piss poor and need challenging - in a way that doesn't involve the bookfair version of flaming torches.

Clearly won't be challenged by the LABC who defended her. At one one the TERF's asked for the trans people to be kicked out, for defending their right to exist I presume.

potrokin
Offline
Joined: 28-05-16
Oct 30 2017 22:45
Mike Harman wrote:
shortshanks wrote:
I'm not a TERF because I don't believe in excluding and hating on them.

No just calling them mentally ill, addicted to surgery, not real women (since only people who get periods and who can reproduce are real women? how's that work exactly?) etc. "I'm not a TERF but..."

shortshanks wrote:
I understand that they have the same enemies as other women and feminists, those being alpha males and patriarchy.

You left out the people campaigning for them to be locked up in male prisons and denied healthcare?

shortshanks wrote:
Oh and good luck bringing people around to your way of thinking if you are just going to label people like me 'transphobic' or 'trans-exclusionary' because a huge fucking swathe of the world's population thinks how I think and people like you will be excluding them and putting them off libertarian communist/anarchist/anti-capitalist politics if you continue to take that approach.

In the early 1900s people in the US socialist party were trying to exclude black people in the name of unity with racists. In the 1910s many suffragettes campaigned against black women getting the vote, because they were especially concerned with it being granted to black men (and just generally racist. there was a WKKK movement set up in the 1920s after the vote was granted to keep going). While these are different issues to transphobia and there's been too many analogies on this thread already, at the time people definitely made the same arguments that if these were inclusive movements, it would exclude bigots from getting involved.

as an admin
I've unpublished several posts by both eyewitness and shortshanks due to transphobia and banned eyewitness. shortshanks if you continue to post transpobic crap on here or other threads you'll also be banned.

Please delete my account, I disapprove of threats to ban Shortshanks Redemption and do not wish to be on a site that suppresses people's freedom of expression for what I consider to be no good reason. I also do not wish to be on a site that does not take the patriarchal oppression of hardcore porn and other types of porn seriously.

Fleur
Offline
Joined: 21-02-12
Oct 30 2017 22:52

You consider transphobia no good reason?
If you want to talk about porn why don't you do it on the porn thread you've previously started? It has nothing to do with the subject at hand.

Zia
Offline
Joined: 18-06-17
Oct 30 2017 22:55

Like Fleur, I have also opposed trans exclusionary feminists for years - decades in fact. But I want no part in your witch hunt. HS has been accused of things in some posts which any decent admin would remove - instead you are joining in.

Her politics around gender and trans need to be challenged and are being challenged. One of the places this is happening is actually on her social media.

Yes, some of the anti-trans feminists are indeed bigots who cannot be debated but HS is not one of these. She has not been in those scenes for a long time. And no, we’re not talking about debating whether trans people have the right to exist. There are discussions to be had about the GRA, self id, and some aspects of trans activism. These things are being discussed in many forums outside the ‘anarchist’ scene. If you’ve got good arguments, go out and make them and win people over. I urge you to limit your performative outrage and try to think a bit. Maybe there’s a way forward which recognises the humanity of all involved instead of this witch trial.

DevastateTheAvenues
Offline
Joined: 17-03-17
Oct 30 2017 23:22

Someone using the goodwill and cachet they have gained from their previous acts to cover for, deflect from, and even push for their current bad acts--I'm getting nasty echoes of Michael Schmidt and JD.

Fleur
Offline
Joined: 21-02-12
Oct 30 2017 23:43

Maybe you could think a bit about how appalling that leaflet is, how outing trans people is a despicable thing to do which endangers people, how trans exclusive feminism is a piss poor way of thinking and how the nasty people who turned up at the bookfair to provoke are the ones with performative outraged.

I spent today thinking about my trans coworker who has to put up with this every day of their life. TBH the laws concerning trans people are way better than in the UK so I wonder what it would be like for them not to be able to self ID, to have to wait forever to see a medical professional, to have to go through a demeaning process in which other people to assign a gender to them. Fortunately there's no one as petty & spiteful to tell them where to take a piss, what with our non problematic gender neutral bathrooms at work.

Honestly there is no discussion to be had on the subject of people policing other people's bodies, the proposed legislation is just given trans people some of the rights cis people take for granted. There is no room in libertarian communism for enforcing your will upon other people with regards to their own bodies.

I do talk about this a lot. Oddly enough most non politicos I talk to are far more receptive to trans rights than radfems. What I hear from radfems is close to hate, loaded with lots of rather pathetic concern trolling. I can't work out for the life of me where all this comes from. It's just fucking weird, irrational and paranoid.

Like I said, I hold anarchists to a higher standard of behaviour than non politicos. That said, none of my non politico friends and coworkers have ever exhibited the sort of behaviour such as that carried out by the leafleting terfs. Otoh, maybe I'm just living a charmed existence, given that I'm in a position where I can choose to hang out with only decent human beings.

Mike Harman
Offline
Joined: 7-02-06
Oct 30 2017 23:58
Zia wrote:
I urge you to limit your performative outrage and try to think a bit. Maybe there’s a way forward which recognises the humanity of all involved instead of this witch trial.

Helen Steel wasn't the only person involved in this at the bookfair. A Green Party parliamentary candidate attended as part of the anti-trans group and tweeted about it afterwards. Also there have now been multiple reports of the bookfair collective defending 'free speech' rights of people handing out the leaflet, before HS got actively involved defending them or at least before HS was confronted.

It's good that people are individually challenging HS's politics on this, but even if she hadn't attended the bookfair at all, the incident would have developed in much the same way assuming the rest of the anti-trans group still went and distributed their leaflet and put up stickers and bookfair organisers refused to confront it (possibly with a less polarizing response from everyone afterwards, since anarchists generally less prepared to defend parliamentary candidates than anarchists).

Zia wrote:
Yes, some of the anti-trans feminists are indeed bigots who cannot be debated but HS is not one of these.

We don't know the identities of all of the people in the group at the bookfair (I've only confirmed one based on their own reports, but might have missed others), but considering they went to the bookfair exclusively to distribute TERF literature, we can assume most if not all the group are in this category. So it's entirely reasonable to ask why the bookfair collective didn't respond to requests to exclude them, and to ask what exactly people should have done differently once this became clear.

Sike
Offline
Joined: 25-10-15
Oct 31 2017 08:33
Fleur wrote:
Honestly there is no discussion to be had on the subject of people policing other people's bodies, the proposed legislation is just given trans people some of the rights cis people take for granted. There is no room in libertarian communism for enforcing your will upon other people with regards to their own bodies.

I'm with Fleur here. Why anyone who considers themselves to be an anarchist, or maybe just a thoughtful and decent person, would give a damn about how someone else identifies when it comes to something so intimate and personal as their own gender identity is beyond me.

RobberBurns88
Offline
Joined: 18-12-16
Oct 31 2017 15:45

Claims from the TERFS today that they called the police claiming violence from the trans folk.

Police have become involved( Backed up by Freedom press Twitter post)

P.S. I was almost grabbed by the organisers for being part of the anti-TERF group. I did nothing more than criticize and join in some chanting.

Edited to remove claim bookfair were involved in some way. We don't know either way as of yet.

Fozzie's picture
Fozzie
Offline
Joined: 4-12-03
Oct 31 2017 10:11
RobberBurns88 wrote:
Claims from the TERFS today that they called the police claiming violence from the trans folk.

Are you able to provide a source/link to these claims?

Mike Harman
Offline
Joined: 7-02-06
Oct 31 2017 10:58

@Fozzie:

Freedom Paper have confirmed on twitter that they were contacted by police yesterday in relation to the bookfair: https://twitter.com/Freedom_Paper/status/925022035616641024

So clearly someone has called them between Saturday afternoon and Monday, otherwise they wouldn't be phoning Freedom up about it.

It's been very widely reported in mainstream media (do a web search for "TERF hyde park police") that police are investigating the Hyde Park incident.

Maria MacLachlan (the 'victim-while-having-someone-in-a-headlock' from Hyde Park in September) is fishing around on twitter trying to collect bookfair witnesses for their police report for Hyde Park.

Here they are asking Past Tense if they'd be prepared to talk to police about the Speakers Corner incident, due to them posting their account of what happened on twitter, and claims that same people were involved: https://twitter.com/Skepticat_UK/status/925015723193356292

Same person here chastising Freedom Paper for not co-operating with police: https://twitter.com/Skepticat_UK/status/925151390925803520

Here saying Helen Steel is on video protecting them at Hyde Park:
https://twitter.com/Skepticat_UK/status/924992669042069504

And here calling trans people 'gestapo': https://twitter.com/Skepticat_UK/status/924382870864564225

So at a minimum, Maria MacLachlan (who doesn't appear to have attended the bookfair personally but is apart of the same group that did) is talking to the police about Hyde Park and trying to get the bookfair incident brought into their already existing case, actively soliciting anarchists on twitter as witnesses (and having a go at people who refuse).

There are also several people reporting that TERFS threatened to call the police on Saturday (which is not the same thing as actually calling them obviously) https://twitter.com/finger_gun_gal/status/924669244046012416

So whether there was a 999 call from TERFs to the police at the bookfair itself is still open at least for me, but what's above is pretty bad by itself and they're not being shy about it.

Fall Back's picture
Fall Back
Offline
Joined: 22-09-03
Oct 31 2017 11:43

Also note that HS has in the past couple of hours retweeted Maria MacLachlan's blog which talks about reporting activists to the police, and posts significant details, pictures of them, repeatedly misgendering them etc.

I've seen no indication that HS has passed anything to the police - but she doesn't appear to have a problem with people doing it.

Fozzie's picture
Fozzie
Offline
Joined: 4-12-03
Oct 31 2017 11:50

OK, thank you. That is depressing.

Serge Forward's picture
Serge Forward
Offline
Joined: 14-01-04
Oct 31 2017 11:59
Fall Back wrote:
I've seen no indication that HS has passed anything to the police - but she doesn't appear to have a problem with people doing it.

Really? You know this do you? Nicely smeared.

Fall Back's picture
Fall Back
Offline
Joined: 22-09-03
Oct 31 2017 12:02

She literally just shared an article that talks about trying to photograph someone to send to the police, and outs them.

This isn't really ambiguous.

Serge Forward's picture
Serge Forward
Offline
Joined: 14-01-04
Oct 31 2017 12:21

Hmm... if that's not ambiguous, then libcom admin's ongoing support of a known copper's nark who must not be named would be unequivocal?

jef costello's picture
jef costello
Offline
Joined: 9-02-06
Oct 31 2017 12:35
DevastateTheAvenues wrote:
Someone using the goodwill and cachet they have gained from their previous acts to cover for, deflect from, and even push for their current bad acts--I'm getting nasty echoes of Michael Schmidt and JD.

Sorry but this is incorrect and similar things have been said above. If you met HS through her local group then you'd have no idea about any of that, I only knew about it because we were talking about a threat of legal action over leaflets and I mentioned mclibel in passing and someone told me.

I am very disappointed to see any anarchist endorsing supplying information to the cops, Freedom and past tense for example have both stated that they would not do so. There have been a lot of good posts and I

Not all violence is physical but can we stop endlessly using the word "attacked"? This is not a competition about who is the bigger bully. The issue is very simple: what should we do when confronted with transphobia in an anarchist space?

One more thing, when we talk about debate and discussion, I personally, and I hope others, do not mean that the issue of transphobia is up for discussion, rather that we should be able to address these unacceptable beliefs verbally.

Fall Back's picture
Fall Back
Offline
Joined: 22-09-03
Oct 31 2017 12:41

I'm not sure why you're trying to tediously change the subject. We're not discussing Aufheben, we're discussing HS' transphobia.

She just shared an article, which talks about photographing and reporting someone to the police. This was shared without any comment or criticism.

It's hardly a smear to say this doesn't appear to be someone who has a problem with others reporting people to the police.

Maybe she didn't properly read the article by her comrade from a month ago she sought to share. Maybe she'll realise and delete it, who knows? But at this point, it doesn't appear she had a problem with it.

Steven.'s picture
Steven.
Offline
Joined: 27-06-06
Oct 31 2017 13:41

Anarchist Federation Trans Action Faction statement on the events: https://afed.org.uk/afed-trans-action-faction-statement-in-response-to-events-at-london-anarchist-bookfair-2017/

Mike Harman
Offline
Joined: 7-02-06
Oct 31 2017 13:41

Here's a couple of excerpts from the blog Fall Back mentioned, I won't link to it because it's full of transphobia and doxxing, however it's further confirmation that Maria MacLachlan has been in contact with both police and the Daily Mail, providing photos and identifying information to them on the trans people at Speakers Corner.

Maria MacLachlan wrote:
At least the Mail had the decency to get my side of the story before publishing, unlike one Anoosh Chakelian of the New Statesman, who jumped the gun and very quickly put out a worthless piece showing her to be a crap journalist and a bit of a wally. I’m not linking to the piece, which has now changed slightly but I believe the original helped give rise to the widely circulated falsehood that the incident did not get reported to the police. It most certainly did. They arrived at the scene just after my assailants had fled. The whole incident is being investigated and the officer in charge has outlined how the investigation is expected to proceed. And that’s all I’m saying.
Maria MacLachlan wrote:
Fortunately, most people who view the footage – including the police – take their blinkers off and engage their brains first.
By the way, my camera was later found with the memory card missing, which I believe is why they fought so hard to get the camera from me. It was quite a good camera but it was a write-off. The Mail on Sunday was the only paper to offer to cover the cost of it in exchange for a few pics and I was delighted at the thought of getting some money from a paper I detest.

Misgendering replaced with 'x'

Maria MacLachlan wrote:
not only had x failed to do what x set out to do when x took that run at me but that I had retrieved my camera and was continuing to film, now trying to get footage specifically of x so I could pass it to the police. (This has been presented as ‘shoving my camera in their faces’, ‘goading’, etc, by imbeciles commenting online. For a real example of goading and getting in someone’s face, look at the guy goading Julia in the second video above.)
Serge Forward wrote:
then libcom admin's ongoing support of a known copper's nark who must not be named would be unequivocal?

One of the reasons we objected to the way that was handled was because it conflated doing academic research that informs police training on crowd behaviour with handing specific information on individual anarchists to the police. People are still throwing around 'police informer' and 'coppers nark' years later without making that distinction or providing any context for the allegations, as you just have. While there are people like Maria MacLachlan that actually do report trans anarchists to the police, get their pictures posted all over the Daily Mail, brag about it on the internet, then are still defended in left/anarchist spaces, it's worth being clear exactly what the difference is, even if you consider both equally bad.

Similarly with Michael Schmidt there was a lot of focus on whether he was an organised fascist who had infiltrated the anarchist movement vs. him developing fascist/racist/white nationalist politics semi-independently/via forums (due to the very, very poor way the initial allegations were made by AK Press and the serialisation later, meaning the initial account took months to be provided). The politics are equally fucked in both the cases, the security concerns to people who knew him or who he had contact details of may have been different though, as is the implications for dealing with racism in anarchist spaces - since he was allowed to put forward some of those views formally or semi-formally within a South African anarchist organisation without much challenge - not exactly 'undercover fascist'.

I completely agree that exaggerating accusations without providing context doesn't help anyone though - the thing you're questioning is whether RTing that blog post and several other tweets from the same person means that HS "doesn't seem to have a problem with it". It's quite possible to RT things you don't agree with but that are interesting, or in the case of blog posts, that you haven't actually read all the way through, but it's also customary to provide some kind of commentary to that effect if so when it's not obvious which that might be.

I'm going to go back through the thread and remove any mention of HS handing out leaflets at the bookfair (or anything else that's obviously unsubstantiated), the basic narrative that a group handed them out, were challenged, then HS defended the group and the contents of the leaflet appears to be pretty much agreed, even if lots of other things aren't.

update - have edited a couple of posts, but not the replies to those posts (in the same way I deleted several transphobic posts but not replies to them) - this is not perfect but it's as far as I can get for now. Going to ask nicely - if people have new information or allegations, please provide a link to it, or a clear reference to the source if there's a good reason not to link to it, if you're a direct eyewitness, please be clear about that too.

Oranj's picture
Oranj
Offline
Joined: 18-03-13
Nov 4 2017 19:08

Grottie Locket https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100011442446521

The other one was Olivia Palmer, of the Green Party. https://www.facebook.com/olivia.j.palmer.3

Mike Harman
Offline
Joined: 7-02-06
Oct 31 2017 16:41

Update, I've banned shortshanks for the several transphobic comments made on this thread.

RobberBurns88
Offline
Joined: 18-12-16
Oct 31 2017 17:46

https://londonbookfairopenletter.wordpress.com/

Response to London Anarchist Bookfair 2017
We write today as a broad collective of anarchist and activist groups and networks in London and across the UK. We are writing in response to events at the 2017 London Anarchist Bookfair (LABF).

We condemn transphobia of any form in the strongest terms, and we refuse to support any event that condones transphobic behaviour or language, or allows the distribution of transphobic materials and literature. We see this as complicity, and furthermore, we are disappointed in the actions (or lack thereof) on the part of LABF organisers following the events of Saturday. It is disappointing that, once again, LABF has let down and created an unsafe space for many comrades.

During the 2017 event various transphobic leaflets were shared and a number of people attending the LABF made transphobic, transmisogynistic and dehumanising comments in a very public manner.

This is unacceptable behaviour and a form of violence directed at trans people. The contents of the leaflets are not simply a “perspective” or a “viewpoint” but are a form of ignorance, violence and aggression directed specifically at trans women. They are intended to humiliate, harm and dehumanise trans people. The consequences of leaflets like these are not discussion and debate but psychological trauma, terror and death for women of trans experience. To allow these leaflets to spread unchecked creates an environment in which transphobia is not only allowed but encouraged and anyone who is affected by their contents can no longer safely or comfortably access the space.

This is not a question of freedom of speech, or freedom of expression. This is a question of feminist resistance. This is a question of refusing to let trans comrades be terrorised. It is not about playing an identity trump card, but granting the bare minimum conditions for trans and gender-variant comrades to take part in the event – conditions that many can simply take for granted. We are anarchists and activists and we seek to dismantle hierarchies of oppression. As such, we stand in full solidarity with those who resisted the spread of violent hate speech, and those who acted to challenge the violent hate speech of both the people distributing the leaflets and those defending the ideas contained within. The dignity and humanity of our trans comrades is neither debatable nor negotiable.

We understand the impulse to protect comrades who have earned our respect through their actions in the past. We believe in having each other’s backs and offering support and solidarity to those who we feel are being attacked, assaulted or harmed. We believe in offering support and solidarity to those who have been targeted and harassed by the state and by the police. We believe that those who experience state violence for their political work must stand in solidarity with those who experience state violence for their existence.

We do not believe in allowing our trust and respect for those we have struggled alongside to blind us to the harm they are doing with their views and with their actions. We do not believe that ignoring racist, transphobic or misogynistic views or actions is an act of support, we believe it is an act of enabling harm.

Comrades we trust can have harmful views. Comrades we have organised with for decades can have harmful views. Our trust in each other as activists and as anarchists does not mean we can never be critical, never challenge each other’s ideas. It does not mean we believe our comrades can never be wrong, and it does not mean we blindly protect each other from criticism.

Calling out harmful behaviour is about holding each other to the commitment that we can do and be better. It’s important that if we are to call ourselves a movement we cannot shy away from being accountable to each other for the harms we can and do cause – this is the basis of our mutual liberation.

While previously Bookfair organisers have insisted that any disputes be decided amongst ourselves, this year, and for this issue, they chose to step in and offer protection and support to people promoting transphobic hate speech. This is part of a pattern of response from Bookfair organisers where incidents of transphobia, anti-semitism, islamophobia, racism and misogyny are ignored, or declared to be only resolvable by those directly affected. We have repeatedly seen situations escalate – sometimes to physical confrontation – because those being harmed and marginalised are not offered support.

Worse still, as we saw this weekend, organisers have stepped in to defend and support those who use oppressive, violent and dehumanising language to perpetuate racist, colonial and patriarchal systems of oppression. To be clear: this is not the first time this has happened and this is not the first time these and other issues have been raised directly with organisers and those involved with the Bookfair.

We write today as anarchists, kin and comrades; as people who have tabled and run workshops at the bookfair; as people who have attended, supported and felt an investment in the Bookfair over many, many years. It’s valuable to us that there is a space where anarchists and their ilk can meet each year and celebrate our strengths, achievements, and ongoing struggles. To share knowledge, invest in friendships and build new ones.

We also write as people who have also been progressively alienated over the years by the culture of the Bookfair, who believe that a commitment to anti-capitalist struggle involves a responsibility to think about colonialism and imperialism, about patriarchy and gendered oppression, about racism and white supremacy. Resisting capitalism lies in resisting these forms of oppression, not in reproducing them.

When a space allows for transphobia and trans-misogyny to go unchecked, and furthermore, when it allows racist imperialism, anti-semitism, Islamophobia, misogyny and ableism to ingratiate themselves as part of the culture of the Bookfair, it no longer acts as that dreamed of utopian space, but rather as merely yet another space for enacting the same societal oppressions and aggressions. If the Bookfair cannot evolve beyond this, it is unfortunately no longer a space that we can be a part of.

With this in mind we lay out the following demands on the organisers of the Bookfair:

To change the date of the LABF in future years so it does not clash with the United Friends & Family Campaign Annual Demonstration and to actively promote attendance at the annual UFFC March.
A clear statement outlining the politics the LABF is committed to, what kinds of behaviour and views are unacceptable and unwelcome at the Bookfair, and what action will be taken by organisers if these boundaries of acceptable behaviour are ignored by attendees or speakers.
A clear statement of political values that reflect the above boundaries and that speakers, those hosting meetings, and those with stalls must clearly commit to in order to be able to participate.
A commitment to incorporating anti-racist and decolonial struggle into the program of the Bookfair by providing space for workshops and meetings and actively seeking out local black, brown and people of colour led groups to work with and run these meetings.
A commitment to incorporating queer and trans struggle into the program of the Bookfair by providing space for workshops and meetings and actively seeking out queer and trans lead groups to work with and run these meetings.
A commitment to physical accessibility in all its forms. Firstly, by making sure that workshops and meeting spaces are able to be physically entered by people using wheelchair or mobility devices and that movement through and around the buildings is not reliant of having to wait for an organiser to open a door or operate a lift. Secondly, by incorporating into the program workshops relating to accessibility and disability struggles led by those directly affected by these issues.
A commitment to continue the “no cameras” and “no filming” rule without exception given.
Meeting these demands will be a starting point for re-engagement and the possibility of rebuilding trust with organisers, it is not a guarantee. Until these demands are meaningfully engaged with we will no longer participate in or be associated with the London Anarchist Bookfair. This means we will not host a stall, have any meetings or workshops, take out advertising space in the program, or in any way promote the event. Further, we will encourage our members and associated groups to picket the LABF in the future and provide material to those attending about the problems we have identified and the demands we are making.

Yours Sincerely and in Solidarity,

Signatories:

Artists Against Prisons
Base – Publication
English Collective of Prostitutes
Haringey Anti-Raids
Jewdas
London ABC
North London Food Not Bombs
Members of 56a Infoshop Collective
Objects of Desire
Sorry You Feel Uncomfortable
Sisters Uncut – South East London
SWARM (Sex Worker Advocacy and Resistance Movement)
Queer Strike
Women of Colour in the Global Women’s Strike

If you would like to add your signature to this list please contact resistancebookfair@gmail.com or use the contact form at the top of the page.

Other statements:

AFED TRANS ACTION FACTION
Empty Cages
Edinburgh Anarchist Federation

bewarethe
Offline
Joined: 31-10-17
Oct 31 2017 17:47

Open letter is here: https://londonbookfairopenletter.wordpress.com/