July 10, 2013 31 Comments
I am writing this as an attendee of Radfem Rise Up! 2013 held in Toronto, Ontario. These are my observations as an attendee, and not an organizer.
This past weekend I attended RadFem Rise Up! in Toronto. The scheduled speakers included a survivor of prostitution and domestic violence, a presentation on reproductive justice, and a discussion regarding the case of rape and suicide victim Rehtaeh Parsons, among other topics.
This conference was held as woman only because under patriarchy, women are uniquely targeted with violence and rape. Many attendees have been victims of incest, male violence, and rape, and wanted to discuss these experiences as women together. We believe we have a right to female-only safe space for such purposes. We also believe in the rights of trans people to organize and hold their own conferences if they so choose, but we expect them to respect our right to do the same.
The conference went ahead and was powerful despite ongoing attacks from trans and their allies who do not believe women who have shared girlhoods have a right to meet together.
The first trans activist attack came in the form of imitation. The official website for the radical feminist event was located at radfemriseup.wordpress.com. However, trans activists and their allies created a cloned version of the website at radfemSriseup.wordpress.com and allege that their website is in fact the correct one. Their website goes on to claim that the purpose of the conference is to discuss exterminating trans people, and even uses surgical porn language when it states, “we will also be doing some group activities that will allow us to get to know each other better in ways trans can’t possibly do. Speculums will be provided.” That such a website would be set up to undermine us by imitating us and saying outrageous things goes to show how difficult it is to discredit us based on our actual positions. It also tells us that these trans activists and their allies are liars without integrity.
In order to discover our venue, at least one trans activist/ally signed up and paid for conference entry with the intention to infiltrate and prevent us from meeting.
Thus, this/these persons received an email stating the location of the venue and released this information on the internet. Trans activists mobilized their allies via social media to contact the venue and request that they cancel the booking.
Conference organizers were told that the venue received over 200 emails requesting that they drop the booking. Venue staff revealed to conference organizers that some of these emails contained threats, and that they were afraid for themselves and their children.
This is the reason conference organizers were given by the venue for cancelling the booking.
Given this cancellation, conference organizers moved the venue to the location where some attendees were staying.
On the first day of the conference, trans activists and allies sent an infiltrator ally to the new event location. This person sat among us as we discussed radical feminist politics, and shared intimate stories in our ostensibly safe space. This violation of our safe space affected all of the attendees, including those of us who are survivors of the sex industry, domestic violence, and rape.
This trans ally infiltrator leaked the second venue to trans activists. This exposed the fact that our space had been violated– the space where many of us were sleeping (including one ten month old infant).
Trans activists and allies then organized a protest of our event ~200 m from the venue location. The original venue that cancelled the booking had told conference organizers that the reason they cancelled was because they felt unsafe. Given the boundary violations exhibited by these trans activists and allies on the previous day, as well as the long list of violent threats previously made by trans activists towards radical feminists, it is clear that this invasion was done in order to intimidate us.
The conference went ahead as planned despite these imitations, infiltrations and invasions.
If you support trans activism, please consider whether the above noted violations are appropriate methods to use in trans activism, or whether they did in fact cross the line as I am alleging here. The people targeted by these attacks are women– many of whom have already had their boundaries violated by men in the past before. Disagreement is appropriate– intimidation through imitation, infiltration, and invasion is not.