It has been interesting to watch the antics of a group of radical feminists over the last few days. They've organised a radfem conference in London, and in the way of such events they've issued a big list of who is and who isn't allowed to join their little party. Unsurprisingly, trans-people of all descriptions aren't welcome at all. As if most of us were planning to go! I never quite got their reasoning, but somehow we oppress them.
Everything seems to oppress radfems, and nobody is more oppressed than they are. I wonder what a radfem would say if they were confronted with a real victim of oppression, perhaps a Syrian protester or someone. I guess they wouldn't recognise them as truly oppressed unless they were female. And then only if they were married, 'cos to associate with men is the only way to be oppressed.
The antics in question have been prompted by a storm of criticism from both trans people and cis feminists. The latter is encouraging, my problem with feminism has always been that mainstream feminists are too reticent to call out the outrageous in their movement. The radfems have spent the past week modifying their description of who they'll let in, first born female, then women born women, now reproductively female. And they'll let in the male-born, but only boys under eleven. If it wasn't so tragic, it'd be funny.
Other people have covered the ideology behind it all far better than me, all I can do is look at the hatred involved. I understand hatred and bigotry, there are groups my origins in a small English village could predispose me to hate. Travellers for instance, the criminal element in the travelling community has engendered a visceral hatred against their community as a whole among sections of the settled rural population. With good reason, the appearance of the wrong sort of traveller encampment in your area can be nothing short of disaster for a small rural business.
But I learned something very important one year in my late teens when a traveller encampment set up in my village. I met some travellers face-to-face for the first time and discovered that they were local people just like me, and desperately aware of the public image of travellers as a whole. I still see their encampment from time to time on my travels over three counties.
My point is that to discover whether you really hate something you have to get to know it. As a teenager I might have hated travellers for their popular association with crime, now I simply hate criminals, whether they or their victims live in houses or caravans.
By an amusing coincidence, on the same day as the RadFem 2012 conference in London the Sparkle transgender pride celebration is being held in Manchester. I will be in Manchester mostly for the shopping opportunity but I'll spend some of the day in Sackville Park marvelling at the diversity of our community and enjoying the all-welcome inclusive nature of the event.
I doubt this will have any effect, but I'd like to urge any radfems who have a real issue with trans people to come to Manchester instead and go to Sparkle. Meet some trans people for once, find out something about us. You can still hate us if you want, but at least you'd know something about us.
Now that would be what I'd call radical!