Since initially getting interested in the “TERF Wars” reading Alice Dreger, back here in 2015 (before Maya Forstater and J. K. Rowling, before “TERF” itself even) the number of GC/RadFem supporter follows in my Twitter timeline has snowballed to effectively drown-out most other areas of interest. Ironically those with whom real engagement is needed the Trans-Activists simply block or put you on a list (or worse actively attempt to “cancel”). Some who should know better – in the UK – Michael Cashman, Peter Tatchell, Liz Barker, simply take the hard-line on “radical freedom” and deny any debate, and actively worse in the case of Stonewall itself. Not only is it not a debate, denial means it’s not even dialogue. (Notable exceptions are Ayesha Hazarika, and Justin Webb as I’ve noted before. And two other individual exceptions in Clive Andrews and Justwanttoreadstuff.)
I’m an epistemologist not an activist, though I did once refer to my approach as the “philosophical activist turn”. I care about meaningful truth. My “activism” is academic, conceptual and active in dialogue. Again ironically, that philosophical activist turn now includes the whole “Critical Theory” movement (inc CRT). Far from being a theory, this seeks to use “active positive discrimination” to physically undermine, reverse or deny the whole history and foundations of any philosophical considerations of lived truth and political action. Throwing baby out with the bathwater – rip it up and start again – anti-establishment anarchist revolutionaries. Careful what you wish for. No wonder establishment – white supremacist males, whatever – reject it just as vehemently. Race-wars, gender-wars, religious-wars, climate-emergency, TERF-wars, decolonial-slave-wars, any neuro-atypical / intersectional rights, you name it. When it comes to choosing sides, woke or anti-woke, a pox on both their houses I say. I’m on the side of the freedom of (and need for) constructive dialogue. I have rules of engagement, rules in which personal attacks are exceptions, no-no’s to be used only in the heat of battle of otherwise good-faith discourse. No dialogue without good-faith. All meaningful truth requires reconciliation if the process has involved violence, even attention-grabbing and content-curating verbal violence (@Glinner anyone? [*]).
Incidentally, one of the more interesting and constructive dialogues I’ve had along the way was with @Glinner (before Maya and his going on the offensive campaign) about Michel Foucault and Queer Theory. One where nuanced understanding is needed if we’re not going to throw out the post-modern baby with the bathwater. But that’s another longer PoPoMo story. TL/DR: Foucault isn’t all (or even mostly) bad.
The TERF wars are simply an archetypical current example of my main area of interest, so I really need to prune out – unfollow – a fair number of those who would attract the pejorative anti-Trans label “TERF” on my Twitter timeline. To be clear I (and most of them) are not “anti-Trans” we are simply “anti male-self-ID gender-transwomen’s rights trumping other rights of women and LGB individuals“. It’s all very well tagging TIQ+ etc. onto the original LGB Pride as a statement of solidarity, fill yer boots, but it’s not OK to conflate and deny the many different aspects and rights (*). I wish them all well and will stay attached to a few to keep in the retweet & replies loop.
In doing so, I discover amongst the blue-ticks Martina Navratilova is a keeper. I actually only started following her directly on Twitter quite recently but was previously very positive about the common sense conclusions she came to in her TV documentary about Transwomen in Female sport. The point is fairness and fairness turns out to be a complex topic. In her Tweets she remains grounded and to the point.
[(*) See also – Ban conversion therapy? Under an LGBT banner?]
[*] @Glinner got some stick – and his Twitter ban – for his “bullying” tactics in aggressively defending “Gender Critical” feminists being branded “TERF”s by targetting individual Trans-Activists directly. However I still see him on the right side of history here in paying the price for his career decision to go on the attack. Still now in July 2021 here are a couple of mails targetting J K Rowling:
gonna be opening a charity to send rowling a pipebomb https://t.co/cQadsigkHC
— florane🧦🌐 | 70589400000 (@okyeahhorny) July 19, 2021