As readers might be aware, the UK media is engulfed in a new and ongoing round of media-created trans panic of the same type that lead to the death of Lucy Medows in 2013. Already, media hysteria coupled with the concern trolling homunculus that is all things “gender critical,” has pushed a trans teen caught in the UK media’s crosshairs to desperation.
Riding the wake of this media madness is Linda Bellos, a sex essentialist “radical feminist” who took to an eager national media platform to decry what she claimed to be “no-platforming” by a local student group who rescinded its speaking invitation to her after Bellos publicly mused over the ways she might physically beat a trans woman who disagreed with her. Bellos claimed that she would take her “glasses off and thump ’em!” She then went on to enthusiastically endorse violence against trans women:
I’m quite prepared to threaten violence because it seems to me that politically what they’re seeking to do is piss on all women. That’s what they’re doing for their personal gratification. There aren’t many of them, but what really offends me is the extent to which academia and political parties have listened to them in a way that they’re not listening to us as women. – Linda Bellos
This, then, is a moral issue for Bellos. She clearly believes that a cabal of powerful non-authentic women is, for reasons of personal gratification, silencing authentic women, whom, like herself, are not infrequently featured in international news media sources decrying their lack of free speech and platforms. Against this trans conspiracy, Bellos has pledged a “violent” response.
Violent responses are not to be taken lightly from the likes of Bellos, an admitted arsonist. As part of a 1970s-era group calling themselves Women Against Violence Against Women (dubbed, “Angry Women” by the UK press), Bellos says she would conduct “impact assessments to ensure that no lives were lost or people hurt” before fire-bombing sex shops. In total, Bellos’ group targeted at least 25 sex shops causing around half a million pounds (around £1,975,000, adjusted for inflation) in the early 1980s. Interviews of group members revealed that their members knew they were “joining a group to take direct action, probably in the form of arson attacks, and that this inevitably involved the destruction of property – a criminal activity.” Interviews from the time reveal their meticulous planning:
As far as organizing our attacks went, we ensured that we knew what each of our roles was going to be, and we prepared ourselves with alibis. Our principal concern was that there should be nobody on the premises that were going to be attacked. We took great precautions to assure ourselves of this: we watched buildings, sometimes for as long as three months, often weekly, sometimes daily, to establish patterns of the comings and goings to see if the curtains had moved and if there was anybody on the premises at night. We were also vigilant about policing patterns in the area. It’s surprising, but there are an awful lot of people around at night, even in small towns!
For the attack itself, we would wear very dark clothing, cover our faces with balaclavas or hats, and take only what we needed. Depending on the location, we would either travel in one or two cars (some of which we hired or stole), and always in pairs. Once we had finished what we started out to do, it was home and a hot bath to get rid of the smell and any remnants that would point to our activity […] We knew we were breaking the law, in fact, several laws – criminal damage, arson, conspiracy, endangering life…
Now, let’s look at the way the UK press is representing a threat of physical violence from an admitted arsonist whom, in the past, knowingly endangered life in pursuit of her politics:
Peterhouse’s Beard Society revoked radical feminist Linda Bellos’ invitation to speak because she wanted to offer some fairly benign intersectional insights on transgenderism’s place within feminism. – Varsity.co.uk
During her address to Peterhouse College, Bellos told organisers she planned to publicly question “some of the trans politics … which seems to assert the power of those who were previously designated male to tell lesbians, and especially lesbian feminists, what to say and what to think”. In response, a representative of the Beard Society responded: “I’m sorry but we’ve decided not to host you. I too believe in freedom of expression, however Peterhouse is as much a home as it is a college. The welfare of our students in this instance has to come first.”
Regardless of your views on gender, Bellos speaking at Cambridge University in no way compromises the welfare of its students. It is ludicrous to claim that someone who has committed her adult life to liberation politics is a risk to the wellbeing of those who listen to her perspective – and deeply insulting. Black, female, Jewish and lesbian feminist, Bellos is not exactly a preacher of hate. – theguardian.com
Missing from these reports are the arsonist’s credible threats of violence. In the wake of this false reporting, the students who withdrew Bellos’ speaking invitation are facing possible legal action because “student zealots” and “snowflake students” are “stifling open debate.”
The Goal of the “Trans Debate” is Trans Erasure
What follows is an excellent analysis of the so-called “trans debate” happening within UK’s media culture:
The cat is finally out of the bag. The tightly-linked, but a deliberately opaque group of transphobes and trans-haters largely associated with a shady group calling itself “A Woman’s Place,” has revealed its true aim. And it is not the aim that it tells us it wants.
Transphobes Exploiting Feminism as an Alibi for Hate (or “TEFAHs” as I call them) have consistently, and dishonesty, told everyone that they just want a “debate” about whether trans people have the right to exist. Their crowdfunding to take the Labour Party to court to purge trans women from all-women shortlists have exposed this as a lie, once and for all. These groups, of largely anonymous individuals, have demonstrated what trans people have known for a long time; namely that they do not want any “debate” whatsoever.
The way trans people have been specifically excluded from the “debate” in the right-wing mainstream media since September, has demonstrated what real “no-platforming” looks like. And while these groups of supposedly “left-wing” transphobes attempt to exclude trans people from discussing trans people within the Labour Party they work hand-in-glove with neoliberal right-wing media operations like Murdoch’s Times and Viscount Rothermere’s Daily Mail producing Trump-like hatred of trans people.
This TEFAH movement to exclude trans people from a debate about trans people is now explicit; they have submitted motions to Constituency Labour Parties which are clear; they want cisgender women to be the sole arbiters of what rights trans people should have, and trans people should be excluded from this. Their motions argue for these decisions to be the sole preserve of women’s groups but not trans people, LGBT Labour or any other group of trans people. However, it is not merely the content of these motions that is deliberately exclusionary, the way the TEFAH’s are going about this is also exclusionary; these motions are often submitted in such a way that trans people cannot respond until it has become a fait accompli. If there are no trans members of a particular CLP, or if they are not aware these motions are being proposed, trans people are effectively excluded from these debate about trans people.
So while their claim to want a debate has obviously been dishonest from the start, fundraising to take Labour to court has finally made this unambiguously explicit. Whatever they do, whatever they say, this group of transphobes and haters do not want any kind of “debate.” Indeed their main strategy is to exclude trans people from any discussion of trans people, whether that be on a national level in the right-wing mainstream media or within the Labour Party itself. Whatever they claim, they do not want a “debate,” in fact, they want the opposite, they want to close any debate down, and their actions have demonstrated this unambiguously. The Labour Party needs to treat those engaged in these attempts to shut down debate appropriately.
Let us be clear about what is being debated: the erasure of trans women. Moreover, let’s stop pretending that the “trans debate” is nothing more than a well-known debate tactic called, “Just Asking Questions.” There is no ‘transgender question’ that needs to be debated; what needs to be debated is a UK cis media, that already has trans blood on its hands, actively covering up, minimizing, and misrepresenting Bellos’ explicit endorsement of anti-trans violence by representing the fear of anti-trans violence as “a growing culture of snowflake students stifling open debate.”
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