Saturday, April 19, 2014

Radfems Respond 2014

Dear Multnomah Friends,
It has recently come to my attention that you have decided to cancel our booking for the Radfems Respond conference on May 24th despite promising us the venue. It has also come to my attention that this decision was not based on facts and evidence being presented, but was rather based on the absorption of libel primarily written by a small group of outspoken individuals who often outright fabricate their claims as a way of bullying and intimidation.

I am sorry to see that Quakers have caved to that bullying and intimidation. Just wondering, did you not see the photo of Hollis Proffitt holding and licking a machete in his/her photo on the petition against us? I must say, there is nothing quite like the eroticization of violence to make a political statement. Just last night, my partner showed me a photo of a 15 year old “trans-girl” holding a knife with the caption “fetch me some terfs” (TERF is a slur meant to silence gender-critical radical feminists). Can you really truly blame us for wanting women-only spaces away from these types of men? Women-only spaces aside, this event was meant to be an inclusive dialogue, to encourage the open exchange of communication between radical feminists, male feminist allies, transitioned people, detransitioned people, etc.
On the subject of detransitioned people, I was born a female. I realized growing up that I was a gender non-conforming Dyke but due to society’s deeply-entrenched misogyny and lesbophobia, along with a deeply seated hatred of myself, I transitioned medically and socially. I fit all of the diagnostic criteria of a person with Gender Identity Disorder (now called Gender Dysphoria according to the latest incarnation of the DSM manual). I realized that transitioning couldn’t help alleviate my gender dysphoria, and in fact gender dysphoria itself in general is a symptom of a gendered-society. In addition to doing some serious self-growth as a person, I was also getting negative health issues from the testosterone for my hormone replacement therapy. As a result, I detransitioned both medically and socially. I am presenting at the Radfems Respond conference as a way for people considering transition as an option to learn about alternatives to transitioning and to hear a radical feminist analysis, where they had probably only heard queer theory analyses before. I am being incorrectly painted as someone who thinks that just because I made a mistake means that transition is wrong for everybody else. This is only partially true. I made a mistake, one which I do regret, but I remain critical of the medical and social/legal practice of transitioning. I don’t care what personal choices other people make; rather I am asking people to think critically about their choices, some of which might not be the healthiest or correct choices to make. Due to my stance, I am being very incorrectly labeled transphobic. This is insanity.
I am writing to you not only as a panelist/presenter at the conference, but as someone who is incredibly saddened and hurt by your decision to stand alongside bullies. To call our point of view “bickering” is not only grossly inaccurate, it is also very insulting. My boss, friend, and mentor, Lierre Keith had to be escorted to the stage to give her keynote speech by 6 armed police officers at the 2014 Public Interest Environmental Law Conference. The reason for this was because of endless threats of violence from trans activists who hinted there would be a repeat of Lierre being pied in the face with chili pepper laced pies, as she was at the 2010 Bay Area Anarchist Bookfair.
As I mentioned before about my detransition, I also joined the ranks of radical feminists who had been bullied and attacked. My girlfriend’s car was vandalized twice shortly after I decided to detransition and she came out as a lesbian. To be specific, she had “dyke” keyed into her bumper and two tires slashed. We have reason to believe that it was members of the local trans/queer activist community who did the vandalism. Additionally, I also had a local MTF transitioner stalk and harass me, of which I still have screenshots for any curious minds to see.

This is hardly “bickering.” These are women who have been repeatedly stalked, harassed, and threatened, both online and offline.
I do my work specifically as a way for young women who might otherwise hate their bodies in silence find other ways to cope besides hormonally or surgically mutilating themselves. I do this work as a way to help other young girls be able to accept themselves just as they are. I am saddened that my message isn’t one that the Quakers can support and get behind. My message is far from hateful; my message is one that is designed to help other young women. As such, I hardly see why my message in particular should be censored, nor do I see the reason for any of my fellow colleagues to be censored either.
I am disappointed, and while I know it is too late for reconciliation, I encourage the Quakers to be fully informed before booking and subsequently cancelling future events.
Heath Atom Russell
Panelist at Radfems Respond 2014, Writer, and Activist

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