In 2018, we were amongst those who disrupted the Brisbane/Meanjin International Women’s Day event. We did this because the organisers of that event had consistently and intentionally worked with transphobic forces within the women’s movement - including by giving them platforms on the day. In the process of this conflict, transgender women and their allies in the women’s liberation movement were silenced, and we were told to fall in line behind the established leadership of the movement. This same leadership was soft on the Labor Party and its leading figures and quick to crush the voices of women (both cis and trans) who opposed transphobic vitriol.
In the wake of International Women’s Day 2018, we began the work of laying the foundations of our new organisation. We believed that the only way to combat the bile of transphobia in the women’s liberation movement was to form a strong, disciplined revolutionary feminist organisation, with a materialist critique of gender and patriarchy, and a strong commitment to the liberation of all women. A group of women (both cis and trans), non-binary people and male allies came together to form Feminist Action! in the months that followed.
Since the confrontation at last year’s IWD event, we have been denounced as splitters, as wreckers and as agents of the patriarchy. Many on the soft left in Brisbane denounced us as undermining the “unity” of the movement. We couldn’t disagree more. Those who spread transphobia, who undermine the rights and political inclusion of an entire group of women from the women’s liberation movement, are the ones who court division and destruction. Transgender women and their comrades, allies, lovers and friends cannot be expected to be quiet in the face of this rancid politics.
The reactionary, transphobic elements of the movement have only shown themselves more openly in the year since we began to expose them. On their Facebook page, they are now actively courting right wing narratives - fear campaigns about transgender people in bathrooms and the effect of hormone therapy on teenagers - and parroting their discourse and their manner. They have even accused us of being funded by the pharmaceutical industry in an Alex Jones-esque line of conspiratorial thinking. At every turn they have accused us of being a group of “men” and “men’s rights activists” - despite the fact that we are mostly women - cis and trans.
This reflects the growing confluence of so called “radical feminists” (a clever name, but false to its heart) with the religious and conservative right. Only within the last week, a panel of transphobic feminist figures was hosted by the reactionary Christian-Fascists at the Heritage Foundation in Washington DC. In the UK, an unholy alliance of Christian reactionaries and feminist intellectuals and public figures has been forged to destroy any attempts to extend transgender people’s rights and dignity.
These reactionaries who run the International Women’s Day page have called their own event and have made it clear that we are not to attend. Good! We want nothing to do with them and their wretched politics. They do not represent the future of the movement. They do not represent the politics of the young people who want to get involved today. They do not represent either the radical wing of the movement, nor do they represent a tendency for thorough and deep political analysis.
We believe that our diversity is our strength, and we believe that we need a new generation of feminist militants who can challenge patriarchy, white supremacy and capitalism. We believe that consistent action, analysis and organisation are key to bringing about a new future. We hope that many people will join us on International Working Women’s Day to celebrate that future.