Stonewall risks all it has fought for in accusing those who disagree with it of hate speech

Good article in the Guardian today about the problems with the ‘no debate’ attitude to trans rights:

It is distressing that Stonewall’s board cannot see what its actions are jeopardising. While some campaigners may balk at trying to win over those who don’t align to their world view – because they’re supposedly evil – this is a guaranteed way to halt progress and generate backlash. As an antiracist, I see it as my job to explain unintuitive concepts such as structural discrimination to people who haven’t come across them, not damn them as bigots. By equating gender-critical views with racism, Stonewall is losing the opportunity to win the argument and build solidarity via compromise: we understand why some women want safeguards for certain single-sex spaces; can you see why in many other circumstances there’s no reason why trans women should be treated differently from those born female?

The article, and, in fact, the quote on the op, discuss two issues:

  1. it asserts that women assigned female at birth need to be protected from men who purport to be women. (And perhaps also from actual trans women who are still dangerous to other women due to their biology.)
  2. It claims that calling all the people who believe this, or who otherwise disagree with the full trans agenda, by nasty names is counter-productive to trans rights.

I believe the op is hoping to discuss the second point, only. This is a tricky needle to thread, but let’s give it a try.

Ground rules:
You can state whether you agree or disagree with point 1, but please don’t argue it in this topic, or disagree with other posters’ allegations along these lines. Please report anyone who does.

Please engage with point 2.

Please don’t insult other posters. This isn’t the pit.

If these rules aren’t followed i intend to shut down this topic.

Mostly a bullshit distraction. There is a reasonable consideration to be made that ciswomen have unique challenges and in some circumstances need ciswomen-only spaces. The trans community and trans activist community largely doesn’t have a big problem with that, as long as it’s for the real needs of ciswomen, not for the bullshit desires of transphobes and bigots.

But the vast majority of this disagreement is between those who despise trans people (and especially transwomen) and those who want to stop the violent oppression of trans people. Most of those who are fighting against trans rights hate trans people, or are so ignorant that their ignorance is indistinguishable from hatred. We can see this by the hateful language of the most prominent critics of trans rights and trans activism – right wing Republicans, religious fundamentalists, etc. And how most other opponents of trans rights ignore this open vitriol and rather focus on the fringes of the issue.

For the love of God, Stonewall got its start throwing bricks at cops and overturning their cars. Acting like taking confrontational positions is “risking it all” is a staggering misportrayal of their history.

Yeah, this argument makes no sense. Stonewall not only got its start being confrontational, but was the catalyst for the current LGBT rights movement. The current result of that movement is that Pride is now huge—to the point that it’s advantageous for for-profit companies to make a big deal of caring about it at least one month of the year. Being confrontational works.

Furthermore, what they are pushing in calling it hate speech is that transphobia be treated the same as other things that are accepted as bigotry. That’s a strategy that has historically worked. A lot of the reason that the LGBT rights movement seems to have accelerated faster is that it was able to use what was learned about racism and sexism. We treated homophobia as similar to those two.

Even comparing transphobia with specifically antisemitism makes sense due to the similarities in the claims. Antisemitic conspiracies claim that Jewish people are infiltrating spaces for their own benefit and the harm of non-Jewish people. They were somehow controlling the media, preventing those who had legitimate concerns from talking about them.

And, if you actually interact with Jewish people without preconceptions, you realize there’s nothing scary about them. Thus the implication of the comparison is that this is also true about trans folk.

You have your controversy to get in the news and get your opposition to publicize for you. You have the assertion that transphobia is a form of bigotry and should be treated like all other forms of bigotry. And you have the comparison to certain antisemitic arguments—arguments that people know are false.

That seems a pretty decent strategy to me. Not the only one, mind you—you do also have to have the people forming relationships and being nice. But I can’t think of any minority rights fight that used only the latter strategy. You always the tough guys and the nice guys.

They used to make pretty much this same argument about LGBT rights in general - that calling people who were opposed to gay rights “bigots” was counterproductive and ultimately harmful to the cause, and that we needed to be more understanding and kind to people who voted to take away our rights, and that if we were really nice and non-confrontational, they’d eventually - someday, in their own time - decide to stop treating us like shit and gives us the legal rights we’d so meekly asked for.

It was a bullshit argument then, it’s a bullshit argument now.

The author of the article self describes as an “antiracist”. What a crock term that is. It’s like when Chris Rock criticized people who were proud that they never went to jail: “You’re not SUPPOSED to go to jail!”

I think it’s meaningful to distinguish between “mass communications” and talking with a particular person. With the particular person, you may know where they are coming from, they may already respect your opinion, and you may also care about your relationship with that person. When talking to your friend who says something transphobic, or anti-Semitic, it whatever, I think it is often appropriate to tell them why you object to that statement, rather than just call them a bigot.

But when talking about rating companies based on their policies it makes sense to take a harder stance, and demand what you think is right.

Reading more, Stonewall in the United Kingdom is named after the Stonewall uprisings, but it sounds like until about a decade ago they were fairly milquetoast: in 2010, they refused to take a stance on same-sex marriage, and they made a pro-gay-rights video for schoolkids that used the word “tranny,” and they nominated virulently transphobic journalists for awards.

The guy who’s complaining, in this case, is a conservative cis white dude, who has also hilariously called for using piano wire to decapitate cyclists and said of journalist Alaister Campbell “I’d rather be a little shit than a big cunt.” And he’s worried that an organization named after an uprising led by transwomen is gonna get sidetracked by trans issues? He can get fucked.

Recently, it sounds like Stonewall has been trying to make up for its previous transphobic bullshit and has apologized for historical nastiness. Its previous rightwing supporters are all aflutter over this change. It’s a familiar pattern to anyone who’s watched organizations try to right their previous wrongs, an unremarkable rear-guard action.

I don’t find it counter-productive to call transphobes transphobes. I do find it odd how much transphobia there is in British media, even those not on the right.

I’m assuming that I can disagree with the OP when they say “good article.” The article is authored by a transphobe and much of the article is spent defending other transphobes. I’m betting I didn’t hurt trans rights by that statement nearly as much as the article did.

Yes, of course. And it’s completely on-topic to opine that the article is detrimental to trans rights.

The article is an opinion piece and whenever an article makes appeal to emotions based on one case I tend to be dismissive of the entire piece. Politicians on all sides do this all the time and it is a garbage argument.

I think that members of a biological sex group are well within their rights to request areas that are specific to that biological sex. Biological females have the right to organise around those characteristics.

An organisation that thinks merely making such a request or supporting the right for those who do, is “hate speech” or deserving the label “transphobe” or that invoke an antisemitism comparison is overreacting to a extent that, yes, will probably be damaging to their reputation in the long run.

Stonewall have done great things in the past but they appear to be painting themselves into a bit of an ideological corner here.

They appear in the past to have been pretty awful on trans issues. It’s hardly painting themselves into an ideological corner to align themselves with their namesakes. If they want to be supportive of transphobia, maybe they should rename themselves.

“Anti - racist” doesn’t just mean “not racist.” It means one is committed to dismantling systemic racial inequality and taking steps to achieve that.

Rebels often become anti-rebel once they are the ones with power. Recurrent historical pattern.

What transphobia is present in the concept of biological sex being something distinct from gender identity? That seems to be entirely uncontroversial and yet somehow worthy of condemnation and labelling as “hate speech”.

I think this thread is drifting off-topic from “what are good or bad strategies for pushing your trans-friendly agenda”

I’m not entirely sure how to interpret Puzzlegal’s latest mod-note, so I’ll just disagree that this is an accurate representation of the situation at hand.

Thanks. I’m hoping we can avoid once again re-litigating “are trans activists wrong to want to make women’s spaces available to transwomen?” and instead stick to a discussion of strategies and what tactics are likely to help trans people.