The deputy editor of the Race & Class journal has warned of anti-trans feminists copying far-right tactics in an effort to walk back trans rights. In an article published on the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) website, it’s argued so-called gender critical feminists are pushing an agenda usually associated with conservative and far-right groups. Promoting a “fundamentalist approach to biology”, the views of these feminists “play directly into the far-right agenda”.
In recent days Irish activists have criticised the Irish Times for publishing an article by a number of gender critics in which they promote the use of conversion therapy for young trans people.
Echoing the far right
Written by Sophia Siddiqui, the article notes the fact that Hungary and Poland have introduced anti-LGBTQIA+ laws in the last 12 months. These anti-LGBTQIA+ views, as Siddiqui points out, act as a “‘symbolic glue’” which holds together various groups ranging from religious organisations to far-right parties. And all of them are intent on upholding “the traditional nuclear heteronormative family” by promoting the idea of, and attempting to, “enforce heterosexual norms”.
But the same views and tactics have also been taken up by elements in the feminist movement. According to Siddiqui, these gender critical feminists insist that “sex is immutable and cannot be changed”. They then use this argument to justify excluding trans people from gendered spaces as well as the feminist movement itself. Siddiqui maintains that such tactics simply “play into the hands of the far-right street forces and extreme-right political parties which would like to abolish anti-discrimination protections altogether”.
And, what’s more, these anti-trans ideas “could have a damaging effect on global feminist and LGBT movements by reinforcing conservative ideas about gender and sexuality”.
“A more expansive unity” is needed
Speaking toThe Beacon Siddiqui said that her article is a way of “laying bare the nature of the far right threat against all minorities across Europe”. She also hopes that it’ll “give readers a new sense of urgency around the need for unity in the fight against all oppressions and the necessity for a strong anti-fascist stance”.
When asked why she thinks so-called gender critical feminists have latched on to the topic of trans rights she responded:
The problem is, as far as I see it, is not so much that some feminists have “latched” on to anti-trans issues – but more broadly that some perceive “rights” as an area of competition where one group’s rights cuts across another’s.
Siddiqui argued that this must be resisted and we should instead “embrace an expansive civil rights framework”.
She also hopes that we’ll see “a more expansive feminism”, such as the kind shown by the Budapest Pride protests and the pro-choice rallies in Poland. Such “unity in struggle will become more prominent”, Siddiqui argued, given that the far right across Europe is singling out those in favour of LGBTQIA+ rights “as potential threats to the nation”.
Platforming anti-trans views
On Monday the Irish Times published a piece which which has been roundly criticised by the LGBTQIA+ community.
In the piece the authors promote the use of conversion therapy for young people who identify as trans. The practice has been criticised by human rights groups such as the Anti-Conversion Therapy Coalition (ACTC), which describes it as a form of “torture”. It also called on the Irish Times to retract the article and to stop platforming similar views.
Responding to the article the Psychological Association of Ireland (PSI) reproduced a statement it made in 2019 in relation to conversion therapy. It said “There is clear and unequivocal empirical evidence that conversion does not work, and significant evidence that it is also inherently harmful”. The PSI president, Ian O’Grady, went on to describe the practice as “pseudoscientific” and “an affront to the work we do as Psychologists”.
Writing for The Beacon last year, trans activist Lilith Ferreyra-Carroll argued that the Irish media has begun “legitimising the transphobic talking points of a UK culture war”. And these views, which are also present in the health system, must be “challenged, usurped or, indeed, mandated out of existence” in order to uphold the rights of trans people.
Featured image via the Center for Applied Transgender Studies