See Day 1 of Remembering All Women on December 6th here.
Wednesday December 4, 2013
Dear Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter,
It is with despair that I write this letter.
I am despairing of your decision to invite Janice Raymond, author of the hateful and transphobic book The Transexual Empire: The Making of the She-Male, to speak as part of your December 6th Montréal Massacre Memorial and vigil. Violence against women is a real problem in the world which must be addressed. However, looking to Janice Raymond for leadership in resisting violence is misguided and counterproductive.
I say this because Janice Raymond has actually contributed to violence against women. Raymond has promoted hatred against trans women. She has dismissed my right to choose how to maintain my own body. Feminists have long rightly proclaimed “My Body, My Choice.” A woman’s right to her bodily autonomy is central to her humanity. But Raymond denies this right to trans women when she writes “[transsexuality] would best be served by morally mandating it out of existence.” Raymond goes so far as to say when trans women exercise their bodily autonomy and modify their bodies they are raping women’s bodies. I don’t know how that can be anything but an insult to all women, trans and non-trans, who have survived rape.
How can trivializing rape lead to rape relief?
Raymond has also promoted hatred toward sexworkers via her writing and advocacy against sex workers’ rights. Her actions helped to continue the criminalization of sex work forcing sex workers to practice their trade beyond the margins of society in dangerous and shadowy places. Sex worker and sex work advocate Katrina Caudle says, “the criminalization allows rape to run rampant, it allows murder to run rampant, it allows police brutality to run rampant. It creates a culture of stigma and fear, rather than a loving community.” Criminalization leads to marginalization of women and marginalization leads to violence against women. The blatant discrimination against sex workers and trans women pits them as bad women versus an absurd definition of good women. The arbitration of who is a good woman is harmful to the well-being of women.
Can you see why I despair?
Can you feel my sorrow as I search for reasons to believe that there can be reconciliation, that there can be an end to divisiveness, that we can somehow, some day work together to end violence against women?
But I can’t let my despair take over. There is too much at stake!
While I feel despair at your decision to ask Janice Raymond to speak at your event I’m not going to dwell in despondency. Instead I am going to hope, even if it is hope against hope.
I am going to hope for an end to division and alienation. I am going to hope for an end to stigma and fear. I am going to hope for the realization of Katrina Caudle’s vision of loving community.
Whatever the motivation is in inviting Janice Raymond to speak hate I am going to respond in love.
EMAIL this letter/link to email@example.com
Cindy Bourgeois is the first known out and proud trans person to be ordained to ministry by a mainline Christian denomination in Canada.
Click here to read a letter Cindy wrote in support of February 14th, the day to honour and rememberMissing and Murdered Aboriginal Women in Canada.
To watch a video of Cindy reading “A Psalm for Trans Women” click here.
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