2008 Statement from Julie Bindel

Julie Bindel wrote this in 2008. I don’t actually agree with everything she says here, I don’t agree with her views on transgender surgery for instance. I do know that is her perspective and we live in a world where many perspectives exist. I do agree that a rape crisis centre was not an appropriate arena for anyone to demand they be given the right to work there. I know it is not the responsibility of rape victims to manage the rights of those they seek help from and I know  the physical and emotional toll reporting rape takes, it is not up to rape victims to protect  equal employment rights. I know a trans woman is more likely to have experienced rape than other members of the population and trans women need rape counsellors who are trans women.

But Julie’s views on this became irrelevant a long time ago. The hounding and silencing she, and other journalists have received is misogny and silencing women and is not acceptable from women, from trans women, from any woman. The sale of what has been unleashed on her is not acceptable. Ever.

This is her statement. This statement was written in 2008, it is now 2013 and this week Julie again found herself subject to what has been almost constant. I have seen this directed at many Cis women journalists.

”I wrote this in 2008 when the trans bullies were hounding me because I had been nominated for a Stonewall Award for my journalism:
Statement from Julie Bindel

In January 2004 I wrote a column for the Guardian Weekend Magazine entitled ‘Gender Benders Beware’. It was primarily about the case of Canadian male-to-female transsexual Kimberly Nixon, who had taken a rape crisis centre to court over its decision not to invite her to be a counsellor for rape victims. As a result of the legal action the centre almost folded. I was, and remain angry that Nixon decided to risk the future of such an important service for rape victims. I stand by my position on this case, but regret using sarcasm, jokes and innuendo which may well have resulted in inciting others to treat transsexual people with disdain or even hatred.

I had written about and debated with transsexuals and others on the politics and principles of transsexualism prior to the 2004 column and on a number of occasions since. I have publicly apologised on three separate occasions for causing offence in the 2004 column. Nonetheless I am labelled as a transphobe and bigot.

My understanding of ‘transphobia’ is a hatred and fear of transsexual people. I refute this accusation, despite the fact that I expressed views, some 4 years ago in one column, in an offensive and insensitive manner.

Since the age of 16 I have been an outspoken and proud lesbian – often at significant personal cost to myself. I have been beaten up (and hospitalised) by anti-lesbian men, and my home was once firebombed by fascists when I was living in a lesbian relationship with a black woman. Over the years, particularly as my writing has become mainstream, I regularly receive hate mail from anti-lesbian and misogynist readers. Woman and lesbian hating opponents have taken offence at the fact that I speak out against rape, child sexual abuse, murder and prostitution of women. Others have threatened me with harm if I continue to name men as the common perpetrators of sexual violence. Whilst I have not become desensitised to this abuse, I have understood it in the context of a proud and courageous battle against women’s oppression, dating back to the beginning of the women’s liberation movement. Thus, I feel I am well qualified to understand the meaning and implications of bigotry. To face abuse and threats from a group of people who name me as a ‘bigot’ and worse is nothing short of offensive.

My position is this: I question the basis of the diagnosis, coming from ultra-traditional male psychiatrists, at a time when gender polarisation and homophobia work hand-in-hand. Iran carries out the highest number of sex change surgeries in the world. It also has the death penalty for homosexuality. In my opinion there is nothing ‘wrong’ with those who are currently seen as candidates for transgender surgery – they just don’t fit the gender stereotype. Surgery is an attempt to keep gender stereotypes intact. The diagnosis of childhood GID follows old-fashioned notions of what constitutes appropriate behaviour for those assigned to the sex classes of male and female. It is precisely this idea that certain distinct behaviours are appropriate for males and females that underlies feminist criticism of the phenomenon of ‘transgenderism’. This view is shared by a large number of feminists of all ages and backgrounds.

As an out lesbian feminist living in a misogynistic, anti-lesbian world, I challenge gender norms each and every day. Growing up female, but refusing to conform, I have been severely punished and threatened for doing so. I consider myself to have rejected the gender assigned to me, by a patriarchal culture, and am therefore qualified to name myself a ‘gender resister’.

I have offered to speak with, both privately and publicly, to various members of the transsexual community involved in this campaign against me. Whilst a small number have accepted, the majority have refused. I believe that they are not interested in hearing what I have to say, but merely wish to use me as their ‘whipping girl’, and to take all of their anger out on me. I refuse to be a scapegoat, or to be silenced by them.

I do not need the Stonewall award in order to continue writing about controversial topics with a view to challenging views and ‘truths’ which I, for good and sound reason, dispute. In my 30 years as a political activist, I have never allowed the vile misogyny and anti-lesbian bullying I have endured over the years in response to my writing and activism to shut me up. I certainly will not let this campaign against my feminist and journalistic integrity do it now.”