sex & gender

Transphobia and Carol Adams

Another example of vegetarian-ecofeminist transphobia and cissexism is described in the keynote address presented on June 17, 2005 at Queer Communities and Controversies, the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education's second annual conference in Toronto, Canada, by transsexual, sex worker, and animal liberation activist, Mirha-Soleil Ross. In her keynote address, Ross describes an encounter with Carol Adams that occurred on July 15, 2000 at the World Vegetarian Congress.

Ross talks about Adams' cissexism, starting with trans-interrogation. Adams uses a metaphor about "fish in the water" to invalidate Ross' gender identity. Adams intrusively attempts to force Ross to answer personal questions about her transsexuality, and reduce her to the status of an object. Adams also uses trans-fascimilation to portray Ross as merely imitating a woman by claiming the Ross simply "chooses" to be a woman. (Read more...)

Transphobia and Feminists for Animal Rights

Most people are aware of the issue of transphobia in the feminist movement by how it is dramatically exhibited through the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival's (MichFest) infamous "women-born-women" policy. The term "women-born-women" is actually a cissexist synonym for a cissexual (non-transsexual) women, and it is used primarily to exclude transsexual women from "women-only" spaces. The term is used as part of a transphobic backlash that employs biological determinism to claim the superiority of cissexual women as "natural" or "real" women while devaluing transsexual women as "unnatural" or "fake."

The now dormant organization Feminists for Animal Rights (FAR), founded by the trans-misogynistic vegetarian-ecofeminist Marti Kheel (who when asked during a panel Q&A what people can do to help trans women, Kheel instead went into a misogynistic, transphobic tirade attacking trans women), also promotes a transphobic "women-born-women" policy. FAR has long been a hub for feminist-vegetarians/ecofeminists closely connected to nonhuman animal advocacy. In fact, while other feminist views exist on the intersection of feminism and anti-speciesism, the discourse is dominated by the FAR clique of feminist-vegetarians/ecofeminists who are featured prominently in books, conferences, and academic journals. (Read more...)

Challenging Feminist Transphobia

White ecofeminism and feminist-vegetarianism is heavily influenced by the reactionary and transphobic writings of some dominant radical culutral feminists. Most notably is Mary Daly and her book Gyn/Ecology, which is filled with transphobia, cissexism, and trans-misogyny directed at transsexual women. A major influence on, as well as of, Daly's transphobia was Janice Raymond, who wrote the transphobic book The Transsexual Empire: The Making of the She-Male. Other transphobic influences on feminist-vegetarians/ecofeminists include Robin Morgan and Sheila Jeffreys. (Read more...)

Why Veganism and Firebombs Don't Mix

In a recent post on her La Chola blog, brownfemipower uses her experience and knowledge of feminism and other social justice movements to explain "why fire bombing will not work." She touches on many of the reasons I don't support the firebombing in particular, and the ALF in general.

Like bfp, I believe that what is needed is cultural and social change, and I agree that this requires a mass movement.

The Personal is Political

Veganism is a good example of how consciousness-raising about our everyday actions is important to challenging the structure of oppression and exploitation. Veganism takes everyday "personal" actions (e.g., eating, dressing, and recreating) and calls out the political dimensions of these actions. It reveals how eating, wearing, and otherwise using nonhuman animals is not a mere "personal" act, but a dimension of exploitation and human privilege. It makes a connection between the personal action and the political structure of our society. (Read more...)

Recalling Missed Connections

About six years ago I co-organized a panel discussion on the connections between domestic violence, child abuse, and animal cruelty. The panel featured a professor of psychology distinguished for his work on the subject; an executive director of an ecofeminist and animal defense organization who founded a program addressing the issue being discussed; and a staff member of the area YWCA (where the discussion was held) who worked on domestic violence issues.

At the time I thought this panel discussion was "progressive" in addressing the interconnections of violence against women, children, and other animals. In hindsight, I realize the panel lacked a real commitment to anti-oppression, social change, or a true intersectional approach. There are many things that are problematic with the discussion's framework. (Read more...)