UPDATE: Reclaim The Night Perth is no longer organised by ROAR, which kinda makes this post invalid. See comments for more information.
NOTE: I am a cis woman, and as such not personally familiar with trans oppression. If I have made an error or hurt/offended you, please let me know and I will correct it.
Reclaim the Night organising meetings and protest are open to
all women and children.
This is the first line under the How to get involved sections on the Reclaim The Night post on CHOGM Protest.org. but how accurate is it really?
Reclaim The Night marches have rightly come under fire for being transphobic and openly hostile to trans women. “Women Only” often means “cis women only” when used in feminist spaces.
This is something many activists have been working to challenge, with positive results. This year, Reclaim The Night Melbourne has explicitly stated that trans women and gender queer people are welcome:
As such, it is completely autonomous (women identified or bodied or socialised – it is important to note that this is deliberately inclusive of our trans community).
Their language is a little bulky (“It is asked that people who are not female identified/bodied/socialised or trans or gender variant self-exclude from the event this year.”) but the intent is there.
Reclaim The Night London has also decided to become explicitly trans inclusive, stating on their website:
All women are welcome at Reclaim the Night, including: women of all colours and cultures, of all religions or none, women of any age, disabled women, able-bodied women, heterosexual women, lesbians, trans women, bisexual women, refugee and asylum-seeking women and any other women you can think of!
This is fantastic news and should be celebrated! But the fight is not yet over. Unfortunately, Reclaim The Night, Perth – run by the ROAR Feminist Collective – is still not welcoming of trans people.
In case you are unaware, ROAR Feminist Collective is a women-only radical feminist group in Perth that are mostly inactive now (as far as I can tell), but meet fortnightly to organise RTN. They were responsible for a horrible piece of transphobic bile (Link to PDF) last year, which stated (among other things):
It has been strongly argued by feminists, Aboriginal rights activists and other groups who experience
subordination, that who gets the right to determine (for example) who is a woman and who is
Aboriginal, is very important. And ROAR argues that it is very important that those who do get to
make that determination are the people who have lived their whole lives, through absolutely no
fault of their own, in a body, in a culture (or descended from a culture) and / or in a group who are
subordinate. In this case, that means women who have been assigned female at birth
Given the history of this group, I have always been wary of attending events run by them, including RTN. This year is no exception.
On the Facebook page for the event, this conversation occurred:
Claire Litton asked: “hey there, are transwomen welcome at this event?”
Kat Pinder replied: “The organisers have not developed a particular position, other than the event is for women and children. Analysis’s of trans politics can be divisive, time consuming and often unlikely to reach consensus, so it is not something that we have even attempted to reach a decision about this year. I know some womyn who are attending who would not welcome male to trans people and differing perspectives on female to trans people. I am aware that trans identified people, who were raised as males, have attended the event last year and the previous year.”
Let’s break that down. First, the idea that trans politics are divisive. Sure, when you go about claiming that trans women aren’t real women, that’s pretty divisive. It’s also pretty fucking dangerous. Transphobia kills hundreds of trans people every year! But let’s not talk about that. Some cis people might get their feelings hurt and we don’t want to be divisive now do we!
The second aspect I’s like to discuss is the othering and third-gendering language used here. “Male to trans”, “female to trans”. Trans is not a gender. Trans is a definition used for people who are not the gender they were assigned at birth.
And hey, while we’re talking about inclusivity, you might notice that RTN Perth now explicitly allows male carers of disabled women to attend:
Women whose attendance is dependent upon a male carer are welcome to bring them along.
Not exactly. Look where they’re holding their meetings:
H/T to Lauredhel.