I don’t think that speech which harms minoritised groups should be protected. I don’t think that giving another platform to someone who has engaged in hate speech regarding a minoritised group is necessary or that it will add to any ongoing debate. I don’t think that providing a platform to someone who has engaged in hate speech will in any way help them realise that they are harming a group of people, nor will it educate those who are on the fence regarding an issue. In my opinion all it does is reaffirm their existing position, it does not give them an opportunity to learn about how they have harmed others, nor an opportunity for others who do not understand that harm, to understand it better. I am really not a fan of people (who usually have multiple other platforms) being given another platform to other or dehumanise groups of vulnerable people.
Before I go any further I want to state I am not a trans person, I am cis-gendered. I do my best to be a good ally to the trans community, but I will (and do) fuck up from time to time. I will do my best to learn from my mistakes.
The recent petition to ban Germaine Greer from talking at Cambridge was to protest against her outrageous views regarding the trans community. Had the petition been successful, then Germaine would have been reminded that her views on trans people are not acceptable in this day and age. I don’t think that this would changed her views, she’s been transphobic for a very long time, but tolerating these views should be long past.
She (and others) say that her views are only opinions and that she had never advocated violence against trans people. This view erases the real harm that occurs when trans people are misgendered. It minimises the continued transphobia when others hear ‘respectable’ people say that trans women aren’t really women. It also adds to the defence used by violent people when they claim that trans people have tricked them or fooled them in social or intimate situations.
It is important to re-state that trans women are not men who have transitioned to become women. Trans women are women who have taken action (of what ever type) to live as their authentic selves. The same goes for trans men. Also, transphobia is a real and present danger for trans people. Trans people die as a result of transphobia.
Germaine was going to talk about ‘Women and Power: The lessons of the 20th century’. Her version of women erases some of us, her erasure causes harm to our sisters and therefore harm to us.
If you would not give a platform to a racist who had questioned the right of non-white people to live free of racism, if you would not give a platform to a person who claimed that women should not be able make their own medical decisions, if you would not give a platform to someone who said that reparitive therapy is what LGB people need to live ‘normal’ lives, if you would give a platform to people spouting any other kind of hate speech against a vulnerable or minoritised group, then you can’t support Germaine speaking about women until she realises that the set of women includes trans women.
For those who suggest that Germaine’s words were merely offensive and not harmful and hate speech, I would suggest listening to those who face transphobia on a regular basis, those who are even more careful than cis-gendered women when walking the streets – even in broad daylight – in order to remain safe and whole. I would recommend reading the Transgender Day of Remembrance site and see how many trans people have been murdered around the world, just for being who they are. I cannot stress how important it is to be good allies to the trans community and stand with them. Standing against them costs lives. Denying trans peoples’ existence and voices costs lives.
Germaine’s words and opinions regarding trans people is transphobia. What she says, as a respected feminist, author, academic and notable person matters. She knows this. It is evident that she does not care for the world’s trans community. As an intersectional feminist, I care for the world’s trans community, and I stand by them.