Transgendered challenge Southern Girl Convention
Louisville, KY -- The annual Southern Girls Convention was held July 7-9
Louisville, KY. The schedule of workshops ranged from "Ethical Sluthood"
"Punk Parenting" to "Sexercises." There were performances and meals
by Food Not Bombs, and a music show that featured men and women.
I first attended a workshop about Marxism and the Women's Movement,
towards discussing the role Marx's theories played in feminism, and how
feminism pertained to the class struggle. The presenter, Terry Moon,
maintained that feminism and class struggle cannot be understood without
each other. I found this important because of the work I do against
sweatshop labor, where many people "forget" that a vast majority of
sweatshop workers are women.
I then attended the Men and Sexism workshop, for men only. Being a
transgendered boy (born female, now male-identified) I was concerned
would not be accepted, but there was not even a question or comment. A
walked in to participate, and she was also welcomed.
Saturday there was a caucus called "Sexism in the Movement." When we
arrived, we were told that men were to travel to a separate room to
the issues. Then we would all meet together and have large group
This poses a problem for all of us who do not identify as strictly
"female." Someone voiced their concerns, then another, only to have
When the groups separated, I met the eyes of the people who had raised
voices in concern. We felt that at a feminist conference, there should
premeditated space for those that do not identify as only male or
better yet, not divide the genders at all. We are fighting against
the movement together, and separating us only led to marginalization and
fear within the struggle.
Soon the three of us were joined by others, unsure of what to do. So we
began our own caucus. We called it "Genderism in the Movement" to
the trans-phobia and hatred/fear of people that do not fit into the male
female gender category within the women's movement.
We had 30 participants at a conference of about 125. Our caucus was not
transgendered folk; we all were fed up with the perpetration of an
oppressive gender system that fuels not only fear and hatred of the
"opposite" sex, but also propels many to self-hatred. Eating disorders,
ageism, racism, fear/hatred of the disabled, and many other oppressions
from the fascism of "what does a woman/man look like?" We get our images
from the Western media whose sole concern is to make profits. These
are especially harmful to young women who are pressured to be thin and
available to men. Homophobia stems from gender-phobia, a fear of
sexuality, which is based on gender expression instead of sexual
itself. These things were discussed at the caucus and we all expressed
anger over the perpetration of these oppressions at this feminist
When we all met back together, each group read the notes from their
discussions. We were given a lot of support. Many people agreed that the
separation of the groups was a mistake, but some women stood fast to
belief that women are safer when men are not present. Unfortunately, I
sometimes believe this is true, because sexism is so ingrained in all of
minds, actions, and social codes. I discussed this with the men at the
conference, and they work to overcome the oppressive lessons they were
taught. I believe the answer to erasing sexism within the movement is to
us work in solidarity, not to divide us further apart.
--Simon, Gender Activist
Reprinted from *News & Letters*