This year's Law and Disorder conference, a radical political gathering in Portland, was particularly spectacular. While the program certainly had its merits and the organizers can likely call the event a success, the schedule was overshadowed by the controversial attendance of one organization and the community response to their presence.
Deep Green Resistance, a "radical" environmentalist group led by such figures as Derrick Jensen and Lierre Keith, were tabling at the event. Their environmentalist politics weren't the problem, though. Deep Green Resistance advocates a hardline "radical feminist" stance on transgender issues, essentially denying that "transgender" exists, instead equating all trans women as "men" who are posing as women in order to infiltrate female spaces, deny their socialized privilege, and rape "real" women. Or something. It's pretty disgusting (click over to Decolonizing Yoga's breakdown of their transphobic stances here).
Anyway, they had literature to that affect at the conference, and some queer anarchists decided to confront them on the issue that weekend. The queers involved in the confrontation issued a statement that says:
On the first day of the Law and Disorder Conference in Portland, two anarchist genderqueers* approached the Deep Green Resistance Table to inform the two women of Lierre Keith’s rampant transphobia. The people who confronted DGR were met with transphobic claim after transphobic claim, upholding the gender analysis held by their leaders. An argument ensued in which members of DGR denied the validity of trans identities. Offended by this, one of the genderqueers took a paint pen out and defaced the official Deep Green Resistance book written by Aric McBay, Lierre Keith and Derrick Jensen. While said person was marking the book, a member of DGR grabbed the book back and was smudged by the pen. The person with the pen, knowing that DGR members are known for snitching (see Derrick Jensen & FBI and Lierre Keith & the pieing incident) and grabbed a stack of Lierre Keith zines and was not seen again.
Later that day, three anarchist genderqueers were sitting in the lobby of the Smith Memorial Hall of PSU laughing about how those transphobes got their book fucked up. While the queers were loling, a member of DGR** approached and started arguing with them. The DGR member even asserted that DGR believes that transpeople do not experience violence based on their trans identity. When he was challenged and given the tragically long list of transwomen murdered at the hands of transphobes, he had no retort. While he was walking away a burrito and some trash sailed through the air and landed on his head. Someone started a chant “DGR ARE TRANSPHOBES” and a dozen or so joined in. Laughter ensued!
The next day, near the end of the conference, a group of about 15 to 20 people approached the same two women from the first day and started a discussion about transphobia espoused by the group and it’s leaders. Some people yelled, others wrote down lists of zines and books to read so the members of DGR could educate themselves about the validity of transpeople and the daily oppression of transpeople. The DGR members decided to pack up their table at that point and go home. The DGR women proceeded to call Comczar Jensen and High Counselor Keith about their hurt feelings.
Deep Green Resistance and all of their fucked transphobic ideas will be confronted by anarchist queers at every turn. Get used to it.
*We do not believe that only trans people can confront transphobia. If the fact that the people who confronted them were genderqueer brings more legitimacy to the confrontation, then so be. DGR should be confronted by people of many identities in many ways for a multitude of reasons.
**This cult member was not one of the two women who were originally confronted at the DGR table.
The incident has sparked a Facebook shitstorm, with radfems spouting their transphobic idiocy, anarchists responding with humor and outrage, and even Twitter harassment from Cathy Brennan, DGR supporter and transphobic bigot extraodinaire:
So yes, I was involved in the online discussion of what occurred. However, Deep Green Resistance then published an interesting statement that, frankly, included something that made me howl with laughter.
Since the events of May 11 and 12, threats against DGR have escalated to include threats of arson, beheading, bricks to the head, and rape.
The videos here were taken on Sunday. Below in italics are the direct words of the woman who took the video. She is the woman who Ian Awesome, aka Ian Finkenbinder, assaulted on Saturday. Ian has supported violence publicly in the past.You can find the entire statement here.
Ian Awesome aka Ian Finkenbinder.
Imagine my surprise... because I wasn't even there. I didn't even know about the conference until the controversy erupted. At the time of my alleged assault, so effortlessly placed right next to allegations of rape threats (I'm absolutely positive they're not trying to accuse me of being a would-be rapist, right?), I was having dinner with five other people. On my deck. In Seattle. A three-hour drive away.
Well, my burrito-throwing arm must be a lot stronger than I thought...
I can't imagine what these people are thinking. I took place in the online debate, to include telling these disgusting human beings how horrible their politics are. However, I was nowhere near the conference, and am a distinctive-looking enough person that it would be hard for people to mistake someone else for me. I can only conjecture that they started looking for queer anarchists who appear in the media, grabbed a picture from an interview I did over a year ago, and decided to lie about who I am and what I do.
To be frank, this is an attempt to intimidate and harass voices who speak out against them online. That's cool. It doesn't work on me, and I don't know anyone who these lies would sway.
So I'm not going to get into a debate of what violence is or isn't, or what I have supported in the past (no, I have never ever stated support for violence, if you click on the link they provide I say nothing of the sort), but I would like to discuss violence and radical response to it, and how transphobia rightfully enrages those it affects.
Because let's be real, transphobic politics actually feed a larger culture of violence and destruction against trans* people. When we deny someone's identity and essentialize them to the sum of their body parts (IE, the "every person with a penis is a man"), we are actually reducing them to something less than normal, less than human. Tell me, are you more likely to assault a human? Or an inhuman object of ridicule?
In essence, the stance DGR takes against trans* folk actually and actively increases and empowers a culture that enforces gender assignment, victimizes them on the basis of their identity, and results in real-world physical, state, and institutionalized violence. Their politics aren't a difference of opinion-- they are a literal assault on trans* people. Frankly? A marker to the hand and a burrito to the head are not an immature response to a difference of opinion. It's a legitimate expression of rage, it's resistance to the violence these politics engender, it's a BASH BACK, and a humorous one to boot.
Dear DGR: Not only are you losing focus-- who the fuck even talks about your environmental work anymore? Do you even do any?-- but you're lying. I wasn't there. I didn't throw a burrito. I didn't deface anything, much less anyone's hand. The weakness of your position is frankly leaving you grasping at straws, attacking anyone you can for whatever you can make stick. What next, are you going to call the cops on me, as your bullshit group of people is so fond of doing?
While I'm owed a serious apology (sticking my picture next to allegations of rape threats is fucking disgusting, you creeps), I'm not bothered about the mischaracterization of myself as offering resistance to this bullshit.
Do I support that resistance, though? Do I support a lone, airborne burrito? Do I support bashing back?
Left comments on both the website that initially published this statement and on Cathy Brennan's website, which reblogs the statement with my picture, and thus far I have been ignored in requests for retraction. The original post, in fact, did not allow my comment with this piece to go through moderation.