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Sarah, The Bringer of Tea - More On "Ally" Fail
11th October, 2009
01:10 am

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More On "Ally" Fail
Further to my last post, I can post this open letter, which is doing the rounds. Please spread widely, I fully endorse its contents, and the more people see it, the better:

London trans activists call for boycott of sham demo on October 17th

We are a group of trans activists who wish to make known our concerns about a demo, claiming to support the depathologisation of trans people, in London on 17th of October. The facebook group for the demo can be found here:

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=147494409183

The description of the event reads:

"Being transgendered is not a mental illness. We are simply part of the diversity of humanity. Gender Identity Disorder is therefore not a valid diagnosis. Homosexuality we removed as a mental health diagnosis diagnosis in 1987. For us to achieve true liberation and recognition we need to throw off this unjust stigma. We are not ill, just different"

A large number of people were invited by the demo organiser, a non-trans man by the name of Dennis Hambridge, and some of us were initially concerned by the rationale for the demo. In particular, we were worried that campaigning for the removal of Gender Identity Disorder as a medical diagnosis without proposing an alternative mechanism by which transsexual people would be able to access medical transition resources was premature and dangerous, especially in a climate where NHS primary care trusts need only a minimal excuse to deny funding for our hormonal and surgical procedures. We do not support the labelling of our gender identities as disordered, and realise that our relationship with the medical community is far from ideal, but do not wish to support a movement which may give the impression that we seek complete divorce from the medical community.

These concerns were put to the Facebook group by a number of trans activists. Rather than address them, Mr Hambridge entrenched his position, making claims that gender dysphoria was an artefact of society and the medical community, and that removal of any form of classification of gender dysphoria by the WHO was "non-negotiable".

In moves more reminiscent of the actions of transphobic radical feminists than supposed allies of trans people, Mr Hambridge started deleting some of the comments from those trans people who were concerned about our future access to hormones and surgery. Subsequently he banned a number of those trans people from the group, silencing them in that space.

To reiterate - Mr Hambridge, who is organising a demo which is allegedly supporting the rights of transsexual people is using his position as a group organiser to silence and shut out the voices of the very people he claims to support.

In light of Mr Hambridge's intransigence and refusal to listen to the voices of actual transsexual people, we are calling on all activists who support the concept of transsexual people having a say in our own medical care to boycott this demo. We further call on Mr Hambridge, who is not trans himself, to stop claiming to speak on our behalf when he is ignoring our protestations and silencing our voices, and to call off his demo.

Please spread this open letter widely.

Also, rozk has more details on dealings with Mr Hambridge in her LJ, here.

I can only reiterate what the letter says - please spread this widely.

Originally posted at http://auntysarah.dreamwidth.org/212082.html - you can comment here or there.

(9 comments | Leave a comment)

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From:krissie_r
Date:11th October, 2009 12:22 am (UTC)
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Any problem with me posting this on that purple forum you I've not noticed you on for a while, Sarah? Who should I credit if I did?
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From:auntysarah
Date:11th October, 2009 12:23 am (UTC)
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I have no problem with it being posted there. As for credit, I couldn't comment - I merely reproduce the letter here for the purposes of dissemination :-)
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From:krissie_r
Date:11th October, 2009 12:30 am (UTC)
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OK... no problem. Posted it up on the noticeboard there.
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From:auntysarah
Date:11th October, 2009 12:34 am (UTC)
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Ta!
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From:cmcmck
Date:11th October, 2009 09:58 am (UTC)
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Oh, one of THOSE eh? I wish such people would just STFU and live their own lives while we get on with living ours :o(

I'll signal boost this on mine if that's okay?
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From:auntysarah
Date:11th October, 2009 10:06 am (UTC)
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Please be my guest!
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From:susannahclark
Date:11th October, 2009 11:36 am (UTC)

'Not in my name'

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The content (removal of stigma of mental disorder) is not a problem for me at this point. It can be debated and discussed later. For my part, I actually agree - in principle - that Gender dysphoria should not be regarded as a "mental disorder".

However, as I say, that is an issue that can be discussed and debated ***by people who actually have or have had gender dysphoria and want to determine for themselves how best they want to be represented and what they would like done in the context of their own self-determination***

The fundamental problem with this iniative seems to me to be that *someone who is cis gendered* is trying to determine for *people who are transgendered / suffering from gender dysphoria* "what would be best for them".

He is HI-JACKING the voice of people who should debate, discuss, and express these issues for themselves. He is claiming the VOICE for himself, taking the microphone on a platform that isn't his, and in doing so, creating potential implications for transgendered people whose voice he is stealing (and, evidently on the facebook deletions issue, suppressing).

To me, the issue of the content is not the immediate concern. It's that a cisgendered person has claimed some kind of mandate to represent the voices of transgendered individuals, while at the same time censoring who among the transgendered 'community' may or may not express views in discussion of HIS agenda.

Anyone who has reflected on feminist methodology and principles will understand immediately that you don't speak 'on behalf' of an oppressed group, if you can possibly listen instead to the actual voice of individuals who actually experience the oppression. You listen to their voices, you don't try to be their voice.

* * * * * * * * *

This is exactly why I believe that the trans 'constituency' in its many and diverse manifestations would benefit from some 'umbrella' nationwide network and organisation, including some kind of identification of spokespeople - to deal with the interface with media, government and health services - so that when mavericks like this guy come along... people turn to the nationwide network/org, and say "Hold on, this is a national group, representing many many groups, and having their consent to speak, and what they have to say is far more relevant than this person speaking from outside the constituency." Anyone has the technical right to express views or demonstrate, but "not in our name".

So I advocate the development of a nationwide trans alliance, with the support and consent and MANDATE of a whole network of smaller, local initiatives.

This guy has NO MANDATE.

He should suht teh fcuk up.
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From:cmcmck
Date:12th October, 2009 07:37 am (UTC)

Re: 'Not in my name'

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He should also sit down and read the GRA some time. In that august document it states categorically: 'Gender dysphoria syndrome is NOT a mental illness'.

In a sense this twerp is fighting a battle which has already been won give or take educating a few medical and psychiatric dinosaurs.
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From:valeriekeefe
Date:12th October, 2009 12:53 pm (UTC)

Grand news!

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I just got a note from Dennis via facebook (with the requisite amount of not taking very much responsibility) that the demo's been canceled! Apparently the cranial arsectomy was a success!
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