RadFem 2012 is a radical feminism conference being held in London in July. Its website proclaims “women together for liberation”, but as it turns out, they don’t mean all women. RadFem’s participation policy states that the conference is open to “women born women living as women”. This is a change from an earlier policy of being open only to “biological women”, which – as one wry Tweeter commented – presumably refers to women who work best at 40 degrees. Either way, this policy clearly discriminates against trans* women who might wish to participate in the conference. A trans* woman may live as a woman, experience the pressures, discrimination and inequality associated with being woman, but according to RadFem 2012, they are not quite enough of a woman to be welcome at the conference. This, quite clearly, is discriminatory, disgusting, and – we believe, and very much hope – totally out of step with what most feminists think.
Royal Holloway Feminism Society has members who hold a wide range of theoretical perspectives on feminism – and probably even more who prefer to define themselves as “feminists” rather than as “___ feminists”. As a group, we have different views on many things, including on the importance of women-only spaces in feminist campaigns. One thing that we can all agree on, though, is that transphobia has absolutely no place in our idea of feminism. Equality and transphobia cannot live side by side: you cannot fight for one whilst displaying the other.
We are an active feminist group, and our members have attended several different feminist conferences, and many other feminist events in the past year. However, we will not be supporting or recommending that our members attend RadFem 2012, because we believe that doing so would implicitly support the transphobic stance of the conference. We would encourage other feminist groups to take a similar stance. We suggest that the organisers of the conference rethink their policy, because by excluding trans* women, they will be missing out on the participation of many passionate, dedicated feminists, both trans* and cis, who refuse to be associated with such a transphobic policy and believe that all women should stand together for liberation.