In Defence Of A Letter

I write this in support of the letter published in the observer over the weekend, – http://www.theguardian.com/theobserver/2015/feb/14/letters-censorship – , since the release of this letter there has been an uprising against those who signed it, with various people attacked and labelled “TERFs” for speaking out against the act of silencing and censorship.

I wrote not long ago on the topic of no-platforming in general, I discussed how, as a student, I feel coddled and pitied, viewed as unable to withstand criticism and unable to experience views alternative to mine. But now I’m going to write publicly in-favour of radical feminism and the right of Women to self define.

The response to the letter published in the observer was widespread, the most vocal and well-read/ listened to being the voices of trans women who labelled all the signers “TERFs” and refused to acknowledge that free speech is something that should be protected. There were numerous responses published to blogs, various ones which made their way onto different forums and facebook groups and all on a similar theme, trans women need to be protected from hearing that people born biologically female are distinctly different from those born biologically male. The entire discussion on “no-platforming” reduced solely to the issue of trans-women an their need / desire to live without being informed of their biological distinctness from those born female. The ideological selfishness and distinctly self-important view that trans-women are the only people who need protecting, that the entire issue of no-platforming boils down to that of trans-women’s desire to live free from accepting their biological sex is insulting, not only to those who are female and recognise their biological sex class as very real, but also to transsexuals who spend years living with sex dysphoria only to be told that their experiences are not real and that they could have avoided the whole debacle by identifying as female from the off-set.

No-platforming is indefensible, despite many peoples efforts to say otherwise. There is no reason to stop people from hearing opinions that run contrary to their own, Julie Bindel talking at a university will not lead to an increased risk to trans women on campus, Kate Smurthwaite performing her comedy show will not lead to an increased risk to sex workers in that area. I refuse to accept that someone should be shut down and silenced for their beliefs unless their beliefs can be proved as actively inciting violence against others, this is not true for Smurthwaite or Bindel nor Farage (though he is a total arse). To say that I am unable of making my own mind up, that I cannot be exposed to views contrary to those held by a subset of trans women, or some sex workers is insulting to my intelligence and to my right to form opinions contrary to popular opinion (if these things even class as that). To stifle debate and conversation within the institutions where debate and conversation are paramount to learning and progress is the very opposite of liberal, it’s constricting, silencing, offensive and insinuates that those clever enough to study at university, are lacking in the mental ability to process views that may run opposite to those held by the student, or by wider society. To me, that is offensive.

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