A letter to Judy Rebick, from Lee Lakeman, on altering one’s thoughts

Final week, longtime Canadian feminist and leftist, Judy Rebick, printed a piece at rabble.ca, the positioning she based, entitled “My feminism is Trans inclusive.” It in, Rebick explains that she has by no means written on trans points earlier than, however having been accused of being a “TERF” (trans-exclusionary radical feminist), she wished to reject the label, and supplied an apology of types for having testified in help of Vancouver Rape Aid (VRR), who have been compelled right into a human rights case introduced towards the transition home and rape disaster line by Kimberly Nixon in 1995. Nixon had been rejected from a coaching group with the collective on account of getting been born a person, and on account of the very fact the transition home and collective was women-only. Underneath obvious stress from her leftist comrades, Rebick defined, in her current piece, that she “didn’t actually perceive the problems concerned,” that she had “believed that gender was socially constructed,” however was “ignorant,” and has since realized and altered her place. Rebick doesn’t explicitly say she disagrees with the ruling in favour of VRR, and now not believes VRR ought to have the proper to outline their very own membership and preserve a women-only area, although she does criticize the group for “excluding trans girls.”

Within the following letter, Lee Lakeman, a founding member of the Vancouver Rape Aid collective, responds.


Pricey Jude,

During the last couple of days, three pals have despatched me your statement printed at Rabble. Like many, I’ve not learn Rabble in years. The suppression there of any debate about concepts not supported by the occasion put me off. Because it occurs, I used to be studying the work of a younger feminist in New Zealand writing in regards to the boundaries and difficulties of responding with integrity to the occasions in our lives. So, along with her instance, I feel it greatest that I attempt.

You printed your piece, “My Feminist is Trans Inclusive,” at Rabble, so I’m submitting to Feminista, Feminist Present, Vancouver Girls’s Area and Fairer Disputations, which will not be good media, however that’s what I’ve, simply as you’ve got Rabble. Maybe a pal will ahead it to you. If not, then perhaps we’ve no remaining connections. I haven’t but responded to my different pals who contacted me about your assertion, however as you and I’ve been pals and comrades, my first response is to you:

I’m sorry that you’ve got been pressured to apologize for doing what you thought was your moral obligation once you offered testimony within the BC Human Rights Court docket to guard the legislated rights of Vancouver Rape Aid and Girls’s Shelter from a wrongful accusation. I used to be grateful on the time and I stay grateful that you simply gave of your dedication to girls’s liberation. Whether it is of any comfort to you or if it will possibly fulfill these pressuring you, I don’t suppose it was your testimony, however fairly the BC NDP authorities’s provision in Human Rights Legislation, guaranteeing equality-seeking teams have the proper to outline their very own membership, that satisfied the judges. And I’m certain you possibly can argue that you’ve got prevented the numerous conditions since (together with these earlier than the assorted courts now) by which girls have asserted this authorized proper that we confirmed in 2005. I’m certain that this wonderful laws is the actual goal. They need you to mislead what stays of second wave feminist help for the NDP.

Your clarification that you simply have been ignorant on the time and have been educated since (presumably about whether or not girls get to arrange on our personal phrases) appears unlikely to fulfill those that press you for apology and contrition. It’s apparent that some need to show your contrition, to show a picture of you bowing down in contrite humiliation (maybe as a cautionary story earlier than these in debate or confusion) when you nonetheless have a Canadian degree of fame and significance because the legacy media’s chosen face of second wave feminism.

I have to say that such a change of thoughts and your proper to precise it’s fully comprehensible given the present state of issues and your selection to precise a change of thoughts is one thing I defend at the same time as I discover this variation wrongheaded. I hope they’re happy with this midway measure and also you received’t want additional defending.

These of us who imagine the proof of our bodies — particularly of our eyes and ears — that intercourse variations are actual and matter, who suppose and acknowledge vital patterns of oppression based mostly partly on these variations, who nonetheless wrestle for ladies’s equality and liberty (and notably amongst these of us who wrestle towards rape, a few of whom have chosen to help girls’s rights by organizing individually), beg to vary.

Who is aware of how all this division and disagreement will finish, however forcing girls or any individuals to say what they don’t understand, imagine, or suppose; disallowing teams of like-minded girls to arrange towards sexist violence and in our personal egalitarian and humanist pursuits; forcing people or teams of the oppressed to face silent whereas witnessing the oppression of others; and forcing pathetic examples of insincere contrition or renunciation of ladies’s real efforts doesn’t bode effectively.

Lee Lakeman