This is a transcript of footage from the the Women Speak Out press conference that took place June 16th, 2016 in Tacoma, WA.
If possible, I strongly urge the reader to view the WSO footage in video form, in full or in part. The text pales in comparison to actually witnessing these women speaking out. Furthermore, video imparts a greater understanding of the the aggressive reactions that come to bear and the difficulty women have even gathering to speak on this topic.
Knowing that not everyone can or will watch the footage, it is my hope that transcription will aid in amplifying the voices of these women. I hope to provide a faithful alternative for those who find it difficult and triggering to view the emotional content of the footage, or who may find fast reference material helpful in sharing the important messages of these women.
I am in no way affiliated with Women Speak Out or the Just Want Privacy campaign. This transcript was made as faithfully as possible and to the best of my ability, in spite of the abundance of cross-talk and shouting from the audience.
A NOTE ON CROWD VOICES:
When someone is actively trying to shout down or talk over the speaker, the words of the speaker are in color.
When audible/intelligible, the commentary of those trying to shout down/speak over the women are transcribed as well.
(Again: When text is in color, someone in the crowd is actively trying to talk over or shout down the speaker and she is struggling to be heard.)
Angela: If our speakers want to come sit up right here, we’ll have a few more seats….now we have a few more seats…
(Blair Tindall, Miriam Ben-Shalom, and Maya Dillard Smith take seats on stage)
Angela: This is a monumental day. I want to welcome every single person here and I’d like to start with a moment of silence for all the victims of violence-
unidentified male: You don’t get to claim that, that’s not yours…
Ben-Shalom: (stands up, looks directly into audience)
same unidentified male: ..those aren’t your people to mourn.
Smith: So just…just a moment, just a moment… So, I’m gonna make an announcement.
Angela: This is Maya.
Smith: I’m a public safety expert, and…
unidentified: This is a people’s filibuster, this is bullshit!
unidentified male: (shouting) You are not in favor of safety!
(unintelligible murmuring, shushing)
same male: (shouting) We the people of Washington State will not tolerate our public resources being used to encourage….
Smith: You don’t have to be so aggressive.
same male: (shouting) …harassment, discrimination, and violence!
unidentified male: Get off the stage!
Angela: We are here for peace, and…
unidentified male: Liar!
Angela: and dialogue…
unidentified male: (shouting) …your positions lead to violence! 102 deaths…
Smith: You could..you could have…
same male: (shouting)…49 dead! This is a result of your hatred!
Smith: you can have a platform…but this is not civil.
Ben-Shalom: Do you want a platform? Do you want a platform?
unidentified: we already have one.
Ben-Shalom: Okay but, you can have your say but you’ve got to allow us to have our say.
Smith: And we will ask (unintelligible) to ask you to leave. Because what we’re interested in…
unidentified: We have not even begun.
unidentified male: it’s not. It’s not civil.
Smith: (walks into crowd)
same male: …you’re calling for discrimination. Calling for violence, calling for harassment and intimidation…
unidentified: ..your aggression..
unidentified male: …intimidation, is civil.
unidentified: yeah, we’re fine…
Smith: Anyone else who is not willing to engage in a civil discussion, to, to listen, we will ask you to leave. You are more than welcome to hold your opinions and you are more than welcome to leave.
same male: (as he is escorted out) keep it going, shut this down!
unidentified: (hooting sound)
Smith: If you want to engage in a civil dialogue, you are more than welcome to do that, there will be opportunities…
female voice near camera mic: textbook male aggression.
Smith: ….questions, moderators will have an opportunity to answer them, but the purpose of this conversation today is not to (unintelligible) trans people, to be anti-trans, it is to raise questions about the safety of bathrooms for women and girls too. This is not either/or, this is and/both. And so if you’re interested in engaging in that dialogue, we welcome you to stay with us. If you heckle, if you are disrespectful, if you are not civil, we will ask you to leave. Simple.
crowd: (clapping and hooting)
Smith: ….it’s an aggressive forum when someone starts yelling and screaming-
female voice near camera mic: yes.
Smith:….and screaming at the top of their lungs. Any of us will feel threatened by that.
unidentified male: (mocking laughter of one person)
Smith: And so, we certainly value free speech, but in this space today, we want to create a safe space to have a very important conversation. And so we ask all of you to be civil in that. If you are unwilling to do that, please leave.
unidentified male: What about civil disobedience?
Smith: That’s a (unintelligible)
crowd: (clapping and shouting)
unidentified male: What level…
Smith: In this space….
same male: …what level of decibel…
Smith: in this space….
same male: …what level of decibel is quiet enough?
Smith:…in this space, in this space, in this space, it is (unintelligible) to participate civilly.
female voice near camera mic: We’re not going to let them monopolize this thing.
other female voice near camera mic: No.
female voice near camera mic: …down.
Smith: …or to leave.
unidentified: This is a public space.
Smith: Okay. So, do you all want to participate, or would you like to raise your hand and leave now?
unidentified male: With all due respect, (unintelligible)
female voice near camera mic: No, (unintelligible) not respectful.
Smith: (taking seat) But we’re done.
Angela: We are going to start with a moment of silence, and anyone who does not want to participate in that moment of silence can leave. But be respectful for all victims of violence, especially the victims in Orlando and their families.
unidentified: You’re disgusting.
unidentified: Violence is not (unintelligible)
Ben-Shalom: (stands up)
Angela: So. Please be respectful for a moment of silence.
unidentified male: (unintelligible)
(approx 14 seconds elapse)
Ben-Shalom: (is seated.)
Angela: What’s happening here is the first time that there has been dialogue. And we do not all agree with each other, we do not all agree and we do not have to all agree with each other. But we are here to listen to each other. And we are here to try and have peace, and figure out how to go forward. (pause) Every single person deserves safety.
unidentified: Including trans people.
Angela: Including trans people.
Ben-Shalom: (nodding head) Yes!
Angela: Including trans people. Can you say that again? I’m gonna ask you to say that again. (She pauses here, while the activist apparently declines. -ed) Including trans people. Every single person deserves safety. Deserves bodily privacy, and deserves…
unidentified male: (unintelligible)…you wanna take it away from these women as well
multiple unidentified: trans women are women! (hooting)
multiple unidentified, all speaking over one another: trans women are women! Trans women are women! Trans women are women!
Angela: So…we have some amazing, amazing voices here to..
unidentified: (mocking laughter from single member of crowd)
unidentified male: we deserve safety from your criminalization!
Angela: I actually need you to, I need…I need order in order to proceed. We need to be able to listen to each other.
unidentified: When you guys laugh when we say trans women are women, you’re just showing you’re bigots.
Tindall and Ben-Shalom: (making open palmed, shrugging gestures)
Ben-Shalom: Who laughed?
Smith: We’re laughing at the inability to engage in a civil conversation because if you care about the safety of all women…
unidentified: (unintelligible shouting from multiple people)
Smith: …then you would engage in a dialogue about how we create safe spaces for trans people and natal people. That is what we want to discuss. Do you want to engage in that, or is it either/or?
unidentified: 100 trans women were murdered this year because of the hate that you promote.
Smith: I don’t know what hate you’re speaking about.
Ben-Shalom: (stands) 1600 women were murdered last year by male violence.
unidentified female: thank you.
Ben-Shalom: 1600 women. The issue is not trans people, the issue is safety. How do we protect their privacy, your privacy, my privacy, children’s privacy.
unidentified: (unintelligible shouting from crowd)
Ben-Shalom: …you can cry all you want…where are your voices about 1600 women who were murdered last year?
Angela: Okay, so what I’m gonna do right now…
Ben-Shalom: Where? Where?
unidentified: (several voices, unintelligible.)
Ben-Shalom: …male violence is the issue.
Angela: …we are going to move forward right now and we are going to have Kaeley Triller Haver come up here and she is going to introduce these voices that, ah, go beyond borders. And this is an issue that goes beyond every border. Safety is a civil liberty which every single person, um, deserves, and has a right to, and we’re gonna try and…no one has all the answers.
unidentified: the law protects my civil rights.
Angela: …but we have to go forward without violating eachother.
unidentified male: Boo!
Angela: and so we’re gonna talk about that today. Ah, Kaeley. Will you please come….
(applause, mixed “yay” and “boo” sounds as Haver approaches.)
Kaeley Triller Haver
unidentified: Kaeley why haven’t you deleted the comments on your…
Haver: if you are going to say
same unidentified: why are you (unintelligible) delete….
Haver: … that hate will not win in our state
same unidentified: …why are you not deleting
Haver: then I would strongly suggest that….
Smith: Would you please remove her?
Haver: …you would not call people names like “disgusting”…
same unidentified: why aren’t you deleting…
several unidentified: (cross-talking within crowd)
Haver: I am not going to address that right now. (unintelligible) talk about that. But if you are going to say that you believe in equality and diversity, that means that you are going to have to get used to the idea that people might think differently than you.
unidentified: amen.(scattered clapping)
Haver: and if they do, you can listen. Because if you want us to listen to you, then you will listen to us. Because…
(strong clapping) (scattered unintelligible comments)
unidentified male: thank you for (unintelligible)
Haver: So if hate’s not gonna win…
unidentified: (murmuring) majority wins, right?
Haver: then you’re gonna need to listen up. Beause this is a real issue for a lot of women across the country.
unidentified: zero incidents!
2-3 unidentified: zero incidents! zero incidents! (more on bathroom incidents -ed.)
Haver: That’s not true…
unidentfied: You’re a lying bigot.
unidentified: ZE-RO. (even more on bathroom incidents -ed.)
Ben-Shalom: Go on google and do the research…(unintelligible)
Haver: For the first ten years of my life, I was sexually abused. And my abuser liked to stand there and watch me in the shower. And laugh.
unidentified: I was sexually assaulted too, stop scapegoating trans women.
unidentified: 1 in 4 children are sexually abused (unintelligible) people in their own families.
female voice near camera mic: Why are you….
unidentified: (unintelligible, multiple voices shouting in crowd)
unidentified: …by a trans person? No!
Haver: …and when I did not give in to my abuser’s advance
Haver: …he would cry crocodile tears and say, “you don’t love me anymore.”
unidentified: (shouting) .. trans women are…
Haver: …and what you are doing (points at crowd) with this rhetoric is the same message that many girls and women…
(unintelligible, due to growing applause)….for their entire lives. “If you do not give me what I want, you are hateful.”
(two or more unidentified voices shouting over Haver, unintelligible)
unidentified female: …trans women are not men!
Haver: (as several in the crowd attempt to shout over her) …if do not give me …and compromise your own personal boundaries, then you are hateful.”
unidentified male: …when you discriminate against a specific group of people, that is hateful!
unidentified: …sexual assault…
Haver: As somebody who did not have a choice about who saw me in the shower
unidentified female: It was a man, not a woman!
Haver: (same unidentified female continues to shout over Haver) …it was a man. And guess what….those same men you’re trying to avoid now follow you into the bathroom.
unidentified: (crowd erupts into voices shouting at Haver and over one another, totally unintelligible, extended noise)
Haver: 68 percent of sexual abuse survivors will never speak about it. Two out of every 100 rapists will-
Haver: (as a handful of voices in crowd continue attempting to talk over her)…. spend a single day in jail. Women…
unidentified: trans women are women!
unidentified: trans women are women!
Haver: ...are not taught to speak up, and to name their own boundaries, and to be unapologetic, and if we are going to say that we believe in “my body, my choice” then I sure as hell should have a choice about who gets to see it when I shower.
(applause with scattered unintelligible shouting)
Haver: (unintelligible) growing up, it is imperative to me that the first time my daughter sees a naked male form it is because she has chosen it! Not because somebody else has bullied their way into her locker room without giving her a say.
(applause with scattered unintelligible shouting and 1-2 persons booing)
Haver: (through persons continuing to shout over her) When I was diagnosed with PTSD…(shouting dissipates) when I was diagnosed with PTSD…(voice in crowd continues to try and talk over her) cause I did not think that I had a right to claim it. I thought that maybe I had to go to war and ….. (voices trying to shout over Haver become very loud, multiple persons shouting continually)
unidentified: what does PTSD…
unidentified: I also have PTSD!
Haver: and guess what? Guess what?
Haver: …..I do not have to allow a male with a naked body into my personal space…
unidentified: trans women are women!
unidentified: trans women are women!
unidentified: (multiple, shouting over one another) trans women are women!
(camera pans to a few in crowd who seem to be leaving, or demonstrating in some way with unreadable papers)
Haver: I think you guys have just given everybody here a really clear picture of what discrimination actually looks like.
unidentified: it looks like you!
male voice: This is the same rhetoric used… in segregation!
Haver: Because if you are in a war, and you are a combat veteran,
Ben-Shalom: (steps forward toward edge of stage area, off camera)
Haver: …we do not shove those veterans into a fireworks show and say, “get over it.”
Haver: Women like me, who have been traumatized
(crowd almost unceasingly attempting to shout over Haver)
unidentified: stop scapegoating trans women!
unidentified male: (unintelligible)…trans women…violence every year!
unidentified: trans women are women!
unidentified male: …we’re not even a fraction of the population, and 100 murders!
unidentified male: …trans women and people of gender non-conforming….
Haver: (somewhat unintelligible as the crowd continues to shout over her) because…if I…if we……million Americans…who have already experienced…rape…
unidentified: Fuck you!
Haver: …17 million of them….
unidentified: you’re killing people!
unidentified male: …how many of those…
unidentified: your rhetoric is hateful!
unidentified male: ….do you have that number?
unidentified male: …classic scapegoating. Classic.
unidentified male: classic scapegoating.
Haver: …have been bulldozed enough and I will not be bulldozed by you and nor will these women. (Gestures at speakers.)
unidentified female: Shame!
unidentified female: shame on you!
unidentified male: Shame!
(several more shouting same)
unidentified: No shame but you’re…
Ben-Shalom: (now standing in crowd)
Angela: …in order to go forward we’re…
Haver: and this is the message that women have been given their entire lives..
unidentified: you’re right!
Haver: “….take what you want by force and get used to it.” Well we’re not getting used to it.
unidentified male: no, trans people….
Ben-Shalom: (returns to her seat)
unidentified: …is transphobic as well.
(general chaotic shouting in crowd continues)
unidentified male: Where were you when….got shot by police?
unidentified male: …trans people are violating your right to exist?….Where were you when….got shot by police?
Smith: (Walking across stage area) What happened to free speech? (Walks into crowd)
unidentified, mostly unintelligible shouting from multiple in crowd: …..don’t we all….we have a right to be….we have a right…..the microphone
Haver: How is it loving to insist that little girls open up their showers at the gym, to people who have penises?
unidentified female: (mostly unintelligible) why would you make trans girls….terrible thoughts on the rest of…
Haver: I don’t know…it sounds to me like you don’t understand….
unidentified male: ….are you pulling this out of your ass?
unidentified: why do trans women have to go….
Ben-Shalom: (sarcastically) Geez, what impeccable rhetoric.
Haver: I am so ready now for Maya to speak up here. Because she is a strong woman…
Haver: …who has been a champion of civil rights.
(extended loud applause mixed with unintelligible shouting)
(Ben-Shalom and Haver embracing)
Maya Dillard Smith
Smith: I am just really fascinated by the inability of people who want to find some….to engage in civil dialogue. And I think there’s completely a place for civil disobedience.
unidentified: Bigots don’t deserve civility.
unidentified: everyone deserves civility. Everyone…
Smith: Yes…everyone deserves civility.
Smith: Yes, everyone deserves civility.
unidentified: (unintelligible) when your civility is hate!
unidentified: The KKK is supporting I-1515. The KKK…
female voice near camera mic: Oh, just…
unidentified: Do you support the KKK, Maya?
Smith: All of this is incredibly interesting. I love it.
unidentified: Your campaign encourages… harassment….
Smith: (unintelligible) shy away from (unintelligible) so, let’s jump right in-
Smith: So…it’s an interesting scenario when a sexual assault survivor is labelled a bigot because she wants personal safety.
unidentified: …we want personal safety too…
Smith: (unintelligible) when trans women think their rights supercede everybody elses.
Smith: And there is ….what people have been saying is…
unidentified: trans women are…..
Smith: What people have been saying is, what about safety for everybody. Are you all listening to conversations about safety for everybody, or….This isn’t even about trans people, right. This is about….this is about….
multiple unidentified: (shouting over one another) (unintelligible)…bullshit!
unidentified: (shouting) trans women are women!
Smith:…about how…how to create safe…..
same unidentified: (shouting) trans women are women!
Smith: …for natal women, for trans people, for…
unidentified male: I am a natal woman and trans woman.
unidentified female: no, you’re not.
Sam: (shaking head, no)
Smith: and so, the interesting thing is, there are lots of proposals around the country to deal with that, okay. But there are interesting underlying things that relate to gender-specific laws that we haven’t even begun to scratch the surface on.
unidentified male: (speaking loudly over Smith) The laws on the books currently cover all discriminatory acts….
Smith: And it’s interesting when when women come to the table and say, we are interested in finding solutions that work for trans women…
unidentified male: ….including binarism….
Smith: …and natal women, and trans women, as demonstrated with their allies here, beat up on natal women. How does that work in a power dynamic? How does that work in a power dynamic? Because what we are…
unidentified: Because bigots don’t deserve civility!
multiple unidentified: (mostly unintelligible) ….you’re on the same side of the KKK….why the separation?….
Smith: …we’re only asking is civility. Now, if the the ACLU was on the side of the KKK, I (unintelligible)…
unidentified male: (mocking laughter)
Smith: ….the ACLU. And the reality is this: our constitution affords to each of us, I don’t care what you think..
unidentified male: I don’t care what you think!
Smith: …the right to free speech, and that government may not interfere with it.
(more unintelligible noise from crowd)
Smith: …in this instance, what is also true is this: we have gender-specific laws that protect women. Because it recognizes the biological difference between men and women.
unidentified female: that’s biological essentialism.
Smith:…and the question about bathroom safety is not only about trans safety..
unidentified: That’s antediluvian.
Smith: ….it’s about men, women, and children. And so, instead of railroading laws that don’t properly look at how we protect the rights of people, many folks have said, why aren’t we engaging in a civil discourse to at least unearth the multitude of safety issues that confront people that use the bathroom?
unidentified male: (unintelligible shouting)
Smith: Because if what I’m hearing from trans allies and advocates is that the safety of trans women is paramount to the safety of everybody else- that’s discriminatory.
unidentified male: No it isn’t! It…
(Several voices in crowd shouting over one another)
Smith: It‘s discriminatory. Or, if you want to talk about violence: happy to do that. Right. There are high rates of violence against trans people.
unidentified: Thank you.
Smith: There are high rates of violence against women and girls perpetrated by males.
unidentified: But not in the bathroom by trans women!
Smith: …and if what you want to say is that trans people are worse off than natal women, that doesn’t seem to be sisterly, it doesn’t seem to…..
unidentified: Well, it’s true.
unidentified: (mixed shouting)
Smith: no, it’s not true, because, let me say this, just so we’re clear, cause everybody in here seems to be a statistician-
unidentified male: …are male…
Smith: …and last I checked, unless somebody raises their hand…
unidentified: …when’s the last time you…..with a trans woman about….
Smith: (raises hand)…I’m right here. That would be me.
unidentified male: …statistician….
Smith: So let me tell you, when I hear statements like….
unidentified: you’re a liar.
Smith: ….“there has never been instances of anything,” that’s not accurate. ….(unintelligible as several people in crowd are talking over Smith at once)…..to come up with a talking point that says “nobody’s ever.” Any time you use “always,” “never,” those are absolutism terms, and even in statistics there’s a five percent, uh, degree of error. So nothing about any of these stats are accurate. And statistics is an art, it’s not a science. So don’t start spouting the stats, and trying to create a situation where what we’re trying to articulate is that trans women are more, ah, victimized than ….
unidentified male: bigots don’t deserve civility!
Smith:…because that is not…that is not….it certainly has been….that has certainly been asserted in the room. That has certainly been asserted in this room….(more unintelligible interruptions from an unidentified male) oh nonononono, that’s not even the point. The point is still this.
unidentified male: what even is the point?
Smith: (as the unidentified male continues to talk over her, repeating something unintelligible) What we want to do is begin to start parsing out the stats that trans women are more at risk than traditional women, and the reality is, if we’re all women, we are all vulnerable, and so…
Smith:…how to we protect all of us?
(louder applause, some shouting)
Smith: (unintelligible) what protection? What protection?
unidentified: protection of…human rights commission….
unidentified male: …obviously….
Smith: …so the question becomes, what about the rights of the other women too?
unidentified female: They still exists, they’re still….
unidentified male: (unintelligible, talking over both Smith and the woman speaking to her from the crowd)
same unidentified female: …no one is allowed to assault them.
female voice near camera mic: What’s the point.
front row blond: …you go, and…(unintelligible)
Smith: …I’m not familiar with your local human rights, and so, I can’t speak to that. What I’m talking about…
(crowd begins shouting over one another)
unidentified male: You just did! You just did!
Smith: What I am talking about are broader implications in the civil rights and… (unintelligible as crowd shouts over her). What I’m saying to you is, there are bathroom bills circulating all across the country.
unidentified male: And they’re terrible!
Smith: ….and the question is, how do we…I’m not saying that they’re right! And we…
unidentified male: Answer his question!
Smith: (unintelligible as crowd is shouting)…said …..what incident?
same unidentified male: When a trans person violated a woman in a bathroom?
Smith: (unintelligible as crowd is shouting)...I’m not gonna argue with you about statistics….what i’m saying to you…
same unidentified male: Because you’re making false claims….
Smith: (shaking her head, “no”) nope, not at all. Not at all. What I’m saying to you is that there is violence against ….
unidentified male: …your arguments are all based on false…
Smith: …women, and there is violence against natal women. And the question is, how do we create safety….
unidentified male: Why are you making the distinction between natal and non-natal? What is that all about?
Smith: Because…(unintelligible as same unidentified male continues talking over her) they allow…
female voice near camera mic:: because your body makes (unintelligible) difference….
Smith: …They allow….they allow…
unidentified male: genital development is so complicated…
Smith: …if you want to, but that isn’t what we’re talking about here. That’s not what we’re talking about here. That’s not what we’re talking about. What we’re talking about is how (unintelligible) inclusivity.
unidentified male: You’re focusing on….
Smith: Do you want to talk about inclusivity?
unidentified male: (as several people are shouting at once) …if they’re trans or cis?
Smith: (partially inaudible) That’s a question that….would like to know. As it happens. What’s the criteria. Everyone…answer the question! How do you know? How do you not know?
unidentified male: That’s the point. That’s why you don’t introduce discriminatory legislation.
Smith: And no one’s introducing discriminatory legislation.
(unintelligible shouting from crowd)
Smith: …having a conversation…a civil conversation about bathroom safety….about bathroom safety.
(louder shouting and over-talk from crowd)
Smith: are you all suggesting that natal women and girls are not …..
are you saying that women…that natal women are not, are not at risk in bathrooms…
unidentified: …and so are we.
unidentified: I’m saying that…..trans people….
Smith: …for everybody.
unidentified: Yeah, and trans women are victims of regular male violence….
Smith: and so are women. And so are women. And so we’re saying, what we’re saying…
unidentified: …people protect them! And…
Smith: (shaking head) Nobody is saying they should not be protected…how do we protect everybody?
Haver: (walks on to stage area and kneels by Blair Tindell)
Smith:(mostly unintelligible as crowd shouts over her) …sounds really good, but it sounds like….(person with braids in front row is talking over Smith vigourously at this point) women…women are….women are all vulnerable. So how do we…(person with braids in front row continues talking over her loudly)…how do we create safety…
unidentified male: …doesn’t sound like violence to me!
front row braids: you create safety by allowing people to go to the bathroom! Why are you so worried about it!
Smith: Alright, let me ask you this question. Let me ask you this question. So. You’re interested in ensuring that trans people…
front row braids: no, I’m interested in ensuring that there isn’t discriminatory legislation against…
Smith: Awesome! And I think that that’s great. We are…
front row braids: (unintelligible)
Smith: …from a safety standpoint…interested in the safety of trans…
front row braids: yep! (continues trying to talk over Smith)
Smith: …women, and natal women, and girls, then tell me this. So if you have any over broad piece of legislation that says, anybody, no criteria, can go into a ladies restroom, how does that create safety…
front row braids: It doesn’t say that.
unidentified female: It does say that.
female voice near camera mic: It does say that. It does say that. Have you read it?
Smith: Cause it…cause it does not provide any criteria….
unidentified:…the thing is….if you want…
Smith: …an answer, so…what I’m saying….
Angela: (approaches mic)
Smith: So, the law allows for anybody…
front row braids: okay…
Smith: …to go into a restroom…
front row braids: okay….
Smith: so….this is not about trans people. It’s not about…
unidentified: you guys are making it about trans people.
Smith: no, you are! We (gestures around stage area) want to talk about bathroom safety for everybody. But if you all were listening, you would have known that.
Angela: (gesturing toward side of stage area, unintelligible speech)
front row braids: I am listening.
Smith: But you…know that. …you actually….anyone else?
front row braids: (unintelligible)
Smith: ….not at all. Cause you’re right.
front row braids: no, I’m not.
Smith: (backs up, laughing)….but not with any substance. (unintelligible as front row braids is talking over Smith)
unidentified: You left a group working for actual civil liberties, to work for this bullshit?
Smith: Oh, no, what I did was, I stimulated a national dialogue about the rights of women and girls.
(crowd breaks into applause, cheering)
Smith: That’s what I did. That’s what I did.
(more cheering, applause.)
Smith: That’s what I do.
(extended cheering, applause)
Smith: (unintelligible, directed at person in crowd) Go check your….
same unidentified: I don’t….(unintelligible)
Smith: …you don’t know what you’re saying…
same unidentified: (attempts to keep shouting over Smith)
Smith: What I will say is this: we came here for a civil conversation.
unidentified male: (mocking laughter), how is that civil?
Smith: …and we’d love to engage in it.
unidentified: Okay, so why…(unintelligible)
Smith: since we…
same unidentified: I wasn’t…I was talking loud. I asked if you support the KKK, that’s all I asked.
unidentified male: You just basically threatened her. How is that civil?
front row braids: (starts shouting at someone in crowd, unintelligible)
Smith: He’s actually on your side. And he’s on your side.
front row braids: okay?
Angela: (talking to same person, unintelligible)
Smith: (clapping, laughing)
front row braids: I can’t hear him, I’m sorry.
Smith: …one question.
unidentified: ….is saying that anyone can use any restroom? Is that what you’re saying?
Smith: (steps away) (to Angela) I’m gonna let you speak. (returns to mic) So, just for the record…I was interested in talking about, and I’m glad that we got all the yelling and screaming out, and then maybe we can have a civil conversation….
(unintelligible shouting from crowd)
unidentified: …we don’t have a microphone, so we’re just trying to match the level. Step from the microphone, and we could have a quiet conversation.
female voice near camera mic: This has all gotta stop.
Smith: Oh nononono, because…
unidentified: ….we’re going to keep yelling out..
Haver: (walks on to stage area and kneels by Tindall)
Smith: …the point is this. The points that I’m making are really about representing the rights and interests of women and girls too. This is not….
unidentified male: how much you get paid? how much do you get paid?
unidentified male:….don’t you think women and girls are already protected by laws….
Smith: that is not….Oh, did you read (unintelligible)? I’m out of a job? So I’m actually doing this because it really matters.
Smith: I’m not getting paid. I’m doing it because I’m a woman. I’m doing it because I have three daughters.
(continued applause, cheering)
Smith: (unintelligible) because I’m doing this from a place of concern for all of us. All of us.
unidentified female: thank you!
Smith: So what I was hoping to talk about before…
unidentified male: What’s your job? What’s your job? What’s your job?
Smith: …the safety of all people…now that I’m done,
same unidentified male: Who’s your employer? Who’s your employer?
Smith: …they had a question about 1515, and I think Angela should step back…
same unidentified male: …the points that you’re not addressing.
unidentified: Excuse me!
unidentified: thank you.
unidentified male: No. No thank you.
(Smith is seated and Angela steps behind podium)
unidentified: (unintelligible) can use any restroom, is that, what you’re saying?
Angela: (unintelligible) had that question?
woman in pink, standing: Does 1515 say that anyone can use any restroom? Because that’s what I just heard from you, is that correct?
female voice near camera mic: No, that’s what the current law says.
woman in pink, standing: okay.
Smith: Let me…let me clarify. (Returns to podium) What you would have heard is different viewpoints on the issue of bathroom safety from four different people. Not all of us are here to talk about 1515. I’m certainly not here to talk about 1515, I’m certainly here to talk about the safety in bathrooms for women and girls too as well as trans people. And so…
unidentified male: trans women are women.
Smith: …if you, if you, if you wanna hear, not hear? She asked a question and if you want to be respectful, I can answer her. And, so, the goal was to raise a multitude of issues…
Angela: (standing behind her, nodding head)
Smith: … because there’s not been an opportunity for us to have an exchange that is civil. To hear from trans folks about what the bathroom safety..
unidentified male: Did you sign the 1515 initiative?
Smith: ..that there are bathroom safety issues for women and girls too…
same unidentified male: Did you sign 1515…
(shushing noises from crowd)
Smith: …accommodation that creates bathroom safety for everybody. And so if you have questions specific to 1515, Angela is going to answer that. Okay?
Smith: (Steps away from podium as Angela steps forward)
Angela: I have a….I’m just going to be very brief because we actually, the, the idea, the logistics, that we do have question and answers and hopefully we will get to them. If we can actually get through these speakers. And I will…
unidentified male: Who’s your employer?
(shushing noises from crowd)
Angela: …answer that very briefly…1515 specifically says: for schools. And I would encourage every single one of you to read 1515. Because it has been totally mislabeled. So, and, 1515 says that there has to be, there is required, to be accommodations for everyone. There has to be safe spaces for everyone. That means. That means. That a high-school girl can go into the shower and not be afraid or worried or surprised by a male body coming in and watching her.
unidentified: You mean a trans women who…
Angela: So what I’m gonna, I’m gonna keep speaking here because (unintelligible) to answer this question..(unintelligible as people interrupt)
female voice near camera mic: they’re still male bodied.
Smith: Can you remove them so she can at least continue her statement?
Angela: …every single person who…
unidentified male: Yeah, get them out of here like Trump (unintelligible).
Angela: …needs accommodations…
unidentified male: Get them out of here.
Smith: Well you’re as aggressive as Trump’s (unintelligible)
Angela: ..we are not gonna be able to have question and answer if you’re, if we’re gonna run out of our time.
unidentified male: No, we’re not….
Ben-Shalom: Shut up and listen.
Angela: It means that there will be girls locker rooms. It means that there will be accommodations for boys locker rooms. There will be accommodations for anyone else who doesn’t feel comfortable in those biological bathrooms and locker rooms. Every single person is required by 1515 in the schools that there is accommodation and safety and bodily privacy for everyone. Now, I think that is, we need to add, we need to be able, and not like, this, but….honestly, I’m so happy about today. Because it has not happened before! And it’s gonna be hard as hell!
Angela: …to go through this because there’s so many emotions.
Angela: But we have to sit down, and be at the table together, and share our feelings and our hearts and our passions and our fears…
female voice near camera mic: Like adults.
Angela: …and our need for safety for everybody. So. So this, I just want to say, again, thank you every single one, thank you for being here today. Because every single voice is important. But 1515 is the only path forward that allows and demands safety and bodily privacy and dignity for every single student.
Angela: Now, I’m going to introduce…
unidentified male: ….you’re promoting…
Angela: ….an amazing human being..
same unidentified male: …separate….
Angela: …I know some of you have read the bios…these, these are iconic human beings with us today.
unidentified male: (laughter)
Angela: Miriam Ben-Shalom is here with us today. Miriam is an icon in the LGBTQ community nationally.
unidentified male: (unintelligible)
unidentified: Then why don’t I know her?
unidentified female: (laughter)
Angela: Ah..so let’s be respectful to everyone. Let’s be respectful to everyone.
unidentified male: except trans people, apparently.
Angela: Miriam is gonna come up here and she’s gonna share her wisdom with you. Thank you.
(applause continues as Ben-Shalom takes the podium)
Ben-Shalom: Couple things you need to know about me. Alright?
(Steps out from behind podium, to front of stage area.)
Number one, I’m not transphobic. Number two, I’m not afraid of trans people.
unidentified: Why would you be?
Ben-Shalom: I…I frankly don’t care who pees next to me. Alright?
Ben-Shalom: Just to let you know.
Ben-Shalom: Alright. However. Having said that, I have a number of concerns as a woman born a woman. Okay. You may not like that term, but my mother gave birth to me-
unidentified male: What about “TERF?”
female voice near camera mic: Nooo! Get him out.
unidentified: Get him out.
Ben-Shalom: I am not a “TERF.” I am, however, a “PERF.”
unidentified: (hoot, laughter)
Ben-Shalom:…I’m “Penis Exclusionary”…
(applause and cheering, whistling.)
Ben-Shalom: …when it comes to my safe space.
front row blond: (unintelligible)
Ben-Shalom: (in response) No, it isn’t.
unidentified male: sounds like a convoluted way to say “TERF.”
Ben-Shalom: Well, you need to get a hearing aid, son. And notice that I am standing out without benefit of a thing so if you want to raise your voices to me, you’re gonna have to deal with me because I’m not hiding behind a thing – (gestures to podium)
unidentified male: Is that a threat?
Ben-Shalom: – I don’t have a, you know, phallus shaped object to speak into-
(female laughter, scattered applause)
Ben-Shalom: You don’t like it? Too bad. Here I am. What you gonna do.
unidentified male: you’re… (unintelligible)
Ben-Shalom: What bothers me today is that there is an unacknowledged war on women.
female voice near camera mic: Thank you.
Ben-Shalom: Notice I said “WOMEN.”
front row blond: (unintelligible shouting)….trans women…
(security approaches front row blond and kneels in front of her)
Ben-Shalom: (puts her palm up toward front row blond while continuing) Okay, what bothers me today is that there is a certain type of rhetoric coming out from certain people- not all, certain people, cause I know logic and I don’t make unwarranted generalities and I don’t engage in arguments ad hominem, okay- that bothers me.
I don’t know. I’ve been out since 1974. I took on the largest complex in this country all by myself with one attorney. The military-industrial complex. Okay. What bothers me is that I am seeing civil rights and protections being steadily eroded, okay. I hear…I listen to the rhetoric that comes out. I don’t know of a single woman in all of my years that I have been out that has ever threatened another woman because of a difference in opinion. I don’t know of a single woman in all of the years that I have been out that would call another woman the type of language and vileness that I would never have used as a salty drill sergeant.
unidentified male: I was raped by another woman.
Ben-Shalom: I’m sorry. It’s not my responsibility but I have compassion.
same unidentified male: I’m speaking truth, but you’re…(unintelligible)
Ben-Shalom: I’m speaking….maybe your truth is different than mine. I’m saying I don’t know. I’m making an “I” statement and I’m owning what I say.
same unidentified male: I’m telling you…
Ben-Shalom: (puts palm up in direction of male voice, walks away, and continues): Well, you’re tellin me. Good. Okay, I don’t know of a single woman in my whole life that would threaten to rape another woman.
(crowd loudly shouting over one another)
Ben-Shalom: I’m speaking for myself. I…(several voices speaking over one another)
unidentified male:..thank your for being…
unidentified male: I’m a fucking rape survivor too! Don’t you negate me!
Ben-Shalom: Then don’t negate me.
unidentified: This is not a (unintelligible) contest.
Ben-Shalom: You’re negating me. Here are the things that I see that are being negated.
(Note: the list comes from Transgender Rights: The Elimination of of the Human Rights of Women by Gallus Mag of Gendertrender. You can read it in full, including the parts the crowd tried to shout over, at the link above. -ed.) Okay, I see a steady eroding of the legal right of women to organize politically against sex-based oppression….
unidentified male: Now you know, Kaeley. You’re not the only one in this…
Ben-Shalom:…removing the legal rights….
female voice near camera mic: That’s the problem! There are too many of us.
Ben-Shalom:….outside the presence of men. Okay, notice I say “men” and I say “women.” I’m not qualifying, I mean ….if you say “trans women are women” then when I say the word “women” that includes…
unidentified male: …you say “natal women.” Your own words.
Ben-Shalom: Removing the legal right of women to educational programs created for women outside the presence of men. I see this kind of debate going on here is eliminating the data collection of sex-based inequalities and areas where females are under- represented.
(security guard kneels before front row blond again)
Ben-Shalom: I see the elimination of sex-based (unintelligible.) I see the elimination of athletic programs and sports competitions for women and girls. I see the removal of the legal right of women to be free from the presence of men in areas of public accommodation where nudity occurs. Maybe you (unintelligible) but when I was in the army I had to deal with swingin’ dicks and it wasn’t fun, okay? The elimination of grant scholarships for, and trustee designations, representative positions and affirmative programs for women. I see removing the legal right of women to create reproductive clinics, rape crisis services, support groups and many other organizations for females. Okay? What does this mean? If you’re a veteran, and you were in combat, and you have PTSD, pretty much the military – nowadays, it wasn’t always like this – doesn’t send you back into combat.
various unidentified: yes they…yes they do…nowadays they do, many….
Ben-Shalom: Okay, but i’m prior military, so you can’t…are you prior military? What branch of service?
unidentified female: I was airforce (unintelligible)
Ben-Shalom: Hoo-rah! (Embraces hand of woman.) Thank you for your service,sister.
unidentified male: Thank you for your service (unintelligible)
Ben-Shalom: But, it’s changing. It used to be a lot worse. Think of General Patton.
So why is it that we don’t want to protect women and children, especially women and children who have been traumatized? You want to send them back into combat? (gestures at person who has raised hand) I see you, and I’ll answer your, I’ll take your question.
Okay. I see the elimination of media and all types of public discourse specific to females. I see the removal of the right of journalists to report the sex in history of subjects. I see the elimination of lesbian-specific organizations and advocacy groups. Okay, I see the removal of the legal right of women to free speech related to sex roles and gender.
unidentified female: (quietly) what is this?
Ben-Shalom: I see the elimination of the legal right of women to protection from state-enforced sex roles in terms of appearance, behavior, and thought. I mean, I’m a very non-conforming, non-binary woman, okay? But I’m not transgender, just to let you know. Okay. And I catch the same amount of shit that any other woman….
unidentified male: no.
unidentified male: no.
female voice near camera mic: She’s catching it from you guys.
Ben-Shalom: Ah, I‘ve been told to get out when I wasn’t wearing earrings, but you notice I’ve got…
unidentified male: (unintelligible)
Ben-Shalom:…pretty short hair here. And you know, I’ve been called “sir”….
unidentified: you’d stand for your rights to stay in that same bathroom, right?
same unidentified: …as a woman, you’d…
Ben-Shalom: I don’t take crap from anyone. Nobody tells me what…
unidentified: neither do we! neither…
Ben-Shalom: I…don’t need anybody’s tolerance, I don’t depend on anybody’s permission to exist as who and what I am. I don’t depend on anybody’s right to give me tolerance, I don’t want “tolerance.” You can take “tolerance” and shove it.Alright. I don’t demand the right for tolerance, I demand the right to live as my self. And if anybody doesn’t like it?
Too. Fucking. Bad.
Ben-Shalom: (unintelligible) …I see the elimination of the legal right of girls for protection from state enforced sex roles in public education. I see the elimination of the right of dependent females to hospitals and facilities and bed assignments in these facilities separate from males. I see the elimination of the right of dependent females to prefer female providers for their intimate personal requirements. I see the elimination of the human right of female prisoners under state confinement to be housed separately from male prisoners.
Unlike any other social justice venture in history, I think some people wanting transgender rights are unique in that they are based completely on the elimination of the human rights of women.
multiple unidentified people in crowd, mostly female: No? No! No!
female voice near camera mic: Yes.
Ben-Shalom:…but how can such a relatively small group eliminate the legal human rights of half of the human race?
unidentified: Just because we’re the minority, we’re (unintelligible) ignored?
Ben-Shalom: the transgender politic is an anti-female politic-
Ben-Shalom: – and as such receives blanket support from all male sectors who profit from the elimination of human rights for females. The State, the conservative politic, the liberal politic, the gay politic, the queer politic, academia, business, and media, all of these people benefit. And the only ones that aren’t getting any benefit at all are women and children.
(person attempts to shout over Ben-Shalom)
Ben-Shalom: That’s what this argument is about. It is not about whether we want transgender people- I don’t care! I don’t CARE!
unidentified: They care! They care!
Ben-Shalom: This is about the safety, of human, beings.
unidentified male: Yes, we’re human beings!
unidentified female: but not trans people?
Ben-Shalom: If trans…okay, I wanna say something, and I want you to think about what I’m about to say.
unidentified male: What do you think about cop-killing women?
female voice near camera mic: Oh, geez.
another female voice near the camera mic: Oh, for the love of mercy.
female voice near camera mic: One more outbreak and…
front row brunette: The cops will enforce who’s in the bathroom, though!
unidentified male: really?
front row brunette: Yeah! If it’s a law! They’ll kill black and brown people! That’s who they’re gonna kill, they’re gonna kill non-binary black and brown people going into the bathroom.
Ben-Shalom: Well, I’m non-binary and I’m a Jew-
front row brunette: You’re a woman. You are a woman.
Ben-Shalom: I’m non-binary and I’m a Jew, what are they gonna do with me? (more attempted interruptions) You, you call her (gestures to Smith) a supporter of the KKK.
unidentified: No, we *asked* her if she was a supporter of the KKK.
Ben-Shalom: In Clearwater, Tampa, at their very first gay pride, ah, event, the Ku Klux Klan showed up. And the GBT people who were there and the L’s that were there as well all went, “oh my god, it’s the KKK.”
It took one Jewish drill sergeant to walk out and to stand there and say, “You don’t like gay people? You don’t like Jews? Here I am, what are you gonna do with me?”
Ben-Shalom: And there was absolute silence. This isn’t about the KKK. This is about human safety. This is about ensuring that people are safe wherever they go.
Ben-Shalom: I…transgender people…transgender people are..
unidentified male: (unintelligible)..the rights of lesbians who want to discriminate against trans people?
Ben-Shalom: …transgender people….
same unidentified male: …no, but that’s the evolution of this.
unidentified female: …don’t! This is not your conflict.
same unidentified male: No, actually it is! I’m standing here and..
Ben-Shalom: But you’re a man.
same unidentified male: So? I…
unidentified: (unintelligible) ..PTSD because he’s a man?
Ben-Shalom: No (unintelligible) right here, right now.
Ben-Shalom: We’re talking about the safety of women and children. It isn’t trans people that we’re worried about.
unidentified male: Oh, so you’re saying that (unintelligible) the safety of women and children?
unidentified: …they care!
same unidentified male: (unintelligible as he continues shouting while several people speak at once)
Ben-Shalom: (mostly unintelligible) about transgender people, we should be arguing here about …we should be arguing about…
female voice near camera mic: you want me to introduce…
Ben-Shalom:…about changing society enough so that we change the patterns of violence coming from males in this country.
front row brunette: starting with this initiative.
Ben-Shalom:….you know? Just what I think.
unidentified male: It is a male who runs this campaign…
Ben-Shalom: What I…and what I’m fearful of, and what I would do…
same unidentified male: ….organization for marriage….
Ben-Shalom: I know.
same unidentified male: ..anti-gay…
Ben-Shalom: We could all cry a river. Every last one of us ….could cry a river. You know what you do with that river of tears? You build a fuckin bridge across it.
(extended, loud applause and cheering.)
Ben-Shalom: …for me to find common ground. I don’t have to agree with you….(gestures at especially disruptive area in front row) I may not agree with you…but we can find common ground (unintelligible)
front row braids: That’s appropriation.
Ben-Shalom: What’s your educational background?
(unintelligible crowd talk)
Ben-Shalom: My, my fear are those pretenders who will co-opt trans people. Because right now in a lot of places, if you self-identify, you get to go in.
female voice near camera mic: In Washington.
Ben-Shalom: And that’s my problem. That’s the issue right there. Is the pretenders.
unidentified male: Self-determination…
Ben-Shalom: Those men who. would use..
unidentified: Trans people aren’t pretending!
Ben-Shalom: I’m not saying they are. I’m saying, my fear, my fear, is the pretenders. The men who self-identify to get into these spaces.
front row brunette: Except the people who….
Ben-Shalom: How many..how many..(unintelligible)
female voice near camera mic:…they don’t want to.
Ben-Shalom: ….I appreciate you.
Angela: Okay…(unintelligible).. But we do have two more speakers…..
woman in pink: But I keep hearing, “women and children.” But there’s so much more. There’s a lot of other things that really need to go into this and I don’t know if there’s a trans women that would like to stand up or (unintelligible) now, but if a trans woman were to go into a men’s restroom, what would the violence be that would happen there?
Ben-Shalom: Precisely, and that’s the issue. Male violence. Male violence…(unintelligible due to more cross-talk)
unidentified female: That’s what we’re talking about….
(people talking, shouting over one another.)
Ben-Shalom: (to front row braids in front row)….don’t put words in my mouth, sister.
front row braids: I didn’t.
unidentified female: (shouting) don’t call her sister!
female voice near camera mic: Oh, my gosh.
front row braids: (unintelligible) I am not your sister, (unintelligible) anything…
Ben-Shalom: I’m sorry, I feel a kinship with all…
unidentified: No, you don’t.
unidentified male: ..to be sexually violated if I were…(unintelligible)
front row braids: we’re not sisters though.
female voice near camera mic: geesh….
Ben-Shalom:….but you know, I feel a kinship with all women. I’m here because I feel protective of women and children.
unidentified male: You’re not. You’re not.
unidentified: You’re leaving out trans women.
unidentifed: How does repealing a protection for transgender people protect transgender people, especially when you’re gonna segregate them in middle school, in the schools? Where the bullying is paramount? How is this, how is repealing a protection going to help women?
Ben-Shalom: No, it’s not repealing protection, it’s trying to provide a combination so that people feel safe and feel comfortable. Look, when I was in the military I dealt with swingin’ dicks. Frankly, I don’t want to shower next to a swinging dick!
front row brunette: (shouting) Then don’t! Shower at home!
female voice by camera mic: Oh, shower at home. That’s progressive! Very progressive!
(mixed shouting in crowd)
Ben-Shalom: I’m not comfortable with it! Why…why…
female voice near camera mic: Shower at home. It’s 100 years ago.
unidentified voice: I’m not comfortable with (unintelligible) at home!
Smith: Okay, so excuse me, can I just ask, so if she has to shower at home, how is that any different than what trans people….
front row brunette: it’s not that she has to, she’s making the choice- she has the choice to shower at home.
female voice near camera mic: So do trans people.
front row brunette: she cannot..she cannot…she has the choice…she is making the choice to shower somewhere else.
Angela: So can I just say…I am going to make a statement….about how 1515 applies….
unidentified male: …it’s the criminalization…
Ben-Shalom: (returns to chair) I..give the floor to the next speaker.
Angela: 1515 applies…okay. Let’s give a big hand for…
(extended loud applause, cheering)
Ben-Shalom: (steps forward off camera briefly, then is seated) (unintelligible)
Angela: Miriam’s last statement was, we are all equal. We are all equal….
unidentified male: but separate.
Angela: (unintelligible) ..to figure out..
unidentified: but separate, that’s how….
Angela: So actually, I need you to not talk again.
female voice near camera mic: (laughter)
unidentified: we need you to not talk unless you need to build a bridge and get over your (unintelligible)
Angela: And actually, I think building a bridge…
unidentified: You get over it.
Angela:…so that we’re not gonna agree! No one, no one is expecting everyone to agree here. I’m not gonna agree with you, you’re not gonna agree with me. But we have to be able to have dialogue. And hate’s not gonna win from anyone. Hate will never win. And it’s love, and listening, and realizing that even though we disagree, we do belong to each other. So, how do we go forward with that?
unidentified male: (unintelligible) I don’t belong to….
Angela: …What 1515 is about, is about, just letting people vote. All…(points to audience) so your vote, now…
unidentified: Letting people vote?
Angela: 1515, the initiative, 1515-
unidentified male: can you read it?
Angela:…is so that everyone…we have initiatives here? We will give everyone a copy. I will, I would expect you to read it-
unidentified male: Can I take all the copies? Can I take all the copies?
Angela: and, take it with you and read it.
Ben-Shalom: one per person.
Angela: it is about…
voice in crowd: one per person…
Ben-Shalom: one per person. (stands up, walks off stage)
unidentified male: can I take all of them?
Angela: So. We are gonna move on. We have two more incredible speakers. One of two more incredible speakers who I’d think you’d want to hear from! I mean, open your hearts, open your minds, to hearing what these two speakers have to say. Okay. Our next speaker is Blair Tindsall.
Angela: (laughs) Tindall. Blair Tindall. So, um, not only is she a world renowned oboist, but she also wrote her memoir, she is an author, and her memoirs are “Mozart in the Jungle,” and she’s gonna tell you a little bit more about that, some of you may have seen that and read that, um- she is here to talk to you about her story, her experience, and I ask you to be respectful.
Ben-Shalom: (Across stage area, preparing to pass out copies of 1515)
Tindell: Ok, so I think we’re going to hand out some materials here. I think I’m here for a little comic relief, perhaps- um, I’m an artist, I’m 56 years old, I have been taking stinky poops next to transgender women since most of you were born-
Tindell: (laughing) I am very used to having transgender women in the bathroom, never been a problem for me. Um, but,
unidentified male: …criminalize them?
Tindell: Ah, well, here’s what I- things have gotten really out of hand with the whole discussion, I think, and people are (unintelligible) at other people who are not saying what other people think they’re saying. My nephew is transgender. (walking into the middle of the crowd.) He’s…born male, and he is identifying female, he-
Tindell: – has a beautiful head of hair-
many voices in crowd, overlapping, loudly: she! She! She!
Smith: What if that’s not the pronoun she uses?
Tindell: He’s still calling himself “he.”
Smith: What the hell are you talking about?
Smith: (Raising voice) So you want people to use the pronouns that people want, but when she says the pronouns, then you’re yelling at her telling her what the pronoun is? How’s that go?
Smith: And then you want folks that, you want folks that aren’t educated to be mindful, and not be offensive, but she’s using- so what’s the difference?
Tindell: (unintelligible) So anyway, I think a lot of people are not realizing, we’re not saying, I mean nobody here is saying that a transgender woman is not a woman. I didn’t hear anybody say that. And I’m very concerned about transgender women’s safety too. Um, I want to tell you a story, uh, I have had a friend in college, who was a man. And he’s been very vocal- I’m gonna call him Jonathan- he’s now, a woman. He went through the surgery, very early on, it was unfortunately kind of botched, so he’s been through a lot. (Walking back to front of stage area)
And I asked him about his experiences with transgender bathrooms and locker rooms, and I have so much empathy for this cause.
But the problem here, I think is not, I don’t think anybody here has a problem here with the transgender issue in the bathroom- sorry, I have stage fright- um, but my problem is that, ah, there have always been icky men who are gonna prey on transgender women, and vice-versa in the men’s room too, um, and, they prey on all kinds of women. But now, if it’s legislated, you know, it’s always been this way, but this legislation- we don’t have an opportunity to say, “this person doesn’t belong here, this is a man who’s not transgender and is up to no good.” We can’t do anything. So we need to work this out. Um, there are ways of constructing bathrooms where I think everybody’s gonna feel safe and happy, like European bathrooms, there’s one in my neighborhood, there’s one in Venice Beach in California, floor to ceiling, you know, cubicles, and everybody uses the sinks, anybody seen my TV show, Mozart in the Jungle, the bathroom we use there is one of those. So I just, I think people really need to listen and not be so hateful to one another, and you know, I’ve been in this world my whole life and ah, you know, I really want people to be happy. So let’s open up a discussion (unintelligible)
Tindell: (to front row brunette) You were one of the people who wanted to ask a question?
front row brunette: Yes.
front row brunette: (Still seated, now holding mic) Okay. So my question is. Whenever I go into the- so this is the law, right? So that means it’s gonna be enforced by police officers. So that means whenever I go up to the bathroom- no, like, laws are enforced by law enforcement, who are cops, right? So, let’s say I go to the bathroom. And this, right here that we have, (pointing at copy of 1515) separates a biological male from a biological female and that’s how you decide who’s gonna go in the restroom. So, for me, privacy- I don’t even have a stall. The majority of dorms don’t have a stall. So in the bathroom, I’m good. But when I go into the bathroom, (gestures at paper) this requires that law enforcement enforces that I am a biological female (making air quotes) whatever the hell that means. Okay, there’s nothing… (unintelligible, speaking very quickly) Okay. So. I am gonna have my privacy violated by default-
female voice close to camera mic: that’s not true.
front row brunette: – because I am gonna have somebody else, like, validate the fact that I have a vagina. Which I may or may not have, right? So, as far as privacy goes, you got this little man, looking over the thing (gesturing, referencing the “just want privacy” logo), that man’s gonna have a little badge, and that’s gonna be me, or it’s gonna be a black or brown person, and there’s gonna be all kinds of issues there. So-
female voice near camera mic: Okay, this doesn’t even make sense. I need to clarify-
front row brunette: ….is gonna have to check in between my legs and…whether or not I’m allowed into this restroom. (Hands mic back to Tindall)
Haver: (steps behind podium) Can I…
Tindall: I’m not qualified to answer this….
Haver: But I am.
Haver: Because it doesn’t sound to me like you’ve actually read the initiative-
front row brunette: No, it’s right here, I can read.
Haver: Okay. So…
front row brunette: (unintelligible)
Haver: Okay, you don’t need to be hostile, I’m gonna try and address what you’re saying.
Our initiative does not force anybody anywhere. It does not include any criminal or civil penalties. We are trying to give businesses the right to determine their own policy because, there is a Korean day spa, for instance, over in Lakewood. That, the whole business model, requires that women, biological women, walk around nude. Do you think that might be a problem if they’re now forced to open their business – as they are now forced, because of the law as it stands- to people who have penises.
front row brunette: If there’s no enforcement, then why are you doing this?
Haver: So, what we’re doing,
unidentified male: ...civil penalties, in the initiative-
Haver:…is trying to give businesses the right to determine their own policies.
same unidentified male: that’s not the language…
Haver: …because that way the Korean day spa can do what they need to do. And if the YMCA wants to keep their open bathrooms, they can. But guess what? If 24 hour fitness down the street doesn’t want to, that means that that is someplace that I can choose as a patron. It gives people freedom. It does not mandate or force anybody into the wrong bathroom.
(several voices shouting, unintelligible)
Haver: (partly unintelligible) It does not…that a transwoman goes into…it does not…
(several voices shouting, unintelligible)
Haver:…anywhere….it gives people the freedom to make choices. And if we’re going to say that we agree with diversity, and equality, then you need to give people freedom to make those choices and run their business and then make their own decisions.
unidentified: The bathroom cop will be in schools because that’s where your initiative mandates-
Haver: It does not mandate that.
unidentified male: (unintelligible) maintained? How is that not mandated?
Haver:…it gives an alternative if they are not comfortable.
(multiple unintelligible shouting voices from crowd)
Haver: Nobody is going to be standing there checking.…How about speeding laws, right? You don’t have police officers pulling over every single car….but you know what, if somebody is going 90, it gives them something to fall back on. And if there is a creeper in a bathroom, having a law in place will give them something to fall back on.
Haver: – now, as the law stands, in Washington State-
unidentified male: it is enforcement.
Haver: – as the law stands in Washington State,…any male, can walk into your locker room (points into audience off camera) right next to you in the shower and if you question him, he can sue you.
(more unintelligible crowd noise)
Haver: I don’t (unintelligible)
Smith: (walks toward podium)
Haver: …to go back to Blair because she was speaking, and I don’t think we’re going to take any more questions during her speech, because she needs to be able to speak. So.
unidentified male: …laws already on the books protecting all predatory acts-
Haver: (taking seat) There are already insufficient laws.
Tindall: (stands with mic.) I’m gonna ask you in a minute, but let me just answer his question.
unidentified male: What gave him that right, because…he’s had his hand up for 20 minutes.
Tindall: You know what…I know. I was gonna say this anyway, hang on one second, um, I was gonna say this anyway. Yes, there are laws on the books protecting people from predatory acts…
unidentified male: You misgendered me. Are you gonna-
Tindall: …but the problem here that we’ve got to figure out-
same unidentified male: are you gonna acknowledge that you misgendered me at all?
unidentified female: be quiet.
unidentified female: oh my god.
female voice near camera mic: It’s not about you!
Tindall:...that we have to figure out- however you do identify, you do have a lovely head of hair!
same unidentified male: but while complimenting me, are you gonna acknowledge that you misgendered me.
unidentified female: oh my god.
Tindall: What, how, how would you like to be addressed?
same unidentified male: she, them, or they…
Tindall: She. Or they. Okay.
same unidentified male: Yes. She.
Tindall: Anyway. Ah, yes, there are these laws on the books, but the problem is when it becomes legislated, and it…like I said, I’ve been in the bathroom with everything you can imagine and I’ve done everything you can imagine, myself, and- (to person on side of the room) I’m not qualified. I’m not from Washington.
unidentified male: Oh, no!
unidentified female: Waaait a minute!
unidentified male: (unintelligible shouting)
female voice near camera mic: Just ignore them.
(unintelligible cross-talk from crowd)
unidentified male: I don’t find it very funny…
Angela: (standing up) Can I just say- what’s happening here is not about Tacoma.
unidentified: It’s a civil dialogue.
Angela: What’s happening here….
Angela: (touching Tindall on the shoulder): I just wanna….
(unintelligible crowd noise)
unidentified: You wanna change Washington law, and (unintelligible) you’re from out of state!
Angela: You guys. You don’t realize that you are participating in…
Ben-Shalom: I’m an American, are you?
Angela: …this dialogue, and you…
(unintelligible male interruption)
Angela: Listen- you’re doing something historic today. Because these speakers-
front row brunette: you didn’t ask (unintelligible)
Angela:…have come from across the United States. You don’t wanna be here, you…
front row brunette: No, I do wanna be here, I (unintelligible)
(unintelligible male interruptions)
unidentified: …are not from here.
Angela: These…just a second. These are people.
unidentified: …and I’m from here and I don’t want this law.
Angela: So. What we’re doing, is we are having, this issues is not just in Tacoma, it is not just Washington State, it is not just the United States of America, there is a global community out there, and everyone wants to figure this out. So there is a global community watching…
(continual male interruption)
Angela: Excuse me. Watching this discussion right now.
front row male: (almost totally unintelligible, pointing at women in stage area, gesturing, interrupting, shouting, repeatedly mentioning sexual harassment, as Angela walks back toward stage area)
female voice near camera mic: why are they…
female voice near camera mic: yeah, why are they still here?
unidentified male: …me, that’s why I….
female voice near camera: oh, my gosh, these people….
female voice near camera: let her speak- she’s been interrupted three times.
unidentified male: (unintelligible) better stalls?
unidentified male: Is it possible to have civil discussion in here?
front row male: it is a civil discussion.
female voice near camera mic: Not with the front row!
female voice near camera mic: Yeah, the front row needs to go.
(mostly unintelligible mixed crowd noise)…civility….we have a question….listening…
female voice near camera mic: Can we get rid of front row?
commenting man: So, ah, somebody mentioned the women’s only spa in Lakewood? Um, on May 10th, at the (unintelligible) Church, Joseph Backholm, chair of the Just Want Privacy campaign, said about the women only day spa: “Eric and I are going naked to the Lakewood spa and we are going to tell the ladies if they don’t think we should be here, they need to sign our petition.” I would characterize that these are a pledge by a cisgender male identified person to use harassment and intimidation to control women, or it’s a joke about harassment and discrimination of women. How would you- any of you characterize that- those comments?
unidentified female: …somebody who obviously…
Haver: (stands up and walks toward stage area)
Ben-Shalom: Do you wanna know what I would do?
commenting man: wait-
Ben-Shalom: (stands) Okay. I don’t like the term “cis.” Okay, that’s some invention that…(unintelligible)
unidentified female: no.
unidentified female: thank you. Thank you.
Ben-Shalom: (gestures at left front row, puts palm up)
Ben-Shalom: If a cis man said, “we are going to do this” and he walked into where I was and he did not identify, identified as “he” as opposed to something else-
unidentified male: yeah.
Ben-Shalom: I’d kick his ass.
front row brunette: (strangely, making a point in favor of the opposition -ed.) Okay, but we can’t all do that!
(unintelligible crowd noise)
Haver: I’ll address that. (Unintelligible) comment-
front row male: Oh, shit!!
Haver: Yeah, and I looked at my buddy I was working with, and I said that is a bad bad joke, that everybody, in the room, got that it was a tongue-in-cheek reference to the current law in Washington State. And my question for you is: if you have all this outrage, that somebody could possibly suggest that a man followed a woman into the bathroom- because that is such a violation of women. When the reality is that the current law in Washington State allows that!
Haver: Where is the outrage over that?
Haver: Where is the outrage…(applause continues, grows louder) over the actual law….anything goes? Where…(applause continues)…that one person made a bad joke saying, this is…absolutely ludicrous that this could happen…he’s making a tongue-in-cheek reference that, everybody knew that was a joke- it was (unintelligible), it wasn’t good. Okay, it was not a good joke.
But, you’re upset with him for violating women when women right now are being violated right now because we have no choice and no voice and every single man who wants to go in and harm women can now. Because guess what. When I was asking how this was gonna unveil at the Y I said when am I allowed to make my harm known? Because before, as a survivor, I could say hey, my red flag is up because there is somebody who appears to be a male in the locker room. But I can’t do that anymore because I can get sued. So at what point am I allowed to say something? Is it when he starts undressing? Well, no, because obviously because trans people need to be undressing too-
unidentified: what about…
Haver: And I asked, specifically- it’s my mic now. I asked, what if he has an erection in the shower next to me? Is that when I’m allowed to name my harm? Do you know what I was told? I was told, “No, because sometimes the warm water can do that.”
unidentified: are you looking at (unintelligible) shower? Because..
Haver: So…Yeah, because open showers. Have you gone to the Y?
(unintelligible crowd noise, male yelling something)
Haver: So basically I’m not allowed to say anything even if there is somebody who is in a state of arousal next to me in the shower. What statement does that make to women?
unidentified female: I’m a woman and…
Haver: That is not okay!
Haver: (gesturing at women on stage) (unintelligible) …is not gonna put up with it, …is not gonna put up with it, we’re not gonna…that’s not acceptable. We have to do better than that. We have to have (unintelligible)
unidentified female: I’m really sorry that you (unintelligible) lesbian and transgender…
same unidentified female: (unintelligible) …doesn’t mean everything bad happens in the shower.
(unintelligible, crowd talking over one another, very loud)
Haver: (speaks to Tindall, returns to podium as crowd continues shouting) We have one more…we have one more…one final speaker who has paid a great deal to be here today.
unidentified female …organization….(unintelligible)
Sam: (stands at podium beside Haver)
unidentified: I’m a veteran…I’m…
Haver: you know what? Right now,
Smith: Can you remove her?
Haver: We’re gonna let Sam speak. Because Sam has been waiting to speak for over a year, it has been very dangerous for her to do so. She can’t even pick her college courses on campus because of the violence that she has experienced because of her position on this issue. But she’s here. And I am honored that she is willing to be brave enough. Because it is not easy to stand up here.
Haver: (unintelligible as applause continues and crowd cheers loudly)
Sam: (steps behind podium)
Sam: Hi…(takes offered mic from Tindall) …..gonna stand right here. (Steps out from behind podium) and I know a lot of you might be angry at what I have to say, and I want to, you know, request that you let me say it, I’m very happy to answer comments or questions you have after but I need to get this out and I’m nervous to do that, so. (references notes on electronic device.)
Okay, (takes deep breath), so, I wanted to begin by saying I am so honored to be here in the room with all of these women because I know how much they have given up to be honest and to speak out.
When I am sitting here in my chair and see women my age speak like this to other women because of their political opinions, it hurts me, but I am also really hopeful because I used to be you. I used to be you, screaming “trans women are women” and “how dare you” and “you transmisogynist” and saying all of these things. I tried to get a woman fired because I thought she was a transmisogynist. That was
several years ago. (ETA: Sam corrects this to read “a couple” to be more precise. -ed.) I was a teenaged transactivist. And I was manipulated and I’m gonna talk about how women in trans communities and in queer communities are manipulated. By men. Whatever they want to call themselves.
(deep breath.) Okay. So. I’m really familiar with, I’m familiar with the type of censorship campaigns, and the slander campaigns that women are, are facing all the time whenever they speak out, and that’s because I used to gleefully participate in them. You know, if you told me three years ago that I was gonna be here, critiquing the trans movement from a feminist perspective, I would have laughed in your face, and, you know, if I actually would have believed you, I would have been terrified, because I knew what happens to women who speak out. After all, I, I loudly, tirelessly campaigned in support of men’s access to women’s spaces as part of a transgender rights organization. I did this for years, in fact. I met with leaders of transgender politics including Janet Mock, Joss Truit, who’s an editor at feministing which is a feminist magazine, and Toby Hill-Myer (my link -ed) who is a Washington resident, um, he is a trans woman who…
multiple voices from crowd: She is a trans woman! She…
Sam: I’m…I’m going to…say what I have to say, I believe there’s power in naming and I’m not going to call a man a woman because a man tells me to.
unidentified: She’s a woman!
Sam: I met Toby Hill Meyer, who is a Washington resident who also makes…
unidentified: I know Toby. Personally.
Sam:..pornography, including…I know him, I know him personally too, he created the strategy for our transgender rights organization…
(crowd yelling over Sam)
Sam: strategies like…(unintelligible as crowd shouts various things)
female voice near camera mic: Don’t even answer them!
Sam: (takes deep breath)
Ben-Shalom: (puts hand on Sam’s back)
Sam: Okay. So I, I also met with ….of the Sylvia Rivera law project. I could go on and on, but I want you to know that I’m telling the truth, I was a die-hard transactivist. Okay?
(Woman from off-stage walks into camera view, stands beside Sam, puts one arm behind her.)
Sam: This is my girlfriend, she’s here…
Sam: I was convinced that I was doing the right thing. I was terribly wrong. And in reality, I was doing men’s dirty work for them. Though I didn’t know it at the time. The campaign I helped lead destroyed a woman’s space. I live with that every day that because of my actions, women will be denied a safe space. But I am here today because I am a woman born woman…(deep breath)…who know that these men who want access to our spaces are not and will never be women. I’m here because I’m a lesbian, the daughter of lesbians, a feminist, an leftist, and because I changed my mind. So, to the women in this room who are having doubts about transgender… – it might even be the most vocal women in the room, because that’s who I was – I want you to know (deep breath), that I see you. You are not a bigot, you are not hysterical, you are not on the wrong side of history, and you are far from alone. It’s never too late to ask questions, do your own research- it’s out there– (link mine -ed.) grapple with multiple viewpoints and (unintelligible.) It’s never too late to speak out about women’s rights and female safety. It’s never too late to admit that you were really wrong.
I’m going to spend the rest of my time examining a really important aspect of this which is how women who (unintelligible) trans men are manipulated and used as rhetorical devices in this, ah, men’s rights activism.
unidentified female: …what??
Sam: (deep breath) So I’ll be reading an abridged statement from Max Robinson.
Max Robinson is a 20 year old lesbian who recently detransitioned after four years of hormone replacement therapy. She underwent a double mastectomy at age 17, performed by plastic surgeon Curtis Crane in San Francisco. In her spare time, Max currently helps support other detransitioning women. You can read Max’s (unintelligible) in full at 4thwavenow.com. Her writing will also be featured later this year in the upcoming Female Erasure anthology edited by Ruth Barrett. (link mine -ed.)
If you’re interested in these topics and learning more, even if you disagree with me now, I would encourage you to get that book and read it, because it’s, ah, an anthology of women from all different types of circumstances, and all different viewpoints explaining why the transgender movement is a war on women.
unidentified male: that’s fuckin sick.
Sam: The violence women face in queer communities is not likely known or recorded in the media. But it’s also what the women I know experience. So it’s really the story of lesbians of my generation. This is her story. (deep breath.)
When I was 16, I talked my older sister into ordering me a binder, and I wore it as often I could. It hurt like hell. I insisted it didn’t. The pain made it easier to think less, which was nice. After school, I read Autostraddle articles and dozens of pages into the archive of FTM blogs. I was glad to see some women who looked kind of like me, saying they had futures now. I wanted what they had, and I hated what I had. At first, I thought I might be genderqueer. Then, I wanted to go on testosterone for a while, but keep my breasts. Next I was sure I wanted them gone. Some part of me knew I was talking myself into it. I ignored that part. I was just so….it was just so comforting to think that I was born wrong. If my body was the problem, I could be solved.
I thought I was turning away from the hurt that came from being seen as a woman by men, but it was too late. After transition, I kept quieter than ever before. Always afraid, always afraid. Brought back into line.
Transition was supposed to fix things. That’s what I believed and that’s what doctors told my parents. I was 16 when I started hormone blockers, then testosterone. I was 17 when I had a double mastectomy. After all, this was a medically validated condition. I had been to appointments with professional after professional, all of whom agreed this was the way to go. But it turned out to be cold comfort, removing hated body parts.
The day of my surgery, I asked Dr. Crane where the tissue would go. He told me it would be incinerated as medical waste. My first post-op memories don’t start until a day or two later.
I didn’t want to be seen as a woman–as a lesbian–and I didn’t want to ask why.
Or maybe I just didn’t know who to ask. I did try. Before I started medical transition, I asked my gender therapist, who was also a trans man, about internalized misogyny. The question was dismissed. I was assured that it probably wasn’t that. I got a letter for hormone replacement therapy, and later, for the top surgery. I was grateful.
I didn’t know it was okay to be a lesbian with what we call gender dysphoria, that I could survive this way.
I was almost 20 when I stopped hormones. A while later I stopped understanding myself as a trans man.
Things changed. My mind changed.
I thought “woman” was wrong for me, because of how I dressed, how I related to my body, how I resented the expectations society had for me as a woman. I didn’t realize that my horror at my body could be caused by the horror of living in a world that wants to control women. I didn’t know this then. I subscribed to an incredibly misogynistic set of beliefs for years. “DFAB privilege” was a common phrase in our community – “designated female at birth privilege.”
Sam: (looks up, turns to the part of the front row that has been objecting the loudest during the press conference) I’m sure you guys are familiar with that.
It was accepted fact that being born female gave you a lifelong advantage over a male who transitioned. This included men who used transition only to mean using different pronouns on their online profiles. We believed that, as “dfabs,” or females, we needed to shut up about our petty problems. We genuinely believe some off-the-wall garbage, like that it’s wrong and evil not to be attracted to penises.
Sam: Google “the cotton ceiling” if you don’t believe me. (cotton ceiling info -ed.)
At the time, none of this seemed outrageous or strange to me; it felt pretty intuitive. Growing up under male domination is a grooming process that leaves many girls and women extremely vulnerable to manipulation.
For those of us females (mainly lesbians) who did seek transition, we were told that, as transmen, we were exactly as bad as any other men. Women who never transitioned in these trans circles believed their so-called “cis privilege” rendered them man-like in their power.
Young lesbians in the “queer community” are known by many names: if you want to avoid scrutiny for not hooking up with transwomen, you’ve got to get creative. Some of us call ourselves queer, bisexual, or pansexual, because there’s no word for only being attracted to females, and you’re not allowed (to be..or) call yourself a lesbian if you date transmen or if you avoid dating transwomen. A lot of us, having been told that we can opt out of womanhood by choice, decided that we never want to be called “she” again.
Many transwomen seem to view dating a real lesbian, or what they call “cisbians” because they want to redefine us, as a uniquely valuable source of gender validation. Often refer to themselves as “transdykes.”
Sam: Tobi Hill-Meyer does that as well.
This includes those- this includes those who are not transitioning–men who can literally only be differentiated from any other man when you ask his preferred pronouns, and, if he feels like it, he tells you he’s a woman.
The first experience that did make me start to feel suspicious of male transition was when I was 18 and a gender [sic: original: “genderqueer”] identifying man who had never pursued any type of medical transition raped my best friend. To avoid accountability within our social circle, her rapist changed his pronouns to female ones she heard, and then said that he couldn’t possibly have raped her, because of the power dynamics between a “cis” woman and a transwoman. He moved back to LA a few months later, without ever taking any steps to transition. When he got there, he told his old friends he wasn’t a trans woman anymore.
Now, I have a list of 20 intercommunity predators, mainly transwomen who prey on females — women and transmen. Eleven of them are one or two degrees of separation from us.
When our remaining friends from the transgender community found out that we had changed our minds, all of them deserted us immediately.
So many women in our community had themselves been pressured to share nude photos, coerced into unwanted sex, or outrightly violently assaulted by men describing themselves as transwomen. Driving us apart from each other is the easiest way to keep us from learning to recognize attempts to redefine our realities. As soon as a transwoman said, “No, I’M not a man,” we instantly lost our ability to protect ourselves from him. The silent victims of transwomen had good reason to keep quiet. We all saw transwomen using their language of “cissexism” and “transmisogyny” against anyone who named their behavior as harmful.
Deprogramming took almost (glitch in video- ed.) It took awhile before any of us could call any transwoman a man without having a panic attack. Both of us were terrified just to read dissenting opinions. Janice Raymond’s discussion of transexually-constructed lesbian feminists in The Transsexual Empire was startlingly relevant. She saw this coming. All either of us knew about Janice Raymond, until last year, was that she was supposedly evil to the core; a horrible transphobe. We believed this because we didn’t know any better.
From the outside, from the outside now, I can finally see how ridiculous it is. We had been manipulated into believing that dissenting women are literally equivalent to murderers. (unintelligible aside by Sam.)
At the end of the day, I just don’t want anyone male in the bathroom with me. The experience of being male is fundamentally different from the experience of being female — even if a man passes, even if a man has surgery to more closely resemble his idea of a woman.
I don’t say this out of a hatred for transwomen. I say this out of love and respect for women. What we are cannot be conceived nor replicated in any man’s imagination, and it absolutely cannot be formed out of male tissue on an operating table.
I am so tired of seeing pictures of women with masectomies, women who have been on hormones for years, women you can mistake for men. (unintelligible) said, of course we should always use whatever bathroom we feel like. I had a masectomy. I don’t shave my facial hair. I’m still a woman. I look this way because of socially sanctioned medical abuse designed to elicit compliance from me as an abused butch lesbian with disabilities who did not know how to assimilate into the world before me.
Every woman who seeks drastic medical treatment to somehow “correct” her femaleness has a lot of very compelling reasons for believing that was her best option at the time.
Women with beards and flat chests putting up pictures of themselves saying, “you want me in there with your daughter?” Yes. Women with a history of medical transition may need to communicate a little more clearly about our past, because not everyone understands yet that this is something that happens to non-conforming women now.
But fuck the idea that men on hormones like the ones who sexually abused my girlfriend are more entitled to female spaces than women who are visually identifiable as victims of the medical industrial complex. The male run medical industrial complex.
I feel that transition is a treatment with far-reaching harmful side effects, not only for the individuals receiving treatment, but for those around them. Lesbians who see their sisters disappearing are more likely to try to erase themselves. Lesbians who are forced to welcome men into their spaces will never be able to see or understand the value of female-only space, never having actually experienced it.
Gender identity crises are very real to the individuals experiencing them, myself included. But this energetic drive towards change forced change is not best spent reforming ourselves into people who can assimilate into the world men have built.
I have so much empathy for other women, who believed transition was their best choice. I have lived that. But the fact is that loving a woman does not automatically mean agreeing with her. I deserve that all of us…I believe that all of us deserve better.
I’m grateful that I learned it was okay to exist as I am. But my body has known tragedies but my body is not a tragedy. I’m grateful for all of the incredible women I have connected with who are the other side of transgender identities now. Transition doesn’t have to be forever. More and more of us are waking up, each with her own story. We question and we disagree with people who think of us as enemies and with each other. We learn. Together we are moving forward.
Gus: I just want to say, if anyone who wants to talk to me about this or wants to get in touch with women who are detransitioning, um, there are many support groups (links mine -ed.) that we’re creating ourselves now to help…(unintelligible) …questions.
Angela: (hugging Sam and Sam’s girlfriend)
Ben-Shalom: (embraces Sam as applause continues)
Angela: (takes mic) So, um…the University of Washington, Tacoma campus, has indicated that we do not have any more time in this space. So, it took a lot of time, it’s um, doing questions throughout. So, you have questions, but, we cannot stay in this space, because now our time is up because it took a long time to get through these speakers. So, you…this is what I’m just gonna say. Absolutely female questions that this…
unidentified: Here’s what’s gonna happen.
Angela: excuse me! Excuse me!
unidentified: …the right to speak!
Angela: This whole time…
unidentified: (unintelligible) this space is fine, but you need to let us talk too.
Angela: Can I just say this? You…I wanna say, what she just said, is exactly right. And what has been so frustrating, is no one will talk.
unidentified: I’ll talk…
Angela: So, let’s continue this discussion, not here, and maybe not today, we actually…these women are being interviewed up in Seattle right now.
front row male: ooooooh…
Angela: And we have to go, this was the extent of our stay.
front row male: Good luck in Seattle.
Angela: Can you guys…I will have coffee with anyone who wants to continue this discussion. So, meet me outside there, I would love to have coffee. Okay. And um..can we just proceed, we end right now. I want to give a huge thank you first of all to U-dub UT.
Angela: Thank you. This is the first dialogue that has happened. It’s not gonna be the last. It is the beginning. I want to thank our incredible brave…..
(applause, cheering, extended)
Angela: We need to go forward not seeing each other as “others. So, um, go forward in peace with each other, and let’s continue the conversation.
unidentified male: where?