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

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

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


Expensive Jude,

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

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

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

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

I have to say that such a change of thoughts and your proper to specific it’s utterly comprehensible given the present state of issues and your alternative to specific a change of thoughts is one thing I defend whilst I discover this variation wrongheaded. I hope they’re glad with this midway measure and also you gained’t want additional defending.

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

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

Lee Lakeman