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

Final week, longtime Canadian feminist and leftist, Judy Rebick, printed a piece at rabble.ca, the positioning she based, entitled “My feminism is Trans inclusive.” It in, Rebick explains that she has by no means written on trans points earlier than, however having been accused of being a “TERF” (trans-exclusionary radical feminist), she wished to reject the label, and supplied an apology of kinds for having testified in assist of Vancouver Rape Reduction (VRR), who had been compelled right into a human rights case introduced in opposition to the transition home and rape disaster line by Kimberly Nixon in 1995. Nixon had been rejected from a coaching group with the collective on account of getting been born a person, and on account of the very fact the transition home and collective was women-only. Beneath obvious strain from her leftist comrades, Rebick defined, in her latest 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 discovered and adjusted her place. Rebick doesn’t explicitly say she disagrees with the ruling in favour of VRR, and not believes VRR ought to have the best to outline their very own membership and keep 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 Reduction collective, responds.


Expensive Jude,

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

You printed your piece, “My Feminist is Trans Inclusive,” at Rabble, so I’m submitting to Feminista, Feminist Present, Vancouver Ladies’s House and Fairer Disputations, which will not be good media, however that’s what I’ve, simply as you’ve Rabble. Maybe a pal will ahead it to you. If not, then perhaps now we have no remaining connections. I haven’t but responded to my different mates who contacted me about your assertion, however as you and I’ve been mates 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 Reduction and Ladies’s Shelter from a wrongful accusation. I used to be grateful on the time and I stay grateful that you simply gave of your dedication to girls’s liberation. Whether it is of any comfort to you or if it could fulfill these pressuring you, I don’t suppose it was your testimony, however slightly the BC NDP authorities’s provision in Human Rights Regulation, guaranteeing equality-seeking teams have the best to outline their very own membership, that satisfied the judges. And I’m positive you’ll be able to argue that you’ve prevented the various conditions since (together with these earlier than the varied courts now) wherein girls have asserted this authorized proper that we confirmed in 2005. I’m positive that this glorious laws is the true goal. They need you to mislead what stays of second wave feminist assist for the NDP.

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

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

These of us who imagine the proof of our bodies — particularly of our eyes and ears — that intercourse variations are actual and matter, who suppose and acknowledge vital patterns of oppression based mostly partially on these variations, who nonetheless wrestle for girls’s equality and liberty (and notably amongst these of us who wrestle in opposition to rape, a few of whom have chosen to assist 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, imagine, or suppose; disallowing teams of like-minded girls to arrange in opposition to sexist violence and in our personal egalitarian and humanist pursuits; forcing people or teams of the oppressed to face silent whereas witnessing the oppression of others; and forcing pathetic examples of insincere contrition or renunciation of ladies’s real efforts doesn’t bode effectively.

Lee Lakeman