Six leading publications aimed at lesbian and bisexual women have issued a joint statement in support of trans people.
Representatives of DIVA, Curve, Autostraddle, LOTL, Tagg and Lez Spread The Word signed the statement.
They state, unequivocally, ‘That trans women are women and that trans people belong in our community.
‘We do not think supporting trans women erases our lesbian identities; rather we are enriched by trans friends and lovers, parents, children, colleagues and siblings.’
It said it was issuing the statement in the wake of anti-trans reporting across much of the media. There have also been a number of lesbians who have spoken out against trans rights.
Pride protest over trans rights
Last summer, lesbian protestors briefly halted the Pride in London march. Among their objections, the protestors claimed that some younger, butch lesbians were rushing to identify as trans men instead of embracing their lesbian identities.
They also objected to trans women with penises gaining access to female-only spaces such as changing rooms.
In the press, many media commented on the UK’s recent consultation on changing gender recognition laws. Even the left-wing Guardian was criticized for an editorial cautioning against changing the law.
‘We strongly condemn writers and editors who seek to foster division and hate within the LGBTQI community with trans misogynistic content, and who believe “lesbian” is an identity for them alone to define,’ says the statement.
‘We condemn male-owned media companies who profit from the traffic generated by these controversies.’
‘Concerned about the message these so-called lesbian publications are sending to trans women’
The statement continues:
‘We also strongly condemn the current narrative peddled by some feminists, painting trans people as bullies and aggressors – one which reinforces transphobia and which must be challenged so that feminism can move forward.
‘We are really concerned about the message these so-called lesbian publications are sending to trans women and to young lesbians – including trans lesbians – and we want to make in clear this is not in our name.
‘As the leading publications for queer women, we believe it is our responsibility to call out scaremongering conspiracy theories levelled at the trans community, and make it clear that DIVA, Curve, Autostraddle, LOTL, Tagg and Lez Spread The Word will always be safe spaces for the trans community.
‘Forty years ago, to be a lesbian was to be questioned and persecuted. Today things are better for cis lesbians but there are still places where to be a lesbian is impossible.
‘So it is for trans men and women, as well as non-binary people, many of whom identify as lesbian, bisexual, gay or queer. We know something of these struggles. And just as they and other allies have supported us, so we must support those among us who are trans, or risk ending up on the wrong side of history.
‘The sooner we stop focussing on what divides us and instead focus on our commonalities, the stronger we will be to confront the other injustices imposed on us.
‘We won’t be divided.’
Toxic ‘debates’ and tackling hurtful systems
Signing the statement are: Carrie Lyell (Editor, DIVA magazine); Linda Riley (Publisher, DIVA magazine); Riese Bernard (Co-founder and editor-in-chief, Autostraddle); Merryn Johns (Editor, Curve); Silke Bader (Publisher, Curve and LOTL); Eboné F. Bell (Editor-in-chief, Tagg Magazine); and Florence Gagnon (Founder and president, Lez Spread The Word).
Lyell told Gay Star News what she hoped to happen going forward.
‘I hope the LGBTQI community can move past these toxic “debates” about what it means to be a woman or to be a lesbian and to actually get down to tackling the structures and systems that really hurt us. We can’t do that if we aren’t united.’
She also spoke of the importance of speaking out.
‘We can’t achieve equality without visibility, and therefore it’s so important that trans people and their allies are louder than our detractors.’