Last week, an anti-trans activist with several thousand Twitter followers started a pile-on against the Manchester-based Working Class Movement Library (WCML) over their decision to include rs21’s new ‘Fighting Transphobia’ pamphlet in their newsletter. She went on to share an image identifying a trans rs21 member by name, with a caption misgendering her and accusing her of being ‘anti-woman’ because she is trans and dares to speak publicly. Online harassment is not out of character for transphobes, it’s a standard tactic to isolate individuals and manufacture crises for organisations.

In response to the coordinated attack, WCML has circulated a message to its mailing list in which it not only backs down, but accepts transphobic arguments. WCML claimed that the pamphlet was promoted in error, expressed ‘sincere regret’ and apologised for ‘confusion, offence or upset that may have been caused.’ The statement does not refer to any quote or argument from the pamphlet – presumably ‘Fighting Transphobia’ is offensive all on its own. 

Here is the real source of confusion: Does the WCML believe that trans people have the right to advocate for their own liberation, or not? If the WCML welcomes discussion and is against discrimination, then why did they distance themselves from the pamphlet?

As an organisation rooted in working-class history, the WCML knows about the powerful histories of solidarity and struggle against oppression. And the long tradition of publishing and sharing radical materials is a part of that history that they know better than most. A feminist and socialist politics of solidarity must lead us to reject the bad faith arguments of transphobes claiming to speak for women. We call on the WCML to withdraw their apology, and to instead affirm a commitment to trans liberation and inclusion.

– rs21 Steering Group

Take action

Firstly, sign the petition below calling on the WCML to retract their statement and stand against transphobia.

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