Statements following London Anarchist Bookfair of October 2017

The following two statements have previously appeared on AF national media following the London Anarchist Bookfair of October 2017. The first statement below was originally posted on the Anarchist Federation Facebook page on 20/11/2017 (Transgender Day of Rememberance) due to the loss of the noflag webserver containing our website. The second earlier statement was originally posted on on 30/10/2017 immediately following the transphobic leafleting at the London Anarchist Bookfair of 28th October 2017 and was similarly unavailable due to the noflag server loss. Both now appear here on our temporary new site. Other statements include one by Edinburgh AF which was on their noflag hosted site and can be found on ainfos, also published immediately after the bookfair.

Statement on Anarchist Federation group Facebook page 20/11/2017

The basic human dignity of being able to choose or express who we are should not be an issue within the anarchist movement. Transgender/non-binary people should never be subjected to abuse or mischaracterisation in anarchist spaces/events by TERFs (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists) or anyone else – anarchists do not tolerate bigotry in the guise of free-speech. It is very rarely that anarchists attempt to shut down debate or resort of physical or verbal violence to do so. If trans activists feel they have little choice but to resort to this in an anarchist space/event, that is a crisis for our movement.

The AF regrets that the opportunity has probably been lost to transform the London Anarchist Bookfair – which in recent years has developed into one of the most important and representative anarchist events globally – into an environment where this situation cannot not reoccur. Whilst the right of people to choose their gender identity is not up for debate, discussion about the relationship between different oppressions and their relationship to the wider class struggle are nonetheless important.

The class struggle and the struggles of specifically oppressed groups under capitalism do not run parallel with each other, but overlap. Our movement can only benefit from education and engagement with the issues effecting trans-people in the context of where the overlap happens, just as it must improve and advance its theory and action in relationship to all oppressions.

Where legal reforms will improve the material situation of trans-people under capitalism, workers with gender privilege must support them as part of the wider social and economic struggle. But this can only take place meaningfully in an environment which automatically defends the starting point that we are who we say we are, and where the imbalance of power which we bring into the movement from wider society is acknowledged and undermined as far as possible.

AFed Trans Action Faction* statement in response to events at London Anarchist Bookfair 2017. 30/10/2017

Context of the statement:
There were anti-trans leaflets put in the toilets at the London Anarchist Bookfair (the leaflets were quickly removed). There was also a small group of people who started handing out similar leaflets at the entrance. The leaflets claimed the very existence of trans people was a threat to women and girls. We reject this claim, it has no basis in reality and instead scapegoats trans people, who are already at a high risk of violence and oppression.

The leafleters were confronted by a large group and told to stop leafleting/leave. Whilst the leafleting did stop, some of those that had leapt to the defence of the leafleters continued the confrontation long afterwards.

“The anti-trans literature that was being handed out and posted in toilets, and the actions of all those who enabled this, was unacceptable and has no more place at an anarchist bookfair (or, indeed, in society generally) than sexism or homophobia.

We call on the bookfair collective to implement a policy that specifically excludes anti-trans stalls and literature, as well as ensuring the safety and wellbeing of all oppressed people at the bookfair.

This is in no way an issue of free speech. If the anarchist bookfair invited everybody we disagree with to speak, there would be no room for anarchism. Part of anarchist politics is being specific about what behaviour we do and don’t consider to have a place in an anarchist society. ”
– Statement from the AFed Trans Action Faction (*in formation)