London trans activists call for boycott of sham demo on October 17th
We are a group of trans activists who wish to make known our concerns about a demo, claiming to support the depathologisation of trans people, in London on 17th of October. The facebook group for the demo can be found here:
The description of the event reads:
"Being transgendered is not a mental illness. We are simply part of the diversity of humanity. Gender Identity Disorder is therefore not a valid diagnosis. Homosexuality we removed as a mental health diagnosis diagnosis in 1987. For us to achieve true liberation and recognition we need to throw off this unjust stigma. We are not ill, just different"
A large number of people were invited by the demo organiser, a non-trans man by the name of Dennis Hambridge, and some of us were initially concerned by the rationale for the demo. In particular, we were worried that campaigning for the removal of Gender Identity Disorder as a medical diagnosis without proposing an alternative mechanism by which transsexual people would be able to access medical transition resources was premature and dangerous, especially in a climate where NHS primary care trusts need only a minimal excuse to deny funding for our hormonal and surgical procedures. We do not support the labelling of our gender identities as disordered, and realise that our relationship with the medical community is far from ideal, but do not wish to support a movement which may give the impression that we seek complete divorce from the medical community.
These concerns were put to the Facebook group by a number of trans activists. Rather than address them, Mr Hambridge entrenched his position, making claims that gender dysphoria was an artefact of society and the medical community, and that removal of any form of classification of gender dysphoria by the WHO was "non-negotiable".
In moves more reminiscent of the actions of transphobic radical feminists than supposed allies of trans people, Mr Hambridge started deleting some of the comments from those trans people who were concerned about our future access to hormones and surgery. Subsequently he banned a number of those trans people from the group, silencing them in that space.
To reiterate - Mr Hambridge, who is organising a demo which is allegedly supporting the rights of transsexual people is using his position as a group organiser to silence and shut out the voices of the very people he claims to support.
In light of Mr Hambridge's intransigence and refusal to listen to the voices of actual transsexual people, we are calling on all activists who support the concept of transsexual people having a say in our own medical care to boycott this demo. We further call on Mr Hambridge, who is not trans himself, to stop claiming to speak on our behalf when he is ignoring our protestations and silencing our voices, and to call off his demo.
Please spread this open letter widely.
I entirely endorse what is said here - I was one of the people who commented on the Facebook page and tried directly to appeal to Dennis Hambridge to act like an ally instead of an empire builder. I was told that his principles outweigh anything that we might say to him and he did not recognize the right of the trans community to advise him about ideological matters that affect us directly.
This is not the first time I have experienced the arrogance and privilege in which Dennis Hambridge trades - at the Stonewall 40 rally, he shoved me out of the way when I was speaking in order to make a speech of his own and did not see the irony of what he was doing. I let it go on that occasion in the interests of solidarity and the event - I should not have done.
On at least one other occasion, he called a picket of a Stonewall event and then did not turn up for it himself.
He tried to turn the demonstration at the Victoria and Albert Museum against Stonewall into a personal vendetta against Julie Bindel and had to be prevented from doing so.
Let us be clear, I do not think him guilty of anything worse than arrogance and an inability to play well with others, but that is enough. Others have harsher opinions.
In future, any demonstration no matter how worthy its apparent objectives which is called by Dennis Hambridge should be regarded by all activists trans and other with extreme caution.
As to the broader issues involved, Stephen Whittle has an excellent post here and an account of the kerfuffle by auntysarahhere