Reclaim the Night London

by Laura // 16 November 2009, 21:00

London's Reclaim the Night march kicks off at 6.30pm from Whitehall Place this Saturday 21 November. The march itself is women only, and will be followed by a mixed rally for women and men in the Camden Centre, Kings Cross.

Each year, when advertising the march, we receive comments and emails asking whether Reclaim the Night London is open to trans women. We also received comments asking about this year's march on our recent piece on the women-only workshop at the Feminism in London conference. Although we have been told informally that trans women are implicitly included in the 'women only' label, it appears that the lack of public clarity surrounding this has lead to some confusion and resulted in some women - both cis and trans - feeling unable to take part in the march.

As discussed in the Feminism in London post, the use of the term 'women-only' is problematic because trans women cannot be sure whether the term includes them, given that society in general and some feminists in particular refuse to accept them as 'real' women. For this reason, we at The F Word think it would be helpful if the London Reclaim the Night march were advertised as being explicitly open to trans women. A simple amendment to the promotional material and website would widen participation in this important and significant feminist event. Trans women experience misogynist male violence - in addition to transphobic violence - and should be able to take to the streets along with cis women to protest against it.

So we passed readers' feedback and this suggestion on to RTN organisers at the beginning of October in the hope that the website could be amended for this year's march and that promotional material for next year's march will make it clear that trans women are indeed welcome. We have received no official response thus far.

Reclaim the Night is a fantastic event which F Word bloggers have attended and enjoyed in the past and we hope to be able to support a fully inclusive march in the future.

Comments From You

Anji // Posted 16 November 2009 at 21:15

Good luck getting an official response; you're not the first people to ask them to publicly clarify by a country mile. It's not exactly hard to make a change to some wording on a website, if they were going to do it they would have done so by now.

Their support of transphobic Julie Bindel (supporting her Stonewall award) and inviting her to speak at RTN (like inviting a KKK leader to speak and then saying "but it's open to women of colour, honest!") says all that needs to be said about their feelings on trans inclusion. :o/

Jess McCabe // Posted 16 November 2009 at 21:54

I should just add so that people know I'm volunteering and stewarding at RTN this year and support it. I have more thoughts on how I feel about this whole thing - as I've said before on this, the position I feel I'm in is that I really support the march (hence volunteering etc) I just really wish this issue was dealt with differently and RTN was explicitly making its policy that trans women are welcome clear in a public sort of way. Hopefully I'll have time to talk about some of this later when I've got a bit more time. Just wanted to add that to show that it's not all about 'us' at The F-Word in opposition to 'them' at RTN...

Lucy // Posted 17 November 2009 at 06:48

@Anji,

I've not seen Bindel specifically announced as a speaker for this year's RTN anywhere online?

@Jess,

It really does seem to me as though the LFN wants to have their cake and eat it, too, on this. They don't want to appear to be transmisogynistic at the same time as they don't want to anger feminists who claim trans women are really men (ie, transphobic feminists). As they have likely calculated that there are more of the latter than the former, they do not advertise that trans women are welcome and instead let "Women Only" be read however the reader wants to read it. Mind you, this is my supposition, but trans women are used to being the "dirty little secret". However, combining the fact that the London murder of Destiny Lauren is still much on the minds of many trans people along with Friday being the International Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) with the London observance starting on Saturday just hours before the RTN march, the failure to actively include trans women in the march is all the more insulting. Destiny almost certainly died at the hands of a man as did too many of the other trans women who will be remembered at TDOR but whose even theoretical existence will almost definitely not be mentioned at RTN, although the history of RTN is one of protesting the murder of women. LFN's lack of active inclusion of trans women is exclusion of trans women. It's shameful.

Juliet // Posted 17 November 2009 at 12:16

Can't they publicise it as "open to all self-assigned women", as did the organisers of a recent event which Helen G posted about on TFW?

eleanargh // Posted 17 November 2009 at 12:54

Devils Food Cake wrote about this over at The Most Cake - http://themostcake.co.uk/right-on/reclaiming-our-rights/. Apparently the NUS Women's Campaign only agreed to support the march if it was advertised as inclusive.

Anji // Posted 17 November 2009 at 14:34

Lucy - no idea if she's invited this year but she certainly has been in the past, and their other support for her has been far more recent.

Lucy // Posted 17 November 2009 at 15:31

@eleanargh,

I notice from that blog post that NUS Women's Campaign also apparently demanded that there be no transphobic speakers at the rally which would let out Julie Bindel. Now I'm really curious if she will be speaking again this year.

Jess McCabe // Posted 18 November 2009 at 15:24

@Anji Julie Bindel spoke at the RTN London rally in 2007 as far as I'm aware. She's not speaking this year, I'm pretty sure.

Anji // Posted 18 November 2009 at 16:14

I thought they hadn't announced all the speakers for this year? Every source I can find either says "Speakers to be announced" or "So-and-so, so-and-so and guest speakers to be announced." I really hope she won't be invited again.

There's still the problem of their other support of her that needs to be clarified, too. :o/

zohra // Posted 20 November 2009 at 21:00

"However, combining the fact that the London murder of Destiny Lauren is still much on the minds of many trans people along with Friday being the International Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) with the London observance starting on Saturday just hours before the RTN march, the failure to actively include trans women in the march is all the more insulting."

too right. i will therefore not be going along to RTN this year.

An-on // Posted 23 November 2009 at 13:51

OK, comparing Bindel to the KKK is jaw-droppingly offensive.
Whatever you think of the views of Bindel and other radical feminists on transsexuals, they are not advocating killing or harming trans people, nor are they advocating genocide. You do know what the KKK did, right?
Can you people not disagree with someone, without resorting to offensive hyperbole?

Laura // Posted 23 November 2009 at 16:03

@ An-on: The KKK comment may have been excessively hyperbolic (and it was made by one commenter, not "us people", btw), but JB's opposition to the surgical procedures that can be so vital to many trans people is tantamount to wanting to harm them, in my eyes.

Anji // Posted 23 November 2009 at 16:06

Firstly, I am a radical feminist myself so there's no need to tar us all with the same brush.

Secondly, perhaps "KKK member" was over the top, I'll admit that. I could have just as easily used "a known racist BNP-supporting pseudojournalist" or similar.

Thirdly, Laura is right - Bindel's writing on trans people, her outright hatred, viciousness and blind vitriol contributes to a society in which trans people are routinely murdered for their gender identity. She's made it pretty clear that she wishes trans people did not exist. I can't see any way for anyone to excuse that.

marika // Posted 23 November 2009 at 20:24

Does Million Women Rise have a policy of specifically welcoming trans women? I can't find anything on their website, and there doesn't seem to be any mention either way on the F Word blog about the March 09 march.

Anji // Posted 23 November 2009 at 22:16

I'd like to know that too Marika. It will be pretty much crucial to my decision over whether to attend or not.

Lucy // Posted 24 November 2009 at 08:49

@marika,

Apparently Million Women Rise will tell you that trans women may attend if you send them email directly asking this. Helen covered that specifically several months back in her Million Cis Women Rise post on Bird of Paradox. I would say any event that doesn't publicly make it clear that it specifically welcomes trans women doesn't welcome trans women.

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