A group that’s been labelled transphobic, racist and anti-sex-worker has been booted from the venue that was to host its conference this weekend in Toronto following an outcry from local activists. But “radical feminist” organizers have vowed that the conference will go forward as planned.
The RadFem Rise Up! 2013 conference was originally to be held at the Beaver Hall Gallery on McCaul Street from July 5 to 7, but after receiving complaints about the conference’s non-trans-inclusive nature, the gallery cancelled RadFem Rise Up!’s booking on the eve of the conference.
“A final decision has been made by the Board of Directors to not host RadFem Rise Up! at Beaver Hall Gallery this coming weekend,” the gallery committee of the Beaver Hall Artists’ Co-op wrote in an email posted to a website created to protest the conference. “While we realize this news is disappointing for some, we hope that all parties concerned will respect and understand the decision.”
The conference is being organized by a group of radical feminists who are part of a group called Deep Green Resistance, a radical environmentalist group that calls for the abolition of industrial civilization. The radical feminist wing of this group believes that gender is a caste system that oppresses women and is working to abolish gender entirely.
The group has been criticized for allowing only “womyn-born-womyn” to take part in it, as well as for speeches and writings by its leaders asserting that trans women are not truly women.
Group organizers say they sympathize with trans people but have a disagreement over what gender is, and consequently have different goals and priorities.
“Genderists think gender is an identity, an internal set of feelings people might have. Radical feminists think gender is a caste system, a set of material conditions into which one is born,” reads a statement on the group’s blog. “Radical feminists are critical of gender itself. We are not gender reformists – we are gender abolitionists. Without the socially constructed gender roles that form the basis of patriarchy, all people would be free to dress, behave, and love others in whatever way they wished, no matter what kind of body they had.”
Conference organizers say the weekend’s event will go ahead as planned, but they did not disclose its new location. They did not respond to requests for comment by press time.