Deep Green Resignation and Reclamation

16 May

by former members of DGR Portland

We, former members of the Deep Green Resistance Portland chapter, are hereby severing our ties with Deep Green Resistance and especially with Derrick Jensen and Lierre Keith.

We want to make it very clear that it is in spite of, not because of, the bullying and harassment we have personally received since last weekend that we are standing by our principles and refusing to devolve into hatefulness. Individuals involved have received personal attacks including rape and death threats and we find that abhorrent and, when disproportionately targeted towards women, misogynistic as well.  We renounce trans*phobic statements made by Derrick Jensen, Lierre Keith, and other members of DGR.  We are in solidarity with the many biocentric and anti-civilization people of any gender who are against all forms of oppression and will not accept bigotry in any form.

We joined DGR because we agree and continue to agree with DGR’s analysis of civilization, its stated anti-oppressive politics, and its commitment to strategic action when the earth is being destroyed.  We have grown increasingly concerned with DGR’s decision-making structure which lies exclusively in the hands of the three-person advisory board: Jensen, Keith, and Saba Malik, and a half-dozen hand-picked staff members.  The staff members are all young, all lacking in much non-DGR organizing experience, and often reside in Crescent City with Lierre Keith.  The process for the selection of staff and board members is unclear, and requests for clarification of the decision-making process have been aggressively shut down. 

During the DGR Spring Conference a few months ago that produced this video, it was made very clear to the participants during this presentation and other presentations on gender that dissent or even questions from within the organization were unwelcome.  

In the last few days, we have become dismayed with Derrick Jensen and Lierre Keith’s insistence on exaggerating and manipulating the facts about what occurred at the Law and Disorder conference in order to gain public sympathy and to aggressively push their trans*phobic agenda. This includes deliberately misgendering people against their wishes in order to spin the event as an act of male violence against women.  They have acted at the expense of DGR Portland members’ well-being and reputation and at the expense of the DGR organization’s ability to do work in the radical community.  On Tuesday we, along with other members of DGR Portland, issued a statement (see the May 14th post on the DGR Portland Facebook page).  Derrick Jensen immediately called that response “horrible” and “victim blaming” and told us to take it down, and proposed this statement instead.  On Wednesday, the advisory board made it clear that they maintain centralized authority over DGR chapters, especially in crisis situations.

We’re not against the delegation of authority or against leadership, but we are against unclear centralized decision-making structures and against a climate where questioning authority is discouraged.  Unquestioning embrace of a small, centralized authority; member isolation; a climate that discourages member dissent; and an us-versus-them mentality are all characteristics of a cult.  We are increasingly concerned about these and other unhealthy power dynamics within DGR.

We think the disintegration of organizations and hostility in communities is in fact a tragedy.   We know for a fact there are many wonderful individuals who are involved with DGR and we don’t believe that the rank-and-file of DGR stand behind the hostile and hurtful views of the DGR leadership. 

We know that many have joined DGR because the radical environmental movement largely remains ineffective in the face of global catastrophe, and much of the analysis in the Deep Green Resistance book accurately assesses the dire state of affairs.   We still support the majority of the writing and analysis of Jensen and Keith and hope their books, as well as the book Deep Green Resistance, will be judged on their own merits.  Too few organizations exist that actively denounce industrial civilization and are willing to act with urgency against the biocrisis, and fewer still are willing to do so with an anti-oppressive and especially with a feminist analysis. 

To the members of Deep Green Resistance: We invite you to join us, and to reconsider your allegiance to an ineffective and toxic leadership. Your best opportunities to take a stand against civilization are away from the isolating and divisive stances perpetuated by DGR leadership.

To the other former members of Deep Green Resistance who have left the organization and who are speaking out against DGR’s toxic leadership:  We invite you to join us. We want to talk and share stories and to heal together.  We believe we can build communities of resistance away from DGR.

To the members of the radical community who have acted against DGR: We invite you to join us as well. It’s easy to tear down and harder to build.  We invite you to now target those who are killing the planet and to build uncompromising organizations in the face of oppression and civilization with us.

The last few days have been personally hurtful and traumatic and our mental and emotional health and lives have suffered, but it’s clear who our friends and allies are. 

We will continue organizing together as Resistance Portland, and invite others to join us. You can contact us at resistanceportland@riseup.net.

In solidarity and resistance,

Tessa, Lumen, and Justin

42 Responses to “Deep Green Resignation and Reclamation”

  1. Lumen May 16, 2013 at 12:25 am #

    It should also be know how viciously anti-anarchist Derrick Jensen is:

    http://pastebin.com/Aeb67Bj1

    • Leuth Novotny May 20, 2013 at 4:00 am #

      Wow. Thanks for posting. “The anarchists are liars. It’s what anarchists do.” Gee, I never knew that lying “is what (us) anarchists do” — so glad to be schooled by someone with different beliefs.
      This is *exactly* the type of crap that keeps Tea Party levels of effectiveness so much higher than those of the radical left. We are *completely* willing to eat our own. The writings of Derrick Jensen posted here *more* than prove that. There’s real fucking work to be done, peeps. We don’t *have* time for this level of juvenile name-calling “i’m more radical than you” *bullshit*!!!
      I’m going to go puke now. Seriously. This shit stinks … like shit.

  2. North Feralina May 16, 2013 at 7:45 pm #

    All these parting messages talk about DGR being the only group in the environmental movement that does what they do. Are EF/ELF really that invisible, invisible to them or are the EF/ELF brands really that tarnished?

    • Lumen May 16, 2013 at 8:40 pm #

      North,

      I have worked with EF! so it’s not at all invisible to me. I have found often modern environmentalism as a whole has tactics that are ineffective, the strategy that is absent, and an anti-oppression analysis is not as present as I would like. I’m by not means the only EF!er who thinks so, but EF! remains a decentralized movement with a less clearly articulated position. I think one can identify as an EF!er and still want to work with groups with a more clearly articulated position.

      I agree with much of the critique of the environmental movement in the book DGR and encourage all EF!ers to read that critique.

      • Earth First! Journal Cascadia Office May 16, 2013 at 9:21 pm #

        I agree with you 100%, Lumen. As an EF!er, I thought parts of the DGR book were damned articulate. I wrote a critique of the book, which you can find in the Articles drop down menu above, but a lot of the strategic stuff is workable. There are some key problems that come from confusion btwn McBay and Keith, mostly, where Keith insists that we should mobilize without any hierarchies and then contradicts herself, and McBay says that we can choose whether to organize non-hierarchically or in chain of command structures (a freedom that I am quite skeptical of, to tell the truth). But McBay sets the argument up as an instructive/advisory document, kind of like an Army manual, whereas Keith uses a misunderstood historico-materialist critique, supplemented by a little spiritualism and romanticism, to bash other groups without providing much in the way of practical advise… I mean, look at the huge section on bashing the Romantic movement of the 19th Century, which ultimately leads up to, not a development of proper strategy, but an opportunity to promote an ageist patriarchy… anyway, I think I talk about it in my critique. Btw, I admire yalls statement v much! Thanks for putting this out there. It’s super heroic of yall, and I can’t wait to see what’s up w Resistance Portland. omg, can i join??
        -sasha

  3. Lumen May 16, 2013 at 10:25 pm #

    sasha,

    Yes, at the moment, Resistance Portland is formative, but all of us want to fight to keep energy exports out of Cascadia among other things. I think we will need a serious mental break right now though.

    I like a lot of the analysis of a liberal worldview illuminating and McBay’s strategy discussion great. I found a lot of Keith’s writing was bashing for sure.

    Best,

    Lumen

    • Earth First! Journal Cascadia Office May 16, 2013 at 11:26 pm #

      Lumen,
      Yes, this sounds great. I’m excited about the North Portland climate canvass, and the fact that 3 out of 6 ports have already been shut down! Personally, I’m working on a few things, protecting Mt Hood w Bark, and trying to muck rake greenwashing and global trade agreements like the TPP that are catered towards energy exports in the west coast.
      mmm, speaking of catering, i’m going to go eat pho.
      sparkles!
      sasha

  4. sweet tea May 16, 2013 at 11:05 pm #

    This was a courageous move, Portland folks, mad respect. It seems yall arent the only ones.

    As a relative outsider to anything like DGR at this point, I wanted to ask a question a lot of people in related circles have posed abstractly – why didn’t earlier positions on questions like the black block, endorsements of hedge’s “cancer of occupy” article for example coming from Jenson, or a characterization of DGR as part of the Left, which runs totally in the face of any other deep ecology i know, result in a similar backlash? Or for that matter, the issue of the main founders of a supposedly revolutionary group being in the habit of calling the police? Why would such things not be a make or break issue, just as much as transhatred?

    I understand that much of DGR is not necessarily antiauthoritarian, but much of the rank and file is…Keeping in mind that the anarchists and streetfighters belittled by Jenson and Hedges were a pretty major political and tactical component of the global rebellions that shook the world in 2011, it would seem that DGR leaders’ collaboration with a fairly obvious liberal recuperator like Hedges would be a major red flag (so to speak!). This is a guy who espouses a Nonviolence code and a rhetoric of victim blaming unruly protesters who get beaten – a position that would pretty obviously have him throwing eco-saboteurs and other earth defenders DEEP under the bus. So Is this break over the trans issue just the straw that broke the camel’s back, accompanied by a larger political critique, or is rad fem’s gender politics really the main issue? (you hint at the anti anarchist component in your critique of DGR’s vertical structure, but i m still curious….)

    • Earth First! Journal Cascadia Office May 16, 2013 at 11:24 pm #

      I think it’s really nuanced and hard to explain… But those are really good questions.

    • bindoo May 17, 2013 at 8:40 am #

      Well put, I have wondered this myself as it relates to EF! From the beginning there was so much terrible stuff about DGR (much of which you highlight), yet it seemed like there was a strong segment in EF! that was very intent on forging some kind of alliance with DGR. As best I can’t tell, the “political” issues as they relate to structure and anti-anarchist stuff have been repeatedly ignored.

    • partisanpony May 17, 2013 at 9:17 am #

      Hey sweet tea :: thanks for your words. I’m an ex-member of DGR, formerly of the Austin chapter that left DGR as a whole last Spring due to problems with the decision-making structure, the formal adoption of the Rad Fem position on trans, and the cult of personality that was forming.

      We also left due to concerns about the inability of DGR members, the staff included, to be effective organizers, and the ousting of the one person on the staff that had significant previous organizing experience.

      The controversy surrounding the Chris Hedges article on Black Bloc, and Derrick Jensens participation in it, was something that membership in DGR were very aware of at the time. Many of us, anarchist or no, felt that it was a bad move for movement-building purposes. There are certainly things to be critiqued about anarchist movements in this country, just as there are things to be critiqued about any movement or group. As an anti-authoritarian I am very critical of anarchist cultures in the U.S, but that doesn’t keep me from recognizing the beautiful things that anarchist cultures have created as well, and the importance of anarchist thought and practice as a whole. In other words, I’m able to uphold a view of anarchism that is messy, like the real world is messy, and I think a lot of people in our local chapter at least felt able to do the same.

      We certainly recognized the importance of anarchists and the importance of building with them, and felt that the Chris Hedges article was unnecessarily alienating and destructive and flattening of the complexity of anarchist communities.

      Derrick’s quoted comments in the more recent EF! post are similarly flattening, and unnecessarily dismissive of what is ultimately a very diverse – and complex – group of peoples, ideas, practices, organizations and so on. I’m afraid his very real and horrible personal experiences of manarchist fundamentalism and violence make him incapable of thinking complicatedly – or speaking complicatedly – about anarchists as a whole, which is a shame. I recognize the violence that he and Lierre have experienced from anarchists, violence which is inexcusable and that I condemn. Unfortunately, they’re unable to see past their personal experiences and listen to the experiences of others on this one.

      I think as a whole Derrick Jensen and Lierre Keith are incredible authors. I don’t think they make good organizers, clearly. They may know how to build a protective clique or club around them, but not an organization capable of having a real impact in the world. I’m very sad to say this, because I have a lot of love and respect for them, despite all of what’s gone down, and because they have some really important things to offer that I fear will never be heard by many people who otherwise might have been moved by them.

      • sweet tea May 17, 2013 at 2:00 pm #

        What violence have jenson and keith experienced at the hands of anarchists? im assuming youre talking about something other than burrito and piethrowing or heated arguments? I dont doubt that its possible, especially after jenson alligning up with hedges, but i feel like i would have heard about it….

      • WTFDJ? May 17, 2013 at 2:07 pm #

        I think the majority of it is online trolling.

      • WTFDJ? May 17, 2013 at 2:12 pm #

        which apparently Derrick doesn’t understand as a social phenomenon. He over and over takes every single thing a troll says seriously and then blows it up bigger and bigger painting himself as a huge victim. This of course just feeds the trolls.

      • F. Elaine Anderson May 23, 2013 at 2:58 pm #

        Partisanpony, was Permadassa with the Austin chapter that left? If so, do you know who she is organizing with now, or how she can be reached? Here is my email: ela95126@gmail.com. Thank you.

  5. nuclearnight May 16, 2013 at 11:19 pm #

    Yep maintaining a radical analysis of gender despite the majority of the world having drunk the kool-aid is just like behaving like a cult. If you can’t beat em, join em, amiright?

    • North Feralina May 16, 2013 at 11:52 pm #

      Kool-aid! Oh yeah! (Yes Nuclear, I’m trolling you, the portion of the conversation you’re still on was like, so 2 posts ago, but you can still go comment on that one)

  6. mieprowan May 17, 2013 at 12:11 am #

    I think that when the transgender rights movement says it’s cool for any man to waltz up to a women-only space and say “Let me in, I’m a woman, or else I’ll trash you all over the Internet,” that maybe we’ve got a problem.

    • Becca June 18, 2013 at 6:36 am #

      What a ridiculous comment. No one in the transgender rights movement have ever said such an absurd hypothetical scenario would be “cool.” Nor is such a scenario something that even happens, as far as I’m aware.

  7. Lumen May 17, 2013 at 12:22 am #

    Hello everyone,

    Deep Green Resistance Portland retracted the previous statement on the incident that Tessa and I helped write so for reference it is below:

    _______________________

    Due to rampant misinformation and allegations of trans*phobia, the
    Portland Chapter of Deep Green Resistance wants to issue a statement on
    the factual events that occurred at this past weekend’s Law & Disorder
    Conference at PSU and clarify our position.

    We think the ugly specter of alienated communication in an increasingly
    online world was apparent during this debate and we are sickened by the
    hate and aggression on all sides. We as DGR Portland do not condone or
    agree with the statements being expressed on online forums. We believe
    that this aggressive and hostile commentary is unproductive. We are
    particularly saddened by the twisting of facts on both the events at Law
    and Disorder and on DGR as an organization to advance views and agendas
    that are not those of either the individuals present last weekend nor of
    DGR.
    ____________

    On Saturday, May 11th at 2:30pm two women were tabling for the Portland
    chapter of Deep Green Resistance, an environmental and social justice
    organization, when a genderqueer person approached the table to inquire
    about DGR’s stance on the “transgender issue”. This person respectfully
    raised a concern about being uncomfortable in the same space as an
    organization labeled “transphobic”. The people tabling expressed their
    appreciation for this person being willing to exchange dialogue about the
    issue and the DGR tablers simply explained that DGR the organization, as
    well as DGR Portland members individually, are certainly not against any
    trans folk, and in fact align ourselves with all oppressed or marginalized
    groups of people. Calm and respectful conversation continued for several
    minutes, and two more people came over to the table, one standing on the
    sidelines, and the other joined in on the conversation. From here the
    situation degraded. Respectful dialogue quickly turned into a raised
    voice, as well as aggressive language, and threatening gestures made
    toward the seated women by one of the individuals standing up. One DGR
    member asked to continue the dialogue in a respectful manner, when the
    aggressive individual began to grab and deface table materials. One of the
    women reached out to hold the material down, and was marked with permanent
    ink on her hands and forearms. The room became silent, and tense but no
    one intervened. One of the women was visibly triggered.

    Out in the hall, about half an hour later, another altercation occurred. A
    different member of DGR Portland noticed that the people who caused the
    confrontation at the table were still discussing the issue in the hallway.
    They had not realized that this person was also a member of DGR. Speaking
    and acting as an individual, the DGR member tried to engage the group of
    people. He was met with chanting and backlash, accusations and twisting of
    his words, to which he did not compose himself well. As he walked away, he
    noticed trash being thrown at him, followed by partially eaten food
    wrapped in foil, which barely missed hitting his head.

    A Law and Disorder conference organizer later approached the table asked
    how the DGR tablers were doing, and they immediately asked about the
    conference’s safe space policy. He was generally understanding, and stated
    that outside of ideology, the focus should be on the violation of the safe
    space policy, which was aggression toward two women.. He also reassured
    the two that nothing would be done about the incident without the women’s
    approval, and that he would speak to the other organizers about it. It
    seemed that a healthy resolution was underway.

    Sunday morning, two DGR Portland members returned to the conference, and a
    short while later, another organizer with Students for Unity, a student
    group at PSU, came over to ask if the DGR people were okay. The woman who
    tabled the previous day responded that no, they were not okay, and asked
    that the precious day’s aggression and safe space violation be addressed
    publicly. The organizer told the DGR Portland members that the statement
    would be run by them before being published, to get the facts straight
    before it went public.

    As the conference was ending Sunday afternoon at about 2:15pm the two DGR
    members began packing up when 10 to 15 people approached the table. They
    surrounded the table, and told DGR to leave. As the members were already
    packing up, the two DGR people asked the group if they could give them
    space to continue to do so. During this time, the DGR members said little
    more than there were misunderstandings about the organization, while the
    group of people yelled for about 10 minutes about the tablers being
    “cis-scum” and more general statements about DGR being transphobic and
    exclusionary. There was one person present who was being respectful in
    their dialogue, and they suggested books for the DGR folk to read, and
    also gave out their contact info. The two DGR Portland people then left
    without further incident.

    Sunday evening an organizer from Law and Disorder posted a message on
    their Facebook page calling DGR transphobic and suggesting the harassment
    folks at the conference received was their fault. This is classic victim
    blaming.
    ___________

    We believe the acts of individuals towards DGR members at the Law and
    Disorder conference are bullying and harassment of the type that should
    have no place in political discourse and we believe it was in violation of
    Law and Disorder’s safer space policy. We, as DGR Portland, were invited
    to table at the Law and Disorder conference and DGR members have
    previously presented at Law and Disorder without incident. If anything in
    our literature at the table or in DGR’s Statement of Principles is in
    violation of L&D’s safer space policy we as a group would seek to address
    that with conference organizers. If any actions of individual DGR members
    at the conference was in violation of the safer space policy, then as
    individuals we welcome conversation or mediation.

    DGR is a radical feminist organization that views gender in this society
    as an oppressive hierarchy. We realize our socially constructed views of
    gender and our desire to dismantle gender, like our desire to dismantle
    industrial infrastructure, may be unpopular. We realize discussing the
    nature of gender, privilege, and patriarchy in our society is personal and
    emotional, for us and for other people. Our divergent views do not mean we
    are ignorant of gender politics and in need of education on the topic as
    was condescendingly suggested on Sunday. We reject the notion that if our
    politics make someone uncomfortable then we should be bullied into
    silence. As women we have been silenced enough. As radicals, our goal is
    an end to oppression and hierarchy globally, not personal comfort.

    We want to make it very clear that we hold no antagonism towards
    trans*people, we realize trans*people and other gender queer or
    non-conformists face threat of violence, harassment, and oppression in
    patriarchy, as do women and children, and we ally ourselves with anyone
    facing oppression or the threat of this system’s violence.

    We want to make it very clear that we do not condone nor agree with
    statements made, beliefs held, or actions taken by other DGR members
    wholesale. DGR’s collective points of agreement are our Statement of
    Principles and our agreed Code of Conduct here
    (http://www.deepgreenresistance.org/principles/). Relevant critiques of
    DGR Portland will be with those or with our actions as an organization,
    not with the statements of individuals. Relevant critiques of DGR members
    as individuals will be with our words or actions.

    We as a chapter are moving forward and will continue to address this
    internally and in our community.

    For justice and in solidarity against oppression,

    Deep Green Resistance Portland

    • moriah May 17, 2013 at 11:21 am #

      *sigh* as much as the idea of fighting for gender rights appeals to me i don’t want to fight people who are also fighting for gender rights about gender rights it actually sounds rather circular… i’m transgendered but i disagree with your policy not because it declares me insane but for idiological reasons which I would explain but i have already explained myself elsewhere to the person who gave the talk that explained the policy. in fighting will get us no where and i would not be a part of your organization again not because of your stance but because you have an unsound idiological structure that would seem at least from the talk that i listened to; to do more harm than good…

    • sweet tea May 17, 2013 at 2:02 pm #

      wait….yall dropped DGR, and now youre undropping it? what happened? im confused.

      • Earth First! Journal Cascadia Office May 17, 2013 at 2:05 pm #

        this is a message from previous members of DGR who have split with DGR Portland and are forming a new group called Resistance Portland.

      • WTFDJ? May 17, 2013 at 2:06 pm #

        I think they’re just trying to make their account of it available since DGR censored them and intentionally misgendered everybody. This is relevant since they were actually there.

  8. Annarchy May 17, 2013 at 3:04 pm #

    DDDdduuudes. & Ladies, and everyone inbetween!😉

    This argument is a complete waste of time and energy. Just cut the ties and move on. There are bigger fish to fry. Well, vegetables. Anyways, there is a full on assault against our ecosystem. This DRAMA is a major distraction and it fractures the movement and drains the people of their spirit. Get over it & we can focus on what brought us all together in the first place. NOT OURSELVES, but–>THE FUCKING PLANET. Get over the ego. Meow. xxoo

    • cmk May 17, 2013 at 7:18 pm #

      Killing off DGR isn’t going to get transgendered people any safer. It’s not like Derrick Jensen wants to govern the planet with rules he makes up. It’s not like he wants to “encourage violence” against transpeople. It’s not like he wants to do anything but end oppression and save the planet. And people are getting on DGR’s case because he and Lierre have a controversial analysis of gender? So disagree with him, be buddies with your transfriends, and support DGR in doing the work it’s doing.

    • Chad May 18, 2013 at 1:34 am #

      Yeah, oppressed people should ignore oppression cuz the movement. I’m seriously sick of this argument! If I can’t be free, if all oppressed people can’t be free, then to hell with the planet! I don’t want to be a part of a movement that ignores racism, ignores sexism, ignores homophobia, ignores transphobia, etc…

      Calling it “DRAMA” is incredibly offensive and takes away from the very real concerns of oppressed people. “Drama” is thrown at queers and women whenever they get too concerned and raise their voices about oppression.

      • Annarchy May 18, 2013 at 5:04 am #

        Issues like this situation of oppression should be dealt with at the base level with the parties involved. Respect for all is a key part of working together and no segment of the population should ever be marginalized. It is silly that we are arguing about an argument of others. It’s been snowballed for sympathy and notice to a particular [oppressed] segment of our population. Why are we not arguing about his negative comments towards Anarchists? -hm? …just something to think about. But it’s all a waste of brain space. I’ll continue on being a good person to everyone. ^_^ xxoo

  9. Vince May 17, 2013 at 10:21 pm #

    Hear, hear! Leave your baggage at the door and focus on the enemy.

  10. jose May 18, 2013 at 5:12 pm #

    So you cut ties with people for exaggerating an assault, but you don’t cut ties with the people who actually did the assault. Instead, you embrace the assaulters.

    • Lumen May 18, 2013 at 9:10 pm #

      We cut ties with people who have shown themselves to be bigoted and who expect us to fall in line with their bigotry. Anyone on any side who has behaved like a mean-spirited child over this is no ally of mine. Anyone who still thinks this is a ‘trans-community’ vs. ‘DGR’ debate lacks the ability to interpret nuance.

      • jose May 19, 2013 at 11:13 pm #

        But you don’t cut ties with the people who actually did the assault. Instead, you embrace the assaulters.

        I don’t find your she-was-asking-for-it type of argument convincing. Ideas refute ideas, violence doesn’t refute ideas. You welcome the use of violence against ideas.

      • Earth First! Journal Sonoran Office May 19, 2013 at 11:36 pm #

        Would love to know who did “the” assault Jose. I’m sure we’d cut ties with them.

      • jose May 21, 2013 at 12:33 pm #

        Ask the victims of the assault, I’m sure they’ll be able to tell you. If you’re still able to lower yourself to listen to them, that is.

  11. L3ft 3y3 May 20, 2013 at 2:56 pm #

    https://www.facebook.com/notes/l3ft-3y3/a-letter-to-dgr-and-the-radical-community-on-the-issue-of-transphobia/365026600265109

    Hi all,

    Like many others, I’ve been watching the recent conflict between DGR and its detractors revolving around the issue of transgender and transphobia. I am an anarchist. I am also a huge fan of DGR, both the organization and the book. I came to a greater appreciation of anarchist philosophy at the same time as reading both the endgame books and DGR, both of which have been hugely influential in terms of how I see the world, and the type of activism I engage in. I have much hope for the organization and have been discussing its ideas with others within the activist community in addition to taking the content to heart and practice.

    During a discussion with a good friend of mine, he brought up the letter by Lierre Keith, of which we are all aware.
    I was not familiar with it at the time, and was troubled by it’s overtones and message. He went on to express his view that DGR was a transphobic organization, a view which caused me a great deal of concern.
    Over the following months, I’ve maintained my enthusiasm for the ideas of DGR, while feeling concern over the letter. I’ve heard similar arguments expressed time, and time again. I wasn’t quite sure what to think. I didn’t know if this was Lierre’s personal opinion, something taken out of context, nor did I understand its relationship to the overall ideology of DGR.
    I watched as this issue was brought up repeatedly, online, without any clarification, up until the video of Rachel Ivey’s treatment of radical feminism was presented online.
    After watching the presentation I finally understood DGR’s basic stance.
    My partner and I, who are spending time learning permaculture in Europe, have been discussing the topic, and the increasing conflict that has erupted over the last few days.
    Based on what I have seen and read, both sides to be fundamentally misunderstanding and/or misrepresenting the other.

    DGR is presenting the idea that gender is a socially constructed class. A class with two artificially created roles, one of which, masculinity, is hostile to the other, femininity, through a system that validates and supports these roles, known as patriarchy. As such, the goal is the abolition of this class antagonism, and the abolition of gender itself.
    Those who identify as trans seek to adopt one of the roles, and while they are certainly well meaning with unique and powerful personal experiences, if gender is a class to be abolished, and is inherently exploitative, than anyone who identifies with a gender, and views genders as linked to any group of social or psychological behaviors, is inadvertently supporting a false and harmful division within the human family. This appears to be the DGR analysis of both trans politics and any position which recognizes gender as anything other than a social construct which exploits non-males.
    The goal is not to make a society where people can choose their space on the spectrum, but to eliminate the spectrum entirely.
    This is why Lierre’s letter spoke using the comparisons that it did.
    Race is discussed as another example of a socially constructed class with a dominant and subordinate role, and the nuances can be thought of in a similar way, if one holds this position.
    This discussion is especially helpful for me, as a person of color. Frequently those within non-white ethnic groups are told that certain activities aren’t, for example, ‘black’. This is inherently offensive because the oppressive class are dictating artificial limits to what being ‘black’ is.
    DGR seems to imply that there are no limits to what a sex should do, how they should dress or interact, because gender should be meaningless. By this logic, to call someone who is sexually male or female, or any other gender, trans does not make sense, male and female are invalid, fundamentally oppressive niches, and if someone wishes to dress a certain way, correct aspects of physiology, or take a given partner, it falls entirely within the limits of personal choice, a personal choice which can be liberating, and empowering as it defies the gender binary.
    Again, following this logic, changing these things does not imply gender, just as how I speak has nothing to do with my race.
    My race is largely tied to the oppression that people of color experience, things that are incommunicable to Caucasians. Similarly, they would argue that modern femininity is tied to oppressive and harmful socialization and treatment which no person who has not been raised as a female can understand.
    I’ve been learning a lot over the past years, transitioning from general liberalism, to socialism, and further to the ideas of anarchism. I’ve been trying to excise the parts of myself that have been taught by a monstrous culture, and have been taking time to truly understand feminism, beyond the veneer of general goodwill and calls for equality.
    I’ve learned, largely thanks to DGR, that listening is key. I am not a woman, there are experiences, thoughts, and feelings that I will never understand.
    When my partner and I watched and discussed the video, she, who could be described as a queer feminist, agreed with the analysis, something I did not expect. She spoke with a deep sense of hurt about the invalidation of womanhood itself, the programming and oppression that women in modern society deal with. Something which, like my blackness, must be lived. The pain of finding your own voice, and the idea that this, womanhood, is not something one can understand fully who hasn’t lived the devaluation, self-criticism, disempowerment and outright hostility of dominant culture as it expresses itself to those with female anatomy.
    As one would say: I don’t get it, I can’t ever really get it…but I get it.
    Lierre made a reference to being trans-black, and in light of the analysis it is somewhat helpful
    But when it comes to trans I think a better comparison would be those who are biracial in a society that reflects the values of white supremacy.
    This is where the discussion has broken down, and we have jumped the track between ideological differences which should have nothing to do with how we treat our fellow humans, into a quagmire of deeply personal and painful territory.
    Just as I respect and cannot truly speak for the female experience, I can neither speak for the trans community in any capacity. When it comes to those stories it is important to listen, which, in my opinion is what the DGR leadership and rank and file have failed to do.
    If I cannot understand the pain that has arisen from female socialization, neither can I fully grasp the monumental hurdles and ostracism that the trans community faces. Even contemplating it is mind-boggling. While I do agree with the rad fem analysis, and that gender is a class based system, I also believe that some members of DGR have been transphobic in terms of presentation and tone. There has been a marked lack of respect for the trans community in commentary that trans activists feel is offensive. Jensen himself said that it is up to the people who are offended to determine what is offensive, and I largely agree. At the very least it should be an indicator that something one has said or done is awry or problematic. While I am not trans, the rhetoric surrounding the events has been the same tone used to reference ‘illegals’ by members of the American Right.
    While I deeply respect what DGR does, and what they believe, while I find the analysis of gender compelling, over the last few days I have seen the criticisms of the trans community and trans allies validated by responses lacking in consideration, empathy or critical thought.
    When we speak of the trans community, what about the two-spirit tradition present in pre-colonial America? Indigenous communities, matrifocal, sustainable cultures, have provided safe spaces for what we would call ‘trans’ long before the tide of monoculture, capitalism, patriarchy and it’s vengeful God.
    DGR argues, and rightly so, IMO, that transitioning or identifying as trans is not a political tactic, it does not help to end the oppressions of cis-women, transwomen, transmen, or the queer community at large. But that side also neglects the obvious fact that this is not the point of transitioning, as it has been presented to me, that it is about alienation, association and is a deeply personal experience. Again, maybe the issue is not conclusively trans politics, but that it hasn’t gone far enough. If trans activism is usually liberal in scope, what does rad-trans look like, and is it that different from rad-fem? There is something lacking in the analysis, and I’d imagine that it is largely due to the marginalization of the trans community within DGR, and lack of real communication on both sides. In all of these discussions I’ve watched played out ad-hominem and mischaracterization on both sides, and it strikes me as a tremendously missed opportunity.
    I think it’s time for some reconciliation and compassion on both sides here. There’s a lot to learn from both perspectives, and honestly, neither side in this debate are enemies. We have bigger fish to fry….you know, like the impending death of life on earth, the suppression, incarceration and torture of activists, wildlife, the queer community, women, and people of color…etc.

    Based on what I’ve read, the attack in Portland cannot be justified. I can’t think of any good reason, all things considered, why physically attacking someone you disagree with, who has not, does not advocate, nor intends to physically threaten you would be ok.
    But I also understand what it feels like to be marginalized, and how one sometimes reacts to those who you identify as an existential threat to your cultural identity.

    Returning to some potential solutions, I’d suggest that DGR put forward an explicit and visible trans-inclusive policy, making it clear what the analysis is, and welcoming those who break down the gender binary. Support other victims of patriarchy, including those who do not conform, and if you honestly believe that the roles of ‘man’ and ‘woman’ in any incarnation are harmful, then explain that clearly and compassionately. Make it clear that those who are trans or queer are not only attempting to reclaim their identities, and are seeking to express themselves, but they are in a unique position to be ahead of most of us in many ways, that they can break out of the box of gender entirely, that they can define themselves on their own terms and not according to the tired clichés of femininity and masculinity.

    Secondly, once again, as someone who is male, I cannot speak for women, nor determine what is acceptable, preferable or helpful with regards to women’s spaces. If the women of DGR wish to maintain women’s spaces for those who are sexually or cis-female, that is not something I feel qualified to critique. Many black liberation groups have had similar policies with regards to race, and I both see upsides and drawbacks from it. I’d offer a third suggestion, however:

    Make room for a trans caucus, or even multiple caucuses, to help inform and steer DGR’s positions, approach and rhetoric. Just as cis-women have unique perspectives and experiences, the same is true for the trans community. This would go miles towards alleviating the justified, IMO, concerns of those who identify as trans.

    Personally speaking, my analysis is a bit different in many respects that I won’t go into here, but ends up at the same road as presented by the particular radfem theories put forward by DGR. I’d suggest that world is not black and white, that elements of queer theory, evolutionary sociology and a class based approach to gender are not mutually exclusive. I find tenets of each valid, and yet have come to the logical conclusion that gender is a socially constructed class which can, and should, be abolished.

    I hope all parties find these words helpful; I know that some on both sides will disagree, as is your right, but I also feel like this offers a sane, and more importantly, a helpful middle way to resolve these conflicts, keep DGR on course, and include the great tools and analysis of DGR in the radical community, to the benefit of us all.
    Food for thought,

    L3ft

    • Nemo Starem May 21, 2013 at 4:24 pm #

      Paradox. Absolute paradox. You say that gender should be abolished and there to be “no limits” and “no identification”, and yet you say that you could bnever understand how it is to be a woman because of not having been born as one. Which one is it? You cannot reinforce gender stereotypes and hope to abolish them at the same time, nor race stereotypes nor any other.

      Also DGR is vehemently anti-anarchism (they said all anarchists are liars and “male opressors”) and your stance on them is wishful thinking.

      • L3ft 3y3 May 26, 2013 at 9:33 am #

        Gender is about socialization. There is no paradox. I was not socialized as a woman. Race is also a socially constructed concept. You cannot know what it is like to be a black person, assuming that you are caucasian. That doesn’t mean that races are a requirement for a society, or that in another time and places a black person and a white person would be treated as different classes of people, or recognized as different classes of people.
        Also, DGR didn’t ‘say’ anything about anarchists. Jensen said those things. And what exactly is wishful thinking, that DGR members are interested in changing their organization? Is that based on anything? Talked to any? I have. I’m not understanding your point.

  12. Mikhail June 5, 2013 at 8:26 am #

    As a pro-transsexual and pro-civilization (and by that, I mean industrial civilization) person I find the DGR position logical (radically opposed to mine, but logical) and would like, if possible, to ask how your version would work.

    Anti-civilization logically means that high tech medicine, including synthetic medicines and complicated surgery, should not be available. Of course, primary use of such medicine is not transsexualism but cancer; the anti-civilization position probably maintains that radically lowered pollution would lower cancer incidence in such a massive way that more lives will be saved, even accounting for lack of high tech medicine.

    But treatment of transsexualism does involve high tech medicine, indeed a lifetime dependence on it. There is no other solution – except denying that the condition is valid, which is what DGR does.

    How can anyone subscribing to an anti-civilization ideology support trans people, when the ideology necessarily entails removal of treatment that such people believe necessary?

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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    […] cost of both actual progress and the absence of those threatened by their presence. DGR is currentlyhaemorrhaging members and chapters fast as the bigotry of its leaders becomes more and more apparent and I wish those people luck in […]

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