Deep Green Transphobia III: Derrick Jensen’s Hateful Tirade

17 May

deep_green_transphobia

By Lilac

In the ongoing firestorm of controversy surrounding Deep Green Resistance (DGR) and transphobia, a hateful series of emails sent by DGR frontman, Derrick Jensen, has been leaked exposing Jensen’s own deep-seeded animosity towards anarchists and trans people.

Apparently Jensen received several emails asking him for clarification about transphobia after the publication of the Earth First! Journal Collective’s initial statement about DGR and transphobia. Reacting to the inquiries, Jensen wrote, “I liked what I said to Julia or whatever his name was who wanted to join DGR: You are not a woman. You are a man who believes he is a woman.” It is hard to distill transphobia to a more concentrated attempt to completely deny trans identity. But wait, there’s more.

DGRSUX2

About one of Jensen’s would-be interlocutors, Jensen had this to say: “One of them was an anarchist, so he’ll be a prick no matter what happens.” Jensen would not be satisfied by this simple attack on anarchists. He would go on to write, “The anarchists are liars. It’s what anarchists do.” As far as lies go, this is a terribly misleading and fundamentally dishonest statement, considering the deeply thoughtful and critical accountability processes and collective decision-making that form anarchist praxis. Does Jensen not understand anarchism, or is he simply creating a smoke screen?

This question is answered quickly enough in Jensen’s recap of the Law and Disorder conference: “Men attacked women in an attempt to silence them… And that’s how anarchism works. And then anarchists claim that the real victims of the assault were the perpetrators. This is completely standard operating procedure in anarchism.” So here we find Jensen again denying trans people’s identity, and insisting that anarchism is a politics of victimization. Even held up to the most broad of analysis, this statement is utterly false—consider, for instance, the workings of Rising Tide, Anarchist Black Cross, Food Not Bombs, Homes Not Jails, No Borders Camps, much of the core organizing and origins of the Occupy movement, and other righteous stuff brought about through anarchist strategies and tactics.

One important maneuver comes in another email, while Jensen is still on the ropes, striking out against his own friends. Founder of Rewilding Portland, Peter Bauer (urbanscout), posted the EF! statement on his facebook wall, and in response, Jensen wrote Bauer. The upshot, according to Jensen, was simple: “If he doesn’t retract it, I’ll block him, which is really all I can do, and of course I’ll never speak to him again. Fuckers.” Baur kept the statement up, and was subsequently banned from the Derrick Jensen Forum.

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But then, Jensen jumped into action in a way we always thought DGR would go down. He and his top officials took power over the entire national group, dispensing with the general philosophy that he, Keith, and McBay were only authors providing a foundation for autonomous non-hierarchal organizing.

“We—the board—are taking over, because so far the way this has been handled is a classic example of how battles are lost. We have had every advantage against a completely incompetent opponent, and we are still somehow managing to lose. When I engage in a conflict, I aim to win it. And as of this moment DGR is fighting to win this conflict.” Fucking epic, right?

First of all, I don’t think most people see this as a war or whatever. It’s a really tragic, emotionally taxing problem that the movement has been dealing with for years. Why is Jensen breaking it down like this? Like he’s at war with trans people and anarchist organizers? I know we have some different opinions, but it’s hard not to wonder: Is Derrick Jensen really our enemy?

Recall first that Jensen in the book, Deep Green Resistance, claims that anti-civ organizing is inherently non-hierarchical. Funny, then, that he should take power in such a dramatic fashion to commandeer authority over the entire organization. During this power grab, Jensen forced the Portland DGR chapter to retract their initial statement, which he felt was “done incredibly poorly” and “should have been run by us. We would have fixed this.” So much for autonomy! So much for the group that was involved and that witnessed the event actually having a voice and speaking for themselves. Derrick Jensen has the story that the public should see, and as for the witnesses and people involved—they are victim blaming (even if they are, themselves, the “victims,” according to Jensen’s insensitive and disconnected stance).

The sad part, aside from the total betrayal of DGR’s own strategies and tactics through the forced “state of exception” brought down by the Jensen administration, is that this entire “conflict” that Jensen pledges to “win” is about securing his privilege to transgress the rights of trans people. And why is Jensen going to war? Because some trans folks drew on some books (and accidentally on someone’s hand)? No. This is about Derrick Jensen and DGR’s leadership not being able to listen. They deny accountability, and push all the blame on anarchists and trans people.

Portland DGR has officially split over the transphobic stance of DGR’s leadership, with key organizers forming a group called Resistance Portland. We call on all DGR chapters to join them in calling out the leadership, denouncing transphobia, and forming a Resistance Network throughout the United States. The DGR leadership has already betrayed you through their transphobia, and through their recent consolidation of power. Together, we can bring down capitalism and patriarchy.

This most recent development will probably only strengthen our resolve, reminding all of us to always organize with our hearts, to never follow those who proclaim themselves to be our leaders, and to never forget that solidarity is all we have. And to love each other with all our might. The heart is a muscle as big as a fist, and with it, we will smash the state!

54 Responses to “Deep Green Transphobia III: Derrick Jensen’s Hateful Tirade”

  1. igotsomethin May 17, 2013 at 11:19 am #

    Really? This fight is your first story on the wire? How sad.

    I usually visit EF! Newswire first thing as your roundup of news that is important to me seems comprehensive. I’ve listed you on my blogroll as well. You are doing important work.

    DGR is also doing important work.

    I don’t know how to say this without sounding like an oppressive asshole, but please, would you grow up? I have nothing but empathy for anyone oppressed by the powers that be, by the dominant killing culture.

    We passed 400 ppm and aren’t looking back. The world is burning.

    The trans people (how many are there in the world? does any one know?) need to take off the self absorbed glasses, recognize they wouldn’t exist without the first world’s medical intervention, and move on. Sincerely, do you think the Kayapo resisting the dam in Brazil give a rip about your privileged choice?

    200 species a day. Think about that. They can’t call a doctor.

    Until then, I’m out of here. Fuck you and DGR if you can’t see past your own egos.

    • Bug-in May 17, 2013 at 11:38 am #

      Sorry but one person, is one person, and transpeople isn’t oppressor. And trans not exist by surgery, but by a choice of mind.
      Sorry for my bad english (i’m french).
      An anarchist for the abolition of gender, patriarchy (of course), and all the authoritarian thing.

    • sweet tea May 17, 2013 at 11:42 am #

      I sounds like maybe you haven t been paying attention. This isnt a battle of egos. (There are certainly egos being flexed in DGR, as the embarassing email quotes in this story demonstrate, but there are no equivalent on the other side of the debate, at least there are no ‘figureheads’ in anarchism or Earth First that control movement decisions or actions or positions, or “ban” people from a single central message board for that matter)

      This is a conflict over politics, and organizational structure. Its been catalyzed by the insistent non recognition of queer, gender queer, and trans men and trans women by DGR who make up part of the movements in question, and are also a part of oppressed groups more broadly that we find ourselves standing with. It also reflects even more fundamental questions of internal organization, autonomy, the behavior leadership “cult,” and a commitment to anarchist principles and analysis.

      It’s short sighted if you want to destroy civilization but dont see questions of organization or analysis towards something as central to civ as the State as relevant. DGR’s vertical organization, its leadership structure, and its adoption of being part of the Left, set it on a collision course with the majority of those who advocate positions around deep ecology and biocentrism, as well as the larger anarchist milieu these people tend to be drawn from. The politics matter, they reflect real differences in approach and tactics and strategy. Anarchism, for all its issues in North America, is globally a growing and increasingly powerful and influential force in revolutioanry and insurrectionary moments, especialy in countries facing austerity. DGR is withering like a bad joke. The difference has to play out.

      On a sidenote, your idea that trans or gender non confirming people didnt exist before industrial medical science is factually wrong: two spirit and all kinds of other gender non confirming or gender switching people existed and exist in lots and lots of differeint indigenous groups, oftne playing key, honred roles in social life. So, yes, this IS actually something that native folks have been committed to.

    • Earth First! Journal Sonoran Office May 17, 2013 at 12:38 pm #

      igotsomethin, its obvious your grasp of the history of the world before Western domination is weak. Trans people have been a central part of many indigenous cultures. You’ve been huffing the Western glue if you think trans people are some sort of medical Frankenstein of Western culture. Your ignorance and bigotry is pretty saddening. I love the newswire but am saddened by many of our ignorant readers.

      We have run thousands of stories of the extinction crisis, industiral terrors etc. That is our focus. If 3 (holy shit 3) pieces discussing an environmental organizations creepy politics is too much for you, you know where you can go. DGR has a newswire. Try them out.

      Fucking self-absorbed bigot.

      • Katherine May 17, 2013 at 2:39 pm #

        I think I’m in love with both SweetTea and Earth First! Journal Sonoran Office.

        And yes, transgender people are not a product of first world medical intervention. I know both SweetTea and Earth First! spoke to this, but it really blows my mind how someone that seems to be so interested in preserving and protecting the earth could be so completely ignorant of the lives and culture of indigenous peoples. Transgender people are part of the Earth.

      • Earth First! Journal Sonoran Office May 17, 2013 at 3:00 pm #

        His statements also seen totally disingenuous. I’ve never seen him post any analysis on any other article, just seems to have popped in to say some shit against trans people. I also hope he doesn’t think reading about environmental issues actually equates with tackling environmental issues. Earth First! is a real movement in real life and issues of trans oppression are deeply important in the real world and in the streets and in the resistance movement. Maybe they aren’t to a guy sitting in front of a computer all day, I get that, and I feel sorry, a bit, for him.

        Thanks for the love Katherine.

      • F. Elaine Anderson May 22, 2013 at 5:40 pm #

        Hello – I just got purged from DGR over the transgender issue, and I don’t care to debate this any more than I already have, but I just want to say, [in regards to the above article] that Aric McBay left DGR – I think it was early this year – over Derreck and Lierre’s position on the trans gender issue.

      • Earth First! Journal Cascadia Office May 22, 2013 at 5:43 pm #

        Hi Elaine! Welcome back to the world of the sensible, friendly ecodefenders! Glad you were compassionate and strong enough to take a stand.

    • TYGAE MILINT Earth Day May 24, 2013 at 10:43 pm #

      Couldn’t have said it better. Unf**ingbelievable!!! They sounds like thirteen year olds on the Titanic fighting about which cabin they wish to drown in…. TYGAE MILINT Earth Day… might be of interest… its about getting things done… to bring down industrial civilization… asap.

      Somehow, I doubt any animal species, or any indigenous tribe, on planet earth or the 200 species going extinct every day, would object if industrial civilization was brought down tomorrow by the Pentagon, MI6, the Kremlin and People’s Liberation Army… because it used hierarchical use of military force to destroy industrial civilization; do you?

  2. Jay May 17, 2013 at 12:32 pm #

    Though I disagree with the stances on trans people that have been attributed to Jensen, I think there’s a lot of truth in his statements about anarchists. The movements cited to prove that anarchists are not self-victimizing were all rife with self-victimization, despite their noble intentions. I think this piece is a step in that direction. Jensen’s invocation of war is appropriate, but it’s been twisted way out of context so that the victims are the writers. This is not just disingenuous, it is destructive of the movement– just as destructive as transphobia.

  3. 7 sisters May 17, 2013 at 6:39 pm #

    The recent trans* breakdown is only one of the many problems with DGR. Their hypocritical policies with people of color are also a serious issue for many of those who have left the group.

    DGR loudly claim to work in solidarity with Indigenous people. However, their behavior on reserves has been colonial at best. At times it has been aggressive, disruptive and even resulted in violence. They have used Indigenous people as tokens and unwilling publicity images, then attempted to silence POC when they dare to speak up about the racist and colonial actions of some of the DGR leadership. The leadership of DGR has white people they claim are spokespeople for POC. It is a thoroughly white group, with no Indigenous people in the leadership, and a history of white leaders disregarding and disrespecting the few Indigenous people they have attempted to work with. If you think you know someone who is Indigenous who supports DGR, ask them if they still do. Because very few were ever involved, and those few left after feeling tokenized and exploited.

    DGR leaders have also tried to pay off Indigenous people to silence them. Maybe they will find a token POC to trot out for damage control, but it is unlikely. DGR is already banned from some Indigenous communities, and more are considering it.

    • Cerberus May 19, 2013 at 4:04 pm #

      Indigenous person here. I and fellow people of color disagree with the above. We feel very supported, non-tokenized. Very happy with DGR.

      • BoundlessTesseract May 22, 2013 at 2:39 am #

        Yeah — that shit isn’t transparent at all.
        “Indigenous person here speaking for all people of color…”

        Seriously — if you’re going to bother doing damage control, DGR, do it right. Mind you, I’m well aware it’s far too late for that in all practicality.

      • You've got to be kidding June 28, 2013 at 4:14 pm #

        So now you’re Indigenous, Cerberus? I guess you gave yourself a promotion from when you said here that you were “part Indigenous”

        https://earthfirstnews.wordpress.com/2013/05/13/dgr-meets-resistance-at-the-law-and-disorder-conference/#comment-40900

        Which of course is the way non-Indigenous describe themselves. In parts. Guess when some folks want a token on the team, transparency goes even further out the window, and the truth is sacrificed on the alter of the great p.r. mission. Sorry. Not buying it.

      • Lisa Bannock June 28, 2013 at 5:22 pm #

        Well hey person who has a limb or possibly a few digits of indigineity (I’m really fascinated as to which of your parts is indigenous). I’m originally from Kitigan Zibi currently in the states. My relatives are Odjicks, Whiteducks, Commandas and Martens.

        You do not speak for me and it is incredibly arrogant for you to propose to do so (it’s also…oh how do I say this… a symptom of colonial mentality). DGR is harmful. DRG absolutely does tokenize. Did you know that people in leadership positions with the organization harassed the family of a murdered indigenous woman? Did you know they were asked to stay out of said confederacy’s territory and they basically flipped said confederacy the bird when Rachel Ivey went to Vermont? That sits well with you?

  4. Ben Barker May 17, 2013 at 6:53 pm #

    I am very disappointed in the Earth First! Journal for engaging in such persistent horizontal hostility. This piece, like the many others you’ve published in the last few days, is a hit piece–and it is over political differences. “Transphobia” and “authoritarianism” are buzz words being leveled in the place of genuine debate. Please note that DGR has never, not once, attacked other activist groups or individuals, in person or online. This obviously includes Earth First!

    • Earth First! Journal Sonoran Office May 17, 2013 at 7:58 pm #

      Sorry Ben, but when DGR used horizontal hostility to attack trans people, vegans, anarchists, etc, it was pretty bad as well. I personally do think that some of the stuff we’ve published attacking DGR has been on a shallow level, akin to attacks made by Lierre and others in DGR, and that is something I think we’ll talk about more at the Journal in hopes of resolving how this forum is used. I’m also saddened by some of the pretty fucked comments people have made, against trans people and against DGR on these threads. But I question whether or not DGR even has a process by which it can question similar instances within DGR. I helped author the collective statement that we made which is the only piece explicitly endorsed by the EF! J collective, because the comments DGR is making about trans people is very dangerous and our newswire can not be used as a medium for that. Likewise, we need to figure out how to communicate to whomever is threatening DGR and leverage them somehow to end those sorts of attacks. Pretty tricky business I’d say. We’ve been contact by lots of folks in DGR around the country who also aren’t very happy with what you all seem to have done. I think DGRs policy of not dealing with this issue or allowing some small group to decide on a policy that effects the trans community so completely verges on suicidal. Lots of DGR people feel like they don’t have a say there and you all better address those feelings pretty damned quick.

    • Jacques May 17, 2013 at 10:37 pm #

      “It seems anarchists, communists, sexual libertarians, men’s rights activists, and right-wingers can agree on at least one thing: the sanctity of male power.” – Ben Barker, “Beautiful Justice: The Sexist Radical Left Versus Women”, 5/7/2013

    • North Feralina May 17, 2013 at 11:47 pm #

      That’s patently false, Derrick Jensen,a DGR mouthpiece (and my former favorite author for half a decade), has engaged in consistent hostility toward the anarchist community and Earth First for over a year now. I know DGR folks love to say he doesn’t speak for them but let’s get fucking real here.

    • Faggy Dyke Femme May 18, 2013 at 12:55 pm #

      I am sick of people dismissing this conflict as horizontal hostility or petty political differences – um, when someone outright denies the very existence of trans people, that’s not a “political difference,” it’s a fucking attack, & we aren’t worth shit if we let that slide. Expect resistance, babe.

      • Earth First! Journal Cascadia Office May 18, 2013 at 11:10 pm #

        “The personal is political.”
        – Carol Hanisch

      • Cerberus May 19, 2013 at 4:15 pm #

        How is it an attack for DGR to have a policy of allowing the females* within the organisation to determine their own space? That’s what this boils down to. Don’t like this, easy, don’t join. As an indigenous person, I think Sea Shepherd has done some questionable things, but I’m not going to go all out against them, I just choose not to join.

        *females meaning: those with larger gametes, xy chromosomes, part of an oppressed class, forcibly placed into the class of ‘women’ and then targeted for hate crimes based upon that.

    • Lisa Compton May 21, 2013 at 8:57 am #

      Hear Hear! This neo-liberal bleating about “transphobia” is all counter-revolutionary propaganda foisted on us by sick paedophilic cross-dressed men and the pharmacomedical establishment. The Revolution to end gender constructs is derailed by mentally ill “trans” who assert an identity that neither truly exists nor deserves ANY respect. Ultimately the only solution to the trans appropriation of womyn’s identity is to forcibly END the trans “phenomenon”. We support laws and actions to show the trans as the perverse, paedophilic, porn-diseased men they are such that the public will enact laws initially limiting their access to public facilities, and ultimately their access to medical transitions, hormones, and mutilatory surgery. The only solution to trans is the dissolution of trans. Kieth and Jenson understand this, why don’t YOU? Stand in solidarity with Cathy Brennan against the trans delusions. The only good “trans” is the detransitioned FORMER-trans. Make THIS the objective of womyn everywhere and of the men who are awakened to the terrible vile truth of the matter.

      • IGTT 5/10 May 21, 2013 at 10:16 am #

        IGTT 5/10 for believability.The anti-trans people at least don’t say that shit in mixed company under so much scrutiny.

      • Earth First! Journal Cascadia Office May 21, 2013 at 10:33 am #

        well yeah, google “Lisa Compton” and ull find equally vitriolic statements against transphobia… Here’s an example: “[Cathy Brennan] does, however, thrive on her trolling. If given attention, she will attack reflexively. It is a false assumption that ignoring her is the wisest action. Consider: if she is “stimulated’ with responses to her trolling, she will almost certainly “fight” to the temporal exclusion of he work and other responsibilities. I suggest we use her penchant for conflict as a tool to facilitate her self-destruction. We therefore MUST engage her, repeatedly and ceaselessly, as she CANNOT help but rage. Her rage will thus prove her undoing.”

        and a youtube channel under the name Lisa Compton includes a bunch of trans stuff… particularly trans gender children. There’s also a psychological report on trans children under Lisa Compton’s name (might be a different LC) here.
        According to that website, she’s a christian social worker and PhD student who specializes in traumatology. Seems pretty disturbed, actually. Don’t take it seriously.

    • F. Elaine Anderson May 22, 2013 at 6:22 pm #

      Ben, you want a “genuine debate”? Really? Then why not advocate for it inside the org? You are in leadership. Or have you not read the “IMPORTANT Addition to Statement of Principles” email yet? Allow me to clip the salient phrases for you: “radical feminism is such a contentious issue, and is not debatable as a facet of our analysis”. Theory/doctrine/analysis/ideology should always be open to debate; anything less is tryranny, Ben. I loved DGR. I was honored and proud to join you. I am devasted by this. But it’s over – I’m out. One can just as well make the case that the horizontal hostility is actually originating in DGR. Personally, I happen to appreciate EF! Journal for providing us the forum for debate that was denied us on the inside… Maybe it’s not too late for DGR to correct this strategic blunder. Ha! I’m naive, aren’t I? I’m tired, Ben. I’m pained, and I don’t want to fight my allies. All I want to do is bring down civ…

  5. teachtru May 18, 2013 at 6:50 pm #

    At some point in time, people have to decide which is more important. Their planet and their country or their machiavelian machinations. OK everyone has sexual and culinary preferences, but …..really!

    Some of the tactics I am hearing about resemble the so-called Bolshevik revolution, where locals in Russia and the Ukraine who wanted a soviet ( meaning “people”) socialist system got undermined, co-opted, terrorized and evicted by imported “revolutionaries”, financed by Wall Street,.

    Doubt it? Don’t! Read or view Anthony C. Sutton.

  6. heron May 18, 2013 at 9:00 pm #

    Hey folks, didn’t the Oregon State House just pass a bill that bans treesitting? It seems y’all are getting way mad over this when you should be fighting other stuff. From what I’ve been hearing, a lot of this fucked up stuff about Derrick Jensen, Lierre Keith and DGR has been known for a while. Why is this on everyone’s minds right now instead of when it first came out?

    • Earth First! Journal Cascadia Office May 18, 2013 at 11:12 pm #

      Don’t worry heron, we at the Journal’s Cascadia Office are keeping up with the situation here, and letting everybody know when stuff comes up.
      This stuff is coming up, because it has been around for so long, and in spite of cutting the DGR movement slack and letting it grow, it has just grown worse over this issue. It’s time to cut our ties until they realize the error of their ways.

      • Cerberus May 19, 2013 at 4:24 pm #

        No.

        This is coming up now because two female members of DGR were harassed three times whilst tabling at a conference, which included a mob of people on the final day harassing them as they were trying to leave.

        The organisers of the conference sided with those harassing, and later on Facebook victim blamed the targeted women. Interwebz Warz ensued.

        The issue: that DGR allows female members to decide for themselves who can share the dorms with them. Trans* people were supported in having their own space too. As are people of color, disabled people, etc.

      • Chad May 20, 2013 at 10:12 pm #

        Cerberus,

        Actually, there was a man among the DGR members too. Also, they weren’t harassed.They were asked by people present not to display certain pieces of literature because the content was offensive to OPPRESSED PEOPLE. They refused, so different actions were taken. And nevermind the group that confronted DGR were all women.

  7. occupycjnielsen May 19, 2013 at 7:51 pm #

    So the way to function as a community is to bully and attack an ignorant person who drank the Jonestown tea, then shit on the rest of humanity because egos were insulted by an easily hijacked online account. Has anyone talked to him directly to find out if he really is hanging on to a propaganda belief?

    • Earth First! Journal Cascadia Office May 19, 2013 at 7:58 pm #

      the only contact i’ve ever had with derrick jensen is when he called me a “rape apologist” on the newswire comments section after i remarked on the censorship trial surrounding Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl.” He then insisted that EF! and queer theory are misogynist and that he’s writing an article about it. I would say I haven’t been treated so rudely before, but it’s the internet, and for some reason people get really insulting on the internet. I’ve definitely never been called a “rapist apologist” before… that was about a week b4 the conference, btw…

    • Earth First! Journal Cascadia Office May 19, 2013 at 8:01 pm #

      And when did Derrick Jensen ever get bullied by us? he has consistently insulted and degraded anarchists, trans people, and EF! (see above note). We cut our ties w/ DGR by saying we’re not going to post their material to our website. That does not entail bullying, and we have made it clear in other statements that we don’t condone threats or bullying of any kind.

  8. L3ft 3y3 May 20, 2013 at 3:02 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

    • Earth First! Journal Cascadia Office May 20, 2013 at 3:04 pm #

      Well said, l3ft. Cheers🙂

    • HeadyReddy May 20, 2013 at 4:56 pm #

      Derrick Jensen is going beyond ideology. He made a comment here on May 13th comparing “trans boys” to the Taliban, claiming threats of violence from transsexuals but failing to provide any evidence. I understand that both Derrick Jensen and Lierre Keith are fond of metaphors, but this goes beyond an idealogical disagreement. It is full-on hate.

      http://gendertrender.wordpress.com/2013/05/13/feminists-assaulted-in-transgender-attack-at-portland-conference-for-social-change-womens-books-destroyed-and-bodies-defaced-with-permanent-magic-markers/#comment-21627

      • Jasper Wilcox May 24, 2013 at 4:47 pm #

        jesus christ, you’re all equally lame – earth first! is the anti-vanguard vanguard – the morality police – the arbiters of what we are allowed to say in public – the banishers and exilers…

        deep green resistance is the pro-vanguard vanguard – the morality police – the arbiters of what we are allowed to say in public – the banishers and exilers…

        the king is dead

        long live the king…

        (i wait for days to comment so i can always have the last word)…

      • Troll Toll May 24, 2013 at 5:01 pm #

        Hey Jasper, thanks for your really insightful comment. Sike!

      • Earth First! Journal Sonoran Office May 24, 2013 at 5:25 pm #

        anti-vanguard…I kinda like that, we certainly don’t want to lead.

        By the way, we just aren’t letting DGR post on this newswire which is far from silencing, I mean, we are a wordpress. We just think their stance sucks and they have their own newswire from which to freely spout suicidal hogwash.

        am I the last word? come on.

    • hm June 22, 2013 at 7:23 pm #

      L3ft: regarding the “attack,” I’d suggest reading the statement released by the Portland folks who left DGR over all this. Their contention is that the national leadership distorted their account in order to make the “attack” sound much more severe.

      Speaking of national leadership, Lierre Keith has openly stated she went sought police assistance in trying to bring charges against people who pied her. Derrick Jensen has gone to the FBI in response to online trolling. It doesn’t matter whether you dislike the fact they got pied/trolled – collaborating with the state in situations like this reflects an absolute lack of spine and critical analysis. People like that can’t be trusted.

      Everyone on this thread who are telling other people to step back in line and follow orders so we can save the earth and the endangered species are missing the point. The problem with hierarchical organization is that leaders usually can’t be trusted to efficiently solve problems and stick to their principles (their very position compromises their judgement). And in this particular case, do you really think Jensen and Keith are capable of leading us to the holy land? Unfortunately, and I wish this wasn’t the case, they are particularly incompetent leaders, even given the low standards of contemporary sects/cults/vanguard parties. That’s how a particular crazy hang-up of Keith’s – hating trans people – has led their group to the brink of dissolution.

    • ozob July 1, 2013 at 1:28 am #

      This is the most constructive, forward looking response and analysis of this incident I have read yet, thank you!

    • John Hechtman July 6, 2013 at 3:11 am #

      Bravo L3ft! – for your thoughtful, insightful, and balanced perspective, in the midst of what I feel is a horrific rift, in what should be a united movement to try and save the Earth from our human destruction and desecration of it.

      There is, after all, only one Earth, and if we don’t (globally) as a culture and a species >quickly< move to defend her (I say that as a Gaiaist), it will be all over for everyone – hetero people, gay people, trans people, asexual people. All people. And it will be over as well, for all the other innocent lifeforms we are so rapidly driving into extinction.

      That is where (I feel) our focus must lie. All other issues – no matter how important to an individual, must be viewed in the bitter light of that reality, one which looms ever closer.

      For clarity, I will define myself a bit, to cut short discussion of who/what I am, and why I speak as I do. Because who I am, and how I feel are not the issue – they are distractions from the primary issue – the preservation of the Earth, and all life upon it. If there is no life, there cannot be a beautiful rainbow of differences to explore all the ways to be alive. There is only death, and ashes. And that is the way we are (all too quickly) heading…

      So – I am (currently) a biological male, White, and hetero. Have I imagined what other identities might be like? Of course I have! It is part of the human experience. And as someone who has experienced some of my past lives, I think that I have been born many times as a woman, and many more times as a man, speaking biologically.

      When I allowed that energy to enter my spirit, I felt like I was coming home to my true identity, not as a woman, not as a man, but as a man/woman, a woman/man. As a soul, for I feel the soul has no sexual identity. The soul is energy, prana, before form. When we go deep enough into ourselves to experience that, we are healed, and united with both our own essence, and the larger Spirit – what I would call the Tao.

      Here's my own spin on the DGR/Jensen/Keith/et al situation. I think Derrick Jensen is a deeply gifted writer. I think what I've read of Lierre Keith's work is even better, and Auric McBay is another stellar talent. It saddens me deeply to see three luminaries of the Deep Ecology movement tearing at each other, instead of uniting as they had previously, to fight the common enemy of corporate capitalism.

      But at the same time all of these people are deeply flawed individuals. Not because they are evil, but because they are human. To be human is to be imperfect. Our collective effort is to work with the shattered pieces of who we are, to become what we could be. What it is possible to become. All of us, every one of us.

      So when someone whom you otherwise respect, writes or says something that is prejudiced, narrow-minded, slanted, or inaccurate, we have our collective work cut out for us. Does what they have said that is wrong invalidate what they have said that is right? Not in the slightest. Does what they have said that is right excuse in any way what they say that is wrong? In no way!

      Every one of us is capable of being both wrong and right. We must learn to cherish what is said that is right, and fight like Hell against what is said that is wrong. What is right does not condone the wrong. What is wrong does not negate the right. We must learn to see both with open eyes.

      The Earth is a sphere, drawn two dimensionally, a circle. I leave you with some words from an old song by the MC5.

      "I believe in the Circle. And the Power of Truth."

      • F. Elaine Anderson July 6, 2013 at 10:43 am #

        I essentially agree with you, John — but those comments need to be addressed directly to Lierre and Derreck. They are the ones making a narrow aspect of radfem analysis more important than saving the earth. Not the readers of EF! communications.

      • John Hechtman July 7, 2013 at 7:26 pm #

        Since there is no ‘reply’ option to F. Elaine Anderson’s reply to my post, (below) I’ll have to reply to myself to (actually) reply to FEA. Clear as mud, right? (grin)

        FEA wrote:

        F. Elaine Anderson July 6, 2013 at 10:43 am #

        I essentially agree with you, John — but those comments need to be addressed directly to Lierre and Derreck. They are the ones making a narrow aspect of radfem analysis more important than saving the earth. Not the readers of EF! communications.

        My perspective on her comment is as follows:

        *This IS an EF! discussion of Derrick Jensen and Lierre Keith, right? So comments regarding them, if done in a constructive manner are (IMO) totally appropriate. Especially if the comment praises another post here, as mine does (Bravo L3ft!). The comments can certainly be forwarded to Jensen/Keith, and you totally have my permission to do so with anything I write. Of course, no permission is (really) needed, as this is a public forum.

        *The point (if any) of this (very long) thread, is for those participating in it to arrive at some level of consensus, and then take some form of (hopefully) useful action. If you ‘essentially agree’ with what I wrote, why not work WITH me (and others here) to hammer out a comment we can send to Jensen/Keith with our collective approval? An email from one person carries very little weight. An email that 100 or 1,000 or 10,000 people sign off on may carry a little more…

        *The bottom line here, is that many people (like myself) admire Jensen and Keith’s work – or at least most of it, but feel that J&K have a counter-productive, and/or destructive attitude toward trans people, and even the concept of gender change as a valid personal choice. J&K’s negative attitude is dividing the eco-community, at a time when we most desperately need unity. So it is worthwhile (IMO) for us to (collectively) call upon them to re-examine their attitudes, writing, and public statements. Anyone can go off course. Our job is to tell them they have done so, and help get them back on track.

        *FWIW, my own position is that everyone has the right to do whatever they want to their OWN body. It is when people try to manipulate or control OTHER peoples’ bodies, that we must force them to stop. If you want to trans female to male, that’s cool. If you want to trans male to female, that’s cool, too. If you want to have everything surgically removed, and live as an asexual person, that’s still cool – even though it’s a position that feels very strange to me.

        And lastly, if you are comfortable with the biological sex you were born with, and the orientation you grew up with, that’s cool too. Being a straight White male does indeed make me a member of an oppressor class. But it does NOT make me an oppressor – only my actions can do that. What it DOES make me is someone who has to work even harder to overcome the bonds and limitations that an oppressor culture places on us all.

        Any way that any person wants to act sexually is their God-given right, with only one exception. Adults need to confine their sexual activity to other adults, and leave children alone. Any sex children. Any sex adults. Children are too easily manipulated and controlled, they should be allowed to experiment with other children – ideally with compassionate and enlightened adult supervision. In the fullness of time, hopefully these children will grow up into happy, sexually active (or not) adults, able to make their own informed choices about what they want to do with their own bodies.

      • F. Elaine Anderson July 11, 2013 at 11:55 pm #

        John, my comments were not meant to be critical of you or your position. By the way, I think I have noticed your comments before in regards to a DGR News “Time Is Short” article and thought they were well-expressed – as are your remarks above. I appreciate what you are trying to do in healing the rift. But, as I think about it, Lierre and Derreck are very well aware of how poorly received their position is outside DGR, so I’m not sure that 100 signatures or 10,000 signatures would make the slightest difference. [That is not to say that if a petition to them should appear I wouldn’t sign it – so long as Derreck and Lierre are respectfully addressed, which I’m sure you would do if you wrote it.] My sense of things, though, is that at the most fundamental emotional level, Lierre feels that the fight against patriarchy is more important than the fight against civilization, and the way to fight patriarchy is through applying the radical feminist analysis. [And I suspect that Derreck has gone along with her position out of his love for her and their close comradeship.] I appreciate their passion, their heart, their insights, and their contributions to anti-civ work, very much, but in my opinion, Lierre and Derreck are both much more effective as cultural leaders [as writers] than as organizational leaders. In time, I expect the anti-civ movement will absorb this shock and learn from the experience and move on… PS – don’t know why there wasn’t a reply option, but I follow everybody’s posts to this article anyway. Not sure why I still do. For a time, I had great enthusiasm for DGR. I guess I miss the connection in some ways.

  9. ogichidaag May 31, 2013 at 12:00 pm #

    Wow, I can only say wow, Europeans are awfully strange critters and continue to baffle me everyday.
    I am not an Earth First person I stumbled across this on accident.

    Here is what I think, based on 4 decades of being a part of the American Indian Movement that has had an entire wing of the FBI dedicated to it’s destruction.

    I think this whole thing has been invented on both sides to fracture and splinter the environmental movement to save the earth from ruin.

    That is not to say that there are valid points being made by both sides from people who feel very passionate about their positions. What I mean is that I feel there are parties who are agents of oppression on both sides working overtime to fan the flames of anger between warriors of the truth.

    I asked one of our spiritual elders tonight to ask advice on this. Our tradition is one which is constantly being misappropriated by Europeans and is commonly called the Two Spirited person.

    As an indigenous person I know that our people had a place within our culture for people who were born to be warriors but also were born with womyn’s reproductive organs. People who were born to walk as womyn who were born with male bodies. These people were sacred and revered.

    That said there are ceremonies for people born to the cycle of the moon, whose bodies give blood to the earth as the tides of the moon pass and who gave birth. There were certain ceremonies that only they could participate in and circles to talk in. These lodges were protected and revered.

    There are certain circles that were for those who gave birth from their wombs.

    There were other ceremonies and circles for womyn where all womyn including the Two Spirit womyn participated in regardless of their relation with the moon.

    I asked my elder tonight if the two spirit womyn participated in ceremonies regarding fertility, and birth. The ceremonies of womyn whose bodies gave back to the earth during each cycle. She said “they did not” those ceremonies were not for them.

    So for god’s sake please do not use our traditions to fit your arguments. Our people did not battle each other over such things. There was no need. All had their place.

    There were no chemicals or surgeries. I am not condemning those who have those things today but I bring this up because I hear Europeans using our culture within these discussions to justify this position or that one.

    So here we see here a battle between Europeans who emerge from a society of oppression who has no place for womyn to gather their power whose bodies are in harmony with the moon and give back to the earth. Nor does your male dominant society have a place for the two spirited ones to be respected and revered. We see a society that sees womyn and labels womyn based on their organs alone. That is dominated by men and is destroying everything in it’s path.

    Here we see even those who are allegedly on a mission to save the earth and who are in harmony with the earth fighting tooth and nail over the definition of woman.You say there is one definition and so all who call themselves womyn are to be in all places at all times womyn.

    I say a two spirited person is more than woman or man but a different person altogether. They are after all called a two spirited person. They are where they are to be in matters that pertain to them and they are not in places that do not pertain to them.

    So I am asking in a good way and in earnest. Is this an issue of offence taken because some womyn who wish to share certain spaces that pertain to them are being attacked for this simple fact?

    I can also say that womyn whose bodies gift to the earth with the moon endure a certain oppression that the two spirited do not endure in this socalled civilization you live in. I can also say that two spirited people endure an oppression that those reproductive womyn do not endure.

    They are not the same oppression. They are vastly different.
    The oppression two spirited people endure as being cast away as useless by this society drives them to many extremes trying to become accepted and feeling at home in their bodies.

    There are no bad guys here. Please stop this insanity. If someone does not want to have a conversation with you, sleep with you, it may not mean they hate you, it may just mean that they can only share these things with others of their kind.

    It would be insanity for womyn born with bodies who give back tot he earth to say their experience on this journey was the same as the two spirit. It is not. By the same token, it would be insanity for the two spirit to say they were on the same journey as the former.
    It is also insulting for either party here Trans man, trans woman, or a person with ovaries, share the same oppression. They do not. The thing they share is oppression. Their journeys are different. Both deserve respect. Both deserve the space to be separate when they wish.

    One thing I do know is that all this oppression that is being claimed one against the other in this argument, is almost laughable in the face of the genocide that has been and continues to be wrought upon our people and our land by all of you. It is amazing you are so determined to fight with each other over which one is being the most oppressed. Seriously? In Congo since 1998. Over 9 million people have been killed over the metals in your cell phones, Your oppression is not even on the map when I think of millions and millions the European people continue to inflict.

    This fight was designed to keep white people for the most part and those obsessed with your politics fighting among each other, while your very existence is an infliction upon all the indigenous people of the earth and all their ways of life.

    This anti-culture your people have produced is self absorbed, a bunch of whining over who can use the bathroom where the rest of the planet is desperate to just eat. Anything.

    We actually get confronted as indigenous people about our continuing way of consumption of meat as oppression by many environmentalists. We never took more than we needed. Our animals on our land are being driven to extinction by whose way of life? By whose agriculture? You speak of animal rights? Where are you with the invasive species, pigs, pythons, and the like that are killing our animals on our lands? Let me guess many of you think they should be able to roam our land.Who brought the 2 million pigs roaming the southwest here? Who brought the 1 million feral pigs roaming Florida here? Who brought the roughly 400 million pigs on two feet to this land? You want to speak of oppression? Oppression is the hundreds of millions killed in the Western Hemisphere by Europeans. This continues on to this day to every indigenous people on this planet except the European.

    I pray for all of humanity that you recognize the futility of these arguments and redouble your efforts on saving the earth and it’s people from the American beast!

    I know people on both sides of this discussion (can it be called a discussion?) who are doing great and amazing work. They are beautiful people and the movement would be much worse off if they were not in it.

    I implore you, Love each other. Honor each other. Love those who are fighting this evil system that oppresses each and every one of us. We need every warrior we can get.

    • F. Elaine Anderson May 31, 2013 at 2:55 pm #

      ogichidaag – thank for the leadership you have offered us concerning this matter and your clarity, wisdom and compassion.

    • flipper June 1, 2013 at 12:18 am #

      Thankyou for saying this. I get dizzy trying to follow the arguments on both sides. Meanwhile there are mass die offs of fish and penguins, bushfires in winter, and we are running out of water, just where I live! We don’t know why. Something is dreadfully wrong.

    • ozob July 1, 2013 at 1:26 am #

      I was starting to cry from despair until I read this. Now I’m crying, with a renewed fighting spirit. Thank you!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Deep Green Transphobia III: Derrick Jensen’s Hateful Tirad | The Uncontrollable Ones - May 17, 2013

    […] Reposed from: Earth First News […]

  2. A Mother’s Response to the Transphobic Spewing of Deep Green Resistance | Amy Marsh, Sexologist - May 17, 2013

    […] on this issue from the Earth First! Newswire blog can be found here and here. I intend to follow this […]

  3. gail dropping knowledge - May 19, 2013

    […] “we—the board—are taking over, because so far the way this has been handled is a classic example of how battles are lost. we have had every advantage against a completely incompetent opponent, and we are still somehow managing to lose. when i engage in a conflict, i aim to win it. and as of this moment DGR is fighting to win this conflict.” (found here.) […]

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