5 January 2017
February is the time of year that we remember and celebrate the achievements of LGBT people, which, let’s face it, are frequently swept under the carpet in discussions of the past.
To mark this year’s LGBT History Month, The Working Class Movement Library in Salford has announced that they are hosting Julie Bindel to speak at their event.
Julie Bindel has a long and troubling history of making transphobic and biphobic comments. In December 2012, she wrote an article titled ‘Where’s the Politics in Sex?’ where she rolled out tired and harmful stereotypes around bisexuality, including such sentiments as “if bisexual women had an ounce of sexual politics, they would stop sleeping with men.”. In 2004 she published an article called ‘Gender benders, beware’ in which she referred to a trans woman with quotation marks around “woman” and her pronoun “she” as if to suggest that her identity was invalid and something to be mocked.
This week, Bindel has even ridiculed trans people's pronouns and the right that everyone has to choose their own in a tweet that read: “Pronouns - Martini/whitewine/Negroni.”
This kind of exclusionary, grossly offensive and oppressive behaviour is not acceptable. Allowing a person to speak at an LGBT History Month event when their behaviour is both biphobic and transphobic is an inappropriate way to ‘celebrate’ our achievements and ignores the part that bisexual and trans people have played in our history. It furthers and deepens harmful attitudes to the bisexual and trans communities. It also makes it painfully clear that the hosts of the event do not actually care about LGBT History Month, and are more interested in catering to the letters L and G at the expense of the more vulnerable members of the community.
The Working Class Movement Library have yet to sufficiently address the concerns of the LGBT+ community that have been posted on the event page and a counter event has been set up by those who have been excluded. In their response, the Library did not confront the concerns of the trans community at all - rather claimed to be “shaken” at receiving criticism and reiterated the (unchanged) details of the event. As the hosts of the event, the WCML are in a position of power in choosing who attends and therefore made the choice to invite a speaker who victimises marginalised groups of the community. They are therefore wrong to imply that they have been “victimised” by receiving criticism, and need to listen to the people who have been hurt by the choices they make and at the very least address the concerns raised rather than ignore them.
The LGBTIQA+ Greens committee call for The Working Class Library to reconsider their decision to host a speaker who speaks against members of the LGBT+ community, and if they do not change their minds, to publish a statement declaring why they think that their event does not need to be a welcoming space for trans and bi people. LGBT History month is supposed to be a celebration of progress - not a step back.
A Community Petition can be signed at: https://www.change.org/p/the-working-class-movement-library-don-t-host-hate-speech-at-lgbt-history-event