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Julie Bindel: Targeted as "transphobic" despite years of work campaigning for human rights

In April I found myself hosting a charity event on behalf of a small, volunteer-run library in Canada. I was raising funds to replace damaged stock — books, posters, and other memorabilia from the first wave of feminism that the organisers had lovingly curated to make a display for those interested in the issue of women’s liberation and the history of radicalism.

The venue had been damaged not by anti-feminist bigots such as men’s rights activists, but by the new wave of so-called “radicals” who are in fact anything but. Transgender activists and their allies had stormed the opening night of the library, located in a small artists’ studio that the collective had raised money to rent, shouted abuse and threats at both the organisers and the crowd that had come to celebrate this new venue, accusing them of excluding “trans women, sex workers, and non-binary people”. They objected to some of the feminist texts in there, such as classics from the 1970s, saying they were “trans-phobic”.

Red wine was thrown on the books, posters were torn down, and the women who had come for what they thought would be a pleasant evening of chat, laughter, and the requisite warm white wine were taken aback at being the target of a mob.

The protesters handed out a pamphlet that said: “This library is run by women who hate other women.” One ripped down a poster while another set off the fire alarm, at which point the police arrived.

It would be easy to dismiss this incident as a one-off, perpetuated by bored attention-seekers who no one takes any real notice of. But unfortunately this is not the case.

Despite being a feminist and human rights campaigner all my adult life, for the past 13 years I have been targeted by baying mobs, both in the UK and elsewhere, who accuse me of being a “bigot”, “fascist”, “as bad as Hitler”, and various other horrendous slurs against my character. Why? Because I dared to write an opinion piece in a liberal newspaper in which I complained about a man who identified as a woman claiming that he was entitled to counsel rape victims. I have been “no-platformed”  from events at which I was due to speak about rape and child sexual abuse, and prevented from lecturing students on violence against women, despite being invited by feminist societies.

Other feminist allies and progressives, such as the redoubtable Maryam Namazie, have been no-platformed and pilloried for pointing out that religious fundamentalism is harmful to women, and for daring to challenge the cultural relativists who support the “right” of women to be covered from head to toe in the name of “modesty”.

The accusation by an NUS representative that human rights activist Peter Tatchell  was guilty of “racism and transphobia” was the final straw for many liberals. “But Tatchell is a national treasure,” they bleated over their organic muesli, recalling with horror when another hero of the intellectual elite, Professor Mary Beard, came under fire for daring to sign a petition against censorship. 

Tatchell and Beard are both figures lauded by mainstream liberal society, whereas radical feminists such as myself are seen to be a bit too edgy for them to support. During the time I was being censored and picketed, few progressives spoke out publicly in support of me, for fear that they would also be given the “Bindel treatment”. But when the bullies began to target the liberal lovelies, all hell broke loose. After all, this McCarthyite madness could actually affect them.

The latest casualties in this war on logic are two women who are largely unused to controversy, both of whom are well-loved establishment figures.

The novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has been called “transphobic” and told to apologise because she dared to rely on logic and truth as opposed to wheeling out a naked emperor when she said in an interview on Channel 4 News, “When people talk about ‘Are trans women women?’ my feeling is trans women are trans women.”

Woman’s Hour presenter Jenni Murray, who is a classic liberal feminist and tends never to involve herself in controversial issues, also refused to capitulate when the trans activists and their cronies came after her  following a piece she wrote in a Sunday newspaper. What was so terrible about the piece as to provoke calls for her to be sacked from the BBC, and subsequently to being picketed at a literary festival? Murray made the startling observation that men who chose to live as women in later life have had a different experience in growing up from women raised female.

The values at stake are liberal ones, and yet the liberals are largely to blame for the normalisation and widespread nature of the new censorship. The trans activists and their allies do not go after bigots, fascists or right-wing moralists, but progressives, while the liberals say nothing and hope they remain out of range. 

Prior to Tatchell and Beard being targeted, I was more or less alone in the criticism and bullying I encountered from those who told me I was a fascist for saying, for example, that a penis is not a “ladystick”. I received daily messages from people saying they were appalled at what was happening, but dared not speak out lest it happened to them. Indeed, both Tatchell and Beard defended themselves by agreeing that I was “transphobic” and that they disapproved, but free speech, etc, etc. Now the new McCarthyists have come for Adichie and Murray, will the elitists finally drag their heads out of the sand and speak up?
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Robert Brown
July 2nd, 2017
11:07 PM
JB is neither liberal nor a feminist. She denies homosexuals, such as myself or my friend Mary, were born this way. During an event, despite being faced with and presented by individuals who ALL explained to her that we were not nurtured, she still denied the possibility that we were nature. She calls trans individuals 'self mutilists' and denies that they're 'real women'; forgetting that many years ago, the same arguments she now uses, were used against her by others. She is self perpetuating that continuing denial of being true to ourselves. JB is a danger to society - no ifs ands or buts. JB is a danger to feminism and liberalism.

William H.
May 27th, 2017
1:05 PM
JULIE BINDEL'S WAR ON HEGELIAN LOGIC Is it fair to say Julie is more of an Aristotelian, she holds the view that something cannot be both "A" and "not-A." ? So, with this case, liberals cannot be in favour of both Peter Tatchells and Professor Mary Beards free speech, while being in favour of Julie being "no platformed," and events at women's libraries being disrupted. Or at least, if they aren't in favour,exactly, then shouldn't be unconcerned about those events, when they are about Peter Tatchell and Professor Beard being attacked. (Obv, it's not liberals who are doing the "no platforming"etc. - it's people with an identity politics orientation. But those people don't claim to be liberals! So they're not wrecking Julie's Aristotelian logic. In fact most of them seem as critical of liberals as Julie is. For similar reasons- "you think fascists should have freedom of speech, but -how very strange!- you're don't seem to be as concerned about #BlackLivesMatter.") Liberals generally believe you can say what you want as long as it isn't a harmful act. What constitutes a harmful act is is obviously where it gets hard to agree, but liberals would say it depends on context. You shouldn't be able to shout "fire" in a crowded theatre, because it'll cause a stampede for the exit, and people will get crushed. If neo-Nazis hold a meeting hidden in a bunker somewhere, it's not really a threat. If they decide to march through a mostly Jewish (or these days, Muslim) it wouldn't be unreasonable, given the historical context, to think that they're aiming for a repeat of kristallnacht. Therefore most liberals would think "it's pre-emptive self defence" if the local population and anti-fascists used violence to stop them. I don't think it's that Julies' too "edgy" for liberals to spend their time demanding that she has a platform.. I'm sure I've read pieces by her in The Guardian. Unless I've left the muesli in the cupboard too long and it's been growing hallucinogenic mould. So where are these liberals speaking up for feminists who don't have the same platform? A while ago there was a Students Union officer who (ims) got sacked because of some "male tears" comments. She was laughing in an interview about her ideological opponents on 4chan who had debating whether they should support her against her sacking, because of free speech. That's basically a liberal position (though it didn't cut any ice with her, obviously.)

Eileen Calder
May 25th, 2017
10:05 PM
Perfectly said as always Julie. When my sanity is hanging by a thread and I am screaming with rage that real feminism is dead, I console myself by reading something you or Mariam Namazie have written. It stops me from wanting to stab my eardrums with a knife so I don't have to hear this so-called 3rd wave, intersectional regressive crap. Thankyou for being you and for the work you have done for years and the remarkable work you are doing now. It must take an emotional toll and require an enormous amount of courage!

May 25th, 2017
7:05 PM
The Vancouver Women's Library which Julie is referring to have a donation page on their website here: There's a more detailed article about what happened by Meghan Murray on Feminist Current here:

Sinead Connolly
May 25th, 2017
4:05 PM
Great article . I'm sick of people who proclaim - sorry , virtue signal - themselves "proud liberals " who simultaneously make great effort to shut down and steer debate in the direction of one narrative , theirs ., We NEED to hear holocaust denial , we NEED to hear all manner of repugnance , or else how are we to form the very opposite ideologies "proud liberals " claim to espouse . This , of course , should be always be done in an atmosphere of courtesy , hate speech being a particular example of that which anyone should find unacceptable . However , how are we to recognise such as hate speach , when even scientific fact is seen as too difficult and hurtful concept to entertain , to the point that that also is labelled hate speach ? Liberals need to recall the difference between hateful ideologies and ideas - and actual hate speach - and uphold free speach as fair speach , lest their fear of offence leaves only those actually speaking hate , with any freedom of speach at all.

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