Dear campus community,
If you haven’t yet found out, over the past year there has been, and continues to be, violence on campus targeting transwomen and transfeminine folks in particular, as well as other 2spirit and trans people, and sex workers. This has shown up with the form of pamphlets being distributed in the SUB and in the library, transwomen being misgendered and attacked online, online stalking and harassment, 2spirit people’s identities being erased, live-tweeting from public events making fun of gender non-conforming people’s bodies, erasing sex workers’ ability to speak for themselves, etc. We’re not here to debate whether these actions are violent are not. They are. Period.
The name commonly given to people who do this kind of violence is TERF – Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists. But we’d like for you to consider this – there is nothing radical or feminist about this violence. Some of us have begun using the term “TEV” for Trans Exclusion is Violence because we want to stop using ‘radical’ or ‘feminist’ to talk about this violence.
This violence is unacceptable and we know that the folks doing the harm can unlearn it because all of us have unlearned shitty, violent things in our life whether they were trans-exclusionary, hateful against sex workers, ableist, racist, heteronormative, etc. We’ve all done harmful things and many of us have learned that we can do better, and have moved away from harmful behaviour. Language is powerful and naming violence as violence is a starting point in being accountable for our own destructiveness and committing to doing better. In that spirit we’d like to invite you to use the term TEV for this behaviour also.
Many feminists have spoken out against trans-exclusionary violence and in support of sex workers organizing for better working conditions. We are holding hope that people who are currently engaging in TEV behaviour can find a way to be accountable, to unlearn the violence, and to move away from trans-and-sex-worker exclusion and towards intersectional feminism. We know that we’re still working on our transmisogyny and stereotyping of sex workers, and that we don’t get everything right. It’s deeply entrenched in society so even if we’re not doing blatant violence we’re definitely doing other things. And we’re trying really hard to figure out and unlearn those harmful things and to be accountable when we do fuck it up.
Some staff at AVP have volunteered to engage in heart-centred conversations about TEV with anyone who is interested. If this is something you want to talk more about, we invite open-minded folks to email us requesting a session.
With care, love, resistance, and rage,