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10/27/2014
Trans Women Respond to Q Center's Statement on "New Narratives Conference"
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TRANS WOMEN RESPOND TO Q
CENTER’S STATEMENT ON “NEW
NARRATIVES CONFERENCE”
DANIEL BORGEN (HTTP://WWW.PQMONTHLY.COM/AUTHOR/DANIEL-BORGEN) — OCTOBER 24, 2014 (HTTP://WWW.PQMONTHLY.COM/TRANS-
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Trans Women Respond to Q Center's Statement on "New Narratives Conference"
WOMEN-RESPOND-Q-CENTERS-STATEMENT-NEW-NARRATIVES-CONFERENCE/20922)
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Compiled by PQ Monthly Staff
On October 17, Q Center Executive Director Barbara McCullough-Jones published “Q Center Statement to
Our Community,” (http://www.pdxqcenter.org/q-center-statement-to-our-community/) a blog post
responding to the questions and concerns voiced after it had come to light that Q Center rented space to
the TERF-Affiliated “New Narratives Conference” (http://www.pqmonthly.com/q-center-rents-space-terfaffiliated-new-narratives-conference-upsetting-trans-community/20853) earlier this year.
http://www.pqmonthly.com/trans-women-respond-q-centers-statement-new-narratives-conference/20922
2/15
10/27/2014
Trans Women Respond to Q Center's Statement on "New Narratives Conference"
In her statement, McCullough-Jones strikes a conciliatory tone, acknowledging that, “many community
members are hurt, confused and angry” and that Q Center employees “regret disappointing” those people
and “are deeply sorry.” The statement goes on to explain how New Narratives came to be held there, and,
notably, does not outline any steps by which the trans community will inform future decisions of this kind.
In looking to find the “difference between creating space for a variety of LGBTQ voices and experiences,
and creating space for the perpetuation of hate,” McCullough-Jones suggests Q Center will refer to
Southern Poverty Law Center’s Active Hate Group list. This approach was received bitterly by many trans
people, as the SPLC failed earlier this year to recognize Gender Identity Watch, perhaps the most active and
infamous current TERF organization as a hate group, when petitioned to do so
(http://www.secularwoman.org/SPLC_response).
Some have lauded McCullough-Jones’ decision not to exclude New Narratives from Q Center, as the group
is composed of trans women, and see it as an act of tolerance, and one that underscores the importance of
free speech. Many others have said the decision shows a blindness to the history trans women have with
trans-exclusionary groups, and the lack of safety they feel encountering the ideas put forth by the New
Narratives’ organizers.
This latter point was underscored by a recent post made by NN organizer Snowflake Especial on her
tumblr, in which she employs the “Men in Women’s Bathrooms” meme used by far right conservatives
when contesting trans non-discrimination ordinances.
Writing on October 13, Especial said, “Males who are crossdressing prey on women in the bathroom all the
damn time (http://gendertrender.wordpress.com/2011/05/28/men-love-the-ladies-restroom-transgenderedition/). And since the only difference between a crossdresser and a trans woman is a statement of selfidentification, these sex criminals are all trans women. Ever since I started this blog, I’ve been asking trans
women to help police our own communities, to keep the sex criminals out. But most trans activists would
rather defend the rapists, pedos, and perverts.”
Whether ideas like these constitute the “perpetuation of hate” certainly seems open to question.
PQ reached out to trans women for their responses to the Q Center’s statement, which run below. In some
cases the women drafted their views, in others they referred PQ to their online comments, giving
permission to have them reprinted. We were unable to contact Athena Brown or Natalie Trimm, but have
included their comments in support of the conference in the interest of balance.
Miranda Radik (trans woman/dyke): McCoullough-Jones’s response begins with an apology and follows that
with an excuse. The prelude to the excuse is itself formidable–it looks like it’s intended to deflect criticism
for making excuses. The Q Center dropped the ball on this one and let a hate group use their resources,
and no amount of hand-waving preceding an excuse makes it something other than that—an excuse.
http://www.pqmonthly.com/trans-women-respond-q-centers-statement-new-narratives-conference/20922
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Trans Women Respond to Q Center's Statement on "New Narratives Conference"
I think it’s very telling that McCoullough-Jones specifically mentions that the SLPC list of hate groups will
inform revisions of Q Center’s rental agreement and codes of conduct. SPLC is infamous among trans
women for their refusal to classify TERFs as a hate group. So McCoullough-Jones is either making a passiveaggressive jab at us here, or is ignorant of the plight of trans women, both of which are sadly typical when it
comes to cis queers and their treatment of us.
Natalie Trimm (New Narratives attendee): It is crucial for individuals with different perspectives within the
LGBT community to be able to use our own safe spaces in which to convene and discuss issues pertinent to
our future. I applaud the pragmatism of the Q Center in appreciating the importance of alternative views
within our community. People like us will meet anyway. It’s just a matter of whether or not you want to be a
part of the conversation.
Phylicia McGowan: I have to say I am extremely disappointed in Q Center’s response. While diversity is
important, these women are espousing a philosophy that is directly harmful to trans women.
Athena Brown: First, for speech to be free, we *MUST* allow others to say what they want, regardless of
how much we disagree or how demonstrably wrong they are. The free market place of ideas works on this
principle; as ideas are publicly scrutinized, those which cannot hold under scrutiny are discarded. This
method public discussion is partly why free societies are so advanced; it allows us to review all competing
ideas and determine which ones are best for our way of life.
The second thing to consider is that by disallowing others their right to say what they want on trans issues,
*WE* become the oppressors. It is then us who are silencing others. I, for one, am completely confident
that the TERFs are on the losing side of the argument, and look forward to participating in public
discussions regarding their view. I support the Q Center’s decision to allow the opposing side a voice, and
sincerely hope they keep with values that are in line with a free and open society.
Gina Morvay: Sorry Barbara, but a “we’re sorry you’re hurt and offended” kind of statement isn’t something
I value. The reality is… the Q Center administration isn’t terrible plugged in to the trans community (there I
said it) and they didn’t do their job researching a lot of the, yes, hate speech, coming out of the persons
organizing that meeting (including agreeing with TERFs about trans women attacking cis women in
restrooms). Barbara, if you had a self-loathing lesbian who called lesbians sexual predators roaming your
facility, would you feel safe having such a person around? Stop sounding like a sterile corporate
spokesperson reading a lawyer’s statement and try making a genuine “we screwed up this time” admission
of your own shortcomings. And, while you at it, get rid of those horrible “timelines” lining your center, which
make trans and bi people invisible.
Phoenix Singer: The Q-Center’s recent response community protest of New Narratives being granted a
space is a prime example of the neoliberal hellscape the Portland Queer community is. New Narratives
(which sounds like the old narrative on transness) is a self-hating trans woman group of people who pray to
the Harry Benjamin Standards of Care. They wholeheartedly agree with the pathologization of trans women
and their sexuality through psychomedicalism. They believe we’re males. The Q-Center, while apologizing,
http://www.pqmonthly.com/trans-women-respond-q-centers-statement-new-narratives-conference/20922
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10/27/2014
Trans Women Respond to Q Center's Statement on "New Narratives Conference"
said they do not wish to “police” a community’s politics. The problem with this is the neoliberal
individualizing that allows reactionary groups to be given a platform. Last year, they gave space on their
website for the defense of blackface in the gay community. It’s clear the Q-Center only wants to promote
the worst elements in the community.
Alexis Paige (trans activist): The Q Center was right to allow New Narratives to occur. This event was
organized by trans women for trans women. They’re not some sort of ex gay or ex-trans group. The
organizers listed nothing on their agenda talking about detransition. The closest they have come, to my
knowledge, to talking about detransition is to express support of those who detransition because transition
wasn’t the answer for them. Yes they hold different and controversial opinions on what it means to be a
trans woman. Some of their viewpoints on what it personally means to them to be a trans woman are held
by other members of our community though, myself included. There should be space for those of us in our
community to acknowledge the maleness of our bodies while still living as women without it invalidating
trans women who consider themselves to have always been women and are female.
Jenn Burleton (Executive Director, TransActive Gender Center): The harm done by people who believe that
transgender individuals (of any gender) are ‘invaders’, ‘imposters’, ‘dangerous’, ‘rapists’ ‘male oppressors’ or
‘butch traitors’ is obvious and tangible. Recognizing that harm requires a heightened level of attention
being paid to the everyday challenges that transgender people of any age face.
We at TransActive Gender Center do not believe for one moment that anyone at Q Center acted with intent
to hurt Portland’s transgender community or knowingly provide a figurative stage for oppressive hate
speech. We believe an error in judgment was made in allowing the New Narratives group to meet at the Q
Center without knowing more about the conference content. In our opinion, that mistake was compounded
by subsequent statements intended to validate their decision as one supportive of diverse voices within the
LGBTQ community.
There isn’t an organization in existence, including TransActive Gender Center, that couldn’t benefit from
increased understanding of the diverse communities they serve. There is little doubt that Q Center could
benefit from further discussion and/or training about the dynamics of being transgender in a cisgender
privileged world and the trans-exclusionary radical feminist politics of hate and intolerance toward
transgender women from within and outside of our diverse TLGBQIAP2-SA community.
(This is excerpted from a longer statement by Burleton, which can be found at:
facebook.com/TransActivePDX)
Due to safety concerns, PQ isn’t publishing authors’ names alongside TERF-related stories. You can send
feedback to [email protected] or [email protected]
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