A transphobe in Newport got arrested recently for posting hate materials. She says that these were just feminist and “did not mention [trans people] even once”. The stickers and posters she placed on street furniture and in public places included numerous instances of things that were clearly written in a suggestive manner, asking “Are you happy for your 13 year old daughter to shower next to an adult man?” and so on. These were clearly and unambiguously intended to arouse violent sentiment towards trans women – the only group of people who are frequently identified by transphobes as men, but who identify ourselves as and use public services such as changing rooms and toilets as women.
@quetiapina1 — identified by religious campaigner Caroline Farrow as Jennifer Swayne — was in my view, without a doubt, trying to do harm to trans people by proxy. The only purpose of these stickers is to agitate for either legal changes which will ban or restrict rights to transition (thus implying state violence against trans people who inevitably will transition, as we have since long before we had the legal rights and protections we have today) or to provoke vigilante violence against trans people or people perceived to be trans in public spaces. This is the only possible use of such materials. This isn’t about having a conversation about safeguarding, it’s about stereotyping and instigating one or another form of violence.
With that said, the treatment she faced by the police is, as an activist in an activist family, altogether too familiar. I’ve been treated roughly by the police. I’ve provided emotional support to trans people who have been roughed up and dumped in the middle of nowhere. I know all about the fact the police will withhold your meds. I know far too well that they will do what they can to reduce any requirements to address mental health issues, or will weaponise these further against the detainee by threatening them with sectioning or other psychiatric and institutional violence on the basis of having given evidence of mental health difficulties.
As an anarchist feminist I stand against the police in general. Sometimes I pick and choose the degree to which I emphasise that belief. But I think it matters to uphold this belief when someone is being victimised for stickering or graffiti, even if they’re a transphobe.
I do not expect this sentiment to be returned. In fact I entirely expect this to go without acknowledgement from Jennifer or others engaged in demonising trans people. Trans people are generally stereotyped as litigious curtain twitchers calling the police over tweets, despite available data from Galop UK showing that as a community we severely under-report hate crimes and in many cases our experiences where we do bother interacting with the police are unsatisfactory or didn’t feel worth it due to direct discrimination by the police forces themselves. For all the talk of “ideological capture” by “Stonewall Law” the experience of ordinary trans people with the police is a frequently hostile or antipathetic one.
All the same, one of my anarchist feminist heroines from when I was a teen, Voltairine de Cleyre, was a defence witness on behalf of a man who tried to assassinate her. This case isn’t anything like as serious a situation as that. It’s an absolutely simple thing for me to affirm my solidarity with Jennifer Swayne against police abuse, as a trans person and as a feminist.
While the police are kidnapping women for placing stickers, denying their medication and making them fear for their childrens’ safety, none of us is safe to speak up and trans liberation must stand against it.
This text was orginally published on Mallory’s blog.