In Which Gemma Becomes the Target of a Ridiculous…I mean, Radical…Feminist Disinformation Campaign

6 September 2011

So, Zoe Ellen Brain brought to my attention earlier today the fact that I have been mentioned, and specifically, by a certain radical feminist blogger, who I will neither link nor name. The first because that entity can be responsible for that entity’s own promotion, and second because that entity is of the variety which cravenly hides behind a pseudonym, unlike those of us who expect to be taken seriously by others in a public debate.

I guess this means I’ve hit the big time! Woo hoo!

In any case, here is the text of my reply, as I have come to expect from entities of that sort a refusal to allow comments from those with which they disagree to pass moderation in an unmolested state. I will refer to that entity only as an entity, without naming and without gendering that entity, because that entity is so disrespectful of me as a human being and as a woman that the entity refuses to acknowledge my womanhood, the fact that I am lesbian, or even to use proper pronouns when referring to me. In retaliation, I remove from that entity any identity whatsoever.

Just so you know, and for the sake of accuracy in reporting, the closest I have ever come to setting a single foot on The Land is when I was leaving Camp Trans this year, I stopped for a moment to inquire of a Fest worker about the possibility of obtaining a Fest program. This took place in the middle of the road, which I will note is within the bounds of a National Forest and not within anyone’s private property.

I have also never even walked the line to talk with Fest attendees about anything at all, let alone any subject which they, or you, might find discomforting. So, as you can see, I have never entered the MWMF, sneaking, or otherwise, and I always make a point of waving to Fest workers and attendees as I pass by the gates on my runs into town.

Not that I expect you are interested, but for my own edification, I will note that your depiction of what actually goes on down at Camp Trans, and between Camp Trans and Fest, doesn’t quite match up with the reality of my experience. It makes me wonder if you are relying solely on third-party accounts. If you ever want to hear what actually happened at Camp Trans last year, feel free to contact me. The truth is both less, and more, interesting than many accounts have depicted, but no one who was actually there can deny that I was the strongest voice in opposition to actions that might have led to a violent confrontation.

Journalism tip: If you want to be taken seriously as an opponent in a debate, it is usually customary to use actual quotes from your target. The words you attribute to me have neither left my mouth, nor my pen. (Correction: I did actually say the thing attributed to me, or write it, rather. I had forgotten it was over a year ago, and it was actually somewhat out of character for me.)

You don’t have to agree with anything I have to say to get to know me. I invite you to do so.

The conversation went on for awhile, with all of my comments civil and on point, but as is usually the case with the TERFs (that being, for the unitiated, the Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists, see below), they cannot help but resort to the solace of the weak minded and cowardly, and soon begin deleting any response one might make. I am, in fact, amazed at how many of my comments the entity allowed to be seen. Here are some selections from the deletions, starting with my last post just a few minutes ago, a response to what appears to be an inaccurate quote of me:

Once again, I do not believe that I have used the words “not a valid experience on which to meet”, and I did Google my name in this instance with the phrase “valid experience” this time. I did say in the comment you linked before:

“Womyn-born-womyn is NOT a valid identity to base an exclusionary policy upon, because it is an identity that is specifically designed to exclude a class of women who are at even greater disadvantage, namely, trans women (and for those who may not understand the distinction, yes, it is two fucking words, not one thank you very much).”

However, what I did say, just this evening, in fact, the which I am wondering if it was relayed to you by a third party, was, and I should probably edit this for clarity, as I dashed it off in a hurry in the middle of installing a new sump pump for my mother, but I’m kind of out of energy, so I will quote it verbatim for you, even though it was said in *my* private space:

“I do not view the trans exclusion policy, or the idea that any woman necessarily needs space away from other women as a valid boundary. I see it as oppression. I protest this oppression with peaceful means, and if you came there, you would see that there is a huge contingent of support for trans women within Fest, by attendees and by workers.”

Now, you may excoriate me all you like for disagreeing with your point of view, but please at least do it based on what I actually said, rather than putting words in my mouth.

Hmm…it seems that all my other comments were made from the other machine, so I’ll have to try and recover them in the morning. In the meantime, here’s some comments I made on Facebook tonight, edited to remove references to more personal topics I was discussing with the person to whom some of this was written:

The vast majority of the propaganda strewn about so carelessly by these TERFs is nearly 100% inaccurate, and exaggerated by several orders of magnitude. Most of the TERFs suffer from a deep-seated, self-imposed, and paranoid victimization complex that makes them see enemies under every skirt.

The TERF dogma rests on one principle–that trans women are not women, but men. It is my view that trans women are women, and that excluding trans women or forcing trans women into a second class status harms all women. Make no mistake they don’t view us as a different kind of woman; to them, we, you and I both, are The Enemy.


I am a woman, and I do not accept that another woman has the right to judge whether or not my support for women’s rights qualifies as good enough in her book.

I am not outside anything, insofar as womanhood is concerned. The only people that think I am are those who have victimized themselves in their paranoia. I stand by my statement. I am a woman. I was born a girl, of a woman, and like every other girl who has ever lived to become a woman, I became a woman exactly the same way–I learned to become a woman. My childhood was the childhood of a girl, even if no on was aware of that fact, even me.

I do not accept that I ought to slink quietly away from the communion of my sisters merely because my path to womanhood took a different turn or two. No two women are alike, and no two reached womanhood the same way.

What is more, there is a large percentage of the community of our sisters who agree with my stance, and I am thankful every day that they work to end this ignorance and bigotry as and when they can.


Aggression? You seem to have a strange notion of what constitutes aggression. [The Entity] specifically and personally targeted and slandered me, and has adamantly, purposely, and consistently disrespected my womanhood.  [The Entity] has absolutely declared, falsely, that I have entered MWMF in an inappropriate manner, when I have come no closer to The Land than drive past it on my way to Camp Trans. All I did was tell the truth. Is Truth now equated with Aggression?

* and an explanation on the subject of TERFs, from a humorus post, “#1 Question to enrage a TERF: ‘I’m sorry, I don’t want to be rude; what pronouns do you prefer?'”:

Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist. These are typically cissexual/cisgender females who consider trans women to be abhorrent, some going so far as to describe us as rapists for merely being women. They subscribe to the anathema of feminism, the idea that biological attributes determine one’s destiny, the very same thing that feminism has fought against for so long. Because of this, the suggestion to them that their sex, gender, or preferred pronouns are not self-evident is as abhorrent to them as the fact of our existence.

Many of them believe that there is a mystical, supernatural quality that cissexual/cisgender women alone possess, that those of us who came to our womanhood from a different path can never possess the understanding of this ineffable fairytale magical essence. Many of them even believe that the source of this sacred power is a goddess, the one great mother goddess. As an atheist and a rationalist, I find all of this laughable, even if it is true that I profane and invoke the names of gods and goddesses in all the pantheons at will.


Update, 8 September 2011: After going through what can be recovered from my posts, there doesn’t seem to be much more that sheds any light on the discussion, so never mind.

You know you love me…XOXO, Gemma

The Seal of Yin-Haan

11 thoughts on “In Which Gemma Becomes the Target of a Ridiculous…I mean, Radical…Feminist Disinformation Campaign

  1. Yes, I did see that Cathy, thank you. Pardon me for removing the link from your comment, but I see no reason to give out anymore free publicity to an entity who has decided that I deserve to be personally and specifically slandered and targeted for harassment based upon some imagined and falsified transgression of mine.

  2. Gemma – Where did you go to law school? This is the second time I’ve seen you engage in legal analysis on the Internet. As I was unconvinced by your analysis the first time, I am not holding out hopes for the alleged “slander.” Where is the slander?

    • Cathy, the fact that you are unconvinced by my analysis is utterly unsurprising to me. As for the slander, of course I’m sure you understand that we are actually dealing with libel, here, but as most people commonly conflate the two, I am sometimes guilty of following suit.

      The statements made by the entity in question are clearly defamatory. They are:

      1. False.
      2. Intended to incite harassment of myself, which clearly falls under the category of harmful.
      3. Absolutely made without any attempt whatsoever to ascertain their veracity.

      Since you are an attorney, you will recognize these three things as the categories which must be satisfied to prove libel in a court of law. Rest assured, I am exploring my options, one of which includes filing suit.

      As to your irrelevant first question, I am ignoring that once again (for your benefit, how magnanimous of me), as it is nothing more than a fallacious appeal to authority.

      • Um, you said “slander” in your response to me. Hence my question “where is the slander?” Do you even read what you write?

        As you seem to have gone to the University of Wikipedia for law school, pardon me while I laugh my ass off. TTFN.

        • What is laughable, Cathy, is that you have yet to provide a substantive response to any challenge to your legal claims, either here or anywhere else. All you seem to be able to manage is “because I say I’m a lawyer, and you should believe me because I say so”. Really? That’s all you got? Because let me tell you, Cathy, all over the Internet, you look, not like you’re laughing your ass off, but like an ass. As an attomey, you have a pretty piss-poor understanding of argumentation and rights theory.

          Honestly, Cathy, I don’t even bother getting angry at you any more. I’m sure you noticed that I didn’t jump all over your pathetic submission to the UN. Your arrogance is towering. As if anyone at the United Nations cares what you and Elizabeth think. As if they don’t already consult lawyers who are far better than either of you will ever be. You are no danger, Cathy, except to yourself.

          The real question is, why, if you are so superior to me, do you even care what I have to say?

  3. Just so you know, I’ve left measured comments that are unsupportive of the hatred being expressed, and they are removed immediately. I’m sorry this hate is coming at you. Tomorrow, when I’m at my computer instead of my phone, I’ll post my comments here.

    Feminist love,

  4. Below are the two comments I attempted to post that were never allowed through moderation. The first is in response to the person calling you all sorts of names and telling you to get off the island. The second was a general response to the post.

    Feministjen Says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    September 7, 2011 at 8:12 pm
    Good gracious. No matter your opinion, the hate you just spewed at Gemma was unnecessary. Gemma is a human being, and as bell hooks, Andrea Dworkin, and so many other fabulous feminists and womyn have advocated for, love *must* be part of the revolution.

    “The moment we choose love, we begin to move toward freedom.” – bell hooks

    I love Michfest, the land, the people, the space. I do not think it is kind or feminist or loving to resort to hatefulness to protect your vision of it.
    Feminist love,

    Feministjen Says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    September 7, 2011 at 8:25 pm
    I truly wish we could disagree in love as well as agree in love. To close our minds, name-call, and completely disrespect other humans’ identities – regardless of if we believe they do or do not belong on the Land – is really painful and sad to me.
    Feminist love,

    “It is shamefully easy for us to enjoy our own fantasies of biological omnipotence while despising men for enjoying the reality of theirs. And it is dangerous–because genocide begins, however improbably, in the conviction that classes of biological distinction indisputably sanction social and political discrimination. We, who have been devastated by the concrete consequences of this idea, still want to put our faith in it. Nothing offers more proof–sad, irrefutable proof–that we are more like men than either they or we care to believe.” Andrea Dworkin

    • I know which comment that was. What I found entertaining about that one is it came from a person who knows absolutely nothing about me, yet feels free to judge my level of competence in any number of fields. It’s truly pathetic. Truth be told, I personally possess all the technical skills needed to run a music festival, having been a Theatre Technical Production person specializing in Lighting and Sound. I am both a lighting designer and an audio engineer with experience in both recording and live reinforcement. On top of that, I am a musician myself, one who was in my past life somewhat well-known, among many other things.

      If you aren’t aware, this is pretty much exactly the background of those who founded MichFest back in the 1970’s, a fact which can be easily verified by taking a brief look at the signatories to the infamous letter sent to Olivia Records castigating Olivia for hiring Sandy Stone. In fact, I’m like a Sandy Stone of the 21st Century, another reason for them to hate me. They would prefer to believe that my access to the knowledge I have gained is due solely to my supposed male privilege, and dismiss the level of effort and committment that are required of anyone in this field, man or woman. I have known in my life many, many accomplished women in the technical aspects of theatre and music, and have worked alongside them in perfect harmony.

      The only real difference between myself and the Fest founders is that I, as a trans woman, do not have access to the monetary resources that the founders of Fest did and do, because of widespread discrimination in the employment markets, despite the radfems blithe assertion that all trans women have benefitted so heartily from male privilege that we all secretly have outsized bank accounts.

      Sadly, the radfem conception of how trans women supposedly benefit from male privilege is wildly inaccurate. Not that they would have any idea of the reality of a trans woman’s life. After all, they admit themselves that we face different circumstances in our development. The problem comes in when they conclude from this that some, more marginalized, women must necessarily be removed from the company of their privileged sisters based on our “life experiences”. If anything, this is only a justification for separated spaces for women of color and trans women, rather than a justification for continued oppression of us. They never seem to realize that this is the exact same reason why women’s space is necessary to begin with: to provide space for those who are marginalized, not those who are privileged.

      The hypocrisy astounds.

  5. It turns my stomach to see the gleeful hatred happening on that blog. I have no words left, just speechlessness.

    On a side note, if you’re ever looking for an inclusive Womyn’s Music Festival, scope out Ohio’s, which I affectionately refer to as “Michfest Lite.” I’m sure they would value your expertise.

    They have fewer performers, but they’re often a few of the performers from the same year’s Michfest.

    Scope them out here: (They used to go by Ohio Lesbian Festival, but it’s now interchangeable with Ohio Womyn’s Festival because they’re not exclusively lesbian).

    Sorry this is too late for this year’s (unless you’re getting on a plane right now), but come on out next year.

    *Anyone* who identifies as a womyn (woman, etc.) is welcome – despite their awkwardly worded phrase about attendendance “just as long as you know if you’re a woman,” they are completely inclusive.

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