This post was adapted from an email sent by Nastasia Lawton-Sticklor, Marla Marcum, and Siobhan Senier to our community.
Monday was Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day set aside for remembering and honoring our trans friends, families and community members who were killed over the past year. In the midst of our grief over loss of life, loss of safety, and loss of community, this is also a time to recommit ourselves to fighting against transphobia.
After all, climate justice work calls us to work toward our collective liberation. Extractive relationships with our planet are part and parcel of the larger cultural context of domination and oppression. As organizers, we strive to disobey those forces--and we use the term DISOBEY purposefully. This means prioritizing our solidarity with one another, and naming and learning from the ways in which that solidarity has fallen short.
This year we have been alarmed at the proliferation of trans-exclusionary radical feminist (TERF) ideology. This ideology is everywhere, and it is impacting our own work and the wellbeing of folks in our networks. We imagine it may be impacting your communities, too.
Even if you don’t think you’ve been exposed to TERF propaganda, you have. It is everywhere, and that’s why it’s important to “inoculate” ourselves against it—by preparing ourselves to recognize and combat it.
So our community did one of the things we know how to do together:
we made a toolkit to help us have important conversations!
We still aren’t sure what to call it.
For now it's called How NOT to be a TERF.
An Invitation to Innoculate Yourself and Your Friends Against Transphobic Ideas & Actions
As many of us prepare to spend time with members of our families who may not share our joyful celebration of gender diversity, we share this resource, which was compiled by trans folks in our community with support from allies.
This toolkit provides links to articles, essays, websites, and other resources. It’s divided into two sections: the first focuses on unpacking experiences and expanding knowledge, while the second explores concrete ways to act in solidarity with trans people. Resources are grouped thematically, with guiding questions to facilitate conversation; we encourage anyone engaging with this toolkit to do so in collaboration with friends, family, or colleagues.
As cisgender white women, we (Nastasia, Marla, and Siobhan) know that we sit in a precarious tension with power and oppression. In reaction to patriarchy, white feminism has historically bargained for equal power alongside white men at the expense of prioritizing solidarity with other marginalized people.
Imagine the possibilities for our world if we can reject the dominant paradigm of power as power over. Imagine the profound joy we could experience if we cultivate an ethos of power as power with everyone who is hurt by patriarchy. This toolkit is an invitation for everyone, but especially for our fellow white cisgender women (and feminist cisgender men allies), to grow in our solidarity with our transgender and nonbinary allies. May we engage in this toolkit with gratitude for the labor and knowledge that trans folks and allies poured into creating it, as we open our hearts for learning and action.
If you aren’t sure whether this topic is for you, please read the introduction section of the How NOT to be a TERF Toolkit before you make a final decision.
There is so much work to be done to build resilient cultures of resistance that cultivate all kinds of justice. Toward that end, we believe that everyone in our movement spaces needs a basic understanding of how TERF ideology is spreading in ways that divide us when we need to celebrate diversity and stay united.
Try it out! Give us Feedback! Help us Make it Better!
As you engage this toolkit, we’d love to hear your feedback! It is a living document that will be updated and edited as it evolves.
Maybe you would value us breaking it into smaller parts (like a series of toolkits). Maybe your context needs a deeper dive on just one part of this kit. Maybe you are tracking the rise of TERF ideology in your community among people who you think would be open to examining this bias more closely, and you’d like to see more discussion questions. Maybe you know about some resources we haven’t included. Maybe you’d like to help us make it prettier or more user-friendly. Maybe you think we’ve got something all wrong.
If you would like any support in holding a praxis group around anti-TERF or TERF-prevention activism, you can also reach out via email to [email protected], and someone from the Climate Disobedience Center team will follow up with you.