I have spent a lot of time lately contemplating this issue, and I wanted to share some thoughts about it. I am posting a link and intro to this article because I have been unable to use the reblog feature to share it here.
I have been deeply touched and changed by Derrick Jensen’s work, by my experience of Earth First! over the last 3 decades, and by my friendships and interactions with trans people. When I first read of DGR I was very excited about the possibilities, having long been a proponent of deep ecology. So when I first saw this issue last week I was very disturbed and confused. Further reading and contemplation have cleared some of my confusion and I hope that my understanding may perhaps help others to resolve this for themselves, and maybe even help move it toward resolution for the larger better world creating community.
I first felt confused because it seems that I agree with everyone involved. I have a lot in common with radical feminists, and can easily see their points, but at the same time, I had no disagreement with the Earth First! and tranny people whose comments and articles I also read.
How can this be? A huge disagreement and I agree with everyone? Am I lacking a mind of my own?
Where do I fit politically? Well, my deepest and strongest held political beliefs don’t seem to fit in any political camp and I finally understood why a little while ago. My core beliefs are not political, they are spiritual.
The root of my political activism, and indeed my whole life is Respect for ALL Living Beings. When I discovered NVC (Non-Violent Communication) I felt like it would solve all the seeming disagreements in politics, and I still do. The catch is, people have to learn about it and USE it;-)
It looks to me so often like these political infights are about ego, and proving one’s camp “right” and holding everyone to one standard. I always thought this was silly-from reading about how Lenin, Marx, Trotsky etc sort of demolished the utopian possibilities of Communism by dogmatic infighting over, well, dogma;-) to the disintigration of my local Occupy group over some members absolute denial of the Safer Spaces folks right to exist as part of Occupy.
Why can’t we leave theory in the text books and LIVE based on respect and love?
Sure we need to use our theories to improve things, but we aren’t improving things for the theory are we? We are improving them for the LIVING BEINGS all around us-from nearly extinct frogs and butterflies to the sadly suffering human beings we are brothers and sisters in arms with in the struggles to remake our world.
Whether they are suffering PTSD from rape and molestation (thus acting from a root place of fear when rejecting a woman who used to be male for instance) or suffering from the imposition of culture-whether patriarchal, or feminist, industrial or anti-civ onto their personal experience and understanding, they are *doing the best they can in the moment* to work to better our world for all living beings.
To me, there is NO blanket theory, no one size fits all prescription for an activist group or cell, whether DGR, Occupy or any other. The only way we are going to change this world is by changing ourselves and then our groups. Horizontalism, NVC, The Madrid document on group dynamics-these are to me the holy grail of how to move forward.
We are not fighting an industrialist’s war for resources using tanks and DU munitions. We are fighting a living organism’s war for LIFE using our bodies, our minds, our emotions and our spirits as well as our actions, prayers and creativity-and all the tools we make with it.
In order to change the world we have to clear out things like hierarchy and “only one can be right” from our own internal programming, and from our group interactions. We NEED to learn to RESPECT everyone, to accept that everyone has strengths and weaknesses, everyone has value.
We cannot afford to lose anyone, reject anyone, belittle, humiliate, attack or alienate anyone who is trying to help in this massive project to remake a whole planet full of screwed up culture, poison and violence against the ticking time bomb of the stupid that is about to obliterate us all.
So what is my idea that is different that the current DGR stance, or their critics? My idea is that by leaving blanket statements, attacks, and rejection off the table and bringing things like NVC, horizontalism and Respect back in, we can choose to co-create a movement together instead of allowing this COINTELPRO style splintering effect to go on forever until the Earth looks like Mars.
Each group, whether DGR or not, is made of individuals. As individuals those people can choose to work together respectfully to find individual solutions that work for their specific situations-by listening to one another using techniques like NVC, or just plain old patience, common sense and kindness.
Certainly gender IS a construct, and it IS one that has been forcibly imposed upon us all in its current forms by colonization and patriarchy. But right now we are neither fish nor fowl-we are no longer living as colonized robots, but nor are we fully realized free beings of the beautiful new world we are working to co-create.
We are in what is known as the liminal period. Liminal periods are very powerful and dangerous-they can result in amazing magic like a butterfly emerging from its liminal period in the coccoon when it went in as a caterpillar. But they can also result in breakdowns, destruction and derailing. Adolescence is the prime example of a liminal period and a short contemplation of it should easily illustrate what I am talking about.
We don’t have to choose trans people over feminists or vice versa-we can choose to realize that both are beings in this liminal state working hard to shed their old programming and emerge as fully realized beings.
They aren’t there yet.
So even tho gender is a construct-some biologically born women still feel a need for separate spaces from people born male-from what I have read due to fears of rape and domination of various sorts by those trained to that-(whether or not this is a fact of the trans-women they may be rejecting in any given instant).
The trans women are also liminal beings, acting from their lived experience of being who they ARE not who they MIGHT be if the contructs of gender had never been imposed on the society in which they were born. How can we deny their lived experience no matter how they came to it? How can anyone deny anyone else’s experience of their own internal world?
As a person who publishes a lot on cultural co-optation I understand the idea that a male to female trans person may appear to be the same as a Euro American who *feels* Ndn, but there is a crucial and fundamental difference.
The Euro American HAS ancestors of her or his own to whom they REALLY ARE connected, who did live in some way to which they feel drawn but do not understand, hence latching on to a generic product (promoted by plastic shamans who make money on it) claiming to be “Native American Spirituality”. They can with just a bit of effort, find their way back to their own deep and REAL connection to the land, their ancestors and non-colonized, non-patriarchal ways of life.
Some of them may even “become ndn”** the same way ANYONE “becomes” another CULTURE by joining that culture, learning its ways, WORKING as part of the community and being a functioning, helpful, useful, contributing part of their new country-just like immigrants to America do by learning English and eating at McDonald’s;-) <–(JOKE<–for those new to Aspie writing;-)
**(This is also a controversial thing, but it is a fact that many tribes and nations did and do allow “immigration” within their own rules for such-as in a German man who marries a Cherokee woman and lives on the rez with her, or a Blackfoot woman who marries a Mohawk man-human beings do not live in the little boxes we use to categorize them they live in the really real, really messy world;-)
Trans people on the other hand are born into a body that feels wrong to them-whether this is caused by imposed patriarchal stuff, or a medical condition or whatever. Unlike an Irish American who can research his Druid ancestors, or a Germanic/Norse American who can easily find a local group of Asatru to join in finding her own history, culture and ancestral customs, a trans boy or girl has no such alternative.
I don’t think we can create a better world by denying people their felt and lived experience. I don’t deny that many people of European ancestry have a natural and very strong draw toward what they perceive as Native American “Religion”. What I try to do is to help those who have been tricked by the plastic shamans see that what has been stolen from them thru colonization is possible to retrieve in some measure without stealing from others. (and that what the plastic shamans are selling is not what they say it is)
All culture that is alive is constantly being recreated; growing, evolving, becoming-but it has a core of integral values and understandings that do not change much over time.
It is striking to me that some (but not all-as R.A.W. would say “sombunall”) of those core things are very similar across most of what I consider ancient cultures, or root cultures: those that lived basically as functional parts of their ecosystem, in balance with one another and nature for the greater part of the 2 million years humanity existed prior to colonization and patriarchy.
Hence, a person who never knew her ancestors culture is naturally drawn to one that has such similarities, because IMHO those root values, those integral things are, as my amazingly perceptive Nish friend used to tell me, “in our bones”.
Science has shown that some tomboy girls, born to tomboy Mothers are in fact biologically different from “normal” biologically female children. These children are exposed to a higher level of androgens in the Mother’s body, which affects their biology for life. They are naturally resistant to the imposed patriarchal model of “femininity” and do not “take” to it. They have discovered chemically and biologically why this is and how it works.
Is it really such a stretch to think something similar will eventually be discovered for trans people, as it has been for some who are ordinary homosexual beings?
And even if it is not, my basic premise is that in order to create a better future we have to accept WHAT IS. How can you change anything if you don’t accept what it IS NOW?
Neither the rad-feminists nor the trans folks are starting from a blank slate-ALL of us are in various stages of decolonization/deconstruction of the reality we learned while growing up in this world as it IS.
Expecting someone to NOT be who they ARE is counterproductive. And I mean that whether the person is trans, radfem, or mainstream Republican. We have to start where we ARE and go from there.
We will get a lot further, a lot faster if we can learn to start accepting one another just as we ARE. Learn to LOVE one another even tho we have huge differences and disagreements. When we act from that Love and Acceptance we can create miracles, we can create change faster than we ever dreamed possible.
On several occasions the Earth First! Journal editorial collective has run pieces both online and in print either written by or about the Deep Green Resistance Movement. As a collective, weve considered DGR to have some value to Earth First! discussions around feminism, organizing principles, ecological analysis and critiques of civilization. In 2010 we published a piece by Lierre Kieth and Derrick Jensen, and in 2012 we inserted a section from the book Deep Green Resistance on militant approaches to the ecological crisis, which was written by Aric McBay.
The Earth First! Journal collective is dedicated to providing our readers with views from diverse groups, from Earth First!ers on the frontlines to conservative farmers struggling against the Keystone XL Pipeline or fracking; from the Move 9 and all political prisoners to Zapatistas, liberal climate change media stars, pacifist Quakers against mountaintop removal and bomb throwing anarchists in Mexico and Greece. It is our goal to print stories and analysis that spark relevant discussion, new alliances, necessary schisms and resistance.
However, in light of DGRs continued assault on trans people, with language and analysis that denies the struggles of trans-people and even goes so far as to deny the value, worth and power of their existence in radical movements, labeling trans people as somehow not real, or as Post-Modern manifestations of individualism, the Earth First! Journal collective will no longer print or in any way promote DGR material. While we dont need to agree with an individual or organization to find their words or actions relevant for discussion we will not continue to include those whose core expression of values continues to promote exclusion and oppression.
(I have been unable to get WordPress to load the “reblog” button for this article for about 3 days, so I am posting the above as an intro and you can read the full article and comments at the link below