Content warning: transphobic slurs, links may refer to sexual violence.
In a recent video titled “TAKING THE RED PILL?“, Laci Green criticizes feminists for censoring opposing views and beliefs. She suggests that “suppression of speech is just a band-aid,” and that by listening and engaging with anti-feminists (and those with differing views), we can all reap the benefits of becoming more enlightened and knowledgeable (hence the red pill metaphor).
On paper, I personally don’t disagree with Laci’s views. In my own experiences, I’ve found that these days people regardless of their political perspectives are unwilling to actually listen to the arguments being made, thus their responses are usually flawed and fail to address the things people are actually saying.
But here’s where I disagree.
Laci starts to delve into the issue of censorship by saying that many feminists believe in suppression of speech, and alludes to (and later mentions) the situation with Milo Yiannopoulos, in which he was banned from Twitter and had his book deal and numerous college tour appearances canceled. She even goes as far as comparing it to “the logic that is used by the right to censor sex ed.”
Don’t get me wrong: everyone should absolutely have the right to express themselves however they want. But this is not the case here. As pointed out in a video by Kat Blaque titled “WHAT MILO AND I HAVE IN COMMON,” Milo is clearly doing more than just exercising his freedom of speech. In late December of last year, trans student Adelaide Kramer was sitting in the audience of one of Milo’s talks when he projected an image of her onto the wall and went on to mock her, even referring to her as “a tranny”. Him publicly disparaging a trans student, outing her in a negative light with a whole audience encouraging him on, crosses too many boundaries. The worst part about it was that at the end of the day, he finished his gig and headed home, completely unaffected by the repercussions of his actions.
Furthermore, Milo was banned from Twitter for violating its terms of service. Is it really censorship if he willingly chose to engage with a platform with its own rules and regulations, only to be banned for going against them? In what way is his freedom of speech being compromised if he’s banned from Twitter? He opted into that platform, not to mention that there are countless other ones out there for him to share his opinions on.
Milo’s situation is not one where feminism or any activism is taking away his freedom of speech. It’s not merely a matter of each to their own, opinion-wise. He targeted and harassed a trans student and violated Twitter’s terms of service. You really can’t sit there and blame us for the disrespectful and abusive actions taken by Milo, who was fully aware of what he was doing.
The video progresses as Laci describes the backlash of a recent article by Rebecca Tuvel (“In Defence of Transracialism“), in which the similarities between being transgender and being transracial are explored. An open letter was put together by academics which led to the HYPATIA’s Board of Associated Editors issuing an apology. Laci states:
“Having read the paper, the accusations that are made in this open letter are a complete misrepresentation of her [Rebecca Tuvel’s] argument – to an extreme degree, which really makes this whole ordeal all the more troubling. These are not grounds to censor an academic paper, they’re not grounds to ruin someone’s academic reputation”.
Ultimately, I don’t think that the article should be censored. I might dislike it, but I still think it has the right to be published. That being said, this is always a conversation that is dominated by cisgender white people. Therefore it is only ever from an academic perspective that the issue of transgender vs. transracial is approached, rather than from a perspective with actual experience in the subject at hand.
My biggest criticism is that Laci downplays the harmful effects of comparing transgender people to transracial people. She, a white cisgender woman, has decided what is and isn’t offensive to trans people. She has paid no attention to us or how we feel, but passionately voices how hurt she is that we’ve apparently “ruined someone’s academic reputation”. She asserts that the revocation of this one article is a “troubling” ordeal, yet remains silent on how this conversation negatively impacts the mental health of trans people and how this further misrepresents us.
Laci Green has done some great work in body positivity and sex education, and I personally respect her as a feminist and content creator. This being said, pushing the idea that we as feminists need to go the extra mile to be friends with anti-feminists is degrading, especially coming from a white cisgender woman. I believe we can have these conversations and exchanges of thought in a respectful manner, I really do. But do forgive me if I don’t wish to partake in ignoring transgender people and people of color in an attempt to please anti-feminists.