GAG demands Vancouver Women’s Library ban books

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and btw there's only one side to this.

the side where women don't have to put up with misogyny and hate because we're women.

Mr. Magoo

It is a made up story about a workshop attended by six people at which they discussed problems with body image, not how they could badger women into having sex with them.

It is an example of the other side of this bitter divide.

I assume you're referring to the workshop hosted by Planned Parenthood Toronto a few years ago, entitled "Overcoming the Cotton Ceiling:  Breaking Down Sexual Barriers for Queer Trans Women".

PP described it as:

Planned Parenthood Toronto wrote:
Overcoming the Cotton Ceiling will explore the sexual barriers queer trans women face within the broader queer women's communities through group discussions and the hands-on creation of visual representations of these barriers.  Participants will work together to identify barriers, strategize ways to overcome them, and build community.  Open to all trans women and MAAB genderqueer folks.

Given that the primary "sexual barrier" is cis-lesbians saying "no", we can see why some women might be a bit creeped out over a workshop designed to help trans-women "overcome" that barrier.   But as you note, the small handful of attendees chose to discuss body image instead.

I don't think that means that the whole "cotton ceiling" thing isn't a thing though.  Or, if it really isn't a thing, someone needs to inform trans-activists that it's not a thing ASAP, because evidently some believe it's a thing.

The Cotton Ceiling Is Real and It’s Time for All Queer and Trans People to Fight Back

Anyway, don't let this sidebar about trans-activist silliness drift us away from discussion of other trans-activist silliness.  Let's get back to that Buddhism book, and the violence it's responsible for.


what an amazing bunch of shit written in the linked blog.

i was going to quote and point out the crap then i realized there's just too much of it to bother.

just using the words "fight back" in the title is the start of the crap.


As I said, no one is badgering anyone to have sex with them, and there is a comment in that blog pointing out how absurd it is that some have come to that conclusion.

As a comparison, there have been articles about the fact that preference based on race may be an example of subtle racism. I don't think anyone making that argument is demanding that anyone have sex with them in order to recognize that that might be part of our conditioning. And it doesn't mean everyone who has a partner of their own race is a racist. Simply that we look at ourselves and question whether we might have that bias. 

In the same way, you don't have to go out and hire a person of colour, or a woman, to consider whether you might be prejudiced against them.

But the bottom line is, no one has been pressuring or harrassing anyone to do anything, contrary to the way that has been spun by some. 

Can we call a truce on this drift? My main interested here is defending free expression and those who experience oppression. I know this concerns two communities with differences, but as others have said here, I think this is a counterproductive fight. 

And vandalizing libraries and telling people what they can and cannot read? Messed up.


No idea if this is pressuring or an attempt at shaming but frankly I found it rather arrogant to be lecturing other people on their sexual preferences. As for race I am pretty sure racist men love to pay for sex with women of other races. It is after all all about power over another human if you have paid for it. 

It seems that the GAG group is also drawing a line at women supporting trans causes generally. That is obviously not enough for them and they feel they have the right to violate a safe space to make some esoteric point that has nothing to do with solidarity among allies. 


The blogosphere is fired up over the cotton ceiling today, a term porn actress Drew DeVaux and other queer trans women are using to challenge cis lesbians’ tendency to support trans causes generally but draw the line at sleeping with trans women or including trans lesbians in their sexual communities.  

Mr. Magoo


But the bottom line is, no one has been pressuring or harrassing anyone to do anything, contrary to the way that has been spun by some. 

Can we call a truce on this drift?

You're free to recuse yourself any time, but I do have to wonder what the accusations of "transphobia" are, if not an attempt to pressure.  How should we read someone saying "if you won't sleep with a trans woman because of a penis then that's bigotry"?

Also, part of my interest in all of this is the way that it perfectly mirrors the "nice guy's lament" -- namely, that women say they want nice guys, and like to be around nice guys and think that nice guys make great friends, but won't sleep with those nice guys.  Are we similarly ready to say that nice guys who moan and groan endlessly about being unfairly imprisoned in "the FriendZone" are also not trying to pressure anyone about anything?  Because it's exactly the same argument, and made for exactly the same reasons, I think.


Mr Magoo wrote:
I don't think that means that the whole "cotton ceiling" thing isn't a thing though.  Or, if it really isn't a thing, someone needs to inform trans-activists that it's not a thing ASAP, because evidently some believe it's a thing.

Here's a link with all sorts of cotton ceiling references gathered from around the social media.

For instance:

cisbians using "I'm just not attracted to penises."

When you first see someone, you're attracted to them as a person. You don't know what genitals they have, implying you can tell a trans person from a cis person is cissexist, and would force you to admit you are attracted to trans people before you find out they're trans.

So ask yourself why you'd be attracted to a trans person until you find out they're trans or what genitals they have?

Hint: it's because you're a sad little transmisogynist and you deserve to have your teeth beaten in.

One of the reasons the cotton ceiling has such resonance is it feels just like real male privilege to many women. Guys pressuring women to have sex? This happens to us all the time. 

Saying that

6079 Smith_W wrote: one is badgering anyone to have sex with them,
is not consistent with my experience as a woman.


Anyway from the Guerrilla Feminism Facebook page about the Vancouver Women's Library:

This organization has a highly transphobic history, and current practice. They have a "women only" space policy that excludes trans women on the basis that they were not "socialized as women." In 1995, they prevented Kimberly Nixon, a trans woman, from attending a program to train volunteers at the shelter on the basis that she "did not share the same life experiences." Nixon filed a human rights complaint against them immediately, and in 2000, she was finally awarded money on the grounds of discrimination. However, this organization could not be satisfied, and took the case back for judicial review, attempting to prove that they were not being discriminatory, and in 2003 they were found not guilty, despite their clear discrimination and transphobia.

This isn't actually true; the VWL is trans-inclusive. But it sheds light on why this protest/attack was perpetrated on these women (some of whom were toddlers in 1995).


Funny, as a good friend of mine told me this fall about how back in the day she argued against opening a women's centre up to transwomen, because people wouldn't be ready for it. She got voted down, and pilloried as transphobic , even though her partner was trans. As it happened, transwomen stayed away, because ad she rightly guessed, they didn't see it as a safe space where people wouldn't get freaked out. Each circumstance is different, obviously, but this isn't an intersection where inclusion always works, or at least not when it is forced prematurely.


so "forced" maturely is ok?


... or in some cases not at all, if you have some who take things so far that they trash someone else's library because they can't stand seeing women having their own space.

There really is no way to be inclusive about that attitude.



i'm happy to see other women in the world take a stand.

"Woman’s Hour presenter Dame Jenni Murray has sparked controversy after suggesting that men who undergo sex change operations are not “real women”.

The Radio 4 host, 66, questioned whether someone who has enjoyed the privileges of growing up as a man could really be a woman.

Writing for The Sunday Times Magazine, she told how “the first time I felt anger when a man claimed to have become a woman” was when she met the Rev Peter Stone in 2000, the first serving Church of England priest to undergo a sex change operation.

“I remember asking... what she owed those women who had struggled for so long to have their calling to the priesthood acted upon. 

“His calling, as a man, had never been questioned. I had nothing but a blank look and more concerns about clothing,” Dame Jenni said.

Discussing a more recent occasion, when she met transgender news journalist India Willoughby, she wrote: “India held firmly to her belief that she was a ‘real woman’, ignoring the fact that she had spent all of her life before her transition enjoying the privileged position in our society generally accorded to a man.

“In a discussion about the Dorchester hotel’s demands that its female staff should always wear make-up, have a manicure and wear stockings over shaved legs, she was perfectly happy to go along with such requirements.

“There wasn’t a hint of understanding that she was simply playing into the stereotype - a man’s idea of what a woman should be."


Thanks to donations received after the library was vandalized by anti-feminists, the Vancouver Women's Library has re-opened in a larger, better space.



Thank you so much Sineed, for first bringing this story to our attention, and for posting the good news about the new space.  I was so appalled by the situation, and so pleased there was a women`s library, that I donated.


Excellent news. Nobody wins using tactics like that.


Cheers, Badriya. I donated also and rallied with some radical feminists on another site to raise more funds. Thanks to the hatred of misogynistic "activists," the VWL received a lot more attention, support and funding it might otherwise would have if the library had opened without incident. Thanks, haters :)


 fking ashamed of the BC Federation of Labour!!!! how dare they and the unions they support.

winning a fking court case isn't enough proof for them to believe in women's rights to safe spaces and our own identity.



BC feds support NDP i might have to stop.

Mr. Magoo

I have to confess, I find it interesting that about 90% of the time, if we're discussing "trans rights", what we're actually discussing is "trans-women's rights".

Are there somehow, inexplicably, just MORE trans-women than trans-men?

Or why do trans-women seem to dominate the discussion?  Everything from the Michigan Womyns' Music Festival to washroom rights seems to be primarily about so-called "CAMABs" and almost never "CAFABs".


it's not surprising magoo.

trans women have been socialized as men in a patriarchial world.

it's all about them...

i'm fkn furious.



Perhaps because men's spaces (that is, the entire world) aren't under threat in the same way that women's shelters are, Magoo.

Though you may be making an assumption that it is only trans women who use women's washrooms. There FTM trans people and people across the spectrum who decide to use a women's washroom because it is the option that is less likely to get them beat up. Is that their fault, or the fault of society for not providing them a safe place to pee like the rest of us have?

As for that article, it doesn't make me mad. Everything about it makes me shake my head in sadness.

That oppressed people go to the lengths of trying to fight others' legal protection. And the argument in that article is bizarre, because rights are always conditional, not absolute, especially in the case of something like a crisis line.

That a union thinks a boycott helps a situation like this in any way.

As for the shelter, if that is how they want to do it, fine. Trans people do need some space for protection from violence because unlike guys raised and socialized as guys they do suffer assault and discrimination. 

Just as important, the mutual hatred brought up by this helps no one except the priviliged white guys who are benefitting, and laughing.



smith it' not a "union" it's  UNIONS.

unless tranition is early early all trans women have been first socialized as males. this is where we can see their privileged demands come from.





I agree with you to a point. I think some people being more vocal and pushy may be the result of ingrained privilege. I say "may" because attitude is individual, and once someone transitions, that privilege is pretty much gone, and replaced with hatred from all sides. so blanket statements about how "they" are don't really wash. After all, the thing about male privilege is that we all have it whether we support it or not by virtue of how people see us. That no longer applies to trans people.

Also, I don't see how having to seek refuge in a shelter is any sort of privilege. And I don't say that as an attack against those who run that shelter. I can see the dilemma, even if I don't agree how some are using it to turn oppressed communities against one another.





smith it's an indwelling state of being imv. a state of being which doesn't go away once transition happens.

the only people turning others against them are the people wrongly demanding women have to share their safe spaces.

this is not the fault of born women as you're trying to portray.

Mr. Magoo

Perhaps because men's spaces (that is, the entire world) aren't under threat in the same way that women's shelters are, Magoo.

OK, but I was thinking more in the context of trans activism or trans demands.

I found it interesting, for example, that BLM-TO made demands of Pride Toronto that were specifically about trans-women.  Maybe all the problems have been solved with regard to trans-men?


No, they haven't. I think the problem here is two oppressed communities with some members who see each other as the enemy and oppressor. Men are not an oppressed group. We don't need safe spaces because of our sex and gender, so there isn't going to be the same clash.

There was a case just two months ago about an FTM wrestler who was forbidden from wrestling boys. The outcome was unfair both to him, and to the girls he wound up having to wrestle. Again, it wasn't the men who wound up paying the price. It was trans people and women who suffered. But who was to blame for the situation? Not him.

But while we are kind of on topic, if this is going to veer into trans issues we should probably take this conversation elsewhere.

Though on the question, transphobia actually is a feminist issue, and an issue for men. My 11-year-old daughter again got misgendered on a road trip this weekend, including being challenged in a bathroom, and treated badly even after she corrected the woman. This all because of her haircut, and how she dresses. It is not just about trans people, but also about men and women who do not fit gender stereotypes.


6079_Smith_W wrote:
I think the problem here is two oppressed communities with some members who see each other as the enemy and oppressor

let's unpack this a bit.  start with: "the problem" 'cause you're making it sound like someone is creating a problem and doing it needlessly.

what do you see as "the problem"?

what do see as the solution to "the problem"?


First and foremost, patriarchy, in my opinion. All these other hatreds against women, against non-straights, and against transpeople are based on that.

While we are unpacking, let me repeat that I don't think it is good or productive to boycott a women's shelter, and I think organizations like that have to be able to make judgment calls. So in that I would say I agree with you.

But there is a good deal of this on both sides that I see as fear and discrimination. Some of it is nothing but hate - like trashing that library, but some of it is honest people taking incidents like that and making assumptions about all trans people which are simply not true. No different than the many false assumptions that are made about feminists.

And I see fighting C-16 as an aspect of that fear and discrimination. I see the fear arguments, but how is allowing someone to be refused work or a home helping anyone in any way?

I get that there is a big philosophical divide here around the concept of gender. And I support both sides right to hold and express those views. But that notwithstanding, I think there is enough reason that these communities should find common ground (as indeed, many have) rather than treating each other as the enemy.

The only people I see winning in that scenario are the supporters of patriarchy.



again you're back to blamming women and asking us to make compromise. and belieiving we should i guess.


Not exactly. I am saying that I respect the difference of opinion, and I think people on both sides should do so, even if they disagree. But I don't see it as blame, because I can see why people on both sides feel threatened. I think individual people are responsible for acts of discrimination, like trashing that space, and undermining others' identity and trying to silence them, but a lot of it comes from fear, so it is complicated.

As for how this intersection of rights shakes down in practical terms, I think it is going to depend on the situation. I don't see how protecting someone's right to a job and safety necessarily removes that protection from someone else, so I don't buy that argument.

Ultimately I question whether fighting each other and letting the guys in power continue to win is the best course of action. People can continue to do it; it is really not my place to tell them they can't. But I don't see any positive resolution.

So compromise? I think detente better describes what I mean.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

I see your point, Smith. I think, though, this article will help articulate what quizzical is trying to get across:

"So you see, my trans sisters, when you assert your womanhood, what feminists really want to know is if you’re here to maintain the status quo or to change it. Because the status quo isn’t working too well for most of us. It’s hurting us. Women are still treated like shit. And unlike liberal feminists, we’re not interested in spraying the shit with perfume and calling it a flower bed. We’ve come with shovels and we want the shit gone. Will you shovel along with us? Will you march with us for reproductive freedom? Will you lobby for universal pre-k and paid parental leave? We need those things. Will you fight with us against the idea that there is such a thing as a “lady brain” and that it’s “naturally” pink and fluffy and emotional and drawn to makeup and restrictive — but sexy — clothing? Will you fight with us against women’s sexual objectification? Will you take a stand against sex trafficking and the sexual exploitation of women and girls? Or will your transition serve to reinforce those injustices? Do you come to womanhood offering support or just to make demands?

These are not unreasonable concerns. Women matter. Whether you help women or hurt women matters. If targeting a folk music festival or suing a women’s rape shelter is more important to you than dismantling male supremacy, you can’t really blame some women for questioning how well you’ve overcome your male socialization. Blaming women for anti-trans violence, which is committed almost exclusively by males, isn’t helpful either…"


Yeah, I see that too.

Just as I see the problem in someone trashing a library, trying to get an editorial writer removed from rabble, or saying that transwomen are just guys who want to get into spaces so they can assault and harrass women, or pressure women into having sex with them. If you are looking for those examples and allegations you are going to find them. They don't fit the vast majority, nor can you put the fact that some are committing those abuses down to the fact they are trans, any more than you can hold all women accountable for abuses committed by individuals. That's the same kind of profiling that we rightly call police out for.

And my initial point stands. If people want to keep fighting, feel free. You are free to keep your analysis, but in a practical sense all I see is oppressed people cutting down other oppressed people. On both sides.

Personally it has nothing to do with me, though I have a number of people I love caught in the crossfire. Again, on both sides. In that, I find it really distressing


oh my YOU find it distressing. imagine how us women born with a vagina feel about it?

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

I mostly find it frustrating that important initiatives and conversations are getting derailed into factional arguments that dont really help anyone. It's ridiculous. The women's movement needs to be receptive to intersectionality, but not to the extent that small sub groups hold us hostage.

FWIW, I'm supportive of helping transwomen escape violence and discrimination. What I'm not open to is defending foundational issues related to feminism like reproductive choice or essentialism that sidelines women from opportunities. 


frustrating yes. hostage yes.

i'm not sure what you mean with "essentialism"?


Agreed. I just see it as a fight that no one is going to win. And I don't see it as any less distressing that it isn't a fight in the mainstream, because it does have a bad effect on people, by framing others as enemies, as not real, and as dishonest.

The arguments - about women being replaced by these hypersexualized gender images, rejection of terms like "cis", and about women's spaces being under threat - are perfectly valid and have a lot of truth in them. Thing is, they aren't absolute, and have to be tempered by intersectionality, as you say.

But taking these ideas where the examples upthread do - demanding that a feminist library remove books, or arguing against legal protections because you are concerned they are going to be used as a weapon - show how these beliefs can go to the point where they hurt others and get in the way of real solutions.

I think of Germaine Greer's comment of a few years ago - that she wouldn't recognize transpeople even if you held a knife to her throat. Well no one is forcing her to do that. And while women are under very real threat, so I get the fear, framing it as someone holding a knife to her throat really only helps perpetuate that siege mentality and mutual attacks. This library attack notwithstanding, women face far more threats from men than they do from transpeople.



have you got a link to the Greer comment? only because i don't know the context in her speech.

i don't care if you want be a woman or a man because you believe it's what you are or even if you don't believe and just want to be a different gender or androgenous even. it's your life, your body, your choice.

in this context i don't believe in Trans as a word to stereotype people making their own life choices for themselves and i don't use it.

bottom line is i don't want to be made into a stereotype because some believe they need to bolster their cause by embodying (sp?) an idealized verson of what they believe women are and take offense when we insist we are not and insist on our own life choices.





voice of the damned

have you got a link to the Greer comment? only because i don't know the context in her speech.

Pink News...




Thanks VOTD

To be clear, I don't agree with Greer's comment, or some of the other things she has said, but neither do I agree with those piling on her for saying them. I do see her values as discriminatory, but since they are based on her seeing transgenderism as not real, and a threat to women, it is not the same as those who just hate transgendered people. In short, obviously she has every right to hold those values and see things that way, even if there is a lot of research to suggest otherwise.

My point is that she felt she needed to frame it as someone holding a knife to her throat. It is just another part of this vicious cycle.


oh so she is all about the stereotype at the bottom line too.


Not necessarily; I think some of the things she has said may perpetuate stereotypes, but her values are her values, and I recognize that there is some valid reason for them. It is not important whether I think she is right or wrong; what I see as important is how to deal with those stark differences of opinion.

My point is that she has this siege mentality that some people on both sides of this seem to have, and which really isn't helpful at all, because it helps to drive the very real attacks rather than working toward any common ground.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

quizzical wrote:

frustrating yes. hostage yes.

i'm not sure what you mean with "essentialism"?

Jump to Gender Essentialism.

"In feminist theory and gender studies, Gender essentialism refers to the attribution of a fixed essence to women.[33] Women's essence is assumed to be universal and is generally identified with those characteristics viewed as being specifically feminine.[33] These ideas of femininity are usually biologized are often preoccupied with psychological characteristics, such as nurturance, empathy, support, non-competitiveness, etc.[33] Feminist theorist Elizabeth Grosz states in her 1995 publication, Space, time and perversion: essays on the politics of bodies, that essentialism "entails the belief that those characteristics defined as women's essence are shared in common by all women at all times. It implies a limit of the variations and possibilities of change—it is not possible for a subject to act in a manner contrary to her essence. Her essence underlies all the apparent variations differentiating women from each other. Essentialism thus refers to the existence of fixed characteristic, given attributes, and ahistorical functions that limit the possibilities of change and thus of social reorganization."[33]"


i'm referring to where se ays at the end of the interview.

"my critique of transsexual-ism as it's currently being demonstrated is you go from one stereotype to another and our fight is actually against the stereotype itself. So the notion of blessed womanhood that is accepte by most transsexuals is not one I agree with. I think it's profoundly wrong."


thanks Timebandit. i agree there's no essentialism in who or what women are or aren't.


Ah yeah. I did read it, but didn't realize that was what you were referring to. I have no idea what she is on about there. And I think she might be making some assumptions about what others think about "womanhood".

But then, I find some of Greer's own assessments of womanhood... about transwomen not knowing "what it is like to have a big hairy smelly vagina" to be kind of weird and self-hating. I know there is lots of shame put on women around body image, but I expect transpeople have their own understanding of that kind of shame.

On the essentialism thing, I agree that a trans person does not have the same experience as someone who feels they fit the body they were born with. I don't agree with some of the assumptions that some make about transpeople based on that difference, but I think anyone who thinks there is no difference is fooling themselves.

Mr. Magoo

I think that essentialism may have crossed the point of inflection.

"I'm a woman, and so therefore I have a 'lady brain'" is essentialism.

"I'm a woman, and so therefore I have a woman's penis" is somehow more than that.


6079_Smith_W wrote:
Ah yeah. I did read it, but didn't realize that was what you were referring to. I have no idea what she is on about there.

what do you mean you have no idea? going from believing you don't fit the manly man stereotype to believing you fit the womanly woman stereotype is not a hard concept to understand.

we women understand what the majority of society thinks about women. whether they admit it or not is another thing.

And I think she might be making some assumptions about what others think about "womanhood"... about transwomen not knowing "what it is like to have a big hairy smelly vagina" to be kind of weird and self-hating.

speaking the truth about our personal experiences with our vagina in all its phases and glory is not weird nor self  hating.

i find you saying so weird and judgey. at best.


i so don't get what you're saying magoo

Mr. Magoo

I just mean that we all have a brain, and we don't know that much about the brain, so while I personally don't believe in the idea of a "lady brain" or a "female brain", I can't prove there could be no such thing, either.  It's actually a debate that predated "trans-rights" by decades.

But some trans-women believe that their penis is "a woman's penis" or a "female penis", or in some cases an "enlarged clitoris".  It just seems to me that by the time your DONG and BALLS are somehow "female", that's a bit different from suggesting your brain (or your pancreas, or your stomach, or any other thing we all have) is female, and it sort of suggests that maybe essentialism has gone a bit far.

Next up:  I'm a MAN, so this is MANstruation!

To be clear, I'm not suggesting that a penis, or menstruation, have to have the final say on defining anyone's place in society.  But it's a bit funny to suggest that a penis is really a clitoris because that somehow "squares the circle" and then to expect everyone to nod piously and say "Yes, you're a woman, so that MUST be a clitoris.  There's no other explanation for what it is".


i don't see it -your dong and balls analogy- as essentialism. let alone essentialism gone far.

maybe i'm wrong though. will think on it  more but i tend to think it's delusion.