IMPORTANT CLARIFICATION. PLEASE RT WIDELY.
It's very important to me, and has significant consequences for me, that the truth be understood about this whole mess:
I am in absolutely no way involved with the currently planned protest event to flashmob the L'Ecole Polytechnique Memorial on November 30th, in response to Vancouver Rape Relief hosting Janice Raymond at the Vancouver Public Library.
Initially, I had taken a primary role in attempting to organize a very calm, peaceful event outside the library, in collaboration with the local sex work community, in which we have a series of speakers and hand out educational pamphlets on trans-exclusionist policy, sex-work-abolitionism, and the history Vancouver Rape Relief and their ideological stance.
That event has since been cancelled, due to every organizer feeling the need to withdraw for the sake of emotional health, as there was CONSIDERABLE internal infighting and negativity (largely from exactly the people who are planning the "flashmob" event). And partly exactly because of the confusion and distrust being created by a splinter group running off to organize a competing event that many of us found strategically iffy.
I've NEVER had anything to do with the flashmob/memorial event (except maybe being mistakenly, and without consent or clarity, added to one of their sub-committees), and at present am no longer involved in organizing in ANY capacity.
The flashmob/memorial event is unrelated to what I was helping organize (now cancelled), it's being organized partly by people I'm KINDA PISSED AT right now for undermining the other event and letting ego and stuff get in the way of what's best for the community, and is an event that I personally feel is a VERY BAD IDEA. Not only strategically, but that I think it's ethically questionable on its own, independent of how TERFs / VRR spin it.
I posted my thoughts about this plan on Facebook last night, if anyone needs clarification:
Thoughts on the idea of Flash-Mobbing the L'Ecole Polytechnique memorial.
1) Memorials are solemn places, L'Ecole Polytechnique was a tragic event with a strong presence in the Canadian cultural mind, and none of the victims of that tragedy were, IIRC, transgender. There is absolutely no way this will not come across as insensitive and triggering, and exploitative and belittling of a tragedy. It will undoubtedly be successfully painted as such (and also as misogynistic and insensitive to the issue of "male violence") by TERFs. Personally, I'd even agree with them about it being insensitive. Especially since a flashmob would be extremely evocative of the violence of the Montreal Massacre itself: an outside group suddenly seizing control of a space. Even without taking into account how trans women may be coded as "male", it would be very justifiably triggering and potentially traumatic for any present who are survivors of that kind of violence, and would send a very negative message about how we relate to misogynistic violence.
2) The L'Ecole Polytechnique memorial is separate from VPL. The connection between any protests taking place there to the actual issue (The VRR/Raymond talk at VPL) would not be clear to people, and could even come across as protesting the memorial! The people who need to hear the message would not be present at the memorial, and there'd be less people there in general to engage in dialogue and education.... and those people who ARE there are much more likely to have a negative, distrustful reaction than a curious one.
3) Similarly, the L'Ecole Polytechnique massacre is only TANGENTIALLY related to the actual problem: Vancouver Public Library ignoring its policies regarding hate speech and permitting Vancouver Rape Relief, an organization with an explicitly cissexist and trans-misogynistic agenda, to host Janice Raymond, an infamously trans-misogynistic figure who has caused enormous harm, for a discussion of sex work abolitionism, a similarly prominent and similarly harmful philosophy in their brand of 'radical-feminism'. L'Ecole Polytechnique is simply a pretext VRR is exploiting for the LARGER DISCUSSION, and is unrelated to the central issues: sex work abolitionism and the harm it does to sex workers, and trans-exclusionist policy and the harm it does to trans women (with this particular event largely evocative of the harms of trans-exclusionist policy in rape/abuse/DV services).
The only fucked-up thing VRR/Raymond/VPL are doing in regards to L'Ecole Polytechnique is exploiting it for their ideological agenda. Which brings us to...
4) Staging a flash-mob at the memorial or in relation to the memorial would ITSELF be such an action, on our part: exploiting the tragedy to advance our ideological agenda. It would make us hypocrites at best.
I'm personally not only not-down with such an action, but I actually think it would be pretty messed-up. I hope those folks still involved with organizing and planning around community response to the VRR/Raymond event take this stuff into consideration, because if there's one thing that seems centrally, and by-consensus important, to most every experience trans-feminist activist, it's the questions of optics and perception and how our actions will be received, and received after TERFs have had a chance to spin it.
Even WITHOUT TERF spin I'd have little trouble agreeing with condemnation of how such an event might possibly go down.
And this is a follow-up comment I posted shortly after:
Also occurs to me... how many of the people deciding to wear signs saying stuff like "I am dismissed [from VRR services]" actually will be survivors? Because speaking as a trans rape survivor myself I honestly find that aspect (and the in-vogue "I am [marginalized person or group I actually DON'T belong to]" meme in general, really) to be itself singificantly exploitative and insulting.