Famous queer scholar Judith Butler accused transphobic feminists of allying with fascists in a new interview with The Guardian.
Butler was talking about their foundational work, Gender issue, and how it affected queer, trans, and left-wing politics more than three decades after its publication. Interviewer Jules Gleeson asked Butler about the recent protests at Wi Spa in Los Angeles, where members of the fascist hate group Proud Boys and QAnon believers protested alongside evangelicals and other transphobes against the possibility that a trans woman used the spa.
Related: Judith Butler Tears JK Rowling’s Transphobia To Pieces In Epic Clapback
“It is very appalling and at times quite frightening to see how trans-exclusionist feminists have allied themselves with right-wing attacks on gender,” they said. “The anti-gender ideological movement does not oppose a specific explanation of gender, but seeks to eradicate ‘gender’ as a concept or discourse, a field of study, an approach to social power.
“Sometimes they claim that ‘sex’ alone has scientific value, but other times they appeal to divine mandates for male domination and difference. They don’t seem to hesitate to contradict themselves.
Butler has long argued against the idea that biological sex is objective truth, arguing instead that it is gender applied to the body. Even the people who most emphatically say that biological sex is the only way to determine who is a man or a woman, base their whole idea of biological sex on gender stereotypes.
(For example, in this story from earlier today, Radical Excluding Trans Feminists (TERF) said that a woman just has to be transgender – and, for them, not a real woman – because … she doesn’t. was not wearing makeup for her mugshot and she was charged with a violent felony.)
“Anti-gender ideology is one of the dominant strains of fascism in our time,” said Butler, referring to anyone who believes that sex is “biological and real or that sex is divinely ordered,” including including TERFs like JK Rowling, fascists like Tucker Carlson and religious conservatives like Representative Greg Steube (R-FL). Their definition of the “anti-gender ideological movement” also includes anti-gay activists such as marriage equality opponents and anti-feminists who want to force women to follow traditional gender roles.
“So the TERF will not be part of the contemporary struggle against fascism, a struggle that requires a coalition guided by struggles against racism, nationalism, xenophobia and prison violence, a conscious struggle of the high rates of feminicide in the world, including the rate of attacks against trans and genderqueer people.
Butler pointed out that things like the definition of “man” and “woman” change over time, and change is not something to fear as it can lead to liberation and equality.
“What it means to be a woman doesn’t stay the same from decade to decade,” they said. “The category of women can and does change, and we need it to be.”
“Politically, ensuring greater freedoms for women requires that we review the category of ‘women’ to include these new possibilities. The historical significance of gender can change as its norms are re-enacted, denied or recreated. “
They also said that people should be “prepared and even happy to see what trans men are doing with the category of” male. “
Of themselves, Butler said they were “surprised and in awe when people decide on their own pronouns or even when they ask me which pronouns I prefer.”
“I enjoy the world of ‘they’,” said Butler. “When I wrote Gender issue [in 1990], there was no category for ‘non-binary’ – but now I don’t see how I can’t be in that category.