Siblings, Not Cisters

NUS women had a conference last March. They issued some resolutions. Some of them are blood-curdling. Like this one for instance:

Motion 405: Trans Inclusion in the Women’s Campaign: Siblings, Not Cisters

See what they did there? Cisters? Sisters is a bad word, because…because it means female sibling, and there are trans people, so we can’t use words that mean female or male any more – like woman for instance. So it turns out that trans women aren’t women? Because it would be not inclusive to call them that?

Conference Believes:
1. The student women’s movement must strive to be a trans inclusive environment.
2. The definition of Women for the NUS Women’s Campaign is “all who self-define as women, including (if they wish) those with complex gender identities which include ‘woman’, and those who experience oppression as women.” This contains people whose preferred pronouns are not “She” or “her” (e.g “they”) and that they do not identify with the term “sister”.
3. The use of the term “sisters” is exclusionary of some women.
4. There are more than two genders and we should always recognise this.
5. Misgendering someone is an act of violence.
6. When women know each other within in a personal capacity or within certain cultures and religions, the term “sister” can be appropriate.

They’re serious. They think the word “sisters” excludes some women. Well what women? Not trans women, surely, because the word “sisters” wouldn’t exclude them if the word “women” didn’t – so what the fuck are they talking about? What do they even think they’re talking about?

And then – of all the things to get rid of – the lovely practice from union organizing and civil rights work and feminism and other progressive movements of calling each other sister and brother – of all the things to get rid of.

Oh and also? Misgendering someone is not an act of violence.

It may be extremely unkind and insulting, when done deliberately; I strongly reprobate intentional unkindness; but that’s still not an act of violence. Rhetorical overkill ends up undermining itself.

If these people are the future…I feel very sorry for the future, that’s all. Global warming and this. It’s not fair.

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