What Was Happening Before ‘Just be nice feminism’? Part V: Beth Elliott’s Response

In the fifth part of Dr Em’s series, she explores how Beth Elliott responded to arguments that transsexuals did not belong in the women’s movement.

Previous parts available here: 12, 3 and 4.

The Lesbian Tide is an example of how making one exception for a male turned in to ideological capture. Lesbian Tide, rather than supporting lesbians and feminists as it was established to do, published the attack on Morgan and a self-pitying article by the transsexual who was accused of sexually assaulting a lesbian. This newsletter of the lesbian and feminist community now backed men over women. Elliott spent part I of his essay ‘Of Infidels and Inquistions’ chastising women for not being nice enough and stating that he distrusts feminists who hate men.1 Feminists who didn’t accept males and male goals as their own were characterised as nasty man haters, in a lesbian magazine. In part II Elliot made the case for his and other transsexuals inclusion in the Women’s Movement. He dismissed opposition arguments with the line ‘The con arguments have actually been stated thusly-they are real’ before moving on to a long description of his feelings.2 He detailed how ‘My rage (which I usually vent in sarcasm) is real’ but despite being enraged at women he ‘would very much like to sit back and watch the whole mess, psyching out every dynamic, every feeling and thought whether legitimate or illusory’ but he was annoyed that he was ‘unable to do so, thanks to charges of fraud and rape’ which he denied.3 We then get insights into Elliot’s dreams. Elliot ‘dreamed I was on trial before Pope Robin I. I was on trial for daring to call myself a woman and a Lesbian. The charge was read and, true to Inquisitorial justice, I was immediately condemned’. Women’s opposition, feminist analysis, and allegations of rape were dismissed and belittled as an inquisition, bigotry.  Elliot continued that in his defence to charges of rape and intrusion into the Women’s movement that “… I am a transsexual, a pre-operative one at that’. This means I am the victim of a condition in which I was born with one physical sex but the capacity to identify only with the other. This conflict is the result of hormonal influences on the brain of the six-to-twelve week old embryo’.4 The dictate of just be nice meant this sexist lady brain tripe was being peddled in a lesbian feminist circular. Elliot argued that ‘the only treatment for transsexualism is reconstructive surgery to change, as much as is possible, the physical sex of the patient to correspond with her mental sex, or gender identity’.5 Thereby claiming women’s oppression was innate and natural.  What a feminist ally.

Elliot tried to use the concept of brain sex to force team feminists and women. He alleged that ‘I may have been raised differently, but my perspective on the world and myself was the same as yours’.6 He presented women’s objections to this as aggressive and stupid. Elliot wrote that ‘Granted, I had a more schizophrenic childhood, but…” “SILENCE, INFIDEL DOG! YOU WERE NOT RAISED AS A FEMALE CHILD. YOU HAD DIFFERENT CONDITIONING. YOU HAD ACCESS TO MALE PRIVILEGE. SO HOW DARE YOU CALL YOURSELF A WOMAN?” “Tell me-where does that leave normal women who were also raised as males? I don’t see you questioning their womanhood’.7 In this highly manipulative essay Elliot has articulated women’s objections. Elliot wouldn’t have had to write this piece and try to coerce women to accept transsexuals if opposition wasn’t there. Elliot tried to feminist arguments to his own end. He argued that ‘doesn’t feminism say that we are not what we are conditioned to be? And that we can overcome our conditioning? I was rejecting mine when I was three… I thus had the same crap laid on me as you had laid on you. Don’t tell me about conditioning’.8 Forced teaming and the weaponizing of guilt to create a false empathy is right there. He mocked his feminist critics claiming they argued that “LOGIC WILL GET YOU NOWHERE, HERETIC. YOU CANNOT QUESTION OUR INFALLIBLE INTERPRETATION OF TRUTH. WHETHER YOU ACCEPTED IT OR NOT, YOU HAD MALE CONDITIONING AND MALE PRIVILEGE AND THEREFORE CAN NEVER BE A WOMAN”.9 Elliot deliberately mis-represented feminists as arguing that biology is destiny and then responded to the false claim ‘What? I don’t get that. Look. The doctors are saying that I am a woman with a defective body, for all practical purposes. And that’s after years of testing and observation. That’s my biology’.10 Elliot resorted to hiding behind junk ‘science’ and the authority of doctors. If you have a penis you do not have a defective female body, you are male. Elliot went to great pains to establish that ‘I’m not a transvestite. I’m not ‘a man who wants to be a woman,’ because I’ve never considered myself a man. I am a woman, and because I am a woman who loves other women as a woman, I am a Lesbian’.11 A man with a penis was arguing they were a lesbian in a lesbian underground newspaper, so much for allys and just be nice.

 Elliot mansplained his necessity for the Women’s Movement. He stated that he couldn’t see that inclusion ‘threatens the women’s movement. My experience has much to offer the women’s movement, would you but listen’.12 This ‘would you nut listen’ is an early cousin of get educated. Elliot argued that ‘I didn’t “infiltrate” anything. SFDOB admitted me knowing full well I was a pre-operative transsexual. Only one member objected’. That is a falsehood, the evidence shows the vote was initially split and then in favour of ejecting Elliot. It also highlights how inclusion in one women’s group was used by males to justify their inclusion in other women’s groups and female spaces. This is the concept of transferable consent. Elliot continued that ‘If you say I should vanish if one woman is threatened by me, you are just like those who would bar Lesbians from the movement because they are upsetting’.13 Hyperbole and the argument that opposing males in female spaces and movements is the same as homophobia. This transsexual ally, platformed and included by a few women, then accused those women who would not accept males in their movement and spaces, or lesbians with penises of being fascists.14

  1. B. Elliot, ‘Of Infidels and Inquistions’, The Lesbian Tide, Volume 2, issue 10/11, May-June, 1973, p. 15
  2. B. Elliot, ‘Of Infidels and Inquistions’, The Lesbian Tide, Volume 2, issue 10/11, May-June, 1973, p. 15
  3. B. Elliot, ‘Of Infidels and Inquistions’, The Lesbian Tide, Volume 2, issue 10/11, May-June, 1973, p. 15
  4. B. Elliot, ‘Of Infidels and Inquistions’, The Lesbian Tide, Volume 2, issue 10/11, May-June, 1973, p. 15
  5. B. Elliot, ‘Of Infidels and Inquistions’, The Lesbian Tide, Volume 2, issue 10/11, May-June, 1973, p. 15
  6. B. Elliot, ‘Of Infidels and Inquistions’, The Lesbian Tide, Volume 2, issue 10/11, May-June, 1973, pp. 15 – 26.
  7. B. Elliot, ‘Of Infidels and Inquistions’, The Lesbian Tide, Volume 2, issue 10/11, May-June, 1973, p. 26
  8. B. Elliot, ‘Of Infidels and Inquistions’, The Lesbian Tide, Volume 2, issue 10/11, May-June, 1973, p. 26
  9. B. Elliot, ‘Of Infidels and Inquistions’, The Lesbian Tide, Volume 2, issue 10/11, May-June, 1973, p. 26
  10. B. Elliot, ‘Of Infidels and Inquistions’, The Lesbian Tide, Volume 2, issue 10/11, May-June, 1973, p. 26
  11. B. Elliot, ‘Of Infidels and Inquistions’, The Lesbian Tide, Volume 2, issue 10/11, May-June, 1973, p. 26
  12. B. Elliot, ‘Of Infidels and Inquistions’, The Lesbian Tide, Volume 2, issue 10/11, May-June, 1973, p. 26
  13. B. Elliot, ‘Of Infidels and Inquistions’, The Lesbian Tide, Volume 2, issue 10/11, May-June, 1973, p. 26
  14. B. Elliot, ‘Of Infidels and Inquistions’, The Lesbian Tide, Volume 2, issue 10/11, May-June, 1973, p. 26

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