P1-8 Welcome to The Conversations Project. We are committed to bringing attention to a decades old inclusive radical feminist tradition through inspiring informed critical discourse rooted in an intersectional trans and radical feminist perspective. This is accomplished through the Project’s community group, quarterly journal, interviews as well as the publication of a book-length collection of collaborative essays from radical feminist John Stoltenberg and trans feminist Cristan Williams. AD-3 We hope our Project will inspire conversations within feminist communities about our intersecting language, histories and experience. Ultimately, these conversations are an investment in our shared commitment to liberation. Subscribe to The Conversations Project here.

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Pt. 10, Radical & Trans Feminism: bridging a discursive divide

Radical feminist John Stoltenberg responds to trans feminist Cristan Williams‘ question regarding the way trans and radical feminists might language oppression without condemning intersex and trans experiences of embodiment. Stoltenberg expounds upon his contextualization of “gender identity”, bridging a discursive divide between trans and radical feminist discourse. Keywords: 

Pt. 9, Trans Dasein: Culture, Identity, and Role

Trans Feminist Cristan Williams responds to Radical Feminist John Stoltenberg‘s commentary on feminism, identity, and manhood, describing how “gender identity” is used within trans discourse. Williams discusses her experience of gender identity, noting the difference between identity and role. Williams asks Stoltenberg to share his perspective on how trans and radical feminists might be able to discuss role […]

Pt. 8, Discursive Ontology: Feminism, Identity, and Manhood

Radical feminist John Stoltenberg responds to trans feminist Cristan Williams‘ questions regarding the discursive contexts Stoltenberg has used when conceptualizing “gender identity” and “sexual identity”. Stoltenberg expounds upon his contextualization of “manhood” while requesting that Williams discuss the ways “gender identity” is used within trans feminist discourse. Keywords: 

Pt. 7, Examining Discursive Nuance: Sex, Gender, and Acculturated Identity

Trans Feminist Cristan Williams responds to Radical Feminist John Stoltenberg‘s commentary on sex class consciousness vs biologism, essentialism, and identity by drawing theoretical correlations between Stoltenberg and Monique Wittig. Additionally, Williams requests that Stoltenberg contextualize the terminology within Stoltenberg’s book, Refusing to be a Man. Keywords: 

Pt. 6, The Fork in the Road: Sex Class Consciousness vs Biologism, Essentialism, and Identity

Radical feminist John Stoltenberg responds to trans feminist Cristan Williams‘ commentary on feminist sex class and sex caste epistemology, considers peer tautologies and class analysis of Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon. Stoltenberg scrutinizes “manhood” and “womanhood” as gendered identities and notes his historical rejection of a sex and gender binary as cultural constructs. Keywords: 

Pt. 5, Radical Epistemology: Applications of Sex Class and Sex Caste Consciousness

Trans feminist Cristan Williams responds to radical feminist John Stoltenberg‘s commentary on the practice of sex pedagogy, reviewing the application of “sex class” consciousness, as expressed by Andrea Dworkin, Monique Wittig, and Catharine MacKinnon, to the cultural condition of cisgender, transgender, and intersex women. Williams contrasts this analysis with a critique of the prescriptive binary “sex caste” framework promoted by […]

Pt. 4, Sex Pedagogy: Essentialism as Praxis

Radical feminist John Stoltenberg responds to trans feminist Cristan Williams‘ commentary on sex pedagogy noting that his long-term analysis has always been that sex is constructed to support gendered patriarchy. Stoltenberg also considers the ways in which trans and intersex individuals are posing serious challenges to the maintenance and promulgation of sex as a natural binary body system. […]

Pt. 3, To Question Sex Pedagogy

Transgender feminist Cristan Williams moves the focus of her conversation with radical feminist John Stoltenberg towards questioning the idea that society’s binary body labeling system we regard as being “sex” exists in a “natural” and thus, unconstructed state. Keywords: 

Pt. 2,The Sex/Gender Binary: Essentialism

Radical feminist John Stoltenberg responds to transgender feminist Cristan Williams‘ essay by recounting the way in which their conversation began and reviews the way he and Andrea Dworkin viewed sex and gender essentialism. Stoltenberg then offers a new metaphor for conceptualizing sex and gender in a way that’s free of implied or asserted binaries. Keywords: 

Pt. 1, The Sex/Gender Binary: Intertextual Dialectics

Transgender feminist Cristan Williams opens the conversation with radical feminist John Stoltenberg by making inquiries into the ways in which Stoltenberg conceptualizes and communicates terminology relating to sex and gender binaries. Williams roots her inquiry in the historical way in which trans activists have struggled to language critiques of a presumed sex and gender binary to […]

Sex, Gender, and Sexuality: An Interview With Catharine A. MacKinnon

Catharine A. MacKinnon questions the presumed unconstructed nature of sex, gender and sexuality while considering the language and concepts within trans feminist and sex essentialist discourse. MacKinnon comments on the work of Kate Millett, Simone de Beauvoir and the political morality promoted by Janice Raymond, Mary Daly and Sheila Jeffreys. Moreover, MacKinnon discusses the nature […]

Gender Performance: An interview with Judith Butler

Gender theorist Judith Butler is interviewed and her concept of gender performativity is compared and contrasted to sex essentialist ideologies. Specifically, Butler addresses the work of Sheila Jeffreys and Janice Raymond. Additionally, Butler comments on the work of Gloria Steinem and Dr. Milton Diamond. Keywords: 

Southern Feminism: An interview with Frances “Poppy” Northcutt

Frances “Poppy” Northcutt discusses the tradition of transgender inclusion in Southern Feminism and comments on the issues facing both the trans and feminist communities. Northcutt comments on her involvement with feminism in the South, particularly in Houston, Texas and the ways in which trans people can support abortion clinic defense. Keywords: 

Questioning Sex Essentialism As Feminist Practice: An Interview With Janis Walworth

Janis Walworth, a radical lesbian activist and progenitor of the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival (MichFest) protest that came to be known as Camp Trans, speaks about the structural practice of sex essentialism within a community constructed to be a feminist safe space. Walworth recounts the incidents leading up to the establishment of Camp Trans as […]

Sex Essentialist Violence And Radical Inclusion: An Interview With Robin Tyler, Jan Osborn, and Michele Kammerer

Pioneering Lesbian radical feminist women’s music producer, festival organizer, and entertainer, Robin Tyler discusses violence directed at her by sex essentialists within the women’s movement. Discussed is an incident that happened at the 1973 West Coast Lesbian Conference and another incident at the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. Additionally, Tyler, Jan Osborn and Michele Kammerer discuss their experience […]

Sex Essentialist Violence And Radical Inclusion: An Interview With Sandy Stone

Sandy Stone, author of the queer-studies classic, The Empire Strikes Back: A Posttranssexual Manifesto, recounts her experiace with a trans-inclusive radical feminist Lesbian separatist tradition, as well as her experience with militant activists who promoted sex essentialism as a brand of feminism. Included is commentary about sex essentialist animus by the co-founder of The Furies […]

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A Note from the Turf War Zone: Second Wave Erasure

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Please note that in this opinion piece, I am speaking only for myself; but at times I use “we” to say that I am speaking in the environment and social context of The Conversations Project, and am voicing my own sense of what some of the values and purposes of this wonderful community may be. Each participant has a voice which is equally valid on these questions, and many of my siblings who share in this process have confronted and survived forms of oppression I cannot myself imagine. May their voices be heard.

Editor’s Note: This opinion piece comes from a Conversation Project group member who read an article critical of the project’s existence.

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Supportive Partnerships:

If you would like to learn how your group or organization can support making an inclusive and intersectional radical feminist tradition more accessible, please contact us for more information. The following groups and organizations make this project possible:

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