Recently, the Anarchist Pedagogies Network called off one of its webinars after it was made aware of a speaker’s support of groups that lobby for legislation that could potentially harm the rights of transgender people. This may seem like a controversial decision for some, but we feel it was the only correct decision, as it was the one most in line with an anarchist ethic.
In 1871, in his article “Man, Society, and Freedom”, Michael Bakunin stated: “I am not myself free or human until or unless I recognize the freedom and humanity of all my fellowmen.” The anarchist position on freedom has always been conditional; we cannot be free without safeguarding the true freedom of those around us. For us, as anarchists involved in education, this commitment is deep and powerful. It stems from a profound conviction of the humanity of those around us, and a stern belief in community as a force for social change.
This principle crumbles if it stops at transgender people. Just like our commitment to solidarity with people of color, indigenous people, poor folks, and people with disabilities, our stand must be firm with the LGBTQ+ community, and especially with transgender people. This means that we must turn to transgender people for guidance, include transgender people in all of our activities, and it also means that we must stand with them when they need us. Our struggle is a shared struggle. Our freedom is a shared freedom.
Meaningful education from an anarchist perspective requires the assurance that learners can freely investigate, debate, and suggest ideas in a safe, inclusive space. It also requires coherence between principles and everyday actions. As members of the APN, we realize that anarchism is a hard standard to follow, but require of ourselves and our speakers a commitment to this coherence. The only way to practice what we preach is by making our network a safe and inclusive space, one in which any person can come, ask questions, argue, and stay curious. To do so, we must also demand that the rights of marginalized communities are upheld, and their struggles recognized. As anarchist educators, we are committed to this high ethical standard, and will continue to follow it when planning our future events and initiatives.
With love and solidarity,