On Feb. 12, the Associated Students of the University of Oregon voted in favor of a resolution “condemning the discriminatory views and practices of Lierre Keith and Deep Green Resistance.”
The issue was brought forth because people in the LGBTQ community and allies felt unsafe having Keith come to campus to speak at the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference due to her alleged transphobic views, according to the authors of the resolution.
DGR is an environmental organization that sees civilization as destroying the Earth, and comes from a radical feminist viewpoint. DGR says “gender is social, a product of male supremacy.” Keith and DGR have been accused of bigoted views on trans* people, who might be born with one set of organs but identify with another gender, stemming from a stance that “the women of DGR do not want men — people born male and socialized into masculinity — in women-only spaces,” according to the DGR website.
ASUO Senator and co-author of the resolution Miles Sisk says that the point of the resolution was to show support of the LGBTQ community and “I think that the resolution successfully did so.” Sisk was one of seven co-authors of the resolution and the only male.
Although Keith was not available for comment, citing a previous EW article on the issue in which she was not contacted for comment, Saba Malik, a DGR advisory board member, was available.
“I think [the resolution is] a shame and blow for free speech, especially in the place of academia,” Malik says.
The resolution passed only after amending language that asked PIELC organizers to “reconsider” bringing Keith. Once the language was changed, the resolution passed with a vote count of 16-3-0.
Malik says that Keith and other DGR members have been harassed and even assaulted because of their views on gender.
“We as radical feminists are attacked for our stance on gender,” Malik says. “This is classic victim blaming.”
The resolution has language not only condemning Keith’s views but condemning “any physical violence directed at Lierre Keith or any other presenters …”
“I don’t think it was a victim-blaming resolution by any means,” co-author of the resolution and co-director of the UO Survival Center Paige Corich-Kleim says.
An issue that many DGR representatives and Keith supporters brought up at the senate meeting was the fact that Keith is coming to the conference to talk about ecological destruction.
“She is not going to be speaking about the issue that the trans* community takes issue with,” Malik says.
However, Corich-Kleim says that Keith’s views on gender and environment go hand-in-hand.
In addition to condemning Keith’s anti-trans* rhetoric, the resolution also creates an alternative safe-space for people who identify as transgender and allies.
“My hope with this resolution is that it’s a starting point to spread awareness and to create space that makes all people feel comfortable,” Corich-Kleim says.