Women’s rights are a joke to the UK Labour Party

It’s not news that left-wing men are just as misogynistic as right-wing men, and the men of the Labour Party are no exception. Jeremy Corbyn came out as pro-sex industry in the middle of last year, but that was just the start of it; in November last year, Anne Ruzylo, women’s officer for Bexhill and Battle, East Sussex, was harassed out of office by trans activists, and replaced with Lily Madigan, an entirely useless individual whose only selling point is their being trans (it is impossible to imagine a young women with so little talent or ability being feted the way Madigan is).

Now, the Labour Party has appointed Munroe Bergdorf to its LGBT+ advisory board, Bergdorf’s ‘activism’ involves telling women to shut up about their bodies, because this excludes men (I have yet to see, anywhere, a post-menopausal or post-hysterectomy woman complain that reproductive rights activism didn’t ‘centre’ her enough):

I’m hardly the first radical feminist to point out that these accusations of ‘white feminism’ are absurd, as if abortion access, maternal mortality rates, FGM, and child sexual exploitation doesn’t disproportionally affect non-white women globally.

Meghan Murphy at Feminist Current has reported on Bergdorf:

Trans model and recently appointed member of the LGBT+ advisory board for the Labour Party, Munroe Bergdorf, recently demonstrated his allegiance to New Feminism by demanding those formerly known as women stop talking about our bodies at our feminist marches, lest we alienate mankind by acknowledging the fact that all of mankind comes out of our vaginas (also by advocating empowerment through cutting up your face in order to appear more feminine and buying makeup).

Today, he has further demonstrated his generosity towards ex-women, gifting us his feminist leadership via an article for Grazia about how the vagina’d are getting vagina all over his feminism.

“Feminism: the advocacy of women’s rights based on the equality of the sexes. A simple enough concept, right? Wrong!”, Bergdorf writes. “This is 2018 and if the past two years have taught us anything, it’s that feminism isn’t for women, it’s for everyone except women, and it’s particularly not for women who have human female bodies, which came out of the box defective, full of holes and with missing parts.” Perhaps not a direct quote, but my ovaries are really a pair of extra eyes that allow me to read between the lines. Neat!

[…] To Bergdorf’s shock and awe, his pre-Women’s March lecture did not go over well with the vagina’d. And to be fair, it is truly amazing that in a world wherein females have been rendered invisible in politics, art, literature, and history, for centuries, we wouldn’t center the feelings of men in our activism. Bergdorf “longs” for the day more non-men who have clawed their way into positions of power and visibility use those platforms to talk about issues affecting men who are now dictating what we are and how we may discuss our bodies and liberation. And I, for one, cannot wait. The reign of vaginas and old bananas has gone too far. Not all knitted pink hats with cat ears are literal vaginas, and not all owners of no-elastic leopard print thongs from 2005 are women!

The Observer has reported on women’s acivism within and outside of the Labour party:

A veteran feminist and opponent of government plans to streamline how people can legally change their gender aims to set up a “new women’s liberation movement” to lobby a future Labour government.

Ruth Serwotka, convener of the Socialist Feminist Network, said she and others on the left had been “frozen out” of voicing their concerns to the party leadership about what they believe would be the impact of the government’s proposed Gender Recognition Act. The act would make it easier for people to self-declare their gender without having to be assessed by clinicians.

Nearly 500 people from Labour, the Greens, the Women’s Equality party and trade unions attended the latest meeting of the group, which took place in London at a location that was kept secret because of what the group alleges is intimidation by trans activists.

“I think that in time there will be an impact on Labour’s support among women and trust in the party from women,” said Serwotka.

Further meetings are planned around the country, she said, and will lead to the establishment of “a new women’s liberation movement” later this year.

“It will talk about wider issues than just transgender issues and really go back to the founding principles of the women’s liberation movement, look at whether they are fit for purpose, and consider what any new founding principles might look like. We want to do that because we certainly want to be able to influence a Labour government.”

The campaign by Serwotka and other feminists comes against the backdrop of divisions in Labour over whether transgender women can be included on all-women shortlists for parliamentary seats. The party is embarking on a consultation after confirming they are welcome to stand without a gender recognition certificate.

Divisions threatened to spill over on Saturday at the annual meeting of an influential group on the party’s left, whose membership includes Jeremy Corbyn and Jon Lansman, the activist currently involved in a separate power struggle to become Labour’s general secretary.

Factions in the bitter split had both been encouraging supporters to join the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy, which met in central London.

They include CLPD member Jennifer James, who has established a crowdfunding campaign to bankroll a potential legal challenge in relation to Labour policy on all-women shortlists. The crowdfunder states that the election of self-identifying transwomen as women’s officers and their inclusion on all-women shortlists is reducing and undermining female representation in the party.

James issued a call for allies to attend the campaign’s annual meeting after a young Labour activist, Max Shanly, called on people to join the group in order to “clear out the transphobes and cranks”. James’s online campaign, which has now raised more than £23,000, has been criticised as “transphobic” with figures such as the MP Clive Lewis supporting trans women being allowed on to all-female shortlists and describing James as “wrong”.

Pilgrim Tucker, at the Huffington Post, has written about her experiences within the Labour Party:

In the past few weeks I have been called trash, disgusting, despicable, f**ing scum, compared to a Nazi, a white supremacist, and a supporter of apartheid South Africa. I have had the insults ‘TERF’ (trans exclusionary radical feminist), transphobe and bigot aimed at me too many times to count.

I am one of the women Labour Party members who recently put my name to a crowdfunder to raise money for a legal examination of whether Labour is abiding by the Equality Act 2010. Currently the Gender Recognition Act states that a transgender person wishing to legally change their sex must meet certain criteria – to ‘live as’ the opposite sex for two years and a have a doctor’s diagnosis of gender dysphoria. Once they’ve been through this process they are given a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC), can change their birth certificate to say female instead of male, and access sex-segregated spaces currently reserved for women such as female dorms in backpacker hostels, hospital wards, women’s prisons or domestic violence shelters (basically spaces where women are likely to be vulnerable or in a state of undress).

Although the Equality Act does allow providers of women-only spaces and services to disqualify transwomen (even with a GRC) in certain circumstances (such as where privacy or the likelihood of distress are important considerations) these exemptions are underused and poorly understood. The Equality Act also is clear that only those who are legally female may stand on all-women shortlists. However we believe Labour have overridden the Act and are allowing those who are legally male to stand on all-women shortlists and as women’s officers, although there has never been any policy discussion or debates about this in the party’s usual democratic way.

Trans rights activists have been lobbying hard for changes to the Gender Recognition Act so that those who wish to change from male to female can simply ‘self-identify’ as women, with all the currently required checks and processes removed. Any man could simply sign a form and become, legally, a woman.

Every single person outside politics I have spoken to about this can see quite clearly and quickly why many women may not want to be naked around naked, male-bodied strangers – in spaces such as communal showers in swimming pools or prisons, for instance. But that is already happening with the current checks in place, and could stand to increase significantly with the introduction of transgender self-identification.

One in five women have been sexually abused as children. The same number have experienced sexual assault or attempted sexual assault as adults (compared with one in 25 men). In the UK, male sex offenders outnumber women sex offenders by 50 to one. That’s why women have rightly learned to be careful around men – not because all men are a threat but because they represent a vastly higher threat than people of their own sex.

There are no officially collected statistics on the crime patterns and rates for transwomen. Some studies suggest that for sex offences it is equally as high as males, reports in reputable news outlets in the past couple of years show sex offence convictions are at least 10-20 times the rate that of biological women.

Prison Officers Association reps have voiced concerns about the potential for abuse, and as the British Association of Gender Identity Specialists puts it, it would be “rather naïve” to suggest that male prisoners wouldn’t pretend to be transgender in order to access women prisons.

These kinds of dignity and safety issues are just one aspect of the proposed law changes. I put my name to the crowdfunder in part simply as a matter of principle. The Gender Recognition Act hasn’t been changed, and the Labour Party should be abiding by current law.

But what’s happened to me, and every other woman I know in the Labour Party who has publicly stated they want to examine the impacts of these proposed changes, is an onslaught of abuse of the type I mention above. My name has been put on a ‘hit-list’ and an active campaign launched by a number of Labour members to have us expelled for ‘transphobia’. Two women on the list have been suspended from Labour, one for saying ‘women don’t have dicks’. So far nobody in a senior position within the party has spoken up for the many, many women (and good numbers of men) who have serious concerns about these issues.

Meanwhile women have had their employers contacted by anonymous activists accusing them of transphobia for simply questioning the trans rights agenda – every single meeting that women have tried to organise to discuss the issues has been targeted by activists attempting to shut it down.

Labour’s current position on trans self-identification is a huge mistake. I have had so many messages from women in the Labour Party saying thank you for speaking out on this, that it is important to them but they feel too intimidated to voice their thoughts about it. But I shouldn’t be being congratulated for being ‘brave’ for calling for evidence-based policy making where those who are affected are allowed a voice in the process.

It shouldn’t be ‘brave’ to say that women who are vulnerable or in a state of undress should not be forced to share private spaces with male-bodied people, nor to question whether those same people are women simply because they say they are.

There are realistic solutions which could ensure safety and dignity for both women and transwomen, such as the provision of third transgender/gender neutral spaces – we need to be able to discuss these. It’s not radical feminism to say this, it’s a matter of safety, fairness and common sense. Everyone outside politics I’ve spoken to about it agrees this needs some proper thinking through. The 6% of women voters who say they may switch their voting intention away from Labour seem to agree too.

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