In case you weren’t able to attend the sold out Gender Identity Ideology and Women’s Rights talk at the Vancouver Public Library, it was, in a word, beautiful. On Thursday, myself, Lee Lakeman, and surprise speaker Fay Blaney spoke truth to power, shutting down any possibility of discrediting the independent, grassroots women’s movement. Blaney challenged the myth of numerous “genders” in Indigenous cultures, wielded by trans activists in order to justify post-modern, academic theories about “gender identity,” and claim them as “non-Western” for identity politics points. Blaney said, “There are people who are talking about how Indigenous nations had five genders. That’s absolute B.S.” Lakeman reminded “those of you who can imagine bullying us into submission, you’re clearly unfamiliar with us.” I argued that it is unnecessary to trample on women’s rights in order to also argue that those who step out of traditional gender stereotypes should not be harassed or discriminated, and indeed, challenging gender stereotypes is always what feminists have encouraged. No one in attendance could argue, with any integrity, that any of the panelists were “hateful” or interested in harming others.
While many protesters shouted unrelated, nonsensical slogans outside, none had the strength of character or intelligence to address the panelists in good faith, inside. The few trans activists who did attend limited their “protests” to giggling at concerns about fascism and cheering when Blaney — a long time Indigenous feminist activist committed to fighting male violence against women — shared that she had been pushed out of the annual Women’s Memorial March, which honours the lives of missing and murdered women lost in the Downtown Eastside. One trans activist who did speak began by insulting another woman’s hair, before launching into a confusing lecture about race.
Three hundred people attended the event — many more wanted to, but could not get tickets, as the event sold out. Thousands more watched online. The vast majority of the audience was in support of either our positions or, simply, the need for an open conversation about the issues. It is clear that Canadian politicians and the Canadian media are failing the general public in their efforts to distort, censor, and ignore that this is a conversation people desperately want to have, and that most in Canada are not on board with gender identity ideology and legislation, nor do they support trans activist tactics, which rely on using bullying, threats, and libel to silence and smear detractors.
Watch the talk and Q&A in its entirety here:
QotD: “”(The Vancouver Police Department) will be monitoring and will take appropriate action should conduct breach the Criminal Code”, says a Canadian public library about a feminist speaking about women’s rights”
“(The Vancouver Police Department) will be monitoring and will take appropriate action should conduct breach the Criminal Code”, says a Canadian public library about a feminist speaking about women’s rights.
Today is International Women Human Rights Defenders Day.
Thank you to everyone involved with the Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize for this really incredible honour. I want to thank everyone involved in the Prize – founders, patrons and supporting organisations, for making it so important over the years, and the judges for selecting us in this, its twentieth, year. It’s really so moving to have your recognition.
Nothing is possible without sisterhood. Thank you Kiri Tunks, Ruth Serwotka and the team – our speakers, treasurer, writers, editors, graphic designers, meeting organisers – all so talented and giving of their time whether publicly or modestly, and a special shout-out to Sarah Johnson representing us tonight at a public meeting in Bath.
Thanks also to thousands of women in the grassroots movement, attending meetings, filling in the GRA consultation, writing to and meeting their MPs, and defending us so valiantly against constant slurs and lies.
Woman’s Place UK exist because women have faced male violence when they have spoken up: from the beating of Maria Maclachlan at speakers corner to Rosa Freedman being told she should be raped. This abuse aimed at women must be a wake up call for all campaigners against male violence.
We exist because male violence against women and sex discrimination still exist. We stand for women’s sex-based rights and protections in law, and for women to have a voice in legislation that affects us. The right of women to assert our own boundaries, to say ‘no’, is the non-negotiable basis of women’s liberation.
We have spent the last year working really hard to push back and change the landscape, so that other women and women’s services can hold their heads high and say without shame ‘yes, we use and value female-only space and services, and are proud of it.’ It breaks my heart that the local organisation (founded by and for female survivors of childhood sexual abuse that I used in my teens and early twenties) no longer offers female-only services, and worse, that they have no referral pathway for women who need those services.
It really is a case of ‘Use them or lose them’, when it comes to single-sex exemptions.
Twenty years! Who could have believed, twenty years ago, that we would now be fighting on such a fundamental principle – the right of women to have boundaries, to say ‘no’, to our own spaces and services, to be counted, to speak? Well, some women did already have an idea.
In 1995, the year Emma Humphreys was released after ten years in prison, Vancouver Rape Relief were issued a legal writ for remaining a female-only collective .
In 2004, the courageous Julie Bindel wrote about Vancouver Rape Relief’s legal victory and has suffered the most appalling attempts to isolate and vilify her ever since.
Women saw and were frightened and were silent.
Where has silence led?
A case just reported, from Canada: a father convicted of sexually abusing his daughter can be housed in a women’s prison because he claims to identify as a woman. This is where prioritising men’s feeling over women’s reality has led.
I am delighted to accept this prize from Jenni Murray who has also spoken up for women’s reality and faced vitriol for doing so.
Let this forthcoming year be the year all of us speak up for women and girls, against female erasure, against lesbian erasure, for female reality.
The final part of ITV drama Butterfly airs [this evening], marking not so much the conclusion of a TV show but the climax of a social justice event, at least if you believe the show’s makers and the largely rapturous notices. Starring Anna Friel as the mother of Max, an 11-year-old who’s born male but identifies as a girl, and broadcast in the last weeks of the government consultation on reforming the Gender Recognition Act, it’s clearly been conceived as an intervention on the side of the angels. Or rather Mermaids: Susie Green, CEO of the charity for families of trans children, was a consultant on the programme.
Butterfly, though, is storytelling. It’s emotionally appealing. It’s accessible. It’s simple. In fact, it’s very simple indeed, which is why it’s quite boring, and also why it’s dangerous.
That’s a strong word to use of a primetime drama, but consider what Butterfly is telling its audience. It offers a starkly segregated version of childhood: boys do active, sporty things and girls are decorative and pretty. Max’s parents first of all try to “fix” him into having the appropriate interests – his dad with corporal punishment, his mum by treating the “girly” things as a shameful secret to be kept to the bedroom – and, when that fails, they solve the problem instead by recategorising him as a girl. The possibility that Max, like 60-90% of children with gender dysphoria, might simply turn out to be a boy who likes pink, isn’t given house room here.
Then there’s that jaunt to America for treatment. In the show, it’s a high-stakes decision for Max’s mother to make, but one that we’re never supposed to doubt is in Max’s best interests. The Ferrybank, with their advocacy of “watchful waiting” rather than filling out a shopping list of prescriptions, act as the story’s primary antagonists. After all, viewers have already been told unequivocally that Max really is “a girl in a boy’s body”. In the context of the show, any resistance to that isn’t sensible clinical caution, it’s just cruel. The lesson for distressed children and their anxious parents watching the show is: don’t trust the experts who won’t give you what you want.
In the real world, though, things aren’t so easy to call. Gender dysphoria has complex, multiple causes, and in children that usually involves the family dynamic. NHS clinicians, trying to address these delicate cases, increasingly find that anything they want to explore has been pre-empted by the pressure on parents to “affirm gender”: parents have often socially transitioned their child long before they reach the consulting room. Sometimes, parents have even started the medical course privately, via clinicians such as Helen Webberley – convicted this month of running an unregistered clinic, but still linked to by the Mermaids website.
The argument for rushing to treatment, as put forward by Mermaids and repeated by Max’s mum in Butterfly, is “better a happy daughter than a dead son”. In other words, children with gender identity issues are supposedly so prone to suicide that the only option is to stall puberty immediately, starting cross-sex hormones as early as possible. (This maximises the child’s chances of eventually passing as the chosen sex; it also costs them their adult fertility and sexual function.) In the first episode of Butterfly, Max follows this script by making a graphically portrayed suicide attempt.
But the script is false. The startling figures offered by Mermaids for suicidality in trans children are taken from self-selecting surveys that don’t control for comorbidity of mental health conditions. The NHS gender identity development service reports that less than 1% of its patients have attempted suicide; meanwhile, Swedish research has found that transitioning doesn’t remove trans people higher risk for suicide. In other words, the Mermaids version overstates the risk and then demands a cure that doesn’t work.
This isn’t just inaccurate. It’s damaging. In Max’s story, a child questioning their gender will see that suicide gets results: not just medical treatment, but ultimately the reconciliation of Max’s parents (the final scene of the last episode sees Max getting the longed-for blocker injection as his parents hold hands in the foreground, everything as it should be in the straightest of all possible worlds, the violent man back in the family fold). This presentation of suicide goes directly against the Samaritans guidelines for preventing the spread of suicide. Reckless politicising of self-harm is what endangers young people’s lives, not delaying irreversible medical treatments.
As one gender identity specialist who watched the programme points out, Max is told persistently, insistently and consistently by his parents that he’s “wrong” as a boy. “This is not acceptance,” she says. “In fact, this is rejection.” Under the lipstick smile, Butterfly is a charter for something very regressive, and very cruel: the credo that children who can’t perform the “correct” sex stereotypes must change their bodies, or die.
If sex is a service rape is just unpaid labor.
If sex is a service it can be provided to family members, morally.
If sex is a service it can be a small child’s career aspiration, and it should be supported as such.
If sex is a service then pornographic content can also be displayed to children, as they should be given examples of their work possibilities.
If sex is a service, and sex work is an existent opportunity to you, you can’t complain about being unemployed.
If sex is a service csa is just some form of child labour.
If sex is a service it is bigoted and against the costumer rights to denny service on the basis of anything, including sex, regardless of the workers orientation they should provide service to the costumer.
Things get really creepy when you mix things with inherent different natures like sex and labour, I know.
If sex work is work, then incest is no different than working in the yard or shed with mom and dad. It’s just practice for working in the real world.
Children being raped to death is just an occupational hazard
On 28 September, Leeds city council cancelled a room booking by Women’s Place UK, which was planning a meeting that night to discuss government proposals to change the Gender Recognition Act.
When the consultation on changing the GRA was launched by the minister for women and equalities, Penny Mordaunt, she said: “We particularly want to hear from women’s groups who have expressed concerns about the implications of our proposals.” However, the action by the council is only the latest in a series of attempts to halt discussion among women about GRA reform. Harassment of those organising, speaking at or even attending meetings is now routine; one woman had the details of her children’s school posted online with a view to intimidating her into desisting.
Earlier this year the Mercure hotel in Cardiff and Millwall football club were successfully pressured to cancel bookings made by women’s groups to hold panel discussions about proposed changes to the law. In Bristol a meeting was picketed by masked activists blocking attendees’ entrance in an attempt to prevent it going ahead.
In September 2017, a 60-year-old woman was violently assaulted when she was part of a group gathered at Hyde Park Corner waiting to be directed to the venue of a meeting to discuss the GRA.
Professional intimidation and attempted ostracising of, in particular, female academics is also rife. In September this year the Sunday Times revealed an orchestrated campaign, coordinated by a lecturer at Goldsmiths, University of London, to report academics who had questioned some aspects of transgender ideology to their institutions for “hate crime”.
On International Women’s Day, a trade unionist was hounded off a picket line by activists because she had attended a meeting. Girlguiding has removed two guide leaders from their posts for questioning policies that anticipate changes to the GRA.
We believe the right to discuss proposed changes to the law is fundamental in a democratic society. Public authorities, academic institutions, unions and NGOs should be facilitating discussions and protecting the rights of people to take part in them without harassment or intimidation. We find it troubling that institutions have not condemned these actions and in some cases have expressed support for them.
Marina Strinkovsky, feminist organiser; Beatrix Campbell; Graham Linehan, writer; James Dreyfus; Pragna Patel, Southall Black Sisters; Abigail Rowland, retired head of faculty (English); Professor Adam Swift, UCL; Alice Bondi, psychotherapist; Dr Amanda Maclean; Amina Lone, secularist and women’s campaigner; Anoma Jacobs, N Surrey Green party; Councillor Amy Brooks; Ann Day, musician; Ann McTaggart; Ann Sinnott, former Labour councillor and author; Professor Ann Stewart, University of Warwick; Anna Bluman; Annabella Ashby; Anne Morch, social worker; Annie Gwillym Walker; Annie Thomas; Andy Healey, play worker; Angela Stewart-Park; Anya Palmer, barrister; Ashlee Kelly (Rose of Dawn), social commentator; Betsy Stanko, OBE, emeritus professor; Bronwen Davies, Labour party member; Caroline Spry, TV producer; Dr Catherine Butler, Bath Spa University; Catherine Muller, business adviser; Cathy Devine, former senior lecturer, University of Cumbria; Celia Wangler; Ceri Tegwyn; Ceri Williams; Charlotte Ayres, student; Chetan Bhatt, LSE; Chris Holt; Claire Graham, intersex advocate; Clare B Dimyon MBE (L-GBT), educator and broadcaster; Clare Davies, PhD student; Clare Davies, PhD student; Dale Rapley; Darren Johnson; Dawn Furness, opera singer and film-maker; Debbie Hayton, teacher and transgender activist; Professor Deborah Cameron; Dr Deborah Dean, University of Warwick; Dr Diane Brewster; Diane Jones , teacher, Labour party member;
Donna Stevenson, school librarian; Elizabeth Mansfield, North Surrey Green party; Emma Aynsley; Emma Flynn; Eva Poen, University of Exeter; Dr Fiona English, academic author, former branch chair (Labour) Tottenham Green; Fiona Montgomery; Fionne Orlander, transperson; Frances Barber, actor; Frankie Rickford; Freda Davis, poet, artist, feminist;
Gemma Aitchinson, Yes Matters; Georgia Testa, University of Leeds; Harriet Wistrich, lawyer; Hazel Pegg; Hazel Turner-Lyons; Dr Heather Brunskell-Evans; Helen Gibson, former Labour councillor; Helen Jackson; Helen Mary Jones AM, National Assembly for Wales; Dr Helen Mott; Helen Raynor; Helen Saxby, writer and campaigner; Helen Steel; Helen Watts, former leader, Girlguiding UK; Helena Coates; Hilary Adams; Holly Sutherland; Ivy Cameron; Jack Appleby, web developer; Jacquie Hughes; Dr James Harrison, University of Warwick; Jane Galloway, autism parent advocate; Dr Jane Clare Jones, writer and philosopher; Jalna Hamner; Janet Veitch OBE; Jayne Egerton, radio producer; Jean Bartrum; Jeni Harvey, writer; Jenny Randles, author and broadcaster; Jessica Goldfinch
Jill Mills, Green party member, retired nurse; Jill Nichols, film-maker; Joan Smith, journalist and human rights activist; Joan Scanlon; Jonathan Best, former director, Queer Up North international festival; Josephine Bartosch, Critical Sisters; Judith Green, co-founder, Women’s Place UK; Judith Jones; Judy Maciejowska; Julian Norman, barrister; Julia Pascal, playwright, director; Dr Julian Vigo, writer and anthropologist; Julie Armstrong, Gateshead CLP; Julie Bindel; Justine Potter, producer; Karen Ingala Smith, CEO, nia; Katheen Stock, University of Sussex; Kay Green; Kim Thomas; Councillor Kindy Sandhu; Kiri Tunks, co-founder, Women’s Place UK; Kristina Harrison, trans campaigner; Kym Barlow; Laura McGrath
Leonora Christina; Lin Harwood, lecturer; Linda Oubridge; Lisa-Marie Taylor, CEO, FiLiA; Professor Liz Kelly; Lolly Viv Willowes; Lorraine Roberts; Lorenzo Obi Abadinas, Barnet Green party; Louise Evan Wong; Councillor Louise Paine; Louise Somerville, Women’s Voices Matter; Lucy Masoud, firefighter and FBU London regional official; Lynn Alderson, Totnes CLP; Councillor Lynne Caffrey, Gateshead; Maggie Saxon, arts manager; Maire Smith; Marina Strinkovsky, feminist organiser; Marion Gow; Councillor Mary McGarry; Dr Mary-Ann Stephenson, director, Women’s Budget Group; Marta Garcia de la Vega; Maureen O’Hara, Coventry University; Michael Biggs, University of Oxford; Professor Michele Moore, Patient Safety Academy, Oxford University; Mike Shon, ex-mayor of Stafford; Miranda Yardley, transsexual rights activist; Dr Miroslav Imbrisevic, philosopher; Nick Rogers; Dr Nicola Williams, Fair Play 4 Women; Pam Isherwood, photographer, former lecturer; Dr Patrick Turner, Bath Spa University; Paula Dauncey; Peter J Hughes, N Surrey Green party; Phil Rose; Phillipa Harvey; Pilgrim Tucker, academic researcher and community campaigner; Professor Rosemary Auchmuty, School of Law, University of Reading; Professor Selina Todd, University of Oxford; Professor Victoria Rimell; Rahila Gupta, Southall Black Sisters; Raquel Rosario Sánchez, feminist writer and campaigner; Rebecca Gill, consultant; Rebecca Lush, environmental campaigner; Richard Byng, University of Plymouth; Rosa Freedman, law professor, University of Reading; Rosey Bennett, councillor; Rupert Jackson; Ruth Conlock, social worker; Ruth Serwotka, co-founder, Women’s Place UK; SJ Atherton, writer; Samira Abdi, accountant; Sarah Jay, consultant; Sarah Tanburn, writer; Shahida Chudhry; Sheila Jeffreys, University of Melbourne; Sian Sullivan; Sioned-Mair Richards; Solange Hughes, N Surrey Green party; Dr Sophie Allen, Keele University; Stephanie Davies-Arai, Transgender Trend; Steve Trafford, writer, N Surrey Green party; Sue Parrish, Sphinx Theatre; Susan Matthews, Roehampton University; Tania Glynn; Tom Farr, human rights researcher; Tony Green, freelance writer and tutor; Tracey Smith; Veronica Quilligan, actor; Wendy Sarah Davis, Rooms of our Own; Wendy Savage, MBBch FRCO; Wendy Wheeler, professor emeritus, science and culture studies