The Women’s Equality Party includes trans women.
“You could become a member if you like” said my feminist friend. Well, of course; they are hardly going to make the BNP’s mistake of only allowing white members, so opening itself to challenge under the Equality Act and eventual collapse. But would I be welcome? Yes: I had a look at their policy document: download the pdf here.
Its first paragraph welcomes us, desiring that “all genders are equal”. “All”, more than two. On page four, I read, WE also recognise that the binary words “woman” and “man” do not reflect the gender experience of everyone in our country, and support the right of all to define their sex or gender or to reject gendered divisions as they choose. That is me. I am a woman. And my friend is entitled to identify as something other than man or woman, male or female.
This is controversial. Before WE’s launch, the New Statesman interviewed its leader, Sophie Walker:
As anyone remotely involved in feminism knows, there are certain topics which can divide even the most united of campaign groups: stances on sex work and trans issues, for example. Walker won’t speak about either yet, but promises both – plus the party’s working definition of “woman” – will be covered in the party’s October policy launch.
The document gives no definition of “woman”. English speakers disagree on what the English word “woman” means; but on p18 it includes a picture of Sadia, from London, and her quote, in large print: “My Hijab does not make me a lesser woman. I am fed up of people thinking that I am oppressed in my religion, when in fact, I feel liberated. Trans women, Muslim women, Jewish women, lesbian women, black women: WE ARE ALL WOMEN.”
I love this: Old parties… are hampered by competing priorities and a combative culture that encourages politicians to emphasise difference rather than seek out common ground. WE are taking a fundamentally different approach. I wish they would specify what that approach could be, and particularly around finding common ground. Perhaps around welcoming difference, only seeking a single position where that is necessary.
I see that while they are not officially TERFs, their policy is SWERF, sex-worker excluding. They would decriminalise selling sex, and criminalise buying it. This is the “Nordic model” for which people get no-platformed by University feminist societies. They say the alternative is regulating and licensing the sex trade, and WE believe the first is the better option, while recognising that some of our members will support the latter.
Here is their policy launch: