All women shortlists

Political parties can decide to attempt to increase the number of women in Parliament, by only selecting women candidates for particular seats. This is the All Women Shortlist (AWS). A bunch of TERFs is trying to get the Labour Party to exclude trans women from all-women shortlists. We believe 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 Labour party.

We are absolutely committed to trans people, as a marginalised group, living free from discrimination and violence: we need trans representatives, trans councillors and trans MPs in our party. We are socialists and we are egalitarians. However, trans representation must not happen at the expense of female candidates and we are furious that we are having to fight another battle for women’s representation, just 100 years after the suffragette victories.

I would not write off that “absolute commitment” to trans people, they want a place for us and I want to challenge them to state what it should be; I put a message on Jennifer James’ facebook page, and will see if she replies or just deletes it. Now, it is by being accepted in society as women.

The next bit is legal stuff. An all woman shortlist which includes trans women without a gender recognition certificate is open to legal challenge, and I state why.

The Equality Act applies. Normally an AWS would be discrimination against men on the grounds of sex, so s104 gives specific permission while women are underrepresented. If any protected characteristic, such as disabled people, is underrepresented the party can make efforts to encourage potential candidates, but only for sex can the party make a shortlist only of those candidates.

After a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) I am a woman, and if I claim sex discrimination I need to show a man is treated better. I can still claim discrimination on the grounds of “gender reassignment” (not gender identity). A man can claim discrimination because women are favoured, unless an exception applies, but a cis person cannot claim discrimination because trans people are favoured.

All AWS must be open to trans women who have gained a GRC. However, a man could argue that an AWS which included a trans woman without a GRC was not entitled to the exception in s104, and so discriminated against him. A woman could argue that an AWS including a trans woman breached Labour Party rules, as the rules should be presumed to comply with discrimination law.

And we’re back. It could mean a legal debate about what “sex” or “woman” means. Emotionally, I like the idea that I have always been a woman. My most important transition moments are, first, changing my name and going to work expressing myself female; then deciding to transition, and having my operation. Gaining my GRC is a long way behind, less significant than getting my bank account, passport and driving licence in my female name. It was done by then.

I think both allies and opponents would agree. Those enthusiastically declaring “Trans women are women” and those who think we are perverts don’t think the moment of acquiring the GRC is particularly important. And yet in law it is.

That is why the consultation is important. We need to be able to get a GRC without a psychiatrist’s say-so. That I have changed my name and intend to live life long as a woman is enough. Now, getting a GRC is expensive and humiliating, but there is different treatment once you get one.

There can be disabled-only shortlists, because it is not unlawful to discriminate in favour of disabled people; but even though we are in the ICD and DSM, few of us would claim disability. A debate on whether trans women without a GRC are women would go back to Corbett v Corbett, orse Ashley. The psychiatrists would not speak for us: why do they call an androphile trans woman a “homosexual transsexual”? The law is confused- the Equality Act refers to “gender reassignment” of “transsexual persons”- but I doubt it would say my sex is female before a GRC, and it may not say so after.

9 thoughts on “All women shortlists

  1. When is a woman not a woman?? When someone else says so?? Monstrous!

    Can the ‘objectors’ not see how utterly objectionable their position is? They say that they respect transgender persons, of course – what else can they say? – and then go on to exclude them, and express outrage that anything other than a born woman should have representation on an ‘all-woman’ shortlist. THIS position is indefensible and outrageous and deserves to get shoved where the sun doesn’t shine.

    I could say a lot more, but in the interests of harmony and enjoying my day, I shall be restrained. Bless you, Clare. Angel, whom I love. ♥

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hypocrites who claim to love – and are so moralistic about their supposed oppression – and then go on to exclude the very people they should champion. What is so wrong about wanting to be a woman, after all?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Of course! But that is what prejudice means. 🙂 What threat are you supposed to symbolise? I mean, prejudice in the particular is bad enough, but prejudice against an individual for a supposed threat posed by a group?? Bizarre, and not a little mad.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a minefield is created once one starts to discriminate unfairly. If all shortlists were, as they should be, open to all candidates ( enccouragement of woman , disabled etc not a problem) then whether or not a transgender person or a self-defining woman is or is not allowable would not be an issue. You need to address the real problem which is the legalisation of AWS in the first place. No amount of perceived or genuine underrepresentation of defined groups justifies discrimination against other groups.


    • Welcome, Geoff, and thank you for commenting. I am afraid I disagree. Far more men stand and are elected than women, and this means that Parliament is denied the talents of women. It may be caused by overconfidence of men putting themselves forward, and a lack of confidence in women, and it may be due to selection boards and party members at hustings discriminating against women. Women as well as men are likely to accept men as competent, but require women to prove their competence. Until there is equal representation, the all women shortlist has its place. All BAME shortlists remain unlawful.


      • It could be, as with my profession – Civil Engineering, that it will always be the case that more men will apply for parliamnet. The opposite is true of the nursing profession. Should we have men only shortlists for nursing posts? You talk about parliament being denied the talents of women. Sorry that is not true – what is to stop women being selcted by their party to stand for election? What about the talents of men . What you support is the denying them which is 50% of the population not being even considered which must logically result in less able people being successful. Whether I go to my GP , solicitor or MP I couldn’t give a damn as to what gender they are it is quality that is important. Do I want women to feel able to apply to be a candidate ? – yes of course as we want to draw from 100% of the population but do I care what the final mix is? Not at all as long as there was evidence that they weren’t being put off applying or being discriminated against. If that were the case then they need to be encouraged to apply and any barriers to such should be lifted and any bias in process needs to be eliminated. Justifying discrimination to correct discrimination is not the answer Discrimination against men or any other group is always wrong.


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