Labour Party members should sign the founding statement and pledges to support trans rights. I signed before there were five hundred signatories, and by 1pm on 11 February the MPs Rebecca Long-Bailey, Angela Rayner, Karl Turner and Nadia Whittome, as well as over a thousand activists, had signed. Lisa Nandy also tweeted support. She was faced with some thanks and a deluge of self-pitying abuse. So was Rebecca Long-Bailey. By 13 February at 00.00 Lisa Nandy, Dawn Butler, Emily Thornberry and Alex Sobel had also signed. Later MP signatories: Zahra Sultana, Clive Lewis, Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, Olivia Blake. So the women who are leadership or deputy leadership candidates have all signed.
Before the election, the so-called Labour Women’s Declaration demanded that trans women be excluded from “changing rooms, hospital wards, sanitary and sleeping accommodation, refuges, hostels and prisons” and women’s sports. It was a deliberate attempt to create division just before the election, and may have suppressed some Labour votes. Now, after the election, trans people and our allies have answered it. No MPs have signed the transphobes’ declaration.
These are the pledges, with my commentary:
1. Accept the material reality that trans people are oppressed and discriminated against in British society, facing a rising risk of hate crime, and difficulty accessing public services, healthcare, housing and employment.
Hate crime is not, as the twitterfreaks would have you believe, merely using the wrong pronouns for someone. That can be hate speech- but hate crime is a crime motivated by hate: intimidation, harassment, damaging property and violence may be hate crimes.
2. Believe that trans liberation must be an objective of the Labour Party, and that transphobia is antithetical to our collective aims.
Trans people have existed for centuries, and have been harmlessly in women’s spaces for over fifty years. I have never caused a problem in women’s spaces. Supporting working people, women and minorities was always Labour’s aim. The right creates hierarchies, of wealth and of out-groups: Labour subverts them.
3. Commit to respecting trans people as their self-declared gender, and to ensure that the Labour Party is an inclusive environment for trans people.
This was one achievement of the Equality Act, which the last Labour Government enacted.
4. Accept that trans women are women, trans men are men, and non-binary people are non-binary.
I don’t have a uterus- but I am socially and culturally a woman, and have lived as a woman since 2002. Trans inclusion makes society more tolerant of gender variance, so benefits everyone.
5. Accept that there is no material conflict between trans rights and women’s rights, and that all trans women are subject to misogyny and patriarchal oppression.
What would WPUK and their like gain if I was expelled from women’s spaces? Nothing. Trans exclusion is a symbol. We are harmless, and we are only about 0.1% of the population. 2500 children were referred to the Gender Identity Development Service in a year, out of 11.5m children in the UK, and that is for investigation- not all will be treated. That is why the hard right supports WPUK’s campaign- it sets the Left against ourselves, and diverts feminist campaigning energy to the right-wing cause of creating an out-group to be hated or despised.
6. Listen to trans comrades on issues of transphobia and transmisogyny, allowing trans people to lead the way on our own liberation.
7. Support the work of trans members and organisers within the Labour movement, including supporting motions on a local, regional and national level which are presented for the furthering of trans liberation.
8. Oppose transphobic motions which run contrary to our own party equalities policy, and support the NEC striking down such motions on this basis.
9. Organise and fight against transphobic organisations such as Woman’s Place UK, LGB Alliance and other trans-exclusionist hate groups.
There was much tweeting claiming WPUK is simply a women’s rights group. The problem is, it takes no notice of any women’s rights issues, only campaigning for trans exclusion. Here’s a dissection of a speech by their founder Kiri Tunks. As for the LGB alliance, their only concern is excluding trans women. See their About page: the threats they are fighting against are “gender doctrines” (reasons people transition), pressure on lesbians to accept trans women partners, the concept of gender identity and assigned sex: a series of myths and distortions about trans people. They claim supporting my right to wee in peace is “abandon[ing] any commitment to women’s rights and the rights of [LGB] people”. Fortunately Stonewall, the main LGBT charity and campaigning organisation, and lesbian publications like DIVA support trans people.
We must be very clear about what we mean by hate: WPUK wants trans women out of the spaces we have been in for decades, as harmless as any other women. That would make my life considerably more uncomfortable. Of course you can “believe sex is real”; the problem comes when you use that to exclude trans women like me- this is personal- who are culturally women. Possibly it might be better to write about “groups which would ban trans women from women’s space,” as that would make clear that they are haters.
10. Support the expulsion from the Labour Party of those who express bigoted, transphobic views.
Transphobes started tweeting #expelme. Well, they asked for it. The “Labour Women’s Declaration” was divisive. However while they were complaining, I was campaigning.
11.Support reform of the Gender Recognition Act to improve transgender rights, as well as supporting policies which would improve trans people’s access to necessary healthcare, housing, and employment.
12. Organise against and oppose any further transphobic policy from our own party or any other.
It came up on Newsnight, where the leadership candidates were asked questions from a trans-exclusionist point of view. “Is it transphobic to talk about biological sex?” Of course it isn’t; but it is transphobic to demand that all trans women be excluded from all women’s spaces, from domestic violence services to shop changing rooms. “There might be Labour members who would feel uncomfortable about people can self-identify their gender. Would you expel them having signed this pledge?” That casts the exclusionists as ordinary people with “discomfort” and trans people as the threat. But they are haters: see this twitter thread when Marks and Spencer made plain that trans women could be in women’s changing rooms. I tried on jeans yesterday, to see if they fit, not “to get sexual kicks”. They allege no woman would be comfortable with me there and say they will never shop there again. I don’t think anyone noticed me.
Rebecca Long-Bailey: “I am a firm believer in self-identification and I want that brought into UK law.”
Emily Thornberry, long-term LGBT ally, said she does not like to talk about “hate”. Here’s her statement from her twitter feed:
On hate, see above. Not everyone attending WPUK meetings hates all trans women, but when someone gloats about us committing suicide she clearly does. Ms Thornberry says “trans women are women, trans men are men”. She wants us able to talk to each other.
Lisa Nandy: people who wilfully go out to hurt other people has no place in the Labour party. We are free to raise concerns. The bullying and discrimination are awful.
Keir Starmer said “Trans rights are human rights.” He said treating this as a political football is wrong. Of course it is. The haters turn this into a zero-sum game, but we trans women just want to live our lives in peace.
LGBT Labour have their own ten pledges for LGBT rights, including this: “2. Trans rights and reforming the Gender Recognition Act.
I will campaign to reform the Gender Recognition Act to introduce a self-declaration process and for the introduction of legal recognition for non-binary gender identities. I believe that trans women are women, that trans men are men, and that non-binary gender identities are valid and should be respected.” Keir Starmer signed that. And there are Labour women standing up for women’s rights rather than seeking to persecute trans women.