MPs on International Women’s Day

The International Women’s Day debate is a time for the transphobes to come out and play. Trans allies and feminists talk about women’s concerns, such as the gender pay gap, femicide, the failure to prosecute rape, or the plight of women and girls in Ukraine. Anti-trans campaigners use the debate to attack trans people. Fortunately, some allies spoke up for us.

Stupidest lie came from Bernard Jenkin, Con. He noted that between 2012 and 2018 436 rapes were found to be committed by women, so he claims these are committed by men presenting as women. No, the convictions are of women who are “accessory”, that is, women who assist the male rapist. The lie (at best, a stupid misunderstanding) is old, the refutation is just as old, but Jenkin still repeats it. He said,” I am in favour of protecting the trans community in this country,” then vilified us as dangerous. He said “biological men”, “whatever identity [we- he means trans women] claim” should be excluded from women’s spaces.

Jenkin challenged Anneliese Dodds to define “woman”. She should have said, “trans women are women”. She did not. She said there was a “biological definition and also a legal definition”, which might give comfort to the anti-trans campaigners. In fact in general use “woman” includes trans women.

Joanna Cherry again tried to twist the law to give a false impression. She said, “The court said: ‘Provisions in favour of women’ based on the protected characteristic of sex ‘by definition exclude those who are biologically male’.” However the court also said that if a trans woman said she was a woman, that was true. Cherry will continue to cherry-pick, but the court really was not on her side.

Cherry shows how left-wing feminists who become anti-trans campaigners become handmaidens of the hard right. She praised an article by Suzanne Moore in the Daily Telegraph, delighted that transphobes were suing the Green Party, and said, “no self-respecting woman should wish or work for the success of a political party that makes her rights as a woman or a lesbian conditional on her acceptance of gender identity politics”. She is attacking her own party, and threatening to leave it if challenged for her transphobia.

Transphobe Laura Trott (Con) “salute[d] her courage in talking about these issues”. Whereas for trans people, it often takes courage merely to walk down the street.

Malign idiot Peter Bottomley went to the LGB All Liars conference, and harassed the demonstrators outside, asking if they had read Kathleen Stock’s ridiculous book. Well, has he read Shon Faye, “The Transgender Issue”? He attacked the global anti-bullying youth charity Ditch the Label.

Eton Old Boy Dunning, sorry, Danny Kruger (Con) boasted that he made a World Book Day costume for his daughter. Ooh, how domesticated he is! He used cardboard boxes, being unable to sew. Matt Warman (Con) is a dressmaker, though he does not know the word: he sewed his daughter’s costume. On the Cass report, Kruger said he does not believe there is suddenly a lot more young trans people who were previously repressed or denied. I wonder if he has not heard of Section 28: the Tory government deliberately suppressed and denied young trans people. If 0.1% of adults are trans, why should it be surprising that 0.1% of children are? But Kruger blames “telling people that they can change sex”, confusing them.

Kruger claims “trans activism is a new form of misogyny,” but what he calls trans activism is simply trans people living our lives.

Practised phobe Jackie Doyle-Price (Con) only mentioned trans rights when Peter Bottomley specifically challenged her to do so. She wanted to be “fair to transgender people” by defining us out of women’s spaces, but devoted most of her speech to actual women’s issues. She gave an excellent summary on women in prison. Most should not be there, she says, and it harms them. That is what the IWD debate is for. She also spoke out about defunding of contraception leading to more abortions.

Jess Phillips put the haters’ lies into perspective. “For every name that I am about to read, there will be a story about how better mental health services, even the slightest suggestion of offender management or the availability of quick specialist victim support, would have saved their lives. The perpetrators killed, but it is on us if we keep allowing a system where women live under the requirement of giving away their labour for free in the pursuit of their own safety.” Rosie Duffield also chose to speak on femicide.

Trans rights are a women’s issue- feminists support us. But allies decided to speak on issues which actually affect cis women. Maria Miller (Con) challenged Bernard Jenkin: Women’s Aid and Refuge make their spaces safe by risk-assessing users, including trans people. Wera Hobhouse (LD) also challenged him- even though predatory men will find opportunities for violence, trans people still need protection.

Kate Osborne, Lab, found Jenkin’s views “unhelpful and out of step” with the IWD debate. Apsana Begum alluded to us: “We also know that violence against women, including trans women, continues to blight our society.”

Many MPs used the word “gender” as synonymous with sex, as it is in normal usage. With the insistence of the phobes on the word “sex”, this may indicate that they are not themselves anti-trans campaigners.

The debate has nearly 34,000 words, but is an often-inspiring read. There are moments of horror, including descriptions of murder, and victim-blaming by killers, but also accounts of women’s achievements and analysis of women’s needs. There have only ever been 559 women in the House of Commons: the total number of men is not yet ascertained.

Liz Truss, still the minister for women and equalities, and her deputy Kemi Badenoch, did not deign to attend the debate, so the under-secretary for Transport, Trudy Harrison, answered it for the Government. She agreed with Bernard Jenkin that it was important to “protect the language of females—of women, adult human females, girls, mothers, women who breastfeed.” So she spoke against inclusive language for trans men, and against trans rights.

The full debate is here.

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