Sonia Sodha and the Labour Women’s Declaration

Keir Starmer is clear on trans rights. He says, “Trans women are women”. Sonia Sodha is an anti-trans campaigner, who seeks to foment fear about trans people, particularly trans women, and trans rights. So, what did she say in the Guardian this time?

Sodha’s aim is to paint trans exclusion as sweet reason. She starts with scaremongering: anti-trans campaigners felt unsafe, she says, and had to hire security. Then she introduces a hate group: The Labour Women’s Declaration.

They are a hate group because they campaign against trans rights and spread fear and misinformation about trans people. Sodha repeats that misinformation here.

Sodha claims their “belief” is unobjectionable, even rational: that “biological sex cannot be replaced with self-declared gender identity”. Nobody wants biological sex to be replaced. Most women have XX chromosomes and female reproductive systems. We only want people to recognise that trans women exist: that a tiny vulnerable minority, who do not have female reproductive systems, believe we are women or desire to express ourselves as women. We are women: that is the clear definition of the word.

We are happier, and enabled to contribute to society, if we can be accepted and treated as women. The Equality Act recognises this and allows us to use women’s services unless there are exceptional circumstances. We are allowed in from the moment we decide we will transition, if we present in our true sex.

Sodha claims the LWD position is “essentially where current law stands”. This is false, taken with her statement that women have the right to “single-sex” spaces, which she interprets as excluding all trans women. She wants trans women consigned to “gender neutral services” which often do not exist. Why should I use a toilet designed for disabled people?

Sodha demands total exclusion of trans women from women’s services, and for us to be placed in gender-neutral services we do not want. She calls this extreme position, contrary to the Equality Act, a “dignified and respectful compromise”. She cares nothing for the dignity of trans people.

Sodha implies that schools tell children they are trans, when the desire to transition comes from the child. Children have to show incredible strength of character, and usually have loving supportive parents, before they can transition, leave alone receive medical treatment. Of children discharged from the Gender Identity Development Service in 2019/20, around 250 of them had been referred to an endocrinologist for puberty blockers, perhaps half that were approved for cross-sex hormones. That’s out of eleven million children in Britain. Yet she claims this medical treatment is a threat to children, and implies that far more get it than actually do. Trans people who received this treatment as children report they live happier, healthier lives.

Sodha lists the ways people associated with the LWD have been treated by the Labour Party. She says Keir Starmer has had meetings with them, but not done what they demanded. She does not say why, she just says he has “failed to address” LWD concerns. The Labour Party refused the LWD a conference stall. In candidate selection, people have been asked to justify their views. A councillor has been disciplined for abstaining on a motion. A woman I admire has had her membership application rejected. Sodha says Unions also object to LWD associates.

The Labour Party is a democratic, decentralised party. This indicates that Party members at all levels object to the LWD and their views. The party is governed by rules: this shows that people disciplined by the party have broken those rules. Sodha has not investigated, or given the party members who made those decisions a chance to respond, she has just asserted that all levels of the Labour party and Union movement from the leader down have mistreated people associated with LWD. Then she says the SNP support increasing trans rights. Does she deny Nicola Sturgeon is a feminist? Does she accept that the SNP is a worthwhile party for feminists to join? More than half the SNP’s MSPs, and more than a third of its MPs, are women. Would they support a policy which hurts women’s rights in any way? Some of them oppose SNP policy, but only a tiny minority.

Sodha says this means “gender critical women” are “not welcome” in the Labour party. That’s ridiculous. Nobody accepts the whole platform of a party. We support it because we prefer it to the alternatives. “Gender-critical” people are welcome to their beliefs, but are not permitted to take action against the party, or unlawfully harass or discriminate against trans people.

The Guardian should publish a correction to the misinformation Sodha shares. However the next week the Observer letters headline was, “toxic trans debate is making me afraid”: the writer was not a trans women victim of the Observer, but a hater, objecting to being called transphobic. I don’t want her to be afraid, but her fear does not mean she is right.

10 thoughts on “Sonia Sodha and the Labour Women’s Declaration

  1. “…should publish a correction to the misinformation.”

    Good luck with that 🙄 Both the American and Australian offices of The Guardian have questioned the UK branch’s – I’ll be kind here – ‘blindspot’ around trans rights. There’s some unpleasantness within the UK organisation that goes against the usual progressive and supportive stance for minorities.

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    • Yes. The Observer will not print a correction. It’s just weird. Women who start campaigning against trans people so often become obsessed. It becomes the most important issue in the world for them. Sodha has fallen down the rabbit hole.

      Liked by 1 person

    • It is important that we hear the two sides of any debate, it is very difficult to understand why it is wrong to defend sex-based rights. The fact is that sex-based rights and gender-based rights can co-exist. One does not trump the other. This trend of cancelling anyone who sticks up for the female sex seems totally warped- there is no anti-trans feeling if you say, for example that you are same sex attracted. It an attack on free speech to not allow a balanced argument.

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      • Welcome, Nashi. Thank you for commenting.

        What are “sex-based rights”, do you suppose? Do you mean, excluding every single trans woman from particular women’s spaces? If so, which?

        What is “sticking up for the female sex”? Do you think Jess Philips in the 2016 report, or Nicola Sturgeon, do not stick up for their sex?

        It is indeed an attack on free speech for the Observer to print this sort of drivel as often as they do. Inciting hatred against minorities suppresses minority speech. Anti-trans hatred is judged by its desired effect. Sodha says empty phrases like “dignified compromise” and means total trans exclusion, which would upend trans lives. That’s hate.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I would politely disagree with the idea of viewing both sides of the debate. To boil down a complex issue into yay or nay, does, IMO, a disservice to the complexity, nuance, and richness of what’s really going on. We are left, in that harsh binary, of very limited choices. Ones, I would argue, that suit no one.

          Liked by 1 person

    • In her column, she contrasts right wingers with “misogynistic and transphobic” (!) agendas, and people she claims to be left wing, like herself, who want a “dignified and respectful compromise” (complete trans exclusion and an end to inclusive language). She might think she was being loving if she prevented her child getting treatment. The haters often do. Their belief in their own righteousness does not waver.

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  2. Thank you for this. I saw the article and did not click to read it, having your translation here confirms I did the right thing (for my own sanity). You are performing one heck of a service for the rest of us, and I thank you for that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was as if trans and allies were the haters, and the haters were some sort of righteous, progressive, persecuted minority. It was vile. It was just what you would expect from her- no original thought, just the same angry whining, falsehood and distortion.

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