“Lesbian Labour”

The code is easy to crack. You don’t have to read far in this new website to see “Lesbian Labour” is only interested in campaigning against trans people. Their aims include “supporting gender nonconforming and same sex attracted girls”- that is, denying that trans boys can know themselves or what they want, and crushing those who detransition by reinforcing their internalised transphobia. Later they claim that homophobia encourages gay people to identify as trans. It is divorced from reality to claim that people who are homophobic are not transphobic.

The site claims it is from December 2020. Odd. I had not heard of them before now. Suddenly there is publicity for them. Who are they? Ah, Paula Bolton, who wrote the Labour Transphobes’ Declaration. She has done some worthwhile work for women’s rights. Such a shame she has given that up to work at trans exclusion.

Paula spreads the myth that lesbian girls are told they are boys, and pressed to take testosterone. No-one treats trans children without the children, and often their parents, fighting very hard for it.

Another woman claims “Labour has forgotten what a woman actually is” because it includes trans women on all women shortlists. She claims we are dangerous. It’s the clearest transphobia. Another will not even use the word “transwoman”, calling us “men”, and later “predatory men”. Her repulsion at medical treatment for trans children is extreme, like the fear of an arachnophobe for a spider. That’s three stories, all going over their glory days in the 70s and 80s. Younger lesbians tend to recognise that our oppression is all bound up together.

Their other aims might seem sensible but are directed at trans people really. “Make Labour a safe and welcoming party for lesbians”- well, that is my aim too, and the aim of LGBT Labour. It’s not that it’s a bad aim, it’s the way they interpret safety- no trans women in women’s spaces.

I click “Find out more” and read an attack on LGBT Labour and Stonewall. They claim women’s oppression is based on sex, not “identity”. That is a false claim that trans women do not suffer misogyny as well as transphobia. They will gain no rights by denying that others are oppressed too.

They demand lesbian spaces free from “intrusion”, that is, from the inclusion of trans lesbians.

In the some personal stories, there’s an Ourselves Alone vibe- “Who can protect Lesbians but Lesbians themselves?” Well, Stonewall is led by lesbians, and LGBT Labour has lesbians at all levels. That’s who support lesbians- we are stronger together. Divide us up, and our rights will fall.

On farcebook, a lesbian claimed LGBT Labour don’t represent lesbians. I pointed out their National Chair is a lesbian. She explains why she is a trans ally. “Window dressing” commented a transphobe, as if Alex Beverley and Nancy Kelley of Stonewall are silly women who don’t know their own minds.

They suggest useful links: LGB All Liars and the Labour Transphobes’ Declaration. Tiny groups of transphobes give themselves all sorts of different names. I wonder what the overlap between these groups is. The threat is the hundreds of millions of dollars provided by hard Right American organisations to these groups to support their transphobia. More on this soon.

Eddie Izzard and nonbinary

When Izzard was nonbinary, no-one cared. But now, she’s transitioning!?

In 2017 in The Hollywood Reporter she said she identified as transgender but had both “boy and girl mode”. But in 2020, her pronouns were given as she/her, and it was international news. Now, she is recording a drama in a male role, and wanted to go back to he/him, but was told she can’t be both.

She came out as “transvestite” in 1985, and people would stand a foot away and ask “What the fuck is that?” They turn you into an it, she says. “People don’t expect a trans woman to be able to run 130 marathons for charity and it changes their sense of what a trans woman is,” she says. That’s because they expect trans women to be physically inadequate and without any staying-power.

Will she physically transition, asks the journalist. There it is. Are you going to have your balls cut off. What will your genitals look like. Any privacy interviewees might have about medical conditions is denied the trans woman. She has always had breasts envy, and he asks if she is taking hormones. She refuses to say but “smiles”.

She wants to be a Labour candidate. I would love to have her stand here.

Some people are nonbinary, and that matters. They could change pronouns but not presentation, they could present differently on different days like Izzard still does, they could mix it up like his man’s suit and high heeled shoes. But there’s still this idea of proper transition, hormones and surgery. Either medicalised transition is thought of as acceptable, but anything else is still seen as perverted or wrong, or medicalised transition is something the cis have somehow got their heads round but nonbinary is beyond their comprehension. No one should have to undergo surgery to be accepted. No one should have their gender expression restricted.

Izzard thinks radical feminists should be our allies. “I’d like to get to the place where we don’t have to have this fight because I’m trying to deal with rightwing fascists.” Of course. My way to make allies would be to talk about common interests rather than women’s spaces.

The House of Lords transphobia increased, using the excuse of international women’s day. Content: transphobia.

Ralph Palmer, a Conservative hereditary peer, said:

Stonewall, please climb out of the hole of misogyny and bullying that you have dug for yourself. The needs of trans people, which are pressing, are not best served by adding to the disadvantages of women.

Tories, of course, want it to be a zero-sum game, a conflict of rights. We have so much in common, especially our interests, with all feminists, and they want to obscure that. It is a shame some self-identified “feminists” go along with them.

Anthony Young, a Labour peer, said “I want to make it clear that I believe in fair rights for transgender people. I am not transphobic, although no doubt I will be accused of it after this contribution”. Not a good line. Why is he transphobic? Well, “Fair rights” to him means exclusion from women’s spaces. I don’t want “fair rights” according to Young’s definition, I want human rights.

He is transphobic because he spoke out against inclusive language for trans men as “nonsense”. Then he said,

I want to conclude on the problem of the increased violence towards women and children taking place during Covid. We need to ensure that we protect safe spaces for women in hostels, refuges, hospitals and prisons. Physical threats to women, including rape, by transgender men are a terrible indictment on our society.

By “transgender men” he means trans women. I had to think about that one, but perhaps we will have to get used to it. The problem of increased violence towards women during covid has nothing to do with trans women. It is cis men. The juxtaposition shows extreme fear or hatred of trans women, and attempts to instil it in others. It is transphobic.

Fortunately Sal Brinton, Liberal Democrat, spoke up for us.

On top of the concerns about the attacks on trans people, there is now a real concern that the equalities rights granted over many years are being rowed back on. Over the last two days, three government advisers have resigned over this issue, the Conservative LGBT+ organisation is demanding an investigation and many Back-Bench MPs are worried.

I was somewhat surprised by the assertion of the noble Lord, Lord Young, that women’s refuges were dangerous places because of the threat of trans women being there. I am not aware of any such cases, and for the Domestic Abuse Bill, a number of women’s refuges and other organisations made it plain that they are trans -inclusive. In fact, a 2017 survey showed that the reality is that one in six trans women experience domestic abuse themselves.

In the House of Commons, the usual transphobes were about: Jackie Doyle-Price claimed to “fight for women’s safe spaces” rather than for trans-exclusion, and praised Keira Bell.

Yet Caroline Nokes MP said,

On this International Women’s Day, let us champion all women—gay women, who do not need conversion therapy; trans women, who want to be treated with respect and fairness. Remember, they are the ones most likely to suffer domestic abuse.

Kirsty Blackman, MP, SNP said,

We must consider this—we must look at stereotypes—and we must always consider intersectionality: we must check our own privilege. Younger women, ethnic minority women, bisexual women, trans women and disabled women are more likely to be domestically abused.

Wendy Chamberlain, MP, LD, referred to single-sex spaces but said they were needed because of “the fear of sexual violence perpetrated by men”. Exactly. Not trans women.

Harriet Harman

Is Harriet Harman now an anti-trans campaigner? Saying male predators pretend to be trans is a big deal.

This is the quote from the interview:

I ask her to respond to Jenny [sic] Murray’s recent comments regarding transgender women, and she states: “I think that people who are transgender face a very high level of difficulty and discrimination and that should never be underestimated.”

However, she adds: “I also think we have to recognise that there are some men who would want to falsely claim to be transgender to infiltrate women only spaces.”

I have used my gender recognition certificate to get a birth certificate in my name. I don’t carry either certificate around to show when I enter public loos. Self-declaration came in with the Equality Act, and you would think Harman would know that. On her website, we read a document from 2010:

Trans

The Equality Bill will change the definition of ‘gender reassignment’ to make it clear that a person does not have to be under medical supervision to be protected from discrimination.

“Make it clear”- that was the intention from the beginning. We are trans women from the moment we decide to transition. It’s all about self-declaration.

Possibly in prisons a trouble-making male prisoner might claim to be a woman to cause trouble, or even to alleviate the boredom. This is because in prison men are comparatively powerless. A violent man can just kick the door down, he does not need a gender recognition certificate.

And the myth is dangerous. It creates suspicion. Is that person a trans woman, or a violent male pretending to be a trans woman? It foments violence against us.

Is it just that she disnae ken? There’s little excuse for that three years after the hate campaign really started to hot up.

The Guardian found that Harman supported self-declaration of trans women on women-only shortlists.

When acting leader of Labour, she wrote for Pink News about IDAHoBiT. She refers to “homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying” but says nothing specific about trans people.

Janice Turner in The Times wrote, “Harriet Harman too supports self-ID but also wants stop men exploiting their access to women’s spaces. But how, Harriet?” Yeah. An accusation of hypocrisy from a phobe, in February 2018, is not conclusive either way.

Paris Lees’ agent claims that Harman praised Lees’ appearance on Question Time.

Transphobe clique WPUK pointed me to this Guardian article. Harman, as chair of the joint parliamentary committee on human rights, issued a report that free speech on university campuses was inhibited by safe space and no-platform policies, in 2018. That would include policies to protect trans people.

Harriet Harman, while part of a Labour cabinet or shadow cabinet, has achieved good things for trans people, including the Equality Act. Now, she has helped spread a myth which is easily disproved, which she should know to be false, and which foments violence against us. This matters.

No doubt an army of bots and trolls will change their usual misogynist abuse of Harman to include abusing her as a transphobe. Whether this is intended to increase transphobia, or merely to increase mayhem, that’s not in our interests.

People who can should call her out as a spreader of transphobic myths, but probably not on social media: in Labour circles, and in articles, would be better.

I will complain to the Labour Party.

Johann Lamont and Forensic Medical Services

Is there any place where a cis woman should be able to insist there is no trans woman, or is that transphobic? What about a medical examination of a victim of sexual assault or rape?

The medical examiner might have to take a semen sample from inside a woman’s vagina, or examine her internally for injury. The woman has been violated, and so is in a vulnerable state, possibly disconnected from her body, or flinching from touch. Should she be able to insist that the examiner is a cis woman?

In Scots law generally there is no distinction made between gender and sex. Both the Equality Act and the Gender Recognition Act use the words interchangeably, and after my GRC the GRA confirms that both my gender and my sex are female. The Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2014 allowed a woman to choose that the forensic medical examiner should be a woman, by saying the victim could choose the “gender” of the examiner.

Transphobes campaigning against trans rights have sought to create a distinction, saying that transgender people change our gender, that is, our presentation and our conformity to stereotypes, but not our sex, which is based on genes, gonads and genitals. I still have a Y chromosome, so they say my sex is male. Then they say I should be expelled from women’s spaces. This would change my life. I have been in women’s spaces for decades.

The purpose of the Forensic Medical Services (Victims of Sexual Offences) (Scotland) Act 2021, which came into force on 20 January, is to allow victims to seek a forensic medical examination from the NHS without needing to report the crime to the police. I would have hoped such a change could be made administratively, by changes to police, NHS and court procedures, but it was a Bill, taking months to get through Parliament.

Johann Lamont MSP introduced an amendment into the draft Bill, to change the word “gender” in the Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2014 to “sex”. She imagines that now, victims can specify that they want a cis woman, not just a woman.

I am not sure what practical effect that has. I want a woman to be able to get an examination where she is, in Ullapool or Lerwick as well as Edinburgh, ideally without an examiner being flown out from the city. But then, the examiner has to be able to stand as an expert witness in the High Court of Justiciary. I have no idea how many people are qualified to perform such an examination, and whether any of them are trans women.

Johann Lamont, that is, used a Bill designed to benefit victims of sexual abuse to enshrine discrimination against trans women in Scots law, and form a basis for an argument that there is a legal distinction between “gender” and “sex”, so that there could be further discrimination in future.

She does it from a clearly transphobic position. She signed the Labour Transphobes’ Declaration and said at the time

I have fought all my life along with my sisters in the Labour and trade union movement to ensure that women’s voices are heard, that our needs and rights are addressed, to end the inequality women face and to change women’s lives. The progress made by women has come from women organising together and refusing to be silenced. That is as necessary now as it ever was.

To characterise demands to exclude trans women as “addressing women’s needs” is deeply transphobic.

When the amendment went before Parliament, there was a disgustingly transphobic article in The Scotsman. The delusional transphobe hack who wrote it claimed that “women are fighting for the very right to exist”. That’s paranoid. She wrote, “Women and girls the world over are mutilated and murdered because of their sex, not because of gender stereotypes such as lipstick and high-heels”. Trans women are assaulted and murdered because we are trans women. She diminishes our very nature to the fetishist whim of wearing high heels. She sets cis women against trans women. It is one of the most transphobic rants I have seen. She quotes Lamont saying,

Women should be able to choose the sex of the person who conducts the investigation. This is a key test for the Parliament, which is committed to rooting action in the understanding of experience. Women courageously and powerfully spoke up so that others might fare better than them. The amendment is tiny but would be a huge step in listening to survivors. The committee was convinced. The Parliament should be too.

“Listening to survivors” means excluding trans women. Speaking up courageously means demanding that trans women be excluded. It is a horrifying paean in praise of hate.

I am not sure whether a trans woman should heed the desire of such a victim to have a cis woman examiner. It may just be my internalised transphobia suggesting that could possibly be reasonable, that the trans woman should stand aside. But, unquestionably, the motive for the amendment is transphobic hate. Transphobic hate now has an entrée into Scots law.

Tweets and reality

Is Eddie Izzard a lesbian? It depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.

Some words have precise meanings. A zoologist plying his trade would not call her a “cat”, meaning the family Felidae or the genus Panthera or Felis. But you might see her moving on stage with feline grace. She is not a planet, because that has a clear meaning- Pluto was, then it wasn’t- but she is a star. She may be a hepcat- I knew slang, I thought it was 1960s, two words, hep for fashionable, cat for cool person. Words are slippery. Even scientific words have fuzzy edges where they may or may not apply.

Eddie says he’s a lesbian in a man’s body, and is that a good thing? A lesbian is a woman attracted to women. Homophobes find that weird, shameful or disgusting, and mourn the time when more people shared their opinion. If Eddie calls herself a lesbian it’s aspirational, something he wants to be. It becomes something to be proud of.

It’s only a bad thing if it forms some sort of threat to lesbians. The Times argues that it is, that lesbians are erased. Grace Petrie tweeted that if the transphobes were concerned about lesbian erasure, they might start a regular lesbian life column. No, because they only support lesbians in order to attack trans folk. The Daily Mail even supported a trans woman, once- to attack Muslims.

Insisting on too rigid a distinction between lesbian and bi might be biphobic. Trans women are women, so trans women attracted to women and not men are lesbians. If you think that’s a threat to lesbians, please explain why.

Right now, there are things to be angry about. The extreme incompetence of the British government has led to a sudden lockdown, when we can only go out to work if it is impossible to work from home, no more than two people can meet outside in a public place, and all the shops but pharmacies and supermarkets are shut. Schools are shut, but even on Monday 4th the Department for Education had a high-level meeting insisting they would be open, and children would be regularly tested for covid. So schools, without additional funding, have had to plan a testing regime, only to find now they will have to implement distance learning, with no notice. The hospitals are full, but infections have continued to rise, which means people will die who would have survived had they received proper medical care. Bizarrely, churches can open for worship, though many run food banks.

So, the usual suspects stir up anger against trans people instead. Jackie Doyle-Price, Tory MP, tweeted anger at Eddie calling herself a lesbian. Rosie Duffield, a Labour MP who should know better, liked the tweet. Tories, being English Nationalists, need to stir up hatred against enemies. Duffield has no such excuse.

Duffield also liked a tweet about a transphobic picture book, “My body is me”.

Bodies are different. Children are too.
Some prefer pink things. Some prefer blue.

That might be seen as reinforcing gender stereotypes in the most basic way. The book, which is unavailable on Amazon, shows children with “girl” hairstyles and “boy” hairstyles.

My body can act like a low flying plane
A mermaid, a dragon, one part of a train.

The plane- a boy walking, with planks strapped to his arms. Why low-flying? I stuck my arms out, no planks needed, and yelled NEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAOOOOWW. I was definitely high flying. It doesn’t set much store by child imagination. The mermaid is clearly a girl. Rigid gender stereotypes, again.

You are born in your body. You don’t have a spare.
So love it, hug it, treat it with care.

“My body is me” might be materialist, denying the existence of an immortal soul, so distressing Christians, but “You are born in your body” is denying the truth of trans children. Most children simply won’t understand, they won’t know what the alternative might be, but the five year old AMAB child who knows she is a girl will learn in the most direct way that she is not acceptable as she is, and has to keep quiet about it. Most children are cis, so will be unaffected. Some are trans, and will be traumatised.

Pink News reported, and quoted Duffield’s response- “click bait non story sourced solely from the weird world of Twitter” which she inhabits.

Duffield is doing the Nationalists’ work for them, spreading hate. It is deeply hypocritical of her to say that the pandemic and Brexit chaos are more important issues.

Should we respond to the phobes? Arguably not, it just gives them oxygen. Trans people spending too much time looking at this may become depressed. Haters will be encouraged to hate more. On the other hand, Duffield is doing Tory work, supporting Tories, and spreading hate in the Tory interest, so the Labour Party should take action against her.

Antisemitism, transphobia and the Labour Party

I welcome the report into antisemitism in the Labour party. Its recommendations should apply to transphobia as well. The transphobe MSP Jenny Marra and MP Rosie Duffield have faced no sanction for their transphobia. The transphobic document the “Labour Women’s Declaration” has received no condemnation from the Labour leadership. Transphobia is rife in the Labour Party.

I have taken paragraphs from the report, and substituted “transphobia” for “antisemitism”, “trans people” for “Jewish people”. I do this because I find transphobia in the Labour party quite as offensive as antisemitism.

The Labour Party must acknowledge the impact that years of failing to tackle transphobia has had on trans people. Rebuilding trust and confidence with its members, the Trans community and the wider public will be crucial for the future. A transparent and independent transphobia complaints process, which ensures that all cases of alleged discrimination, harassment or victimisation are investigated promptly, rigorously and without political interference, must sit at the heart of this. (p3)

Politicians on all sides have a responsibility to set standards for our public life and to lead the way in challenging HoBiT in all its forms. What politicians say and do matters. Their words and actions send a message about what is acceptable and what is not. (p4)

The Party has shown an ability to act decisively when it wants to, through the introduction of a bespoke process to deal with sexual harassment complaints… it is hard not to conclude that transphobia within the Labour Party could have been tackled more effectively if the leadership had chosen to do so. (p6)

An effective and transparent complaints process is critical to building trust with members and the general public, yet the Labour Party’s response to transphobia complaints has been inconsistent, poor, and lacking in transparency. (p9)

There is:
no clear, publicly accessible guidance for members on how transphobic conduct is sanctioned
no clear guidance for decision-makers on how to decide on the appropriate sanction
a continuing failure to provide adequate reasons for sanctions, and
poor record-keeping, implementation and monitoring of sanctions. (p10)

There was a failure to deliver adequate training to individuals responsible for handling transphobia complaints. The approach to training for antisemitism is in stark contrast to the training provided for those handling sexual harassment complaints, for whom the Labour Party has implemented a comprehensive training scheme. (p11)

We expect the Labour Party to have practical training in place within six months of publication of this report. We also found that the resourcing of the complaints process was inadequate. (p11)

Why can’t the EHRC recommend this for all discrimination complaints?

The Party should… Engage with Jewish stakeholders to develop and embed clear, accessible and robust principles and practices to tackle transphobia and to instil confidence for the future. (p12)

[and] commission an independent process to handle and determine transphobia complaints. (p13)

[and] Publish a comprehensive policy and procedure, setting out how transphobia complaints will be handled and how decisions on them will be made. This should include published criteria on what conduct will be subject to investigation and suspension. (p13)

[and] make sure the complaint handling process is resourced properly so that it can deal with transphobia complaints effectively and without delay. (p14)

The EHRC says Jewish stakeholders should be consulted on training programmes. I want trans members consulted on transphobia and training for all with positions of responsibility within the Party.

In the introduction to the report, the EHRC says,

Under the Equality Act 2010, the Labour Party must not discriminate against, harass or victimise its members, associates, guests, or those wanting to become members, on the basis of a number of protected characteristics… Leaders and representatives of political parties should uphold and defend their right to speak freely, but they also have a responsibility to conduct debate responsibly, and to lead others in doing so. They should create an environment where discrimination, harassment and victimisation is not tolerated, so that all party members feel valued and respected.

There is no excuse for the Labour Party not responding to transphobia as it has committed to responding to antisemitism.

NEC nominations and trans rights

Updated 13 November: the results of the NEC elections have been announced. Candidates in bold were elected. Most have spoken up for trans rights or against transphobia.

Labour Party members voted for National Executive Committee CLP representatives. Every eligible member could vote for nine CLP reps and one treasurer. What are the candidates’ positions on trans rights? The Labour Party LGBT Network asked a long list of questions, mainly about trans rights. Most candidates have spoken or written in favour of trans rights, or against transphobia. The ballot closed at noon on 12th November, and the results were announced the following day.

Continue reading

Single issue campaigners

Some Labour Party members hate trans people, and in particular trans women, so much that they do not think any other political issue is important. Such single issue campaigners are a blight on the resources and prospects of the Party, causing division and driving members away. We would be better off without them. For example,

I am preparing to leave the Labour Party. I have never voted for anyone other than the Labour Party throughout my life but now feel unsure of what I can do in the next election. If the Labour Party does not support women’s sex based rights then it does not support me or any other woman.

“Sex-based rights” is code for expelling trans women from women’s spaces. According to these people, I should not even be allowed in a shop changing room to try clothes on before buying them, even if the cubicles have walls and lockable doors stretching from floor to ceiling, however long I have transitioned, even if I pass. To win this right to be there without the possibility that a trans woman might enter too, which the Labour Party opposes but many in the Conservative party would support, she will relentlessly abuse and diminish the Labour Party.

It is a lie to speak of Labour’s “silence on women’s rights”. Labour supports women’s rights, having introduced the Sex Discrimination Act and the Equal Pay Act, and the Equality Act. However, in these people’s view it seems only the “right” to be in a space where trans women are guaranteed never to enter matters.

The level of abuse is appalling.

  • “Please put some grown-ups in charge so that I can vote Labour again.”
  • “I have always voted Labour but am disgusted at the direction they are going in”
  • Anyone opposing transphobia is abused as “simpletons, misogynists and the deeply ignorant.”
  • “The Labour Party are a misogynistic disgrace.”
  • “Shame on the Labour party and shame on Keir Starmer.”

For these people, expelling trans women from women’s spaces is treated as the only political issue, more important than the pandemic or the corrupt contracting out of public services by the Tory government; and the only feminist issue, more important than VAWG or street harassment. Nothing Labour does in campaigning for women and women’s rights matters to them.

One asks, “Is Labour losing support because of the silence on women’s rights?” Nothing Labour does for women matters to her.

We can’t know that these quotes come from Labour supporters rather than trolls or even bots, because there is no verification done. And, they are writing on a social media space where the greater hostility to trans people, particularly trans women, is glorified, and any dissenting voice quickly silenced. In that space, they get more little dopamine hits from Likes, the more hostile they are.

The comments are completely out of proportion. If they do not think Kier Starmer, Anneliese Dodds and Marsha de Cordova are adults, who would be better? They are aggrieved, and see themselves as victims, even while imagining they are more knowledgable and intelligent. They encourage each other, and get more extreme.

How many people think like that? Hundreds; but their voices are magnified by such as The Times, with its anti-Labour and anti-trans agenda.

Some of these people claim to activism in the past, canvassing or getting out the vote. However, now, they are simply a burden on the party, abusing its leader, policy and membership. All their claims of loyalty and long-term adherence are only made to try to strengthen their voice against Labour policy. They do no good for our party. They set back the cause of women’s rights and LGB rights by stoking division. If they cannot develop a sense of proportion, they should leave.

Rosie Duffield

Is it transphobic to tweet “Only women have a cervix”? Yes. Rosie Duffield MP said “I’m a ‘transphobe’ for knowing that only women have a cervix….?!”

Trans men have cervixes, and need screening. Nonbinary people are entitled to object to being called women. There is a feminist argument here. Cervical cancer, period poverty, rising child mortality linked to Tory austerity policies, are not “women’s issues”, of interest to women, they are people’s issues and all people should be concerned about them. Rosie Duffield was born in 1971, and inclusive language for women, eg “police officer” rather than “policeman”, had been mostly won when she was in high school, though Dover District Council has a “chairman”.

Trans rights has been a huge issue in the Labour Party at least since the Labour Women’s Declaration, a transphobic document, was launched in time to disrupt the Labour election campaign. Duffield knows the issues. She is deflecting to call this a “communist pile-on”- I voted for Keir Starmer in the leadership election.

The trail goes back to the American Cancer Society, which on 31 July published a paper updating screening guidance: “Cervical cancer screening for individuals at average risk”. The abstract begins, “The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends that individuals with a cervix initiate cervical cancer screening at age 25 years”. CNN reported this: “American Cancer Society now recommends screening start at 25, not 21” is the headline, and the report starts “Individuals with a cervix”. Immunisation against HPV has reduced the risk in younger women.

My use of “women” there is not a mistake: the research is on women, without sufficient data to show that the risk is also reduced in trans men and nonbinary people.

CNN tweeted the first paragraph of that report, and a link. So the tweet started “Individuals with a cervix”. Piers Morgan retweeted with the comment “Do you mean women?” Rosie Duffield saw the tweet, and clicked the heart symbol. Then she started arguing when people objected.

I googled NHS cervical smear testing, and saw this: “Cervical screening (a smear test) checks the health of your cervix. The cervix is the opening to your womb from your vagina. It’s not a test for cancer, it’s a test to help prevent cancer. All women and people with a cervix aged 25 to 64 should be invited by letter.” “People with a cervix” includes trans men and nonbinary people. I prefer “people” to “individuals” here: “Individuals” sounds more formal, but scientific papers should not be formal for the sake of it, just when necessary for clarity. “Legal persons” such as companies do not own cervixes.

Someone has had the bizarre misconstruction, possibly intentional, that “a test for cancer” means a test that causes cancer, and the NHS feels the need to explain that is wrong- they would be better to omit “It’s not a test for cancer”, because it clearly is a test for cancer or precancerous changes, and just put “It’s a test to help prevent cancer”.

Rosie Duffield’s tweets are now protected. Only approved followers can see them. However, she commented “I’m a transphobe for knowing only women have a cervix?” Labour List then quoted Jess Phillips saying Duffield was not a transphobe. They quote Duffield:

the post by CNN “isn’t a post about transphobia, it’s a post about female body parts… Hugely insulting to all women, trans or cis, in my opinion”.

Many of her followers and Labour activists reacted angrily to her comments, calling for her resignation. The Labour MP called the reaction a “tedious communist pile-on”, and said that it was “hardly a suitable discussion for Twitter”.

“Insulting to trans women,” says Duffield. Most of the “Debate” is an attack on trans women, an attempt to incite fear of us, an attempt to restrict our rights and normalise prejudice against us, but here the issue is trans men. Duffield is not stupid and should know that.

Labour party rules are convoluted, but clause 6.I.1.B says that in any alleged breach of clause 2.I.8, “any incident which might reasonably be seen to demonstrate hostility or prejudice based on… gender reassignment or identity…” the NEC “may” suspend any individual, then the General Secretary or other national officer shall investigate, then the NEC “may” discipline under clause 1.VIII.3.A.iii, whose sanctions include expulsion from the party. “May” indicates discretion, “shall” indicates none. The Disputes Team will investigate and pass the complaints to the Disputes Panel of the NEC.

Clause 2.I.8 says no member shall engage in conduct which is prejudicial or grossly detrimental to the Party. The NEC “shall” regard hostility or prejudice based on gender reassignment or identity as conduct prejudicial.

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You can complain here. This is my complaint. Duffield is MP for Canterbury, so from the South East. She is 49.

Rosie Duffield said, “I’m a ‘transphobe’ for knowing that only women have a cervix….?!” Trans men and nonbinary people may also have cervixes. The statement erases trans men and nonbinary people. Duffield disregards the feelings of those trans men and nonbinary people, who may object to being called “women”. Therefore she indicates prejudice against them contrary to the Rule Book Chapter 2 clause I.8.

“Individuals with a cervix” is inclusive language, which includes cis women as well as nonbinary people and trans men. “Women” excludes trans men and nonbinary people. It is thus just the same as using the phrase “police officer” rather than “policeman”. Duffield would understand that transphobia is an issue in the Labour Party. It has been an issue at least since the transphobic “Labour Women’s Declaration” was issued in November 2019, just in time to disrupt the Party’s election campaign.

Objecting to inclusive language for trans people is prejudicial, just as objecting to inclusive language for women, insisting on “Chairman” rather than “Chair” or “Chairperson”, would be sexist.

I object to Ms Duffield calling this a “Communist pile-on”. I have been a party member since 2017, and have canvassed and campaigned for the Party. I want the Party to win. I am a trans woman and an ordinary member of the Party. I voted for Mr Starmer as leader. I find Ms Duffield’s statements personally offensive.

The Labour Party says what will happen next.

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What about Jess Phillips? Labour List quotes her saying she does not think that Rosie Duffield is a transphobe, and that Twitter is not the place for reasonable policy debate about sometimes difficult and complex issues such as the trans issue, which “more than anything else, deserves proper detailed debate and attention by policy makers who almost certainly should be changing the Gender Recognition Act – it is now outdated.”

I am grateful to Jess Phillips for being part of the Women and Equalities Committee which recommended a great increase in trans rights. She is right that twitter is not the place for policy debate, but that’s a criticism of Duffield: when people pointed out she had liked Morgan’s tweet she should have stopped tweeting. She should have known about inclusive language, and not liked Morgan’s tweet which mocks it.

The “vitriolic war” here is Morgan’s mocking response to trans-inclusive language, and Duffield’s support for it. I have emailed Jess Phillips asking her to ask Rosie Duffield to apologise.

12 October: Duffield wants to ban trans women from women’s loos. Here she is in The Times: ““It was during the Labour Party conference. He [her abusive former partner] arrived in the space where I was with two friends, late at night, and it was very obvious it wasn’t a coincidence and he was physically threatening. The first thing that one of my colleagues did was rush me to the nearest women’s bathroom. We could go in and lock the door and I could calm down. If he had been able to access that room things could have been very different.”

The lie is that any man could just go lawfully into a women’s loo. It is ridiculous. The man could easily have forced his way in. A lawbreaker who will assault a woman will not be deterred by a sign on a door, and would hardly go to the bother of getting a GRC in order to follow Duffield. The argument is wholly false. But with the allusion to domestic abuse, it is designed to arouse fear, and attach it to innocent trans women. She uses the term “women only” to mean excluding trans women.

Lloyd Russell Moyle, the Labour Party, and trans rights

“Labour must stand with trans people against a new section 28,” wrote Lloyd Russell-Moyle in Tribune. It’s a good article.

Recently, of course, we saw people like JK Rowling using her own sexual assault as justification for discriminating against a group of people who were not responsible for it. Trans people are no more likely to be rapists; in fact, they are more likely to be victims of sexual assault themselves. That’s why, despite JK Rowling’s hate towards them, hundreds of trans people wrote to complain to The Sun when it trivialised her domestic abuse on a recent front page… Those who try to weaponise women’s rights as a tool to push transphobia are hurting women and trans people, and we should not be quiet in calling it out.

JK Rowling’s hate is well documented. Her ex-husband’s violence does not excuse it and is entirely irrelevant to innocent trans people. However Sir Keir Starmer, leader of the Labour Party, told Russell-Moyle, a shadow junior minister for the Environment, to apologise. When I searched for him, Google was quoting wikipedia as saying he is a “politician and men’s rights activist”, though the lie had been deleted from Wikipedia when I went there. He is a politician who has a reasonable view on trans rights.

However Russell-Moyle apologised on twitter.

I want to apologies unreservedly about the comments in the article that I wrote last week in Tribune regarding Trans rights in which I mention J.K. Rowling. J.K. Rowling’s first disclosures of domestic abuse and sexual assault in her recent article on Trans issues were heartfelt and must have been hard to say. Whilst I may disagree with some of her analysis on trans rights, it was wrong of me to suggest that she used her own dreadful experience in anything other than good faith. I have asked Tribune to remove the line in question.

The paragraph is still there. Tribune explain, “It is against Tribune’s editorial policy to amend the contents of articles after publication in the fashion requested,” but they publish the apology.

As Moyle says,

While it is sickening to see trans people being caught up in a lazy attempt by the government to gain headlines, we must also know that their existence was threatened day in and day out even before this latest fiasco. Socialists must not only defend their rights, we must stand with them against exploitation, intimidation and mistreatment by the state.

On Monday morning, Keir Starmer, leader of the Labour Party, was interviewed on The Today Programme (from 2:10:04 on the recording). He said “The PM is good on promising and bad on delivery”- mentioning the broken promise to build affordable housing- but the interviewer wanted to ask about his sacking Rebecca Long-Bailey, former shadow Secretary for Education, and Lloyd Russell-Moyle.

On Rebecca LongBailey, he said he will “take the action that is necessary on antisemitism… we can move forward with a clearer view of what needs to be done to rid the Labour Party of any sense of antisemitism”. Good. I have followed the equivocation, a little, what Amnesty International said, what Maxine Peake said, what Long-Bailey actually tweeted, and equivocation just perpetuates the smell of antisemitism.

JK Rowling was clearly in bad faith. To describe her experiences of partner violence would have been brave and valuable in the struggle for women’s rights. To describe them and then go on to express vile prejudice against trans people is using them in propaganda and demeans her. However as the interviewer Nick Robinson pointed out, she is a life long Labour supporter, and as we know very rich with a huge platform.

What did Starmer say? He said social media is never the best guide to public opinion.

[Moyle] was wrong to say that and he has apologised for it and I have accepted that apology… that was my judgment call and I’ll be judged if you lead a political party you have to take responsibility for the decisions you make.

The interviewer framed the question in exactly the most damaging way, saying “the conflict between two sets of rights trans rights and women’s rights to safe space How do you as Labour leader choose which side you come down on?” He gabbled in the way people do in these interviews, never pausing for fear of interrupting, producing a stentorian monotone.

I think that’s the wrong question, and that’s the problem: people are saying which side are you on this. I think the trans community deserve more protection than they’ve got. I don’t think the legislation goes far enough. That then takes us into difficult questions. Let’s take those difficult questions in a mature calm way without taking sides. Treating this as a political football which is what’s happened over the recent months is completely the wrong way forward. There’s a better way, and that is to reflect, and to do it in a mature, I would hope cross party basis, because the entrenchment is no way- that doesn’t protect the trans community, it doesn’t protect some women who are completely concerned about safe spaces. Let’s have the conversation.

I am convinced there is a way forward here if everybody is prepared to stop chucking bricks at each other, have a mature conversation, not treat it as a political football, and I think the sooner we get to that the better.

Well. He often says “trans rights are human rights”- trans people are human, I hope no-one would disagree. It could be completely neutral, even anti-trans: transphobes claim to support trans rights when seeking trans exclusion. “I don’t think the legislation goes far enough” to support our rights. He isn’t taking sides, he says. I trust he is a progressive. Here he was neutral, and with the storm of Government transphobia that is hard for me to hear; but his words before have been supportive.

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On Good Morning Britain, the same day, Keir Starmer got friendly questions about the PM and the polls, and transphobic questions about trans rights. Piers Morgan ranted:

There is a creeping sense that the transgender lobby is being so aggressive that it’s actually beginning to damage women’s rights? … I mean can somebody who is born with a male biological body simply say I am now identifying as a woman and be afforded full respect do you think that’s right… and have all the rights a woman should have?… JK Rowling is trying to defend women’s rights, she’s not transphobic, from anything I’ve read, she says she supports transgender people, she supports their rights to fairness and equality… is it right that people born in male biological bodies should be able to compete in sports against people born to female biological bodies given that there is in almost every case a massive physical advantage…

Susanna Reid backed Morgan up.

RLB does not actually write the words over which she was sacked but she retweets an interview, but LRM had actually written the article in which he criticised a woman for talking about a sexual assault that she had experienced.

Keir Starmer did not state a personal view. He said Moyle was right to apologise.

Well what I’ve said in this because it is a sensitive issue, trans rights are human rights, the legislation we’ve got doesn’t go far enough and we all have a cross party consensus about it to look at it and see whether it can be developed. But what concerns me here is that this whole issue has become a political football. There must be a space for a mature discussion about how we improve the rights of the trans community, obviously preserve safe spaces. I’m very conscious of the experience of women that have gone through sexual assault, sexual violence, I worked on it very hard as DPP with women’s groups, I do absolutely understand that, but there is two sides here. Let’s stop the political football and have a mature debate about how we improve-

I think we need to respect the right to self-identify, but we need to look at the framework that goes around that. That’s where the legislation needs to take place. That’s where the broad discussion needs to take place. I really don’t want to get drawn in to doing the opposite of what I’m suggesting here which is treating it as a political football. It’s complicated, it’s sensitive. I don’t think that hurling things at each other is the way forward…

I think we can go forward on this if we have a sensible debate about it without just drawing hard lines in the sand. On both sides we need mature reflection on it. We need absolutely- There was a cross-party consensus about this on the discussion that needed to take place and that’s fallen away and that’s a great shame. I actually think these are practical issues there are good questions, let’s reflect on them and find a consensus on the way forward because just chucking mud at one another is not going to help.

Starmer played a straight bat on this. ITV’s article under the video quoted at length stuff they had got they found interesting, but on trans they only quoted “[Moyle] was right to swiftly apologise and he did.” However he said some reassuring things for trans people. “The legislation does not go far enough”. “We need to respect the right to self-identify”. I consider he means there needs to be an advance in trans rights. It might not be as far as we wish. He says we should not draw hard lines. I don’t think a consensus is possible with the hard line anti-trans campaigners, but it might be with some people.

I don’t like the interviewers at all. Anti-trans campaigning was portrayed as reasonable concern, and Morgan played up the alleged threat of male bodies.