Cast your eye to the top of the page you’re looking at right now and you’ll see this website described as “the world’s most fabulous LGBTQ online magazine”. The important thing here is not that we’re fabulous – everyone knows that – but that we proudly include the T for trans.
We pride ourselves on being inclusive and on standing up for the rights of our entire community. If you don’t believe me, type “trans” into this site’s search engine and check out our archive.
I’ve written before about my sadness at the increasingly bitter war in our community over issues of trans identity. Women concerned about the implications of self-ID or trans women in sport are often met with despicable abuse, while trans people who just want to get on with their lives are marginalised and vilified for simply being.
I’m guessing that there are probably some women who are driven by bigotry and hatred towards trans people. Stands to reason: there will also be women who hate black people, Jews and the disabled, just like Katie Hopkins. Let’s all agree to continue to call out this hatred wherever it occurs.
That being said, because blind hatred exists in some quarters, it doesn’t necessary follow that any criticism of trans politics is by definition abusive or transphobic. Only last week I wrote an article which was highly critical of the Church of England, but I hope nobody would suggest that I harbour hatred or “phobia” towards Christians.
Yet many people are confused about the blurring of “sex” and “gender” and cannot, for example, get their heads around talk of “sex assigned at birth” when, in the majority of cases, sex is observed rather than assigned.
Similarly, when YouTube footage emerges of men with beards aggressively picketing women’s rights meetings – men who have had neither hormone treatment nor surgery but who identify as female – some women could be forgiven for asking questions about trans ideology. And sadly, when these questions are raised, they’re often met – on social media at least – with a blanket “trans women are women, and if you don’t like it eff off” with those expressing even the mildest of misgivings being labelled as “transphobes”.
Conversely, when trans groups march at Pride events, in the minds of some they’re often lumped together with the adult babies or “furries”, which is effectively saying that trans identity is nothing more than a kink. Nothing wrong with kink, by the way, but getting your kicks dressing up as a baby is not – REPEAT NOT – anything like being trans. By the same token, deadnaming – while not constituting “LITERAL VIOLENCE” as averred by a trans activist on Twitter – is cruel, rude and unnecessarily hurtful. Just don’t do it, people.
It’s against this backdrop that the “Labour Campaign for Trans Rights” issued its 12-point pledge card. It’s a bit aggressive and smacks of student politics but, sadly, that seems to be the way of the Left these days. But that’s not the problem. My issue is with clauses nine and ten which go something like this:
- Organise and fight against transphobic organisations such as Woman’s Place UK, LGB Alliance and other trans-exclusionist hate groups.
- Support the expulsion from the Labour party of those who express bigoted, transphobic views.
This seems to suggest that anyone who is a member of or who supports Women’s Place UK and who is also a Labour member needs to be kicked out.
Women’s Place UK is a creature of the Left and was set up chiefly by trades unionists. Last summer I was one of 750 people attending a conference in Westminster about trans people in sport. Much of the conference was technical, dealing with things like hormone levels and the “fast twitch” muscle which is essential in sprinting. As far as I could tell, the women attendees were a fairly broad representation of society: all ages, all races and – as I discovered afterwards over drinks – all political persuasions.
It is absurd to suggest that the women on the stage or in the auditorium, simply by being members or supporters of Women’s Place UK, are transphobic. I was there all day and spoke to as many people as I could: academics, shop workers, students, doctors, retired people and so on. I have to report that I heard not one word that could possibly be construed as transphobic and I can only conclude that whoever penned these 12 pledges could not have attended this or any other Woman’s Place meeting.
All I heard was women from all walks of life discussing how to protect those hard-fought, sex-based rights which, shamefully, have taken so long to achieve. That the Labour Party – THE LABOUR PARTY, FOR GOODNESS’ SAKE – should effectively outlaw women who choose to get together and campaign for women’s rights is a scandal.
None of this means that Labour must agree with the Woman’s Place UK; we live in a democracy where we enjoy free speech and a free press, and it’s fine if a political party chooses not to align itself with a particular campaign group. But disagreement is one thing; labelling those with whom you disagree as “bigoted” and “transphobic” is something else entirely.
So I call on those Labour leadership contenders who back these twelve pledges to think again. I would expect you to support the rights of all minorities but attacking the integrity and intentions of thousands of decent women is not the way to go about it.