The transgender crisis that has engulfed the Labour Party has now lurched into a new and previously unimaginable phase. When the hitherto unknown group, the Labour Campaign for Trans Rights (LCTR) launched its egregious manifesto last week, peak-lunacy seemed to have been reached.
Following demands for compliance — including “pledge 4: Accept that trans women are women, trans men are men, and non-binary people are non-binary” — they condemned what they considered to be transphobic organisations, naming Woman’s Place UK and the LGB Alliance and calling for transphobes to be expelled from the party.
Pledge 6 instructed the party to “Listen to trans comrades on issues of transphobia and transmisogyny, allowing trans people to lead the way on our own liberation.” I am trans and a member of the Labour Party so I got in touch — and was promptly blocked. Clearly, I am the wrong sort of trans, since I don’t believe this is about supporting trans people but about the misuse of transgender rights to impose identity politics on the Labour Party.
Yet rather than dismiss the manifesto as a fringe campaign more typical of student politics, Labour MPs queued up to sign it. Among there were Zarah Sultana, who tweeted her support with an astonishing video clip that words cannot possibly describe, although that embarrassment pales into insignificance when compared with the activities of those contesting the election for Leader and Deputy Leader of the party. Shortly after a hustings where Lisa Nandy suggested that male rapists should be housed in female prisons, Dawn Butler announced on national television that “a child is born without sex”. I can’t see how either statement supports me, but I can well imagine the likely reaction to them on the doorstep when we are trying to canvass Labour votes.
Remarkably more than 3,000 have now signed up to the LCTR. Although supposedly done in my name, I am not among them. But I did sign the Labour Women’s Declaration (LWD) because I support the rights of women to maintain their boundaries and maintain sex-based protections.
The organisers of the Women’s Declaration tell me that they were “astonished to hear both Lisa Nandy and Dawn Butler double down on previous statements concerning women’s rights and sex self-identification”. Over 4,000 people have now signed the rival petition, including three MSPs and many Labour councillors. If the trans campaigners have their way, the disciplinary hearings will be operating on an industrial scale.
The problem is the very core of transgender ideology that has gripped not only the Labour Party but the Lib Dems (remember Jo Swinson?), Greens and SNP. On Sunday another leading Labour politician, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, tweeted out to the faithful: “Trans women are women. Trans men are men. Non-binary people are non-binary. All gender identities are valid.”
This is a doctrine, not a matter of debate, and when Nandy and Butler were questioned, they both recited “transwomen are women”, like a statement of faith.
They’re free to hold whatever faith they choose, but unfortunately for them — and tragically for the Labour Party — it’s just not true. As soon as we attempt to define the word woman, the mantra collapses into incoherent nonsense. No wonder Nandy and Butler were left floundering when asked to actually explain themselves.
Inclusivity is a core part of this belief system, and some transgender activists and their acolytes claim that a woman includes everyone who “identifies as a woman”. Yet they never explain what that actually means beyond a right to call oneself a woman. While some may think that transwomen have some secret knowledge of womanhood that is denied to the muggles, the truth is that we don’t. Basing womanhood on feelings opens up the class to any male person who fancies himself as a woman, or desires unfettered access to women. It’s an abusers’ charter.
Others suggest that transwomen should make some sort of effort in order to become women. But how much effort should we make, and in what way is that not simply reinforcing old stereotypes? Shaving off any beards is presumably essential, but what about wearing lipstick? May we wear trousers, even men’s jeans with their decent pockets? More seriously, must all women adopt sexist stereotypes to avoid being disenfranchised from the category they thought was their own?
But putting fantasy and sexist ideas to one side, we all know the definition of woman, and we have always known it. It’s the dictionary definition. A woman is an adult human female. Females belong to the sex that produces ova, or eggs, something that is true for all mammals. But this definition — while coherent and consistent with science — necessarily excludes transwomen like me who certainly do not produce eggs. Our bodies were designed to produce sperm; mine certainly did — I fathered three children. According to biology, transwomen are not women.
Our MPs need to take note because women are becoming increasingly vocal. The founders of the Labour Women’s declaration, are confident because, in their view, “the majority of ordinary people recognise the importance of sex in law, policy and practice, and we will continue to hold the Labour leadership to account on this issue.”
As a transgender campaigner I also want to hold the leadership to account — but about real issues. While much noise has been generated about proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act, much less has been said about the lack of access to psychotherapy, and two-year waiting lists for a first appointment at a gender identity clinic. Transgender people need actions, but instead Labour has lost itself in an Alice in Wonderland fantasy world where a word means whatever I say it means.
So when they talk about self-identification, it seems to me that the Labour Party has chosen to identify as unelectable.
Debbie Hayton is a teacher and a transgender campaigner.