They gathered at a secret location under the cover of darkness. Total confidentiality had been maintained, even between friends who embraced each other as they arrived to discuss gay rights. But this was not some socially conservative society under the thumb of a repressive regime. Nor was it a secret society in Victorian London. It was London in 2019.
“We had women arriving through the crush in tears. One woman had liquid thrown at her as she tried to enter. Even the men who attended were shocked at the scale of the harassment because they’re not normally subject to this.”
Those were the words of a WPUK spokeswoman, reported in this newspaper [The Morning Star]. Shockingly, the context was a meeting to discuss women’s rights on the fringe of the Labour Party conference.
How on earth did we get here: to a place where women meeting to discuss sex-based rights and the trafficking of women and girls are accused of hate speech and denounced as “TERFs?” TERF stands for “trans exclusionary radical feminist,” but it has become a dreadful slur — akin to bitch or whore.
The bizarre stories of censorship and bullying by trans activists frequently made baffling reading. But the spectacle of Miranda Yardley, a self-identified transsexual, ending up in the dock for apparent ‘transphobia’ (all at the behest of a non-trans person) really takes the biscuit. An author would struggle to pitch such an incredible scenario at a publisher but, to quote Mark Twain, truth is stranger than fiction. Our post-truth world is off the scale.
While Westminster understandably has its mind on other things, the transgender debate – which you might have expected to calm down after last year’s consultation on the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) – rumbles on with its trademark ferocity. And as two stories have this week have shown, its proponents continue to take no prisoners.
Sir, As transsexual people we are dismayed by the escalation in harassment, threats and abuse directed at women and women’s groups in the name of “transgender rights activism” (“Trans lobby sent me death threats, claims professor”, Dec 6). In the past few years violent rhetoric on social media has spilt over into real life too often. After the harassment of Julie Bindel and the Working Class Movement Library, the physical assault on Maria Maclachlan and the recent use of “masked-up” tactics at a feminist meeting in Bristol, we are horrified by the intimidation and abuse directed at the human rights expert Rosa Freedman.
Transsexuals are worried about their rights being challenged under new legislation
We are transsexual people deeply concerned about the proposed removal of safeguards from the Gender Recognition Act. Replacing the evidenced-based process for obtaining a gender recognition certificate with an over-the-counter style self-declaration blurs the distinction between us and transgender people who remain physically intact. This is problematic when such male-bodied people, including sexual fetishists, demand the rights afforded to women as a protected sex, including access to their private spaces.
The furore surrounding Julie Bindel’s invitation to speak at the Working Class Movement Library during LGBT History Month rumbles on, and competing petitions have now amassed hundreds of signatures. Frances Donnelly demanded that “Bindel is not given a platform at an alleged ‘LGBT’ event.” In contrast, Catherine Costello welcomed the invitation and seeks to counteract the damage being done to the Working Class Movement Library, its funding and reputation. At the time of writing [21 January 2017], Costello’s petition leads by 1917 to 564. Appeals to popularity do not provide the best support for arguments but the two petitions reveal seemingly intractable divisions between LGBTQ+ people, with significant numbers holding strong feelings on both sides.