An Open Letter to The Green Party from Women’s Voices Matter

Dear Green Party Member/Officer/Representative,
An open letter from Womens Voices Matter

In February this year I wrote the text below, and then the nasty “TERF BLOCKER” list that the Green Party LGBTIQA+ twitter account compiled and tweeted was subsequently turned into a private access only link. So I chose not to send the following email.

I subsequently came across the ‘Equal Opportunities’ manifesto article, authored by Aimee Challenor in an official capacity as the Green Parties Equalities Spokesperson. It is dangerously misogynistic and erases women, especially lesbians and bi-sexual women.

I would like you to know, that current media attention relating to allegations of wrongdoing by Aimee Challenors father have absolutely no relation to this email, which was authored months prior to extremely distressing allegations being revealed by mainstream media coverage of David Challenors imprisonment for child sexual abuse over the last few days.
Women’s Voices Matter would like the Green Party to respond to the allegations, questions and suggestions which follow.

At the Green Gathering Hustings a few weeks ago I asked the following question as an individual, not as a member of the Women’s Voices Collective:

Who is the Green Parties’ Women’s officer?
What specific women’s sex equality policies do the green party have?
Why does the GP LGBTIQA+ policy doc ignore lesbian & bisexual women?
Why was Green Party Policy breached in the case of Olivia Palmer?
To suspend a former Green Party Parliamentary candidate on the whim of a Labour activist tweet is unacceptable. Olivia Palmer learnt about her suspension from the Green Party when she read the Independent instead of being spoken too first in line with Green Party Policy.

The green Party’s LGBTIQA+ officer Aimee Challenor authored a manifesto policy document that exhibits demonstrable misogyny. It totally ignores lesbians and bi-sexual women. It centres men’s needs and trans needs.

Word searching the doc for occurences of the following words reveals the following:

Woman 0
Women 3 – none of which were references to natal women, only transwoman and non-binary ‘women’
Lesbian 3 – only in relation to LGBTIQA+ ie. Men – Women are not mentioned except in relation to men in your Equal Opportunities Policy. Totally ignoring distinct lesbian & bisexual women’s needs/issues and perpetuating inequality
Trans 19
Gay Men are, of course, mentioned specifically…
https://lgbtiqa.greenparty.org.uk/resources/lgbtiqagreens/downloads/LGBTIQAManifesto2017.pdf
The green Party’s LGBTIQA+ twitter account, was, until earlier this year, actively promoting a list of 28,503 blocked twitter accounts, silencing voices which are mostly women.

Aimee Challenor assembling, maintaining and tweeting a list of twitter accounts to block and including use of the offensive, demeaning and inaccurate term ‘TERF’ to describe the millions of women and children who are adversely impacted by gender self- identification is brutally offensive and misogynistic.
This list gives potential employers, hate groups, and others with dangerous intentions a one stop shop to perpetuate violence and discrimination against women. It has now been taken away from public viewing and operates under a “login” system. A review of the GP LGBTIQA+ twitter account demonstrates its former ‘free to all’ availability. Now it’s only available to people who can prove to Aimee Challenor they are misogynists.
https://blocktogether.org/show-blocks/O_XWuPOdJeK5ySwWhaGKDnrHoPvO58Ns3DaSCZfc
When men say they wish to identify as women and are entitled to participate in all women shortlists, competitive sport, single sex spaces, and women’s refuges simply because they say they are women perpetuates inequality. Men can ‘self-identify’ as women and are supported and encouraged by Green Party policy. Green left leaning women have no political home, no one to vote for.

Men who have grown up seeing female bodies – unlike theirs – treated like sex toys and objectified suddenly decide they’ve experienced exactly the same misogyny and sexism as the women who actually have those bodies?

What’s that about? When socialisation and lived female experience mean nothing? When every single article AC has authored for the Huff Post ignores lesbian and bisexual women and instead, centres transwomen, who are factually and biologically men, not women.

Sian Berry ignoring the specifics of my question to the Green Gathering hustings panel and clearly saying – “I believe transwomen are women and I will believe that until the day I die.” makes an utter nonsense of the reality of women’s struggles. Female inequality and oppression is related to female bodies, female reproductive systems. That’s why women and girls are trafficked, used, abused, denigrated, tortured and violated in porn, bought and sold as commodities and brutally raped as weapons of war.
Current green party behaviour and attitudes clearly defy this statement on your website:

Social Justice
The promotion of dignity, equality, social justice and human rights for all.

Your Equalities Spokesperson does not work towards providing justice or evolution in policy making for women and girls.

A proper recognition of the constant erosive forces of sexism, misogyny and homophobia might contribute to bringing down some of the transactivist dogma and be of protective help to trans identifying individuals. It is really important to differentiate between the nastiness of Transactivism and ‘your nice friend who is trans’ who suffers from dysphoria and is seeking gender reassignment.
Genuine transpeople are very, very different in attitude and behaviour to the majority of transactivists.
Transactivism silences, insults and threatens violence to women. Women are fortunate to have a growing number of transwomen on side, those who recognise the dangers of transactivism to women and transpeople are courageously speaking out in support of women’s rights and safety and actively opposing virulent misogyny from the transactivist movement.

What can the Green Party do?

Publicly endorse the five very reasonable demands of Womans Place UK – and ignore the scandalous and toxic nonsense about WPUK that is perpetuated online in order to further oppress and silence women.
https://womansplaceuk.org/our-5-demands/

Change your policies and public communications so they conform to the 2010 Equalities Act. Sex is a protected characteristic. Gender is not. Gender Reassignment is.

This Green Party webpage needs amending to include sex as a protected characteristic and to conform to the EA 2010. Lesbians are not “attracted to the same gender” – they are same sex attracted.

Let Womens Voices Matter know how Green Party members can participate in discussions about green party policy discussions. Especially how the GP can engage those living in poverty, or who have caring responsibilities which make conference attendance unviable. Teleconferencing perhaps? Online polling? A review of how participation can be extended?

If the Green Party hierarchy are discussing women’s rights, sexual orientation, definitions of sex and gender, then female members reasonably deserve to be actively invited and supported to participate at conference and in policy making. Irrespective of their social status, bank balance or access to caregivers for their children or other family members.

Especially in discussions which relate to the struggles of women, in initiating and supporting policies which support lesbians. Lesbians are now hidden from view, and girls who are same sex attracted have no lesbian role models to help them understand themselves and mature safely. The current trend for girls who choose to ‘identify’ out of being girls, the UK’s 300% increase in girls referring to gender identity clinics may in part be due to a lack of visible role models.

Or perhaps it’s the 80,000 reported rapes (of women by men) a year with a 6% conviction rate? Even though that figure doesn’t include girls aged 16 and under. Girls in towns across Britain, including thousands of girls living in Telford, Newcastle, Peterborough, Sheffield, Rotherham, Oxford, Bristol. Drugged, raped, exploited sold for the profit of men normalising pediphilia. No wonder girls want to be boys.
Please can the Green Party have a Children’s charter? Can Green Party members living in areas where children are being bought, sold and abused feed into policy making?
Is Senior lawyer Nazir Afzalm, the Rochdale and Telford prosecutor, correct when he told the UK government, “Grooming rings are the biggest recruiter for the far right”
What is it about social justice for women and girls that the Green Party just don’t get? There are appearances of women’s issues being taken seriously; having women in leadership roles for example. However, if ideals are not backed up by policy and the Green Party actively promote and support gender self-identification, doesn’t speak out against the sexual assault of women and children, issues which predominantly affect women and girls cannot be represented clearly and women will be further erased and unable to oppose collective oppression, much of which centres around reproductive justice, power inequality, lack of political representation, and sexual violence. This report offers statistics and facts. Use the data. Your Equalities spokesperson does not represent or advocate for women.

It is time for the Green Party to have a Women’s Officer – to author policies specifically for women and girls, to centre reproductive health justice, work to actively oppose the porn industry, condemn sexual assault and female oppression.
In order to do so, the party may need to provide free childcare and travel subsidies so unemployed women, often single mothers, women with caring responsibilities, can attend conference and participate in policy making,

If you really want to do away with patriarchy, start acting like you mean it and grow some feminist principles, or you could end up being as despised as the labour party.

We would like you to become the solution, not part of the problem, to “be the quote you want to see on your wall” – Joshua Virasami Black Lives Matter

In anticipation of positive egalitarian change,

Louise, Rebecca & Hannah

On behalf of the Womens Voices Matter Collective

FFI:
“Some basic questions about sex and gender for progressives”

Some basic questions about sex and gender for progressives

“Researchers identify 6,500 genes that are expressed differently in men and women
Genes that are mostly active in one sex or the other may play a crucial role in our evolution, health”
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170504104342.htm

And if all of those links weren’t enough, here is some more reading material, not just about about female erasure, oppression and silencing. The Economist articles – a selection of the Economist’s fortnight on trans identities in their Open Future Series are in this doc. Not all of the articles are included.

And for those who read this email and are still saying, ‘What About Men’, I refer you to the words of Jessica Eaton, who founded the Eaton Foundation, a charity which supports adult men. Jessica has nailed whataboutery.

If you have less time to spare, thinking, learning about or acting on women’s issues, here is an easier to digest version of #NotAllMen written by feminist blogger Kirsty S.

Those who believe transwomen are women may wish to discover how women are treated online by transactivists – not for the fainthearted, these websites are truly shocking.
1. Threats of violence, harassment, and abuse
http://anti-female-receipts.tumblr.com/
You are invited to visit the Women’s Voices Matter social media spaces
Blog posts
http://www.facebook.com/pg/womensvoicesmatter/notes/
Facebook Page
Twitter @Womens_Voices_

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Helen Steel Speaking at ‘A Woman’s Place Is On The Platform’ Cambridge UK 23rd November 2017

Gardener and environmental & social justice campaigner Helen Steel, speaking at
‘A Woman’s Place is on the Platform’ Cambridge UK 23rd November 2017

 

Read Helen’s statement on events at the London Anarchist Bookfair 2017 here:

Helen Steel Bookfair Statement

 

 

 

 

Gender – a Feminist, Environmentalist Critique

perspicats

What does Gender Even Mean?

Gender has until recently been a word used to describe societal expectations of people based on their sex. Feminists and sociologists still regard this as the correct definition of the word. We are all familiar with ‘gender roles’ signifying stereotypical responsibilities of a man or woman – e.g. a woman cooks, a man is the breadwinner. Most people would recognise these stereotypes to be sexist, the idea that women are worse at maths or enjoy playing with Barbie dolls more than trains is pure misogyny. Yet a recent phenomenon has been the use of the word gender to represent some innate quality! Little boys don’t wear dresses – if they want to they must really be a girl! This is completely backward thinking, feminists have fought against these absurd stereotypes for years. I am a woman because of my chromosomes and my reproductive organs…

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The left needs teeth in 2017 pt. II: GENDER.

treading on capes

This post is essentially a part two to my last post, but focusing on how the left is dealing with gender. I spoke about how the left have essentially not been confrontational enough in the face of ruthless discrimination and underhand tactics from the right. But there is one area in which the left are really out-doing themselves, quite literally.

It’s irked me for a long time that liberal feminism has got the gift of being known as ‘feminism’, the mainstream one-size-fits-all movement. And Radical Feminism, got the label frequently misunderstood as being particularly dramatic and impatient. So I’d like to take a look at the long bloody fangs of liberal feminism, populated mostly by the left, and the effects they’re spreading into the world. This is something we need to bite back against in 2017.

I’d say at this point, the ‘gender revolution‘ is an undeniable thing taking…

View original post 1,186 more words

GENDER IDENTITY & SEXUAL ORIENTATION ARE NOT ANALOGOUS

In light of the recent statement by the British Psychoanalytic Council and others including NHS Scotland and The Royal College of General Practitioners about “conversion therapy” with regards to sexual orientation and gender identity, this gender abolitionist Green thinks it’s about time we looked a bit more closely at the two concepts.

Trans rights activists make many arguments which rest on the concepts of sexual orientation and gender identity being the same. They do this to win over the hearts and minds of people, especially people on the left and within the Green Party. Nice and good people all recognise that lesbian, gay and bisexual people have had to fight and continue to fight for acceptance, and they wish to support that struggle.

Trans rights activists want you to believe that the fight for trans rights is all part of the same kettle of fish. They want you to know that if you have any questions or concerns then this is akin to bigotry – if you question the rights of the T, they would have you believe that you are as bigoted as if you question the rights of the L, the G, and the B.

They do this in a number of ways. They make a number of comparisons which at root, for their argument to work, require gender identity and sexuality to be analogous concepts. Well guess what. They aren’t.

We all have an understanding of what the term “sexual orientation” means. Whilst people’s personal feelings regarding sexual orientation may be complicated, sexual orientation as a concept is fairly straightforward – it has a comprehensible definition. The majority of adults when asked would be able to offer a reasonable explanation of what it means, it may not be dictionary perfect, but all the responses would be similar. It’s not tricky, it’s who we are romantically/sexually attracted to, if at all.

“Gender identity” however, as a concept, does not offer us the same concreteness. The standard definition offered is usually something along the lines of “the gender that somebody identifies themselves to be”. That helps us not at all, as it is circular. Well, fair enough, I don’t mind doing a bit of work to get to the bottom of this. The problem is though, that it doesn’t matter how hard you work, how much research you do, how many activists you converse with (I’ve tried) – there are no answers which make any sense. This is a concept that cannot be pinned down any more than you can pin blancmange to a wall. The nebulosity of this concept is explored well here .

It’s a great talk and I urge you to watch it if you can, but to try and summarise – gender identity cannot be defined without being circular or without reference to harmful stereotypes or a distinct male/female brain or some sort of gendered soul. Nobody knows quite what it actually means when someone refers to their gender identity. Certainly, if you asked most adults, whilst they may be able to give you the circular definition, they would be able to tell you little else. And certainly if you asked most adults if they had a gender identity they would not be able to relate to it as a concept the way they do with sexual identity. I certainly don’t have a gender identity, I don’t feel like a woman, I simply am a woman, on account of my anatomy. It’s nothing like being able to say who you want to have sex with.

It is utterly disingenuous then for the trans rights movement to draw parallels between these two concepts in a way that pretends to back up any argument. This doesn’t stop them from doing so though, sometimes quite convincingly. I know I have fallen prey to this deception.

For example, I have had a good few conversations that go something like this:

 

me:  “I’m not sure about the term “cisgender”, I don’t feel that I identify with my “gender”, isn’t gender a social construct? I don’t want to be held to society’s expectations of gender”.

transactivist: “It’s just descriptive, it means the opposite of “transgender”, like how heterosexual means not being gay. You know, people objected to the term heterosexual, when that first started being used too. You’re not homophobic are you?”

 

At first glance, it does seem that questioning cisgender as a term is terrible. But once you realise that trans activists are relying on you believing that two completely different concepts are the same, you realise that your concerns are well founded.

The idea that any discussion around someone’s feelings about their gender identity is “conversion therapy” is also used by trans activists to shut down anything other than blind acceptance that anyone is the sex they say they are.

It’s clever because we all know that to attempt to coerce someone out of their sexuality, as in conversion therapy, is a bad thing. However to explore with someone their reasons for feeling like they are in the wrong body does not compare. Who you like sexually is a clear cut concept; whereas being a man and “feeling” like a woman, for example, which relies on the concept of gender identity, is totally different. It is an intellectually dishonest analogy. It serves its purpose however, and so we now have a whole bunch of organisations denouncing “conversion therapy” when applied to sexual orientation and in the same breath, to gender identity as well.

This attempt to label any discussion about someone’s feelings as ‘conversion therapy’ means a whole host of issues can be conveniently set aside, in therapy, and also within general discussion including within the Green Party. All sorts of reasonable questions can be labelled as bigoted. We cannot ask to what extent gendered stereotypes might be influencing a person’s feelings. We cannot examine the very worrying trend of increased referrals to gender clinics of young girls in terms of societal attitudes towards females, such as objectification and the increased prevalence of porn. It seems likely that a young girl going through puberty and realising that society now sees her as an object may unleash some difficult feelings. But we must not speak of this.

It may seem that what I have written above is just getting the wrong end of the stick (I’m all for making excuses and hushing myself for being hysterical after all! Help Patriarchy along like a good girl!) and that this is not at all what is meant when these organisations refer to conversion therapy. Their wording is rather vague, after all:

“Conversion Therapy is the term for therapy that assumes certain sexual orientations or gender identities are inferior to others, and seeks to change or suppress them on that basis.”

However in a series of tweets the British Psychoanalytic Council have confirmed, on behalf of all signatories, that the careful considered approach of Dr. Kenneth Zucker, featured recently in the BBC documentary Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best?  IS conversion therapy.image

This documentary’s approach takes note of the fact that many children (about 80%) desist in their dysphoria, many growing up to be gay/ lesbian (yes, affirming a child’s gender identity can therefore be seen as conversion therapy itself, making the lumping together of these two apparent conversion therapies (of sexuality and “gender identity”) a complete mindfuck). It takes note of the fact that detransitioners EXIST, and the programme features one woman’s heartbreaking story. It takes note of the fact that a high percentage of trans kids are autistic – higher than in the general population. It takes note of an awful lot of evidence and knowledge about child development that should be taken into account.

Zucker says “Taking any behaviour in isolation when thinking about gender dysphoria is not the way that I think about it,” He doesn’t believe that a child with gender dysphoria is necessarily expressing an inner innate identity, and the desistance figures and the fact that some detransition back this up. It’s an entirely sensible and sane approach to helping children with difficult feelings around gender and/or their sexed bodies. You can read more about the documentary and Zucker’s approach here .

 

This cautious approach is categorically not comparable to trying to coerce someone out of their sexuality or saying that heterosexuality is preferable to homosexuality. The comparison fails. Homosexuality, by virtue of its widely understood, actual definition is simply about who you want to have sex with. It requires no medical or surgical intervention, no hormone blockers, no mastectomies. How might we help someone who is struggling with being homosexual? We can give them support to come to terms with how utterly homophobic society still is. Help them deal with any specifically difficult relationships they have, unaccepting parents perhaps. Only if we were trying to stop their same sex sexual orientation would we think about giving hormones – a practice that has no place in a progressive society.

What happens though when we stick to the party line about how we approach gender identity if we belong to one of the listed organisations, and we wish to avoid “conversion therapy” as applied to gender identity? Well we must not do what Zucker does, that has been made very clear. So this leaves affirmation of a child’s gender identity. This means social transition, drugs and surgery; exploration of why the child may feel this way or helping a child to come to terms with their sexed body is out of bounds.
It becomes even clearer then that the only valid comparison to be made is between this gender affirmative approach and gay conversion therapy itself. It may be that transition is the right course of action for some, but not for those kids that belong to the 80% that will desist and are likely to be gay. We should not be pushing to prevent these children from going through puberty and robbing them of the chance to become happy gay or lesbian adults.

Yet this is exactly the position that those who commit to the statement linked to at the beginning of this article support. So trans activists have successfully taken two completely incomparable concepts, played on the progress made by the L, the G and the B and managed to convince trusted organisations, that the T is just the same.

It’s more than nonsensical to put gender identity conversion therapy and gay conversion therapy in the same boat, it’s actually totally contradictory. The organisations involved need to stop and think and unpick this disingenuous lumping together of these two concepts and start thinking about evidence, facts and the best interests of children.

 

Marie Jane

LETTER TO THE WORKING CLASS MOVEMENT LIBRARY Beatrix Campbell

Dear Trustees,

I’m writing to you to support the Library’s invitation to Julie Bindel to speak about being a young working class lesbian. It was a smart and bold invitation, and I’m aware that you have attracted a great deal of hostility as a result. You may feel taken aback and shocked, but you should be aware that for every protest there are likely to be many more people supporting your invitation.
You will know, I’m sure, that good, calm, stalwart and unobtrusive stewarding is the key to contexts like this, to protect everyone’s safety and good manners, and to ensure that everyone who wants to participate peacefully is able to do so.

May I share some of my own experience with you — in the hope that it might encourage you to withstand the hostility.

I have been involved in working class, progressive politics all my adult life and I have received many awards and honours for my writing. I came out as gay in my early 20s — in the 1970s — and like many other gay people I have felt over the past few years that what was once an open, inclusive, exhilarating politics, which has been spectacularly successful in advancing gay rights, has become overwhelmed by a toxic element of trans activism, a campaign of authoritarian silencing in the name of ’safe space’. Many gay activists, particularly women, are now deeply alienated. Some years ago I wrote an article in the Guardian opposing the NUS no-platforming of Julie Bindel.

I should say that she is a friend, I’ve known her since the 1980s when I made a TV documentary on battered women who kill their assailants, and since Justice for Women and Southall Black Sisters campaigned successfully for the release of Kiranjit Aluwhalia.

Julie Bindel is one of the founders of Justice for Women, a pathbreaking movement supporting women who live with violence, and an enduring campaigner against violence and sexual exploitation of women, and for gay rights.

We have disagreed about many things — not least the Green Party, for whom I’ve been a local and Parliamentary candidate. But I would go to great lengths to defend her right to write and speak and, just as important, for people’s opportunity to hear her in person and to challenge her. She is always interesting, adroit and sometimes very witty and, yes, offensive.

I support the Index on Censorship approach to this: there is no right to not be offended.
During the 2010 General Election, trans gender friends in the Green Party alerted me to some trans activist threats to picket me at hustings — they offered to attend the hustings in the event of trouble. There was no trouble, those making the threat never turned up.

In the last couple of years the movement to no-platform people who are against the sexual exploitation of women, who support the ’Nordic model’, or who have a critique of some trans positions on gender, have also found themselves being subjected to harassment.

It was in response to this that myself and Prof Deborah Cameron (also a working class lesbian, by the way) organised a letter to the Observer   opposing no platforming. The 130+ signatories included people who are transgender, and who have been involved in prostitution.

This was repudiated by another letter the following week, initiated by Sara Ahmed.

I suggested to a couple of publications — a progressive Oxbridge journal, and a lesbian magazine — that they host a round table to air the issues. My contact on the Oxbridge journal rejected the idea on the grounds that it was universities’ duty to provide students with a safe space, a ‘home’ away from home. The lesbian magazine editor rejected the proposal — the editor, very committed to trans people, admitted to me that she was afraid.

I also wrote a couple of letters to the London Review of Books in response to a long feature by Jacqueline Rose which had failed to address these controversies, and which did not engage with trans activists who do not support no platforming, and who have a critique of some trans people’s theories of gender:

Here is another link that includes references to some other very interesting contributions

You may, of course, not be interested in all of this. You may disagree with me.
But whatever your position on trans gender debates might be, there are vital ethical and political issues at stake here for all of us:

The claim that critique or analysis or debate amount to ‘killing’ is an abuse of language.
And what is being suppressed by no-platforming is not only the right to speak, but other people’s right to listen, to participate and to challenge.

It has taken centuries of heroic effort for oppressed and marginalised people to find their voices; Julie Bindel is one of those voices; the Library is a monument to those efforts and to its founders, Ruth and Eddie Frows’ commitment to honouring them.

Please don’t be afraid. Be brave, be normal, keep on doing what you do so well — showing the richness of working class life and struggles.

Yours in solidarity
Beatrix Campbell

13th January 2017

 

 

Re-posted from
http://www.beatrixcampbell.co.uk

Working Class Movement Library
http://wcml.org.uk

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