Labour members vs the trans tyranny

Joanna Williams reports from the ‘Defend Me or Expel Me’ rally in London.

Joanna Williams

It might be 50 years since the emergence of the women’s liberation movement, but women getting together to discuss being women is, today, a dangerous and subversive act. On Monday afternoon I was waiting on an email from the organisers of ‘Defend Me or Expel Me’, a rally organised by women in the Labour Party in response to two of the (female) contenders for the leadership signing a pledge calling for the expulsion of members deemed to be ‘transphobic’ and describing organisations such as Woman’s Place UK and the LGB Alliance as ‘trans-exclusionist hate groups’.

A last-minute email revealed the venue for the meeting – this information couldn’t be released any earlier in case it was leaked to protesters. Any suggestion that this level of secrecy was overblown was expelled when we arrived at the venue. Chanting could be heard as we walked towards the shabby community centre. There, we were met by a crowd of about 50 protesters, complete with whistles, megaphones, placards and banners, shrieking ‘Fuck off TERFs’ and ‘The T will not be silenced’. They seemed intent on blocking the entrance to the venue and we had to be escorted in by stewards. Inside were around 300 people, almost all women and most of them Labour Party members. The chanting permeated the hall and provided an ever-present soundtrack to the evening. It stoked the anger of speakers and audience members, and fuelled a powerful sense of solidarity and determination.

Trans activists and their allies, including senior figures in the Labour Party, would love nothing more than to write off those opposing their agenda as hysterics who talk about free speech only to fuel a right-wing agenda. But speakers at the meeting, including Selina Todd, Julie Bindel, Debbie Hayton, Paul Embery and Kiri Tunks, (co-founder of Woman’s Place UK), positioned themselves firmly on the left and within the trade-union movement. Their fear is that the Labour Party is now in thrall to the trans lobby and that this threatens women’s hard-won rights. When Dawn Butler can announce on national television that babies are born without sex, when leadership contenders fall over themselves in their rush to declare that trans women are women, and when the male Lily Madigan can become one of the party’s national women’s officers, these fears are clearly not groundless. As Debbie Hayton pointed out, being male is the defining feature of being a trans woman – and socialism is supposed to be built on material reality.

The ultimatum issued by this meeting to the Labour Party – defend me or expel me – was accompanied by a declaration, which aims to ensure that women’s sex-based rights and protections remain at the heart of the party’s policies. It insists that women have the right to freedom of belief, freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, ‘to organise themselves, as a sex, across a range of cultural, leisure, educational and political activities’. Granting these rights on the basis of self-declared gender identity, rather than biological sex, renders them meaningless.

The importance of free speech was reiterated by many of the speakers. The declaration states, ‘Women have the right to discuss policies which affect them, without being abused, harassed or intimidated’. There was anger that women’s rights were being called into question, and that attempts simply to discuss this were routinely quashed. Some were clearly still shocked that Selina Todd, a professor at Oxford, had been effectively No Platformed from Oxford’s International Women’s Festival due to her gender-critical views. The noise of the protesters outside served as a helpful reminder that there’s more than one way to stop debate.

Bev Jackson of the LGB Alliance used her right to free speech to point out that biological sex is binary and immutable, unlike gender, which is a social construct. She argued that lesbians, by definition, are attracted to members of the same sex. Groups like Stonewall that once fought for lesbian and gay rights are now at the forefront of arguing for gender self-identification, she argued – a move that defines lesbians out of existence. Stonewall – every mention of which was greeted by boos from the audience – also came under fire for the curriculum it has produced for teaching relationships-and-sex education in schools. These classes teach even the very youngest children that gender is an identity and has no relation to biology.

Booing at Stonewall was fun, but it underscored a very real sense of betrayal. Women on the left have long considered Stonewall, the Labour Party and the trade-union movement not just to represent them, but also to belong to them. Kiri Tunks traced the history of women’s involvement with workers’ struggles from the matchgirls’ strike of 1888 through to the Dagenham dispute in the 1960s and Grunwick in the 1970s. Women’s contribution to the labour movement, argued Tunks, was not incidental, but fundamental. Although, as she noted, ‘these struggles took place before or in spite of the trade-union movement’. Nonetheless, her message to Labour’s current hierarchy was clear: ‘The disregard with which this movement has treated us is a disgrace. You ignore us at your peril.’

Lucy Masoud, one of the rally’s organisers, said before the event that, ‘Women only got the vote a century ago, and now our MPs are threatening us with a Stalinist purge for saying what a woman is… like the Suffragettes, we’re challenging them to speak up and defend our rights, or cave in to the bullies and expel us’. This is powerful rhetoric, but it also raises questions. Why argue so vehemently for membership of a club that not only doesn’t want you, but also goes out of its way to insult you? At what point do left-wing activists like Todd and Embery decide that fighting for the Labour Party to change is a fool’s errand, and that their efforts would be better spent elsewhere?

It remains to be seen how committed new converts to the cause of free speech will be when it comes to defending those they disagree with. And there are surely pitfalls with arguing that women are strong and powerful agents of change yet, at the same time, ‘subject to discrimination and oppression on the basis of their sex’. But then, just as I was formulating these criticisms, I learnt that the protesters outside had stopped chanting just long enough to let off smoke bombs as people were leaving the rally. All this at a venue overlooked by the charred remains of Grenfell Tower. Nothing could better illustrate just how utterly out of touch with reality trans activists are. I know whose side I’m on.

Joanna Williams is a spiked columnist and director of the think tank, Cieo.

Picture by: Joanna Williams.

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Comments

Steve Clothier

15th March 2020 at 5:55 am

Modern day feminists only have themselves to blame. By normalising and legitimising an atmosphere of tribalism in their obsessive chasing of a quota-enforced equality ideal they have empowered other identity based groups to form and do the same and, lo and behold, the LGBT mob has backfired on them.

David Margison

13th March 2020 at 6:39 pm

Womens only spaces eh! Great. Quite rich when women have been invading men’s spaces for the last fifty years. No more tap rooms, private clubs, golf clubs. Invading mens Jobs. (Fire service, police) and yes the requirements to get in have been diluted, look at Birmingham, white males have to achieve 10 percent higher pass rate to get in. Discrimination or what! So join the discriminated club! Women!

James Williams

12th March 2020 at 12:31 am

I do wonder how many of these activists were actually trans themselves. Based on other articles and video clips I would guess not that many. Apart from the disgraceful trans sportswomen who unfairly stamp their ego and manly bodies all over women’s sport I would have thought integrating their new identity into society would be something to try to achieve with humility and caution. We are an incredibly tolerant society in general and from my limited research trans people are treated fairly in the job market and save for a minority of idiots not constantly abused. There does need to be understanding from these activists that trans people are different in so any ways from their chosen sex. It’s not a negative it’s a fact and if I saw a sliver of understanding of the opposite argument things would be far less.toxic. Unfortunately this is where these activists lose the plot and much support. It’s less.about trans people and more about this.debate fitting in with their self righteous narrative. Why are they doing this and what’s their real end game?

steve moxon

11th March 2020 at 7:26 pm

Yep. Everybody’s pointing this out, and feminists as ever are not listening.
Joanna Williams included.
They only engage one way: vomiting their man-hating bile on to everyone else.

steve moxon

11th March 2020 at 7:28 pm

[Reply to Mark Beal’s post below]
— Yer again the reply function on here fails.

Aloysia Allheart

12th March 2020 at 3:16 pm

You’d be an excellent candidate for Stonewall. They have many initiatives you could get involved with (if you aren’t already), you could fly beyond your computer keyboard and bang on even more about all the evil feminists…Go on, the men’s rights movement is calling you.

Jim Lawrie

12th March 2020 at 4:12 pm

Stonewall, and homosexuals generally, do not have have hegemony over other men. If, like the lesbains in the Women’s Movement, they were to try to achieve that through intimidation, they would lose. Badly.
Why don’t you address the points made instead of relying on flimsy analogy with red herrings on the side? The arguments being made against feminists are the arguments formulated by the feminists. That is why they cannot rebut them.

Mark Beal

11th March 2020 at 6:03 pm

“Bev Jackson of the LGB Alliance used her right to free speech to point out that biological sex is binary and immutable, unlike gender, which is a social construct. […] Stonewall – every mention of which was greeted by boos from the audience – also came under fire for the curriculum it has produced for teaching […] even the very youngest children that gender is an identity and has no relation to biology.”

What Bev Jackson said, then.

When will it dawn on the feminists who are (rightly) opposed to trans madness that trans is completely congruent with their own belief in “gender” as an immaterial reality?

Jim Lawrie

12th March 2020 at 10:36 am

Feminists cannot even contemplate that they helped lead us to this juncture. Until they do they will lose the argument over gender, and become more isolated and less supported. Lesbians are a subset of women, not the main body, no matter how loud they are. They have done to The Women’s Movement what The Trannies are now doing to them. Intimidation and all. It is time to put them in their place.

James Knight

11th March 2020 at 5:49 pm

Whenever I hear the phrase “toxic masculinity” I think of the trans activist who threatened Ben Shapiro with physical violence.

Jerry Owen

11th March 2020 at 6:35 pm

Ha.. yes I remember that !

Geoff Cox

12th March 2020 at 8:46 am

I think you are thinking of Caitlin Jenner. As I recall Ben Shapiro made a comment that he believed trans people had a mental disorder. Caitlin didn’t like that very much.

Geoff Cox

12th March 2020 at 9:04 am

Oh no, I’ve checked it out – it was Zoey Tur talking about Caitlin Jenner.

jmNZ

11th March 2020 at 4:52 pm

Labour is dead.
Join the Co-operative Party.

H McLean

12th March 2020 at 12:53 am

Doesn’t have an elected leader but does have a politburo. Hmm, that sounds like a recipe for faceless bureaucratic tyranny.

Ellen Whitaker

11th March 2020 at 3:42 pm

“Why argue so vehemently for membership of a club that not only doesn’t want you, but also goes out of its way to insult you? At what point do left-wing activists like Todd and Embery decide that fighting for the Labour Party to change is a fool’s errand, and that their efforts would be better spent elsewhere?”

Not hard to understand why Labour members, who presumably have loved and been committed to the Labour Party, find it difficult to just walk away. Especially when there’s nowhere else for them to go right now. Lib Dems are as woke as Labour. But the Labour leaders will not heed them. The Labour Party will keep imploding, but it is hard to see what the next step will be.

Marvin Jones

11th March 2020 at 3:16 pm

Did none of you see the implosion of Lisa Nandy’s debate about man mountain trans competing against females who have never had the advantage of possessing male hormones for 20/30 years, and then being allowed to compete against them in all manner of sports, giving them virtually no chance of winning. AND! guess what? none of the female presenters thought it was unfair to the female athletes, they were all for the biological cheats.

L Strange

11th March 2020 at 6:06 pm

With regards to sports, my thought is that it’s being considered unimportant by woke feminists at the moment because, let’s face it, women tend not to be particularly interested in sport anyway.

But one day, the Wimbledon Women’s champion will be male. Something big that will make even those uninterested in sport take notice. Or perhaps when the fastest ‘woman’ in the world is male it will finally dawn on them that the title will never be held by a natal woman ever again.

Anthony Christie

12th March 2020 at 9:45 am

Nandy refused to say whether or not (trans)men should be allowed to compete in womens’ sport. She refused to show any leadership. If she is so scared of being labelled a transphobe that she is not prepared to state the blindingly obvious – trans athletes will destroy womens’ sport – why would anyone consider her worthy of leading the Labour Party?

ZENOBIA PALMYRA

11th March 2020 at 2:52 pm

Our hourly trans article. Same arguments, same comments, in an eternal circle.

Jerry Owen

11th March 2020 at 2:59 pm

ZP
I have to agree, it’s even more tedious than your posts banging on about Brexit !

Claire D

12th March 2020 at 8:48 am

It’s important to keep it in the public eye and to keep on putting forward the arguments against it, neither ideology (feminism or transgenderism) is acceptable, morally or scientifically.

People who wish to live as the opposite sex should be able to do so without fear of harm.

Anthony Christie

12th March 2020 at 9:51 am

It’s an important issue because it’s showing a lot of people up. This issue is a litmus test for our political class.

Ven Oods

12th March 2020 at 2:25 pm

Some of us are only comfortable when immersed in the familiar…

H McLean

11th March 2020 at 2:31 pm

Yes, the trans activists are are utterly out of touch with reality, but let’s be clear about this, if men’s rights activists issued a declaration about men’s rights to ‘to organise themselves, as a sex, across a range of cultural, leisure, educational and political activities’ and demanded to have these at the policy heart of any political party you feminists would go just as apoplectic as the trans rights activists.

It’s incredible you are so blind to the hypocrisy of feminism.

L Strange

11th March 2020 at 6:12 pm

Yes, that stood out to me too. For decades, men’s and boys’ spaces have been eroded by women demanding that they either have access to them, or that they be closed down. The gynocentrism of society always gave way.

Equality sucks, I guess.

Forlorn Dream

11th March 2020 at 6:49 pm

H McLean, too true. These feminists deep-seated hatred of men means they’re unwilling to tap into an ally resource that would massively help them. If they adjusted their rallying calls to say something like, ‘natural born men and women have the right, etc’ then men might join their cause. Until then I’ll just sit back and enjoy the cabaret show. Let them reap what they’ve sowed on us for decades.

steve moxon

11th March 2020 at 2:30 pm

Joanna Williams yet again failing to understand either feminism or ‘trans-sexuality’.
Scientific and cultural/political illiteracy is no bar to writing for this website, evidently.
She actually cannot grasp that the proliferation of ‘identity politics’ idiocy began with feminism and the false notion that sex is a social construction, and that m = f AND m & f are entirely different.
It should be no surprise to anybody that it will continue to go exponentially insane as everyone on the Left competes to cloak their extreme status-seeking under ever more arcane notions of egalitarianism they virtue-signal.
How far will it have to implode before Joanna Williams twigs?
When is she going to abandon the line that attacking feminism somehow is meezodgenannynonny?!
She could start with recognising that Julie Bindel is a particularly appalling extreme man-hating bigot.

KATHLEEN CARR

11th March 2020 at 5:05 pm

Although if the idea of what is a woman is a social construct so presumably also is a trans woman as (so far) I have only seen trans women who seem to identify as Western looking women -rather than say dress in traditional Japanese costume. It must be very difficult for what remains of the Labour Party and its supporters to keep up with every twist and turn of whats allowed and what isn’t. So Suzanne Moore has now crossed the line wheras Zoe Williams is writing articles entitled ‘Feminist solidarity empowers everyone. The movement must be trans-inclusive’. I wonder what Guardian articles will be in 10 years time-‘Women should be seen and not heard’ and ‘Women, know your place’?

Ven Oods

12th March 2020 at 2:31 pm

“She actually cannot grasp that the proliferation of ‘identity politics’ idiocy began with feminism…”
I don’t know whether that’s true, Steve, but those who for decades have been harassing harmless men (along with the not so harmless, of course) are now looking for help on the barricades from those who were perceived as the enemy only a short time ago. Not a recruiting policy that’s likely to succeed….

Paul Duffin

11th March 2020 at 2:27 pm

“socialism is supposed to be built on material reality.”

Since when? Socialism has always been built on greed, envy and laziness.

Jerry Owen

11th March 2020 at 3:00 pm

Socialism is built on corpses.. lots of them.

Jonathan Marshall

11th March 2020 at 4:21 pm

You’re both correct.

In Negative

11th March 2020 at 10:52 pm

@Jerry
Capitalism is built on corpses too you silly goose.

It’s gonna take a little more than comparing the numbers of dead to defend the superiority of capitalism.

Jerry Owen

12th March 2020 at 10:11 am

Negative.
So that makes socialism okay then does it?
Tell me how many tens of millions have been deliberately murdered because people refuse to adhere to its ideology?

In Negative

12th March 2020 at 1:19 pm

@Jerry
Well, I’d suggest there is a difference between being a socialist and pursuing those ideas to the violent imposition of those ideas. There are many brands of socialism. To just write socialism off with a broad brush is A) ridiculous and B) a misunderstanding of its origins. Socialism is literally built into capitalism; it’s its shadow, it’s the dream of something better.

Secondly, the transition from feudalism to capitalism was hardly bloodless. It also had a great many false starts. Moreover it starved and dispossessed a great many as it still does. I don’t know how many millions of dead you can lay at the door of socialism, but I reckon it would be equalled or surpassed by the numbers you could lay at the door of capitalism.

Jerry Owen

12th March 2020 at 2:34 pm

In Negative
Can you tell me where the nice fluffy socialist countries have thrived ?

Jerry Owen

12th March 2020 at 2:39 pm

IN
You don’t know how many millions of dead can be laid at the hands of socialists ?You absolutely beggar belief, are you for real ? You need to got to a library and do some research !
I notice you aren’t able to answer my question about how many have died because they do not accept capitalist ideology… so why make the claim in the first place ?

In Negative

12th March 2020 at 3:21 pm

@Jerry
“Can you tell me where the nice fluffy socialist countries have thrived ?”

This is beside my point. I know nothing like enough about each specific socialist country, its rise and fall and the circumstances of that rise and fall to have this conversation. You are correct – I’d need to spend an awful lot of time down my local library to even begin to tackle that question in a satisfactory way. I’m getting the impression you probably would too.

My point was that socialism, as a collection of ideas, is not in itself barren. It’s an inevitable aspect of capitalism; it’s the awareness that capitalism is a flawed system of collective organisation. It imagines other forms of organisation and seeks to solve the problems of naked capitalism.

In most democratic Western countries socialist ideas have been responsible for social security, universal education, that library you think I should attend, national health services, local parks, youth services, social housing etc. All these things have been achieved without a revolution, though none of them were given up to us easily by capital.

In a sense, the social democracy is capitalism’s way (in the west) of trying to incorporate and neutralise its socialist shadow.

In Negative

11th March 2020 at 11:57 pm

@Paul
“Since when? Socialism has always been built on greed, envy and laziness”

Socialism is essentially the shadow of capitalism. Everything that capitalism excludes in humanity, you will find somewhere defended in socialism.

Where capitalism emphasizes productivity and uses capital to organise people as labour, socialism says man is more than labour and there is more to life than producttivity. In this sense, socialism is the inevitable expression of our creativity and our complexity in the face of the dull grind of capitalism and its lack of imagination

Socialism is also the resistance to the brutality of unfettered capitalism – it is a fight for the fair treatment of labour rather than its ruthless exploitation. The spirit of socialism is what forces employers into legal relations with employees; socialism is the demand that people have decent places to live, access to education and information, a reasonable amount of leisure, the freedom to cultivate ones individuality and enjoy their liberty. You know, all that crap that the monied classes take for granted.

So yeah, hope that helps.

Jerry Owen

12th March 2020 at 10:14 am

When you find that magical Unicorn that will keep me in food and pay my bills without me having to work for a living because I’m more than that be sure to let me know?

In Negative

12th March 2020 at 3:35 pm

Socialism seems more interested in changing the relations of employment than it does abolishing work. Work is fine, but I’m sure you want some leisure too don’t you Jerry? You want to spend some time at that library say, developing your mind and the finer aspects of your soul? Maybe some time to play computer games or listen to those CDs you bought? Maybe spend some time with your children and maybe you’d prefer your children didn’t have to work themselves? I believe Kier Hardy, out of necessity, took his first job at 7 years of age. Not ideal that.

It might also be of benefit were you to enjoy more of the fruits of your labour, so that the profits of your company were in some way tied to your wages. Rather, say, than shareholders receiving the lion’s share of the profit? Wouldn’t it be nice if you had some control over the behaviours of your work place, say, rather than just being made redundant because your bosses have decided your job could be done more cheaply in China. wouldn’t it be nice if you had some control over that? It’s worth mulling over at least.

And what about a bit of security when you are sick and can’t work, that’s quite nice isn’t it? So maybe we could have it so your employer can’t just sack you when you’re ill. Or perhaps there could be ways society can support you when there is no work for you to do. All these gains are socialist.

Claire D

12th March 2020 at 4:57 pm

@Paul Duffin

In fact, the roots of socialist ideas as far as we know, lie with Aristotle, Plato and Jesus. It’s quite possible that socialist ideas are a natural way of living in large groups. The early Christian Church 100 – 300 BC tended to behave in a socialist way, ” love thy neighbour as thyself “. Also some monasteries were run along socialist lines and still are.

The trouble is when it comes to organising nations the only way is to enforce it, and so it becomes authoritarian.
Perhaps the ideal is a reasonably regulated Capitalism with Socialist influences.

Claire D

13th March 2020 at 7:32 am

Oops, I meant AD not BC.

Dominic Straiton

11th March 2020 at 1:24 pm

Lesbians outside of pornhub are boring conformists who like cats, dont like sex and are at the head of domestic violence statistics. They are not happy people. Come over to the other side. You know you want to. Your not in any way like gay men.Unlike the gspot a gay gene doesnt exist.

Andrew Mawdsley

11th March 2020 at 3:36 pm

Dom. Whilst I’m in no way denigrating your view on lesbians. I will say, as a 50 year old heterosexual man, I too like cats. So much so, myself and my wife have 3. Crack on about the dykes though.

Jerry Owen

11th March 2020 at 12:59 pm

This all seems to be the end result of feminism.. dare I say women’s emancipation even, give them an inch and they take a mile look where it has all ended! Women were far happier having a man go out to work whilst they brought up the kids. Women fought for freedoms that actually have enslaved them just like men have been enslaved, the feminists just couldn’t see it though could they?
Women’s Liberation, liberation from what?
Flippancy aside, was this meeting in a Labour Tardis that once, inside took you back a hundred years? It seems to be if the core beliefs of the labour women’s declaration’ meeting was about freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of expression, you have those freedoms already that battle was won a long time ago didn’t you get the memo, or are you not strong enough to maintain that freedom ?
I’m looking forward to seeing how the feminists put the transgenie back in it’s bottle, a bottle the feminists helped to open in the first place it has to be said.
As long as you have the word ‘women’ on any banner you are nothing but divisive, dividing men and women, and you help the worst excesses of capitalism to exploit that.. you know, that ‘divide and rule mantra’ so beloved of the left !
Monty Python a satire is beginning to look like a documentary in comparison to this lunacy.
To think this is where we are at with the two sexes in 2020 is tragic beyond all sane reasoning.

steven brook

11th March 2020 at 12:30 pm

“It remains to be seen how committed new converts to the cause of free speech will be when it comes to defending those they disagree with.” The background of many of these women is not encouraging.

Mark Houghton

11th March 2020 at 12:38 pm

They’re the kind of women who’ll happily set off fire alarms to disrupt a mens’ rights meeting or laugh about male suicide ratges. As far as I’m concerned they can swivel.

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