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We must be free to call this man a man

The Green Party’s Melissa Poulton is clearly not a woman. Why can’t we say so?

Lauren Smith

Topics Identity Politics Politics UK

Even if someone looks like a man, talks like a man and actually is a man, you can now get yourself in trouble if you refer to him as a man. That’s the take-home message of last week’s social-media bust-up over Melissa Poulton, previously known as Matthew Viner.

Poulton is a transwoman who has been selected as the Green Party’s candidate for Bromsgrove in the next UK General Election. He describes himself as a ‘proud lesbian’. Last week, Rachel Maclean, the MP for Redditch and deputy chair of the Conservative Party, shared a post on X that referred to Poulton as a ‘man who wears a wig’. ‘While the Greens don’t know what a woman is, my Worcestershire neighbours, the people of Bromsgrove, certainly do’, Maclean added.

Poulton was then invited on to BBC News Midlands to respond to Maclean’s comments. He called them ‘transphobic’, ‘dog-whistling’ and ‘gaslighting’. During the interview, Poulton insisted on describing himself as a ‘queer woman… with transgender experience’. Maclean has since deleted her tweet, but she maintains that it is not ‘transphobic to say that [women and transwomen] are not the same thing’.

Who exactly is gaslighting who here? Anyone with eyes can see that Poulton is a bloke. In pictures, he can be seen sporting a variety of colourful, ill-fitting wigs, with lipstick smeared across his face. Like many men who appear to suddenly discover their feminine side in middle age, Poulton has done the bare minimum to pass as a woman. According to the Daily Mail, he only began transitioning last year. In fact, as recently as 2019, he stood in the Wyre Forest council elections under his birth name (and as a candidate for the Conservative Party). And yet we are all expected to uncritically affirm his newfound sense of ‘womanhood’.

Despite his unconvincing costume, Poulton seemingly has plenty of people fooled. From the Greens to the BBC, many are insisting that we accept him as a woman and shame Maclean for daring to suggest otherwise. Even fellow Tory MP Wendy Morton felt moved to criticise Maclean for failing to show due ‘respect’ towards Poulton and his new identity.

Unsurprisingly, the Labour Party also leapt to his defence. Joe Baker, Labour group leader at Redditch Borough Council, described Maclean’s comments as ‘absolutely vile and hateful’. He even went as far as to claim that the original post Maclean had shared – written by Reduxx founder Genevieve Gluck – might constitute a hate crime.

Thankfully, things have not reached that stage yet. West Mercia Police say they have looked into the post but are not treating it as a crime. But things could soon be different under a Labour government. As the Mail on Sunday reported earlier this year, Labour is considering making it an ‘aggravated offence’ to purposefully ‘misgender’ a trans person. Should Labour win the next election, people may soon face serious legal trouble, even imprisonment, for accurately describing a man like Poulton as a man.

How much more of this are we supposed to put up with? Our political and media classes are telling us barefaced lies, insisting that slapping on some lippy and calling yourself Melissa is enough to turn someone from a man into a woman. This is an insult to our intelligence and a gross distortion of reality.

Thank God there are still some politicians, like Rachel Maclean, who are willing to stand up for the truth, despite all the trouble it can get them into. Meanwhile, the rest of the political class ought to be ashamed for colluding in this gaslighting.

Lauren Smith is an editorial assistant at spiked.

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Topics Identity Politics Politics UK

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