The Women's Room forum is about the vital importance of women's spaces to help protect women and girls and envision a future of equality in the midst of patriarchy.

This is a quote from The Women's Room, by Marilyn French :

“...the words of Pyotr Stephanovich come into my mind: You must love God because He is the only one you can love for Eternity.
That sounds very profound to me, and tears come into my eyes whenever I say it. I never heard anyone else say it. But I don't believe in God and if I did I couldn't love Him/Her/It. I couldn't love anyone I thought had created this world.”

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The Power of Feminist Writing Amidst a Patriarchal Backlash
Jeni Harvey, May 29, 2019

Last night I spoke at a wonderful event organised by Women Talk Back — a feminist group based at Bristol university. The bravery of young women prepared to stand up for their sex based rights in this climate of fear and repression moved and inspired me greatly. Thank you so much to the organisers for making this event possible. I was thrilled to have been asked to speak, so for those that couldn’t attend, here is what I had to say, minus a few ad-libs.

Hello, my name is Jeni Harvey and tonight I’m going to talk to you specifically about feminist writing on the internet, as that is mainly what I do. I write longform on Medium (previously for the Huffington Post before they decided I was a liability) and shortform on Twitter where I can be found enjoying a bit of argy bargy in our modern equivalent of the public square.

I actually came to the internet very late. About ten years ago when most people were already happily googling away, I was a single parent of three small children, living in social housing (I still do) and dependent on state benefits. I didn’t have either a computer or an internet connection. One Christmas my mother asked me what did I want and I said a set of encyclopaedias please. To which her reply was: “Fucks sake Jen, you really need to get on the internet. Nobody looks at encyclopaedias any more, what are you on about?” So for Christmas that year I got a big brick of a computer. And the first thing I did with it was start writing. I bought a big black and yellow striped book called blogging for dummies, somehow managed to set up a free blog on blogspot without a single clue what I was doing, and off I went.

So I started off essentially as a mummy blogger — I wrote about my life which consisted at that time almost solely of caring for small children — but with added feminist flavour because that is who I was, and it is who I am.

The internet blew me away. It still does. The idea that anyone with a connection had access to this vast wealth of information, that they could self publish and potentially disseminate their ideas to thousands upon thousands of people, just made my head go (exploding sign.) As far as I was concerned, the internet was the most disruptive technology since the wheel and I immediately saw how it could be an incredibly useful political tool. In common with this, feminism, done properly, is some seriously disruptive politics. And so put the two together and it was clear to me that feminists had much scope for being very disruptive indeed.

Growing up I was lucky enough to have a second wave feminist activist for a mother, and so to have been given a lot of feminist books to read. I read Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch which — whatever you may think of Greer now — I still believe to be a brilliant, seminal work. Gloria Steinem’s essay, ‘If men could menstruate’ made the newly menstruating me thrill at how transgressively funny poking fun at male power could be. But it was Naomi Wolf’s Beauty Myth that for some reason really spoke to me.

The basic premise of The Beauty Myth was that the more freedom women gained with regards to being able to work outside the home, leave unhappy marriages, and generally lead more independent lives, the more the forces of patriarchy applied their pressure in other areas. Now of course in this book Wolf was specifically discussing beauty standards — her argument being that they became more extreme, more restrictive, and ever more impossible to live up to, the more so called “equality” women enjoyed. But it was the more general concept of a backlash always coming out of left field that I found so resonating and it is an idea that has stayed with me and that features a lot in my own writing.

It’s a concept that I think could not be more relevant right now. If we think about the last few decades and the ground women gained during feminisms second wave in terms of reproductive rights, workplace rights, refuges built and issues of sexual and domestic violence brought more out into the open, we can still see this pattern as we find ourselves under attack from multiple directions yet again.

The recent drive to criminalise abortion across many states in North America, to further commodify women’s bodies by opening up the sex and surrogacy trades to the free market, and the push to erase biological sex as a meaningful social and political category altogether, replacing it instead with the ill defined and nebulous concept of gender identity, I believe constitutes the kind of backlash Wolf was talking about on a grand scale.

Only of course this time we’re not talking about lipstick and thigh gaps. This time we are talking about women potentially being put to death because they cannot bear to carry their rapists child to term. We are talking about women coerced into prostitution via poverty, addiction and violence, able to be traded and brutalised by pimps and punters with impunity, their suffering reframed as active and authentic choice. We are talking about the destruction of women’s hard won services, spaces and resources in the name of rights for those who identify as transgender.

Always we women are firefighting. One blaze dies down over here, another ignites over there. It is a backlash created by a system that cannot allow women to be free; to rise up and be unencumbered, because it runs quite literally on our backs. It is us who perform the vast majority of unpaid labour in the home; us who gestate, labour, and birth the future workforce; us who care for the children, the elderly, and the sick. It is only us whose status is so easily reduced to that of domestic and sexual convenience.

I believe the current backlash is the most clever and vicious we have ever seen. Today our own language and movement is being used against us in an effort to invisibilise the material, sexed reality of women’s oppression. This means the structural analysis of an entire axis of oppression being effectively disappeared in the name of so called progress. For when there are no distinct female and male sex classes - when you can opt in and out dependent on your individual identity - sexism, in other words the subjugation of women by men because we are sexed female (and please let’s remember it was twenty five men who decided that no woman in the state of Alabama may end an unwanted pregnancy under any circumstances,) disappears. Now who is to say who has the power and who does not? Who is the oppressor and who the oppressed? The truth of who dominates who has dispersed, cloudy, like milk poured in water. Now it is just people… oppressing some other people… sometimes.

Except of course it isn’t, is it. Because reality remains the same, no matter what you call it. The “people” spending great chunks of their adult lives unable to pursue their dreams because they are too busy wiping arses, cooking the dinner, and scraping by on any low paid part time work they can fit around their caring responsibilities; the “people” imprisoned because they miscarried a pregnancy and cannot prove it was not self induced; the “people” murdered two a week by other “people” who claim to love them, and the barely yet adults forced to stand on Swansea high street selling blow jobs for a ten bag. Those “people” are, and have always been, female. Those people are women and girls.

Back to writing then, and in particular the power of feminist writing. Reading feminists shaped my life. It informed my world view and helped me grow into the thinking woman I am today. Later, writing as a feminist, particularly on the internet, would give me an outlet when I needed it most. A combination of small children, single parenthood, and no money kept me stuck in my home for a very long time. Nobody would ever have heard what I had to say without the internet — this wonderful tool we have for spreading ideas.

There will always be girls and women out there hungry for information. And so we absolutely must disrupt this current narrative of choice feminism. This feminism for men, as Julie Bindel calls it. This third wave, pseudo, post feminism that does not seek to dismantle any power structures, but instead pretend they are not there. Nobody is going to do it for us. But we do now have the power to reach people fast. Every single woman in this room has a potential direct line into the public consciousness.

So I’m going to end this talk on the power of feminist writing with a call to arms, which is: go home and write something. It doesn’t matter if you think your grammar’s a bit shit — my grammar is definitely a bit shit. Nobody cares, except my mother. Seriously, roll your sleeves up. Be a part of this conversation. You have the power to change peoples minds.

Thank you for listening.

The Left Has Not Abandoned Us. Gender Ideology Has Abandoned The Left.
by Harvey Jeni, May 30 2019

During the question and answer session following a recent talk I and other feminists gave at Bristol university, the following question was asked by an audience member. I paraphrase:

“Women have been betrayed and abandoned by the left. What now?”

It’s a good question. A necessary question. Not least because so many feminists challenging the current narrative around sex, gender, and women’s rights have backgrounds in the trade union movement, the left leaning media, and the environmental and social justice movements of previous decades. Despite constant attempts to portray and dismiss us as bigoted right wingers in an effort to avoid any engagement with the fact that dissent among women on the left is gathering apace, we know who we are and what we stand for.

So what now indeed for those of us displaced and made politically homeless? For those of us heartbroken by old friends and allies who imagine that after years of shared hopes and values we might suddenly have woken one morning to find ourselves morphed into literal fascists?

And my answer is this: It is not the left that has abandoned us, but proponents of gender ideology that have abandoned the left.

Bear with me and my oversimplification. There can, I know, be so much more to say regarding men’s misogyny across the political spectrum. The view of women as private property by the right through the lauding of the traditional nuclear family, of marriage, and strict reproductive control; then as public property by the left with its worship of prostitution and pornography, coupled with an insistence on reframing women’s suffering within these industries as free and authentic choice. As though the sex industry ever existed for the benefit of women and choices were made in a vacuum. But whether seeking either to tightly restrict sexual access to women, or insisting loudly on sexual access for all on demand, misogyny itself has little interest in party politics. Certainly I don’t care what flavour it comes in. Women do not exist for the benefit of men and that is the end of that.

But I do know who I am, and what I stand for. And so I want to make clear:

There is nothing left wing about gender ideology.

Gender identity politics are rooted in an aggressive individualism, with an ever increasing kaleidoscope of identities based in unique, personal, and subjective experience. With identity being subject to definition only by the individual, it therefore becomes inevitable that one persons understanding of what it means to be trans, or non-binary, or femme, or polygender, will always end up anothers murderous oppression. And so we become ever more fractured and disconnected, each making up our own oppressed group of one. I do believe it was Margaret Thatcher who said there was no such thing as society.

In direct opposition, leftist thought has always been rooted in collectivism, in class politics, in solidarity. It understands the mechanisms by which dominant classes of people exploit and appropriate the labour of oppressed groups. Male people have sought to control and dominate female people in order to exploit and appropriate their reproductive, domestic, and sexual labour for centuries. Gender stereotyping, rampant domestic and sexual violence, low pay, lack of affordable childcare, and the removal of reproductive rights all serve to prop up this system of oppression. Crucially, it does not cease to exist because some women might experience infertility or some men and boys become victim to sexual violence. In other words, the exceptions do not disprove the rule. Class oppression does not disappear because Alan Sugar.

These are not left wing values.

Gender theory provides no such structural analysis — no comprehensive, thought through ideas around who exactly is oppressing who, and how, and why? Actual systemic oppression becomes conflated with individual experiences of discrimination, prejudice, and the failure of others to be sufficiently agreeable. We urgently need to ask ourselves who has the power and who does not when female people can be told at a moments notice that our biological sex is no longer of any social or political significance, that we no longer need a word to describe the material state of being a female person, that spaces we have relied on for safety and privacy in a culture where male violence runs rampant will now become mixed sex whether we like it or not, and that if we dare to kick up a fuss we can expect some serious consequences. We need to look at who benefits when an oppressed group, recognised as such by law, has their rights and resources taken away; their complaints and concerns dismissed.

These are not left wing ideas.

Gender ideology effectively disappears and denies the existence of an entire axis of oppression. For in the absence of distinct male and female sex classes — when anyone can, in theory, opt in and out dependent on their individual identity — sexism, in other words the subjugation of women by men because we are sexed female, becomes impossible to name, grasp, or fight.

Feminism was born of the left and will always have its roots in left wing thought. And so leftist, feminist women can (and must) say no to gender ideology whilst still holding tight to our wider principles. We can stand for more investment in public services, and for a fairer distribution of the wealth we all help to create. We can support trade unions and workplace rights. We can fight for an end to homelessness and the poverty that disproportionately affects women and children. We can demand better services for women, and for specific services to support trans people where necessary. And we can stand firm for an end to oppression based on race, class, and sex.

Because we know who we are and what we stand for.

Martina Navratilova on Wimbledon and why she won’t be silenced in the trans sport debate

The former Centre Court star talks to Decca Aitkenhead about her battle for female equality in sport

The Times, July 6 2019

Martina Navratilova was so puzzled when people started calling her a “Terf”, she had to google the acronym to find out what it meant. The former tennis No 1 and veteran LGBT campaigner had seen a tweet, arguing that anyone who self-identified as a woman should be allowed to compete in women’s sport. Navratilova didn’t consider herself an expert in transgender politics, but didn’t think her “gut reaction” would be contentious. “You can’t just proclaim yourself a female and be able to compete against women. There must be some standards, and having a penis and competing as a woman would not fit that standard,” she tweeted back.

“And then I just got a deluge. ‘You’re so hateful and you’re so ignorant and you’re a transphobe…


When Free Speech Clashes With Trans Power
A library that gave space to a feminist with the 'wrong ideas' found out the hard way that inclusivity has its limits.
By Libby Emmons • The American Conservative, August 9, 2019

While Vancouver, British Columbia, has been on the front lines of the trans and free speech debates, the recent Pride Parade was a real flashpoint, giving us a clear insight into what we might expect on the U.S. cultural front in the not-so-distant future.

In recent years, Pride has morphed from an LGBTQ-only celebration to one in which corporate and community sponsors want to stake a claim and be visible. It’s just good marketing. The Vancouver Public Library (VPL), a place so inclusive they actually welcome disagreement and discourse, wanted to be part of the parade, as they had been in the past. But Vancouver Pride said no. At issue, of course, is the conflict between the trans agenda and free speech, which has fractured and divided so much of the conversation on the Left.

Before trans took hold, the Left was much more united, and free speech was a cornerstone of that unity. All were in agreement about anti-racism, gay rights, immigration, gun control, health care, and women’s issues. Once the trans wrench was thrown into the works, however, the Left began to split. At issue: many gender critical women who believe that dressing in the stereotypical garb of women does not necessarily redefine a male to female, are often derided and shamed by trans allies and activists. As easy as it may seem to understand that costume and want do not change static reality, the trans ideologues that have taken over the discourse on gender and women’s rights reject that obvious truth.

Tennis legend Martina Navratilova was ejected from her position on an LGBTQ advocacy group because she questioned whether or not male-bodied persons should compete in women’s athletics. Maya Forstater, a senior researcher at the think tank Centre for Global Development, lost her job for saying men aren’t women. The leader of Girl Guides, the U.K.’s answer to the Girl Scouts, was “expelled for objecting to boys who identify as female joining.” Activist Julie Bindel was attacked for giving a gender critical talk. The experience of detransitioners have been largely ignored.

Journalist and women’s rights activist Meghan Murphy is one of these women. She has been banned on Twitter for misgendering Jessica Yaniv, the notorious trans woman who is litigating before British Columbia’s Human Rights Tribunal demanding that aestheticians who specialize in waxing women wax her private parts as well. Murphy has been protested, mobbed, and deplatformed. She has no qualms about speaking her mind, and while her views on pornography, sex work, and women’s issues used to be de rigeur in the feminist movement, they are now vilified. Murphy was the thorn in the paw of the VPL that caused their exclusion from the Pride Parade. But it was VPL’s dedication to upholding free speech in its community that was the real issue.

Murphy booked a community room at the VPL to give a talk to interested persons. VPL, being a public space, allowed the booking. The library is a natural advocate for free speech. Pride balked. The very act in allowing Murphy to book a room in a public space cause Pride to revoke the library’s inclusion in the parade.

Libraries exist for use by the community, having long since gone beyond books to become collective spaces for all people. That includes those who don’t toe a progressive political ideology. In being banned from Pride, the Library’s right to provide access to their public space came into conflict with their desire to express inclusion. Apparently, according to Pride, the only way to be inclusive is to exclude people Pride doesn’t agree with.

This penchant for exclusion under the guise of inclusion is a huge problem for a Left that was already beginning to buckle under a mentality that often advocates for group rights over the rights of an individual. In dis-including the VPL, LGBTQ activists are broadcasting that group determination on the correctness of trans ideology is more important than free speech rights. The Left used to believe, fundamentally, that nothing was more essential than First Amendment protections. They were out there defending all manner of atrocious speech because that’s what it means to be free.

Even for those who agree with Pride’s stance on trans, this should be a splash of red across the rainbow flag. Under no circumstances is it right to shut down speech. What was once a movement about sexual orientation and equal rights has transformed into an ideological crusade that’s shuts down dissent, punishes and shames any person or organization that dares speak against it, or even facilitate dialogue. This kind of dissent must be possible. If the Left abandons its foundational principles in favor of coerced group think, the culture of liberty and individual rights is at risk.

This fracturing is bound to get worse. The march toward silencing opposing views has gone further in Canada and the U.K. than it has in the U.S., precisely because we have such strong free speech protections. But as LGBTQ interests increasingly go beyond social media and to the courts, the stakes inevitably get higher. We have an obligation to vouchsafe individuals and our institutions against being branded simply because they defend the bedrock ideals of the Constitution.

Professors bullied into silence as students cry transphobia

Feminist academics say that organised groups are using university complaints procedures to stifle debate on campus
Ewan Somerville and Sian Griffiths | The Sunday Times | August 17 2019

More than a dozen academics, including several leading feminist professors, fear their freedom of speech is being silenced by students complaining they are transphobic.

They include Selina Todd, a professor of modern history at Oxford, and Kate Newey, professor of theatre history at Exeter. Rosa Freedman, professor of law conflict and global development, is believed to be under scrutiny at Reading University, and Kathleen Stock, professor of philosophy, has faced several formal complaints organised by students at Sussex. Some of the women, along with other academics, say questioning of transgender policies is being censored on campus.

Typical LGBT policies adopted by universities include the use of gender-neutral pronouns such as them/they and “ey” and “zie” as well as support for gender-neutral lavatories and changing rooms…

"More than a dozen academics, including several leading feminist professors, fear their freedom of speech is being silenced by students complaining they are transphobic.

They include Selina Todd, a professor of modern history at Oxford, and Kate Newey, professor of theatre history at Exeter. Rosa Freedman, professor of law conflict and global development, is believed to be under scrutiny at Reading University, and Kathleen Stock, professor of philosophy, has faced several formal complaints organised by students at Sussex. Some of the women, along with other academics, say questioning of transgender policies is being censored on campus.

Typical LGBT policies adopted by universities include the use of gender-neutral pronouns such as them/they and “ey” and “zie” as well as support for gender-neutral lavatories and changing rooms for those transitioning. Some universities also support the idea that people should be able to self-identify as male or female.

Todd, vice-principal of St Hilda’s College, Oxford, initially faced a complaint backed by a Facebook petition about comments she had made on social media. That grievance was dismissed by the university. Now, however, she has been told by students she will face a campaign in the autumn for her to be sacked.

“It is intimidating and isolating,” Todd said. “The view of these activists is that anyone who feels themselves to be a woman should be allowed to call themselves such. Questioning that desire is seen as hate speech that could be harmful. To me that is censorship.”

Stock says she has faced several “formal complaints against me organised by students, using public student Facebook groups to co-ordinate activity”. Now she is compiling cases of other academics who have had to defend themselves to their employers.

“I know of at least a dozen cases of students complaining to university managers about lecturers’ alleged ‘transphobia,’” she said. “In the face of this, it is tempting to many to just keep their heads down — including me. Yet this is a disaster. We desperately need scrutiny of emerging social, legal, medical, and sports policies in this area.”

Freedman is understood to be under investigation after students and members of the public alleged that her social media activity made her a danger to trans students. The academic denies transphobia. When contacted this week, she declined to confirm or deny whether proceedings were ongoing at her university.

Newey was placed under the microscope last year after students complained about tweets she had posted about the rights of women. “The university jumped straight to a formal complaint procedure,” she said. Several months later it decided against disciplinary action.

“It was stressful. I was told I couldn’t talk to anyone about it,” Newey said.

At Huddersfield University, a PhD researcher is under investigation after a student complained that his Twitter account was “transphobic”. Jonathan Best, 49, denies the allegation and says the complaints procedure is being used to stifle his academic freedom. “I am being bullied into silence,” he said.

Associate professor Chloë Houston, 39, who lectures in early modern drama at Reading University, escaped a formal investigation, but says her superiors had to address allegations from students that she was “breaching a safe space” for trans students simply by her presence.

“I only learnt about the complaints when the students concerned tweeted about having met the head of department . . . with concerns my department would no longer be a safe space for trans students,” she explained.

A spokesman for Huddersfield said it would be inappropriate to comment. Reading, Oxford, Exeter and Sussex universities said they were obliged to investigate any complaints, particularly in relation to discrimination and the equality act, and supported fostering a diverse and trans-friendly culture."

Women's meeting besieged by raging crowd
The Morning Star reports from Woman’s Place UK’s Labour Party conference unofficial fringe meeting
Sept 24, 2019, Morning Star

AN ANGRY crowd besieged a Woman’s Place UK (WPUK) meeting in Brighton on Monday night, crowding and shouting: “Shame on you” at individuals entering and banging on the windows throughout in an attempt to drown out the speakers.

Protesters chanted that “WPUK is a hate group,” repeating claims by some trans activists that the feminist organisation is hostile to trans people’s rights, an assertion rejected by speakers at the event.

One woman was doused in water as she entered while a young PhD student was reduced to tears and missed most of the subsequent meeting because the “terrifying” experience brought on a panic attack.

The protest against WPUK’s A Woman’s Place is At Conference event was endorsed from the platform at Momentum’s The World Transformed event, leading to a larger turnout against the meeting, but protesters were heavily outnumbered by the 100 or so women and a few men who braved the demo and attended.

One retired female police officer said the policing of the demo was “a disgrace,” saying one protester had leaned in and screamed: “Shame on you” in her ear.

Socialist feminist campaigner Dani Ahrens said the leadership of the LGBT movement had moved away from a liberating vision as it became closer to corporate sponsors.

Opposing proposals that exemptions under the Equality Act allowing some women’s services to restrict access to natal women be removed, she said: “I’m not suggesting that trans women should be denied support. But I do think it is unreasonable to demand the removal of female-only spaces that allow traumatised women to recover.

“I’m not an enemy of trans people and nothing I have said tonight is an attempt to deny anyone’s rights. We all have a much more dangerous enemy — the growing threat of fascism driven by catastrophic climate change.

“Everyone must acknowledge that there is a discussion to be had. We are well past the point where women will accept being silenced. The Labour Party should be enabling this discussion,” she said to cheers.

Author and campaigner against trafficking of women and girls Onjali Rauf said the attempt to prevent the meeting going ahead showed “how little women actually possess in terms of safe spaces to speak our minds. Everyone who made it through the crowd outside — well done.”

She argued that “all the labels being given us” in terms of multiple genders “instead of freeing us are boxing us in,” and perpetuate stereotypes of masculinity and femininity.

“If you want to step out of the social ‘he-man’ box and feel more comfortable in the social ‘she-woman’ box feel free,” she said, “but please don’t take away spaces women are still fighting for. Make your own spaces, or better still, take space from men — they’ve got loads!”

Having worked with trafficked victims of sexual abuse, she cautioned that for many “women who have been punched, beaten, raped, being made to accept the presence of former men in their safe spaces will lead to further trauma and distrust of the services that have been set up to help them.”

Final speaker, socialist and Labour Party activist Kay Green, asked how many of the audience were Labour Party members — almost all hands shot up — and said: “My message tonight is specifically for the Labour Party.

“Conflict between sex-based rights and gender reassignment is not inevitable,” she argued, “but it is if you deal with it in terms of ‘gender identity.’

“You cannot be against gender stereotypes because it is sexist and support gender identity which is based on those stereotypes.

“Appeasing noisy complainers doesn’t work: they get more confident and more unpleasant. By complying with bullies and gossips you silence the quiet people.

“In this context and this debate, that means the vulnerable people — abuse survivors. The not-that-out lesbians, the transexuals who have the misfortune not to agree with Stonewall.”

She rejected the monstering of “gender-critical feminists,” saying: “We are attacked as if being critical of gender is some aberration rather than the core principle of feminism that it is. But where women’s groups have led the way the left is lagging behind.”

National Education Union joint general secretary Kevin Courtney was in attendance and he tweeted that he had come to the meeting to find out “what it was all about” but that the protesters were “banging on the windows so loud that you can’t hear yourself think — that can’t be the right way to deal with the issue.”

Later, as the meeting closed, he tweeted that he was pleased to have attended and that “I’ve heard opinions that the protesters wouldn’t agree with. I haven’t heard any hate speech.”

A WPUK spokeswoman told the Morning Star: “The volume, the intensity of the chanting, and the size of the crowd — it was intimidating. It was very aggressive and threatening, and intended to be so.

“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.

“The police were there but the protesters were allowed to continue their harassment and banging and kicking on the windows for the entire meeting and we felt trapped inside.

“We planned the event for a week in collaboration with the police — and they didn’t step up.

“We will be lodging an official complaint over their failure to protect women's right to freedom of association.”

Trans activist Jessica Yaniv filed genital wax complaints as means of 'extortion,' rights tribunal rules
The ruling orders Yaniv to pay $6,000 in costs to three of her targets for 'improper conduct' including using human rights law as a 'weapon' for 'extortion'
by Joseph Brean, National Post, October 22, 2019

The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal has thoroughly dismissed the case of transgender woman Jessica Yaniv, ruling her persistent complaints that female salon workers refused to wax her scrotum were part of a campaign to both enrich herself and punish South Asian people, whom she views as hostile to the rights of transgender people.

In effect, the tribunal found the respondents did not offer scrotum waxing to anyone, so they did not deny Yaniv a service in the first place. It also preferred the respondents’ evidence wherever it conflicted with Yaniv’s, which was “disingenuous and self-serving.”

Yaniv “targeted small businesses, manufactured the conditions for a human rights complaint, and then leveraged that complaint to pursue a financial settlement from parties who were unsophisticated and unlikely to mount a proper defence,” reads the new ruling.

Yaniv filed most of her dozen complaints after booking appointments for Brazilian waxes with women who offer the service through Facebook. She would say she is transgender, then file a complaint when the women said they were not willing to offer this service. The BC Human Rights Code prohibits denial of service based on a person’s gender identity or expression.

In one case, Yaniv was refused service over an online message app after requesting a waxing for her “male parts,” so she wrote back to ask if the esthetician was comfortable working around the string of a tampon. The tribunal found she likely did this to make the woman, a Sikh from India who testified she was not then aware of transgender women in general, “feel uncomfortable or awkward for (Yaniv’s) own amusement or as a form of revenge.”

The ruling orders Yaniv to pay $6,000 in costs to three of her targets for “improper conduct” including using human rights law as a “weapon” for “extortion.”

It also brings to a close the bizarre public spectacle that exploded earlier this year when a publication ban was lifted on Yaniv’s identity, as she had already publicly revealed herself.

Self-identification does not erase physiological reality

That spectacle took the form of a vicious social media fight that set Yaniv, an information technology consultant with a history of aggressive and sexualized behaviour, against a determined subculture opposed to the ideology of trans acceptance in both culture and law. Several right-wing media outlets covered the case feverishly, including the American conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, revelling in Yaniv’s flamboyant image, her history of creepy online behaviour toward young girls, and her ceaseless self-promotion, which included entering beauty pageants for young women.

After more than a year with limited public attention due to a publication ban on Yaniv’s identity, by midsummer 2019 the case was all over the media in Britain and America — unusual for a retail discrimination case in suburban Vancouver. This feverish media attention led to a violent confrontation between Yaniv’s mother and a reporter who approached them at Yaniv’s home, several tense moments at the Vancouver tribunal building, and also to Yaniv’s arrest on suspicion of brandishing a prohibited weapon, a taser, during an online video interview. She was not charged.

One flashpoint, for example, was the conflict between Yaniv and the writer Meghan Murphy, which led Yaniv to complain to Twitter about Murphy describing her as male, for which Twitter banned Murphy under its hate and harassment policy. Free speech activist Lindsay Shepherd was similarly temporarily banned. That episode has lately caused controversy in Toronto, where activists seeking to prevent Murphy from renting library space for a talk have pointed to Twitter’s decision as a reason she should be banned.
Jessica Yaniv Darryl Dyck for National Post/File

As is the norm for frivolous human rights complaints, this one led to accusations that human rights tribunals in Canada are kangaroo courts, rashly credulous toward complainants, biased against defendants, vulnerable to abuse by charlatans, and tools of social engineering.

The ruling by tribunal member Devyn Cousineau puts the lie to that, with its harsh language about Yaniv’s dishonesty and her effort to “weaponize” the tribunal for her own enrichment. If Yaniv was able to abuse the process, she at least got what any failed litigant can expect — a steep costs order against her.

It also marks the first time a case of this sort has been adjudicated in Canada. A lawyer with the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, which represented some of the defendants, said a wide search across the country found nothing similar, on the point of transgender discrimination in retail.

“Self-identification does not erase physiological reality,” said Jay Cameron, the Justice Centre’s Litigation Manager, and counsel for the estheticians. “Our clients do not offer the service requested. No woman should be compelled to touch male genitals against her will, irrespective of how the owner of the genitals identifies.”

Fay Blaney on gender identity and Indigenous cultures at the Vancouver Public Library
January 29, 2019 by Feminist Current

The essay that follows is adapted from remarks delivered at Vancouver Public Library on January 10, 2019 by Indigenous feminist and activist Fay Blaney, who addressed the theme of Gender Identity Ideology and Women’s Rights. Transcripts of the other talks can be found here.


Good evening. My auntie says that we absolutely must welcome you into our homelands, our Coast Salish territory. My great grandmother is from across the water, and my great-great grandmother on my auntie’s side of the family is from Tsleil-Waututh First Nation, and then I think three greats from Sto:lo Nation, and my grandmother is from Sechelt. Before we were confined to reserves, there was a lot of interaction amongst the Coast Salish nations, and so after we’ve been confined to reserves we’re much more inclined to marry in, marry our relatives or what have you, but my ancestry does extend into this territory. My great-great grandmother was Cecilia Jim, who lived and was born on the Seymour River.

I wanted to say a couple of things about the topic that we’re talking about. I’m a member of the Aboriginal Women’s Action Network, and we’ve been around since 1995, and it was around that time that this issue was becoming a really big one. There was a woman who said that she was now “pangender” on our NAC executive. I was elected to the National Action Committee on the Status of Women, and I was thinking that, you know, I have been discriminated against and I don’t want to be guilty of discriminating against someone else, and [the group] looked to me for leadership.

But at that time, there were at least half a dozen Indigenous lesbians (my auntie is one of them) who were members of the Aboriginal Women’s Action Network, and spoke to me in great depth about the importance of protecting women-only spaces. So that’s the position that AWAN has taken, and we’ve really taken it on the chin as have many of the women’s groups that we work with, but we feel very passionately about the importance of consciousness raising work. I mean, that’s how we function in the Aboriginal Women’s Action Network. We have drop-ins, and teas, and discussions, and we talk about things, and that’s how we get our work done.

I grew up — and my auntie too — on our homelands in Bute Inlet, which is across from Campbell River. I grew up on the land, I grew up speaking my language until I went to residential school. I think I learned English when I was about seven. I know my culture very well. I know our stories, I know my language, and my auntie still is teaching me some things. My grandmother taught her things.

I taught Women’s Studies at Langara College and at UBC, and I found it really sad that a lot of native students coming into my classroom were coming to me to teach them about our history, our culture, and our traditions. As the general public now knows, there’s been wide-scale genocidal practices that have been perpetrated on Indigenous peoples. So, we’ve lost an awful lot, but we’re not gone. We’re not disappearing any time soon.

I say that as a preface to the point I want to make. I notice that the scholars in the country that are professed experts on First Nations issues are people that used to come into my classroom — people that did not grow up on the land as I have, as my auntie has, and a few of us have, who were still growing up in our culture and our traditions. But there are our own people coming into academic arenas and talking about Indigenous nations having five genders. That is absolute B.S.

I wrote an article on Joseph Boyden. In the article, I said, you know, we’re all in an uproar about this white person that wants to be identified as an Indigenous person. Why is it such a long stretch for us to [compare this to] men that come into our communities and want to be identified as women? And Chelsea Vowel condemned me from here to Timbuktu for saying that, calling me “transphobic.”

I’ve been involved in the Women’s Memorial March forever, and there are white women on that committee that are barring me from ever publicly speaking at that Valentine’s Day march. We’ve been talking about the ironies of all these things, and one of the ironies in this situation is the fact that we, in such large numbers, as Indigenous women, are the ones that are being murdered, the ones that are going missing, the ones that are being dismissed, and yet the white women on that committee say that I can’t speak because I used “hate speech.”

Getting back to the point of Indigenous academics who learned about Indigenous culture, coming back and being self-professed experts on Indigenous issues — they’re the ones that are saying that there are five genders. They’re saying that this is the situation across all cultures in North America, and I just really have a big issue [with that]. I’m totally offended with someone saying that they’re an expert on all Indigenous cultures. That’s a part of the “pan-Indianism” that we’re fighting now, with the pipeline thing — Horgan is saying we’re having this emerging clan system, and we say B.S. to that: they’ve always had their clan system.

Our cultures are diverse. I can’t speak for the Cree, or the Mohawks, or the Ojibwe. We can’t speak for all those people. We can’t say we understand their culture and their traditions and their practices. So why is Chelsea Vowel the expert on all Indigenous cultures?

What I want to say about this particular issue is that we were very accepting in our communities. If Ted wanted to dress as a woman and if Ted wanted Jack to be her husband, we didn’t condemn them. We knew that Ted wanted to dress like a woman, but we never said that Ted was a woman. The construction of gendered categories, like [saying] we had five… I’m sorry, we did not. We had two. There were some people who wanted to dress as men and some that wanted to dress as women and we never discriminated against them — they were accepted. They were members of the community — they were different, and we were fine with that. But we didn’t get Ted forcing himself into women’s circles, you know… He was invited. You never force yourself anywhere in Indigenous society.

I spoke with some elders of the Anishinaabe Nation because this is such a hot topic, and there’s so much vitriol and violence associated with it. So, I went to an elder and I asked her, because in their community they are accepting — they are practicing our tradition, they are accepting of having men who want to be women into their communities. So I said, “What about places like transition houses, where women aren’t comfortable with men being present?” And I have to tell you, when I worked in the Downtown Eastside Women’s Center, there were women that were very uncomfortable in the shelters. One of the elders from my homeland got beaten up by a trans, and there were other horror stories like that that happened for them. This elder said to me that they are very accepting as per their culture and their tradition, but if there was, for example, a woman coming out of prison and she didn’t feel comfortable in a halfway house with a trans there, they would speak to the trans. And they would make sure that this woman’s wishes were respected. They honour — in our ways we honour life-givers. These women are honoured for who they are and the wishes they have to be safe.

I just wanted to say some of those things about Indigenous society, because I saw a sign out there that was so ridiculous. It said that “to erase trans is to erase Indigenous society.” And I’m here to say we’re not getting erased and we’re going to be here for a hell of a long time.

JK Rowling and Ricky Gervais are fighting for common sense in the culture wars
by Libby Emmons and Barrett Wilson, Post Millenial, Dec 19, 2019

"In a world of celebrity capitulation to social justice mobs, Rowling and Gervais have shown a better way forward. They are unique in the sense that they are simply too big to be cancelled, and all they’re doing is stating actual scientific fact and standing up for basic civil rights.

Perhaps their bravery in standing up to the mob and speaking truth to woke power will set a precedent for more prominent people to actually speak their minds. Perhaps 2020 will be the year of common sense in the culture wars."

Article starts here:
JK Rowling came out in favour of Maya Forstater on Twitter. Since Forstater was fired for saying biological sex is real, and that determination was held up by a court of law, it kind of looks like Rowling is saying biological sex is real, too. And we know what’s wrong with that … it’s “hate speech.”

J.K. Rowling

Dress however you please.
Call yourself whatever you like.
Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you.
Live your best life in peace and security.
But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real? #IStandWithMaya #ThisIsNotADrill

4:57 AM - Dec 19, 2019
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This is a great opportunity for everyone to freak out. Including moms of trans kids.

J.K. Rowling

· 7h
Dress however you please.
Call yourself whatever you like.
Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you.
Live your best life in peace and security.
But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real? #IStandWithMaya #ThisIsNotADrill

Amanda Jetté Knox

My daughter, who is trans, is a big fan of yours. It breaks my heart to see you post something indicating that discrimination against her is perfectly fine behaviour for an employee.

The world’s most credible medical orgs affirm trans people. Please catch up.

5:17 AM - Dec 19, 2019
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Woke fans of the delightful Harry Potter series struck back against Rowling, saying that there was no place for them at fictional magic boarding school Hogwarts.

Noel is entering peak holiday spirit
· 7h
Replying to @jk_rowling
I grew up as a trans child reading your books as an escape. I would often pick out names from characters to give to myself, before I ever felt comfortable in who I was. This decision, to support people that hate me, and want to do me harm. It brings me to tears... Why. Why?

Noel is entering peak holiday spirit
When I was little, my dream was to one day ask you how people like me would have been accomodated for in hogwarts..
I'm afraid that my dreams might have been crushed if I ever got that chance.

5:11 AM - Dec 19, 2019
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The Human Rights Campaign weighed in with this pervasive view that is bordering on religious fanaticism.

Human Rights Campaign

Trans women are women.
Trans men are men.
Non-binary people are non-binary.

CC: JK Rowling.

6:53 AM - Dec 19, 2019
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Religious belief is exactly what trans ideology looks like. The idea that gender is more innate than any other characteristic, physical or mental, and the demand that everyone believe that, whether they are initiated into that religion or not, is a form of zealotry. Those who practice religious faith in the west are barred from forcing their religion on others, from teaching creationism in schools, from pushing prayer in public spaces. Yet trans ideologues have found a back door, proclaiming that to not subscribe to their religious practices is hatred.

This isn’t the first time JK Rowling has come out in favour of the commonly held scientific belief that there are, in fact, biological sexes, most notably, male and female. The denial of Maya Forstater’s employment, all because she has that wacky idea that men and women actually exist, may be the massive stupidity that has finally pushed Rowling over the edge and meant she could no longer hide behind her publicist. These views have gotten her in hot water before, although she’s tried to obfuscate them.

Elizabeth Claret
I just want to say I'm proud of my husband today. I told him about JK Rowling being a terf, we needed to remove the wizard game from our phones. He hemmed and hawed about it at first. Apparently though, he spent a lot of time this afternoon looking into the allegations and...

5:21 PM - Jun 24, 2019
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Fans were mad then, too. It turns out it’s just not okay to believe that men and women exist. The courts say so, progressives and Labour say so. And for much of the past decade, women have bowed down to the idea that, out of kindness and compassion, they should deny their own reality to serve others. Rowling’s admission comes at a key moment in this fight for women’s rights.

Noted gender critical feminist Julie Bindel, who was physically attacked for her views on trans ideology earlier this year, couldn’t hide her glee with Rowling’s statement in support of Forstater:

J.K. Rowling

· 7h
Dress however you please.
Call yourself whatever you like.
Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you.
Live your best life in peace and security.
But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real? #IStandWithMaya #ThisIsNotADrill

Julie Bindel


5:23 AM - Dec 19, 2019
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The crazy part is that trans ideologues think their reality is the only one that shouldn’t be questioned. Everyone else’s, apparently, is up for defenestration. Trans reality isn’t rarified, special, and unquestionable, especially when it redefines actual scientific fact.

Titania McGrath
Children should be taught that gender is an oppressive myth invented by the patriarchy.

But if a girl enjoys football or a boy likes wearing dresses they are clearly in the wrong body and should immediately be injected with puberty blockers.

8:14 AM - Dec 19, 2019
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But it’s just not happening anymore. People are done with the consequences of stating biological realities manifesting in the loss of work, public cancelling, and online vitriol. JK Rowling is standing up, after years of being vaguely on the fringes of possibly joining the fray, and as she takes the heat for these views, she gives courage and cover to so many women who have been fielding the arrows on this.

Sister Outrider

· 7h
Replying to @ClaireShrugged
#IStandWithMaya as sex has profound and devastating consequences for women & girls. 1 in 3 will experience violence in her lifetime. And that violence is overwhelmingly likely to be committed by a man. If we can’t name the sexual politics of patriarchy, we can’t challenge them.

Sister Outrider

Lastly, #IStandWithMaya because I refuse to be pressured into silence by the endless suggestions that we punch, kick, burn, shoot, or beat with a baseball bat any woman who raises her voice in dissent.

5:46 AM - Dec 19, 2019
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In a recent interview with Andrew Doyle, Ricky Gervais came out swinging against political correctness and woke censure: “The new puritans aren’t 60-year-old women in twinsets and pearls, the Christian right trying to make us turn off our televisions because they don’t like it. It’s a younger crowd with trendy haircuts, who you’d think would have left-leaning liberal sensibilities, who have invented this new term ‘hate speech.’”

Gervais, too, has been charged with transphobia—he famously spoke out against the malicious activism of transgender woman Jessica Yaniv, who attempted to compel salon workers to wax her testicles and more recently attempted a similar trick with a gynaecologist:

Ricky Gervais

It's disgusting that a qualified gynaecologist can refuse to check a lady's cock for ovarian cancer. What if her bollocks are pregnant? She could lose the baby. I'm outraged.

11:52 AM - Dec 3, 2019
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Gervais gave Doyle some interesting advice regarding the woke lobby and the new censorship: “Ignore it … You keep doing what you always did. I’ve lived through probably three phases of new wokeness in my time, it comes and goes and it has different guises.”

In a world of celebrity capitulation to social justice mobs, Rowling and Gervais have shown a better way forward. They are unique in the sense that they are simply too big to be cancelled, and all they’re doing is stating actual scientific fact and standing up for basic civil rights.

Perhaps their bravery in standing up to the mob and speaking truth to woke power will set a precedent for more prominent people to actually speak their minds. Perhaps 2020 will be the year of common sense in the culture wars.

Trans activists are making life harder for trans people
As a trans woman I find the ‘non-binary’ crusade frightening

by Debbie Hayton, The Spectator, 14 December 2019

This was the year that the word ‘non-binary’ went mainstream. It has now officially entered the dictionary — lexicographers at Collins have defined the term as ‘a gender or sexual identity that does not belong to the binary categories of male or female, heterosexual or homosexual’.

Non-binary also entered the Liberal Democrat manifesto, though Jo Swinson may now be regretting this decision. Non-binary is easy to announce; it’s rather more challenging to explain to the electorate — or to journalists. In a series of difficult interviews this week, she even denied the fact that every human being is either male or female. I’m a science teacher; if she had been one of my pupils, I think I would have despaired.

I transitioned at the age of 44, having always struggled with my gender. By the age of three, I wanted to be one of the girls — though I had no idea why. I didn’t know whether boys felt the same way as me. I did, however, sense that the subject was one I could not broach: taboos kick in young. In the years leading up to my transition, my gender dysphoria never vanished, but its intensity did wax and wane in line with how busy and happy I was. Finally, when it did overwhelm me, I took the plunge.

As a trans woman who is in the thick of the debate over trans rights, I’m not sure the Collins dictionary definition clarifies much, not least because it conflates sex and gender. George Orwell once wrote: ‘If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.’ As I see it, the rapidly shifting language around transgender issues has corrupted a good deal of thought.

The terms ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ have become increasingly muddled. But they’re distinct concepts. Essentially, sex is about biology while gender is about psychology. Our sex relates to our role — or potential role — in the reproduction of our species. Gender, on the other hand, is a more abstract term that relates to aspects of our psychology: how we express our personality in the context of gendered roles within society.

While some may resent being told they have a sex, they do. It is one of two things: male or female. We cannot change it, and we can’t choose it any more than we can choose the colour of our eyes.

Sex is binary. It takes two people to make a baby — one provides the egg and the other supplies the sperm. Despite what the dictionary says, no one is outside the two sex categories, male and female, and in that sense, nobody is non-binary. Intersex people may have variations of sexual development, but those differences exist within the two sex classes, not between them.

Gender is far less clear. Roles and expected characteristics vary hugely. Who gets to wear make-up and who pulls on the trousers are worked out in a constantly shifting social context. How many gender identities could there be? Until recently, that great authority Facebook offered 71. Every human is unique and we are all a riotous mix of masculine and feminine characteristics. In gender terms, there is no binary to speak of, and everybody is non-binary.

To my mind, the conflation of sex and gender is insidious and is causing major problems. We are discussing enshrining ‘non-binary rights’ in law, for example, including the right to obfuscate sex markers on official documents. Theatres are being pressured by the actors’ union Equity to stop saying ‘ladies and gentlemen’ before a play. Pronouns are no longer descriptive but prescriptive, and the penalties for non–compliance can be severe: expulsion from social media platforms, even visits from the police.

I am worried by the direction things are going. Transsexuals never used to try to control or compel language. We transitioned and got on with it. Indeed one measure of a successful transition was the pronoun that strangers used when they met us.

When people claim that they identify as a woman, a non-binary person or even as a penguin, all they are really saying is that they call themselves a woman, a non-binary person or a penguin. To be a woman isn’t to ‘feel’ like a woman, whatever Shania Twain says. You either are one, or you aren’t.

If we create a category for non-binary, then we by default create a category of ‘not non-binary’ or — more simply — binary. What happens to gender non-conforming men and women who do not want to sign up to being non-binary? The risk is that every-one is forced to choose between two new categories; non-binary and binary (which is in itself a new binary). Surely better to let everyone find their own path in life?

The new generation of LGBTQ+ activists may claim that the rush for transgender and non-binary rights mirrors the gay rights activism of 30 years ago, but those campaigners only ever fought for equal rights. They never campaigned for the right to change how other people think.

Neither did transsexuals used to want to compel thoughts: the aim was to pass unnoticed in society. Seven years on from my own transition, I can report that while I am much happier in life, I have never felt it fair to appropriate women’s rights; I simply live alongside them as a fellow human being.

Amid all the heat and noise in the debate, the backlash against people like me is growing. Every time an activist demands compliance or uncovers screaming evidence of a thought crime, sympathy for trans people is replaced with exasperation, suspicion and exclusion. At a time when populism is on the ascendency around the world, this is a very scary development facing transsexuals.

The victims even include those who identify as non-binary. While Sam Smith and Rose McGowan may both call themselves non-binary, society sees them as members of two different sex classes. We can try to ignore sex, but if we ignore sexism we let down those oppressed by it, something that impacts disproportionately on one sex, and not the sex that Sam Smith is trying to escape from.

Even so, we can never escape from reality and the sexed nature of our bodies. While we should protect everyone’s right to defy gender norms and express their personalities, it is not progressive to force people into new categories with restrictions and expectations of a different kind.

Maybe in 30 years’ time, we will look back at non-binary as another fresh expression of personality, like the mods, punks and goths of previous generations. Like then, the best reaction could well be to say ‘That’s nice, dear’ and get on with life. There is rarely anything new under the sun.

Lesbian Feminist: Trans Is a ‘Misogynistic Trojan Horse’
By Tyler O'Neil, PJ Media, March 7, 2019

Lesbian feminist Julia Beck testifies before the House Judiciary Committee. YouTube screenshot.

On Thursday, lesbian feminist Julia Beck testified before Congress against the gender identity provisions in the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Meant to protect transgender people, these provisions actually act as a "misogynistic trojan horse," undermining key protections for women and girls, Beck argued.

"The first piece of U.S. legislation to even acknowledge the epidemic of violence against women is now a misogynistic Trojan Horse," Beck declared. She argued that "all women and girls are oppressed on the basis of our female sex," not their gender identity.

Beck herself recalled facing threats of violence due to her opposition to transgender activism. "People on the Left have tried to silence me by using threats and other tactics of intimidation, a kind of hatred that most lesbians would expect to receive from people on the Right. I’ve been told to die in a fire, to get raped, and to choke on 'lady c*ck' by members of the GBT community," she said.

"My so-called allies cast me out for speaking about male violence, so I spoke with the only people who were willing to listen, people on the Right, who usually never see eye to eye with lesbians or feminists," Beck explained, referencing her appearance at the Heritage Foundation in January.

She praised the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) as a critical protection for women and girls facing violence but warned that when gender identity provisions were added in 2013, that undermined the very purpose of the law.

"The distinct sex categories of female and male are mutually exclusive. Therefore women and girls benefit from female space," Beck said. "In its earliest forms, VAWA defended female space." In 2013, however, "one small addition to the act dissolved all of its sex-based provisions. VAWA now protects the nebulous concept of gender identity, defined in Title 18 as actual or perceived gender-related characteristics."

Beck argued that protections based on gender identity are "illogical and completely irresponsible."

"While sex is a vital statistic, gender and identity are not. VAWA was created for women and girls, not for those who feel like or identify as female. Woman is not a gender or a feeling," Beck declared. She undercut the entire gender identity concept, attacking it as sexist. "No one has ever been able to explain what 'feeling like a woman' means without using sexist stereotypes."

Radical Feminist: Transgender Activism Is a 'Men's Rights Movement'

"Women don’t need to identify as female in order to be women," the lesbian added. "Woman means adult human female. New gender identity laws allow male people to claim womanhood."

"The Violence Against Women Act has become the Violence Against Anybody Act," she quipped. "Its original sex-based protections are now meaningless because men with gender identities who commit violence against women are protected by federal law. When gender identity wins, women and girls always lose."

The lesbian argued that those who think "gender identity is the next frontier of social justice ... couldn't be more wrong."

"Gender is based on rigid sex roles and superficial stereotypes that legitimize male dominance and female subordination. This harmful hierarchy is something that women and girls can never 'identify' out of," she explained.

Violence against women around the world is horrific and cannot be explained in terms of gender identity. "Female fetuses cannot identify out of sex-selective abortion. Global majority women cannot identify out of genital mutilation or forced impregnation," Beck added, mentioning three of the worst abuses faced by women around the world.

"Women and girls are targeted by men because of our female sex, because the doctrine of gender codes females as subhuman," the lesbian argued. Transgender identity buys into that "doctrine of gender" and throws a "misogynistic Trojan Horse" into the very law intended to defend women and girls against sex-based violence.

"One of four girls will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old and 96 percent of people who sexually abuse children are male," Beck said. "Half the population is living in a state of emergency. Violence against women is a hate crime, but as of 2013, it is state-sanctioned, as long as perpetrators 'feel like' they’re women."

The lesbian concluded her testimony with a call to action. "Everyone here, whether you’re female or not, knows what a woman is. Everyone knows that violence against women is a sex-based issue," she said. "So for the sake of women and girls, please remove gender identity from VAWA."

A light has been shone on women’s rights for all the world to see
by Ruth Serwotka, December 29, 2019

A shocking tribunal decision against Maya Forstater, who lost her job for believing sex is immutable, has elevated the ‘gender debate’ to a new level of international scrutiny, writes RUTH SERWOTKA
Maya Forstater speaks about her case at a Woman's Place UK event this year

ON DECEMBER 19 a shocking decision was delivered in a London tribunal hearing.

Maya Forstater, a feminist campaigner, had lost her case. The refusal of her employer, a global development think tank, to extend an employment contract with her because of her feminist views was effectively ruled lawful.

The tribunal heard that Forstater was a “gender critical” feminist, part of a growing women’s movement in Britain and globally, and that she held as a core premise that men cannot change into women and that humans, as a dimorphic species, cannot change sex, a scientific and immutable fact.

Her employer contested that these views were harmful to transgender people.

Forstater had taken the case on the grounds that her views should be protected under legislation that defends rights to religion and freedom of belief within the Equality Act 2010.

She argued that while acknowledging it was within people’s rights to live life free of discrimination and harassment, it was a reasonable view to believe and advocate that biological sex is immutable.

Importantly the case touched on the right of women to express opinions about sex and gender and to campaign on feminist issues without facing the chilling effect of legal censure or threat to employment.

In response to government proposals to reform the Gender Recognition Act (GRA), feminists have been pointing out that men being able to simply identify as women will have a detrimental impact upon women — and have been gaining wider understanding of such views.

Proposals to amend the GRA to effectively allow a simple process to choose a gender, conflating it with sex, have notably been delayed, with politicians in all parties clearly surprised by the size of the backlash coming from women’s organisations.

The issue became directly relevant during the general election campaign with Jo Swinson facing widespread derision for upholding the view that it was possible for men to become women and the Labour Party having to confirm its manifesto commitment to uphold women’s rights to single-sex services.

Forstater had been publicly putting forward a cogent and articulate case that an understanding in law that men could literally change their sex would undermine women’s rights to separate space for therapeutic reasons, privacy and dignity.

In particular she had insisted that it was acceptable to point out that a male SNP councillor, Gregor Murray, should be acknowledged as male.

Murray, who had been reprimanded for sexist conduct towards feminist activists for using misogynist and obscene language, has the preferred pronouns of they/them and says he is of “non-binary” gender, even though he presents with a beard and has not undergone any form of transition.

Her case emphatically didn’t relate to any employees working with her at the think tank.

The section of the judgement which relates to Forstater’s approach to Murray is the most worrying element of the case.

In a sweeping statement, the judge ruled that Forstater was “absolutist in her view of sex and it is a core component of her belief that she will refer to a person by the sex she considered appropriate even if it violates their dignity and/or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. The approach is not worthy of respect in a democratic society.”

The judgement places sections of the Equality Act on a collision course.

On the one hand it requires the legal fiction that it is possible to change sex is turned into a socially required understanding that can be compelled in the workplace. On the other, the Act also allows rights to single-sex facilities under provisions of sex discrimination known as exemptions.

The Act allows for services for women to exclude men but also, importantly, to exclude transwomen even where they have a gender recognition certificate, the paperwork currently required to change legal sex.

Many feminists believe this collision course was set in motion from the creation of the legal fiction of changing one’s sex in the GRA of 2004.

Many see the resolution to these conflicts not in compelling speech at odds with material reality but in placing transgender rights instead under the umbrella of sex discrimination law, ensuring all people can express themselves however they please regardless of their biological sex.

Ensuring that transgender people continue to have the protection of the law from harassment, abuse and discrimination remains an important principle for all progressive organisations.

However, the tribunal decision is profoundly troubling. It effectively justifies compelled speech and maintains that it is lawful to dismiss someone who believes in biological reality because others find that reality offensive.

The positive thing is that many women can see the appalling nature of the judgement and refuse to be intimidated by it.

In the days following the judgement feminist Twitter was sparked with rage.

Harry Potter author JK Rowling and tennis superstar Martina Navratilova added their voices of support to those arguing that it is not hate to point out one’s sex — for feminism it is essential to providing an underpinning of any analysis of male power.

On an international platform these two women have drawn out the misogynist and vitriolic abuse that comes with a great deal of trans activism for all the world to see.

This judgement is not the end of the titanic struggle between women and forces in society that support the idea that the individualism of self-identity are to be upheld at all costs.

However, because of the judgement, Forstater has done an enormously important job of bringing this matter to wider understanding, of showing the price that brave women standing up to this draconian policy are suffering and of shining a light into a dark corner of the internet. This is by no means the end but it might be the beginning of the end.

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