Ian McNicol, General Secretary
Labour Central, King’s Manor
Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 6PA
Thank you for your letter asking me to renew my membership of the Labour Party. As you’ll be aware, I have been a member for many years, and have held CLP roles and been an activist when other commitments permitted, but I will not renewing my membership.
To set the scene, I should tell you that I am a gender-critical feminist. In case you aren’t aware of this school of thought, we believe that the biological reality of being female or male is very real, but that “gender” is socially constructed, differs from society to society, and is the way in which women and men are socially encouraged/coerced to play their allotted roles in the society in which they live. I should also tell you that I am extremely sympathetic to people suffering gender dysphoria, and believe that they should be treated with respect and consideration, and provided with the services they need to live a happy, healthy and productive life. I reject the label “transphobe”; I have no fear of gender nonconformity.
A couple of days after I got your letter, I received an extraordinarily patronising phone call from one of your phone bank people. I’m afraid I don’t have his name, because he didn’t introduce himself, apart from telling me he was calling from the Labour Party. However, it was clear from his voice and diction that he was very much younger than I am.
In a nutshell, your phone bank person laughed at me when I said I was seriously considering not renewing my membership because of the LP’s position on “trans issues”, in particular the proposal to amend the Gender Recognition Act 2004 to allow self-identification. He followed his patronising chuckle by telling me that the Labour Party aims to be the inclusive party. When I asked him what he meant by “inclusive” in that sentence, he was quite unable to tell me. He did however refer to “trans people being under a lot of societal pressure”. I said I agreed, and I asked him to tell me how self-ID would help alleviate this “societal pressure”. Again, there was a silence, and instead of answering my question, he said something vague about people being able to live as “their true selves”.
The conversation was extremely unsatisfactory until the final exchange, when I asked him if he truly believed that it was possible for a human to change sex. His response to this was interesting; he said “well of course, no-one thinks they can change biologically from a man to a women”. I then drew the conversation to a close. Clearly there is a certain amount of confusion among your activists; they know perfectly well that there is an immutable difference between female humans and male humans, but they pretend that there isn’t, and expect the membership to join in this pretence.
Since that conversation, I have become aware of the following additional “trans” issues where I think the Labour Party is taking a stand which will inevitably damage the rights of women and girls:
- The admission of men who “identify as” women onto All Women Shortlists, without the necessity of having a Gender Recognition Certificate.
- The number of “trans women” who have been successful in applying to the Jo Cox Women in Leadership programme for women.
- The Party’s continuing support of “Lily” Madigan in the role of Women’s Officer, despite his extraordinary public bullying of gender-critical feminists and other women.
- The appointment of “Munroe Bergdorf” to an LGBT working group, which was announced at the same time as Grazia published his tone-deaf mansplanation of feminism.
I find all these developments deeply concerning. As a socialist feminist, accustomed to class analysis, it is clear to me that the root cause of women’s oppression is our sexed bodies. Allowing men, with their differently sexed bodies, to declare themselves women will make the term “women” completely meaningless, and will at a stroke remove the basis for the very few sex-based protections and concessions women have managed to win for themselves.
As I said, I am no “transphobe”; but it’s clear to me that infringing women’s hard-fought rights as a knee-jerk reaction to the demands of a tiny group of people is not the way to help people who identify as “trans”. We must, as a society, provide safe and secure “third spaces” and facilities for those people, and continue to give women and girls the security of female-only spaces and services where they are needed.
The phone bank conversation which was a perfect illustration of the way the Labour Party are treating gender-critical feminists. I was laughed at, patronised and talked down to, about the realities of being a woman, by a man who was clearly far younger than me, with far less experience of life and absolutely no experience of being female.
I have voted Labour all my life and am a fourth generation Labour voter and activist. It breaks my heart to resign from my party, and I now feel politically homeless. But your cruel, thoughtless and shabby treatment of women leaves me no other choice.