Tottenham Dinosaurs roar their dismay at the words of their MP,  Shadow Justice Secretary David Lammy

Dinos Hoarding Their Rights Outside Labour HQ

Members of Tottenham Constituency Labour Party, including the Women’s Officer, Disability Officer, LGBT Officer and Secretary,  have written to their MP David Lammy to express their outrage at his recent public statements  equating women who campaign in support of the Party manifesto and Labour’s Equality Act’s sex-based rights with dinosaurs hoarding their rights. He has also claimed, which they refute, that this was not an issue raised with him, and is not one that is raised on the doorstep. Lammy also made the hugely ignorant claim that cervices can be created by surgery and hormones.

Only Women Have A Cervix

LWD have also written to Mr Lammy on 30th September 2021 (copying in with their permission two Labour Peers), to request a meeting with him, in his capacity as Shadow Justice Secretary with responsibility for women in prisons. We urged him to meet with his local CLP members who also wrote on 30th September. No acknowledgement or reply has yet been received by ourselves or the Labour Peers.

Dinosaur Protecting Her Rights Outside Labour HQ

The Tottenham members say:
“Women are not ‘hoarding rights’ and refusing to share them.  The right to single-sex spaces belongs to all women and girls already.  If males, however they identify, are admitted, then we are not sharing rights, we are giving them away altogether – and we will not get them back.”

A major contender for ‘unbelievable things that happened at Conference’

It’s sometimes hard to credit what the Labour Party is capable of in the ‘I just can’t believe it!’ competition.  Among the many contenders for the title that emerged at or during Conference, the passing of a motion full of unevidenced assertions, total distortions, misogyny, wild allegations, and more has to be a finalist.

The Composite 13 LGBT+ Motion [1] was proposed, seconded and approved on the morning of Tuesday 28 September, the penultimate day of Conference.  It’s hard to believe that many of the delegates, other than those who we know had been trying to address its inadequacies previously, had even read the full motion.

We commend the Twitter thread by Dennis Kavanagh [2], published on the day of the motion’s passing, which provides useful observations and references alongside his disgust that the Labour Party could have adopted such a dreadful motion.  We share his damning assessment, and make some further observations.

Just taking a few of the nonsensical statements in the first part of the motion:

  • “LGBT+ people are experiencing higher levels of persecution…” – higher than what?  Higher than disabled people?  Muslims?  That’s anyone’s guess.
  • “Intersex people experience erasure and harm through anti LGBT+ violence”.  People with VSDs (variations of sexual development) have asked, repeatedly, not to be conflated with the T part of LGBT, and used by the gender identity ideologists.  What this statement actually means is entirely unclear.
  • “LGBT+ people have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic” – an unevidenced assertion (one wonders why it was included…).

The motion then moves on to talk about conversion therapy, the favourite topic of the gender identity ideologues currently.  By conflating ‘traditional’ conversion therapy for lesbian, gay and bisexual people with psychotherapy for those in distress with gender dysphoria, the playbook so clearly outlined in the Denton’s document [3], recommending that legislation that might otherwise be questioned or unpopular should be tied to ‘more popular reform’ in order to provide  ‘a veil of protection’, is clearly being followed.  No right-thinking person is against a ban on conversion therapy for lesbians, gay men and bisexual people.  So, slipping in ‘gender identity’, as if they were talking about the same sort of ‘conversion therapy’, has led to many people being fooled.

Conversion therapy for lesbians, gay men and bisexuals has a long and appalling history, involving ‘chemical castration’ drugs, electric shocks, religious ‘casting out devils’ and more.  But what is being referred to as ‘conversion therapy’ for under-18s or adults who come to believe they are ‘trans’ is nothing more than neutral, exploratory, psychotherapy.  We know from many detransitioners and clinicians that the very obvious, often well-documented, so-called ‘comorbidities’ (other psychological difficulties) so often suffered by those presenting for treatment for ‘gender identity issues’ are totally ignored.

The motion refers to such psychotherapy for under-18s as child abuse.  We would hold that failing to explore psychological trauma and help a young person to resolve depression, anxiety and distress, and instead setting them on a path of puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and possible surgery, would be the real child abuse.  All too often it would in fact be real gay/lesbian conversion therapy, as gender non-conforming young people are pushed by their peers and by adults into transition as the ‘solution’ to their non-heteronormative feelings and behaviour.

The motion concludes with the demand that trans-identified men must have equal access to  rape support and domestic abuse ‘shelters’ (what we would call refuges; not the only Americanism in this motion) with women.  It is preposterous that 50 years of women working with women, developing experience and understanding of trauma-informed practice, can be shoved aside in this way.  It is known that for many women who have suffered abuse, recovery is best achieved in a male-free environment.  This does not mean that all men, including those who are trans-identified, represent a threat.  This is about the needs of traumatised women who experience a sense of threat from the presence of males. It is sad that, instead of seeking support to set up refuges for trans people, this motion is determined to remove women’s single-sex services.

It is distressing – nay, horrifying – that the Labour Party which once proudly demonstrated its understanding of the need for women’s liberation, and for an end to discrimination against lesbians, gay men and bisexuals, has now turned its back on this history and passed an incoherent, ill-informed, motion which demonstrates forms of misogyny and homophobia that Labour would once have dismissed in disgust.

We sincerely hope that those developing policy for the next Labour Manifesto are not taken in by the ridiculous assertions and demands of this motion.  All members, including trans people alongside women, gay men, lesbians and bisexuals, deserve so much better.

[1] https://labour.org.uk/conference/visitors/delegate-hub/reports-for-conference-2021/ CAC Report 4, pp22-23

[2] https://twitter.com/jebadoo2/status/1442887182100860931?s=21

[3] Download the document here https://www.iglyo.com/only-adults/ and go to page 20

JOINING THE DOTS


LWD’s Working Group Statement on the
Labour Party Green Paper ‘Ending Violence to Women & Girls’

Women are demanding action to stop the epidemic of rape, male violence
and abuse targeted at women and girls. The Labour Party’s Green Paper
outlining a strategy, whilst it acknowledges how overstretched and
underfunded support services are, fails to address key points which need
to form part of any effective and realistic policies.

1. The voluntary sector of refuges, support and counselling services
was developed largely by women for women. It has many years of
experience in developing appropriate and safe, well-used services
for women. This sector has been underfunded and run down by
successive Tory governments and valuable expertise lost by a
competitive tendering system which has all too often awarded
contracts to commercial operators. As well as a commitment to
secure, long-term funding, and increasing provision to meet the
growing need, the party needs to extend its manifesto commitment
into an explicit policy to support the provision of single-sex as well
as other specialist services. These services centre the needs of
women and girls. Women need and have a right to chose safe
services which are often provided by other women who have had
similar experiences and understand the best ways to support one
another during some of the most difficult times of their lives, from
the violence itself to taking their cases through the justice system.
The sector which has been built up over the last 50 years needs to
be valued and supported.

2. Links between what have historically been considered ‘low level’
forms of harassment and abuse and the escalation to increasingly
violent offences have been made clear. Policies need to develop a
Zero Tolerance approach which understands these links and
commits to tackling all levels of misogynistic hate crimes against
women. This also needs to encompass the area of social media
which has become extremely hostile to women and where threats of
violence are routinely ignored.

3. Similarly, the separation of ‘domestic’ violence from stranger
violence needs to end. It has been shown that committing acts of
domestic violence is also an indicator of the potential for acts of
terror. Many men found guilty of rape and sex-based crimes also
have a record of domestic abuse. Taking seriously male violence in
the home is an essential part of any wider strategy – violence to
women is a continuum which arises from a wider environment of sexism and the social acceptance of such acts and the attitudes which give rise to them.

4. The huge increase in the use of pornography and its explicitly violent and misogynistic content contributes to that environment.Violent content has become one of the most searched for categories. It has contributed to the normalisation of all forms of violence to women and children and the failure to address this problem is the elephant in the room. Porn is now easily available to many children. The shocking levels of sexual abuse of girls in schools and the highest ever levels of depression and self-harm now found amongst girls and young women must be seen as red flags.

What sort of society are we allowing to thrive? We cannot tackle violence and abuse perpetrated on one sex principally by the other without taking measures to radically alter the education system and wider environment in which our children grow up and where they fail to learn mutual respect.

5. Institutions such as the police and those involved in the criminal
justice system have been shown to tolerate a culture of disrespect
for women and consequently a failure to take violence to women
seriously. That rape should go almost unpunished, that judges
should give light sentences to men who kill women, that the vast
majority of offences of this kind go un-prosecuted are all factors that
need to be urgently addressed. This is how we have come to this
point of endemic and epidemic male violence which has been
tolerated in ways that would seem extraordinary if applied to other
crimes.

6. We do not know who was consulted in the preparation of the green
paper, but, women’s organisations that have been working in the
field over many years must be consulted. There is existing expertise
both on the causes of male violence and best practice in supporting
women and any policy development needs to incorporate those
perspectives.

Women are not the only victims of male violence, but
overwhelmingly the perpetrators of violence and abuse to women
are men. The right to live in peace and safety is a fundamental
human right not currently enjoyed by girls and women, half of our
communities. The Labour Party must develop a comprehensive and
holistic approach which recognises the sex-specific dynamics
involved and which seeks not only to provide support to victims but
which addresses the root causes and does not shirk these critical
issues. We owe it to women. And it is urgent.

And answers there came none…publication of our private letters to Mayor which remain unanswered…

Sadiq – “Do you support the single-sex exceptions in the 2010 Equality Act or do you wish to repeal them?” This is the question which Joan Smith asked you in private letters last year, but you failed to respond, in spite of her position as the independent Chair of your VAWG Board, in which role she was charged with leading independent scrutiny of your performance towards ending VAWG.

We are now publishing our own letters to you so that it cannot be said that you were not aware of our safeguarding concerns. As Labour Peer Philip Hunt warned in July 2020 “When the eventual public enquiry happens, as inevitably it will, there will be many organisations and leaders who will have to face up to the consequences  of their inaction.”

Thousands of Labour party members who have signed our Declaration are also waiting for your answers to our letters to you and your Deputy Mayors, dating back over 2 years. We believe you are publicly promoting views which will have a chilling effect on women, and on lesbians in particular. We have repeatedly asked to meet you and your colleagues so that you can at least understand our concerns. We are not asking you to agree with us, but to hear us.

Thread of emails send by Labour Women’s Declaration supporters to Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London between 24 July 2019 and 20 August 2021.

Subject: Fwd: Let’s talk about women’s rights – response needed in the light of today’s Times report about the replacement of Joan Smith as independent chair by a GLA official. 

Date: 19 August 2021 at 12:20:31 BST

To: Sadiq.khan@london.gov.uk, Joanne McCartney <joanne.mccartney@london.gov.uk>, sophie.linden@london.gov.uk

Cc: buckk@parliament.uk, len.duvall@london.gov.uk, London Labour Women’s Declaration <londonlabourwomensdeclaration@gmail.com>

Dear Sadiq Khan

Please see below for the email sent to you by London Labour Women’s Declaration on 11th January this year, 2021, signed by over 60 Labour party members including councillors and elected officers. It received neither reply nor acknowledgement. It refers to an earlier letter sent in July 2019 which received a patronising single sentence reply from one of your aides in November 2019 and which did not address a single one of our questions.

We read today in the Times that you have still not even responded to a similar private letter from Joan Smith sent last year, despite her years of voluntary service as your VAWG Board Chair.

All we are asking for is for women to be heard, and for you to reassure us and the women’s sector that you fully support the single-sex exceptions in Labour EA2010, and reinforced in Labour’s 2019 Manifesto. We also need you to understand that most lesbians and many gay men do not feel represented by Stonewall, by the LGBTQ+ acronym, or Pride initiatives. You don’t have to agree with our positions, but by refusing to listen, at first hand to those of us who represent the thousands of signatories to the Labour Women’s Declaration,  you risk falling behind the curve in terms of safeguarding, women’s and gay and lesbian rights, and you do no service either to the needs of people identifying as transgender. You also risk further electoral damage to the Labour Party.

And as for restructuring your Boards to replace independent Chairs with County Hall officials, well that speaks for itself.

Please could you reply to our letter of 11.01.21 below?

Thank you

Ceri Williams

for London Labour Women’s Declaration, and Labour Women’s Declaration Working Group.

From: “London Labour Women’s Declaration” <londonlabourwomensdeclaration@gmail.com>

Subject: Let’s talk about women’s rights

Date: 11 January 2021 at 10:18:41 GMT

To: sadiq.khan@london.gov.uk

Cc: joanne.mccartney@london.gov.uk, Sophie.linden@london.gov.uk, Len.duvall@london.gov.uk, buckk@parliament.uk

Dear Sadiq Khan,

We’re London Labour Party activists and supporters of the Labour Women’s Declaration who are very concerned about your current stance on women’s sex-based rights.

Given recent developments, including the High Court judgement against the Tavistock GIDS clinic, recent Twitter attacks on Labour councillors in Camden and Merton, and the upcoming mayoral election, we would like to meet with you and/or one of the Deputy Mayors to discuss women’s rights and freedoms.  (We emailed you in July 2019 asking for a meeting and your Senior Policy Officer replied in November 2019.  However he didn’t address any of the questions we raised, so we still really need a meeting).

One reason for our concern is your frequent statements that “transwomen are women”. There is a conflict of rights between women and transwomen which is denied by this simplistic slogan and, given the GLA’s funding role, your words have a chilling effect on women’s organisations in London. We are asking for two assurances – that organisations supporting women in London will not be penalised for expressing a different view, and that you continue to support the single-sex exceptions in the 2010 Equality Act.

The 2019 Labour manifesto stated that the single-sex exceptions must be “understood and enforced in service provision”, not least because they also intersect with other protected categories such as that of religion, sexual orientation and belief.

The current government has adopted a correctly cautious approach to reform of the GRA and more discerning guidelines on PSHE in schools, saying schools must avoid organisations and materials “that suggest to a child that their non-compliance with gender stereotypes means that either their personality or their body is wrong and in need of changing” (DFE guidance Sept 2020).

Despite the government doing the right thing on this issue, we know that women are better off under Labour, and we want to be able to campaign effectively for the Labour Party – and for you as Mayor.

Your current stance is losing the support of Labour Party members in London, not to mention voters on the (virtual) doorstep who are increasingly speaking out against the sexism, homophobia and abandonment of safeguarding inherent in gender ideology.

We look forward to meeting with you or one of your deputies to discuss our concerns and find workable solutions.

Yours sincerely,

Ceri Williams

Tottenham CLP
, London Labour Women’s Declaration representative on behalf of:

(66 names of Labour Party members in London were given here, including Councillors, women’s officers, CLP and branch chairs )

(Many more of us are unable to sign this letter due to the fact that those who raise concerns about sex-based rights have suffered abuse including threatening letters to their employers from gender identity activists. You can find our names and comments among others on the Labour Women’s Declaration petition.)

This January 2021 letter above received neither acknowledgement nor reply, despite follow up reminders.

Copy of letter sent 24.07.19 – which received this derisory reply from an aide on 11.09.19
“Dear (name redacted)
Thank you for your email to the Mayor of London regarding his position on reforms to the Gender Recognition Act 2004.

The Mayor has made his position on reform clear. The Mayor supports reform of the Gender Recognition Act as it is now outdated and reform is a key step in addressing the marginalisation of trans and non-binary communities, by allowing them to more easily gain legal recognition of their gender identity.

The United Kingdom is currently lagging behind the progress made by countries around the world in terms of legal equality for trans and non-binary people. Changing the law would bring us in line with the standard already set by Ireland, Denmark and Norway, whilst transforming the lives of trans and non-binary people.

Yours sincerely

Rob Downey
Senior Policy Officer
Equality and Fairness Team”

 

“24.07.19

Dear Sadiq Khan (cc Joanne McCartney)

We are writing this private letter to you, as London Labour Party members, to express our surprise and concern that you are a signatory to a letter from four male mayors to Penny Mordaunt[1] which urges the Government to speed up proposed changes to the 2004 Gender Recognition Act. As active Labour Party members from constituencies across London we would like to request a meeting with you to explain our profound concerns about Sex Self-ID . Many feminists socialists, lesbians and gay men like us feel they are no longer represented by organisations such as the LGBT Foundation, Stonewall, or LGBT Labour. We are growing in number as more and more people wake up to the dangers of Self-ID.  In some CLPs we are the majority. It may be that you continue to disagree with our point of view but we hope that you will reserve judgement until you have listened to our evidence and arguments.

We have watched the Twitter storm following the publication of an open response to Andy Burnham from Cathy Devine which expresses the deep disquiet that your joint letter has triggered among, mostly, but not solely, women in London and across the country. Rather than reiterate the content of her open letter, we will assume that you have noted the issues she raised and are keen to hear what is causing all this concern amongst the very comrades who were active against Section 28 and for the protection of women from male violence.

Among the many points of disagreement we have with the letter you signed is that it claims that the provisions outlined in the Equality Act will not change. This cannot be right as the very definition of sex will be eroded if the plans go ahead. If a fully male-bodied person can say they are a woman (i.e. member of the female sex class) then the protected characteristic of ‘sex’ has no meaning. If biological sex is irrelevant and a female bodied transman or a male-bodied transwoman can call themselves gay or lesbian respectively, then the protected category of sexual orientation becomes meaningless. What’s more, given the very widely drawn concept of ‘trans’ as set out by Stonewall[2] it would be very difficult to know what criteria would be used under the proposed policy.

The 2017 Labour Party Manifesto gives a clear commitment to ‘gender audit all policy and legislation for its impact on women before implementation’ and yet this commitment appears to have been brushed aside or forgotten. This is why we would welcome the opportunity for some of the many Labour Party members, academics, scientists, equalities specialists and lawyers amongst us, to meet with you to discuss our valid concerns about the poorly articulated explanations of what constitutes a gender identity as opposed to sex. We are troubled about the way in which discussing girls and women’s sex-based rights is being viewed as transphobic; about the fact that 75% of the huge increase in children referred to the Tavistock clinic for gender dysphoria are girls who would more than likely grow up to be lesbians. We are alarmed by the growing disquiet among clinical experts that children may be being misdiagnosed as transgender[3] and that the hormones and puberty blockers being prescribed cause lifelong harms[4]. We are worried that the collection of data on aspects of social and economic life such as health, pay equity between the sexes or crime rates will become skewed with serious impacts on provision. We are uneasy about safeguarding for often vulnerable women and girls.

From your response to this highly contested issue, we surmise that you haven’t directly heard from feminists, lesbians, gay men and transsexuals in the Labour party who are opposed to Sex Self-ID. It’s been hard to speak up due to the abuse and accusations of transphobia that tend to follow any questioning of the proposals. But we are many, from all ages and backgrounds and feel that you need to hear our voices.

We are keen to convene a meeting with you as soon as possible to offer a different perspective to that which has been provided by organisations such as Stonewall, Mermaids, Gendered Intelligence, London Pride etc whose extensive access to government and the GLA have enabled them to be highly influential in policy-making in this area. We do not ask you to accept everything we say, but we do hope that you will listen to alternative voices from within the Labour Party in London with regard to this highly contentious issue. You may feel that this issue is not within your remit, but having signed the Mayors’ letter, you have put yourself in a public position which we believe is not backed up by a growing body of evidence. As Labour members about to hit the doorsteps possibly for a General Election, and definitely for the mayoral election, we would like to feel that you have given our views at least a hearing.

We look forward to hearing from your office with possible dates for a meeting.

Yours sincerely

50 signatories are given below, out of whom a small number will form a working group to meet with you”

(Names removed to protect signatories from bullying. As with all our letters to the Mayor, they included Councillors, and CLP officers from constituencies across London)

 

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/jul/18/labour-mayors-urge-government-to-speed-up-gender-law-changes-england-wales

[2] ‘Trans people may describe themselves using one or more of a wide variety of terms, including (but not limited to) transgender, transsexual, gender-queer (GQ), gender-fluid, non-binary, gender-variant, crossdresser, genderless, agender, nongender, third gender, bi-gender, trans man, trans woman, trans masculine, trans feminine and neutrois’

[3] https://medium.com/@kirstyentwistle/an-open-letter-to-dr-polly-carmichael-from-a-former-gids-clinician-53c541276b8d

[4] https://blogs.bmj.com/bmjebmspotlight/2019/02/25/gender-affirming-hormone-in-children-and-adolescents-evidence-review/?fbclid=IwAR38DNSELZ9nbdh8-sHstf9a-aSEsKL7VPl_iCCMNmbYGAnENvhgR2pdqB4

LWD Response to Labour Representation Committee statement of 13.08.21

The Labour Representation Committee (LRC) claims to be “preparing the labour movement for power”.  We are only too desperate to have a potential government that could make a real difference to the lives of all those so badly hurt by the policies of the Conservatives.  It was therefore surprising to find that LRC’s latest target is the Labour Women’s Declaration (LWD), a set of seven points that build on the past commitment of the Labour Party to opposing discrimination of all sorts, including against women, and promoting women’s rights in work and public life. We echo the commitment in Labour’s own manifesto that “the single-sex exemptions contained in the Equality Act 2010 are understood and fully enforced in service provision.”

It is worth noting that the LRC’s article begins by claiming that the LWD developed in the run-up to the recent Labour Women’s Conference.  The writer has clearly failed to check for any facts, since LWD was launched in November 2019 with 300 founder signatories (including many elected party officers and politicians), rapidly gained thousands more and is now approaching 7,000 signatures – people who have been committed to helping Labour into government, but are now disillusioned and distressed about how regressive attitudes to women, spreading throughout society, are embedding within the Labour Party we have supported and want to support.

The statement that LWD “counterpose[s] what they call ‘sex based rights’ to rights for all women including trans women” makes immediately clear that this is written by people who subscribe to the belief that sex no longer matters (often expressed as the mantra “trans women are women”), and who are unaware that the Equality Act 2010 refers to sex and the rights of those who come under that protected characteristic which, it makes clear, is biological.  Both gender reassignment and sex are protected in law.  LWD was established to defend and promote women’s sex-based rights; other groups exist to champion the rights of trans people.

They claim that the oppression of women derives not from biology but “from (anti-)social factors”.  How the writer(s) imagine women experience ourselves within these anti-social factors remains a mystery, but clearly they are unaware of the research on how babies are treated differently according to whether they are male or female, and the experience of girls and women from those early days through to old age seems to be irrelevant to them.  Is it not biology that leads to the harassment of girls as they enter puberty?  Do LRC really believe that sex-selective abortion and FGM are nothing to do with biology?  The later reference to ‘gender-based’ violence once again makes the key factor of biological sex invisible.

Like all decent socialists, we support the rights of people with DSDs (‘intersex’ conditions) and people who describe themselves as trans or non-binary, to live free from discrimination and harassment. But our declaration addresses women’s sex-based rights.   One might have hoped that LRC would recognise the “appalling violence at home and on the streets and discrimination at work” suffered by women, rather than suggesting that it is trans-identified people who are the sole targets.

There was a crashing sound of jaws hitting the ground when people read that the Labour movement has a ‘proud history’ of ‘enabling members to self-identify whether that is being black, disabled, LGBT+ or women’.  Of course, if LRC really is happy for everyone to be able to demand that they be treated according to whatever ‘identity’ they decide to present, there would be little point in any of the anti-discrimination legislation that Labour has previously worked so hard to establish.

As for the statement of support for challenging “repressive gender stereotypes”, we can only wish the LRC had some awareness of the fact that actual feminists have, since the 1970s, put the work of dismantling gender stereotypes at the centre of our politics. The notion that this depends on a “social, rather than a medical, model of gender recognition” is ludicrous.

The Equality Act 2010 recognises that there can be conflicts of rights , even though LRC apparently believes there are none. It is not a case of not wanting “to encounter trans people in my designated space” but of recognising the needs of women that are clearly outlined in the EA.  The failure, at the very least, to recognise the need for trauma-informed services – such as domestic abuse refuges being women-only – indicates an ill-informed approach.  We see no evidence that the LRC have engaged with actual examples and evidence relating to conflicts of rights in the places where sex, and single-sex provision, matters: in prisons, in refuges, in sports, in intimate healthcare, in sleeping and changing accommodation, and in the collection of unambiguous data, for instance. Simply asserting that “there is no contradiction” is polarising this discussion: to move on, we need a sensible, evidence-based and respectful examination of the evidence and arguments, so that we can address them and reach resolutions which protect everyone.

To claim that the LWD is ‘out of step’ and that our seven principles fail to “combat all forms of oppression and fight for a society for the Many not the Few” means that the writers of the LRC statement really know remarkably little about women’s oppression in society, the issues that the Declaration attempts to address – or that women are, in fact, the Many.

However, we must thank LRC for one thing – they have made more people aware of LWD and signature numbers are growing.

TLDR?  See our tweet response to the LRC statement, and note the ratios.

Ratioed

 

 

Defining ‘Shared Socialist Values’

In early February of this year, Labour Women Leading put out this invitation through their networks: “We are inviting any sister who would like to be considered as a candidate for the [Labour Party National Women’s Committee CLP] slate to let us know…LWL is working with sisters from other Labour left organisations (the Centre Left Grassroots Alliance) to produce a united left slate.”

But it stipulated in its criteria for selection that, amongst other (reasonable) features, applicants should be guided by “shared socialist values”, including: “LGBTQ+ rights – we support the right of trans people to self identify”

How did the right of trans people to self-identify become the one thing that epitomises ‘LGBTQ+ rights’? What happened to lesbians, gay men and bisexuals? How did self-identification become a ‘shared socialist value’, of relevance to the selection process? How did such a concept, entirely divorced from the materialist basis of socialism, enter into a selection process for women to become part of the National Women’s Committee?  To regard support for self-identification of ‘gender’ as a requirement for selection appears to demand that any candidate must accept the anti-materialist notion that some inner, non-observable, sense of ‘gender’ is of more relevance to being female than actually being female.

How did this notion become a ‘shared socialist value’? It immediately excludes many actual socialist feminists from putting themselves forward for consideration to stand on the Centre Left Grassroots Alliance slate. Additionally, it is entirely unexplained what LGBTQ+ rights actually means, apart from, apparently, the ‘right’ of anyone to ‘self-identify’ into a group in which material existence does not include them.

It later came to our attention, through discussions about this matter within our feminist networks, that other Alliance members had not sought to gate-keep their eligibility criteria in this way, but for some reason Labour Women Leading did.

The assumption that all members of Labour Women Leading’s own network accept that there is no conflict of rights to be discussed from a socialist perspective when it comes to Self ID is censorious and prohibitive. We do not agree that this issue has been decided on amongst socialists. Indeed we would argue – as socialists – that the current gender identity ideology is individualistic, unscientific and regressive and needs better scrutiny by those who position themselves on the left.

This apparent ‘orthodoxy’ seems to be policed by high profile individuals within established women’s organisations and networks in the Labour Party. How did they come to believe that they had the right to stipulate a belief in gender identity ideology as a criterion for selection to the left alliance slate?

Over recent weeks we have witnessed the Stonewall Diversity Champions scheme crumbling. Finally, even mainstream media are saying what some of us have been saying for years, and now, all can see that Stonewall’s foundations have been replaced with “Queer theory”. We see high profile comrades doubling down instead of facing the reality. When will we hear high profile left voices speaking up against this so that we can have the conversations we so desperately need?

If you don’t speak out now then you will find you have submitted to neo-liberal forces without saying so much as a word to defend yesterday’s dreams of something better.