Why trans critics are wrong & how we can ensure women’s safety
London, UK – 29 November 2021
Peter Tatchell, Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation, writes:
“For over five decades, I have argued that women’s rights are human rights and supported hundreds of women’s rights campaigns in the UK and worldwide. There can be no liberation without women’s liberation.
“Equally, for the same five decades, I have supported the struggle for trans respect, dignity and human rights. I see no contradiction between trans and women’s liberation. Both have my support. I echo the stance of pro-trans feminists.
“I oppose the trans critical views of Kathleen Stock and others but urge an end to abuse and intimidation by some people on both sides, including the insults, threats and smears directed against trans people and trans allies like myself.
“Biological sex is a fact. So is gender identity. Both are real. Biological sex and gender identity are different but equally valid. Trans women are women but not the same as other women. They are different from biological women and that difference is legitimate and should be accepted. I respect both.
“Like many women, I stand with trans people. I support protection for them and for other women. Women’s safety is a very important concern but it does not require or justify the exclusion of all trans women from women’s spaces. Some women’s centres have accepted trans women for many years without a problem. They vet all women users and rightly exclude anyone who acts in an abusive, threatening or harmful way.
“Many institutions, from schools to Pride events and GB News, have gender-neutral toilets with lockable cubicles. There is no evidence that this has in any way compromised women’s well-safety and being.
“Obviously, any person who claims to be a trans woman and presents with a beard, engages in sexual harassment or exposes male genitals in women’s spaces, should be ejected. Sexual harassment and unwanted genital exposure that could cause offence is wrong and should not be tolerated, regardless of whether it is perpetrated by biological women or trans women. However, such unacceptable behaviour by trans women has almost never happened and is totally unrepresentative of how almost all trans women respect the sensitivity and dignity of other women.
“Much women-on-women violence and sexual assault is not by trans women. It’s perpetrated by biological women. Any women, including trans women, with a history of sexual or violent offences against women, should not be placed in the general population of women’s prisons, unless there is strong evidence that they have reformed. Even then, they should be subject to monitoring and review, as would happen with any biological woman prisoner with a history of similar offences against other women. If there is evidence that a trans woman is an on-going threat to other women, they should be placed in a segregation unit within a women’s prison, and not be permitted to mix with the general women’s prison population without prison staff supervision.
“These practical solutions can be the basis on which we resolve the legitimate concerns about women’s welfare and security.
“It is wrong to demonise and exclude all trans women based on what a few bad trans people do, in the same way that it is wrong to demonise and exclude all Muslims because a tiny handful are terrorists. Trans women who are a danger to women should be excluded but not the other 99.9%. I equally believe that gay or bisexual men who are violent predators should be excluded from gay safe spaces.
“Trans critical women do not speak for all women. Many women see no conflict between feminism and trans human rights. I support them. I am an ally of trans-inclusive feminists.
“Trans women are not the enemy of other women. The fight by some women against trans inclusion is a distraction from the major inequalities and abuses that all women, including trans women, are at risk of: violence, rape, harassment, domestic violence, unequal pay, lack of affordable child-care, under-representation in senior positions and the trafficking of women into sexual slavery and domestic servitude.
“The huge energy that some women put into opposing trans rights and inclusion is undermining, and deflecting from, the struggles against these many serious oppressions that women still face.
“I believe we should all stand together, whatever our biological sex or gender identity, to oppose these sexist injustices.
“Let’s not divide and fight each other. It weakens both the women’s and trans movements. The only people who gain from the ‘trans wars’ are misogynists, transphobes, religious conservatives and the far right. Fight both misogyny and transphobia. Unity and solidarity! Together, we are stronger.”