Five years on…

Ahead of the upcoming general election, one of our members reflects on five years of campaigning for sex-based rights:

On Nov 17th 2019 I shared on Facebook “The Labour Women’s Declaration” asking for support for LWD, the group I was in, who were trying to get through to the Labour Party about the situation for women members.

We had been lobbying to ensure that sex self-ID was not included in the manifesto and were waiting to see the outcome of the Clause V meeting.

Ironically, almost five years later I shared another declaration whilst the Clause V meeting for the 2024 Labour manifesto was underway. This time “The Lesbian Fightback Declaration”.

It surprised me that there was a symmetry and a political rhythm to my activism.

It gave me pause for thought and I asked myself why my activism was now focused on Lesbians?

Had we achieved our goals for women’s rights in the intervening 5 years?

What progress had been made?

I said in my blog five years ago that I would go on and on and on till all our sisters are free.

…till all our sisters are free

Well – here I am still going on and on and on, and women’s rights are in a worse place than they were 5 years ago. Locally, nationally and globally. From the caring and economic burden women carried throughout lockdown, Sarah Everard’s murderRoe v Wade being overturned, to the horrific sexual violence used against women in wars around the globe – there is still much to be fought for.

Yet alongside all of these issues perhaps the most pernicious influence and erosion of women’s rights comes from the unrelenting onward march of gender ideology.

Yet alongside all of these issues perhaps the most pernicious influence and erosion of women’s rights comes from the unrelenting onward march of gender ideology.

This has had an impact across society as one sector or institution falls under the Stonewall spell and begins to chant the mantras, change their language, abandon critical thinking and impose an Orwellian reality on women and girls.

The social contract we had previously fought for and won that established the need for separate spaces for men and women in order to uphold privacy, dignity, safety and fairness appears to have been abandoned. There have been many fronts in this war on women.

We have been fighting to maintain funding for women-only services and to keep awards for women’s achievements sex-based.

The War on Women

Battles in health,  maternity care (see also), hospital accommodationintimate care (see also).

Prisonsrefugesrape crisis centreschanging roomstoiletssports.

In education, of particular concern, has been the spread of gender ideology and unregulated RSE materials (see also) in schools and the concomitant rise in girls referred for gender reassignment and subsequently put on a medical pathway.

The legal system, policing and data collection have all been affected with a number of expensive high-profile cases all trying to establish new case law in this brave new world.

Crime statistics now being logged according to gender not sex; rape survivors being expected to refer to their rapist by preferred female pronouns (see also); and the Haldane judgement (currently being challenged) stating that the word woman in law now includes men in possession of a GRC; new hate crime law in Scotland being used against those who correctly sex people.

Freedom of thought, speech and expression in academia, journalism, media and the arts has been particularly affected, with academicsjournalistswritersartists and musicians sacked, cancelled and vilified for speaking up, speaking out. Sex-realist books have been removed from some libraries and hidden from view in book shops, whilst even Feminist libraries have become censors.

The police have stood by whilst women speaking out have been violently attacked and harassed whilst exercising our right to free speech (see also).

Internationally gender ideology has taken root as one country after another misguidedly adopts self ID and the EU and UN are both fully captured.

But the tide is turning.

Battles won…

In the past year there have been a number of investigations (Tavistock clinicMermaidsStonewall and WPATH) into organisations spreading the ideology, exposing their malpractice and most recently the Cass review (see also) proved us to be right in what we have been saying.

There were significant legal wins too e.g. Jo Phoenix won against the OU.

Allison Bailey challenged Stonewall’s influence on her employer.

LGB Alliance defeated Mermaid’s challenge to their charity status.

In 2021, Maya Forstater won her employment tribunal appeal and gender-critical views are now considered worthy of respect in a democratic society:

  • Giving protection against harassment.
  • Preventing refusal to employ someone because of views expressed online.
  • Preventing the compelling of people to use pronouns or to comply with policies based on gender
    ideology.
  • We can also challenge employers, schools and universities if they don’t provide changing, washing or toilet facilities that offer privacy from members of the opposite sex.

“cross-party working has been very effective

Throughout the last five years cross-party working has been very effective, with women across the political spectrum from all parties and none signing the Women Uniting petition which we launched in 2020. New organisations have sprung up able to keep the issues in the public eye like Sex Matters.

Gains

In the last year there have been a number of gains.

Cross party parliamentary lobbying has kept the debate alive and well informed in both the house of Commons and House of Lords.

We saw the government overturn the disastrous GRB in Scotland.

There was no Conversion Practices bill.

Significant speeches from Kemi BadenochVictoria Atkins, and Gillian Keegan left us all hopeful around school’s guidance, banning of puberty blockers, return to common sense language and single-sex wards in NHS, the process of obtaining a GRC and clarification of the EA2010.

Perhaps the various consultations to which many of us have contributed were worth the effort?

With so much to do, and so much going on, why did I choose to start campaigning specifically for Lesbians?

Why I shifted my campaign focus

Part of my work with LWD was following up correspondence. We had sent David Evans, general secretary of the party, a portfolio of cases of women members being investigated, suspended, expelled from the party for holding sex-realist views. We had also pointed out how inconsistent the rule book was in its use of sex and gender. That was the earliest example for this tenacious lesbian of no response and no debate. I watched as one of us after the other was silenced. I myself ended up being investigated.

So, I figured since the door was firmly closed in the faces of women trying to raise concerns, that it might be open for lesbians. The rationale was that since Labour were clearly listening to Stonewall and other organisations singing from the gender ideology hymn book, then they ought to be open to a lesbian group?

So, we formed Lesbian Labour. The L from the LGBT.

Once we were through the door as a minority group, who Labour claimed to support, we could argue the case for women.

Well, the rest is history as anyone who has followed the progress of Lesbian Labour will know.

We met the double wall of being ignored by LGBT Labour and found that the only narrative about sexual orientation was completely controlled by Stonewall and Gendered Intelligence who were training the NEC. Those of us who know what a woman is and know that only women can be lesbians are accused of being “transphobic” and excluded from the discussions.

Clearly there was work to be done. Not only were we not being listened to as women, but as lesbians we were completely invisible in a world where the impact of self ID was already being played out. Men claiming to be women who love women therefore lesbian!

And we knew that the majority of those girls being referred for gender reassignment were young lesbians – as has been acknowledged in the Cass review.

Women’s rights though?

The positive side of this attack on women’s rights is that there is a fabulous strong movement of women standing shoulder to shoulder as the suffragettes did. Women who won’t wheesht.

We approach the battle in many different ways. All valid. There is no leader. We have those who nurture legislation through parliament, women holding their political parties to account and standing for election, the international lobbyists, the direct action sisters, the free speech women, the academics, the celebrities, the keyboard warriors, the letter writers, the events organisers, the artists, musicians, comediennes, the designers….

So many that I can afford to focus on fighting lesbian erasure. Most of the time we are included in the wider women’s struggle. After all we are women! But we do still encounter a lack of understanding and are an afterthought to a lot of women. Many lesbians are at the forefront of campaigning for women’s rights. We always have been. We always will be. Stands to reason.

But we have to fight homophobia, lesbophobia, misogyny from gay men and heterosexism, on top of the sexism and misogyny from broader society.

Lesbians’ sex-based rights are additional to those we need as women for safety, privacy, dignity and fairness. We need the right to gather with other lesbians – without men.

If sex is replaced by gender identity that impacts on sexual orientation.

Don’t fall for the lie of the big happy rainbow family.

We are considered to be the “wrong sort of lesbian”, no longer welcome at Pride events.

We are holding the line.

And at the risk of being repetitive – I will go on and on and on until every lesbian is free!