Three women call on public to protect women's rights
Can a woman have a penis? Three brave activists launch ‘most significant female movement since the Suffragettes’ urging public demand EVERY politician standing in next month’s elections can answer that simple – and very direct – question
Can a woman have a penis?
A simple question, you might imagine.
But not, it seems, for a flustered Sir Keir Starmer, who squirmed when asked just this in a radio interview this week.
‘I’m not… I don’t think we can conduct this debate with… I don’t think that discussing this issue in this way helps anyone in the long run,’ the Labour leader stammered.
And he’s certainly not the only politician struggling with such matters. Anneliese Dodds, the shadow minister for women and equalities, recently had an issue defining precisely what a woman was (a clue, Anneliese, look in the mirror!), before reaching the conclusion ‘it depends on what the context is’.
The Chancellor Rishi Sunak, too, in a recent radio interview was unable to say in his own words what a woman was.
How worrying it is that politicians are now too cowardly to answer this most basic of questions, that they are unable to define what is, after all, half the population.
L-R Caroline Ffiske (Women Uniting), Heather Binning (Women’s Rights Network) and Maya Forstater (Sex Matters)
And what do we know of the views of all the other MPs and councillors who represent women in this country?
Hardly anything, because so few have the courage to stick their heads above the parapet.
When it comes to publicly standing up for females — as, inch by inch, our hard-fought rights are eroded as more biological males self-identify as women — bravery is in very short supply. In a series of tweets earlier this month, JK Rowling, who has faced the wrath of trans activists for her comments on the subject, warned politicians that women were organising to defend their rights.
And today, exclusively in the Daily Mail, I can reveal that this warning is becoming a reality with a new force that represents the most significant women’s movement since the Suffragettes.
Because we women have had enough.
So three of the country’s largest campaign groups on women’s rights — Women Uniting, Sex Matters and Women’s Rights Network (WRN) — are mobilising with a new campaign: ‘Respect my Sex if you want my X’.
We believe that politicians should know they can’t expect our cross in the voting box if they do not acknowledge and protect women’s sex-based rights.
And we want you to help us.
We want as many members of the general public — female and male, and across all party lines — to quiz their politicians, both national and local, about their stance on women’s rights and trans issues.
Do you know how your local representatives would answer the question: ‘Can a woman have a penis?’
If you don’t, it’s time to ask them the questions so many politicians are currently flip-flopping on, especially ahead of key local elections on May 5.
Our group represents women from all walks of life — some have never been politically active before, whereas others have been in politics for decades — and have different views on some issues.
But the one thing we all agree on is this: men cannot be women. Women, Sir Keir, cannot have penises.
Some politicians, such as shadow justice secretary David Lammy, have implied that this isn’t an issue that bothers most people, that it’s not something that is cutting through to the grassroots.
I can assure him that this is entirely untrue.
I’ve talked to so many deeply concerned women (and men), who feel politically adrift in the current climate.
Whatever their broader political views, they tell me they feel politicians are not listening to them about this vitally important issue which is adversely affecting all our lives.
Indeed, I know more than most about how speaking out about this can cause a huge personal toll.
In March 2019, I lost my job as a visiting fellow and tax expert at the think-tank Centre for Global Development after tweeting my belief that people cannot change their biological sex.
I took my employers to court, only to lose my original case at a tribunal after employment judge James Tayler ruled that my views were not protected under British law but were instead ‘incompatible with human dignity and the fundamental rights of others’.
I still remember the shock and disbelief I felt at reading this damning judgment. It was immensely gratifying when, out of the blue, JK Rowling tweeted supportively about my case with the hashtag #IStandWithMaya.
I have enormous gratitude to her for speaking up for me, and for being so resolute since, for not backing down even when her bravery wreaked havoc on her life with a campaign of online trolling that led to her being ‘cancelled’.
Thankfully, I was vindicated on appeal in 2021 when Mr Justice Choudhury said my ‘gender-critical beliefs’ fell under the Equality Act as they ‘did not seek to destroy the rights of trans persons’.
Campaigners (from left): Caroline Ffiske, Maya Forstater and Heather Binning
As well as this, in my role as a Scout leader, I had a complaint made against me for raising concerns about the Scouts’ transgender policy, which could have meant an end to separate spaces, such as sleeping facilities, for girls.
In the process, I inadvertently called a non-binary Scout leader ‘he’ and not ‘they.’
It took two years for the organisation to apologise to me — but similar things are still happening today to women in their workplaces, schools, universities, and in every part of life, making it difficult for them to speak up.
I’m currently awaiting the results of a new hearing, asking a tribunal to rule that I was discriminated against and lost my job because of my gender-critical beliefs.
I will probably hear the result in May and, if I win, employers will have to stop blithely adopting policies that amount to discrimination against people they casually label bigots. Since then, I have co-founded the group Sex Matters, which helps people understand their rights and campaigns on their behalf.
Campaigning alongside us are two other groups encouraging people to ask questions during the local elections.
So many women are worried to speak up publicly because they are afraid for their jobs, but two women who are bravely standing up are Heather Binning, of the Women’s Rights Network, and Caroline Ffiske of Women Uniting.
Heather worked for the Foreign Office for 11 years, before going into business as an economic development consultant. Recently widowed, she brought together a number of local groups which became the Women’s Rights Network.
Today, it has over 1,000 members in 60 groups across the UK.
Caroline, a former economist and management consultant, spent eight years as a Conservative councillor in Hammersmith and Fulham before co -founding Conservatives for Women, along with others concerned about the gender debate’s impact on female rights.
She works with Women Uniting, a group for concerned women across all political parties.
You might wonder why we have chosen the upcoming May local elections as the first stage of our campaign.
Surely local elections are for more mundane matters, like potholes and bin collections? Far from it.
It’s easily forgotten how much is under local authority control: from singlesex services such as changing rooms in sports centres and toilet facilities in parks, to the guidance given to schools about sex education and how they respond to children who are gender-questioning.
Our campaign, then, is very much a local issue.
Local services touch everybody’s lives — and it’s local authorities making decisions which lead to funding being taken away from women’s refuges and rape crisis centres, for example, if they don’t open up their services to biological males who identify as women.
Therefore, we are asking candidates and councillors to respect women’s right to single sex spaces and services,protect the safeguarding of vulnerable children and prioritise sex over gender in language, law, policy and regulation.
Local authorities are coming under huge pressure to be ‘trans-inclusive’ in all of their services — but this means they can’t offer women and girls a secure, single-sex environment when they need it the most.
This whole debate also comes down to a question of trust.
If our elected politicians can’t speak the basic truth about this, how can women trust them on other things?
Many politicians blithely advertise a trans flag and a rainbow banner, and repeat slogans like ‘trans women are women’ — anything to appear ‘inclusive’ — but spend little time ensuring services are accessible to everyone, on the basis of reality, not slogans.
My advice to those putting themselves forward for election is to examine the Equality Act, recognise the principle of biological sex being a protected characteristic and ensure single sex services are allowed in all kinds of everyday situations.
After all, this is an issue that directly affects 50 per cent of the population and affects all our lives at community level.
So when candidates come knocking and ask: ‘What are you concerned about?’, this is your opportunity.
Ask them those questions so many politicians have stumbled on.
Explain why this matters to you as a parent or a user of local services or as a professional who feels they can’t speak up at work.
Then you can decide whether to give them your vote or not.
And if you don’t happen to see a political representative in the flesh, you can email them, or write to them, using the guidance you can find on our website women-uniting. co.uk/respectmysex.
Politicians need to find their backbone. They can’t continue to stumble over questions like ‘Can a woman have a penis?’
They need to stand up for females, everywhere.
What is a woman? An easy question for many — but not these politicians
Labour’s Deputy Leader and MP for Ashton-under-Lyne
Interviewer: ‘Is it OK to ask a man if he’s pregnant?’
Rayner: ‘Well, if, if a man was born with the reproductive [organs] because they were born as a female and they’ve transitioned to a male then you know if they’re getting medical, erm, support because they are could be pregnant then that might be a, a, a question that is asked as part of that.’
Angela Rayner, Labour’s Deputy Leader and MP for Ashton-under-Lyne
Mayor of London
Interviewer: Do you think some women have male reproductive organs?
Khan: ‘You’re in danger of inciting hatred against people [by asking that question].’
Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London
Conservative MP for Romsey and Southhampton North
Interviewer: ‘How do you define trans?’
Noakes: ‘I don’t think that’s a fair question to ask.’
Caroline Nokes, Conservative MP for Romsey and Southhampton North
Shadow Attorney General and Labour MP for Islington South
Interviewer: ‘Can a woman have a penis?’
Thornberry: ‘People are complex and they are different … it is up to your listeners to decide if I have given a full answer.’
Emily Thornberry, Shadow Attorney General and Labour MP for Islington South
Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Labour MP for Wigan
Interviewer: ‘Should child rapist Christopher Worton be housed in a women’s jail now he identifies as a woman?’
Nandy: ‘I think trans women are women and they should be accommodated in a prison of their choosing.’
Lisa Nandy, Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Labour MP for Wigan
Sir Ed Davey
Liberal Democrat Leader and MP for Kingston and Surbiton
Interviewer Andrew Marr: ‘What is wrong with this phrase: ‘Woman equals adult human female’?’
Davey: ‘The real issue is the toxification of the debate… the phrase doesn’t actually really encapsulate the debate to be honest… The issue that we have been really clear is that a transwoman is a woman, a transman is a man and that is the issue we’re fighting on… If you are a trans man you should be able to operate as a man.’
Marr: ‘So if you don’t agree with the statement that all spaces should be open to everyone, don’t vote Liberal Democrat?’
Davey: ‘Well, no, because there are many reasons why people vote for different parties.’
Sir Ed Davey, Liberal Democrat Leader and MP for Kingston and Surbiton
Mayor of Bangor, was Plaid Cymru, now independent
‘Some women have penises. Some men have vaginas, some non-binary people have penises, some non-binary people havevaginas, and people can change that if they feel they need to.’
Labour MP for Brent Central
‘A child is born without a sex.’
Dawn Butler, Labour MP for Brent Central
Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Labour MP for Tottenham
‘[Those who want to deny males access to women’s spaces] are dinosaurs who want to hoard rights.’
David Lammy, Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Labour MP for Tottenham
Labour MP for Nottingham East
‘The Labour Party should educate those who are ignorant rather than ideological. And if they don’t respond to education… transphobes should be expelled.’
Nadia Whittome, Labour MP for Nottingham East
Local political parties also need to be inclusive of people with different views about this and permit discussion and debate — because the bullying and harassment that happens on social media and in workplaces and organisations also happens in political parties.
They should be protecting colleagues such as Labour MP Rosie Duffield and the SNP’s Joanna Cherry QC, who have been hounded just for saying women are female.
Many politicians are trying to just sit on the fence on this, claiming the whole debate is too toxic.
We want to make that fence difficult to sit on.
Because we women are angry at being ignored. We’re angry politicians don’t take us seriously. We’re furious that we are shamed for speaking basic truths.
Of course, there are solutions that allow transgender people not to be discriminated against and participate in society — but that doesn’t mean biological males should be able to take over women’s spaces and women’s sports.
Just over 100 years ago, women got the vote.
Our hard-fought rights are now being turned against us.
Every rule and policy that says something is for women, is being changed, so that it’s now for people who ‘self-identify’ as women, whatever their sex.
The time has come for women to fight back. The days of politicians disrespecting our rights and thinking we will still vote for them are over.
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