Leftist women in the UK refuse to accept Labour’s attempts to silence critiques of gender identity

Working class women and Labour Party members are incensed at being harassed and silenced in their attempts to discuss gender identity. But they are fighting back.

The backlash against women’s rights is relentless and comes in many forms. Only 20 years after all-women shortlists were first adopted by the UK Labour Party, in order to address the low numbers of women elected to the House of Commons, they are at risk.

On Tuesday, the Labour Party was expected to officially adopt a new policy allowing males who identify as “transwomen” access to all-women shortlists (AWS).

The shortlists were adopted as an affirmative action practice due to pressure from the Labour Women’s Network, which was founded in 1988 after only 21 Labour women were elected in the 1987 General Election. In the 90s, women represented less than 10 per cent of parliamentary MPs — the shortlists made it compulsory for Labour to select female candidates in some constituencies. In 1997, with a goal of electing 100 female MPs, Labour used all-women shortlists to select female candidates in half of all winnable seats for the General Election. This was a success, and 101 Labour women were elected, as compared to 1992, when only 37 Labour women were elected as MPs.

The shortlists were not without controversy — many men claimed they were undemocratic, prevented equality of opportunity, and constituted, essentially, “reverse sexism.” Indeed, in 1996, an employment tribunal ruled that all-women shortlists were illegal under the Sex Discrimination Act 1975.

Instead of appealing this decision, Labour introduced a new Sex Discrimination (Election Candidates) Act in 2002, allowing parties to use “positive discrimination” in the selection of candidates, and the shortlists were reinstated. As a result, in the 2005 General election, the number of female parliamentary MPs was increased to 128, with the Labour Party’s 98 women making up 77 per cent of the total of women elected.

The impact of all-women shortlists has been notable and continues to ensure women and women’s interests are represented in parliament.

Nonetheless, in January, Labour announced that males need only self-identify as women in order to apply for the shortlists. This decision came alongside stated support for recently proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act (GRA), which would, if adopted, change the protected characteristic of “gender reassignment” to “gender identity.” What this would mean is that Gender Recognition Certificates (GRC), which allow people to legally change their sex, could be issued without any conditions, but by a process of self-declaration alone. “If the Conservatives fail to do so, Labour will make it law once we’re in government,” a Labour Party spokesperson told PinkNews, with regard to the proposed changes.

Troubled by the potential disappearance of all-women shortlists, Jennifer James, a Labour Party member and committed socialist, started a crowdfunder to support a legal challenge against the party. Eleven days after she started the crowdfunder, she was suspended by the party, apparently, in part, “for saying women don’t have dicks.”

James explains to me that “men and women are treated differently because they are categorized by reproductive biology.” She argues, further, that gender is not innate, but is only a “toxic set of stereotypes” imposed on women in order to enforce their subordination.

“There is nothing progressive about ‘gender identity.’ It is a reactionary concept and a pure insult to women to suggest that we ‘identify’ with our own oppression.”

The policy clarifying that trans-identified males may access all-women shortlists was expected to be revealed this week, but has been delayed, as more than 200 female Labour members threatened to resign from the Party.

To date, there has been no consultation process with regard to this policy, and on BBC Sunday Politics, former spokesperson for Jeremy Corbyn, Matt Zarb-Cousin, dismissed Labour’s dissenting female members as being only “[2000] or 3000 people in a party of 650,000 — a small minority of women who don’t believe in trans rights.”

Of course, 3000 women is quite a few women, and it isn’t true that those challenging Labour’s position on trans-identified males are opposed to “trans rights.” James points out that, truly there is no way to know how women in the party feel about these ideas and policies, “because debate has been so stifled with cries of ‘transphobia.'”

Either way, these kinds of misrepresentations and dismissals speak volumes about the extent to which men on the left like Zarb-Cousin consider women’s opinions valuable today, only decades after many of them fought against the shortlists. (Indeed, Zarb-Cousin himself employs the term “TERF” to smear women who challenge or question the concept of “gender identity,” revealing his willingness both to misrepresent as well as to launch hate speech at women with whom he disagrees.) Jen Izaakson, a member of Momentum (a pro-Corbyn group within Labour) and of Mayday4Women, a radical feminist group campaigning against the GRA, says:

“The Labour Party seem to think women don’t count, despite the fact that we can vote and are actually a majority of the membership. The leadership is totally out of touch with what the average women thinks about the issue of transgenderism.”

Women’s interest in this debate would perhaps be more clear if the left allowed them to speak (and listened to what they had to say). Instead, efforts to discuss the proposed legislation and idea of “gender identity” itself are shut down in incredibly hostile ways.

James says a number of Labour women have been put on a “blacklist” by a group of mostly male Labour staff and representatives, and adds:

“I have been called ‘bitch,’ ‘cunt,’ ‘hateful TERF,’ ‘bigot,’ ‘transphobe,’ and ‘crank’ for wanting a debate… For wanting to uphold the sex-based exemptions to which women are entitled in the Equalities Act 2010.”

Further examples of these kinds of attacks seem never ending. A woman named Anne Ruzylo — then a woman’s officer with the Labour Party — was subjected to months of bullying by Lily Madigan, a fellow party member who smeared her as “transphobic.” Pushed to resign in November, every member of the executive committee quit in solidarity. Madigan was elected as women’s officer for his local party shortly thereafter.

On March 8th (International Women’s Day), trade union official Paula Lamont was hounded off her own union’s picket line by a group of transactivists. The Morning Star reported that Lamont believes the attack happened because she attended a meeting organized by A Woman’s Place UK (WPUK) about the planned changes to the GRA on February 27. She told the Morning Star:

“As a female trade unionist, I believe it is my responsibility to understand as much as I can the impact of the proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act and how the new legislation may affect women in the workplace and their rights. I felt the WPUK meeting, which was also attended by many other leading trade union women, would be the best place to hear women’s concerns.”

Venice Allan, a former Labour Party member, has struggled to find venues to host “We Need to Talk,” a series of meetings she is organizing around the UK to discuss gender identity ideology and legislation. She was surprised when Momentum, which she was an active member of, declined to host her proposed meeting back in September, so she booked a room at New Cross Learning, a community library in London. Once Sisters Uncut, a direct action group advocating for domestic violence services, caught wind of the event, the library was subjected to intense harassment, and the venue cancelled the event. Allan’s meeting went forward at a new venue, but not without controversy: one woman in attendance, Maria MacLachlan, was punched by a protestor.

When Allan tried to hold her fifth meeting, six months later, the venue she booked was similarly harassed, and forced to cancel. Allan said the woman she booked with told her she had never seen anything like it — “she was overwhelmed with phone calls, emails, and social media posts accusing her of transphobia.” Undeterred, Allan took the meeting to the House of Commons, where members of the public are able to book rooms, so long as the meeting is sponsored by an MP.

The event, held on March 14th, was attended by 130 people. Coverage in the media amounted to articles claiming one of the speakers, radical feminist and author, Sheila Jeffreys, called “trans people parasites.” In truth, of course, Jeffreys was not arguing that trans-identified people are bugs (Pink News contributed to this misrepresentation by placing a photo of Jeffreys next to a tick, in their coverage), but rather, as she explained to me over the phone, that “men’s crossdressing, when it takes the form of men taking the place of women and speaking for us, can be understood as a form of parasitism.” In her talk at the meeting, she further explained:

“When men parasitize women, they sever our ability to name ourselves and to speak about ourselves and speak in our place. They take the place of women on advisory panels, speaking at women’s conferences, on consultations on violence against women and so on… Men — even teenage boys — are now being appointed as Labour Party Women’s Officers in local branches, and men who crossdress are now forcing themselves onto all-women shortlists… which were fought for over decades by feminists to enable women to overcome the great prejudice against them and stand a chance of being selected as candidates. Thus, women can be represented by men who have occupied women’s bodies and speak for us.”

Allan resigned as a Labour Party member on March 8th, after being suspended, then subjected to an investigation on account of allegations that she engaged in “bullying and harassment” on social media and in person. “I didn’t sign up to Labour in order to be interrogated for thought crimes,” she told me.

In the preliminary interview, which took place on February 19, 2018, Dan Hogan, who works for the Labour Party Disputes and Legal department, asked Allan a series of questions about her position on trans-identified people and some of her related social media posts. At one point, Hogan questioned her about Heather Peto, a Trans-Inclusion Officer for the Labour Party who has been pushing for trans-identified males to be given access to the shortlists. Allan responded:

“Heather Peto is using all-women shortlists to further his career in politics and to stand as an MP. As far as I know he’s stood and failed as an MP before, as a man, and I believe that he’s taking advantage of all-women shortlists to… well, he didn’t get elected… I don’t think it’s fair for men to use up these places which are designed to address the imbalance of men and women in Parliament. I have absolutely no problem with transgender people standing for MPs or Councillors.”

Allan says she never took issue with transgenderism or trans-identified people until changes to legislation were afoot.

These are only a few among many angry women on the left who feel abandoned by their party and afraid of losing hard-fought-for rights.


Lucy Mcdonagh grew up working class, raised by a single mother. Her life as a young woman was marked by addiction, abuse, poverty, and mental health issues. She managed to escape a relationship with an extremely violent man at 32-years-old, after being partnered with him for 10 years. “My experience of being a working class woman and the level of trauma carried by many working class people has been my driving force since I was young,” Mcdonagh told me.

“All I have ever wanted to do is to try and empower working class people into supporting ourselves and, in doing so, empower our community. Being working class isn’t just about poverty. It’s about resilience and an unspoken understanding of violence. We don’t talk about our struggles because that places us at greater harm.”

That reality is suddenly of great interest to those who wish to coopt (or “parasitize,” if you will…) the struggles of oppressed groups as a means to gain social, cultural, or political leverage.

Mcdonagh had been forced to close the holistic wellness centre she was running in Deptford after leaving her then-partner, due to the trauma and subsequent breakdown she experienced during the police process. Once back on her feet, Mcdonagh co-founded The Deptford People Project, which not only feeds people, but, in her words, “created a family for those who were ostracized from the community.”

“We eat together, we played music, laughed and talked… We were not offering a service, we were offering an opportunity to become part of a community again. There was no ‘helping the poor’ — we are all poor and ran the project together. It was amazing.”

Not long after this project took off, Deptford was gentrified, and working class people like Mcdonagh were no longer welcome. “Working class people can be quite scary to white middle class people not from the area,” she explained.

“We shout and swear and take the mick out of [tease] each other. We speak a different language. One that is often mistaken for aggression. We’re not [politically correct] because most of us have never really believed that politics is anything more then a rich man’s game to get richer. But we’re not unintelligent — we’re just not academic.”

Gentrification brought a sudden increase in “very posh, white, ‘social justice’ groups and movements.” Now, the local groups who claimed to support the most marginalized seemed, to Mcdonagh, to be little more than “a social gathering for privileged students, using the community as a trendy trademark.”

“They used weird pronouns and called themselves ‘they,'” Mcdonagh said. She didn’t think this “rich kid’s trend” would affect her work so didn’t concern herself too much. “We were too busy trying to keep people fed, off the street, and out of prison.”

After participating in a debate about housing with these students, Mcdonagh’s group was featured in a radical anarchist publication called STRIKE! Magazine. Looking through the publication, Mcdonagh was shocked to find an article promoting pornography and various sex industry-related “sex tips,” instructing women on how to “deep throat,” for example.

“How could I share this with the women in our community project?!” she asked. Mcdonagh explained that many of the women and girls she worked with were being pimped out daily. “One young girl — only 17 — had recently had her face smashed in by a punter and had 16 metal pins put in to hold her face together.” Mcdonagh got angry.

“We are far from a prudish group of women. Many of us have experienced firsthand the very real impact of the porn/the sex industry on working class women and girls. How did they not know how utterly pathetic it was to be promoting this idea to young women? Let alone place it next to a transcript of local people discussing homelessness!”

Though purporting to support the oppressed, Mcdonagh felt these students had no concept of or empathy toward the real experiences of actual marginalized women. “In reality [they] were supporting themselves via a complex new ideology and language that only they speak,” she said.

Mcdonagh was similarly nonplussed after meeting with a new domestic violence organization, also run mainly by young middle class students. The language this group used struck Mcdonagh as nonsensical and unhelpful to women actually suffering due to male violence. “The list of trigger warnings and safe space policies included a whole load of new gender terms that I had never heard of.” She adds, “I don’t know what a safe space is but I’d like to know where there is one for working class people in our area.”

In particular, all the focus on “gender identity” confused her. “Why were all the most publicized [social justice organizations]… suddenly centering their [work] on a group of people I’ve never come into contact with?”

At this point, Mcdonagh discovered the proposed changes to the GRA. She had some close friends who were “transsexual,” so understood how the GRC worked. She told me:

“I had never been concerned about a trans person who had medically transitioned entering a women-only space. To my knowledge it wasn’t a big thing. Only about 5000 people have a GRC in the UK. So you can imagine that doesn’t really cause any major issues.”

But during a discussion with Goldsmiths students about a community housing project, things blew up. Mcdonagh was verbally attacked by students after rejecting the new language being imposed on her community, called a “white cis woman,” then a “bitch and a “cunt.” A young male student tagged her in a post online arguing that the Women’s March should not allow women to focus on “the vagina” as it was “transphobic.” When Mcdonagh asked how he was defining “woman,” the man responded, “Anyone who says they are.”

This is when, she says, it all fell into place. “That’s what ‘self-identify’ means: anyone can say they are anyone… So, rich, privileged people can claim to be marginalized.” Beyond that, she asks, “How can we keep working class women safe if anyone can be a women legally?”

Mcdonagh became more troubled when “a middle class teenage boy identifying as women [was] given a woman’s officer position in the Labour Party” and when she observed a woman she knew suspended from the party for “refusing to say that a male person with a penis is a woman.”

As a lifelong Labour voter, Mcdonagh says she will never vote Labour again on account of the party’s decision to adopt gender identity policies without consultation.

She tells me there is “a very real lack of understanding about female victims of abuse, their need for sex-segregated spaces, and their need to be protected from predatory men.” But it has become impossible to debate or even discuss these issues. “Suddenly (mainly) white middle class students were shouting down and abusing working class women for expressing concern,” she says. “These people were bullying real victims into [submitting to] their ideology — women who have spent their lives being forced to accept situations they don’t want.”

Mcdonagh says she doesn’t believe that “a rich white boy” can “understand the needs of a working class ex-care system woman, raped and abused for decades by many different men — a woman living in a world that won’t ever feel safe again and who is bringing up children in a community that is suffering [due to] poverty, abuse, and trauma.”

“I couldn’t sit back a watch this final episode of ‘Gentrification Deptford’ invade the only thing that working class women have left: their experience.”

Mcdonagh and her group were concerned about how the proposed changes might affect services for women like her and those she worked with. Yet the questions they have are not being answered. They worry about how they will be able protect the women they work with from males who need only self-identify as female in order to access women’s spaces and about whether or not a “small, unfunded, grassroots organization [will be able to] challenge the law for the greater good if needed.” They also want to know whether challenging such a law could jeopardize their access to funding in future.

“Working class women know the lengths that abusers will go to get access to their victims,” she said. “We know this because we have lived it.”

“I fear that just the possibility that a male-bodied person [whether a client or staff member] could access a women-only service would be enough for, for example, our Muslim women’s community to avoid those spaces,” Mcdonagh says. “We are still trying to access hard to reach women and this would definitely make it more difficult.”

While she doesn’t believe “trans people” are inherently a threat, Mcdonagh believes very strongly that victims of male violence need women-only services and that women should be prioritized in terms of staffing these kinds of services as well. “We have already seen that trans-identifying males tend to apply for women-only positions and job vacancies as a way of reinforcing their gender identity,” she says.

“The first thing Lily Madigan did upon receiving their GRC was to apply to volunteer for women’s refuge. This is a white, middle class, 20-year-old male (who has not medically transitioned), who took their school to court to be able to wear a skirt. Lily wasn’t applying to volunteer because they felt they had something to offer victims of domestic violence. Lily was using women’s refuge to validate their identity and enforce transgender rights regardless of the effect on female victims.”

Mcdonagh attended the meeting organized by Allan at the House of Commons. Beyond all the questions her group has, Mcdonagh felt that after seeing women lose their jobs, reputations, and political memberships “just to give people like me important information about a change that would effect our lives and the lives of the people we work with,” her group should speak up and show their support.

Mcdonagh says the meeting was “extraordinary” and “empowering.” Her group had never been in the House of Commons before. “The room was grand and filled with so many women — women from all over the country.” Before the meeting, she and her fellow community workers put out a statement, explaining:

“When we are being verbally abused and called fascists because we are concerned about the effects of policy change on marginalized people, it is a direct attack on working class women and grass roots organizations.”

It’s bad enough that women are being fired, ostracized, bullied, and threatened for trying to speak about an issue that affects their lives, rights, spaces, and movements in so many ways. That it is largely young, white, middle and upper class individuals, bullying marginalized women, who have worked in these movements for decades, makes the situation all the more shocking and hypocritical.

Mcdonagh says:

“I want to tell those people who have gentrified our whole existence that our safe spaces are not for sale. That our experience is not for them to redefine. I want to let those people know that they are complicit in the victimization of already victimized people. Mostly, I want to start a conversation about social privilege and how the trans political and social movement is driven through [academia] and is suppressing the rights of working class women.”

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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  • Wren

    This is brilliant journalism. Not only has it explained the dire situation in the U.K. (I wasn’t previously totally clear about what the short-list was, now I know) but it is also inspiring. I’m blown away by Lucy Mcdonagh’s intelligence and sense of mission. A few of her best quotes:

    “In reality [they] were supporting themselves via a complex new ideology and language that only they speak,”

    Yes, fucking yes. The upper-class (even here in the U.S.), educated perspective on social issues is often a naval gazing, myopic, self-indulgent effort to appear more evolved and intelligent than others (typical bourgeois ambition) rather than to actually understand the experiences of others or to make any significant change in the social structure. The trans agenda has no interest in the lives of women and is intent on making everyone else abandon us as well.

    “These people were bullying real victims into [submitting to] their ideology — women who have spent their lives being forced to accept situations they don’t want.”

    Yes. This is exactly what’s happening. It is another form of abuse.

    “Mostly, I want to start a conversation about social privilege and how the trans political and social movement is driven through [academia] and is suppressing the rights of working class women.”

    She sees right through to the source of the issue and is so clear and concise. She has connected the dots to their support of the sex industry and therefore the further victimization of vulnerable women. My only point would be that it is not just working class women who will be affected by this new ideology but all women, whether they are yet aware of it or not.

    I’m adding Mcdonagh to my list of heroines.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Oh man! I could have written an entire piece only with Lucy’s quotes…She explained everything that is going on perfectly.

  • SentaAPW89

    I’m starting to hate these creatures.

    • ohffs was namesareirrelevant

      Agree. Gone from pity, to contempt to actual hate now. They are dangerous to women and they must be stopped.

  • ohffs was namesareirrelevant

    Fantastic and very infuriating article. Just the knowledge that a man could be in a woman’s safe space would indeed be enough for me to run a mile rather than ask for help.

  • Rachael

    Thank you so much for covering this. It’s an absolute shit storm over here right now and many women (and the men who love them) feel politically homeless. Some of us had high hopes for the Women’s Equality party but their repulsive treatment of one of their own (Heather Brunskell Evans) and their subsequent media releases about their position on self-id has ruled them out for us too.

    However, we are fighting so so hard against this. We are organising, we are talking, we are meeting in secret all over the UK, we are doing everything we can to get our voices heard. If we lose this fight we become invisible. We can’t lose.

    I’m so heartened to see so many women here being brave and bold even though they are scared: of how people in their lives may shun them, of being the lone voice in their crowd, of doxxing, interrogation, violence and more. We are growing in number, we are getting stronger, and we will not give up. I’m seeing so many women who have never considered themselves feminists or activists before joining in and fighting.

    Shout out to MayDay and WPUK! 😀 😀

    • Lin Haskins

      I joined the Women’s Equality Party the week before that happened! It was extremely disappointing – especially as a scientist looking for a party with fact based policy. I’m hoping that with member pressure they can be brought back to reality.

  • Polly MacDavid

    “This is when, she says, it all fell into place. “That’s what
    ‘self-identify’ means: anyone can say they are anyone… So, rich,
    privileged people can claim to be marginalized.” Beyond that, she asks, ‘How can we keep working class women safe if anyone can be a women
    legally?’ ”

    WOW … as an American, living in the hell that is currently the USA, that really hits home. “Rich, privileged people” … Everyone wants to feels victimized, especially people who are not, & that’s why we have the orange monster in the WH.

    Great article. Great way to start my Saturday morning. Thank you.

    • M. Zoidberg

      Didn’t Trump just ban transgender people from serving in the military? Cue the outrage (not that I think most trans identified males would actually serve — narcissists that they are.) But now they can conflate Trump’s actions with those of women not wanting to see penis-people in their dressing rooms, on their sports teams, etc…
      Trump is (unknowingly to most women) engineering women’s return to the human-rights stone age.

      • Hekate Jayne

        This is just more of the male ideation of women as objects.

        For years, males have been indulging us nonhuman female people with a few token rights here and there, to give an appearance that they are coming to see us as human, and to encourage us to be patient enough to allow them to wrap their tiny male minds around the concept that we are just as human as they are and deserving of the same respect and rights.

        But it is just an infinite delaying tactic designed to continue to dominate us as a group. And since they have extended us the courtesy of pretending that we are human, then women are expected to extend the courtesy to deluded, sick males that they can actually be women. Humans are entitled to be whomever they say they are, and they are entitled to define the rest of us that are lesser than they are. Any dissent from us is punished.

  • I am very concerned that this push to legalize self-identification is going on when there are 128 women parliamentarians, most of them Labour. Why haven’t the female Labour members of parliament formed a block to refuse this Labour legislation? Have all 128 women been silent on this issue? If so it speaks of two problems with women — we are still too easily brainwashed into harming ourselves to protect males, and we are cowards. This is really depressing. Women in the 1970’s needed “consciousness-raising” to even begin to see through their brainwashing. That is still so much needed. These days I think social media is providing that function. But the women elected politicians need to be targeted on this issue. They need to be told they were elected to vote for programs that help women as a biological class. Period. (And I know not all women are cowards, but politicians that remain silent even because of the horrific silencing tactics of the trans movement?? Shame on them.)

    • Hekate Jayne

      This is largely why I have just decided to shut up.

      We hobble ourselves with our inability to separate ourselves from males. We participate in patriarchy in a million ways and we encourage each other to participate. How is it a win for women to elect women into patriarchal systems? Are we really shocked that female politicians in a patriarchy are silent about our concerns? Those women are permitted to participate in patriarchy as long as they uphold it and do the business of it, which is to insure male supremacy and male power structures/systems while simultaneously giving the false appearance of equity.

      I still see women argue about how white women are responsible for Trump becoming president, and the argument is based on a small sample of people polled. Do any of us really believe that Clinton was such a supporter of women that she would have made all of these great strides for women? Seriously? She was and is a patriarchal politician. Patriarchal politicians will not ever champion women.

      And for those of us that would say “change happens slowly! We only just got the vote about 100 years ago!” Ask yourself does change actually, really happen slowly? Really? Because ladydudes decided to invade our spaces less than 5 years ago. Their changes have happened rapidly. Isn’t that curious.

      • Rachael

        I agree with you in this, and it’s depressing. I think for me, I wanted a woman to win because I wanted girls to believe in themselves. Little girls don’t understand they are part of a patriarchal system, so they wouldn’t understand the intricacies of the politics, but it does wonders for their self-esteem. I was born when Thatcher was in power and I thought she was wonderful – a woman amongst all those men! We can do anything! Ofc as I got older and became familiar with her politics it wasn’t the same story, but I still maintain seeing women in all sorts of positions of power, however illusionary, help make little girls turn into fierce women.

      • Feminist Reprise

        Not to nitpick, but “ladydudes” have been invading lesbian spaces (in
        the US) since at least the late 1990s, and probably before that.
        Lesbian groups were the canaries in the mine on this issue. With that said, public policy and legislative changes around gender identity have indeed happened with head-spinning rapidity over the past few years.

        • Leonora

          This is so true. I was attacked and vilified by a trans women in the late 90’s just because I dare to say no to him once! I just couldn’t believe the vitriol and the smearing I received then. I warned people about it but was not believed. Now it’s just so much worse.

    • ohffs was namesareirrelevant

      They were also raised in the patriarchy and experience Stockholm Syndrome to a huge extent. As do I, still have to make a conscious effort at times to adjust my slave mentality. Although I loathe their cowardice I will never blame them as thoroughly as I blame the vicious arseholes who still hold most of the power – the men who intimidate, bully and coerce them into silence from birth onwards. Women are never our own worst enemy. The men who beat, batter, bash and rape us to death in astonising numbers are. We do need to target them and convince them to do the right thing, all the while remembering they are victims of male abuse too and appeal to their logic and compassion, since the male sex is not exhibiting much of either.

  • Thom Prentice

    This make it crystal clear that the whole transgenderist transgenderism movement has three Koch-Bros-like objectives:

    1) Attack born-that-way women and real women’s rights achieved through real rather than bouregois feminism;

    2) provide a fig leaf camouflage to make the gullible think Labour, Justin Truedeau, and Hillary are “progressive” or “Left”; and

    3) Split the Left. Especially to keep Corbyn and Sanders out.

  • Nan

    Thank you for this clear and documented article. I’ve learned a lot about the state of the British left.

  • elle-laments

    “I couldn’t sit back a watch this final episode of ‘Gentrification Deptford’ invade the only thing that working class women have left: their experience.”

    Mind. Blown.
    Lucy Mcdonagh, you’re brilliant. This quote hit me like a ton of bricks, gentrification of women’s experience is a stunning way to explain it. Those woke kids should shut up and listen, they are beyond lucky to be able to learn from a woman of Lucy’s caliber.

    Thanks for this article!

  • Jen Miller

    Great to see the class analysis here. Mcdonagh sounds like an amazing woman – how infuriating that this kind of grass roots activism no longer has a place in the party. It would be great to read more profiles of women like her, and to reflect on whether the extremist “gender” politics taking over Labor now can be traced back to aspects of Blair’s New Labor, with its shift to individualism, aggressive military actions and a middle class base. Corbyn markets himself as utterly different to that- but is he?
    It would also be good to learn more about what sort of funds / influence is behind the current trans activist movement, because it’s hard to believe something so frequently irrational, which benefits so few people, could have taken such a powerful hold so quickly under “normal” circumstances.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Thank you for being here!

  • Meghan Murphy


  • Lucia Fiero

    I really wish the movement would abandon this word “parasitism” with all of its negative connotations, opening up feminist to accusations of being hate speakers, and adopt the term “colonialism.” It has a similar meaning, but people who are viewed as being colonized are looked upon far more sympathetically than people who call their political adversaries “parasites.” Please read “Gender Colonialism” by Nina Paley, a feminist animator, to better understand this point. http://blog.ninapaley.com/2018/02/07/gender_colonialism/

    • Rich Garcia

      @lucia_fiero:disqus Using the term “colonialism” would only elicit accusations of “White Feminism”, since there is nothing white males on the Left hate more than white females. Especially gender abolitionists and radical feminists who challenge their misogyny and hypocrisy.

      • Kathleen Lowrey

        Plus women are not a society unto themselves — colonialism really isn’t quite the right word, I don’t think. It’s not like once upon a time women were living in a community of women that was then invaded by men.

        • Lucia Fiero

          Women certainly do have their own culture, and certainly feminism *is* a society, and trans women want to colonize that. This notion of women and men living in separate cultures was introduced to me by Dr. Deborah Tannen. I highly recommend her book for all women who want to improve their ability to communicate with the men in their lives. “You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation”

        • Lucia Fiero

          I could make the case that parasite isn’t exactly the right word either. Parasites attempt to remain hidden from the host as much as possible, where in the trans invasion of say, feminism, they want to center themselves and direct policy. Parasites do not behave like that.

      • Lucia Fiero

        Anyone who made such a conflaction would really be reaching and employing a logical fallacy, though. I never said ONLY white women were being colonized. Not at all! Portraying women as colonized by TIMs would garner us a much more sympathetic response than calling transwomen parasites. Neither word is perfect, but the latter definitely makes our cause less sympathetic to outsiders who have no context.

        • Rich Garcia

          @lucia_fiero:disqus “I never said ONLY white women were being colonized.”

          And I never said that you did. But using a term like “colonialism” to describe women’s situation with the Trans Cult would only elicit accusations from fake liberals who will virtue signal and accuse you of appropriating the experiences of indigenous peoples.

          In the context of your words I absolutely agree that girls and women are being colonized. Colonized in that everything that women have and women have fought for is being taken from them by a disturbed group of men who have dug their nails so deep that they are trying to appropriate the very reality of being female.

  • Hekate Jayne

    This is part of what I am talking about.

    Hillary Clinton is a horrible human being. That is part of what makes her an excellent patriarchal politician.

    But if I am critical of her, I am a bad person/woman/feminist.

    Andrea Dworkin was not fond of Hillary Clinton, and that is stating it mildly. And her opinion was formed for good reason.

    • Kathleen Lowrey

      I’ll have to look up Dworkin on Clinton!

      I always think of Sarah Palin — who was subjected to hideously sexist attacks, including a creepy mini-industry of internet dudes scrutinizing photos of her for signs of pregnancy to “prove” Trig was actually her daughter’s baby — as an example of “I can see she is being treated unfairly because of sexism” plus “I would never vote for her in ten thousand years”. This argument that *because* much of the opposition to HRC was incredibly sexist (and, whoa, it WAS) meant feminists *had* to support her despite her being a neoliberal warmonger just made me think, am I then retroactively obliged to have supported Sarah Palin too?

  • Unbelievable. So sad.

  • Alienigena

    Dems? … I am not an American. I have voted Green, NDP and very rarely Liberal in Canada where I am entitled to vote. I would ask about all the men who shilled for the Iraq War (George W. Bush, Colin Powell) are they more or less reprehensible than the women or about the same?

    I have yet to find someone who thinks outside the box (me included though I try) we just seem to find smaller boxes to put ourselves in and to attribute our decision to occupy these boxes to original thinking.

    I think obsessing about American politics when a lot of us live in other jurisdictions (that are sometimes complicit with American policies and sometimes victimised by them) is pointless. There are many issues that need addressing in my country and for the most part I want to focus on them.

  • Alienigena

    But why isn’t George W. Bush considered a war criminal or dealt with by his opponents with such vehemence? Because he is just a stupid man? That stupid man was in power for eight years and initiated the Iraq War (based on no good evidence and possibly outright fabrication). How about Colin Powell who apparently lied through his teeth to the United Nations about WMDs?


    • Tobysgirl

      George W Bush was not dealt with as a war criminal by Obama because you do not indict the man who helped to create the imperial presidency in which you participate. These men are not considered war criminals because they are WHITE. How many western European or American men have been indicted by the International Criminal Court? As far as I am aware — and please enlighten me if I am wrong — NONE. There are plenty of people who consider these men war criminals but you will not hear this point of view on the mainstream media, only in alternative media, nations outside the U.S. and western Europe, etc.

  • Lucia Fiero

    How ever the trans movement feels about “parasite” vs “colonialism” (and certainly more feelings will be hurt by the P word than the C) this isn’t what matters for our purposes. I don’t expect to get through to TRAs to change their minds to our point of view. No one should. I am talking about winning over the people who have no horse this race. Laws are passed by voter majority. People who vote irrationally, emotionally, and there are many people like that out there, would vote against the entire feminist agenda merely because they once heard one sentence: “TERFs call trans ‘parasites’!” Many women would vote this way for that reason. Legal rulings are based on language. Judges hear the words you use and it colors their decisions. The words you chose make all the difference in making your case to the wider world, and ultimately the wider world are the people whose collective power is employed to set in place the laws we all have to live by.

  • Tobysgirl

    Excellent! You are absolutely correct about who is being demonized. If the American media (and I suspect, the European media) is demonizing someone, you can be pretty sure they are being targeted for a reason and not because of anything they have done. Right now the gig is to constantly repeat how evil the Russians are, and I have yet to see any evidence. And, no, for the idiots out there, I am not a Putin supporter and I do not appreciate McCarthyist comments of the good old red-baiting variety. Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, looks pretty damn good compared to what we get for secretaries of state; I love his comment about excusing “our existence in the midst of your bases.”

  • Tobysgirl

    I just want to say that I know of nowhere else on the internet — NOWHERE ELSE! — that one can have a sane and respectful political conversation as we can have here on Feminist Current. As an isolated person it is particularly meaningful to me to hear from women in Canada, the U.K., and elsewhere, especially anyone writing from Latin America.
    Thank you so very much, Meghan Murphy, for having this site and allowing discussion to roam widely and freely. It is very unusual and truly special.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Thanks for being here, Tobysgirl!

      • Tobysgirl

        I am taking your advice regarding using my actual name elsewhere, but haven’t figured out how to change it on disqus! (Toby was my beloved horse.)

  • Wren

    I prefer parasitism, since it connotes the level of disgust I feel when men try to take control of my body and womanhood in general. And the context of the writing or discussion deserves consideration: If it’s an article trying to convince the general public of the dangers of trans identified men, then sure, maybe a softer term might be more effective, but here on a radical feminist site, or with other sympathetic women, we should be able to use whatever term effectively communicates our frustration. Otherwise, we are just being tamed and controlled.

  • la scapigliata

    I haven’t heard her say anything about self-ID, so I really don’t know.

  • Kelly

    The problem is that parasitic is the correct word for the meaning Sheila was trying to convey. Whenever people remove words from context they are open to misinterpretation. People will malign and misinterpret everything Sheila says because they want to shut her down and stop her from talking sense. I think the best thing about her is her unwillingness to censor her own words to be more palatable. She said parasitic because that is what she meant. Taking one word or one sentence out of context is what people do when they want to misrepresent something. If it wasn’t the word parasite it would be something else.
    How about leech?

  • And what I find most upsetting, in this whole thing, is that there are real people, with very real struggles and vulnerabilities, being used as pawns in this whole damn exercise. It is so confusing for kids who are grappling with sexual orientation and identity, or people with psychiatric problems, who see transitioning as their guiding light….

    Most of us here clearly have nothing but compassion for the individuals caught up in this. And it makes me so sad to be blanket-labelled a TERF for suggesting that maybe there is an alternative path for that poor confused 17 year old lesbian who wants short hair and pants… and that she might not actually be a boy.

    And, anecdotally speaking… looking at my kids’ peer groups… I have noticed that it is always the confused, gender non-conforming kid with major dysfunctional shit (and adults who have other major psychiatric shit going on) that seem to all be coming out now. I don’t know what it means for them, and it just makes me sad that they can’t just… be… without these assholes not only exploiting women, but gay kids and people with mental health issues.

  • Goddess_of_Dischord


  • Leonora

    Thank you for being the oasis in the great desert of the interwebs. This website and the contributions of the women here have been an invaluable resource. I have felt isolated and a little bit crazy from thinking thoughts that are wrong think to mainstream feminist discourse. I have been attacked just for centering women in my life and refusing to capitulate. I have been ostracised but after reading articles and commentaries I’ve found my mojo and have recruited sisters to feminism, real true blue feminism. Thank you for raising my consciousness.

    • Meghan Murphy


  • Leonora

    I think colonialism is appropriate and so is parasitism. I’m a women of color and have to contend with colonialism and its implications every day. I recognize colonialism when I see it.