Speak Up For Women have made 3 ‘reasonable’ demands

Speak Up For Women

We have written previously about the Kiwi group Speak Up For Women who are currently fighting an ideological battle within the feminist left as well as publicly with politicians like Labour’s Louisa Wall and Green co-leader Marama Davidson.

What is it exactly that they are trying to achieve? They summarise their three ‘reasonable’ demands of the Labour-led coalition government as follows. quote.

1. The Government must put the self-ID proposal on hold until there is reasonable public consultation. Respectful, evidence-based public consultation must take place, including with women who are affected by the proposals.

2. The Government must review how the proposed changes will affect data gathering and reporting and the integrity of records for things such as crime, health and monitoring sex-based discrimination such as the pay gap.

3. The Government must review how the proposed changes will impact the protected category of “sex”, intended to protect women from discrimination under the Human Rights Act end quote.

What they are wanting to happen is really what you would expect a government to do before adopting any new and in this case quite radical change to the status quo. It is a huge concern that this government seems to be acting without following due process and with what appears to be a predetermined outcome.

Labour MP Louisa Wall recently wrote an opinion piece in the New Zealand Herald that Speak Up For Women’s claim misrepresented their position. Here is part of their response to Wall’s article. Quote.

Speak Up For Women was formed in opposition to the government’s proposal that the Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Registration Bill be amended to provide that any person can change the sex recorded on their birth certificates via statutory declaration alone. There will be no need for any medical evidence, treatment or even a change in appearance.

This significant law change was not signalled when the BDMRR Bill was first introduced into Parliament, but was raised at the Select Committee stage.

Its genesis is a petition started by trans woman activist Allyson Hamblett, which attracted 53 signatures. Self-ID has not been the subject of proper policy analysis, impact assessment or public consultation. The proposed changes were pushed through despite concerns raised in the initial stages by the Department of Internal Affairs, and took a lot of people by surprise.

By way of contrast, similar proposals in the United Kingdom resulted in a three month public consultation, and the government has committed to retaining sex-based protections for women and girls under their equalities legislation.

Speak Up For Women believes this change will have significant consequences for women and girls, for example in relation to: access to single-sex spaces and services (changing rooms, schools, Girl Guides, prisons, shelters and crisis centres); meaningful records and statistics (crime, health, employment, pay gap); female sports; and female scholarships and quotas.

The Human Rights Act 1993 recognises these concerns, by providing for exceptions to the general prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of sex, for reasons of privacy, safety and fairness.

Speak Up For Women is a diverse, and non-partisan group of ordinary New Zealanders. We have always been clear that we support the rights of transgender people to identify how they wish, without fear of discrimination. We are not trans-exclusionary: in fact we have received messages of support from members of the trans community and, in the United Kingdom, some of the most outspoken critics of sex self-ID are trans people.

We are dismayed by the way in which some government MPs have sought to shut down the debate by demonising critics in inflammatory terms, using manipulative and irresponsible references to suicide, and by misrepresenting human rights law.

What has been lost sight of is the fact that transgender people in New Zealand already have the ability to change the sex on their birth certificates, via a Family Court process that involves medical oversight.

Speak Up For Women supports the status quo, and supports retention of the sex-based protections under the Human Rights Act. We believe this strikes an appropriate balance in an area where there is growing recognition of the potential for conflict between transgender rights and the rights of women.End quote.

So what did Labour MP Louisa Wall say in her opinion piece to trigger the above response? Here are some of the things that she said, which included a put down of Rachel Stewart’s skills as a journalist. Quote.

Given her journalist background, it is disappointing that Rachel Stewart did not use those skills to look at the genesis of TERF as an acronym for Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists.

It was coined by a radical feminist, Viv Smythe, in 2008, purely in order to distinguish between trans supportive or trans neutral radical feminists and those who wished to exclude trans women from their feminism.

Viv Smythe said “It was meant to be a deliberately technically neutral description of an activist grouping.” Perhaps the reason the term is seen as a slur or “pejorative” today is because of what it stands for. A belief that denies trans women their basic human rights – to be who they are. 

[…] Rachel Stewart was happy to acknowledge that she was a TERF when she tweeted: “If holding “transgender exclusionary beliefs”” means I don’t accept that a man in a dress with a penis is a woman, then I guess I’m that new 4-letter acronym I just learned the other day.”

Despite her protestations, Rachel Stewart is trans exclusionary and has signed the Speak Up For Women letter sent to all MPs opposing the proposed changes to the Births Deaths Marriages and Relationships Registration Act on the basis that in some way her rights as a cis woman are diminished.

While she happily points out that she falls under the “L” in LGBTIQ+ (sic) she ignores those who fall under the “T”. Trans are undeniably members of our Rainbow community and are undeniably one of the most marginalised groups within our community.

Conveniently, Rachel Stewart has moved from her self descriptor of TERF in August to describing herself as a “gender critical feminist”.

Actually they are the same thing. They exclude trans women in their definition of women and deny them the right to identify as such – you can’t get more trans exclusionary than that.

What Rachel Stewart and those involved in “Speak Up For Women” are advocating is entirely consistent with recent moves by Donald Trump in the US to define sex as determined at or by birth and based on the gender a person is born into.

While that is ultimately what Speak Up For Women and Rachel Stewart want here in New Zealand, I despair that as we make steps toward greater trans visibility, campaigns like these undermine the work done and give messages to our trans whanau that will have detrimental consequences for our trans community, and particularly trans youth.

All as a result of a small, but vocal group, that considers themselves more important than a group that is the most oppressed, marginalised and dehumanised, suffers some of the highest levels of sexual and physical violence and our trans youth are five times more likely to attempt suicide.

I don’t accept that Rachel Stewart believes trans people deserve human rights.

Her actions and writings belie that. Trans rights are human rights.

That is the position in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. And being called a TERF is not disrespectful. Denying the “T” in LGBTIQ+ is. And it is that much harder to accept when transphobia like this comes from within our community.

[…] Speak Up For Women is modelled on the UK group “Woman’s Place UK” with remarkably similar wording of their demands on both websites.

A small group opposing similar legislation in the UK disrupted the London Pride Parade this year, making trans participants in the Parade very uncomfortable and feeling defeated.

The following day there was one suicide in a country where 48% of transgender people have attempted suicide. end quote.

 


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