This opinion piece appeared last week in the 2019 Spring issue of Te Awa (the NZ Green Party’s newsletter) at this link posted to members of the Green Party. Two Green Party friends contacted me delighted that the logjam of urgent debate on this issue in NZ politics had been broken. On Sunday evening in response to an Australian based person Marama Davidson, Green Party Co-Leader and Member of Parliament, has since said this article “puts trans rights to exist up for debate” and that it is “hateful” and that it has “caused harm” and it’s been removed. Is what Marama has said true of the article?
I am writing a personal response to Jan Logie’s words in the last Te Awa, where she says: “We continue to push for progress on LGBTQI+ freedoms, and resist the backlash that’s trying to undermine our trans and gender diverse whanau and roll back their hard-won rights”.
Who is the “we” in this statement? Is it the Rainbow Greens? I am a lesbian, supposedly under their umbrella, but I am part of the backlash. Is it the whole Green Party? I am a long-time Greens member, but I am part of the backlash. If the Greens caucus is acting on policy that feelings of gender identity over-ride biological sex, then some of us older feminists in the party have strong concerns about its implications.
Transpeople are a vulnerable group that until recently has been excluded from general consideration and now justly claim their right to be treated with equal respect. However, the hard-won rights Jan alludes to include those of male-bodied transwomen to be treated just like natal women and allowed to enter any space or role designated as females-only. Trans rights activists argue that if a man says he feels like a woman, he is one. Women must accept him as one of them, even when he retains his male bodily features.
Many feminists are concerned to protect the sex-based rights of women and girls, whose disadvantaged position under patriarchy is based exactly on our biology and whose primary problem is male violence. Hence sex-based rights include the right to female-only spaces and activities. But feminist analysis of patriarchy seems to be completely lacking in gender ideology. Indeed, feminists who have worked for decades to achieve the rights now enjoyed by younger women are being vilified.
I am horrified by what is happening overseas: the shutting down of free speech; the silencing and abuse of academic experts; young children being taught they can be in the ’wrong’ body, thus reinforcing stereotypes; women’s refuges and rape crisis centres no longer safe sanctuaries; lesbians being accused of transphobia if they insist on same-sex relationships; malebodied athletes entering women’s sports and taking the prizes; the very language changing to erase females/women, in the name of ‘inclusiveness’.
In New Zealand, meeting venues and publicity have been denied to gender-critical feminists, who are accused – sometimes very violently – of hate speech. The Abortion Law Reform Association now speaks of “pregnant people”, not “pregnant women”. Wellington Lesbian Radio has changed its name because ‘lesbian’ is not “inclusive”.
Most serious of all is the medicalisation of children. I recently met a woman who had taken her 11-year-old daughter to a doctor because of a sore throat. The daughter is a tomboy, with short hair. The doctor asked the mother if she wanted the girl to go on puberty blockers. An 11-year-old goes to the doctor with a sore throat and is given a suggestion of puberty blockers?
Gender-critical feminists have allies among some transpeople themselves, who see this ideology as a misogynist, homophobic, men’s rights push. No previous extensions of human rights for new groups have involved taking away the rights of others needing protection. It would be progressive of the Greens to be working for solutions that are fair to everyone, rather than reinforcing the current divide.
“It would be progressive of the Greens to be working for solutions that are fair to everyone, rather than reinforcing the current divide.”
Prue Hyman says
No, Marama’s criticisms and analyses of these issues are ill-informed and ridiculous. Your article on the term TERF etc (Jan) which I have only just seen is very thorough on what is going on. Jill was brave enough as a Green older lesbian feminist to write this response to Jan Logie’s comments. I (Prue Hyman) am another Green member and older lesbian feminist and am highly dismayed by the censorship involved in removing the article from the Greens website (and the censorship involved in much of the trans activist reactions to similar views widely expressed in US, UK, NZ and other countries). Jill’s article is a brief (she was given the word limit by Te Awa) and sensible analysis. There are many lesbian and straight feminists supporting her position and we need to say so and be counted publicly when we are being shouted down by the extremist trans politics lobby (with which by no means all trans people agree) and their politically correct straight supporters.
David Lloyd says
Why are so few people listening to the arguments? Mtf transgender are men not women even after they have had gender reassignment surgery. There have been several reported incidents worldwide of biological male trans sexually assaulting women and children. They have never lived life as a woman so have no understanding of what most women have to go through. Sorry I know I’m preaching to the converted. But I’m quite angry as a gay man, that my LGBA (I refuse to put T there for now) friends cannot reason. They have a knee jerk reaction to any criticism of mtf transgender. If mtf transgender can self identify, can my husband and I self identify as mother and toddler so we can use those reserved car park spaces? Of course not. The whole self identify is ridiculous. I could self identify as Chris Hemsworth but I’d have to pay a lot of money to have his physique. The whole self identify idea is ridiculous.