Woman’s Place UK is not a ‘trans-exclusionist hate group’ | Letter

Senior Labour MPs’ support for calls to expel party members who support WPUK is condemned by several academics from University College London

University College London academics worked closely with Woman’s Place UK (WPUK) to co-organise the Women’s Liberation 2020 conference celebrating 50 years since the first Women’s Liberation conference in the UK. This was an inspirational event bringing together nearly 1,000 women (and a few men) with diverse views to discuss every issue affecting the lives of women today.

As UCL co-organisers, speakers and attendees at this conference, we are dismayed at the libellous claim that WPUK is a “trans-exclusionist hate group”, and the demand that Labour members who support WPUK should be expelled from the party (Report, 13 February). It is astonishing that this has been endorsed by Labour leadership and deputy leadership candidates Lisa Nandy, Rebecca Long-Bailey, Emily Thornberry, Angela Rayner, Dawn Butler and Rosena Allin-Khan.

WPUK operate with transparency, their website has a clear manifesto and a record of every meeting, and their YouTube channel has videos of speeches made at their meetings. It is clear that they support both trans rights and women’s rights, and trans women have spoken at their events. Sex is a protected characteristic under the 2010 Equality Act and WPUK’s demands are entirely consistent with existing legislation.

Women both within academia and within the Labour party have been subject to campaigns of bullying and harassment simply for questioning a narrow orthodoxy on sex and gender. Misogynistic abuse and violent threats against these women have become normalised. In this context, it is both unethical and dangerous to vilify feminists with slanders and smears such as Lisa Nandy’s entirely unsubstantiated and defamatory comments on Radio 4’s Today programme that WPUK are “wilfully trying to go after trans people” and “causing real harm”. Such comments have real consequences for women’s ability to speak and to self-organise, and even for our physical safety.
Prof Brad Blitz, Anja Boeing, Prof Lesley Gourlay, Dr Ruth McGinity, Dr Amy North, Prof Gemma Moss, Prof Sophie Scott, Dr D’reen Struthers, Dr Holly Smith, Prof Judith Suissa, Prof Alice Sullivan, Prof Elaine Unterhalter, Dr Ralph Wilde


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