I understand that the NEC Equalities Committee met today to discuss officially allowing people to self-identify onto women-only programmes without the need for medical or other certification that they have changed their gender. As Labour Party member L********** I would like to register my opposition and to express my concern.
Should the NEC proceed to prioritise the ideological concept of ‘gender identity ‘above the biological reality of sex the Labour Party will lose support, in particular the support of committed and longstanding Labour Party feminists. A cursory glance at the viral #labourlosingwomen hashtag will attest to this.
Last month it was reported that the Labour Party has suffered a six-point drop in support from women, the NEC must take action to regain credibility with women. It is worth bearing in mind, most Labour Party supporters would find the notion of gender identity risible – outside of heated online debates the fact that ‘women do not have penises’ is not controversial.
The NEC are right to assert that Labour have been at the forefront of championing equality, but prioritising self-defined gender identity undermines this and makes a mockery of the sexism women face. Society rewards dominant and aggressive behaviour in men and punishes women for seeking power. I am proud that historically this is something that the Labour Party has understood, and that measures such as All Women Shortlists and the Jo Cox programme have been put in place to counter this sex-based injustice.
Women are not raped, beaten or abused because of our ‘feminine gender identity’ it is because of our sex. That some transgender people also suffer violence from men must be considered but recognising and accommodating their needs must not be at the expense of the rights that exist to challenge and name sex inequality. Ignoring the biological reality of sex-based oppression risks making both women and our struggles we face unmentionable.
One hundred and forty-six years ago, women’s rights campaigner Susan B. Anthony advised, ‘No self-respecting woman should wish or work for the success of a party who ignores her sex.’ Today, as the NEC prepare to erase the protections and rights women fought for these words have a bitter resonance.
Women like me are the backbone of the Labour Party and we are no longer prepared to give our time, energy and money to a party that dismisses our needs as a sex. Lose our support and Labour will lose the next election.
I await your response with interest.