Right of reply

Jeremy Corbyn on Andrew Marr, confirming women's right to campaign on this issue 'in the party and publicly'

I don’t normally go in for this refutation lark but there is a thread on Facebook, on a personal but public page of a fellow member of our local Labour Party, which is getting sufficient attention that I think its worth saying my piece.

[Will I be taking legal advice? I’m aware that suing for slander is both time-consuming and the opposite of healing, and at the moment the best move for party unity is simple information spreading – so here, for now, is a better way of limiting the damage to our CLP. Going to law, and/or going to the party admin will be options if this goes on.]

***Note added Aug 23 The social media accounts of the two people most relevant to this article appear to have been removed.***

I am talking about a thread on a public Facebook page, belonging to a fellow party member in my own CLP. Amongst the wild accusations against me and my colleagues that page has sported all year, this thread states that my branch unanimously passed a motion ‘denying counselling to autistic trans kids’. Even that I might ignore, if not for the fact that there’s a borough councillor in there apparently believing it. “Oh, I was not there, I would not have supported it.” – well here’s an idea Cllr – you’re a member of the same branch – why not go through the minutes and see? There is, if you go back a fair way, a motion from me calling for teachers and therapists who are party members to be supported where they feel the need to discuss doubts about gender with kids.

How evil is that?

The reason I put this motion forward is that I know we have a lot of teachers, social workers and therapists in the party, and I know – because of real world discussions with real world people – that they worry that they’ll have the gender-police after them if they deviate one iota from the ‘affirmation only’ policy in relation to ‘trans kids’ which was modelled on a similar one posed to protect lesbians and gay kids. The thing is, the trans situation is not the same and the policy is wildly over applied (which is why I put ‘trans kids’ in quotes). If a kid thinks they’re lesbian or gay, but is mistaken, there is no particular harm done if they try it out and learn by experiment. The same is not true of trying to reject your sex by adopting cross-sex gender-stereotypes and taking puberty blockers. It’s all too easy to convince troubled kids they were ‘born in the wrong body’. Autistic kids in particular usually feel like aliens amongst their peers, as do lesbian and gay kids, until they find out how that works.

Big mistake

Do you think such mistakes are not likely to happen? Try looking at this analysis


the short version is that more and more kids are going around thinking they are ‘in the wrong body’ and less and less of them get over it. This would seem to be developing along with the ‘transgender trend’ that sees pre-adolescent friendship groups ‘coming out as trans’ together. Are there suddenly 20 times as many trans kids, and far fewer lesbian and gay ones? Are a disproportionate number of autistic kids trans? Or are they being misled? Would it be worth giving the adult professionals around them the chance to gently say ‘you know, you might just be a girl who likes girls’ or even just ‘a girl who likes football’ or ‘it’s okay to be a gentle boy who likes bright clothes and dancing’.

If you think that idea makes me a Nazi, fine. If you think it means I object to adults living any way that seems right to them, fine. If you think I don’t have a right to stand up for vulnerable kids, or for women’s rights, get down off it now. Bear in mind that motion of mine never got to our General Committee because, on the month it was passed, some of the people having that discussion on that thread I’m complaining about created such a ruck at a meeting that they ended up suspended, and all motions (including one from their trans-activist friend) were postponed, by the branches themselves and at the suggestion of regional, while everyone calmed down. I should know, I was vice-chair of the CLP at the time.

A bit different to their public statement on that thread saying my motion was ‘withdrawn by HQ’ because it was so e-e-e-e-e-evil.

Political consequences

They also claim I’ve stepped down from my former CLP and branch roles to avoid action from the Party – what action? We are a marginal CLP, and the trans issue is not Labour’s problem, it’s a problem right across the country, thanks to groups like Stonewall neglecting all their other responsibilities in favour of promoting the trans/queer agenda. The job of our party is to get the Tories out, and Labour in. Yes, I have largely withdrawn from active roles in the CLP for now, in an attempt to draw their silly nonsense away from our local politics – and anyway, it’s easier as an individual to campaign freely on a contentious issue. If anyone doubts this, talk to someone who was at our EC meeting last November.

That motion of mine did eventually make its way back to a GC agenda recently, but I withdrew it from that particular meeting because the agenda was already crowded and potentially contentious, and we had a new motion from our branch which I (as chair) thought the members would want to deal with immediately.

Call to action

To the person whose page that Facebook thread graces who claims she does not have time to do socialism any more, she’s so busy dealing with ‘hate speech’ – well I say to her, if your goal is to silence and/or slander everyone who disagrees with you, that is an impossible goal and so you’ll never be any use to the party. You could help, however – stop hosting and encouraging slanderous hate speech on your page, that would really be helpful.

And to that councillor: you are a member of our branch. By joining in that conversation in the way you have, you are slandering all the members of our branch who (of course!) would never have supported such a ridiculous motion as is suggested in that thread. How about you go back there, to that public page, and tell them they’re talking nonsense.

And if anyone active in a CLP is reading this, if you should fancy picking the idea of that motion up and taking it forward, there are lots of people who would be grateful. You could say for example…

This CLP supports the right of all minority groups to live without prejudice or coercion and condemns the abuse of any, but we fear that some of the government’s proposals, intended to protect, and organisations’ current responses to them, could pose a danger, particularly to autistic, gay and lesbian children and teenagers.

We call for the protection of the rights of doctors, teachers, parents and mental health practitioners to discuss sex and gender freely with children and young people as appropriate, and not to be limited to ‘affirmation only’. Such discussion is essential wherever gender identity is a source of confusion and anxiety, such as for children on the autistic spectrum and those developing a lesbian or gay orientation.

Yes, that really is what my scurrilous motion said. How Nazi is that, eh?

To my colleagues

Don’t worry – the Labour Party is doing socialism and the flack you see flying around your heads is precisely what happens when people do socialism, and the viciousness you see around the gender debate is just one more aspect of the fury generated by pathological individualism. It’s not real, it’s only neoliberalism panicking. There are always going to be new ideas to have rows about and there are always going to be distractions. Deal with them. Especially, deal with bullies wherever you see them. Once that’s done, no issue is impossible to solve peaceably. Speak your truth fearlessly and keep doing socialism. That’s what I do and guess what – despite all the slanders, I am still alive, and still doing socialism.

If you’d like to know more…

Kathleen Stock explains the issues and the terrain

A letter in Peace News (second one down in this link) https://peacenews.info/issue/8963/letters

A letter to $ton€wa££ http://lesbianalliance.org.uk/open-letter-to-stonewall/

A letter to the Morning Star https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/improving-climate-debate-around-proposed-changes-gender-recognition-act

A letter to the Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/may/04/standing-up-for-transsexual-rights

Lesbian rights alliance https://www.facebook.com/LRalliance/

Jeremy Corbyn on Andrew Marr, confirming women's right to campaign on this issue 'in the party and publicly'


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