Those of us who are (or were) Labour voters have been dismayed by Labour’s willingness to set aside the rights of women and the safeguarding of children over recent years in favour of unquestioning support of trans ideology. We continue to hope that with a new leader, Labour may seek to take a more nuanced approach.
One of our supporters wrote this heartfelt plea to her Labour MP last week. He has replied agreeing that we need to protect victims of abuse and sexual assault, but making it clear that he “will continue to be vocal about the need to update and reform the GRA”.
We will continue to be vocal about the need to safeguard all children. This letter explains why.
Dear ________ MP,
I am writing to seek some reassurance from you and from the Labour Party. You may remember that I wrote and spoke to you previously about my concerns regarding the impact that trans-inclusive policies in schools and the rest of society are having on the wellbeing and mental health of the very, many girls and women who have been subjected to sexual abuse and rape.
I met with you in your constituency office and explained how my own experience of being sexually abused and repeatedly raped for much of my childhood, in addition to the very regular sexual harassment and assault that is experienced by many girls and women, informed my concerns. I also explained that what further informed my concerns was my experience in a shop lingerie changing-room next to a man (who I expect would probably identify as a transwoman), who spoke deliberately very loudly and inappropriately for the situation causing me considerable discomfort and resulting in my need to exit promptly.
I explained that my personal reflection on this incident and subsequent realisation that some girls and women would not be able to simply leave similar situations, such as if they were in a school changing-room, a refuge, hospital or prison, is what has led me to speaking out. During our meeting I said that I was deeply concerned about the fear, trauma responses and psychological distress likely to be felt by many previously abused girls and women who are, perhaps unexpectedly, having to share spaces such as school changing rooms or overnight accommodation with males.
I reiterated throughout the meeting that I recognised that trans people are also vulnerable and that it was unfortunate that there was conflict with the needs and wants of these two groups of people, but that this should not be resolved to the detriment of women and girls’ rights.
During the meeting I felt several times as though you were trying to imply that trans people as a group were more vulnerable and therefore in more need of protection than girls, many of whom will have spent perhaps a lifetime being abused or harassed because they are female. For example, you repeatedly pointed out how bad the mental health and self-harm rates of trans people are and gave this as a reason for them needing to be in opposite-sex spaces – in line with their self-identified gender and I had to inform you more than once that the mental health and self-harm rates of sexually abused girls are also dire. Although we did not reach any consensus of views during our meeting, not even that it was at least important to workout how to best meet the needs of these two vulnerable groups without destroying the rights of females, I had hoped that you, as my MP, had at least heard some of what I was saying.
I was very upset a few weeks later when I saw that you, along with your colleague in the same meeting, had signed a letter which included the statement that “the reality is that trans people are far more likely to be targets of violence than other women”. Despite hearing me explain the impact of what was in reality but one terrible part, of a lifetime of a great many episodes of sexual harassment and assault, including two episodes of sexual harassment/assault at work in the six months prior to our meeting, you still felt able to conclude that trans people are far more likely to experience these things. It concerns me deeply that you have little understanding about what life as a woman or girl is like, especially for the many who have been preyed upon since childhood because they are female.
During my meeting with you I found that I was shaking, this was because I rarely talk about the sexual abuse that I was subjected to as I find it so distressing to do so and also because talking about it to a man, whom I do not even know, was very difficult. I only started writing and speaking out a little about the abuse, a few months before I met with you and I do so only because I know that girls and young women who have been abused will usually be unable to speak out about their needs whilst they are still struggling to deal with the impact and threat of it on their daily lives. I therefore feel that I have a duty to speak out for these girls.
I was horrified to read last week the comments of the Labour Party MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle. The MP wrote an article in which he accused JK Rowling, who had recently disclosed for the first time publicly that she had experienced both domestic violence and sexual assault, of “using her own sexual assault” to justify discrimination against transgender people.
As I am sure you are aware JK Rowling has experienced much online abuse recently, including death and rape threats because she has entered the debate about the ‘conflict’ between trans rights and women’s rights. I know that many women, like both myself and JK Rowling, have felt compelled to disclose and discuss the traumatic assaults that we have been subjected to, in order to explain our concerns and to protect more vulnerable girls and women. This is a very difficult thing to do and leaves you feeling incredibly exposed, as well of course causing you to relive the trauma of the abuse in your mind. I personally find that I sometimes have to dissociate/detach from what I am disclosing in order to speak up, which is similar to the way I would mentally detach from the abuse when I was a child.
It is therefore horrendous to see women now accused of weaponising our assaults and our trauma, by amongst others, a member of the Shadow Cabinet for the Labour Party and also a Labour Party Councillor, Neale Gibson for Walkley, who tweeted about JK Rowling’s statement that “It was clear that she was exploiting something that she claimed had happened to her to try in vain to distract people from her vile transphobic views”
Although Russell-Moyle has now issued an apology, but not one directed at JK Rowling herself, I remain concerned that this may be the somewhat accepted view amongst some in the Labour Party especially as the MP remains in his Shadow Cabinet position, despite Rebecca Long-Bailey MP losing her position in the same week for retweeting an article. I am seeking some clarification from both you and the Labour Party leadership so would like the following points addressed:
Please will you urgently reassure me that you do not think that I or any other woman are exploiting our histories of sexual assault, abuse, violence or rape when we discuss these, at great cost to ourselves, in order to explain where our concerns in this debate are coming from.
Please will you contact the Leader of the Opposition Keir Starmer MP to express my concerns that it does not appear at this point in time that the Labour Party have due care and regard for the experiences of women, especially experiences of sexual assault or violence.
Would you ask him how he will move to protect women who are speaking out about how their experience of abuse has informed their concerns and how he will ensure that our voices are heard throughout the Labour Party, whilst parliament and society debates this important conflict of needs and rights.
Will you also please relay to Keir Starmer MP, as well as the Shadow Women and Equalities Secretary Marsha de Cordova MP, the new Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green MP and Minister for Women and Equalities Liz Truss MP, that I optimistically welcome the ‘leaked government plans’ for protecting single-sex spaces for women and girls and for ending conversion therapy, as well as Liz Truss’s commitment to protect children from “decisions that they could make, that are irreversible in the future”.
I hope these measures, when implemented will offer some protection for all children, including girls who have been subjected to sexual abuse.
I look forward to hearing from you soon.A constituent (name and address supplied)