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The ‘Party of Women’ ain’t partying today

This UK election has been one of massive schaudenfreude. There are so many moments of knicker-wetting hilarity; Jacob Rees-Mogg lost his seat! Liz Truss got record-breakingly shamed! Michael Green Sebastian Fox Corinne Stockheath Grant Shapps got the boot! The BBC told Steve Baker – live on air! – that he was toast! Lol. Lmao. Hahaha fucking ha. Pure joy. But while it’s healing and delicious to luxuriate in the news that the Conservative Party has lost more seats than it retained (seriously, lol! I wanna drink it down like wine!), let’s not forget that alongside handing the Tories their arses, the UK electorate also succeeded in humiliating a group of extremist transphobes: the Party of Women.

Who exactly are the Party of Women? I’ll forgive you if you’ve never heard of them: after all, this group of genital-obsessed bigots earned fewer votes than even the Monster Raving Loony Party (whose policies include helping with the cost of living crisis by turning 10 Downing Street into a hair salon). The Party of Women is basically a bunch of ‘radical’ ‘feminists’ whose ‘gender critical’ stance is code for ‘rigid adherence to patriarchal beliefs about gender and genitals.’ They believe that your gender is determined strictly by whether you have a dick (men) or a vagina (women). Unless you’re a trans person who has had bottom surgery, in which case your gender is the one they decide it is, because they get to decide that – not you – that’s how bigotry works. I’ve no idea what they think about intersex people, I imagine the very mention of the word has them blue-screening like a knackered laptop. They’re wrong, by the way. Embarrassingly, dangerously, spectacularly wrong. I’m not here to have a debate about their views any more than I’d debate whether there are only two colours in the spectrum. It’s a nonsense waste of my time – if this is what you’re here for, please move on. All comments are pre-moderated and any transphobia will get binned.

The Party of Women’s policies focus mostly on repealing the Gender Recognition Act (which allows trans people to legally change their gender), and remove ‘gender reassignment’ as a protected characteristic from the Equality Act (which is there to protect trans people from discrimination). They believe that by doing so they will make women (by which they mean ‘cisgender women’) safer. But actually, alongside the fact that it’s inherently abhorrent to curtail the rights of a minority group just to pander to the prejudiced feelings of an ignorant majority, these laws would make all of us – cis and trans – less safe. If you take away trans people’s right to exist in society in their true gender, then you put an onus on someone (The state? Private companies? Nosy individuals who want to ‘ask questions’ when you’re standing in the toilet queue?) to check that people are using the facilities and services assigned to their genitals. Because they define gender by what’s in your pants, there is literally no way to police anyone’s gender as defined by the ‘Party of Women’ other than by having a good old look at their junk. And ‘looking at people’s genitals’ has never been a way to ensure greater freedom and security for anybody other than creepy bigots, for reasons that I hope should be obvious.

ANYWAY. That’s all you need to know about these bellends because alongside the Tory Party getting pulped, the Party of Women received such a sad-trombone-fart-noise response at the ballot box it’s pretty safe to say that this single issue is not one that excites the average person enough to persuade them to put a cross in their (inspected, double-checked, registered as feeeemale) box. Not only that, but the leader of the Party of Women – “Posie Parker” aka Kellie Jay Keen – who you could expect to have been designated the lion’s share of time and resources from the party’s campaign budget, as well as standing in a seat where she could reasonably expect to get a warm reception, received fewer than 200 votes. Once more, with feeling: lol. Lmao.

More fun facts: in the UK candidates have to put up £500 in order to stand for election. They get their money back if they receive more than 5% of the vote in their constituency, so whether or not you retain your deposit represents a benchmark for whether you can be considered a ‘serious’ candidate. With fewer than 200 votes, Kellie Jay Keen not only lost her deposit, she was light-years away from getting it back. And she wasn’t alone! The Party of Women fielded 16 candidates and only achieved 5077 votes in total, so it’s hard to believe that any of them got their deposit returned [Update: they didn’t! Lolololol!]. Given how deeply transphobic the media narrative has been in the UK recently I’d have expected this grubby little cult to have turned that publicity into a fairly worrying vote share. As it is, they achieved an average of just 317 votes per bigot, which is genuinely just so fucking funny. I wanna roll it up into a big fat joint and smoke every single atom.

How about the mainstream MPs who spout transphobia though? Did they fare better at the ballot box? Well…

Transphobia in mainstream politics

Joanna Cherry (SNP) is openly ‘gender critical’, and has had some notable run-ins with the leadership of the SNP over their policies aimed at protecting trans people’s rights and dignity. She got booted! Lol! My congratulations to the people of Edinburgh South West.

Thangham Debbonaire – who has made public statements in support of women’s ‘sex-based rights’ (a dog-whistle term which speaks to the idea that gender is solely determined by your genitals/sex as assigned at birth) – was ousted by Carla Denyer of the Green Party, who has been openly supportive of trans rights.

Alison Teal, who was suspended from the Green Party over transphobic statements, stood as an independent candidate and received only around 1000 votes – also losing her deposit.

There are many more examples, a few of which people chipped in over on my Mastodon the other day, feel free to explore. And big thanks to those who contributed – I had many laughs and I’m super grateful.

On top of this, it’s worth noting that one of the things the outgoing Tory government chose to do with its last dying breaths was rail against trans people – presumably under the misguided belief that doing so might help them stave off total collapse. Bullshit culture-war rhetoric about toilets and penises and ‘gender ideology’ in schools were a core part of the flailing incompetence the Conservatives called a ‘campaign’ and… look where it fucking got them. While it’s definitely arguable that a lot of natural transphobes will have found a home with Reform (I’ll process my wild-eyed terror about how many votes those cunts got later), it’s also worth noting that with Reform’s campaign focusing mostly on common-or-garden racism, the Conservatives were the most vocally transphobic party. And they just got utterly spanked. Hooray!

Let’s just sit for a second with this, injecting it into our veins and revelling in the high of it for a moment… aaaaah. Lovely. Good.

Sadly, now, it’s bad news time.

Transphobia in the Labour Party

The UK’s new Health Secretary is Wes Streeting. Over the last few years he’s said things like “Don’t shut down JK Rowling in the trans debate!” and suggested trans people shouldn’t be admitted to single-sex wards in hospitals that match their gender. Rosie Duffield – notoriously one of the ‘gender critical’ gang – kept her seat. Louise Haigh – new transport Secretary – is on record as saying she wants the Labour Party to be a ‘safe space’ for gender critical views. Our new Prime Minister, Keir Starmer, has taken such a troubling approach that when he wrote a pre-election editorial piece for Attitude, they didn’t feel they could run it without wrapping it in some important context. They noted that Starmer had told The Times that trans women don’t have the right to access women’s only spaces, that he ‘respects’ JK Rowling’s views, and that he is not in favour of gender ‘ideology’ being taught in schools.

As Darren Styles says in the blistering Attitude introduction to Keir’s piece:

“It’s not for us to report the weather as others would tell it, but to look outside. And for our trans siblings the skies have rarely been darker.”

So while it’s absolutely fucking fantastic to see so many Tories being humiliated, and I am beyond ecstatic to see just how pathetic a reception the “Party of Women” received for their naked transphobia (naked so that they can thoroughly inspect everyone’s genitals, amirite?!), that doesn’t mean the UK has become a human rights haven. Someone from outside the UK asked me on Mastodon if this meant our country had taken a turn towards the left and my answer was, ‘sadly no.’ I think the country turned away from the venal, self-serving, pocket-lining, Etonian vandals of the Conservative Party, but they haven’t really turned towards the left so much as thrown their votes at ‘anyone but those guys.’ As mentioned above, many voted for outright racism. And although I’m over the moon to see the Green Party pick up tonnes more support, the Labour Party which now holds power isn’t a ‘left wing’ party in any sense that I understand. This is a party that whipped its MPs to vote against a ceasefire in Gaza, backed down from plans to protect worker’s rights, and is currently echoing a lot of the immigration rhetoric we hear from the far right. There are still far too many causes for deep concern, and personally one of the things that makes me sick with worry about our new government is the way so many of them are comfortably joining the extremists in debating trans rights in ways that are dangerous and dehumanising.

Trans people are not an ‘issue’ or a ‘debate’, they are people. I’d have expected far far better of the Labour Party than for them to pander to this kind of bigotry, and certainly hoped that they’d discipline those in their midst who are spouting openly discriminatory and genuinely dangerous rhetoric. But my hopes and expectations are not really relevant: the landscape is what it is. And I suspect that many of you lot reading, like me, now have a Labour MP who has some power to influence senior party leaders and generally stand up for trans rights.

So: how are they going to do that?

As the saying goes: in an election you aren’t choosing your representatives, you’re choosing your opponents. And while I’d rather have a Labour opponent than a Conservative one, we will need to fight hard to get the leadership to listen when it comes to ensuring the rights and safety of trans people. Personally, I have a brand new MP whose views I’m not yet familiar with. So once I’ve finished laughing at the downfall of the Tory Party, and the utter humiliation of the “Party of Women”, the first port of call will be to drop them an email – ask where they stand, and let them know where I stand as well.

Maybe you’d like to do the same: you can find out how to contact your MP on this website. Naturally there’s lots more to do than just send an email – calling out transphobia where we see it, supporting our trans friends, lovers and relatives as they deal with whatever awful shit the UK has in store next, joining marches and demonstrations, sharing and donating to trans charities, etc. But in the short term, it’s easy for us all to get in touch with our MPs, check where they stand on trans rights, and make it explicitly clear that their success will be measured at least in part by how well they manage to advocate for them while in office. Maybe ask what they’re doing to tackle the rise in transphobic hate crime. How they’re going to work to ensure trans people in the UK get the healthcare that they need. Perhaps you could encourage them to contact senior members of the new government to ask why their rhetoric has taken such an alarming shift away from equality and towards bigotry.

You can also, if you fancy it, draw their attention to the Party of Women. These are the people who overtly expressed the views to which Labour leaders are pandering when they engage in the kind of rhetoric that Keir Starmer did in The Times. And despite their alarming and disproportionate influence, when the Party of Women went to the polls with a ‘gender critical’ message, asking the general public to lend their support to explicitly transphobic policies, the general public responded: Nope. Lol. Lmao.




If you’re a trans person living in the UK and you’d like to write something about this (or indeed about literally anything at all) – hit me up for a guest blog

1 Comment

  • SpaceCaptainSmith says:

    I’m totally with you on this issue, but I don’t share your sense of joy here.

    I’ve never heard of the ‘Party of Women’ before, but it seems their policies on trans rights are barely distinguishable from those of the Conservative Party (or Reform). There was clearly no need for a party when their views are already well expressed by the mainstream parties. Once the Tories elect a new leader, they’ll probably be even more rightwing and embrace these policies completely. The frontrunner is Kemi Badenoch, which is not encouraging.

    And as for Labour, you set out yourself above how pathetically disappointing their main figures have been on this issue.

    Admittedly a lot of new MPs have just been elected, whose views aren’t known yet. I hope many of them will be open to more humane policies towards trans people, and the government can be gradually pushed in the right direction as you suggest. But I’m not about to start celebrating just yet. Given how Labour have shifted to the right under Starmer on this and other issues, I fear that things are going to keep getting worse for a long time before they get better.

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