I'd always classed myself as a radical feminist, and in the past I'd received a lot of response for my views on sex and opposition to decriminalisation, and my anti-pornography stance. This discourse all started when I put a tweet out in support of Laura Pidcock, who was receiving a lot of abuse for her comments about women's right to same sex only spaces.
I received a lot of response to this from people who vehemently disagreed with me in the replies, but interestingly I got a lot of private messages from young women expressing their support for me. I found it very sad that these young women felt unable to express their support for me publicly due to a fear of being piled on and labelled a transphobe by fellow party members and friends, and I also empathised with them, as I understand the fear around speaking out over views which are deemed unacceptable by some of the left, particularly young members. I put out a series of other tweets around this issue, saying that I had received a number of messages from young women, and that they should not be cowed in speaking out about their own sex based oppression.
The tweet that got the most response was one that read "Only men could spend thousands of years oppressing women then put on a bit of eyeliner and make out they're more oppressed. If you want spaces, lobby for them to be created, don't encroach upon women's. This is rank misogyny." The tweet was referring to men who co-opt the status of trans women in order to enter their spaces and abuse them, such as in the case of Karen White, who did just that.
The point of highlighting these cases is not to demonise trans women as predators or abusers, but to show that the concept of self-ID is dangerous, as it allows a small minority of predatory men to abuse the system and pose a danger to women, particularly vulnerable women in prisons and refuges. The tweet likely didn't effectively communicate that nuance, and I accept that it may have been perceived as making light of the gender dysphoria and difficult transition processes which trans women have to go through.
As I made clear subsequently, I feel a great deal of sympathy for trans women (and of course trans men) who suffer from gender dysphoria and have to go through the difficult experience of transitioning. I do not believe that trans women are men, however I also do not believe that trans women are women - they are different to women and have different experiences than biological women.
Misgendering genuine trans people is not something that anyone should do - addressing someone by their preferred name and pronouns is basic manners, BUT I do not recognise predatory men such as Karen White as trans women, and it is important to recognise them for what they are, and to protect women and their rights to same sex only spaces.
Over the last week I have had responses which on the most extreme end of the spectrum say that I should be attacked if anyone sees me in the street, that I deserve to be killed, and that I should be raped by a trans women so that I can understand "that females can have penises."
People have called for me to be kicked out of the Labour Party for having a different opinion to them - the most ironic of which was Dr Adrian Harrop (ironic because he has only just recently joined the party from the Tories). I've had people making hurtful comments about my physical appearance, saying that I look like a skeleton (this is significant because I have been open about my struggles with body image and disordered eating), as well as casting prejudiced assumptions on my mental health.
The creepiest and most bizarre claim that was made was that I had lied about attending a failing secondary school - though I attended an outstanding school for sixth form, I attended an extremely deprived and failing school from years 7-11; the account who made these claims subsequently deleted their tweets, but not before over 600 people had interacted with it, which shows how easy it is to lie about women on the internet. Not only this but googling my name is frankly creepy and bizarre behaviour, and shows a level of obsession with women who express gender critical views.
On the other end of the spectrum, I've of course had choruses of people calling me a "TERF", a term I take issue with, not because it is necessarily inaccurate, but because it is a term that is often used to shut down discussion. It's a dirty word used to try to silence women who speak out about their own sex based oppression; we see the same with feminist women who are anti-porn and sex work, who are labelled as 'SWERFS' to try and shut down discussion of those issues.
My issue with these words is that they are often used to demonise and dehumanise women who engage in pretty standard feminist analysis of the impact of allowing biological males into women's spaces - the most shocking responses to me read "TERFs can suck on my girl dick - preferably choke on it" and "I'm not into mass murder but I'll commit TERF genocide if I have to", and when I quoted Germaine Greer as one of my influences, someone responded "hope someone slits Greer's saggy TERF throat."
This level of violence and abuse directed at women is frankly shocking and shows that a lot of the use of the term "TERF" is rooted in misogyny. It is very interesting that a lot of the response I have received--though it's important to note that I have also received disagreement from women--has been from men, and I do wonder to what extent the term "TERF" is a way for men to put women in their place under the guise of activism.
I don't necessarily think the left have a problem with misogyny, but I am deeply worried that the leadership are capitulating to people who will call them bigots if they do not respect women's right to same sex only spaces and, in doing so, failing to listen to the voices of women, and losing their votes in the process. Women need to be able to talk about their sex based oppression without facing abuse - women are oppressed for their biology and we can't be scared of saying this. Much of this discourse seems to be based around misogyny and lesbophobia, and I find it deeply worrying.