Feminist’s poster removed after complaint from transgender activist by Lucy Bannerman in the Times 26.09.18

The original article is here.

The poster featured only six words: “Woman, women, noun, adult human female.” Yet they were still deemed too dangerous by one transgender activist who has branded the poster, which carries the dictionary definition of woman, as hate speech in an “absurd” and “Orwellian” row.

The giant poster in Liverpool quoted the definition of woman, according to the Google dictionary.

It survived for about a week before it was removed under pressure from Adrian Harrop, a Twitter activist and NHS doctor, who complained that it made transgender people feel unsafe.

Within hours the company issued an apology to Mr Harrop, who is not transgender. It promised to remove the offending poster as soon as possible, and offered a mea culpa saying that the “copy did not raise a red flag the way it should have done”.

Its decision was lambasted by the feminist blogger behind the campaign, who accused the company of breaching her contract and of showing “cowardice” in the face of social media criticism. “We’re in a new realm of misogyny when the word ‘woman’ becomes hate speech,” said Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull, a mother of four who blogs under the name Posie Parker.

She raised £700 to put up the poster for 14 days, coinciding with the Labour Party conference in the city. “I wanted it to be a conversation starter but this is a new level of absurd,” she said.

The government is consulting on expanding the legal definition of a woman so that it includes biological males who declare themselves to be female. The move is supported by transgender activists who say that trans women are women and that those who do not agree are bigots.

However, critics argue that allowing people to self-declare their legal gender will have unintended consequences, such as distorting statistics and rendering employers’ gender pay gap reports meaningless. They have also warned it will create potentially dangerous loopholes that will be exploited by men, who may or may not be transgender, to gain access to single-sex spaces such as refuges and prisons.

Mrs Keen-Minshull, 44, said the poster’s removal was Orwellian. “I find it far more sinister and pernicious than the old-fashioned sexism where the guy at the garage is surprised I know anything about engines. I’d take that guy any day over the Twitter troll who thinks I don’t know what a woman is.

“If the word ‘woman’ can mean anything, then women lose their sex-based protections and nobody is protected. Women are getting really, really fed up. Every single organisation that capitulates, paves the way for the next one to do the same. This is what trans activists do. This is how they silence women. I hope this will help people wake up to what’s going on.”

Mr Harrop, 31, a GP registrar who lives with his husband in Sunderland, denied trying to silence anyone, saying he is not an activist. Asked why he found the meaning of the word “woman” so offensive, he said: “It really isn’t the dictionary definition itself, it’s the motivation behind it. That poster creates an environment of hostility for trans women and makes them frightened.

“This is a reminder to them that this transphobic hate group is observing them and scrutinising their presence in public life. It creates an atmosphere that makes transgender citizens of Liverpool feel unsafe and unwelcome in their own city. They walk through life in a state of heightened vulnerability, feeling that people are watching them, looking at their appearance, conduct and every single aspect of their life and this poster only serves to exacerbate and inflame that feeling.”

He denied that he was depriving Mrs Keen-Minshull of free speech: “She has freedom of speech but so do I.”