Stonewall ‘backing transgender bullies’ by Lucy Bannerman in the Times 04.10.18

The original article is here.

Stonewall, the country’s most prominent gay rights charity, has come under fire from well-known supporters for “demonising” anyone who speaks out about transgender issues.

Leading members of the lesbian, gay, transsexual and intersex community have started a petition urging the charity to rethink its transgender policy, saying that they are fed up with its refusal to recognise other viewpoints.

In a letter published in The Times today, they said that Stonewall’s advocacy of extreme transgender politics was threatening women’s rights, undermining gay and lesbian identity and stifling freedom of speech. They accused Stonewall of refusing to recognise LGBT people who oppose the hostile tactics of transgender activists.

Transgender campaigners say that they represent a vulnerable, marginalised group but critics accuse them of bullying opponents.

Signatories include Alison Moyet, the singer and longtime advocate of gay rights; Jonathan Best, former director of the Manchester festival Queer Up North; Paul Burston, the novelist and former LGBT editor of Time Out; and Philip Hensher, the Man Booker-shortlisted novelist once named Stonewall Journalist of the Year.

They said that the charity had “made mistakes” in pursuing an ideology that asserts that trans women are women and labels anyone who disagrees transphobic. They urged Ruth Hunt, Stonewall’s chief executive, to accept that allowing people to change their legal gender by simply declaring themselves male or female would conflict with women who do not wish to share single-sex spaces with biological males.

A government consultation on gender recognition law reform is due to close this month.

The petition accused the charity of undermining “the concept of homosexuality itself” by “uncritically adopting a form of transgender politics” that tells teenagers who do not conform to gender stereotypes that they may be transgender rather than gay.

The letter said: “We urge Stonewall to acknowledge . . . specifically that a conflict exists between transgenderism and sex-based women’s rights. We call on Stonewall to commit to fostering an atmosphere of respectful debate rather than demonising as transphobic those who wish to discuss, or dissent from, Stonewall’s transgender policies.”

Mr Best said that while in the past gay activists had fought for legislative equality, today’s transgender activists had “an extreme identity politics” and wanted to “redefine sex and gender for the whole of society”.

“Men are not women — and your bullying will not persuade us differently,” he said.

Stonewall declined to comment.