Trans group ATH ‘condones punching feminists’ by James Gillespie in The Times 24.09.17

The original article is here.

A transgender campaign group that gave evidence to an influential parliamentary committee has publicly supported violence against women.

Members of Action for Trans Health (ATH) have issued a series of incendiary statements on social media since its supporters were involved in an attack on a 60-year-old woman in London’s Hyde Park on September 13.

The victim, Maria MacLachlan, suffered bruising after being punched by an activist widely identified on social media as Tara Flik Wood, 28, a courier who lives in London. MacLachlan was with a group of feminists who were planning to hold a meeting about gender identity.

Unlike MacLachlan and her group, ATH believes that anyone who self-identifies as a woman — without having undergone transition surgery — should be allowed to use women-only spaces such as changing rooms. The ATH extremists refer to MacLachlan and women who hold similar views as “trans-exclusionary radical feminists”, or Terfs.

Jess Bradley was a member of ATH’s executive committee when she gave evidence on gender equality to the women and equalities select committee in 2015.

The committee’s report recommended updating legislation to allow “self-declaration” of gender identity and to “de-medicalise” it — which is now part of a consultation launched by the government on the Gender Recognition Bill.

The Hyde Park violence has triggered the setting up of a new feminist group, Woman’s Place UK, whose co-founder Kiri Tunks said she was “horrified” by the incident.

“We need to be able to discuss this in a respectful way. Women need reserved places and separate spaces. Women’s voices must be heard.”

The trans extremists, however, appear unlikely to listen. After the attack ATH’s Edinburgh branch sent out a series of tweets defending the use of violence: “punching terfs is the same as punching Nazis. Fascism must be smashed with the greatest violence to ensure our collective liberation from it”, and “violence against terfs is always self defense”.

Bradley tweeted, “Terfs are using Nazi tactics. Don’t let it work”, and directed readers to a blog that supported the violence. The ATH account retweeted her message.

A group of 22 women including the gay activist Linda Bellos, the author Bea Campbell and the Labour peer Baroness Prosser have condemned the incident in Hyde Park.

“Violence against women is always wrong. Attempts to minimise or justify this violence . . . are deeply worrying,” they wrote.

Bradley, who is the trans officer for the National Union of Students (NUS), told The Sunday Times she no longer works for the group.

“Anything I say is not the official line of ATH. I retweeted a blog from an angry woman who had written about it. I was not there [when the attack happened]. I do not want to say anything because of the amount of harassment that has come my way because my name is on the ATH website,” she said.

The NUS declined to comment.

ATH said it was “a feminist organisation that works with many other feminist organisations . . . Our values mean opposing both misogynistic and transphobic violence.”

The London branch said it had organised the “action” and regretted “that individuals from both sides were hurt during the altercation”.

Wood did not respond to a request for comment.

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