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Mumsnet takes stance on anti-trans posts: ‘We believe in free speech’

Jess Glass June 13, 2018

The new guidelines were announced on Wednesday (Creative Commons)

Parenting forum Mumsnet has issued a new policy following recent anti-trans posts to the platform, stressing “free speech and civil debate.”

The UK-based internet forum has come under criticism over the past few months after a surge in anti-trans rhetoric on the site, led primarily by anti-trans feminist activists who often use the platform to organise campaigns against transgender rights.

Following a flood of recent criticism of the platform, including after users allegedly called for a ‘new Section 28’ for transgender people, Mumsnet has now issued a new moderation policy for the site.

On Wednesday, co-founder and CEO of Mumsnet Justine Roberts issued a statement regarding the posts, which has included mass criticism of several prominent trans people and allies, as well as the organisation of several controversial events.

Gender-critical campaigners recently ‘identified as men’ at a men’s pool in protest (ANDREW COWIE/AFP/Getty Images)

In the statement, Roberts announced a new moderation policy for posts discussing trans issues.

The statement begins: “Mumsnet will always stand in solidarity with vulnerable or oppressed minorities.

“Mumsnet is also committed to freedom of speech.

“Sometimes these two principles come into conflict, rarely more so than in the recent debate about what it is acceptable to say, or not to say, about trans people, and changing opinions about gender and sex.”

Mumsnet CEO and Co-Founder Justine Roberts (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Roberts then revealed new guidelines which highlight the importance of free speech on the platform, including the discussion of “biology and scientific evidence” in relation to trans people.

“We don’t allow posts which are derogatory or aggressive towards trans people.”

The statement then said that the new guidelines protected both trans people and self-titled gender-critical feminists, who often deny the existence of transgender people.

The third guideline reads: “Sweeping negative generalisations about any group, including trans people and gender-critical feminists, won’t be tolerated.”

Mumsnet stated that they stand in solidarity with vulnerable minorities (Creative Commons)

Roberts then stated that Mumsnet will not be issuing a blanket ban on certain offensive terms, but instead would continue to review them on a case by case basis.

The new policy went on to say that users who used the incorrect pronouns for transgender people or referred to trans women as “trans identified males” would likely find their posts deleted.

However, this policy will likely also apply to users who used terms such as cisgender or TERF, an acronym for trans-exclusionary radical feminist.

The statement said: “Many feminists are affronted by the term ‘cis’ and ‘terf’, so using these terms will make civil debate less likely.

“We do not want Mumsnet to be a place that feels inherently hostile to any group, be that trans people, gender-critical feminists or anyone else (except perhaps trolls).”

Trans rights campaigners during a Pride march (MARVIN RECINOS/AFP/Getty Images)

The statement has been criticised by many people, including multiple Mumsnet users who began to look for alternative ways to describe trans women without calling them women.

Trans campaigners and allies have also hit out at the policy, with many criticising the inclusion of the word cisgender in the guidance.

Prominent Labour activist Lily Madigan was one of the people criticising the new policy on Wednesday.

Madigan is often a target of abuse on the platform (@madigan_lily / Twitter)

She wrote: “Mumsnet are going to delete and ban anyone referring to trans women by the wrong pronouns, using a former name or referring to us as ‘trans identified males’ but will also do the same for anyone who uses ‘cis.’

“Talk about a false equivalence.”

Cisgender, or cis for short, simply means a person whose gender identity corresponds with their assigned sex.

In comparison, the term ‘trans-identified males’ is used to refer to trans women without acknowledging them as women, and is seen to be grossly offensive.

More: anti-trans, feminism, free speech, LGBT rights, Mumsnet, Trans, trans rights, Transgender

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