Unite boss Len McCluskey has signed a letter accusing transgender campaigners of “violent” behaviour and “systematic” actions against women’s movements.
McCluskey, the most powerful union boss in the country and a close ally of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, signed the letter in today’s Morning Star, in the week that the government launched a consultation on proposals to reform the 2004 Gender Recognition Act (GRA) to make it easier to change the gender on their birth certificates.
The letter, organised by a group of ‘gender critical’ campaigners who have lobbied against reforms to the Gender Recognition Act, accuses “violent” trans campaigners of attempting to “intimidate” women.
It accuses transgender campaigners of leading “systematic attempts to shut down meetings organised by women at which they can discuss potential legislative changes and the impact these may have on any sex-based rights already enshrined in law”.
It claims: “They draw the whole of our progressive movement into disrepute.
“Some trans rights activists even continue to justify the use of violence, meaning that many women are simply too frightened to attend meetings that are both public and lawful in order that they may discuss their own rights.”
It claims that women “are also now anxious and fearful that they will be subjected to such attacks when engaging in any political activity, meetings, or protests.”
Many of the other signatories of the letter are heavily involved in the movement that has built up in opposition to transgender rights.
The letter was signed by outspoken Fire Brigade Union official Paul Embery, who was accused of “inciting hatred” by a trans firefighter when he claimed of the reforms: “Coming next: short people may identify as tall, fat people may identify as thin, and ugly people may pretend to be George Clooney.”
“There’s something Orwellian about allowing someone to insert a lie on their birth certificate & forcing society to accept the lie as truth.”
The letter was also signed by columnist Julie Bindel, who has claimed that treating transgender children is “playing politics with children’s lives”, and has written: “I don’t have a problem with men disposing of their genitals, but it does not make them women, in the same way that shoving a bit of vacuum hose down your 501s does not make you a man.”
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Other signatories include Kiri Tunks, an education union chief who helped set up pressure group Woman’s Place UK, which campaigns to exclude transgender women from women-only spaces.
At a Woman’s Place UK event last year transgender women were branded “horrible, hateful, misogynistic bastards” by a speaker.
McCluskey confirmed: “I’ve signed this letter in today’s [Morning Star] calling for action within our movement to improve the climate of debate around proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act. Please read it to the end. There’s no place for intimidation on this issue.”
He added: “Let’s be clear, I oppose all hate crime including against trans people.
“Our conference debate is this afternoon, including an exec statement that I’m proud has been drawn up by Unite’s national women’s and LGBT committees together, with consultation, discussion and mutual respect.”
Ahead of the consultation, self-identifying ‘radical feminist’ campaigners have founded pressure groups Fair Play for Women, Man Friday and Women’s Place UK, to claim that reforms to the GRA will put women “at risk” from transgender people entering women’s spaces.
Under the separate 2010 Equality Act, transgender people are already entitled to freedom from discrimination based on the gender the identify with – regardless of whether they have obtained a Gender Recognition Certificate via the GRA.
There are no plans to amend the Equality Act, which already contains specific exemptions allowing safeguards for single-sex spaces such as women’s refuges.