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Liverpool mayor passes ‘trans women are women’ motion, despite anti-trans resistance

Ella Braidwood September 20, 2018

After an anti-trans billboard and “women don’t have penises” stickers were put up in Liverpool, the city’s council has approved a motion in support of trans people—with mayor Joe Anderson defiantly showing solidarity with the trans community.

The cross-party motion was unanimously passed on Wednesday night (September 19), which states that the council believes “TRANS WOMEN ARE WOMEN” and that “there is no place in our city for hatred and bigotry.”

It proposes five points of action, including that the city’s street cleaners continue to any remove anti-trans stickers seen around the Liverpool and that, on a scheduled weekend, for the town hall—and, where possible, other public buildings—to be lit up in the trans colours of blue, white and pink.

The “Standing With Our Trans Community” motion also requests that the council’s planning officers “actively encourage” developers and businesses to include individual gender-neutral toilets in public buildings.

It comes after a billboard, paid for by supporters of anti-trans group Standing For Women, was put up in Gredington Street in the Dingle area of the city on September 14.

Standing For Women regularly posts transphobic content on social media and opposes the government’s proposed reforms to the Gender Recognition Act 2004, which is currently out for consultation.

The government has said it wants to de-medicalise the process to legally change genders, moving towards self-identification, which is used in other countries like the Republic of Ireland.

The installation of the billboard—displaying the Oxford English Dictionary definition of a “woman” as an “adult human female”—comes after a number of phallic-shaped stickers stating “women don’t have penises” were plastered across the Crosby Beach area by another anti-trans group called Liverpool ReSisters.

On Wednesday (September 19), Anderson posted a photo of a transgender pride flag flying above Liverpool Town Hall, writing: “The #Transgender #pride Flag flying over the Town Hall today to show our support for the trans community in #Liverpool and around the world.”

Anderson flew a trans pride flag above Liverpool Town Hall. (mayor_anderson/Twitter)

And, at Wednesday night’s council meeting, Anderson made an impassioned speech condemning the anti-trans action taken by Liverpool ReSisters, which also spoke at the event.

The motion was proposed by councillors Harry Doyle, Richard Kemp, Paul Kenyon, Anna Key, Lindsay Melia, Steve Radford and Hetty Wood.

“This council, or [rather] this chamber, have united against the behaviour of the ReSisters in defacing public art in what I believe to be, and I am proud to state, that was done in a hateful way,” Anderson said.

“And it resulted, not only in transgender groups, [but also] individuals, including me, councillor Doyle and others, being subjected to a torrent of abuse.”

He added: “That isn’t about equality. That isn’t about fairness. That isn’t about having an open and deep debate. That’s about bullying, and it’s about intimidation, and it’s about proposing hate against people that are different. That’s something that every single person in this council rejects.”

Anderson, whose speech was met with applause and a standing ovation from council members, also said he would not meet with Liverpool ReSisters until the group stopped its “abuse of members of this community that we respect, value and love.”

Anti-trans group Liverpool ReSisters recently distributed “women don’t have penises” stickers in the Crosby Beach area.(LiverpoolReSis1/Twitter)

Responding to the billboard on Gredington Street, a spokesperson for women’s rights group Liverpool Intersectional Feminists criticised Standing For Women for its anti-trans stance.

“Unlike the creators of this billboard, we include all women, whether cisgender or transgender, in our feminism,” the spokesperson said.

“We would, however, agree that adult human females are women. Where we disagree is that we strongly believe that this includes trans women.”

The spokesperson added: “We welcome Liverpool City Council’s inclusive stance on this issue and call on the council to take further action to support trans communities in Liverpool.

“Trans people suffer from disproportionate levels of homelessness and unemployment, an issue that housing associations and councils, which provide housing, often fail to recognise.”

Liverpool Intersectional Feminists said that a number of pro-trans posters—designed by illustrator Carol Rossetti—had been stuck up below the billboard.

A number of pro-trans posters have been put up below the billboard. (Liverpool Intersectional Feminists/Facebook)

Sarah Brown, a trans campaigner and member of Stonewall’s Trans Advisory Group, told PinkNews that the Liverpool mayor’s “display of solidarity…is important at a time when trans people are being made to feel under siege in the UK.”

She continued: “The billboard strikes me as odd. As a trans woman, I am an ‘adult human female,’ as they put it, although that phrasing seems a bit dehumanising to all women.

“I think the billboard really only appeals to people who already agree inhabit their transphobic echo chamber. It’s really navel gazing.”

Speaking to PinkNews, a spokesperson for Standing For Women said that its actions were to highlight what it perceived to be a threat to the language used in relation to women.

“The purpose of the campaign, and by virtue this billboard, is to raise consciousness about the importance of language around women, and how swiftly some would like to see it obliterated and rendered meaningless,” the spokesperson said.

“Without language to define us we cease to have any rights of any value or meaning. ‘Women’s rights’ would encompass anyone and therefore protect no-one.

“Women are adult human females and we are proud to assert this in plain black and white. As for the Mayor? I’m sure he has personal reasons to beacon his virtue above the city hall, I just hope it doesn’t cost the city too much in this age of austerity.”

As well as in Liverpool, anti-trans organisations have distributed similar “women don’t have penises” stickers in cities across the UK, including in London and Manchester.

In August, trans campaigners hit-out at anti-trans “bigots” after multiple “women don’t have penises” stickers were found across the capital, including on Stonewall’s office building.

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