Sexual abuse support group barraged with hate after inviting transgender survivor to speak
A sexual assault support group in New Zealand has been barraged with abuse from anti-transgender campaigners.
The Wellington Sexual Abuse HELP group, which has been running since 1985, came under attack online after convening a panel to speak about the #MeToo movement at their annual general meeting on Wednesday.
The group had invited scientist Sally Dellow, a transgender woman and a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, as one of the six speakers on the panel.
Conor Twyford, the chief executive of Wellington Sexual Abuse HELP, explained that after the panel was announced earlier in October, the group faced a “barrage of attacks” from anti-transgender activists across the world.
Writing for The Spinoff, she explained: “Almost immediately after the post went public the abuse began. For five days, right across Labour Weekend, a team of four of us worked to moderate the post – hiding, and in some cases blocking and deleting – comment after comment after nasty comment. ”
Twyford states that the post was targeted by anti-trans activists from the United States, the UK and Ireland, while Wellington locals “pushed back” and filled the page “with loving, supportive comments for Sally.”
She continued: “Anti-trans activists claim they are concerned to keep women’s spaces safe. It’s true that for decades feminists have fought for women’s spaces to be kept safe, for women’s voices to break through. These gains have been hard won.
“But they will not be lost by including trans women in women’s spaces, which in fact they have already been part of for many years. It’s distressing to see these attempts to obscure that history.”
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Two of the most prominent women to come forward as part of the #MeToo movement, Jeffrey Tambor’s accusers Trace Lysette and Van Barnes, are transgender.
In a statement, Wellington Sexual Abuse HELP said: “Wellington Sexual Abuse HELP Foundation is proud to support the transgender, non-binary, intersex, and genderqueer community.
“Sexual abuse happens to women, men, and all gender identities. We aim to provide an important service to support all survivors of sexual assault, regardless of gender identity. The diverse range of speakers we have lined up for our AGM panel discussion are reflective of this.”
“Our Facebook page is not a platform for sharing transphobic views – if we receive these they will be deleted,” the statement added.