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MSPs invite academic who brands trans women ‘parasites’ to speak on Transgender Day of Remembrance

Vic Parsons November 20, 2019
Trans Day of Remembrance

Labour MSP Jenny Marra (left) and SNP MSP Joan McAlpine (right). (Getty Images)

Two politicians invited notorious anti-trans academics – one of whom calls trans women “parasites” – to speak at the Scottish parliament on International Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Leading feminist organisations in Scotland swiftly united in their condemnation of the event, which was organised by SNP MSP Joan McAlpine and Labour MSP Jenny Marra.

It is not clear whether McAlpine or Marra was aware of the significance of the date, and the event has now been postponed until the new year.

As first reported on November 6 by Common Space, the event was set up to promote the new “Declaration on Women’s Sex-Based Rights”.

The declaration, first introduced earlier this year in New York, follows the launch of the SNP’s “Women’s Pledge” in October.

McAlpine and Marra had invited three prominent anti-trans feminists – Dr Heather Brunskell-Evans, co-editor of ‘Inventing Transgender Children’; Maureen O’Hara, a lecturer in law at Coventry University who has previously appeared on panels that have been branded “transphobic”; and Dr Sheila Jeffreys, an Australian academic who wrote a book about the alleged threat to women’s rights from “transgenderism” – to speak at the event.

Dr Jeffreys also spoke at an event at Westminster in 2018, during which she claimed that trans women ‘parasitically occupy’ women’s bodies.

‘Gender-critical feminist’ previously invited to Holyrood by Joan McAlpine.

In 2011, Jeffreys told “gender critical” Canadian feminist Meghan Murphy in a podcast interview that: “The problem with transgenderism, which is obviously an expression of men’s sexual rights as well of course – it’s very much about the right to be sexually excited by female clothing, and subordination and so on – [is that] the subordination of women has to be supported in order for transgenderism to be supported.”

Murphy, who says she is banned from Twitter for her comments on trans issues, was previously invited by McAlpine to speak at the Scottish Parliament, which saw trans allies in Scotland turn out to protest against her.

A banner for the SNP’s “Women’s Pledge”. (Twitter)

LGBT+ organisations write to MSP’s about the declaration.

The day after it came to light that prominent anti-trans feminists would be speaking at the Scottish Parliament on Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR), five of Scotland’s biggest LGBT+ organisations wrote to MSP’s pleading with them to “stand up for women’s rights AND trans rights”.

The letter, seen by PinkNews, addresses the “Declaration on Women’s Sex-Based Rights”, highlighting that the declaration focuses not on women’s rights but on trans people: “Many factors affect women’s rights and underpin misogyny, but the circulated Declaration focusses almost entirely on the recognition of trans people’s gender identity, as if it was the key issue.”

“The Declaration repeatedly refers to trans women as men, and calls on governments to treat trans people in all law, policies and practices only as the sex they were registered at birth,” the letter – which was signed by Stonewall Scotland, Scottish Trans Alliance, LGBT Health and Wellbeing, Equality Network and LGBT Youth Scotland – continues.

“To implement this Declaration would mean repealing the Gender Recognition Act 2004… it would also mean all employers and service providers treating trans women as men, and trans men as women, which would be a direct breach of UK and EU equality law,” the letter said.

Anti-trans groups including LGB Alliance have signed declaration.

The declaration has reportedly been organised by an “international activist organisation” called Women’s Human Rights Campaign, which appears to primarily exist as the organisation behind the declaration.

Several well-known anti-trans groups, many of which label themselves “gender critical”, have signed the declaration, including the UK’s LGB Alliance and US “feminist” group WOLF, which is allied with right-wing and anti-abortion organisations, and recently supported the Trump administration in a case about anti-trans discrimination at the US Supreme Court.


Feminist policy organisation Engender raised serious concerns about the declaration, telling Common Space that it seems to focus on “antipathy towards trans people” rather than on women’s rights.

“This so-called ‘declaration on women’s sex-based rights’, however, doesn’t include women’s rights to housing, pay equality, access to justice, social security, education, or political representation. When it talks about violence against women, freedom of expression, and children’s rights it does so entirely through the warped lens of antipathy towards trans people,” Engender director Emma Ritch said.

“While Engender will always support the principle of women meeting to discuss their views on women’s rights, this particular event seems to be solely focused on the stigmatisation of trans people.

“We remain firm in our view that there is no conflict between women’s rights and trans rights, and that feminism should advance the equality and rights of all women in Scotland.”

Transgender Day of Remembrance is observed every year on November 20 to remember and honour those in the transgender community who have been murdered as a result of transphobia.

PinkNews contacted MSPs Jenny Marra and Joan McAlpine for comment.

More: gender recognition act, Jenny Marra, joan mcalpine, lgb alliance, meghan murphy

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