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Anti-trans ‘gender-critical feminists’ claim being turfed out of London bar violated their human rights

Vic Parsons December 11, 2019
Gender-critical feminist

Anne Ruzylo pictured at the National Theatre bar in July, before being asked to leave. (Twitter/@DadRogd)

Two “gender-critical feminists” who were kicked out of London’s National Theatre bar for “abusive behaviour” have launched legal action and say that being asked to leave violated their human rights.

Dr Julia Long and Anne Ruzylo were part of a group of around 15 people who were refused service and asked to leave the National Theatre’s Green Room bar on July 5.

Lisa Burger, the National Theatre’s joint chief executive, issued a statement at the time saying that the women had provoked “a series of disturbances” culminating in “abusive behaviour towards our staff”, corroborated by witnesses.

It is also alleged that the group refused to put placards bearing anti-trans slogans – like “transing children is abuse” – out of sight.

But Long and Ruzylo dispute this, and have sent the National Theatre a legal letter claiming that they were refused service because they are lesbians and alleging that this was discrimination.

The pair say it was a violation of their human rights to be ejected from the bar.

The group at the National Theatre bar in July included people wearing t-shirts bearing the words “Women = adult human female”, a phrase considered by many to be a transphobic dogwhistle.

‘Gender critical feminist’ group had been protesting conference on LGBT+ inclusion in schools.

Long and Ruzylo’s group had spent the day protesting a Stonewall conference on LGBT+ inclusion in primary schools, youth groups and colleges.

The human-sized placards they were carrying bore messages like “Lesbian visibility”, “Children need therapy not puberty blockers, hormones and surgery” and “Transing children is abuse”.

After protesting about LGBT+ inclusion in schools and prior to going to the Green Room bar, the group posed for a photo carrying their placards next to a poster for the Southbank Centre’s Kiss My Genders exhibition – which predominantly featured work by transgender artists – which they called “creepy”.

National Theatre calls claim ‘baseless’.

According to the crowdfunding page for their legal fees, Long and Ruzylo were “shocked and alarmed” at being asked to leave the National Theatre bar.

Long told PinkNews: “A member of the waiting staff approached our table and questioned women about the t-shirts they were wearing, which stated ‘Lesbian – a woman who loves other women’.

“Following that conversation – which was perfectly civil, and entirely instigated by the member of the waiting staff – we were told that we would not be served, and that we would have to leave.

“The discrimination we experienced… was truly chilling. This blatant anti-lesbian discrimination cannot go unchallenged, which is why Anne Ruzylo and I are taking the case. We hope that the National Theatre do the decent thing, admit that they were wrong, and apologise.”

A spokesperson for the National Theatre said: “We embrace and celebrate diversity in all its forms, and will always do what we must to ensure that all customers and staff are treated with dignity and respect.

“The threatened claim is baseless and will be defended vigorously.”

What is a ‘gender-critical feminist’?

Ruzylo is a former member of the Bexhill and Battle Labour party, while Long is a researcher in the field of male violence against women.

But they are perhaps best known for being prominent voices of “gender-critical feminism” in the UK.

This small but vocal group supposedly exists to highlight how women’s rights are threatened by reforming the Gender Recognition Act – the mechanism by which trans people can update the gender on their birth certificate – but is perhaps more commonly associated with attempting to portray trans people as predatory, easily offended and deceptive.

Now, Long and Ruzylo have sent a letter threatening legal action to the National Theatre for refusing to serve them drinks.

Other prominent voices in “gender-critical feminism” include Graham Linehan, the Irish comedy writer who rose to public consciousness in the 90s for being a co-writer on Father Ted.

Linehan tweeted in September about Ruth Hunt – a lesbian who is the ex-CEO of LGBT+ charity Stonewall – being made a cross-bench peer in the House of Lords.

“Is Ruth Hunt the first MRA peer?” Linehan asked.

The Men’s Rights Activist (MRA) movement is anti-feminist. Elliot Rogers, one of the most infamous MRAs, killed six people and injured 14 others in 2014 before killing himself, after ranting on YouTube about the “injustice” of women not being attracted to him. Rogers also had links to violently misogynistic groups.

Links to right-wing US groups and white nationalism.

At the beginning of this year, Long went to the US with Posie Parker – a “gender-critical feminist” also known as Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull – who recently appeared in a lengthy YouTube interview with a white nationalist who has strong ties to neo-Nazis and white supremacists.

During their trip, Long and Parker confronted and harassed Sarah McBride, a trans woman who works for LGBT+ campaign group the Human Rights Campaign, before attending an event organised by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative, right-wing think-tank.

At an event organised by Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF, an anti-trans group who support employers being able to fire transgender people on the basis of their gender identity), she reportedly said: This here is a lesbian feminist space. I take it wherever. Even if it’s just me sitting here on the bench. I took it to the Heritage Foundation.”

Long is also involved with “Get the L Out”, the anti-trans group known for hijacking the front of Pride in London in 2018 that is greatly admired by right-wing, anti-abortion evangelical Christians in the US who think that homosexuality is a sin.

PinkNews has contacted Anne Ruzylo for comment.

More: Anne Ruzylo, dr julia long, Get The L Out, National Theatre, Posie Parker

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