Friday, 23 January 2015

My view of Green Party candidate Rupert Read's "apology".

Rupert Read, Green Party candidate for Cambridge in the upcoming general election has issued a so-called 'apology' to trans people for 'offending' them with his transphobic comments. Now I am offended. His original comments I considered dangerous and potentially harmful to trans people but his non-apology has offended me for the first time.

These are his words;

“But I also remain a very strong backer of feminism. All that I have done is join many feminists in saying that it is up to women, not anyone else  – and certainly not me – to decide who gets let into women-only spaces, such as women’s toilets. All women have a right to be involved in making those decisions.”

I am offended that he thinks trans people are stupid enough not to see through his non-apology, that we are going to accept him basically saying 

"I am sorry I got called out on being a transphobe but here are some more reasons why I think trans people should be discriminated against"

Trans people are used to people pretending to be trans allies while endorsing a view of trans people that is based on transphobic discrimination. That is the way his 'apology', covered in PinkNews yesterday reads to me. To me he regards trans women as not women. That is a TERF position. He thinks that 'women' should decide where trans women can go to the toilet; in other words trans women are not women. Sorry Rupe, I decide where I relieve myself not a bunch of transphobes. The most chilling phrase in this quote is "many feminists". The only "feminists" saying trans women should not be allowed into women's loos are TERFs. This part of his statement is in my opinion very revealing, in my opinion he is parroting a TERF point of view.

A few years ago I published a historical deconstruction of the so-called 'toilet debate' and Rupert would do well to have a look at it. It explains why access to public conveniences is a human and civil rights issue. In essence removing trans women's right to use the toilet of their choice is both oppressive and in effect denies us the right to have jobs and take part in civic life, in the way that women were denied the right to take part in civic life in the early 19th century by the lack of public toilets for women. What Rupert Read is proposing would, in effect lead to the same thing.

The implication from his non-apology, that trans women are not women also needs to be challenged. Trans women are not going to be subjugated, as most TERFs want, into the place of being some kind of "2nd class women." Down that road lies marginalisation, exclusion, discrimination and further oppression for trans women. 

In my opinion his non-apology yesterday should be read like this;

"I am not going to say any more about this because my attitudes are transphobic and I will get called out on them but I think trans women are not women and 'real' women should decide whether they get to use the ladies or not which would, in effect, make it impossible for trans people to engage in civil life or have a job."

In my view this is probably the worst thing he could have said and it leaves the Green Party with a problem. The Green Party has, for a long time criticised other parties for being less trans inclusive that them although this is changing rapidly now.  This is why this is important; it is one of the Greens' USPs and one they have pushed to trans and trans allies in the electorate for a long time. 

Not only that but Rupert Read is apparently supported by Cambridge Young Greens which suggests this is not just a one-off/maverick situation, as they originally argued. I would also argue that the fact that Rupert Read can get away with making the statement he did yesterday suggests that he does not feel he will get in trouble with his party for holding such views. That may be more indicative of how things are in the Green Party in relation to trans inclusion. The question that needs asking now should be, is the Green Party trans inclusion policy genuine or only skin deep?

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