Sunday, 30 September 2018

Green Party Transphobia - did it ever ago away...?

My opinion of the mess that the Green party has, once again, got itself into.

The Green Party has had a troubled history when it comes to trans issues, indeed I have needed to call them out on it in the past. Recently however it has taken a turn for the worse. 

The issue of Green Party transphobia has once again been exposed by its response to Aimee Challenor's father's conviction for child-rape. This is something entirely unconnected to Aimee's status as a trans person, yet it appears to have been used by Caroline Lucas as an excuse to talk to a group that campaigns against trans rights. Let's be clear here; the issue of Aimee's father is nothing to do with her gender identity yet it was used as an excuse for the party to start talking to anti-trans activists. This is pretty much pure transphobia. Let's recontextualise to a different minority group for a minute;

"The parent of a prominent gay Green Party member has been convicted of a hideous crime, something for which that member is in no way responsible. I know let's talk to the Westboro Baptist Church..."

Caroline Lucas even argued in the Guardian that Aimee's trans status should not matter, yet she herself has appeared to make it matter by seizing the opportunity to talk to transphobes. Meanwhile a number of prominent Green Party members have revealed themselves to be transphobes either openly supporting removing trans people's rights or expressing this in the kind of mealy-mouthed way trans people are used to hearing.

"I support gay rights but we need to hear the Westboro Baptist Church's 'concerns'..."

Perhaps the party has decided to try and profit from the wave of anti-trans propaganda currently being served up daily by transphobic hate groups such as The T*mes, The S*n and the Daily M*il, and the almost total exclusion from mainstream media of voices supporting trans people's human rights. Perhaps they think they can appeal to disaffected Kippers or Tories opposed to Brexit.

However as a Labour Party member (and former Green Party voter, during the Iraq War) I take no pleasure in hearing that Aimee, and large numbers of other trans people have left the Green Party (in Aimee's case to join the Lib Dems). Trans people are affected by many of the issues the Green Party champions such as climate change and opposing Brexit. Allowing the Green Party to slide into infighting over this issue is likely to be the only result as anti-trans activists join and push for the party to endorse their oppressive policies. However I can see how Aimee feels she can no longer remain in a party that has treated her so awfully. My heart goes out to her.

My prediction is that, although the Green Party may see itself as being able to benefit from mainstream media transphobia, transphobic policies are unlikely to appeal to large numbers of Green voters in the same way Ukip's transphobic policies might appeal to large numbers of Ukip voters. I would also predict that the party will struggle to hold onto its only parliamentary seat, that of Caroline Lucas in Brighton.

Maybe this is simply the party trying to differentiate itself from the Labour Party, as Jeremy Corbyn challenges their voter base with policies that appeal more to the liberal-minded and younger voters to whom the Green Party has attempted, in the past, to appeal. Its embracing of transphobia, whether explicitly or the mealy-mouthed version, will further alienate this group of potential voters, whether trans or otherwise. In return it is likely only to pick up a few TERFs and the odd stray Kipper/Tory. A sad end.