written by Victoria Miller
NOTE: This is one of many testimonies regarding institutional capture, given to me by employees, students and service users in various sectors across the UK. See this page for more examples.
I am not and never have been transphobic but I am also not a menstruator, chest feeder, vagina haver, I am a woman and all of the violence and sexual harassment I have faced at the hands of men has been because I was born female, not because I have a gender identity.
I have been a trade unionist all my working life and, for the past several years, I have been a workplace rep too.
I have sat by and watched as more and more policy has been altered to be ‘more inclusive’ including going above and beyond what is required by law e.g. trans guidance which states that anyone who identifies as the opposite sex should be able to use the facilities matched to their identity and not their sex, rendering single sex spaces, as covered by the Equality Act, pointless, putting women and girls in a vulnerable position. I have watched the same people who laud this decision also jumping on the bandwagon of ending VAWG.
This is the context behind my own personal story: my Facebook account is kept as locked down as it can be and I do not add anyone from my work life as I try to keep them separate for fear of being ‘outed’ as a TERF. During the pandemic, I worked closely with a male union colleague so we became Facebook friends to facilitate communication during this time. Several times I saw posts and comments from said colleague parroting the TWAW mantra, and how they are the most marginalised and discriminated against group in society. I find this viewpoint misogynistic, discriminatory on the basis of sex, and against all my principles as a feminist, but I made no comment on his posts, after all it was his personal Facebook account and “free speech” etc. Fast forward a few weeks and the Sarah Everard murder made the news, and I watched as this same man was ‘standing in solidarity with women and girls’. The hypocrisy blew my mind and so I responded. I asked how you could end VAWG if you can’t define women and girls, and how is it possible to critically evaluate where the violence comes from if the markers of sex are removed.
Well, I should have known better, I’ve been in the trenches of the TERF wars for 6 years, I know how it goes – cue pile on from the male colleague and many of his friends. When one person used ‘intersex’ conditions as proof of a spectrum of sex, I went on to describe several DSDs and how they are sex-related conditions etc. Anyone who has been at this for a while will know the trajectory of the thread and also know that discussion is pointless. Anyway, I blocked male colleague and thought no more of it until later that day when I received an email from my branch secretary:
I have been alerted to comments made in your name on a Facebook page regarding trans issues. From what I understand, there was a Facebook conversation around the safety of women which then developed into a conversation about trans and gender identity.
Some of the comments made in your name read as transphobic. This would be contrary to the Union’s position on trans issues and equality.
Would you like to discuss the above with me on the phone tomorrow?
Notice how I have already been found guilty of transphobia even though the union has no working definition of transphobia and my comments were limited to defending women as a sex class and relating facts about DSDs on my private Facebook account. So, how did he know about this conversation? My male colleague had screenshot the thread and sent them to my branch secretary. How many times could I have done the same and claimed misogyny or sex discrimination? Would my male colleague have been sent an email and been invited to ‘discuss’ their opinions?
I was so enraged that I responded as follows:
No, I wouldn’t like to talk about it. I have not said one thing that is transphobic (which has become a meaningless word as it is used so often). I proudly stand for the rights of women and the single-sex exemptions that are enshrined in equality law, and if that is considered transphobic then the problem is with the definition not with my stance. I believe in biological reality and do not subscribe to the notion of gender identity especially when it damages women and girls – the oppression of women is based on biology not gender identity and this movement is seeking to remove not only every protection women and girls have but redefine what it means to be female. The left is eating itself with identity politics and it pains me to witness it. Centuries of oppression and fighting to even be recognised as deserving of equality have been eroded in just a few years. Ask yourself this question, is it OK for me to identify as black because I feel black and I listen to Bob Malrley? Would it be fine for me to then claim to be more oppressed than those who don’t get to choose the colour of their skin? Is it OK for a person to claim to be disabled because they “feel disabled” and claim all the protections and systems put in place to allow disabled people to be equal within society? If the answer to those questions is no (rightly so) then why is it OK for a man to claim womanhood based on how he feels and what he wears? Women and girls cannot identify out of their oppression in the same way that black and disbaled people cannot identify out of theirs.
I would never and will never discriminate against anyone nor would I treat anyone any differently based on their identity, in fact I have campaigned for LGBT rights and will continue to do so. I have been a left wing trade unionist and feminist my whole life and I will not apologise for my belief that a person who is born male cannot magically change sex and become more oppressed than females. I don’t think you or any man (no disrespect) can understand how upsetting it is to see so many left wing men, who have spent the past 5 years telling women like myself, to shut up, sit down, don’t talk, and calling them bigots, transphobes and TERFs for standing for their rights, suddenly “stand in solidarity with women and girls” because it is the latest cause celebre. The hypocrisy is mind blowing and the intellectual disconnect involved in this is staggering. I am not and never have been transphobic but I am also not a menstruator, chest feeder, vagina haver, I am a woman and all of the violence and sexual harassment I have faced at the hands of men has been because I was born female, not because I have a gender identity. The LGB movement has been sidelined for trans rights and queer theory…two motions from NEU LGBTQ+ conference both about trans issues says it all – what about the young girls struggling to come to terms with being lesbians as well as being sexualised by society, who speaks for them now? Who is protecting them from the harm that being called a bigot for not wanting to have a relationship with a pre-op trans-identifying male is causing them? Who is standing for young homosexual boys as they struggle in a world of toxic masculinity to come to terms with their sexuality when they are being told that if they like ‘girl’ things then they are “born in the wrong body” and must really be a woman?
We talked last night about free speech, I am guessing that only applies in certain situations. How come every other group gets to define what is “…….phobic” but women and girls must be told what misogyny and sexism is?
If these views are problematic then do what you need to do but I will not apologise for standing for women.
To date, I have received no reply from the branch secretary and when I lodged a complaint, I was told that the way I was treated is totally fine according to NEU policy. I have not once been asked to do any casework for the union since this happened (March 25th) and have been sidelined and ostracised by my branch members.
Not long after this, I was a conference delegate alongside the male colleague who outed me as a ‘TERF’ and several others, all of whom ‘stand for trans rights’ because it is the correct course for any self-respecting lefty and trade unionist. There was a motion brought by LGBT conference regarding transphobia and how that the only people who can define it are trans people themselves. I opposed the motion because I believe that ALL protected characteristics in the Equality Act should be entitled to define what is ‘phobic’ against their group, or none of them, but you can’t have it that one group gets to define their oppression while others can’t.
So, I spoke against the motion, as I was within my rights to do as it was not a motion that our branch had voted upon, so therefore was up to the individual how they voted etc. (Quick aside to explain union procedure. Branch’s hold ballots on certain motions and the delegates must vote the way branch directs for those motions alone, all other motions are a matter of personal choice although they are all discussed prior to conference. Whilst discussing this motion, I raised my concerns and said I would be voting against, no objections were raise and I was informed that I had every right to do so).
Back to the incident in question:
The WhatsApp chat after I had spoken was a hot bed of indignation at me for daring to speak up but not one person spoke to me directly, it was all about me, as if I wasn’t even a member of the chat. Misogyny on view for all to see and yet not one of my colleagues has been invited to discuss their ‘problematic’ views.
Below is an actual snippet of the chat from three male colleagues:
S: I think it was unfortunate that Vicky spoke against the motion.
M: We had talked about it so I was a little surprised to see Vicky speaking against it
D: I’m sure your compassion can stretch to a first timer who has not had everything explained to her as we would have liked.
And so it went on….and not one person in the chat defended my right to speak or to not be spoken about in such sexist and derogatory ways. Afterwards, I did receive a private message from Deputy Secretary, who had been party to it all:
I hope you’re OK. It was an unfortunate note on which to end but I wanted to confirm that you were absolutely within your rights to speak and to vote as you wished on the motion in question.
This response was all well and good but should have been put into the group chat with the others able to see and respond. Nobody spoke to the men involved about their blatant sexism and to this day, it is me who is ostracised from union life nobody else.
I’m hoping that with the Forstater decision things may improve, but I won’t hold my breath, after all trade unions are full of left wing misogynistic ‘woke blokes’.