Wellington, May 7th 2023
On May 5th 2023 we were asked by Stuff to respond to some general questions about our organisation and our views.
Rather than give Stuff the information exclusively, with it destined to never see the light of day, we thought we would answer the questions but share them with all media and the general public.
Their questions and our responses are below.
What is your reaction to The Disinformation Project's report?
Please refer to our media release here.
We think the Disinformation Project spreads disinformation. They are opportunistic fear mongers in search of relevance and funding.
We agree with this article by the Democracy Project https://democracyproject.nz/2023/04/12/bryce-edwards-the-need-to-take-disinformation-seriously/
The Disinformation Project is a highly politicised, anti-free speech organisation masquerading as neutral and scientific.
We have heard that The Disinformation Project refused to meet with the Free Speech Union, and made the cliché excuse that it would be "unsafe". This rhetorical fad claims that to hear opposing views is so challenging it causes actual harm; and that people need to be protected from uncomfortable discussions. We do not think the functional democracy The Disinformation Project claims to support can exist without robust debate and free speech.
What are your views/opinions on transgender people?
In the same way we have no particular view or opinion on other demographic groups as a whole, we have no particular view on people who identify as transgender. Additionally we note that ‘transgender’ has become a very wide umbrella term that rests on self-identification.
We support equal human rights for all people, including the right to live free from violence and harassment; the right to freedom of speech and association; the right to access employment, education, housing, and healthcare without discrimination based on demographic or identity group.
We note that many if not most people are arguably in some respects, gender non-conforming regardless of whether they assert a transgender identity or not. We support the rights of all people to adopt whatever personal or social presentation is comfortable for them and either adhere to or reject sex stereotypes in accordance with their personal preferences. Many of our members are lesbians or gender non-conforming.
Where we draw the line is the demand that a person's subjective “gender” self-identification should be affirmed in all situations in society, law and policy with no exceptions. With regard to males who say they are, or would like to be women (i.e. trans-identifying males or “transwomen”), we draw the line at services and facilities and opportunities that are single sex, that is, for females.
In most day-to-day situations, a person's sex is not relevant. However in situations where sex is relevant we believe that sex should be the primary consideration, not a person's asserted “gender” identity. This means retaining services and facilities and opportunities for females and excluding all males - including men who want to be or claim to be women or non-binary.
Do you believe they pose a threat and if so, what and to whom?
What are your concerns?
We do not believe that transgender people pose a threat by virtue of being transgender. However, we note that men are on average physically stronger than women, and have a far higher propensity to use violence, including sexual violence. We also note that this size and strength disparity, and pattern of male behaviour, doesn’t change when a male identifies as a woman. Hence with respect to single sex services, facilities and opportunities, we believe that these should be reserved for females only.
To be clear, under the circumstances where sex matters, our view is that trans-identifying males should continue to be treated as males.
We do not believe that trans-identifying males pose more of a threat than other males, or that most males pose a threat, just that exclusion from single sex services for females applies to all males.
We understand that many people have a trans-identifying male friend or relative who is lovely and kind, and they don't want their friend or family member excluded from female-only spaces or services. However this same argument applies to all males - many women have a brother, father, husband or friend who is lovely and kind and who poses no threat to women. But this is not how safeguarding works. The boundaries in place apply to all males, simply because they are male.
We accept that some women may wish to vouch for men (including trans-identifying males) as safe; however, we do not believe anyone should have the right to give away female-only spaces and services on behalf of all women. A proper public debate is needed about the clash of rights between women and trans-identifying males.
We do not believe that all people have a subjective, inner “gender identity”. Many of our members and supporters have no such feelings or identity. We regard “gender identity” as an unfalsifiable belief akin to a sexed soul and as such, it should be treated more in line with a religious or philosophical belief. That is, no one should be disadvantaged for asserting a “gender identity” but no other person should be forced to go along with the belief – even if this is upsetting to people who identify as being transgender. It is no different in our view to a Christian being upset by hearing atheist views.
With regard to trans-identifying females, we note that they do not pose a potential physical threat to males in the same way trans-identifying males pose a potential threat to women (although some men may object to having females in spaces where men are undressing etc., on the grounds of dignity or reputational risk). In any case as trans-identifying females are still females, we have no concern about them posing a potential threat to other females.
In short, our concern is male behaviour, not transgender people or trans-identifying males per se. For the purposes of the discussion on sex-based rights we contend that the potential risk from a male is the same regardless of how he identifies or presents.
While some may worry that trans-identifying males are at risk from other males, we do not think this warrants opening female-only spaces to them, instead this requires males to change their behaviour toward gender non-conforming males and to accept more diversity within their own sex.
Our members have a range of views but generally we support third spaces, such as self-contained bathroom units provided these are safe to access (no dark corridors, etc.) and we welcome any other efforts to resolve this conflict of rights.
What do you think disinformation is?
The deliberate spread of incorrect information in order to further a political purpose, for example associating one’s political opponents with Nazis in an attempt to discredit or distract from their message or cause.
Do you support statements such as transgender people are grooming young children, sexualising them, and are dangerous to other women?
In terms of the potential danger they might present, we do not classify trans-identifying males as “other women”. They are males and we exclude them from female-only spaces, services and facilities for that reason alone.
With regard to teaching children about sexualities and “gender”, we support age appropriate sex education including children learning that there are different sexual orientations. We support children being taught that it is OK to reject sex stereotypes.
We do not support children being taught sex denialism. Rather, we support children being taught that while there are only two sexes, this should have no bearing on their hobbies, personal styling or life choices. We commend the "girls can do anything" messaging as opposed to telling girls "If you like “boys’ things" you might be a boy". We think this is regressive and we are concerned to read media articles and social media posts about trans-identifying children that focus on trivia such as hair styles and choice of toys and play. We believe encouraging children to ruminate on whether their personality and preferences are masculine or feminine is regressive, confusing and dangerous for children.
The term "biological essentialism" is sometimes misused in this debate. We do not support children being taught that their biology is their destiny in terms of life path. For example we do not support telling girls that they must act feminine or that they have to become mothers. However we do not support girls being taught that they can become boys, or that if they like "boys’ things" they might be boys. This is regressive.
With regard to Drag Queen story hour we are not concerned with drag per se, rather we deem it to be an adult form of entertainment and as such it should remain in night clubs, not public libraries.
Additionally we note the connection made with cross dressing roles in theatre and movies is not a good analogy as these are not generally a risque performance akin to "drag". We think that storytime for children in libraries is a good idea but children would ideally be exposed to a variety of humanity and non-conforming people, not "drag". We question why drag, why now, and why children?
What do you see as your role as Speak Up For Women?
Defence of women’s single sex services and provisions, and preventing sex-denialist beliefs from being taught as fact to children and young people.
Where sex matters (for safety, dignity, privacy) we believe that sex must continue to be given priority in legislation and policy, not replaced with subjective gender identity.
We would like gender identity treated more on par with religion or philosophical belief.
Have you noticed a rise in far-right, neo-Nazi groups?
Noting we can only comment on our local communities and the media sources we use, where we have the opportunity to observe, we have not.
Have you been contacted by many?
We are not aware of any contact from far-right or neo-Nazi groups.
Do you agree with their views in relation to transgender people?
As far as we understand and are aware of the views of the far-right and neo-Nazis, we do not agree with their views on anything.
We note that the term "far-right" and "neo-Nazi" are now being widely used by some individuals and organisations to defame and discredit their political opponents.
We do not support the use of violence, threats, or “othering” rhetoric. We support equality and human rights for all people. We support the rights of gay, lesbian and bisexual people; and we believe that gender non-conforming people should not face discrimination.
Further comment about the use of sex-realist language
We would like to make a comment on the assertion that is being made, that some people do not want trans-identifying people to "exist" (or want trans-identifying people "erased"). We observe that for some trans-identifying people, their sense of self (sometimes referred to as being "valid") rests on their “gender identity” or cross-sex identity being affirmed by all around them and the culture. Hence, they experience actions such as being "mis gendered" (e.g. a trans-identifying male being referred to as male or by he/him pronouns) as an attack on their existence.
It is highly irresponsible for The Disinformation Project and the media to repeat and legitimise claims that sex-realist language is the same as wanting trans identifying people to “not exist”. We understand that for some trans identifying people, incidents such as "mis-gendering" are hurtful and upsetting - however it is hyperbole to call this "violence".
We also note that the repeated comparison of mis-gendering and other sex-realist language with violence, and sex-realist views with hate, is suggest-selling to trans identifying people that there are "genocidal" intentions in the wider community. This is untrue and likely very bad for the mental health and resilience of some trans-identifying people, in particular young people.
Our view is that most Kiwis are highly tolerant and support an approach that is "live and let live", however they do not support sex being overwritten in law, policy and social custom with "gender identity".
SUFW seeks to raise awareness of the real world consequences of radical sex denialism. This includes: men being granted access to women's single sex facilities and services and opportunities such as women's prisons, women's bathrooms and changing rooms, and women's sport; Women (particularly elderly or disabled) being denied the right to a female carer, women being denied the right to a female counsellor, lesbians being unable to exclude males from dating apps and support groups.
We are greatly concerned with children being told they can change sex, and being offered or given medical interventions before they are old enough to understand the long-term consequences, including the side effects, and the considerable limitations of "sex change" medicine.
We support adults’ freedom of choice and bodily autonomy in these matters including the decision to medicalise and/or have cosmetic surgery. We support adults’ freedom to adopt whatever "gender" presentation they feel comfortable with. However, we do not agree that people can change sex (or choose their sex) or that self-reported “gender identity” trumps sex with regard to single sex services, facilities and opportunities.
Further comment about the “Rainbow” community
We note that homosexuality was decriminalised in Aotearoa New Zealand in 1986 and that same-sex marriage legislation was passed in 2013. We contend that while homophobia and sexism (including harassment of gender non-conforming people) still exists in Aotearoa New Zealand the fight for civil rights for lesbian, gay and bisexual people (people who experience homosexual attraction) is largely settled.
We note that in recent years a political movement has emerged that expanded the original “gay rights” movement to include a “Queer” or “Rainbow” or “gender diverse” so-called community. This conception includes people who are not homosexual and who have - or identify as having - an array of characteristics that are unrelated to homosexuality (and to each other). Hence, activists and organisations advocating for what in the minds of the wider public appears to be a new iteration of “gay rights”, have goals that are unrelated to the original gay rights movement. We believe this has caused confusion in the minds of the wider public over the nature of the debate about “trans” rights.
We are perturbed by the enthusiastic taking up of the new “Rainbow” cause by activists, NGOs, corporations, government entities and the media; and the plethora of rainbow livery, commemorative days and months; corporate training and in particular legislative attempts to embed this new “community” and worldview in the wider culture. It is vapid, 40 years too late to the (gay rights) party, intellectually incoherent and dangerous.