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When is a woman a woman?

By Russell Grenning - posted Tuesday, 29 May 2018

She explained, "Firstly, transwomen are women, women who are vastly more under-represented than most. We haven't even had a transgender MP yet." Her goal is to be the first one. She explained, "Like most women I am a feminist. They aren't mutually exclusive issues, far from it. I would argue strongly that all appeals to biology are anti-feminist."

Yes, so science is anti-feminist and asserting that biology is the truth is hate speech.

But Ms Madigan's trailblazing victory wasn't all plain sailing for this truly progressive new woman.


A whole bunch of real women resigned in fury from the Labour Party which actually delighted their newest "Women's Officer", Ms Madigan, who tweeted, "Today, approximately 300 transmisogynist women left the Labor Party. Today is a good day."

Basically, these women said that allowing transwomen to become members of all-women shortlists for party positions discriminated against real women by allowing biological men onto their all-female party lists. How transmisogynist could anybody get?

Actually the British Labour Party policy of allowing men to self-identify as women doesn't exactly fit with the law. Generally, equalities law doesn't allow organisations such as the Labour Party to reserve jobs or services for any particular group although the Equality Act 2010 includes some exemptions for single-sex services. The Act was designed to ensure that there are some roles and places where men cannot enter. And under the law men who self-identify as transwomen cannot be entitled to posts that the law reserves for women unless they have a gender recognition certificate. Many are worried that if the law is changed to allow men to self-identify as transwomen - as Mr Lewis and Ms Madigan have done - then they could legally enter what are now women's only places such as domestic violence shelters, all-women colleges and hospital wards.

We can imagine the outcome if, say, a brutal and vengeful male partner of a woman he had been abusing and bashing decided a neat way if getting to her in a domestic violence shelter was simply to declare himself as a transwoman and gain legal entry.

Back in January, Labour's Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, Dawn Butler, decided to set up a party inquiry to decide if transwomen should be included in all-women shortlists which was rather shutting the gate after the horse had bolted as Ms Madigan had already become a constituency "Women's Officer". There was a lot of high-minded talk about consulting widely although it seemed that transwomen had the clear upper hand in this inquiry.

Ms Butler hired a transwoman model Munroe Bergdorf as a special advisor but she was forced to resign after a week because of some unsavoury comments she had made in the past about suffragettes, lesbians and gay men emerged. She had already been sacked by cosmetics company L'Oreal as their model over racist comments she had made.


Ms Bergdorf tried to apologise by saying, "Who I was at 23 years old, is not who I am at 31" and, in any case, her offensive tweets had been "shared playfully between close friends". They must have been hilarious.

Meanwhile, Ms Madigan has announced that she is contesting the job of Young Labour's national "Women's Officer" and she is writing her life story. It's onwards and upwards for her and she and leader Jeremy Corbyn have been photographed together, both smiling broadly. If her book is made into a movie perhaps actor Jaden Smith (son of Will Smith) could be cast as Lily - yes, he is American and yes, he is black and yes, he is almost aggressively heterosexual but he is 20 years old just like Lily so anything is possible in this brave new world.

David Lewis also has lots of lovely pictures of himself smiling but Jeremy Corbyn isn't in one of them. Perhaps they haven't been able to find a Wednesday which is mutually convenient for them to meet. Remember, David is only a transwoman on Wednesdays so there is no point his meeting Jeremy on any other day of the week, is there?

But, then again, there are women and there are women, aren't there?

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About the Author

Russell Grenning is a retired political adviser and journalist who began his career at the ABC in 1968 and subsequently worked for the then Brisbane afternoon daily, The Telegraph and later as a columnist for The Courier Mail and The Australian.

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