One woman’s Journey

Dear Womans Place UK

I’m Patricia, female specimen of the human species and identificated as woman in the human world. I mean, I’m just a human female but I “live woman” more than I am one. My inner self doesn’t even have a name let alone a sex. I may not have the intellectual baggage a lot of my socialist feminist sisters have but I have enough to understand humans live on different levels depending on different axis of oppression affect their lives and how able or enabled they are to struggle against them. I cannot know this and simply say I’m woman. I live woman is more accurate at this level and on this level it’s not that different than living under a black identification.

I’m also a member of the Labour Party, following its change of stance re austerity.

I only woke up to the, then unimaginable, prospect of the seeing a minority’s rights being pit against women’s rights this December. Since then I’ve been avidly reading everything I can get my hands on and I’m increasingly worried.

To add to the glaring examples of violence against women speaking out (one of which managed to shut down a much beloved annual book fair), I’ve now read too many stories of how our younger lesbian sisters are finding themselves increasingly sidelined and silenced even in their own communities, of younger women (such as a friend’s daughter) trying to escape the misogyny of this world by transitioning. It’s hard not be worried.

I feel too green to to broach all of these subjects with confidence but I have enough confidence to speak out as I can.

I have a son. Before he was two we had to flee his father. The way society works my son and I were the ones to have been uprooted. My son and I were the ones to have had to leave everything behind. And my son and I are the ones living with the consequences of abuse of which a form of persistent depression I suffer from is one. I cannot imagine what it might have been like for us if we hadn’t been able to seek refuge with Women’s Aid then. Bruised and traumatised I also don’t know what it may have been like to have found a man in that house. It’s how traumatised I was.

For the 8 months I was there, it was beneficial for me not to have to deal with any men. This abuse-related phobia of men lasted a bit longer but I’m fairly okay now.

I recently had a row with a friend. She cried in disbelief as I extolled on the great spanner in the gender works that allowing men and women to self-ID as the opposite sex could represent. Oh how naive I have been for so long. I’m afraid to say, it was only then that I got it. Get it I did though.

What I have since then found about the claims made by trans ideologues is that they could set us back decades if not centuries. Female brains. Aaaargh!

It’s not just self-ID. It’s mental health for girls struggling as they discover their personalities in a misogynous world.

It’s healthcare professionals being pressured by policy into indulging young persons’ self-mutilation instead of helping them navigate the troubled waters of sexism.

I can’t speak on gender dysphoria per se but it strikes me as problematic that a one-size-fits-all solution to people who try to sail against sexist currents problem is being pushed even as each person pushes against them in different ways.

I’m delighted to have now started a standing order to help you send our message anywhere and everywhere. It’s not much but it will increase if the Labour Party fails to get its act together and listen to women in seriousness, in good faith and with all women in mind.

I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you are doing. In the meantime, I’ll see if I can get people in my area to help organise a meeting.

In solidarity,


Open Letter to John Lansman on women’s political representation

Dear John Lansman

I have attached a copy of a response you sent to a feminist friend of mine after she requested reassurances from you, as a candidate for L.P. NEC elections, on the burning issue of womens political representation within our movement.

Your response appears rushed and quite confused and I hope this is because of your busy schedule rather than the priority you attach to the issue. I thought now, following the closure of ballot, it would be a good time to tackle your response and the concerns many Labour Party women have with your position and as such the reflection it is of a position of the wider movement.

You say you think it is a problem the L.P. has “not adequately reflected in its structures non binary identities”. What does this even mean? Women in the L.P. requested a reassurance from you of our place at the heart of our movement. You can only be confused by providing that reassurance if you think non-binary people will take the place of women.

You then suggest, and I do hope that this is a drafting error, that because of under representation of women in the party trans women can be treated as women. If you mean trans women can adequately represent the experiences and political and social battles of women for reproductive rights, for instance, or equal pay or for services to protect women from violence and harm or for adequate childcare services or adequate womens health care services I would respectfully suggest to you that you are wrong and you should urgently re-think. Only womens mass participation in the L.P. can ensure the party adequately represents women and only by encouraging women into membership and leadership of the party will we ensure we have a socialist party fit for purpose.

You go onto support the notion of self identity as the basis for categorizing “gender”. I have to hope that you support the idea from a position of ignorance as you have, in a single move, obliterated the sex categorisation protections upon which UK equality law is constructed. Have you consulted on this basis? Do you really think women in the party think this cavalier approach to our rights is acceptable? Women only shortlists exist on the basis of single *sex* exemptions, womens officer roles exist on the basis of sex. The reason for this are sound and remain urgent; it is to ensure the elevation of more women into the political life of the party. I do hope you continue to consider this a worthy political goal?

I am taken aback by your reference to “professional, white, middle class women” as if they are some sort of over represented, domineering group in politics. This is not true. By making such a reference you are in reality suggesting sexism does not exist, implying the battle for womens representation is over, that some women have privilege over men. It’s a very revealing passage in your response and I think motivates your approach to the whole question; you do not seem to think women further require protections or suffer sex discrimination. If that is your position you are wrong.

We agree that more trans people could be involved in the Labour Party. But I think that might involve men standing aside rather than womens political structures and organisation being obliterated. Why did you not even make a nod to the problem of the over representation of men in our political culture?

I do hope that the Party and the movement you represent understands this is an issue over which socialist women feel strongly and over which we will stand our ground. The reality is that one hundred years after the suffragettes the question of womens equal political participation and representation is not settled.

Ruth Serwotka
Convenor Socialist Feminist Network