Content warning: mentions transphobia
As the Green Party lets its members elect its third member of the House of Lords, one candidate’s name has jumped to my attention more than the rest: Rupert Read. For those who don’t know, Read is an Associate Professor in Philosophy at the University of East Anglia, a former Green Party Councillor in Norwich and, according to his website, a ‘climate and environmental campaigner’. Whilst this can be seen as an impressive list of roles and beliefs, these aren’t the reason that Read’s name caught my eye.
By Robyn Banks
Once again, an array of academics have signed a letter complaining about the increased efforts by universities to recognise and support Trans* and Non-Binary students on their campuses. Their reasons for doing so aren’t worth exploring, as they are based on the same logic, or lack thereof, as many transphobes about the realities of gender, sex and identity. The problem we should focus on is that the academics who have signed this letter, and the ones before it, hide behind the claim of ‘Academic Freedom’ in order to try and justify their views.Continue Reading
by Chris Jarvis
Something somewhat unprecedented is happening. The media is paying attention to the internal workings of the Green Party. Since Natalie Bennett announced her intentions not to stand for re-election as the party’s leader, speculation has begun to bubble around the online media about who her replacement might be. Early predictions from pundits included the party’s 2016 London Mayoral Candidate Sian Berry, former European Parliamentary candidate Rupert Read and Member of the House of Lords Jenny Jones have each ruled themselves out of the race (Sian Berry was technically ineligible to stand in the first place).
Almost immediately, Ladbrokes opened a market on the race, initially comprising the obvious frontrunners, before eventually taking random, and sometimes outrageously comical suggestions of potential candidates from Twitter. Unsurprisingly, then, little light has been shed on the realistic contenders, the notable exception being The Guardian’s quote heavy coverage, and Josiah Mortimer’s round up in Open Democracy. We have a long way to go from now until the end of the election in September, and much could change between now and then, but here is some mostly unfounded speculation on who the big contenders could be.Continue Reading
by Chris Jarvis
I didn’t want to write this article. For a long time, Peter Tatchell was one of my political heroes. Reading about the infamous Bermondsey by-election when I was 15 and going through the process of being outed and the abuse and violence that came with that, understanding that people such as Tatchell had put themselves through that 25 years prior so that the world we live in was more tolerant and more accepting, was a comfort and an inspiration. Tatchell’s continuing radicalism throughout his long career in activism and into his elder years had me in awe. One of the proudest moments I’d had as a student activist was organising a talk by him at my University and just chatting with him in the pub afterwards. But it’s become obvious that we need to talk about Tatchell.
There’s no denying that Peter Tatchell and people like him have been an incredible force for change in social attitudes and legislation in the UK when it comes to LGBT rights and human rights more broadly. From that violent and unpleasant by-election in 1983, through to his attempted citizens arrests of Robert Mugabe and his unequivocal support of human rights worldwide, Tatchell has been at the forefront of radical direct action, and progressive movements.Continue Reading
by Robyn Sands
At the end of last month Green Party parliamentary candidate Rupert Read caused widespread offence by posting a series of tweets appearing to question the validity of trans women’s gender identities and claimed to be ‘troubled’ by use of the word cisgender, in opposition to the term ‘transgender’.
He then tweeted a blog post he’d written in January 2013 in which he defended feminist writers, such as Julie Burchill, who had been accused of transphobia, and described trans status as a sort of “opt-in version of what it means to be a woman”. His tweets were a response to a controversial and transphobic poster seen in women’s toilets in Bristol University, which heavily implied that allowing trans women in to women’s toilets would lead to them assaulting cis women, and he seemed to be defending that position. He has since issued an apology, and responded to criticisms by saying that he only meant to “discuss a hypothetical philosophical position”. He further stated that “All that I have done is join many feminists in saying that it is up to women, not anyone else- and certainly not me- to decide who gets let in to women-only spaces, such as women’s toilets”.