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Stonewall's co-founder, Simon Fanshawe, signs open letter opposing trans rights

The letter was signed by 22 other people and calls for a new organisation opposing the Gender Recognition Act reform

2019-09-23

Words: Steve Brown

Stonewall’s co-founder Simon Fanshawe has signed an open letter opposing the Gender Recognition Act reform.

In the letter, which was published in The Sunday Times, Fanshawe and 22 other people said the charity undermines ‘women’s sex-based rights’ and are considering starting an organisation that would oppose the Gender Recognition Act reform, which would make it easier for trans people to have their gender legally affirmed.

The letter read: “Last October a group of LGB rights supporters asked Stonewall to ‘commit to fostering an atmosphere of respectful debate rather than demonising as transphobic those who wish to discuss, or dissent from, Stonewall’s transgender policies’.

“Since then, Stonewall has refused repeated requests to enter into any such dialogue.

“The government continues to treat Stonewall as if it represented the views of progressive thinking in general, and specifically LGB opinion. It does not.

“We believe it has made mistakes in its approach that undermine women’s sex-based rights and protections.

“The most worrying aspect of this is that all primary-school children are now challenged to review their ‘gender identity’ and decide that they may be the opposite sex if they do not embrace outdated gender stereotypes.

“The architect of this policy, Ruth Hunt, who recently resigned as Stonewall’s chief executive, has — surprisingly — been made a life peer. Her exclusion of any alternative views has divided supporters of gay and lesbian rights in a way that may be irreparable.

“If Stonewall remains intransigent, there must surely now be an opening for a new organisation committed both to freedom of speech and to fact instead of fantasy.”

Other people who signed the letter included journalist Julie Bindel and former LGBTQ Labour officer Miranda Yardley, as well as other anti-trans campaigners.

Fanshawe defended signing the letter and told the newspaper: “If Stonewall can’t defend lesbians then we will have to look at setting up an organisation that will. A number of us are discussing that. This is heartbreaking.”

A Stonewall spokesperson said: “We’re proud of the work we do with trans communities to advance trans equality. It’s central to our goal for every lesbian, gay, bi and trans person to be accepted without exception.

“Trans people are currently facing horrific levels of harassment and abuse in their daily lives. It’s a situation none of us should accept.

“We know that there is huge support for trans rights from lesbian, gay and bi communities and within the feminist movement. Now is the time to make that support even more visible and vocal.

“History has shown that extending equality to one group does not negatively impact others; it in fact strengthens everyone’s equality.

“At Stonewall, we are unequivocal in our commitment to continue our work to ensure all trans people, as well as all lesbian, gay and bi people, are accepted for who they are in Britain and around the world.”