On 25th February, we wrote to the Editor of Tribune Magazine to challenge accusations made about Woman’s Place UK in an article written by Torr Robinson.
The accusations that were made in the article are false and, we believe, defamatory.
We therefore wrote to the Editor to challenge these falsehoods, request that they be corrected and an apology be published.
There were two points in the article that we wrote to contest. Robinson states:
1. ‘…Jess Phillips has also signalled support for transphobic hate groups such as Woman’s Place UK, a group who John McDonnell was willing to meet with “in confidence…”’.
Robinson offers no evidence for the assertion that Woman’s Place UK is a transphobic hate group.
We contest this assertion in the strongest possible terms.
Robinson further states:
2. ‘Support for organisations like Woman’s Place, which hate us for being trans, can no longer be considered consistent with the values of socialism and liberation.’
Again, Robinson offers no evidence for the assertion that we hate people for being trans.
That is because the statement is completely untrue.
At our meetings, we have had trans women speak from the platform and trans individuals and detransitioned people speak from the audience. Several have publicly commented on how welcome and safe they have felt in the meetings. We have trans people amongst our active supporters.
Woman’s Place UK has always conducted debate respectfully and politely. Our meetings are open to anyone who buys a ticket through Eventbrite and we usually have, in the audience, people who disagree with our campaign and are able to voice these different viewpoints.
Films of speakers from our meetings are available on our YouTube channel. Our meetings have often been subject to aggressive and intimidating protests outside the venue, but we have never responded in kind.
Our group is neither a hate group nor is it transphobic.
Our campaign is concerned with defending the rights women hold in law under the Equality Act 2010 and asks for the government to assess the impact on women of changes to the GRA. This is a perfectly legitimate campaign whose aims are supported by many women throughout the labour movement. Women have the right to gather to talk about their sex-based oppression.
In our letter, we reminded Tribune that sex is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010. As outlined in our launch statement, Woman’s Place UK is an organisation that upholds the rights of all, and we work with trans people to achieve this.
The two assertions about Woman’s Place UK in the article are entirely false and we believe them to be defamatory in nature.
Tribune did not approach us for a comment on this article. Nor did they offer us a right of reply.
They have not responded to our letter of 25th February asking for a correction and apology.
They have not deleted either of the references to Woman’s Place UK.
They have not published a retraction, correction or apology.
They have not taken up our offer to speak with the Editor and the author to develop a true and mutual understanding of our respective positions.
We have decided not to take any further action in relation to this article. However, we are deeply disappointed that a magazine which claims to pursue ‘socialist ideals’ is willing to slur a mass women’s rights campaign founded by women with long records of activism within the Left and the labour movement.
Left wing media sites
Tribune is not the first media platform on the left which has hosted scurrilous and unfounded claims about us:
- Red Pepper also published such an article about Woman’s Place UK by Roz Kaveney. You can read our rebuttal here.
- Socialist Review published another such article about WPUK by Laura Miles. You can read our rebuttal here.
More recently, some other left platforms have published responses from us:
- Open Democracy published this right of reply from us.
- Socialist Worker also published a letter from us in response to a report on their conference in which we were referenced.
- The Socialist Party published this right of reply from us in response to an article by Sarah Sachs-Eldridge.
We are confident of our record and in our campaign.
We will not be intimidated into silence by slurs.
We look forward to the day when media sources purporting to represent voices on the left engage respectfully with women’s concerns and do not indulge in silencing or pander to misogyny.
Woman’s Place UK
28th June 2020