Heather Brunskell-Evans is a highly-respected feminist academic who has worked tirelessly to draw attention to the issue of violence against women and girls. She is a respected writer, campaigner and speaker on the harms of pornography and the sex industry. She is also editor (along with Michele Moore) and contributor to Transgender Children and Young People – Born in Your Own Body, published at the end of last year by Cambridge Scholars Press.
We are extremely disappointed in the decision by the Women’s Equality Party to dismiss Heather as a spokeswoman after expressing her views about the medical transition of children on BBC’s Moral Maze and on Twitter.
Many concerned people dare not speak out about the harms of childhood transition out of a real fear that their jobs and reputations may be put at risk through accusations of ‘transphobia’ and ‘bigotry’. The action of the Women’s Equality Party has shown that those fears are justified.
Experimental medical treatment of children is an ethical issue, a subject on which any free society should encourage open debate. The intellectual honesty and courage of Heather Brunskell-Evans deserves admiration, not censure.
In making their decision, the WEP has upheld the charge that expressing the need for caution in a treatment which is untested, unproven and has serious effects on children’s fertility and development is ‘promoting prejudice against the transgender community.’ In our view this is a disgraceful charge and an unsubstantiated slur against the integrity of a woman who speaks out to protect children.
WEP has also very clearly set the terms of debate within the party, placing it within a framework of transgender rights. As almost 70% of children referred to the Tavistock clinic are girls, rising to over 70% in the adolescent age-group, it may be framed as a feminist issue, or, given that the majority of these girls are lesbians, as a lesbian rights issue. But within the terms of the WEP decision, female, feminist and lesbian voices have been silenced and only transgender members have the right to speak, reflecting the situation in wider society.
We reject the notion that questioning the medical transition of children is ‘promoting prejudice against the transgender community’ and we view this as a divisive and harmful way to frame a debate which is about children and therefore should be free from political censure.
We stand by Heather Brunskell-Evans, we support her right to speak on this subject and we thank her for her courageous work in drawing attention to concerns which others dare not express as a result of precisely this kind of political silencing.