Criticism of trans policy brings its dangers

For insisting on public debate about the real-life risks of a big ­official tick for self-declared gender change, Murphy has copped a Twitter ban (for “hateful” pronoun crime) and last month Massey University in New Zealand became the latest institution of higher learning to cancel her speaking event, citing “health, safety and wellbeing obligations”; she shifted venues.

Sydney University political scientist Bronwyn Winter, a well-known gender-critical feminist, says she has had to organise local talks and discussions “in a clandestine way” with a video released afterwards.

“I feel like I’m part of the feminist resistance, forced underground — it’s that, or deal with confrontation and the risk of physical harm.”

The Australian asked Human Rights Commission president Rosalind Croucher, Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins, and Anna Brown of the LGBTIQ+ group Equality Australia if gender-critical feminists were entitled to put their views without abuse, threats and claims they were “hateful transphobes”.

The commission issued a short statement, saying it supported “freedom of speech for everyone in Australia, provided that speech does not vilify or incite hatred of a person or group of people”.

The commission did not reply when asked if it agreed with trans activists that it was hate speech to define a woman by her sex, and to warn of self-identified trans status — officially endorsed without robust public debate — as a potential threat to the rights and protections of women.

Ms Brown did not reply to The Australian’s request for comment.

In August, Equality Australia circulated an activist petition calling on Melbourne University to cancel a “transphobic and queerphobic” speaking event on campus — “The future of sex-based rights”, with speakers including lesbian feminist philosopher Holly Lawford-Smith. The petition claimed this talk would put trans students and staff “at risk” and was likely to “attack” their identities. The event went ahead.

A national coalition of women’s and lesbian groups wrote to Ms Brown earlier this month calling on her to speak up “in support of civil and full debate on these critical issues (arising from self-identified trans claims) concerning equality for lesbians and all women”.

The letter says women defending “sex-based rights” are being “routinely no-platformed, vilified, sexually harassed, threatened or bullied into silence.


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