January 23, 2023 - 10:28am

Misogyny has always existed. Sometimes it’s more frowned upon than others, going quiet before bursting out in a fresh guise. But we are entering new and terrifying territory, where spittle-flecked rants against women are everywhere, including the House of Commons. Death and rape threats are openly paraded at demonstrations, prominent women are threatened with murder — and the fear that a woman will be seriously injured is growing by the day.

At the weekend, Scottish politicians appeared at a rally in Glasgow in front of a placard bearing an unequivocal death threat. ‘Decapitate terfs’, it read, next to a drawing of a guillotine. A couple of days earlier, a man allegedly left a voice note in Gaelic threatening to kill the author JK Rowling with a hammer. Rowling tweeted that the same individual had threatened to drive into a rally organised by the activist Posie Parker and to shoot the Labour MP Rosie Duffield.

Threats of violence against feminists are not new. For several years now, women have had to meet at undisclosed venues in the hope of avoiding noisy protests by trans activists. But now something has changed. The threats are appearing at bigger, more mainstream events, such as the one in Glasgow attended by SNP MPs and MSPs. 

They say they didn’t see the placard threatening to behead women and would have condemned it had they done so. A few days earlier, three Labour MPs shared a platform at a rally outside Parliament in London next to a trans activist, Sarah Jane Baker, who was recently released from prison after serving thirty years for kidnapping and attempted murder. The MPs say they had no idea of the identity of the activist and did not hear the crowd telling the Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, to ‘eat shit’.

Also last week, in scenes of stomach-churning disorder in the House of Commons, female MPs were shouted at by Labour MPs when they supported the government’s blocking of the GRR bill. Make no mistake about what’s happening here: public abuse of women, which began at small protests organised by trans extremists a few years ago, has now moved into the very heart of British politics. Misogyny has gone mainstream and the very people who should call it out remain silent. Starmer could not even bring himself to rebuke the most egregious offender, the MP for Brighton Kemptown, Lloyd Russell-Moyle, let alone withdraw the Labour whip. 

Trans activism has now become so extreme that it is disfiguring public life. This could have been stopped years ago, if politicians and public figures had paused to ask themselves who and what they were supporting. Instead, they unthinkingly accepted the dubious claim that trans activists speak for ‘the most vulnerable people in society’, ignoring alarming (and escalating) behaviour towards women.

Now we can see the result. Trans extremists have developed a sense of impunity, threatening women’s legal rights, women’s spaces and now our physical safety. Trans activism is a monster — and the people who looked the other way while this new species of misogyny took root should be thoroughly ashamed.

Joan Smith is a novelist and columnist. She has been Chair of the Mayor of London’s Violence Against Women and Girls Board since 2013. Her book Homegrown: How Domestic Violence Turns Men Into Terrorists was published in 2019.