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Why I’ve left the Labour Party

Joan Smith. Credit: Simone Padovani/Getty

June 25, 2024 - 7:05am

I didn’t ask for the moon. I asked leading figures in the Labour Party, including Sir Keir Starmer, to listen to me and other women. I explained why making it easier for men to “identify” as women poses a risk to our privacy and safety. I provided examples of threats and violence against feminists, and asked Labour to stop making dishonest claims about “toxicity on both sides”.

I asked the party — and this is surely the minimum I could expect as a woman and a member — not to make things worse by giving in to the demands of trans activists. Labour didn’t listen. Of course it didn’t. And that’s why I resigned my membership today.

The party has taken an inexplicable decision to treat women, who make up half the population, as less deserving of attention than the tiny proportion who are transgender. When journalists ask leading Labour figures to commit to supporting women’s rights, they all (with the possible and only occasional exception of Wes Streeting) start talking about what trans people want.

Just under 100,000 people in England and Wales identify as a trans man or trans woman, according to the most recent census, compared to a population of around 30 million women and girls. Who could seriously believe that unreasonable and unscientific claims about “gender identity” are as urgent an issue as an epidemic of violence affecting millions of teenage girls and women? Yet we are told to form a very long queue while men who claim to be women dictate what Labour’s priorities should be.

Fast forward a year or two into a Starmer administration and men will be able to find a compliant doctor, do nothing for two years and get a gender recognition certificate — and a new, falsified birth certificate. Parents, teachers and counsellors who don’t accept young people’s insistence that they need to “change sex” may be facing charges. Even I didn’t think Labour would remove the right of wives to get an annulment before their trans-identified husbands are issued with a GRC, but that seems to be the plan. What we won’t have is a much-needed clarification of the Equality Act to remove any doubt that “sex” means biological sex.

When women raise the need for single-sex spaces with Labour candidates, the response will more than likely be: “but trans”. Aspiring Labour MPs evidently can’t hear women — our voices are too high-pitched or something — but they listen to activists and repeat their claims like well-trained parrots. The party can’t even be straight about whether it will support a proposed ban on teaching “gender identity” in schools, with different lines coming from Starmer and Shadow Education Secretary Bridget Phillipson.

My patience has finally snapped. No, middle-aged men who identify as women are not the most vulnerable and oppressed people in existence. No, they aren’t at higher risk of suicide or murder than anyone else. What they do have is access to leading Labour figures, including the party’s Women and Equalities team, that feminist organisations can only dream about.

I’ve had enough. When the suffragettes risked their lives to get the vote, they could never have imagined that a mainstream political party would one day solicit women’s votes while prioritising men’s demands so unashamedly. Labour’s embrace of gender ideology is a betrayal of more than a century of struggle by inspiring women, some of whom died for the cause. I can’t not vote in a general election, but that’s why I will spoil my ballot next week.


Joan Smith is a novelist and columnist. She was previously Chair of the Mayor of London’s Violence Against Women and Girls Board. Her book Unfortunately, She Was A Nymphomaniac: A New History of Rome’s Imperial Women will be published in November 2024.

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Bret Larson
Bret Larson
27 days ago

I would avoid making this majoritarian argument. The reason to support women in their spaces is because they own them and people born as men are not welcome.

And if you don’t give them what they want they make life hell for everyone.

S Wilkinson
S Wilkinson
27 days ago
Reply to  Bret Larson

It should be enough that women say ‘No’.
But it rarely is.

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
27 days ago
Reply to  S Wilkinson

True; but Joan has forgotten that when men said ‘No’ about men-only spaces for the last 50 years, they were told to put up and shut up to ‘dismantle the patriarchy’.

So there is an element of what goes round comes round.

David Morley
David Morley
26 days ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

Also, I don’t remember men being consulted about this at the time. To even question the idea was sexist.

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
24 days ago
Reply to  David Morley

There is a difference between men and women’s spaces. Women’s spaces are rightfully protected because they are the heart of the family. This leads to social cohesion for reasons I won’t get into. Men’s spaces like a barracks. Well women are welcome to show up and share protecting society, and of course having a short lifespan. Now I’m not sure that is good for society but it has been necessary on occasion.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
26 days ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

Not in this case. If it was just about men coming into women’s spaces, that would be different.
This is about men wanting to be seen as fully fledged women coming into women’s spaces.
More like wolves in sheep’s clothing to me.

David Morley
David Morley
26 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

I think it’s the men bit that is being objected to. Nobody is saying men are welcome in the ladies loos so long as they dress as men! Or are you saying that?

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
27 days ago
Reply to  Bret Larson

I agree. I wince when the comparative numbers are trotted out, although I get the point on an emotional level. However, a small minority may be deserving of protection and majority views can be oppressive (eg 20th C antisemitism). This was observed by Tocqueville and J S Mill when they wrote about democracy. The point about trans ‘rights’ to women’s spaces is it invades boundaries maintained for good reason since time immemorial – a case where the majority is right and the minority wrong.
Emphasising the female majority also plays into the hands of Queer ideology which aims to promote every minority sexual identity/taste and subvert the majority (‘hetero-normativity’), seen as oppressive. Note that the word minority is replaced with ‘minoritised’ which turns the majority into a cruel oppressor.

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
24 days ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

I don’t mind being the cruel oppressor today, but tomorrow is my day off.

Janet G
Janet G
26 days ago
Reply to  Bret Larson

Or is it violent trans-activists who are making life hell for women?

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
27 days ago

Bravo.

AC Harper
AC Harper
27 days ago

To Joan Smith: ‘not voting for Labour’ is a non event – voting for a different party is more significant, especially as your natural support has been taken for granted for so long.
No more. Why not ‘spoil’ your ballot by voting Reform? Reform may not win more than a handful of seats this time, but it does post an expectation that more of the same old same old is not longer sufficient. Their ‘contract’ includes policies about reversing gender ideology in schools and insisting on single sex facilities for public spaces.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
27 days ago
Reply to  AC Harper

The SDP supported by Mary Harrington of Unherd also has reasonably sensible Trans policy proposals. Even the Conservatives have better policies. Labour will not change their policy of pandering to the noisy trans lobby until they face a real risk that Labour women will actively vote for parties that have sane trans policies and the risk that their candidate will not get in.Time for women not simply to cut the umbilical cord to Labour but actually vote for sensible rather than ideological policies.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
27 days ago
Reply to  AC Harper

JK Rowling drew attention to the Communist party’s opinion on gender ideology, which is surprisingly coherent, so you could vote for them if they have a candidate rather than spoil your ballot paper.
They claim: “Gender identity ideology is well-suited to the needs of the capitalist class, focusing as it does on individual as opposed to collective rights, enabling and supporting the super-exploitation of women.” It seems to me that the imposition of a trans- or non-bio- identity on others has more of a ring of the Sovereign Individual or of Ayn Rand than of leftist politics.

David Morley
David Morley
27 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

It seems to me that the imposition of a trans- or non-bio- identity on others has more of a ring of the Sovereign Individual or of Ayn Rand than of leftist politics.

Thats certainly the case where various forms of gender fluidity are concerned. The message is clearly I’m me, and society must accept that. It’s perhaps more about attention seeking than being a sovereign individual – but radical individualism it clearly is.

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
27 days ago
Reply to  David Morley

I agree but see ‘The myth of bourgeois individualism’ where this so-called individualism goes to die…

As it is really just another consumer trend with the merch to go with it.

David Morley
David Morley
26 days ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

Agree. It’s also a odd form of individualism that constantly needs social validation.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
27 days ago
Reply to  David Morley

The message is clearly I’m me, and society must accept that.

I’d modify that to “This is what I believe I am, and society must believe that too.”

Janet G
Janet G
26 days ago
Reply to  David Morley

It’s individualism supported with big money and corporate influence. It suits these powerful people to convince ordinary people to put all their energy into so-called individual actions. Who funds all these pride flags, pride marches, pride celebrations?

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
25 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

I think if the CPGB ever got power, trans rights would be the least of your worries, but interesting they’ve actually thought logically about it (in contrast to the rest of the psuedo religious nonsense they spout)

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
21 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

That’s so interesting.

David McKee
David McKee
27 days ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Vote Reform? You’ve got to be kidding!
Reform is not a political party, it’s the vehicle for one man’s vast ego-trip. Farage isn’t interested in what women, or anyone else, wants. He just wants people to do as he tells them and shut up.

Dr E C
Dr E C
27 days ago
Reply to  David McKee
David McKee
David McKee
27 days ago
Reply to  Dr E C

Glad to see someone literate enough to understand data is plural.

But Matt Goodwin’s polls don’t contradict my point. Oh, Farage says things people agree with. But it’s still a one man band. What Farage says, goes. Look how easily Tice was brushed aside as leader. Contrast that with the efforts to unseat Corbyn and Johnson.

Women spend their lives, massaging male egos. (If you don’t believe me, ask your wife.) So why would Joan Smith want to spend her vote, massaging Farage’s ego?

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
27 days ago
Reply to  David McKee

“Glad to see someone literate enough to understand data is plural”
For goodness sake, who do you think you’re addressing in Comments?

Mark Phillips
Mark Phillips
26 days ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

Tis thee, tha dumb northener.

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
26 days ago
Reply to  Mark Phillips

Ha ha! As “good to sees” go, a sense of humour is among them.

Alan Bright
Alan Bright
26 days ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

‘whom’ plz

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
26 days ago
Reply to  Alan Bright

Please…

J B
J B
26 days ago
Reply to  David McKee

Tice was not “brushed aside” – a joint, mutual decision was made for Farage to be the face (at damn short notice) of the Reform campaign. I’ve had enough of the so called Uniparties and will be taking a punt and am going to vote Reform.
Oh and all women spend their lives massaging male egos?
My Scottish grandmother, mother, two sisters, two aunts and four XX chromosome female cousins would all beg to differ 🙂

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
25 days ago
Reply to  J B

You obviously haven’t noticed the massaging.

J B
J B
25 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Obviously.
Did you have anything else substantive to add?

J Dunne
J Dunne
26 days ago
Reply to  David McKee

Women spend their lives, massaging male egos.

What a ridiculous generalisation. It happens just as much the other way round, possibly more so.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
25 days ago
Reply to  J Dunne

I’l repeat what I said to an earlier comment – obviously,you haven’t noticed the massaging.

Eleanor Barlow
Eleanor Barlow
17 days ago
Reply to  David McKee

I agree. I have the same issues over the Labour party’s stance on trans as Joan Smith. But I don’t trust that clown Farage or any of his fellow travellers. And spoiling my ballot paper is just self-disfranchisement [is that a word?].
I feel that the Social Democracy party aligns closest with my views, but it has a very low profile and I’ve yet to find out who is funding it.

William Cameron
William Cameron
17 days ago
Reply to  David McKee

Because Reform do respect women’s rights ?

Ian_S
Ian_S
27 days ago
Reply to  David McKee

Sounds like TDS, only you’ve swapped in Farage. The “ego” accusation is inconsequential. He has articulated a position of protest, and we’ll see how many people he represents by it.

Simon Templar
Simon Templar
26 days ago
Reply to  David McKee

Why do some commenters persist in treating Unherd as a vehicle to air their petty bigotry? Why can they not discuss the implications of policy, like everyone else?

Aidan Anabetting
Aidan Anabetting
25 days ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Mr Farage is Liz Truss in a tweed hat. Scratch the populist cultural veneer and you will find a City-boy neoliberalism of the sort that has ripped the country apart. Why obsess about issues that concern 0.2% of the population – playing the gender fiddle while Rome burns?

Lang Cleg
Lang Cleg
27 days ago

I think you should vote, Joan. Labour’s MPs in the next parliament will be more likely to listen the smaller their majorities are. Just vote for whoever’s most likely to come second and hold your nose if you need to.

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
26 days ago
Reply to  Lang Cleg

Surely the advice should be to vote for whoever agrees with you and will poll the highest, with a clothes peg on your nose? Not much point in voting Lib Dem, Green, SNP or, indeed, certain Tory wets.

Simon Blanchard
Simon Blanchard
26 days ago

Not if her intention is to punish Labour specifically. This is the problem with FPTP.

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
27 days ago

Your spoilt ballot will be ignored. In citing the suffragettes, are you going to betray their cause by not casting a valid vote?
Find a candidate who supports your point of view. Place an “X” against their name. Above all, keep campaigning; your voice is essential to the democratic process.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
25 days ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

But then there’ll be something else significant that she cannot vote for in the other candidate’s beliefs. Joan was a Labour Party member up until two days ago; she isn’t going to vote Conservative or Reform. Spoiling a ballot won’t be very effective, that’s true, but she will still show as having turned out to vote, which is obviously important to her, and does not therefore betray the fight of the suffragettes. It’s not her job to ensure that there is a candidate on the ballot that she can bring herself to vote for, short of standing herself or starting a new political movement, which she may well decide to do in the future. This is why I’m an advocate of the ‘None of the above’ box on the ballot paper, which may well receive more votes than many of the other candidates, perhaps sometimes even the winning one, and would certainly send a message more effectively than not voting or spoiling one’s ballot.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
21 days ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

There are many women who feel this way, and nearly all the other parties, Greens, Lib Dems and random Socialist independents are either declaring themselves to be TQ++ allies, or chucking out members who believe in sex-based reality. Even where candidates are gender critical, they are motivated to keep it quiet. It is very hard to find out precisely what candidates think. The Party of Women have (I think) about 15 candidates. But I know of at least 2 occasions where they were not allowed to participate in hustings. Locally in Nth London, the Labour Party got a venue to cancel because they decided the POW were a hate group. And yet I’ve never heard a Labour person condemn the death threats and masked men who show up to stop women or sex-realist clinicians from gathering.

R MS
R MS
27 days ago

I agree. This issue is for me a deal breaker. I will do the same.

Francisco Menezes
Francisco Menezes
27 days ago

I think giving the women the vote was a big mistake. Women carry our culture, our deepest beliefs, raise our children and teach them to be good persons. But women simply cannot state goals with a view to their own interests and are easy deceived by grifters, scammers, carpetbaggers and whole host of other nasty men that use them to achieve nefarious goals hurtful to women. This whole trans movement is pushed and perpetuated by women and it will destruct their lives and those of their children because if and when the backlash comes the revenge will be horrendous.

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
27 days ago

Might i suggest that a great number of women are not only more intelligent than you, but are (in your own words) able to “state goals with a view to their own interests” in a way superior to that which you seem to to be able to manage.
Maybe you should have the franchise withdrawn from yourself?

David Morley
David Morley
27 days ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

Obviously I don’t agree with Francisco, but there does seem to be evidence that women are more significantly affected by social contagion, and more influenced by social media. They seem to be more “mimetic” than men, looking to others to determine how they should live and what they should think. Clearly this is not universal, but it does seem to be a significant difference between men and women.

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
27 days ago
Reply to  David Morley

It does amuse me that we have had 3 women PMs and I would say only 1 of them was any good, but feminists like Joan would say none of them were any good.

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
24 days ago
Reply to  Adrian Smith

Something to ponder on. Not too long though. Women have competed against women for all of eternity.

Francisco Menezes
Francisco Menezes
27 days ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

.

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
27 days ago

Watch YouTube video by Jennifer Bilek about the ‘sudden’ emergence of Trans which is a top-down movement pushed by very wealthy men.

However, Kellie-Jay Keane agrees that the willingness of women to scupper their own rights is based on their desire to fit in with groups and tendency to be less likely to buck prevailing trends.

Ian_S
Ian_S
27 days ago

You’re making gross overgeneralizations. I think you ought to meet my wife if you think all women are gullible pushovers. Failing that, watch an episode of Judge Judy.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
26 days ago
Reply to  Ian_S

For every woman like your wife, and mine for that matter, another woman is willing to see females be exploited for the sake of being seen as a good person. Just look at the attacks on the ladies who oppose the trans madness; there is no shortage of other women shouting alongside the men pretending to be women.

b blimbax
b blimbax
17 days ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

“[T]here is no shortage of other women shouting alongside the men pretending to be women.” Aw, they just believe that it’s important to “stand by your man,”* no matter how he’s dressed.
*https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zc4e-HdlhPY

Janet G
Janet G
26 days ago

The trans movement is funded and pushed by American male billionaires who claim to be women.

David Lindsay
David Lindsay
27 days ago

Like several other regular contributors on matters of gender identity including J.K. Rowling, Joan Smith bears more than a passing resemblance to the middle-aged, middle-class women who are conspicuous at trans events. Young men tend to be sceptical of this as much as of #MeToo, as well as tending to be very left-wing economically, and strongly anti-war internationally; all those things are connected.

But behind a small number of mostly older male transvestites march hordes of young women, a large minority but still a minority of whom think that they are men. Alongside those young women march a goodly number of their academic instructors and administrators of the same sex, as such instructors and administrators do now tend to be. Whether she likes it or not, Judith Butler is a woman. By some distance, she is the most cited female academic in the world. And who is citing her? Humanities academia is ever more heavily female.

It is the Conservative Government that is presiding over gender self-identification day in and day out. The whole of the public sector and its vast network of contractors now simply presuppose it. It has come to be treated as already the law only since 2015. Go back to 2010, and the concept itself was unheard of. This has happened entirely under the Conservatives, and without anything so vulgar as a Commons Division. How about one?

In December 2022, there was a rare television depiction of Margaret Thatcher. In Prince Andrew: The Musical, she was played by one Baga Chipz, a drag queen. Well, of course she was. Gender self-identification is the inexorable logic of the self-made man or the self-made woman, and a figure comparable to Thatcher, emerging in the Britain of the 2020s, would be assumed to be a transwoman, just as Thatcher herself emerged in the Britain of everything from Danny La Rue and d**k Emery to David Bowie and The Rocky Horror Show. In a generation’s time, everyone will be saying out loud that Tony Blair had always been as androgynous as Thatcher. Leo Abse wrote eye-opening books on both.

Still in thrall to one the two most androgynous figures ever to have emerged in British public life, who destroyed the stockades of working-class male employment while creating a new ruling elite of middle-class woman funded and empowered by the State, the Right produces almost none of its own gender critics, and of course ignores the absolute soundness of the Morning Star and of Counterfire on gender self-identification, or the fact that both the Alba Party, and the Workers Party of Britain, have been founded in no small measure because of this issue. Instead, a platform is given to ostensible refugees from a Left from which their economic views had often suggested a dislocation, and their foreign policy views even more so, long before anyone remotely mainstream had ever suggested that human beings could change sex, or that biological sex did not exist.

Knowing their new audience and that it paid a lot better than their old one, and manifesting the fact that centrism and right-wing populism were con tricks to sell exactly the same economic and foreign policies to different audiences by pretending to wage a culture war, the permitted voices of gender criticism joined gleefully in the takedown of Jeremy Corbyn, are gearing up for another round of that against his Independent candidacy, broadly hint that they think that Alex Salmond was a rapist, simply call Julian Assange a rapist in so many words, therefore never miss an opportunity to brand George Galloway “a rape apologist”, and parrot the #IBelieveHer case for the genocide of Gaza, a case that several of them have made for every previous neoconservative war, and most of them for at least one.

Those of a certain age have dusted down the file of lurid allegations that they deployed against white working-class men during the Satanic panic of the Thatcher years, and which have been levelled, practically word for word, against every designated enemy since. At best, they raise no objection to the same treatment of racialised communities in Britain, who are today’s Enemy Within, which is why that status will very soon be enjoyed again by the working class in general and by working-class men in particular, insofar as that has ever ceased to be the case.

In the meantime, people whose intersection of sex, class and generation matches the gender critics’ perfectly, and who are usually the same colour as well, expel pro-ceasefire students, send in thugs to give them a beating, connive to revoke their visas, and so on. All while driving out or keeping down the gender critics, and while marching with those who threatened them with extreme violence. Those centrist mums and centrist aunties need to have a word with their own peers.

Susan Grabston
Susan Grabston
27 days ago

Congratulations. As an adult human female I, too, could not now vote Labour. I fought too hard to get througj the glass ceiling 25 years ago to see biological men take women’s places in boardrooms as part of a diversity and inclusion drive. Starmer has real form on this one, and Dodds should know better. If I were a parent of young kids in 2024 I would be home schooling. The politicisation of everything, but particularly this topic, is a head mess of some proportions. As someone once counsrlled me: your children are not a social experiment.

Arkadian Arkadian
Arkadian Arkadian
27 days ago
Reply to  Susan Grabston

You don’t have to be necessarily an adult human *female* to find yourself unable to vote labour. Your feeling is shared among the male variety too.

David Morley
David Morley
27 days ago
Reply to  Susan Grabston

The politicisation of everything, but particularly this topic, is a head mess of some proportions. 

Totally agree on this! But then “the personal is political …….”

Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
27 days ago

Sorry ladies, transgenders are the helpless victims du jour so that means that ordinary women must go to the back of the bus.
You could switch from voting for the party of the educated class and pitch in with the party the ordinary middle class — you know which it is — but I think that you chapettes are probably too snobby for that.

S Wilkinson
S Wilkinson
27 days ago

I’m doing exactly that.
Tribal politics can’t sway me on this issue. Labour has left me rather than the other way round. My vote will go to my Conservative candidate.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
27 days ago

Cannot believe that one of Britain’s main parties – and the one who likes to think of itself as “progressive” – is still acting out that deeply retro reflex of expecting women to be pliable, amenable and quiet as their rights are encroached upon.
Congratulations to the author on making her decision to leave Labour. It’s such a pity that Britain’s electoral system makes it highly unlikely that both parties can be annihilated at once, they totally deserve it.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
27 days ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

I think your wish (and that of every democrat) will probably be granted at the next election. For the foreseeable future until the electoral system is reformed elections will be won by anyone but the incumbent.

David Morley
David Morley
26 days ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

still acting out that deeply retro reflex of expecting women to be pliable, amenable and quiet …

You could describe this in many ways, but retro isn’t one of them! Retro would be a return to more clearly defined ideas of masculinity and femininity – like the ones we had in the past. But I guess that wouldn’t be welcome either.

For those who set out to dismantle gender (you may not be one of them) – what on earth did they think a post-gender world would look like?

Janet G
Janet G
26 days ago
Reply to  David Morley

From what I saw of the video of the Brighton Let Women Speak event last week-end a post-gender world consists of bullied women and big loud men with big loud noise instruments who intimidate them, and a police force that punishes a woman who speaks the truth but fails to arrest men who threaten and attack women.

David Morley
David Morley
25 days ago
Reply to  Janet G
Rob N
Rob N
27 days ago

1.Women not only vote more for the TRA parties but are also the most vociferous TRAs. What is wrong with them?

2 More women are trans. What is wrong with them?

Is there a common feature dominating TRAs?

S Wilkinson
S Wilkinson
27 days ago
Reply to  Rob N

1. It’s what I’ve seen called ‘toxic empathy’. Women are socially conditioned to side with the underdog – look in any supermarket at the girls’ clothes and I guarantee there’ll be at least one item with “Be kind” emblazoned on it. You’ll find the same girls and women in Just Stop Oil etc. They want approval for their efforts though and use it as a measure of their worth – it’s not as altruistic as they’d like you to think – so they attach themselves only to particular causes where the group will praise their efforts.
2. Two reasons. ‘Toxic femininity’ – girls and young women are struggling with the often porn fuelled identities they see on offer and being ‘non binary aromantic asexual’ allows them to opt out without censure. That’s only part of it though; mostly it’s social contagion which girls are far more vulnerable to than boys. That’s why most trans identified females are young in contrast to the age profile of trans identified males whose motivations are totally different.

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
27 days ago
Reply to  S Wilkinson

Nice summary, thank you. Toxic empathy is an excellent concept.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
25 days ago
Reply to  S Wilkinson

Goods points. also I think it is the desire to be important coupled with a lack of important practical skills needed to keep civilisation running. We have a problem with sewage. What would help is Biochemical Engineers to design sewage works but Biochemical Engineering is very tough, practically the same as taking degrees in Biochemistry and Chemical Engineering together.
Biochemical Engineering MSc | Prospective Students Graduate – UCL – University College London

2 plus 2 equals 4
2 plus 2 equals 4
27 days ago

As far as I’m aware I have no substantial disagreements with Joan Smith on the need to protect women’s rights against the madness that redefining what a woman is to be whatever delusional men want.

Some acknowledgement would be nice though that there were people warning all along that this is inevitably where identity politics would take us. But they were largely ignored and dismissed as right wing, bigots, fascists, Trump supporters or whatever the insult-de-jour progressives favoured at that point.

Quitting Labour now is all well and good. It’s just a bit after the horse has bolted, I’m afraid.

David Morley
David Morley
27 days ago

stop making dishonest claims about “toxicity on both sides”

I’d describe that as a pretty accurate picture of the situation as it stands! Toxic on both sides.

2 plus 2 equals 4
2 plus 2 equals 4
27 days ago
Reply to  David Morley

Happy to be corrected, but I’ve yet to hear of one example of trans rights events being surrounded by groups of screaming gender critical feminists wearing balaclavas and masks, trying to prevent them speaking. Can you point any out please, so we can see how toxic it is on both sides?
This exact thing happens the other way round at pretty much every event where gender critical women gather publicly to speak about their rights. Such as the Brighton Let Women Speak event this last weekend.

David Morley
David Morley
26 days ago

Here’s a little gem to be going on with – from the good old days when it was feminists shutting down men’s rights related events. Back when they were doing the cancelling and closing down events. Just in case your memory is a little short:

https://youtu.be/hx5x0Ztffm4?si=w-0dxlHK5YciZREG

Ian_S
Ian_S
27 days ago
Reply to  David Morley

Are you saying that because you believe women’s rights are toxic? Or what?

Andrew R
Andrew R
27 days ago

A leader who’s looking to become Prime Minister and a shadow member who is likely to become Foreign Secretary having both stated that a women can indeed have a pen1s, this should automatically dissuade anyone from voting Labour.

Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
27 days ago

I joined once. I found them all chauviniste, as the French put it. I wasn’t interested in a party that was a mouthpiece for the trade unions. It all sounded corporatism back then in the 00s and now it’s been taken over by identity politics and Eurofederalism.

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
27 days ago

There will be 2 factors that challenge the legitimacy of a massive Labour majority, the main one will be a low turnout and the other will be the size of the Reform vote in return for so few seats. By Joan and others like her spoiling her ballot she will count in turnout.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
27 days ago

Hi Joan, what was your view when the Garrick Club was coerced into admitting women to its single-sex male space? Asking for a friend.

Tony Nunn
Tony Nunn
26 days ago

I’m not convinced that allowing women into a traditional gentlemen’s club is comparable to allowing men who purport to be women into women’s toilets and changing rooms.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
26 days ago

Well I would imagine it would be the same if the women wanted entry to the Garrick club based on everyone being made to believe they were men.

Sarah Lane
Sarah Lane
27 days ago

I have been told that if enough people spoil their ballot sheet the numbers need to be recorded. Does anyone know if this is true and, if so, what numbers are needed? I too will not be voting Labour, having done so in every election so far. It’s hard to judge how much influence this issue will have on the election, as hardly any of the mainstream media are referencing it. Time will tell….

0 0
0 0
26 days ago

It did appear there was some risk of what you fear at one point that’s not how things have settled down. No worries voting Labour. ( Most women do.)

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
26 days ago

A lot of people tried to warn about this long ago. They were, of course, dismissed as phobes and whatnot. Some of those doing the warning were gays and lesbians, but that was long before the alphabet mafia was co-opted by all the other letters of mediocre people desperately seeking attention. Meanwhile, among those doing the dismissing were biological women, who let partisanship and ideological capture trump good sense. And here we are.
This is the nature of activism and it always has been. It doesn’t matter that every gay rights issue of our time has gone in the group’s favor; activism means never taking ‘yes’ for an answer or claiming victory. Instead, the reaction is to find a new beachhead and invent a new issue to carry on the cause.
There is also a “what goes round….” quality to this to be found in this line of the story: “When women raise the need for single-sex spaces with Labour candidates, the response will more than likely be: “but trans”. Feminists made the crashing of once male-only spaces a big part of their agenda. Perversely, those people have gotten exactly what they wanted. I feel sorry for the women who were failed by the movement then and now.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
26 days ago

David Morley writes “Toxic on both sides”. This is totally untrue; the toxicity is coming exclusively from the trans activist side – the threats of violence, rape and death never come from gender realists, even when they state their views very strongly

Martin Goodfellow
Martin Goodfellow
26 days ago

Some people left the Labour Party back in the Blair era because they felt it was being too much influenced by feminists. This was not because they were anti-woman, just anti sexual politics. It might be concluded that the feminists’ influence on Labour has resulted in the present Trans debacle, with which it is more in-line than with the rights of workers and traditional families. Unfortunately, no party now represents the latter except through a feminist influenced glass. Welcome to the wilderness, Joan. (p.s., Reform is also full of confusions and is not the answer.)

Janet G
Janet G
26 days ago

‘the feminists’ influence on Labour has resulted in the present Trans debacle,’. You ignore the big money and influence coming from US billionaires.

Julyan Lidstone
Julyan Lidstone
26 days ago

This issue of Labour’s support for trans rights and education has brought me to the point of not casting my vote for anyone at this election. The Tories have become too toxic to support, with the latest scandal of insider information betting on the date of the election just the latest straw. I live in Scotland, so weakening the voice of SNP is critical. I was therefore going to vote Labour, but now their playing with gender threatens to subvert the essential fabric of family and society. For the first time in my life I think I am going to sit this election out.

S M
S M
26 days ago

Thank you, Joan- You have eloquently summarised the views and frustrations that many of us quietly hold, and the reasons that many of us will no longer be voting Labour. I hope all the parties get the message. As you say, ‘The party has taken an inexplicable decision to treat women, who make up half the population, as less deserving of attention than the tiny proportion who are transgender.’ And so they’ve lost us.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
26 days ago

Transgenderism is just the latest evolutionary jump of Cultural Marxism started by the Frankfurt School in 1919. One aspect which is often ignored was to undermine traditional sexual mores. Gramsci took the idea and and then developed the idea of infiltrating all organisations, especially cultural ones. Herbert Marcuse and French Post Modernist Marxists further refined cultural Marxism. Starmer has a Trotskyist past, which he has hidden very well.
Herbert Marcuse realised in the mid 1960s that the blue collar manual workers just wanted decent pay for a good days work and were not interested in class war. Consequently he developed a plan to unite a series of groups who considered themsleves marginalised – African Americans, Homosexuals , women, etc . The result violence in cities, collapse of good quality education, vast numbers of women undertaking degrees with low earning ability( not electronic engineering) and a massive decline in well paid skilled manual and middle class jobs. Thomas Sowell explains it all.
Thomas Sowell Quotes – BrainyQuote
What did Labour do to stop Pakistani Muslim men grooming mainly white working class girls ? When Anne Cryer MP, a Labour MP she was ostracised by the Labour Party.
Joan Smith appears a slow learner when it comes to the Labour Party and women.

Adam P
Adam P
26 days ago

Bridget Phillipson is a massive Newcastle United fan who works for the people of Sunderland.Tells you all you need to know about what she is prepared to do for power.

Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
26 days ago

There are males and there are females. There are serious mental health issues that need attending.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
25 days ago

It’s funny how much the supposedly kindly and caring left is often on the wrong side of things and looks awful from a future vantage point. Witness the US Democratic Party, prior to the civil war it was at best ambivalent about slavery (leave it to each State to decide) and at worst positively supported slavery. It was the apparently evil centre-right Republican party that opposed something we all now agree is evil

Might this be a similar case now? What might future generations make of this postmodern nonsense?

M Harries
M Harries
25 days ago

You should vote for Kellie-Jay Keen’s Party of Women or you should support Kemi Badenoch’s and Braverman’s side. Ask yourself what they know that you don’t in supporting the Conservatives.

It is beyond me how any woman can support 99.9% Starmer.

“99.9% of women don’t have a p***s”. There has never been, nor will there ever be, such an idiotic claim made by a human being.

M Harries
M Harries
25 days ago

What has floored me is hearing Kathleen Stock will vote Labour, which is clearly chickens for KFC. How bizarre!

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
22 days ago

Perfectly expressed. I’m going to spoil my ballot paper too. Labour side with the strong and well connected against the interests of half the population including the most vulnerable women and girls. They don’t care how many confused young people are attracted down a rainbow pathway leading to irreversible surgeries and medication for life. They are unshockable when it comes to female rape victims receiving ‘care’ from men. Nurses have to fight so that they don’t have to undress in front of a man with autogynephilia. When a man gets his GRC will he be allowed to get extra help with breastfeeding? (Already happening anyway). Will we be able to have our language back if it upsets men? Or will we continue to be categorised as ‘chest feeders’, ‘pregnant people’ and all the rest of the anti-sexed language, for the benefit of a small (but growing) minority of men. The reason I anticipate the numbers growing, is because schools are educating children to believe in gender ideology. And potentially gay, or gender-nonconforming children are most likely to be vulnerable to the mad belief that they are ‘in the wrong body’. So we can add homophobia to the contempt for women and negligence toward children.