by Debbie Hayton
Wednesday, 30
June 2021
Reaction
11:00

Will trans activists back down after this court verdict?

A major new ruling punishes online abuse and harassment of women
by Debbie Hayton
How does belief become an identity? Credit: Getty

Transgender activists who think they can libel and defame women with impunity were served notice earlier this week when a High Court judgment awarded damages of £45,000 to a women’s rights campaigner who is known publicly as Jean Hatchet.

For far too long, far too many people — mostly male — have hidden behind transgender-identification in order to bully, harass and intimidate women who stand up for their sex-based rights. The website terfisaslur.com documents the sickening and ongoing tirade of abuse against women, slurred as “TERFs.”

But this case was personal. On 10 October 2018 – almost three years ago – defendant Shanu Varma published two tweets:

  • “Now you know where @jeanhatchet’s fundraising has gone !
  • “I raised this with her as my boss donated £1000 to her charity but the charity apparently only received a much smaller amount so she blocked me”

At the time, Hatchet was fundraising for a domestic violence charity. Those tweets attacked her integrity. Like me, Hatchet is a teacher; our careers depend on our reputation.

Hatchet told UnHerd that, “for more than two years my reputation and my work for women has been dragged through the mud since Shanu Varma’s tweets.” She was in no doubt why she had been singled out:

“This happens to feminist women on a regular basis because of our views on single-sex space for women which are perfectly legitimate and worthy of respect. It is a legal reminder to those aggressive trans activists and others that women not only “won’t wheesht” but sometimes they will also make you pay for the lies you tell about us.”
- Jean Hatchet

The bill is eye-watering. Including costs, Hatchet’s calculation reached £115,595.40. But the accusation was serious — theft — and public defamation. Transgender people have significant rights in the UK. We have our own protected characteristic — gender reassignment — but that covers us against less favourable treatment; it does not permit us to defame others and get away with it.

False accusations can be made in ignorance, but a rapid retraction and apology usually averts legal proceedings before they start. This case has been ongoing since 2018. If trans rights are human rights — and I think they are — then trans responsibilities are also human responsibilities. They include the obligation not to defame others, including women like Hatchet who “won’t wheesht” when their rights are under threat.

Join the discussion


  • I was going to complain about the term “ mostly male” ( it seems all the worlds problems are to do with being “mostly male”, maybe it would be far less so if there weren’t so many fe-males pushing those self same males forward). However, the phrase, in this instance, might actually be instructive. There seem to be a fair few social justice causes that get away with blue murder, and it’s been going on for a lot longer than the last few years might suggest. Maybe, just maybe, the veil is starting to slip, as men get involved in the act, that standing up for any perceived injustice does not give a person the right to take on the mantle of the worst aspects of the people or institutions they themselves accuse them of, without being held to account themselves.
    Anyway, I’m glad some obnoxious bully has had their comeuppance, although I doubt it will have much of an impact. Acceptance of what is right, or wrong, still seems very much dependant on the attitudes of the (lynch) mob.

  • In the blue corner, the feminists who want to put down any attempt by men to sneakily join the female ranks.
    In the red corner, the men who want to join the female ranks so that they feel mentally satisfied.
    Let battle commence!!!

  • In the common law system if you win the case you usually have costs awarded in your favour. However, this won’t guarantee full recovery of all costs incurred, but based on the numbers quoted she should come out ahead. Enforcing these orders is a separate issue.

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