Left versus left in TERF war

A column by Rachel Stewart in the Herald on Wednesday stoked up the TERF war on the left. This is an ongoing and often vitriolic debate:

3 September (YourNZ) – Transphobic TERF wars of words

28 November (NZ Herald) – Rachel Stewart: TERF a derogatory term to shut down debate

Stewart did make a conspiracy claim that warrants questioning:

Sure enough, American transgender lobby groups are being funded by the likes of billionaires Warren Buffett and George Soros. Why? Because investors want to help normalise the altering of basic human biology, and Big Pharma stands to make a fortune. It’s already started.

But the TERF battle received the most attention:

TERF stands for ‘trans-exclusionary radical feminist’ and is used as a way of denigrating any woman who questions the current craze of people – overwhelmingly men – who say they were born into the wrong body.

Basically, it’s a derogatory and offensive label and is used to shut down debate on the fraught subject of transgender rights.

Just a cursory glance on social media quickly provides enough evidence to prove it’s anything but a neutral term – as users often claim. It’s common to see slogans like “Kill all TERFs”, and who’re often described as Nazis, fascists and bigots.

This just inflamed things.

Daring to question this, I’m now regularly referred to as a TERF. Boxed up, compartmentalised, and considered fair game by those who enjoy hunting in packs online.


Unfortunately that’s the nature of a lot of online ‘debate’ – personal attacks are rife. In this case it is largely left wing versus left wing.

The power of debate is being overrun by the power of berate, and worse.





Louisa Wall’s speech at Pride Parade hui ‘circus’

Labour MP Louisa Wall was recorded speaking at a recent Pride Parade hui that has further highlighted the fraught factional gender debate surrounding this year’s parade, and also on “the whole gender identity issue”.

Wall “To be honest I think fundamentally that is part of the issue, that we’ve been infiltrated by people who are trying to divide and rule us”.

Wall made some controversial comments, in particular:

“So I’m here to say, that my whole thing is I don’t want any fucking Terfs at the Pride Parade”. But Wall also provides context around the current debate. The whole context of her speech is important.

The organisation of the Pride Parade this year has highlighted growing problems in the LGBTQ+ community, with division and exclusion – the opposite of what the Pride Parade was supposed to be about – festering and sometimes blowing out into the open.

There have been claims that the organising committee has been hijacked by radical activists – and if People Against Prisons Aotearoa (they want to shut all prisons and disband the police force) have taken some degree of control then others should be concerned.

Media were excluded from the hui, but Stuff reported: Auckland Pride Parade’s hui over police uniform ban turns into ‘a circus’

A physical scuffle broke out at a meeting of the Auckland rainbow community to discuss the ban on uniformed police marching in the city’s 2019 Pride Parade.

Before the start of the meeting, Tim Foote, an independent facilitator on behalf of the Pride board, also asked media if they had taken any notes and told them to leave the meeting at Grey Lynn Community Centre on Sunday night, which was attended by about 250 people.

The meeting was described as “emotional” and “a circus” by an attendee.

A number of attendees walked out when the scuffle broke out between an older man and a founder People Against Prisons Aotearoa. Its “No Pride In Prisons” group has been advocating for police to be excluded from the parade.

Another attendee, who requested not to be named in fear of the repercussions, told Stuff the meeting was a farce from start to finish.

Tracy Phillips, co-ordinator of the New Zealand Police’s diversity liaison officer (DLO) service, responded by saying: “We’re certainly not going to force our way in, and we’ve taken that message as we are not welcome.”

In a Facebook post made while the meeting was still underway, Rainbow Tick chief executive  Michael Stevens said organisers had underestimated the number of people wanting to attend, and the meeting had been “a shambles”.

Stevens said the Pride Board had “totally underestimated the depth of division they’d created with their decision. If that’s how they’re running the Pride Parade then God help them”.

A source told Stuff it was “the ugliest meeting I have been to in a long time”.

Louisa Wall, Labour’s MP for Manurewa, said she had gone to the meeting as a member of the community, because she had “wanted to understand how we got to this place”.

A recording of Louisa Wall addressing the hui has emerged via Speak Up for Women:

Stop Hate Speech

Here’s the full recording of MP Louisa Wall’s hate speech targeting women during the Pride Hui earlier this week.

The recording was made in secret by a hui attendee who will not speak publicly for fear of the attacks and threats they have already been subjected to. We demand that our MPs promote respectful dialogue on women’s legitimate concerns with proposed changes to the Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationship Registration Act.

Some of what Wall said:

I want to actually commend you on your consultation, I think it’s really important. As you began the journey you actually listened to the community.

And the other bottom line for us all, I mean the whole gender identity issue and trans exclusion is huge. Right? It’s a global issue at the moment, and I think none of us want to see the exclusion of our trans sisters.

Up until this stage the speech was interspersed with clapping.

To be honest I think fundamentally that is part of the issue, that we’ve been infiltrated by people who are trying to divide and rule us.

No clapping after this line, but some inaudible comments could be heard, after which Wall continued uninterrupted.

Part of the issue is we have had a decision made based on as Sissy has articulated, a series of consultations. but what is really difficult for the community is actually since 2013, and we need to look at the context, the police were initially asked not to march in uniform.

Ok, so in 2013, when the Pride parade started, the police participated not in uniform, but since 2014 the police have been able to participate and march in uniform.

Historically as a community we know we’ve had an issue with the police. Historically as a community we know we’ve had an issue with Corrections.

So these issues are not discrete.

But I think what’s happened is the board has made it’s decision based on listening to the community, and we are all now here together because the decision they made was actually to listen to our community. So we have to thank them, which is why i have started by thanking Sissy and her team for what they have undertaken. Now…

Clapping and ‘hear hear’.

And as we move forward, and herein lies a bit of a, it’s an ironic, h, part of the police’s history, ’cause I do want to acknowledge you Tracy, and I also want to acknowledge our brothers and sisters, LGBCQ, whanau and the police.

I’m actually here representing my friend Whiti Timutimu, who is the Maori Responsiveness Adviser for the New Zealand Police…she’s the first Maori woman serving in the Police having a moku. She couldn’t be here, she’s based in Gisborne.

But the Police are doing an amazing job at diversifying…The Police are exemplifying at the moment diversity and inclusion, and that’s the irony of this decision…

And having a meeting, and possibly rolling the Board, we all need to just take a big deep breath, and actually focus on what Pride is all about.

Everybody who’s here has been motivated to get here tonight because we are proud to be members of the LGBT community…all of us want the same thing,

But, what we also have acknowledge is for our trans community, I believe they are still the most marginalised, excluded group in our LGBT community, and I stand here as takaatapui Lesbian woman, who feels fucking grateful that my identity means I get access to services that I need.

And our trans whanau do not experience life like we do. We have to fight and support their rights and their ability to speak up, and I do also want to acknowledge what you said Bobby, ’cause it’s true when we look at the Police Complaints Authority, the Human Rights Authority (I’m there tomorrow), and our trans whanau too, if you are feeling victimised and abused and not listened to, and your complaints are not getting through to institutions which again highlight the fact that if there are some discrimination and issues in our community, then we’ve got a problem.

But the people we need to be working with are those diversity liaison officers, and ourselves with our community. We’ve got the capacity, we’re bloody strong, and when we speak in a unified voice, we can get change.

So I’m here to say, that my whole thing is I don’t want any fucking Terfs at the Pride Parade.

Much cheering and clapping.

Speak up for Women define terf: The word ‘terf’ is hate speech used to belittle and threaten anyone who rejects the premises or conclusions of transgender ideology.  It is used to dehumanise and incite violence.

Sorry about swearing everybody

So that’s why I’m sorry I took a bit more time, but can we just show some compassion, some aroha, some love, some support for one another. And that’s my korero for tonight.

So spoke a bit more after that and then closed her speech.

Small parts of that speech have led to a reaction, including frowns over a ‘secret’ recording, but I think that if small parts are going to be quoted then wider context is important.


Transphobic TERF wars of words

It really isn’t clear to me what this is all about, but a tweet from Labour MP Kiri Allan (recently suggested as a candidate for promotion to Minister) has some people reacting.



TERF is an acronym for Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist. Sometimes, “exclusionary” is expanded as “eliminationist” or “exterminationist” instead to more accurately convey the degree to which TERFs advocate for harm towards trans people, specifically trans people who were coercively assigned male at birth.

Some TERFs call themselves “gender-critical feminists”, a term which is synonymous with “TERF”.

Unsurprisingly, many TERFs complain that “TERF” should be regarded as a slur.


Transphobia is a range of negative attitudes, feelings or actions toward transgender or transsexual people, or toward transsexuality. Transphobia can be emotional disgust, fear, violence, anger, or discomfort felt or expressed towards people who do not conform to society’s gender expectation.[1][2] It is often expressed alongside homophobic views and hence is often considered an aspect of homophobia.[3][4] Transphobia is a type of prejudice and discrimination similar to racism and sexism,[5] and transgender people of color are often subjected to all three forms of discrimination at once.

Other than that I’m really not getting what the aim of all this is.

I’m generally for leaving people to be how they want to be. Labelling seems to be causing some strife.

I still don’t really get it.

Ah, this might have something to do with it.

Stuff:  Battle lines drawn between feminists and trans activists over sex self identification

Hostilities between feminists and transgender activists are coming to a head as the sex self identification debate heats up.

The two parties are arguing over a biological woman’s right to be labelled a woman.

Trans Dignity Collective is lobbying on proposed changes to patient identification data – arguing the “concept of ‘biological sex’ is inherently derogatory towards trans people.”

The collective “categorically opposes” the inclusion of a ‘biological sex recorded at birth’ field, which would “constitute a willful refusal to treat trans people with dignity and respect.”

Dunedin feminist Charlie Montague says the debate over people being able to self-identify as women has become aggressive.

A public meeting hosted by campaign group Speak Up for Women, will be held on Thursday in Wellington to “peacefully” discuss conflicts between women’s rights and proposed changes around self identification.

The collective’s argument comes as a process is underway to make legal changes to sex on birth certificates easier.

Montague and other lesbians and radical feminists argue that gender identity trumping biological sex will have far reaching implications for the rights women have fought for, including women’s only spaces like changing rooms, prisons and women’s refuges being infringed upon by men claiming to be women.

“Why are we replacing biology with ideology?” Montague said.


Earlier this month Wellington feminist Renee Gerlich’s posters celebrating 125 years of women’s suffrage were pulled by Phantom Billstickers over rainbow youth group’s concerns they were transphobic.

“This whole idea of sex self-identification, that government now wants enable as a one-step process, means we lose any robust, shared definition of sex. That in turn undermines all sex-based protections, which are especially important for women,” Gerlich said.

The implementation of sex self-identification with a single administrative declaration would allow convicted male sex offenders who identify as women – men like Rory FrancisAlex Seu and Malcolm Platt – to gain automatic access to women’s prisons upon sentencing.

“In short, these government proposals represent an unprecedented roll back of gains that women have fought hard for, and women need not only to be allowed to voice concerns about them – if this is a democracy, lawmakers should be actively seeking to hear women’s concerns and objections, and should be setting up opportunities for those to be aired freely,” Gerlich said.

Both Corrections and Department of Internal Affairs said they had provided advice on the Births, Deaths & Marriages Registration Bill currently before Parliament, and would see what happened.

Ah, there’s a bill before parliament causing some angst and arguments.

Self identification of one’s gender at one’s convenience could potentially have some unintended consequences.

Time to TERF ineffective teachers?

ACT MP David Seymour has reacted to the teacher protests with a provocative suggestion – should under-performing teachers be TERFed out?

In this week’s ACT Free Press:

Teacher Unions’ Odd Position
Teachers will strike this week, forcing parents all over the country to make alternative arrangements.  Their concern?  That principals and boards of trustees will be given more flexibility in how they use their funding.  They believe this will lead to fewer teachers being employed, but why would that be?

How it Plays out in Partnership Schools
ACT’s Partnership Schools have total flexibility in their funding.  They have generally used this flexibility to economise on material things and employ more teachers.  It is not clear why the teacher unions believe state schools would use flexibility to employ fewer teachers, unless…

Not All Teachers Are Created Equal
The unions’ job (not the teachers’) is to ensure all teachers get the same rigid pay scale regardless of performance.  Free Press visited a top New Zealand firm that uses sophisticated 360 degree feedback on staff behaviour and performance to set remuneration but this is not possible under collective agreements.

The Realpolitik of Teachers’ Unions
The unions’ real concern about flexibility is that it will affect their core business: making sure the best teacher in New Zealand is paid the same as the worst.  A more flexible funding model (like what’s used in Partnership Schools) could allow greater pay for good teachers, at the expense of those who aren’t producing solid results for their students.

Time to TERF
We have had it suggested by several former state school principals that while most teachers are wonderful, children are held back by those who aren’t (we can all remember one or two).  The police used to have a scheme called PERF (Police Employment Rehabilitation Fund) that would pay out those who could no longer perform for various reasons.  Perhaps it is time to consider a dignified exit for underperforming teachers who are just waiting to collect their Superannuation – TERF?