My presentation in November's webinar for Women's Declaration International - Australia & New Zealand.
I accepted the invitation to be in November’s webinar for Women’s Declaration International Australia & New Zealand with much pleasure. It is a fantastic platform for women in both our countries to join together and talk about what is going on for women, sometimes specifically in relation to gender ideology, and sometimes more broadly. In this webinar, I give a spiel about the engagement I’ve had with the Christchurch City Council’s (NZ) over their decision to allow men who identify as women into the women’s session at Te Pou Toetoe:Linwood Pool.
I’m on in the below link from 23.25 to 37.30 –
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Apologies about the flashing lenses in my presentation (note to self: go and get those non-reflective lenses you’ve been talking about getting forever!)
For those who can’t access the link, or prefer to read my presentation, this is it below –
Hello everyone, I’m delighted to have been invited to talk about what I’ve been up to in the world of gender critical activism, and thought I’d tell the story of the engagement I’ve had with the Christchurch City Council. I’m sure it’s an engagement they wish they could break off, but sometimes I can be a bit hard shake off. My sister has been known to use the phrase “you’re like dad’ on occasion. I’ve never asked her outright if that’s a compliment or not, and, Jackie, if you’re watching this, it’s okay to keep that a secret.
It's likely that the Christchurch City Council would have only heard the occasional peep out of me, if they hadn’t started wandering off into the world of woke where no council has the business to be. I’m going to take a punt that my story will resonate with a few of you, if not directly, then broadly.
In October 2021, the council opened a new swimming pool complex in the suburb of Linwood. They invited prior feedback from the community about what classes and sessions they’d like at the pool, and there was an overwhelming request for a women’s session. So, the council duly implemented a weekly women’s session, and at the opening of the complex, the then mayor announced that the session also included “transgender women and people who identify as being a woman”. There was no indication whatsoever beforehand that men were going to be allowed access simply upon saying they were women. The council kept that bombshell firmly under their hats until they could drop it on the community at the opening ceremony. However, information obtained afterwards showed that they had been in cahoots about it beforehand with QTOPIA, Christchurch’s neo-rainbow group.
Initially, though, I and others sent our complaints to the Council’s generic email address, and all got the same pre-prepared template response. That response was a well-thought-out piece of misguidance. It started off by saying “By law, we cannot discriminate, and trans women and gender diverse people who identify as women are women”. It’s hard to make sense of exactly what the Council was saying there. It’s true that discrimination on the basis of identifying as the opposite sex wouldn’t be legal, but discrimination on the basis of sex is allowed. The Council is stating that “transwomen are women” in the manner of it being fact and law, when it isn’t. It’s simply a policy position that organisations adopt, not the law, as a lawyer has pointed out to them. If the Council took advice from what is written on the NZ Human Rights Commission website, then it’s understandable how they could be misled, because the information there about transpeople is cleverly worded to steer the reader into believing what the Human Rights Commission wants them to believe.
I asked the Council to provide their definition of a transwoman, and they came back with an excerpt from the Human Rights Commission’s ‘facts and information about transpeople’ which said “The Human Rights Commission defines a transgender woman as someone born with a male body who has a female gender identity”. So, clearly a man. This was in Dec 2021, but I can no longer find it on the HRC’s updated website.
I then asked if it was discriminatory to prohibit entry into the women’s session for men who don’t say they’re women, whilst allowing in men who do say they’re women? After all, what is the difference between a man who says he’s a woman, and a man who doesn’t? Doesn’t it seem like there are grounds in there somewhere for men to make a complaint about unfair discrimination, I asked? No answer.
The next statement in the Council’s initial template response went on to say “One of the Council’s goals is to provide equitable access to our services and resources, and in this case it is equitable to allow trans women into a women-only pool session.
These sessions are an opportunity for us to help people who often face barriers to participation to be more active in our facilities”.
It was suggested quite reasonably to the Council that an option could be to make a separate session for trans and gender diverse people, as Thorndon Pool in Wellington does, or split the women’s session so that there is an allotted section of time that is strictly women-only. The Council wouldn’t have a bar of it. Ensuing correspondence and OIA information revealed that they made their decision to allow men who say they’re women into the women’s session after engaging only with groups who took the position that men who say they’re women are women. They did not reach out, meet, or seek feedback from any groups or people who don’t hold that position. This ensured that the Council staff were fully conquered and captured by gender idealogues well before anyone else had a chance at providing some balance.
The template letter went on to say “Research shows that incidents of men impersonating woman simply to enter women-only areas as you have described are very rare. However we have taken steps to ensure this is a safe environment for all who attend.”
By this time, I’m beginning to believe that we’re deliberately being gaslit. I know – I can be a bit slow, sometimes. In all the years that women have had single-sex spaces, we had the right to kick men out, even those dressed as women, and we would be backed up by authorities. No wonder it was very rare for men to impersonate women simply for the purpose of entering women’s spaces. To prove their point, the Council provided one piece of documented evidence dated 2018 gleaned from public records of criminal incident reports in Massachusetts USA, which basically showed that any concerns about men who say they’re women being in women’s spaces were unfounded. How many women make official complaints to the police about unsavoury incidents in rest rooms, unless they’ve been physically assaulted? And why do we have to be assaulted before we’re allowed to not have men in our spaces? How many assaults would be enough? Why is it only physical assaults that matter? So many questions, so few answers forthcoming.
Despite how the entire history of humankind demonstrates that allowing free and unfettered entry into women’s spaces for men of any stripe is not a great scheme for women and girls, this modern live experiment on us is being entrenched into policy by the likes of the Christchurch City Council, and other councils. Those who blithely put the policies in place are careful not to provide any official platform to relate or record our stories and experiences with how these policies play out in real life. Conversely, officialdom everywhere fell over themselves to listen to the men who say they’re women tell their stories about why they needed to be in women’s spaces. And it’s only ever been stories, and/or self-selecting surveys. I’ve never seen a single scrap of hard evidence, like public records of criminal incidences, to show that men who say they’re women need specifically to be in women’s spaces. If safety was indeed the main concern for these men, then it stands to reason that they would be happy with other arrangements which ensured that.
The template letter continued with – to paraphrase – that if women didn’t like being in the communal changing room with men who say they’re women at Linwood Pool, then the women should leave and use one of the private stalls available. That’s right – if women don’t feel comfortable in a women’s space due to a man being in there with them, it’s the women who have to leave and isolate themselves in a cubicle.
A quick word about one reason we need to keep communal amenities for women, even if we also provide individual cubicles for those who prefer them, is that in communal amenities we experience the full range of the reality of what it is to be a woman. We see a snapshot of women and girls in all phases of life and in all our variety in a small space. A huge amount of information is subconsciously absorbed about the multiple facets of what it is to be a woman, both biologically and socially, just by using communal amenities. The same thing might be said for men, but I can’t speak for them. However, both women and men naturally learn about boundaries, as well, when we have single-sex amenities.
Getting back to the template letter, it said that offensive, inappropriate, or criminal behaviour would be “managed”. Having a man in the women’s space bollock naked apparently isn’t offensive or inappropriate if he says he’s a woman. So, there we have it direct from the Christchurch City Council that women are second-priority citizens even in their own spaces. And your Council may be the same. Seeing as they implement these policies by stealth as much as possible, you may only become aware of them if one day your daughter comes out of a communal female changing room and tells you that there’s man in there. Then it’s not impossible that the facility manager may imply it’s not their problem, but your daughter’s problem.
I can’t help but think that the Council wants actual physical harm to be perpetrated on women and girls before they’ll re-consider the policy of allowing men who say they’re women into our spaces. Putting safeguarding in place to ensure as much as possible that it never happens, is a thing of the past. From time to time, different people ask if there have been any men who say they’re women in the women’s session at Linwood Pool, or been in the communal changing area. Some are just asking out of curiosity, others, including politicians and councillors, they’re asking for ‘proof’ that it’s a problem. They want a body count, otherwise it apparently doesn’t count as a problem. They want actual harm to be done, and recorded, before it’s worthy of consideration. If there’s emotional or psychological harm, or the diminishing of our confidence to use public amenities and thereby reduce our public lives, they brush it aside and tell us that men who say they’re women are the most vulnerable, ignoring the stats of male against female violence, or stats out of the UK and USA which show that men who say they’re women are in prison for sexual assault at up to twice the rate of other men. The bottom line is that no woman or girl should ever have to go into women’s and girls’ spaces wondering if there’s going to be a man in there.
In early March 2022, I and some other women had a meeting with the staff from the Council’s recreation department. A cleverly worded phone call beforehand from the recreation department head tricked me into setting the parameters of the meeting, which he then ensured we didn’t stray from. I was naïve back then. The two Council staff and their lawyer at the meeting were absolutely obdurate that they were not going to change anything, and that if we wanted a women’s session without men in it, we would have to privately book the pool for our own use at set times.
After two years of communicating with the Council, I, and the lawyer mentioned near the beginning, had thoroughly dismantled their arguments for allowing men who say they’re women into women’s spaces. Then, a little while ago, I sent an email directly to the new Mayor’s office advising him of the recent poll the New Zealand Women’s Rights Party had commissioned, which was just one of five in the last year showing that a significant majority of those polled didn’t think that men who say they’re women should be allowed in women’s spaces and sports, nor agreed with sex self-ID, or a number of the sexuality guidelines for schools.
The response I got back was almost exactly the same as the template response received two years earlier, just from a different department this time.
For all those in New Zealand listening to this, know that your Council does not legally have to allow men who say they’re women into women’s spaces. If they do that, it is purely because they want to. If they say they legally have to, they are either misleading you, or have been misled themselves.
I’ll soon be giving an oral submission at a Council hearing on a pending new policy called the Equity and Inclusion Policy. This policy comes across as a way for the Council to potentially override their requirement to uphold women’s sex-based rights with their own overarching policy by excluding the word ‘sex’ and replacing it with ‘gender’. I’ll do my best to make a good case for at least including the word ‘sex’, as will others, but so far, the Council is adamant that they will not. Interestingly, in this policy they claim that “progress and impact will be reported on, and they will work to measure the wellbeing of our residents in our monitoring and reporting”. I will certainly ask where residents can provide feedback to aid the Council in monitoring how allowing men who say they’re women into women’s spaces impacts on women and girls, because that facility has been conspicuously absent nearly everywhere else.
We need councillors and staff again who understand that safeguarding is about putting processes in place which, as much as possible, ensure no harm happens, and not waiting for harm to happen before putting those safeguards in place. Those who believe it’s okay to wait until it does happen - and make no mistake, they fully realise that by letting men who say they’re women into women’s spaces it may happen – need to be replaced.
Councils need public pressure put upon them, and being my father’s daughter, I will continue to do that, but, of course, the more of us doing it, the merrier. Now that we have a new centre-right government, which, thanks to it being a coalition of three political parties, is steering away from the extreme wokery of the last government, we may start seeing a shift in local councils, too. Time will tell.
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