We want 'sex' in our policies, to protect women's and girls' rights - not 'gender', which includes men.
When the Christchurch City Council, NZ, put out their Draft Equity and Inclusion Policy for public feedback, I was delighted to have Di Landy, from the Māori women’s gender critical group Mana Wāhine Kōrero (Sovereign Women Speak) join forces with me to make an oral submission to the Council about it.
The Draft Equity and Inclusion Policy has eschewed using the word ‘sex’, and uses ‘gender’ instead. Naturally, this leaves it wide open for any man who identifies as a woman to have free and unfettered access to women’s and girls’ spaces. What could possibly go wrong?
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The Council hearing panel for oral submissions consisted of three councillors. They were very polite, but at least one of them is perceived as likely being hell-bent on pushing this policy through, no matter how good the arguments against it are.
The meeting was live-streamed, but not recorded. However, one of the women who came along to support me and Di - who made her submission via Zoom - recorded it on her phone. Here is the recording in the link below. The audio is not as clear here as it was on her phone, so I have also copied and pasted the written versions of my and Di’s submissions underneath it.
KATRINA’S ORAL SUBMISSION -
Good morning – I do not agree with this overarching Equity and Inclusion policy, and how it will serve as a replacement for the other specifically named policies. The scope is far too broad and generalised to effectively and efficiently manage competing interests and needs between the stated groups of age, gender, disability, ethnicity, culture, faiths, geographical location, sexual orientation, and socio-economic status.
There are no guardrails in this policy to prevent whoever’s implementing it from drifting off-track into favouritism towards one group, nor guidance on how to weigh up conflicting interests and needs. Rather, it is an umbrella policy, where disparate groups are all placed into a melting-pot underneath it. This is the kind of situation where the already advantaged will be able to take the most advantage, and the loudest and/or most favoured groups will be able to apply the most pressure to the Council to make the policy work in the way they want it to. It has the potential to be extremely time and resource expensive in its management, due to being so open to interpretation. Whilst those here today may know exactly what they want from this policy, can it be guaranteed that others will know the same things from reading it, both now and in the future?
Although the Council claims adherence to the Bill of Rights Act and the Human Rights Act under the Legislation section of this policy, it’s unclear whether those Acts would take precedence over the Equity and Inclusion policy, in any matters of conflicts of interest, or whether the policy would be used instead to override those Acts at a local level.
Omitting the word ‘sex’ in the policy may have the effect of stymying the Council’s ability to protect women’s and girls’ sex-based rights and protections under these Acts, as is allowed. I would remind you that gender is not a legally protected characteristic, whereas ‘sex’ is. The word ‘gender’ may have been acceptable once when most people considered it to be a polite euphemism for sex, but it now has too many meanings to be clearly understood in policies which govern our lives. For example, gender can be interpreted as a social or cultural construct, or a euphemism for sex, or as gender identity. It’s possible that even more interpretations may develop as time goes on, due to its fluidity of application. Sex, however, has been definable for all of humankind’s existence. At this point, red herring questions often arise about gender non-conformity, but to answer them, accommodations as needed for gender non-conforming people can always be made in some way. But, they do not supercede women’s and girls’ sex-based rights.
A woman is an adult human female. Although the word ‘woman’ can be arbitrarily changed in certain circles to mean anyone who ‘identifies’ as one, we can’t change our sex, and there are times we need clear language to differentiate between the sexes. The word ‘gender’, on the other hand, can be used in a manner which allows any man who identifies as a woman to have free and unfettered entry into women’s and girls’ spaces, irrespective of how women and girls feel about that. It doesn’t matter if they never encounter such a man in their spaces - women and girls should always feel assured that, as much as possible, they won’t encounter a man of any stripe in spaces that are provided for their safety and dignity, and that they are important and valued enough to have those things protected. If a man who identifies as a woman goes into a women and girls’ space, women and girls will see a man, irrespective of his identity. It’s extremely rare for him to pass as a woman absolutely. What does that invasion of their space, whether potentially or actually experienced, do for their confidence to use public spaces, or their confidence in those they should be able to trust to protect them?
Therefore, I and Mana Wāhine Kōrero submit that this policy gets revoked due to it being highly unlikely to be able to protect women’s and girls’ sex-based rights and protections with clarity and confidence, nor any of the other groups mentioned in it.
Katrina Biggs, in whakawhanaungatanga with Mana Wāhine Kōrero.
DI’S ORAL SUBMISSION –
Christchurch City Council
53 Hereford Street, Christchurch 8013.
Councillor Celeste Donovan
Councillor Tyla Harrison-Hunt
Councillor Sara Templeton
Tēna kōe, kotoru
Ko Di Landy ahau
Ko Ngati Kahu tooku Iwi
Rangatira Mana Wāhine Korero.
Sovereign Women Speak
I am the Co-founder of Mana Wāhine Kōrero, alongside Michelle Uriarau. We are an international roopu of Māori Wāhine and whakawhanaungatanga. I am speaking today to address this latest foreigner's tool used against us - Sex Self-ID.
‘Gender’ does not mean sex. By using this term and allowing your policies to derive from it, you are equating adult men with women and girls. Is a man the same as a five-year-old girl? No, he is not. But your policy based on the nonsensical term ‘gender’ says that he is, and actively supports him entering a private space with that little girl, specifically to undress.
With regard to your using the Treaty to justify these decisions - you speak in reverential terms of Te Tiriti o Waitangi at the very same time that you violate it. Māori are not ‘one size fits all’.
We do not, for example, all agree on the use of the word ‘Aotearoa’. We do not share a complete history with each Iwi, of which there are 103.
We would like to remind you that our culture, our language, our traditions, our taonga, our beliefs and our protocols do not originate from academia, the State, or any foreign entity.
There is no evidence that ‘trans’ existed in pre-colonial times. Our rich history is full of love stories between the sexes. This love is clearly recorded as LGB not LGBT. There is also clear evidence of intersex in some Iwi whakapapa. There is no evidence of transgender ideology in our past.
Māori roles are very clearly delineated by sex and not gender. Gender is a modern concept. Mana Wāhine Korero do not agree that these New Age gender concepts are indigenous.
We emphatically refute that they are. Gender ideology is attaching to indigenous peoples globally, to give the illusion of authenticity and antiquity. Mana Wāhine Kōrero say Kao.
There are many reasons why females have sex segregated spaces. One hundred years of women's work that led to us even having women's rights has been thrown out the door.
Why do Kui, women of faith and our moko have to be shamed in public by the insertion of these unknown men in our spaces? Not everyone knows how to be circumspect around others. As Māori that have been immersed in Te Ao Māori, we know how to respect and protect each other's privacy.
You expect us to believe that all of these men, that are strangers, will be circumspect around others in the changing room? And why can't they solely use the gender-neutral facility? Why do women get ostracized out of the women's communal spaces. Why do these men have to be inserted into our space.? They are not women and 98% keep their penis. I can't believe I am having to say this.
There is provision in the BDMRR Bill to supply single sex spaces. Desegregating our private female spaces is a matter of policy, not law. You are choosing this at the expense of women. I would be interested to know what your rationale for removing women and children's spaces is. Let me guess - Kindness, Inclusion and Diversity?
I am shocked that anyone would disregard women and children's dignity, privacy and safety for an ideological belief. And even more enraged you are using the Treaty to do it.
This group of men are more than capable of making their own groups and spaces, just like Wāhine did.
Our new government intends to remove the RSE out of schools. The removal of the RSE is the beginning of the uncoupling of our governance from this ideological belief. I suggest that you do the same with council facilities and services.
Mana Wāhine Kōrero
The Council hearing panel will reconvene on 11th December 2023 to announce its decision on the policy, after taking in all the feedback.
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