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Anorak | Lily Madigan: Labour, women and a terf war

Lily Madigan: Labour, women and a terf war

by | 25th, November 2017

Lily Madigan was once Liam Madigan. Lily is now the women’s officer for the Labour Party branch in Rochester and Strood in Kent. She’s been in the news before. In October 2016, “Brave Lily” (Kent Online)  received an apology from St Simon Stock Catholic School, Maidstone, for sending her home for “wearing the wrong uniform” and “preventing her from using the girls’ toilets and changing rooms”.

Said Lily, who threatened to sue the school: “I decided to come in dressed in the girls’ dress code, which basically meant I was wearing a top instead of a shirt. It made me feel so happy, until I was sent home.”

Lily, 19, was born male but identifies as a woman. The Times explains how her new job works:

Labour Party rules state that “the women’s officer must be a woman”.

Why? Can only women understand and represent women? Do you need to have been a girl to know womanhood?

Ms Madigan said it was “misguided” to suggest she could not fulfil the duties of the role, simply because she was born male.

That part at least sounds right.

Teresa Murray, Medway councillor and vice-chairwoman of the executive committee of Rochester and Strood CLP, says “Lily will have to work very hard to convince other people that her very presence there is not going to undermine them”. Adding: “Someone who is an accountant would probably make a better treasurer initially, but that doesn’t mean we should only give the role to an accountant.”

Accountants are born for the job, of course. It’s not something you can learn. It’s something in you. It defines you. You’re just built that way. Accounting is in the genes. But that’s not to say others don’t think accountancy more representative of their true selves. If they want to dress in grey suits, part their hair to the side and carry a briefcase, then that is their right.

Ella Whelan has more background:

Madigan hit the headlines after arguing that Anne Ruzylo, a Labour Party women’s officer in a different constituency, should be sacked for being ‘transphobic’. Ruzylo, a lesbian, feminist and trade unionist, had criticised the sanctification of the trans movement. For this, she was labelled a ‘terf’ (trans exclusionary radical feminist) and was harassed by transgender activists online. Eventually, the executive committee of Ruzylo’s local Labour branch resigned in protest at her mistreatment.

“I feel quite violated,” Ms Ruzylo told The Times. “I’ve worked as a trade unionist for 30 years and I’ve never been shut down in this way. It’s disgusting… Debate is not hate. If we can’t talk about gender laws and get shut down on that, what’s next? What else are we not allowed to talk about? We’re going back to the days of McCarthyism. It is disgraceful.”

“I don’t care if I get called a transphobe, says Whelan adds, “Lily Madigan is not a woman. At 19, he is barely even a man.”

Ouch.

One thing is certain: if you cannot express yourself, we are all the worse off for it.

PS:  The Times, which is on the Madigan beat, reports

The transgender teenager at the centre of a Labour Party row has applied for the Jo Cox Women in Leadership programme, angering and dismaying party members…

The leadership programme was started last year in memory of the murdered MP Jo Cox, with the specific aim of encouraging more women into politics.

Critics say that it defies the whole point of the scheme, which attracted more than 1,000 applications for 57 places in its first year, to include people who are biologically male or who have lived part of their lives as men.

What price equality?

“Women in the party are fuming,” said one Momentum activist who accused the leadership of quietly redefining the meaning of “woman” without consulting the membership.

Good grief.



Posted: 25th, November 2017 | In: Broadsheets, News, Politicians Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink