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Cervixes are the latest 'wedge' being used to divide us
A cervix is a cylinder-shaped neck of tissue that connects the vagina and uterus. It's also become the latest political football used to divide us.
This week, Health Secretary Sajid Javid totally denied a scientific fact. He said Labour Leader Kier Starmer was wrong to say, that not only women have a cervix. Ignorant of the fact that transgender men, non-binary people and others with marginalised genders do too.
But Javid wasn't alone. He was stirring a pot in a week where politicians used transgender people to deflect us from the real issues at hand. (Some examples include food shortages, a national petrol crisis and 1 million people losing furlough support.)
Within this context, Labour MP Rosie Duffield achieved a remarkable feat. While igniting great prejudice towards trans people, suggesting transgender people were threatening her, she managed to centre herself as the victim. Or as transgender journalist Freddy McConnell put it:
Duffield said, 'online threats to her safety,' would prevent her from attending this week's Labour Party conference.
They were widely reported after being published as the lead story on the front page of the Sunday Times, using the word 'extremists' to refer to the alleged transgender activists who made comments.
When asked what sort of threats she had received as a result of her views by BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Ms Duffield said the "levels of vitriol are pretty horrible". You'll note this is a more generalised and non-specific statement when she was pushed for example. Abuse, of course, is always wrong. And any Duffield is facing, is wrong.
It's also always wrong to level or stir up abuse against transgender people.
Duffield attended the conference in the end, despite saying she was warned to stay away on security advice. She used her appearance to ask Labour to "clear up" where it stands on transgender rights.
On Andrew Marr, the Labour Leader Starmer went as far as to say:
"We need to have a mature, respectful debate about trans rights and we need to bear in mind that the trans community are amongst the most marginalised and abused communities, and wherever we've got to on the law, we need to go further."
While Angela Rayner, Labours Deputy leader told a conference event that "Women's rights are not in conflict with trans rights." She also confirmed, the party was still committed to reforming the gender recognition act. - BBC
Meanwhile, at the Tory conference, the so-called LGB Alliance, which disagree with many legal rights for LGBTQ people, have paid £6K for a stall at the Conservative party conference this week.
So what can we learn?
Amid Duffield's comments, a senior Labour MP said transgender lives were "being used as a wedge issue" when the party should be focused elsewhere. - BBC
Though the senior Labour MP asked to not be identified, what they said was on point. They shared their frustration with the "oxygen" being given to "a stupid, pointless, manufactured row about rights" distracting us from the issues that needed debating.
"Let's talk about how every single trans person awaiting NHS treatment is having their rights to see a specialist in 18 weeks under the NHS constitution breached, for example, rather than whether Rosie Duffield thinks everyone should have their genitals and chromosomes checked to go to the toilet."
And healthcare is exactly where we should be focused, not the 'reductive distraction' of talking about cervixes. You need only skim biggest survey of transgender people in the UK this year, released this week, to find shocking statistics like one in seven people are being turned away from their GP because of their identity. - Forbes
But there is another reason it's such an important focus. It's hard to argue with the fact that we all deserve good healthcare.
Indeed, why debate transgender lives, when we can take a lead from LGBTQ ally Nicola Coughlan. She showed us how to use a moment like 'cervix' trending - by centring the story on what does need to be told:
We needn't perform own goals by using up all the oxygen in the room debating our community as a 'wedge issue,' when we can share the story that needs to be told instead.
P.S. - A huge welcome to our first set of founding circle members. Alex Wood, Kyle Taylor, Steve Jolly, Robin Gray, Jamie Collins and Karen Bevan - you're making our work possible. It's so exciting to be part of a movement to change the media with you.
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