TL;DR: The Lesbian Project was set up by activists Julie Bindel and Kathleen Stock who've long shared gender-critical and anti-trans rhetoric. Though the project is primarily about lesbians, they are also seeking a division between lesbians and the wider LGBTQIA+ community.
Lesbians do not get as much attention as they should. That's the honest truth behind the start of a new organisation - The Lesbian Project.
Its founders claim that the Project has been set up only to support and campaign for lesbians. But it's not quite as simple as that.
Strip back a thin layer of The Lesbian Project's rhetoric, and something else becomes clear. This project is about creating a clear division between lesbians and other LGBTQIA+ people - with "biological sex" in mind.
What is The Lesbian Project, and who is it run by?
Feminist author Julie Bindel and professor of philosophy Kathleen Stock set up The Lesbian Project.
They say lesbian has become a 'dirty word.' They argue it is disappearing from research and LGBTQIA+ campaigns.
The Project believes lesbian-focused support and research is losing out on funding opportunities.
Julie Bindel is an acclaimed feminist with years of campaigning. She has helped found several organisations, including Justice For Women. However, she's become well-known in recent years for anti-trans rhetoric.
Kathleen Stock was a professor of philosophy at the University of Sussex. She resigned after students protested against her gender-critical views on campus, sparking a media panic on the role of academic freedom. Stock was also a trustee of the LGB Alliance, an anti-trans pressure group.
Is The Lesbian Project an anti-trans organisation?
The project's first principle is "We focus on same-sex attracted females." It sets out:
"We don’t think biological sex, or being attracted to others of the same sex, are choices. By definition, only females can be lesbians, in virtue of their biological sex."
This echoes gender-critical views that transgender women are not women.
In interviews and op-eds, both Stock and Bindel have repeated anti-trans rhetoric. They have also been sharing their views about the wider LGBTQIA+ community.
Bindel described the LGBTQIA+ community as an "unbreakable Wi-Fi code" in an appearance on far-right news station GB News. She also said that asexual people aren’t oppressed.
In fact, asexual people are some of the LGBTQIA+ community's most marginalised members. Many face hardship and bullying due to their identity.
Meanwhile, Andrew Marr asked Stock in an LBC interivew: "Do you think the LGBTQ+ word, if that's what it is, the amalgam - has it become actually unhelpful, if not dangerous?"
Stock didn’t question the use of the word ‘dangerous’ and said:
"Yes, it's totally unhelpful. It's a nonsense grouping, and it seems to be more about chasing money, resources, new campaigns and sources of income. I have no idea why polyamorous people or asexual people should be grouped with lesbian and gay people."
Kathleen Stock speaking to Andrew Marr - LBC
She clarified in the interview that she had no issue with the grouping ‘‘LGB’. Nonetheless, the launch material for The Lesbian Project uses the term LGBTQ+ repeatedly. It also sets out how the Projects, you guessed it, was set up to get funding, create resources, and run new campaigns.
Stock went further in a Guardian op-ed, arguing that the ‘L’ of LGBTQIA+ "must not be allowed to disappear into the rainbow soup."
Analysis: The Lesbian Project is just another organisation with gender-critical views at its core
It's hard to argue with many of the Lesbian Project's initial statements. Yes, lesbians deserve better research. Yes, lesbians have distinct health needs from others in the LGBTQIA+ community. Yes, for far too long, lesbian has been a dirty word. Lesbians have been left behind.
But so have trans people. So have asexual people. So have intersex people. So have bisexual people. It's why so many people in the LGBTQIA+ community embrace and welcome the parallels between our identities. They recognise that we're stronger fighting for justice together.
The Lesbian Project is one of many groups founded with gender-critical views at its forefront. It's embedded into its principles and will define any work it does.
It’s also telling that they launched their new project with lead interviews on right-wing platforms like GB News which is known for propagating what many recognise as hateful speech.
Meanwhile, organisations like Diva and their Lesbian Visibility Week have done far more for lesbians and other marginalised genders - by uniting people.
Lesbians deserve more time in the limelight, focused research and dedicated political campaigns. They don’t need the thinly-veiled prejudice of The Lesbian Project to get there. Fighting for lesbian liberation can be done without trashing trans people or punching down other parts of the community.
The Lesbian Project ultimately seeks to divide the community while its founders spread their inherently gender-critical or anti-trans views. It is far from the noble organisation it purports to be.
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