COMMENT:

Given her journalist background, it is disappointing that Rachel Stewart did not use those skills to look at the genesis of TERF as an acronym for Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists.

It was coined by a radical feminist, Viv Smythe, in 2008, purely in order to distinguish between trans supportive or trans neutral radical feminists and those who wished to exclude trans women from their feminism.

Viv Smythe said "It was meant to be a deliberately technically neutral description of an activist grouping." Perhaps the reason the term is seen as a slur or "pejorative" today is because of what it stands for. A belief that denies trans women their basic human rights – to be who they are.

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Certainly in August this year Rachel Stewart was happy to acknowledge that she was a TERF when she tweeted: "If holding "transgender exclusionary beliefs"" means I don't accept that a man in a dress with a penis is a woman, then I guess I'm that new 4-letter acronym I just learned the other day."

Despite her protestations, Rachel Stewart is trans exclusionary and has signed the Speak Up For Women letter sent to all MPs opposing the proposed changes to the Births Deaths Marriages and Relationships Registration Act on the basis that in some way her rights as a cis woman are diminished.

While she happily points out that she falls under the "L" in LGBTIQ+ (sic) she ignores those who fall under the "T". Trans are undeniably members of our Rainbow community and are undeniably one of the most marginalised groups within our community.

Conveniently, Rachel Stewart has moved from her self descriptor of TERF in August to describing herself as a "gender critical feminist".

Actually they are the same thing. They exclude trans women in their definition of women and deny them the right to identify as such – you can't get more trans exclusionary than that.

What Rachel Stewart and those involved in "Speak Up For Women" are advocating is entirely consistent with recent moves by Donald Trump in the US to define sex as determined at or by birth and based on the gender a person is born into.

Civil rights protections for transgender will be lost along with recognition of gender identity.

While that is ultimately what Speak Up For Women and Rachel Stewart want here in New Zealand, I despair that as we make steps toward greater trans visibility, campaigns like these undermine the work done and give messages to our trans whanau that will have detrimental consequences for our trans community, and particularly trans youth.

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All as a result of a small, but vocal group, that considers themselves more important than a group that is the most oppressed, marginalised and dehumanised, suffers some of the highest levels of sexual and physical violence and our trans youth are five times more likely to attempt suicide.

I don't accept that Rachel Stewart believes trans people deserve human rights.

Her actions and writings belie that. Trans rights are human rights.

That is the position in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. And being called a TERF is not disrespectful. Denying the "T" in LGBTIQ+ is. And it is that much harder to accept when transphobia like this comes from within our community.

While Rachel Stewart makes light of the possibility of her participating in the Pride Parade, an activity that is apparently anathema to her, she misses the point that she is doing so because of her perceived entitlement to deny the rights of our trans community.

And therein lies a fundamental problem. How can you possibly participate in a celebration of the Rainbow community when you perpetuate negative and exclusionary views about a whole section of that community?

Speak Up For Women is modelled on the UK group "Woman's Place UK" with remarkably similar wording of their demands on both websites.

A small group opposing similar legislation in the UK disrupted the London Pride Parade this year, making trans participants in the Parade very uncomfortable and feeling defeated.

The following day there was one suicide in a country where 48% of transgender people have attempted suicide.

Let's not forget Pride Parades go back to Stonewall and those riots in 1969 have been recorded as started by three women of colour – Stormie DeLarverie, a butch lesbian and Marsha P Johnson and Sylvia Rivera – two trans women. And they did it for all of us.