LGBT+ people across Wales need answers from Plaid over trans rights, say Welsh Lib Dems

A press release from Welsh Lib Dems.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats challenged Plaid Cymru on the eve of their conference to provide clarity on their position on LGBT+ rights and equality.

Last week a young trans woman of colour was removed from a hustings meeting after protesting about her inability to question a panel member and sitting Plaid Cymru Senedd Member Helen Mary Jones, over her previous comments on trans rights. The young woman has since blogged about her experience.

Leena Sarah Farhat, the Welsh Liberal Democrat Diversity lead, said:

“I was in the hustings. I saw a young woman removed from the hustings just for displaying a trans flag. The organization has given a mealy-mouthed statement that means nothing. But even worse, is the Plaid Cymru response. Helen Mary Jones remains a candidate, despite supporting groups that use language that harms and puts trans people at risk.

“If she was a candidate who said similar things about race, or disability, she would have been shown the door a long time ago. Does Plaid Cymru believe trans rights are less important? The lack of action by Plaid when it comes to discrimination is worrying.”

Helen Mary Jones has been criticized widely for her support for the anti-trans group Women’s Place, and has shared content that uses trans people’s dead names – an action that puts them at huge risk of reprisal, or other hate crime.

Oliver Townsend, the Welsh Lib Dem candidate for Islwyn, and himself married to a trans man, added his voice to Leena’s call for action:

“This is about fairness, about hearing the voices of people who are under constant attack. My husband’s entire life feels like it is under constant attack from a right-wing element in our country – and I expected better from someone like Helen Mary Jones.

“I used to look up to her. When I was much younger, I thought she spoke so passionately for young people. It breaks my heart that she cannot see the damage she is doing, but sometimes standing up to people you respect is more important than staying silent.”

Both Leena and Oliver have called on Plaid Cymru to issue a statement addressing the row, and to pledge that action will be taken.

“If I was in the workplace, and I was sharing content and views like this,” Oliver said, “I would be disciplined. Plaid really need to think about what message they are sending to LGBT+ people, and those who stand with us.”

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6 Comments

  • The Equality Act makes clear that ‘sex’ is a protected characteristic. However, feminists who argue for sex-based rights like single-sex spaces for victims of sex based violence get accused of transphobia. Society is going to have to come to a consensus on how we balance competing rights and, importantly, be able to have that debate without the abuse that seems to have accompanied this debate thus far.

  • Hannah Giovanna Daws 5th Mar '21 - 6:09pm

    There’s no competing rights here. Talking about “sex-based” rights is the same sort of code people use when bringing up men’s rights or discrimination against white people. It’s bad faith arguments.

    For example, sex-only safe spaces discussion falls over as soon as you go “so you would exclude a trans woman but let a trans man who’s been on T for ten years in”?

  • In reply to Brad – The protections for both Trans Folk (under gender reassignment) and Women , under the Equality Act 2010 (and it’s predecessor the Sex Discrimination Act 1975, which also covered Gender Reassignment and Women) have been in place for nearly 50 years, so why is there suddenly a problem that needs debate.

  • Charley Hasted 6th Mar '21 - 1:09am

    Brad- English and Welsh Law hold sex and gender to be interchangeable terms. Ergo Trans women are entitled to access services on the same terms as Cis women except in very, very, very specific circumstances.

    If you look at the evidence from credible sector experts in areas such as domestic violence provision and rape crisis, etc. they are unanimous in their agreement that there is no conflict or competition.

    Everything else is fear mongering, lies, bad science or bad faith (or a combination of the above) and yes I would very much like to not be abused by transphobes while trying to live my life- if you could let them know to stop that that’d be fab.

  • Patrick Coleman 7th Mar '21 - 10:04am

    I have watched the clip of Helen Mary Jones and I really struggled to see evidence of any hatred or phobia. Could it perhaps be transcribed with the unacceptable or hateful wording highlighted? This is a genuine request, as the clip seemed to me to be raising an important issue (the enormous pressure on girls to conform to stereotype) and if this is not an issue we should consider I would like to know
    as I would not want to accidentally acquire a hate speech label

  • Andrew Tampion 10th Mar '21 - 6:48am

    The silence in response to Patrick Coleman’s perfectly reasonable question is deafening and suggestive. I too struggle to see what is transphobic in this specific speach. Please can the instances of transphobia or hatespeech be elucidated?
    Also I support JS Mills argument in his essay On liberty that there are very few circumstances in which anyone should be banned from saying what they believe, even if it is hurtful to someone else.

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