Women’s Equality Party sacks official who called parents of transgender kids ‘abusive’

The Women’s Equality Party has sacked an official spokeswoman after complaints about her views on transgender people.

Heather Brunskell-Evans, who had been a key member of the party, faced a probe after becoming involved in the ‘trans-critical’ feminist movement.

The campaigner, who is also a research fellow at King’s College London, has been a prominent critic of parents who embrace their transgender children.

The Women’s Equality Party had opened a probe into the official last year after she made an appearance on a BBC programme in which she described accepting parents of transgender children as “abusive” – prompting multiple complaints from members.

Speaking on Radio 4’s Moral Maze, she had said: “What actually happens is that a small child is told there is something not quite right with its body, and it’s got the brain of another gender. I think we’re imposing… I think it’s abusive, actually. We’re imposing restrictions on children.

“What we’re doing is really serious and we need a public debate about it. The alleged science which props up this idea is very spurious.

“If a child decides that it’s an astronaut, one can play along with this. One doesn’t have to moralise about it but quite clearly the child is not an astronaut.

“It’s incumbent upon adults who are responsible for the welfare – psychological and social and medical – of children not to go along with this story.”

The party today confirmed that Ms Brunskell-Evans had been stripped from her role as a party spokesperson following the complaints.

She later announced her resignation from the party.

The party said in a statement :”The Executive Committee of the Women’s Equality Party has completed its investigation into complaints against a party official. The Committee recommended that the official should not continue as party spokesperson after concluding her actions breached articles of the constitution and our volunteer agreement.

“The person in question, who has made a statement on social media, is Heather Brunskell-Evans, a tireless campaigner on ending violence against women, and we are sorry to learn that she has decided to resign her party membership.

“This has been a difficult experience for all involved. However, it is essential that when complaints are made to the party they are taken seriously and dealt with fairly and thoroughly, as the constitution approved by our members sets out.

“Doing politics differently is not easy. We are determined that issues that have the potential to divide the movement for women’s equality – including the interactions between rights linked to sex and gender – should be addressed in a constructive, respectful and inclusive manner through the democratic channels provided in our constitution. We look forward to evolving those discussions with our members.”

The party cited its volunteer code of conduct, which states: “We expect our volunteers to treat all WE employees, other WE volunteers, all WE members and supporters, and any members of the public you have dealings with, with respect and consideration and without discriminating against, defaming, bullying, harassing or intimidating any person, in particular because of any protected characteristic (sex, age, race, disability, gender-reassignment, sexual orientation, religious or philosophical belief, marital/civil partnership status or pregnancy/maternity).

“If you don’t do this, it could result in the Party no longer asking you to volunteer, and might make you personally liable for damages.”

Ms Brunskell-Evans said: “Today [the Women’s Equality Party] have reached the conclusion to their investigation. They say they recommend I do not continue in my role as Party Spokeswoman for violence against women and girls to take effect immediately.

“I will not appeal and I resign my membership.”

The Women’s Equality Party, a fringe party in the UK, was set up in 2015 by comic Sandi Toksvig and journalist Catherine Mayer.

It ran just seven candidates in the 2017 election, none of whom got more than 2% of the vote.

The party defines itself as a “new collaborative force in British politics uniting people of all genders, diverse ages, backgrounds, ethnicities, beliefs and experiences”, aiming to ensure “women enjoy the same rights and opportunities as men so that all can flourish”.

However, despite a high-profile campaign, the party – which had made a pitch to lesbian voters at Stonewall’s LGBT hustings – did not manage to retain a single deposit in 2017.

It received just 3,580 votes nationally out of the 32,196,918 cast – below the Official Monster Raving Loony Party on 3,890. It was also beaten by the Christian Peoples Alliance, Yorkshire Party, and British National Party.

Speaking after the election, Sophie Walker said: “Our relentlessly positive campaign showed what ordinary people can do to inspire new hope from politics.

“The Women’s Equality Party has shown beyond doubt that we can build the kind of campaign that gets out the progressive vote.

“As the UK heads towards a hung Parliament and the possibility of yet another election, the need for alliances and the collaborative politics WE embody is crystal clear.

“We look forward to building on our achievements and continuing to do politics differently for the benefit of all. Because equality is better for everyone.”

Explaining her reasons for launching the party previously, Toksvig said: “What politics needs is for us to do things in a different way. The wonderful thing about the party is, we don’t care what your political past is.

“We don’t care if you come from the left or from the right or the centre. The fact is, from now [November] until the end of this year, women in this country are working for free, that’s how big the gender pay gap is. We need to sort it out.”