UK government officials have repeatedly met with anti-trans activists

Photo of Penny Mordaunt

The UK government has confirmed that officials have repeatedly met with activists from anti-trans pressure groups.

The government is planning changes to the Gender Recognition Act to allow transgender people to more easily change their legal gender, but the plans have faced strong opposition form organised groups that have sprung up in opposition to trans rights.

In response to a written question in Parliament, equalities minister Victoria Atkins confirmed that multiple meetings took place with campaigners from controversial anti-trans activist groups during a consultation on the issue.

Atkins confirmed that since September 2017, Government Equalities Office officials had meetings with activists from Transgender Trend on two occasions, Fair Play For Women on two occasions and A Woman’s Place UK three times.

Fair Play for Women were also invited to two “roundtables” on trans issues, while Minister for Women and Equalities Penny Mordaunt also had one personal meeting “with the founder of A Women’s [sic] Place.”

Across the same time period, Atkins said government officials had four meetings with experts from Stonewall, one with transgender children’s charity Mermaids, and three with trans support group Gendered Intelligence.

In March, PinkNews reported that Dawn Butler, the Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities, had also met with anti-trans activists.

Fair Play for Women sent chilling tweets about trans women getting ‘1,000 cancers’

Fair Play For Women and A Woman’s Place UK advertise themselves as feminist groups, but were set up in order to campaign against gender recognition changes and do not prominently lobby on other women’s issues.

In November 2017, Fair Play For Women’s official Twitter account sent messages laughing about transgender women being overwhelmed by a virus “like 1,000 cancers.”

Anti-trans pressure group Fair Play For Women joked about trans women getting '1,000 cancers'

Fair Play For Women sent anti-trans tweets about women getting ‘1,000 cancers’

The tweets were in response to a news story on scientific advances that could allow transgender women to give birth.

One tweet, sent on November 7, 2017, says: “Won’t happen. Any potential foetus would invade the host’s body & proliferate like 1,000 cancers [evil grin].”

Another said: “Hahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahah! Good luck to ’em. The foetus will invade their body like a virus. Heh .”

The director of Fair Play For Women, Nicola Williams, denied knowledge of the messages in October 2018, telling PinkNews: “It pre-dates my time and that of anyone currently involved in Fair Play For Women.”

Fair Play For Women also came under fire in October after taking out an advert in the Metro newspaper questioning whether “someone with a penis is a woman” and referring to transgender women as “male-bodied people.”

Transgender Trend encouraged kids to put up anti-trans stickers at school

One of the groups who have met with the government, Transgender Trend, apologised in September for suggesting it was a “good idea” for children to put sets of anti-transgender stickers on their school notebooks.

Stickers produced by the group bore messages including “Is Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria the new anorexia?” and “Medical sex-change treatment for children is an experiment.”

The group said: “Although we obviously never intended our stickers to be used in schools, we understand people’s concerns that they could be used to create conflict between students.

“This is the last thing we want, so we have withdrawn the stickers from our site. We are sorry, we made a mistake.”

Transgender Trend released a controversial 'School resource pack'

Transgender Trend’s anti-trans ‘School resource pack’ was branded ‘dangerous’

Transgender Trend also faced a backlash in May after activists with no education qualifications distributed a ‘schools resource pack’ advising teachers to avoid affirming the identity of transgender students, and encouraging them to ‘out’ trans kids to their parents.

The advice was branded “illegal” and “dangerous” by LGBT+ activists, with Stonewall responding: “It is a deeply damaging document, packed with factually inaccurate content.

“Not only does it fail to reflect the real experiences of trans young people, it actively encourages schools to take steps that risk them falling foul of their legal duties and duty of care to pupils.”

“Ministers for the Government Equalities Office regularly meet with a wide range of organisations with an interest in equalities.”

— Equalities minister Victoria Atkins

Equalities minister Victoria Atkins said of the meetings: “Ministers for the Government Equalities Office regularly meet with a wide range of organisations with an interest in equalities. In the past three years this has included organisations like Stonewall and A Woman’s Place UK.

“Government Equalities Office officials have met over one hundred organisations in the run up to, and during, the publication of the Gender Recognition Act consultation.

“This includes Mermaids, Stonewall, Gendered Intelligence, A Woman’s Place UK, Transgender Trend and Fair Play for Women.

“Officials have also met other women’s and LGBT groups, refuges and domestic abuse charities, unions, service providers, government departments and other European Governments.”