Hundreds of LGBTQ+ women tell trans-exclusionary Lesbian Project: ‘You do not represent us’

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More than 800 lesbians have signed an open letter to The Lesbian Project, denouncing the trans-exclusionary group as not reflective of the “lives, needs and community” of lesbians. 

The open letter was penned by the group Trans/Lesbian Solidarity and has received hundreds of signatories in 48 hours, as well as support from singer Billy Bragg, Oxford University’s student union, and campaign group Speak Out Sister. 

Trans/Lesbian Solidarity was founded by a group of cis lesbians who “wanted to make a public statement of solidarity with the trans community that states our rejection of The Lesbian Project’s aims and values”, founding member Alana Stewart told PinkNews. 

The Lesbian Project was launched earlier this month by Kathleen Stock and Julie Bindel, in response to the suggestion that lesbians are being “erased” and “silenced” in society

The pair have appeared across the media to discuss the project, saying it “highlights and champions the experiences, insights and sensibilities of lesbians in all their diversity”. 

They have courted controversy for their anti-trans views, and concerns have been raised that the new project will be used by some as an undercover means to push anti-trans viewpoints and other narratives harmful to the community. 

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“Our community is beautiful”

In the open letter, the solidarity group states: “Your advocacy does not reflect our lives, needs and community. We believe it is built upon a separation and exclusion with which we do not identify, and which we condemn. 

“We do not believe that advocating for lesbian ‘wellbeing’ can be done when it is rooted in transphobia.” 

The letter goes on to say: “Our community is beautiful precisely because it is made up of gender non-conforming lesbians, trans lesbians, non-binary lesbians, butches, studs, femmes, lesbians of all kinds who make up a tapestry more vibrant than you can imagine. 

“Our community is beautiful because it is held together by love, not hate.”

Speaking to PinkNews, Stewart said: “The Lesbian Project is a group that, though they claim not to speak for all lesbians, are keen to push policymakers to limit their definition of ‘lesbian’ to exclude trans and non-binary people. 

“They would also include heterosexual trans men in data on lesbians, so people who often have vastly different experiences to lesbians would effectively be corrupting data on lesbian experiences. 

“[The Lesbian Project] also wants to push for trans exclusionary lesbian spaces. They unfairly suggest that lesbian spaces don’t exist any more, due to [these] being trans inclusive.” 

The trans community does not erase lesbian experiences, but adds to them

Stewart explained that the founders of Trans/Lesbian Solidarity feel “TERFs and transphobes are trying to monopolise the conversation on lesbians’ experiences”.

She added: “We don’t think it’s right that they speak for us when so many of us are highly supportive of trans people.”

Fellow founder Ellie Redpath noted that “trans struggle is lesbian struggle – the trans community does not erase the lesbian experience, but adds to it.” 

While the founders note they have received a lot of support for the open letter, they have also faced a backlash from other groups. 

Stewart said: “We’ve had a large number of self-proclaimed heterosexual people – particularly men – leave comments telling us that we aren’t lesbians and that we should be excluded from homosexuality.

“It’s very clear that these people are the main supporters of The Lesbian Project, and not lesbians themselves.”