Trans flag

The Green Party of England and Wales is midway through its leadership elections. Currently two of the eight candidates are making a very clear pitch for the “gender critical” vote. Both Shahrar Ali and Andrea Carey Fuller have embraced definitions of women that exclude trans women from womanhood.

On Twitter there’s an eager audience of transphobes ready to encourage these comments. It’s been an unedifying spectacle. Both candidates have dipped their toe in the sea of transphobia – only to receive rapturous encouragement from some dark corners of Twitter.

The eager audience whip up even more extreme statements. We reached a peak where Carey Fuller retweeted a comment saying “transwomen are free to mimic any sexualised social stereotype of their liking.” Grossly offensive. Meanwhile Shahrar Ali has embraced a definition of women that excludes both trans women and intersex women from womanhood.

Both candidates do have some Green Party fans. Ironically some claim that both Carey Fuller and Ali will empower the party to move past “identity politics” and “trans rights activists”. Such claims are naive beyond belief. If we voted in Ali and Carey Fuller then the matter of trans rights would dominate the party in a manner never seen before.

If Ali and Carey Fuller were elected they would be the first party leaders outside the UKIP-Brexit Party bubble to embrace “Gender Critical” rhetoric. Such a position would have consequences.

The Green Party, as the party who has consistently stood against austerity and for migrants rights, is often a welcome feature on progressive platforms. Amelia Womack is a co-founder of Another Europe is Possible. Siân Berry has served on Compass’s management committee. The Green Party has been a welcome part of movements like the People’s Assembly Against Austerity. Embracing transphobia puts all of this at risk.

It is foolish not to realise that there would be a sharp backlash. There would be efforts to deplatform the party from positions it has. Activists from other parties would mercilessly exploit our new leader’s positions. Whilst some would pretend this would be more than offset by a surge of “politically homeless” people joining the party, there is little evidence for this. There has been no surge of members to join to vote for Ali or Carey Fuller.

Indeed many backers of Ali and Carey Fuller have griped about the eight pledges the LGBTIQA+ Greens have put together. They’ve been deemed “divisive” or “dirty tricks”. The polite scrutiny will be nothing compared to the level of media challenge if we elect Ali and Carey Fuller. The party should be ready to see our leaders having to spend a lot of time debating their views on gender instead of the Climate Emergency.

Throughout the election the energy and the enthusiasm of the Climate Strikers has been invoked repeatedly. These young people are incredibly inspiring. But would Ali and Carey Fuller’s leadership factor in that this generation is the most inclusive generation yet? Are we ready to embrace a trans rights position that would drive most Climate Strikers away?

The most frustrating thing is that this leadership election has damaged many people’s faith in our party. Many members, supporters and LGBTIQA+ people have been alarmed to see transphobia so openly platformed. And this is by candidates who have repeatedly lost election to responsibility in the party. At the last leadership election Shahrar received only 17.5% of the vote against Jonathan Bartley and Siân Berry. At the London Assembly list selection Carey Fuller finished 15th out of 21 candidates.

Is it time that the Green Party realised that the bar to run for leadership is too low?

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Image credit: Torbakhopper – Creative Commons