WEP conference, questions for panel of trans rights advocating barristers?

(68 Posts)
Procrastinator1 Fri 03-Aug-18 19:07:43

As set out in a previous thread, www.mumsnet.com/Talk/womens_rights/3318961-Ultimate-betrayal-by-the-WEP
the WEP are going to be debating a motion which includes self ID of sex in September

Before the debate on the motion they are holding a question and answer session with two barristers who have advised the government and are thought to be very sympathetic to trans rights proponents. Twitter thread about the Q & A session twitter.com/Indy_Leya/status/1024703148236132353

One of the barristers, Michelle Brewer, is involved with an organisation called TENLI, Trans Equality Legal Initiative, with our favourite, suspended NUS trans officer, Jess Bradley

I wonder if any WEP members who will be attending have any questions for the barristers, for instance, about the impact of self ID on natal women or how Jess has shaped the trans argument over the last few years, or whether the personal proclivities or motivations of policy shapers should be taken into account when assessing the policies they advocate for?

I'm sure lots of people would be interested in the answers.

OP’s posts: |
R0wantrees Sun 09-Sep-18 08:38:09

Did Claire McCann disclose her current case to the WEP?
Given the possible implications of the precident for the safety of women and girls, one hopes that WEP are aware of this.

from the Sunday Times today, article by Andrew Gilligan:

'Trans offender seeks to wipe crimes as a man from record'
A transgender offender is seeking to delete from her record two crimes that could only have been committed by a man.

“I do not wish my gender history to be more widely known and do not wish to disclose my trans status to employers,” the woman, who asked to be identified only as Helen, said. She is to launch a judicial review to remove two convictions for “importuning as a man” when she worked at a Soho “clip joint” in the 1970s and 1980s.

A right to removal, if established, could cover rape, another crime that can legally be committed only by a person with a penis.

Trans people with a gender recognition certificate are legally entitled to keep their birth gender secret.

Helen’s barrister, Claire McCann, said disclosure of offences that revealed Helen’s birth gender in criminal record checks was “severe and discriminatory interference with Helen’s right to respect for her private life”. (continues)


OldCrone Sat 08-Sep-18 12:36:49

Claire McCann "Properly analysed, it is questionable whether dangerous men would abuse an amended (easier) gender recognition process in order to change their legal sex (to female) for the sole purpose of accessing women’s spaces."

Dr. James Barrett, President of the British Association of Gender Identity Specialists:
"...the ever-increasing tide of referrals of patients in prison serving long or indeterminate sentences for serious sexual offences. These vastly outnumber the number of prisoners incarcerated for more ordinary, non-sexual, offences. It has been rather naïvely suggested that nobody would seek to pretend transsexual status in prison if this were not actually the case. There are, to those of us who actually interview the prisoners, in fact very many reasons why people might pretend this. These vary from the opportunity to have trips out of prison through to a desire for a transfer to the female estate (to the same prison as a co-defendant) through to the idea that a parole board will perceive somebody who is female as being less dangerous through to a [false] belief that hormone treatment will actually render one less dangerous through to wanting a special or protected status within the prison system"


R0wantrees Sat 08-Sep-18 12:03:36

Janice Turner The Times
"There is a cavalier misogyny about not protecting women from sex offenders. We saw it in magistrates repeatedly bailing the serial rapist Carl Hartley, allowing him to rape again and again. Or in the parole board’s blithe attempt to release John Worboys, the taxi-driver rapist, after he had served only ten years of an indeterminate sentence, until this was reversed following an outcry.

We see it too in liberal campaigns for violent trans criminals to live among women. I’m often lectured by left-wing men that since “trans women are women”, if Ian Huntley, as is rumoured, transitions he must be treated as female. You feminists, say the right-on bros, must expand your definition of women to include rapists. I read an Observer report comparing the prisoner Marie Dean, then on hunger strike in HMP Preston, to Bobby Sands. That’s Marie Dean aka Gary Dean Marie, described by police as “dangerous and prolific”, who committed 30 aggravated burglaries, breaking into teenage girls’ bedrooms and masturbating. Yes, welcome to lady jail!

I hope Karen White’s victims sue the prison service. Biological sex is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act but, with no impact assessment, this criteria was overridden by a rapist’s gender feelings. Yet the worst thing about this case, apart from the victims’ suffering, is the appalling effect upon decent, quiet-living trans people. Many who contact me are aghast at how an extreme activist agenda creates policy facilitating crimes like White’s and ends up tainting them.

It is time, given the growing number of transitioning male prisoners, for policy to evolve. Besides, if self-ID is introduced after the Gender Recognition Act review, it will be easier for a trans prisoner to become legally male and thus have an almost automatic right to transfer." (continues)

As this is the Women's and Equalitites Conference, is the panel prepared to recognise the urgent need to be able to discuss as well as advocate for females' needs and that this is a separate issue to the needs of people who identify as transgender?

As Magda Devas comments above, "If we can delicately pull apart the boundaries between women’s and transgender people’s rights, and recreate them with respect and consideration, we will be able to create alliances rather than discord with the transgender community and work in alliance to fight the discriminations that we do share."

R0wantrees Sat 08-Sep-18 09:43:03

Claire McCann "Properly analysed, it is questionable whether dangerous men would abuse an amended (easier) gender recognition process in order to change their legal sex (to female) for the sole purpose of accessing women’s spaces."

Would she comment on the sexual assaults of vulnerable female prisoners in the women's prison estate, a space for women from which they cannot leave by a male-born person previously convicted of sexually assaulting women and children?

James Kirkup outlines case in recent Spectator article:
"This is the case of Karen White, a multiple rapist who was placed in a women’s prison. Karen White was born male, and was previously known as Stephen Wood and/or David Thompson. Karen White is “undergoing gender reassignment”, but has not had sex reassignment surgery, meaning Karen White has a penis.

In 2003, Karen White used that penis to commit rape. In 2016, Karen White used that penis to commit rape again. Twice. As a result, Karen White was last year remanded in prison awaiting trial for rape. It wasn’t Karen White’s first time behind bars. In 2001, Karen White was jailed for 18 months for an act of gross indecency with a child.

That sentence was served in a male prison. But last year, when Karen White was sent to jail pending trial for rape, Karen White “identified” as a woman. So the Prison Service allowed Karen White to be housed in the female prison estate. And in HMP New Hall, Karen White sexually assaulted women. Here’s a quote, via the Telegraph, from the prosecutor in the trial where Karen White admitted two indecent assaults against female prisoners:

“The defendant would stand very close to [the victim], touch her arm and wink at her. Her penis was erect and sticking out of the top of her trousers.”

Read that quote again, and consider that phrase “her penis”. It’s a linguistic consequence of the set of ideas and practices that saw English legal authorities put Karen White, a multiple rapist and paedophile, in a sealed building full of vulnerable women. For Karen White is a transwoman and to use a phrase intoned by trans rights campaigners of all sorts, “transwomen are women”. It is ultimately the ideas behind that phrase that persuaded some people in authority that Karen White, and Karen White’s penis, should be in a women’s prison." (continues)

As the title of the article asks, 'Why was a transgender rapist put in a women’s prison?'


R0wantrees Thu 06-Sep-18 14:19:28

from previous page, Acknowledgement of role of Claire McCann (with Stephen Whittle) in the introduction to Women and Equalities Committee
Transgender Equality
First Report of Session 2015–16


Stephen Whittle has been a key figure in trans-rights legislative change.
He was a founder of Press for Change, interviewed about this in 2013 Guardian Article:
"Much of [Press for Change] campaigning remained on the quiet. The passage of the 2004 law to give trans people legal status was "remarkable," says [Christine] Burns, because "the government was able to pass an entire act in parliament without anyone throwing a fit in the press"

Provided briefings for some of those who were panelists on Ch 4's GenderQuake Debate:

Commenting on MN thread he started April 2018:

Involved with drafting of the Yogykcarta legislation:

2014 Described as a 'superhero' and featured prominantly in the CBBC 'I am Leo':

TimeLady Thu 06-Sep-18 14:04:47

Handy, isn't it, that Brewer now won't be put on the spot with awkward questions about her colleague Bradley, especially as both seemed to be particularly interested in prisons.

Ereshkigal Thu 06-Sep-18 13:51:14

^Catherine Casserley,
Barrister at Cloisters Chambers^

A "Cat Casserley" is mentioned as one of the formal supporters of the pro trans GRA motion, so it seems she's a WEP member.

I also noticed the lack of Michelle Brewer on the website programme.

R0wantrees Thu 06-Sep-18 10:52:40

from thread linked above

article by Magda Devas:
"This is a crucial time for WEP. ‘Women’ is right there in the title of our party, so the meaning of the word goes to the heart of who we are. The gender Recognition Act reforms could change the meaning of the word ‘women’ to include trangender women -people who have male anatomies but who identify as women.

The party is divided on this; from my understanding pretty much down the middle. So we want to be bringing the party together while at the same time addressing the issues of equalities." (continues)

"If we give up the old fashioned definition of ‘woman’, which is first and foremost based on biology, and allow that biologically males can be women, then we are not only giving up our identiy as women, we are giving up all the rights to the sex-based protections that women have under the Equality Act 2010.

The Equality Act has been shown up as being weak and women are losing these protections. I believe our concerns should be all about strengthening the Equality Act so that women have rights to women only spaces and services, and that these should be maintained under law.

If we can delicately pull apart the boundaries between women’s and transgender people’s rights, and recreate them with respect and consideration, we will be able to create alliances rather than discord with the transgender community and work in alliance to fight the discriminations that we do share."


R0wantrees Thu 06-Sep-18 10:10:28

See page 2 re Claire McCan.

TimeLady Thu 06-Sep-18 08:50:16

I can't see Michelle Brewer's name on the agenda. Has she cried off? Presumably she was involved in this part of the programme:

Changes to the Gender Recognition Act

What will legal changes mean for the interaction between gender and sex based rights

Claire McCan,
Barrister at Cloisters Chambers
Catherine Casserley,
Barrister at Cloisters Chambers


Neither of those two are listed on the TELI website

Stephanie Harrison, a colleague of Brewer at Garden Court Chambers, is listed, but is speaking about immigration

Nil Points: Immigration Policy Post-Brexit

How female migrants experience and negotiate globalisation

Stephanie Harrison QC,
Garden Court Chambers

purpleanorak Wed 05-Sep-18 01:04:26

Barristers need to be prepared to advocate for both sides and cannot cherry pick clients because of the “cab rank” rule (ie they have to represent anybody who instructs them regardless of beliefs). I wonder if there is a question that can be asked about what arguments they would put forward / the strongest arguments they have heard from the other perspective? Any barrister who is seriously interested in a particular area of law should have thought about both sides and be prepared to discuss the legal difficulties of any argument.

R0wantrees Wed 05-Sep-18 00:50:26

current thread:

theOtherPamAyres Tue 04-Sep-18 15:41:35

Does the Panel agree that there is a loophole in the Equality Act that puts sex-based rights and spaces at risk? Do you agree that there a need to review the protected characteristic of 'gender reassignment' - an imprecise term that is being used to validate and normalise the fetishes of men without gender dysphoria?

Does the panel look forward to the day when those impostors are erased from women's spaces and are no longer able to piggy-back on the causes of transexuals for whom the law was intended?

R0wantrees Tue 04-Sep-18 13:36:45

Does Michelle Brewer co--founder of TELI (with Tara Hewitt & Jess Bradley) stand by the Twitter comment which describes Women's Place UK as 'anti-trans'?


Does she condone the repeated attempts to smear WPUK, target venues booked by the group, attempt to censure their social media accounts etc?


R0wantrees Sun 19-Aug-18 11:46:41

Perhaps a good question would be to quote James Kirkup's concluding comments in recent Spactator article:

"A feminist group is today facing the prospect of investigation by a police force and a City mayor for saying “women don’t have penises”. and ask the panel for a legal perspective.


ISaySteadyOn Sun 19-Aug-18 10:46:50

I don't have anything useful to add except to agree with everything DonkeySkin said. They and all the other anti women activists need to be honest and admit they don't believe women have rights to penis free or xy male body free spaces. That women have no rights to set boundaries and that women are not people, but accessories and costumes.

R0wantrees Sun 19-Aug-18 10:15:43

Claire McCann's position is described here and is important reading for anyone attending the conference panel:

"The debate has focused on the question of whether trans rights (especially for those who are male to female trans) would erode hard-fought women’s rights. Some have argued that amendments to the GRA 2004 (so as to confer legal gender recognition on the basis of an administrative and de-medicalised process) would permit predatory and dangerous men access to ‘safe’ female spaces. Many in the trans community and those seeking to advance trans inclusion have sought to question whether these fears are realistic. Regrettably, the debate has often descended into toxic hostility with misunderstanding on both sides.

Properly analysed, it is questionable whether dangerous men would abuse an amended (easier) gender recognition process in order to change their legal sex (to female) for the sole purpose of accessing women’s spaces. Under the current regime, people are not in general required to produce a copy of their birth certificate to access single-sex facilities or services. Should a man wish to use deception to access such services or places with dangerous motives, he will seek to do so without needing to acquire a GRC. More importantly, there are existing protections in the criminal law to prevent such activity." (continues)


Angryresister Sat 18-Aug-18 21:47:46

Good questions...can we have a headcount to see how many here are planning to go and try to get some of them answered?

Magpiesarehuge Fri 17-Aug-18 22:29:28

If they would put their name to a petition to move the latest TW sex offender to a female prison and if they’ll join my protest march to Westminster supporting said sex offending TW and retweet and share said petition.

R0wantrees Fri 17-Aug-18 22:11:21

Important article published on Oxford Human Rights Hub,

'Women’s Rights and the Proposed Changes to the Gender Recognition Act'

Rosa Fredman is Professor of Law Conflict and Global Development at the University of Reading

Rosemary Auchmuty is a Professor at the University of Reading



R0wantrees Mon 06-Aug-18 08:52:03

Acknowledgement of role of Claire McCann (with Stephen Whittle) in the introduction to Women and Equalities Committee
Transgender Equality
First Report of Session 2015–16


Floisme Mon 06-Aug-18 08:40:41

There has got to be a question to Paouros about this. I don't know if she's on the panel but it seems reasonable to expect that the person seconding a motion should be available for questions. Apart from anything else, I'd be fascinated to know how she reconciles the two ideas in her own head.

R0wantrees Mon 06-Aug-18 07:14:41

comment by Claire McCann is featured in the evidence collated by James kirkup to demonstrate intended removal of sex based exemptions in Equalities Act:
"Some facts about the events that preceded the Government statement here that the coming consultation on the Gender Recognition Act will be narrowly drawn and not affect the Equality Act’s single sex exemptions.

I offer these facts because some are claiming “there was never any question of removing/amending EA exceptions.” Those claims are either mistaken or dishonest." (continues)

Jan 2016
Women & Equalities Committee says EA should be amended so that

“occupational requirements provision and / or the single-sex / separate services provision shall not apply”.

Interesting to note that the evidence referred in screenshot by Claire McCann comes from a FA statement in the context of U16 'single gender' sport.


FA links c&p from p7 onwards of thread www.mumsnet.com/Talk/womens_rights/3325623-Jess-Bradley-a-government-advisor-on-womens-rights-suspended-by-NUS-over-indecent-blog-Part-iii?pg=7:
Edward Lords:
"In late 2012, he joined the Inclusion Advisory Group of the London Football Association, becoming its chairman in February 2013. In October 2013 he was appointed by the Football Association to chair anti-discrimination related disciplinary commissions and in December 2013 as a member of the FA Inclusion Advisory Board."

cf Delia Johnston interview about her career with FA and Olympics:

"Last night Delia Johnston, the former head of a charity campaigning for trans sportspeople to be allowed to compete in their chosen gender, condemned Ms Truss. Ms Johnston said: ‘She is giving kudos to Mumsnet who are particularly vicious on this particular front. Truss could be investigated for backing a group that is effectively advocating violence against the transgender community. She may be a terf in disguise.’

Another member of the FA Inclusion Advisory Board(since 2017) is Chris Paouros who is listed as seconder to the GRA motion at the WEP conference: www.thefa.com/news/2017/nov/30/inclusion-advisory-board-welcomes-two-new-members-301117

Looking at their twitter feed, Paouros appear to be very into women's sport & is a WEP Trustee :

KTheGrey Sun 05-Aug-18 21:08:17

Looking at the Peter Dunne/Tara Hewitt link in the earlier thread: he says that the 2010 EA already provides for those who are "proposing to undergo, is undergoing or has undergone a process ... for the purpose of reassigning the person's sex by changing physiological or other attributes of sex". What attributes of biological sex are not physiological? Does it mean wearing lippie or a dress? This is poorly phrased: "proposing to undergo" is remarkably vague and I think "other attributes" might well crumble under examination. Yet this is the section cited as the clause that protects tw's access to "appropriate goods and services such as single gender hospital wards".
This suggests to me that the problems are already written into a poorly worded law and asking lawyers about new proposals may be of very little practical assistance, unless it informs challenges to current interpretation of the law as it stands.

The other interesting point is that apparently S23 provides for the exclusion of trans persons if it's "a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim" so from situations such as vulnerable women's counselling where it might prevent women attending. This means that the bar is "legitimate aims". Would this include fairness in women's sports?

Badly written laws and in an era when budgets in the CPS have been cut 40% ...

heresyandwitchcraft Sun 05-Aug-18 16:52:00

So one thing I've noted is that both Claire McCann and Michelle Brewer represented a trans woman with a GRC in a case against the Department of Work and Pensions regarding data collection/access. It reached the supreme court, where the case eventually dismissed.

My question is whether we can learn anything from this ruling and apply it to women's rights? I've started a thread about this separately below:


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