Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2543

LETTERS: Students’ solidarity flushed transphobia down the toilet

This article is over 7 years, 3 months old
Issue 2543
Toilet signs - but who gets to decide?
Toilet signs – but who gets to decide? (Pic: Phil Shirley/Flickr)

A friend of mine, a 16 year old transgender woman at college in London, recently had major problems with transphobic bathroom rules.

She came out as trans soon after entering the college. The college were originally incredibly supportive.

But numerous protests by a Terf (transgender exclusionary radical feminist) organisation connected to the college changed that.

This group actively denies the right of trans people to self-identify.

She was told that she wasn’t allowed to use the bathrooms that aligned with her gender identity, due to “fear of personal safety while having a ‘man’ present in the ladies toilet”.

She was outraged and asked me for advice as a friend and activist.

She drafted a motion and got backing from students through petitions. But they still would not let her use the bathroom which aligned with her gender identity.

She asked for more advice, this time far more distressed. I advised her to set up a student demonstration of solidarity.

Two weeks later, on a cloudy Thursday morning, a large number of students walked out of their classrooms in solidarity with her.

They demanded a debate with whoever had made the decision against her using the bathroom.

After hours of debate, she was told she would once again be allowed to use the bathroom in her college.

The show of solidarity for a 16 year old transgender woman at college cut down all the transphobic arguments that had been pushed by the Terf protests.

The fact that this is an issue for people today shows that LGBT+ oppression is still very much alive in our society.

But this small example of solidarity shows the way to tackle transphobia and bigotry.

Cassidy Murray, North London

Racism in any language is still racism

An intense row has erupted over the decision to change a primary school in Llanelli, south Wales, from “Dual Stream” teaching – in which some children are taught only in English – to Welsh Medium only.

The school was reacting to a decline in use of the Welsh language locally.

This decision caused division. Some people felt they were being forced to change school.

Opposition has been led by a Labour Party member who has been proposed as a future community councillor.

“Out of desperation” she invited Ukip Assembly Members to join in. Ukip’s Neil Hamilton jumped at the chance to get his photo in the local press.

But something quite other than desperation may have been motivating the activist. Previously she shared far right posts on social media.

Labour has suspended her for working with a non-affiliated group—rather than for racism.

Ukip have had far too easy a ride in Wales. Politicians and activists seem scared to say the word “racism” for fear of driving support away.

The decline in Welsh language use cannot be addressed by competing over shrinking resources. Failure to reverse the cuts will lead to divisions.

Martin Chapman, Swansea

Safety is a fracking lie at Cuadrilla’s new pad

We’re told that in Britain fracking will be safe because it will be regulated.

Here in Lancashire we are seeing how that is a lie before it even gets going. Cuadrilla is building a test pad by a main road—with blatant disregard for safety.

Trucks have knocked over protesters and their own security guards.

Lorries crossing into the site have caused at least one major car accident. Ambulances have been held up on a blue light run. Vehicles carrying heavy loads come with licence plates covered up—under the noses of the police.

But blockades of their depots have seen three firms pull out of contracts with Cuadrilla. Its owner’s share prices are tumbling.

My NUT union branch has passed an anti-fracking motion and agreed to support protests.

The fight to stop fracking is part of the battle against climate change. It is one we must win.

Hilary Chuter, Lancaster

Councillor of despair

Your feature article has some interesting quotes from Mohammed Pervez, the Labour group leader of Stoke City Council (Socialist Worker, 18 February).

But anyone who has seen the BBC documentary “The Year The Town Hall Shrank” will have little sympathy.

Members of the Labour group on the council carried out cuts of a callous nature with a devastating impact on the poor and vulnerable in Stoke.

Let’s hope Corbynism has an impact in invigorating local Labour Parties and councils across the country.

Mario Michalski, Stoke-on-Trent

Palestinian lives matter

Abdul Fattah al-Sharif was lying incapacitated on the ground when Israeli soldier Elor Azaria shot him in the head.

The prime minister of Israel called for Azaria to be pardoned. He was put on trial—but only for manslaughter.

When I was at a school in the West Bank the children were banned from their football field. It had been taken by the army.

The children ran with Palestinian flags to the field, and threw stones at the gate. The Israeli soldiers fired tear gas at them until they ran away.

Those children could have had up to ten years in prison for throwing stones.

Azaria was given 18 months for manslaughter.

Zainah El-Haroun, York

Cops get away with murder

The death of Yassar Yaqub in January makes me wonder. Since when did the West Yorkshire Police get to change British law and bring in the death penalty?

Noreen Islam, on Facebook

Justice over witch-hunt

I read your article on new “Trojan Horse” allegations in Oldham (Socialist Worker online). This racism has got to be stopped—and that needs justice in court.

Former Birmingham school governor Tahir Alam is fighting a ban on working in education.

He and others were accused of “undermining fundamental British values”. For details and to contribute to his fighting fund go to

Gadija Da Costa, on Facebook

Voting Lexit? Leave it out

The Socialist Workers Party’s support for the Lexit campaign to leave the European Union (EU) helped unleash an upsurge of racism.

Leaving the EU may be ideologically sound, but in practice it is damaging workers’ interests.

Jamie Rankin, Grenoble, France

Eat the Tories for our Brexit

Mick asks why Brexit hasn’t led to the predicted Tory crisis (Letters, 22 February).

Brexit alone won’t tear apart the Tories, but we can use it as a weapon against them. Instead the Labour right and pro-EU left undermine Jeremy Corbyn’s opposition.

The left should fight for a Brexit where migrant rights are kept intact. That includes marching against racism on Saturday 18 March.

Gabby Thorpe, Norwich

Refuse to let us be divided

I liked your front page, “We can fight Tory racism” (Socialist Worker, 22 February). Fuck the Tories’ racist divide and conquer agenda!

Cahit Cetinkaya, on Facebook

Topics ,

Sign up for our daily email update ‘Breakfast in Red’

Latest News

Make a donation to Socialist Worker

Help fund the resistance