The following letter was originally published in The Guardian.
Speakers’ Corner in London was where suffragettes met to debate the laws and rights of the day. This was the intention for women who congregated there on 13 September to be directed to a meeting to discuss the impact of proposed legislation on gender identity.
The venue could not be advertised because the original one, a community meeting space, had been intimidated into cancelling the booking. Transgender activists who opposed the debate taking place instigated a campaign to shut it down, which led to the attack on 60-year-old Maria MacLachlan by multiple assailants. Her camera was smashed, her hand cut, and her face and neck bruised.
Attempts to minimise or justify this violence from those who sympathise with the cause these protestors claimed to support are deeply worrying. Some members of the trans community have expressed their revulsion at the actions of this violent vanguard. Others, perhaps intimidated from speaking out for fear of being ostracised, must find their voice if there is to be reasoned discussion of legislation that affects us all.
Women have a right to free association and assembly. Politically motivated violence aimed at silencing women and shutting us out of political discussion will not succeed.
Lucy Masoud FBU LGBT London secretary
Prof Deborah Cameron University of Oxford
Karen Ingala Smith Chief executive officer, NIA
Gemma Aitchison Founder, YES Matters
Naomi Fearon Deputy general secretary, Socialist Educational Association
Rachel Moran Founder, SPACE international
Margaret Prosser Labour, House of Lords
Ruth Serwotka Convenor, Socialist Feminist Network
Sam Smethers Chief executive, Fawcett Society
Dr Mary-Ann Stephenson Co-director, Women’s Budget Group
Dr Eva Neitzert Co-director, Women’s Budget Group
Kiri Tunks Convenor, Socialist Feminist Network
Dr Jennifer Wilkes
Harriet Wistrich Founder, Centre for Women’s Justice