Speak Up for Women has been subjected to a three-year misinformation campaign designed to discredit us and mislead the New Zealand public – and our law makers – about the nature of our concerns with sex self-identification. Organizations such as Gender Minorities have called us a hate group, bigots, anti-trans and transphobic. They have also accused us of being funded by the international Christian conservative / alt-right.

None of these assertions are true and in fact it is Gender Minorities who receives international funds from lobby groups, not the other way around.

In the table below we address some of the misinformation being promoted by Gender Minorities. We want an open and honest dialogue with this organisation and would welcome a public debate. It is time to leave the ad hominem smear tactics behind and address the substance of the issue of sex self-identification.

Gender Minorities claims are distributed through their online material, and are summarised in this document.

GMA claims on male pattern violence

There is no evidence that trans women perpetrate violence toward other women at a higher rate than other women do. Anti-trans groups may cite a study in which it was found that older trans women face high levels of imprisonment and arrest, however, one of the women who conducted this study, Cecilia Dhejne, explained that this study does not show “male pattern violence,” and that to say it does is a gross misrepresentation

Feminists Say

There is no evidence that identifying as a woman reduces the risk of male pattern violence.

There is no evidence that even undergoing sex reassignment surgery reduces the risk. The available evidence is to the contrary.

The study by Cecilia Dhejne was a long term (1973-2003) follow up study of transsexual persons undergoing sex reassignment surgery in Sweden. Published in 2011, it found1:


“[R]egarding any crime, male-to-females had a significantly increased risk for crime compared to female controls (aHR6.6; 95% CI4.1-10.88) but not compared to males (aHR 0.8; 95% CI 0.5-1.2). This indicates that they retained a male pattern regarding criminality. The same was true for violent crime.”

This conclusion remains in the published work. If the authors have recanted this finding, we would like to see the evidence.

GMA claims on women’s prisons

There are systems in place to minimise violence, including sexual violence, between prisoners housed together. Department of Corrections confirmed that it is prepared to make adjustments if the Bill should pass. Other countries with similar legislation have not reported any negative effect on women prisoners.

Feminists Say

This claim is demonstrably false and there are many examples. Karen White 2 in the UK self-identified as a woman, was moved into a women’s prison and committed sexual assaults there.

A recent high court ruling in the UK makes it clear that including transgender women in female prisons comes at a cost to female prisons. In handing down the Judgement, Lord Justice Holroyde noted: “the unconditional introduction of a transgender woman into the general population of a women’s prison carries a statistically greater risk of sexual assault upon non-transgender prisoners than would be the case if a non-transgender woman were introduced.3

Transgender prisoners are five times more likely to carry out sex attacks on inmates at women’s jails than other prisoners are, official figures show4.

The New Zealand Human Rights Act specifically allows for single sex accommodation on the grounds of privacy, decency, and safety. Women in prison are among the most vulnerable in society and therefore the most needing of these protections.

GMA claims on women’s bathroom/refuges/spaces

These do not require birth certificates to enter. Women’s refuges already allow transgender women and have for many years.

They have evidence-based processes and protections in place to ensure all women who enter are kept safe.

They already protect women who are fleeing violent relationships with other women, where those abusive partners may seek to access the refuge by deception.

No woman can enter a women’s refuge without legitimate need.

Other countries with similar legislation have not reported any rise in sexual violence in women’s spaces as a result of the legislation

Feminists Say

Where is the evidence for this claim?

Some may cater for transwomen, but others highly value their female only status, as evidenced in the case of Shelter vs Kimberley Nixon5.

Female violence is a very different profile to male violence and so is not comparable. In addition, it is statistically insignificant compared with the numbers of women fleeing male violence.

No male should ever enter a women’s refuge. Feminist women self-funded and built refuges for women.

“Other countries with similar legislation have not reported any rise in sexual violence in women’s spaces as a result of the legislation”

This claim is false. in 2012 Christopher Hambrook6 assaulted women in two homeless shelters in Toronto, gaining access by claiming he was a transwoman. State law had changed earlier that year to recognise sex self-identification. In 2014 he was found guilty of sexual assault and criminal harassment.

GMA claims on abuse of sex self-ID

There are no reported cases of men in NZ using the statutory declaration process to change the sex marker on their passport in order to ”game the system” and sexually assault women.

Feminists Say

Single-sex service providers can enforce their rights to be female- only services, but they generally don’t need to under the existing law because we have a social understanding that transsexuals have made a meaningful transition (they tend to appear female). This is supported by law that requires people who change sex on their bith certificates to have undergone medical treatment.
Women have this understanding and if a person of typical male appearance enters e.g. a changing room, women feel confident in their right to tell him to leave.

That all changes under sex self-ID.

Sex self-ID requires no medical or even appearance change. So the social understanding of what a transwomen is changes and women will lose their confidence in challenging a male who presents as a man in women’s spaces. No one uses a birth certificate to access these spaces, so there’s no way of knowing if the person is a gender non-conforming transwomen or a man. No one wants to upset someone or be called a bigot, so women will stop challenging men in their spaces. This is dangerous to transwomen as well as to women and children.

GMA claims on legal sex

Trans women are already legally recognised as women and there have been no ill effects

Feminists Say

Transwomen are not legally recognised as women, so this claim is false. The BDMRR Act states “Notwithstanding this Part, the sex of every person shall continue to be determined by reference to the general law of New Zealand”. The DIA has recently stated7 that a birth certificate is not definitive evidence of a person’s sex for the purposes of accessing rights and obligations under NZ law.

GMA claims on single-sex schools

In Aotearoa, we have many co-ed or mixed gender schools, and students are considered safe attending these.

There are currently single sex schools which accept transgender students.

Feminists Say

Yes they are safe, but there are separate toilet and changing facilities. The need for this is well documented.

There may well be some single-sex schools that accept transgender students, but the Human Rights Act, Sections 55 and 58 specifically provides exceptions in relation to sex‐specific schools. Girls and their parents have the right to single-sex schools.

GMA claims regarding the impact of sex self-ID on data analysis

Transgender people make up just 1% of the overall population, therefore this is unlikely to have much bearing on data about women overall.

Feminists Say

This is a flippant dismissal of the facts. Over 92% of the prison population is male8. 94-98% of child sexual abuse9 is committed by males and 98-99% of sexual offending10Child Sexual Abuse and Adult Sexual Violence –Perpetration by Gender[/efn_note] against adults is committed by males.

It does not take many males self-identifying as women to significantly skew female crime statistics. Crime statistics being based on self-identified sex, rather than birth sex, has huge significance for our understanding of crime, and implications for prevention and punishment.

Women have not yet gained equality. Why should women accept any muddying of the data that tracks progress? Transgender people should be tracked and reported on separately for their own benefit as well as that of women.

GMA claims regarding public consultation for BDMRRA

The Bill has been through the same public consultation process as any other Bill, including public submissions, analysis of submissions, expert advice, and changes as necessary. Many of the anti-trans campaigners made submissions, which can be viewed on the government’s website

Feminists Say

This is evidentially false.

The sex self-Identification clauses were added by the Select Committee after public consultations closed. Some feminists submitted against the inclusion of self-ID, anticipating that an attempt to add it may be made during the Select Committee process.

But the public did not have the opportunity to submit on these clauses. This issue was highlighted by Crown Law11 and Tracey Martin referred to it when she deferred12 the bill, so it is misleading to claim the Bill has followed the usual process.

Dept of Internal Affairs officials have now stated that Minister Tinetti has not given them time to undertake public consultation before the Bill is re-introduced in August13.

GMA claims regarding the impact of sex self-ID on women’s rights

The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women ( a United Nations treaty), firmly affirms that transgender women are protected as a sex class. This right to be protected from discrimination on the basis of sex does not detract from any other person’s right to non-discrimination on the basis of sex. This is already the case in NZ, and the Bill will not change this. All women will continue to have the same right to not be discriminated against on the basis of their sex.

Feminists Say

CEDAW does not consider transwomen as members of the female sex. The inference that it does is simply wrong.

CEDAW distinguishes between the discrimination that women experience on the basis of their sex (e.g. child brides, lack of reproductive rights, etc) and those experienced on the basis of gender (e.g. lack of education, gendered expectations of roles in the family, etc).

CEDAW was created to protect women from discrimination, and therefore including individuals with male biology even if they are trans women would be outside of the scope of the treaty. Some countries have been including [sexual orientation and gender identity] issues in their state reports to CEDAW, but the idea that [the Convention] requires them to do so, let alone to enact domestic legislation, is wrong14.

GMA claims regarding male privilege

Both international and local research consistently and constantly shows that transgender women experience higher rates than non transgender women of discrimination in education, housing, healthcare, employment, access to justice, legal documentation, higher rates of violence including sexual violence, higher rates of street harassment, and other indicators of a lack of privilege. No studies show the opposite. This is not what male privilege looks like.

Feminists Say

We are not aware of any research that has set out to prove whether transwomen have a greater burden of harm than women.

Assertion is not the same as evidence.

  1. Long-Term Follow-Up of Transsexual Persons Undergoing Sex Reassignment Surgery: Cohort Study in Sweden
  2. Karen White: how ‘manipulative’ transgender inmate attacked again
  3. Lawful to imprison trans women sex offenders in female jails, judge rules
  4. Seven sex attacks in women’s jails by transgender convicts
  5. Transsexual Loses Fight with Women’s Shelter
  6. A system of gender self-identification would put women at risk
  7. Regulatory Impact Assessment: Introducing a self-identification process to recognise gender on birth certificates
  8. Prison facts and statistics – March 2018
  9. Child Sexual Abuse and Adult Sexual Violence – Perpetration by Gender
  10. Child Sexual Abuse and Adult Sexual Violence – Perpetration by Gender
  11. Crown Law advice
  12. Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Registration Bill to be deferred
  13. ]Regulatory Impact Assessment: Introducing a self-identification process to recognise gender on birth certificates
  14. Freedman R. Addressing claims made by NZ MP Louisa Wall about CEDAW. Presented in response to the claim that the Convention includes transwomen. Exchange on Twitter. Published November 28, 2018.

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