Trolls are donated money to an anti-transgender fundraiser on GoFundMe using the names of notable trans people.
For more than a decade the UK’s Labour Party has employed all-women shortlists in some constituencies in a bid to boost the number of female MPs in Parliament – by forcing local Labour Parties to pick a candidate from a list of women.
A row blew up this month as anti-transgender feminists launched a bid to block trans women from standing on women’s shortlists.
There are zero openly transgender MPs in Parliament, but the campaigners raised more than £15,000 to pursue legal action against the party, claiming that “transgender-identified males” were pushing “biological” women out of their roles.
The fundraiser, hosted on campaign website GoFundMe, has come in for criticism after people started donating large amounts of money, falsely using the names of well-known transgender people.
Fake donations appeared using the names of Paris Lees, Jack Monroe, PinkNews, and writer Shon Fay – as well as in the name of trans allies such as Owen Jones.
Transgender food writer Jack Monroe, who recently won a large libel settlement from hero of the far-right Katie Hopkins, had threatened legal action unless the issue was addressed.
Speaking to PinkNews, Jack explained: “I think the behaviour on this is petty and bullying.
“It got to the point where I felt I couldn’t not get involved, because GoFundMe didn’t seem to be taking people’s complaints very seriously. I’ve got quite a large public platform and experience of fundraisers as well as litigation and libel cases and defamation. If anyone’s got to lead the charge on it then it had to be me.
“I kicked off a campaign on Twitter last night about getting the campaign investigated because they were using people’s identities fraudulently in order to make donations.
“For a group of people so concerned about people self-identifying, the fact that some of them were trying to self-identify as me, Shon Faye, Paris Lees and Owen Jones is ironic in the extreme.”
In a statement to PinkNews, GoFundMe confirmed: “We proactively removed a number of offending donations overnight and spoke with Jack this morning. We are continuing to monitor the campaign.”
Jack Monroe added: “They’ve taken down and refunded all donations that have been falsely made in trans people’s names and dead names, which has partly defunded the campaign.
“People who’ve had their donations refunded are now blocked from donating, so it’s thrown a little bit of a spanner in the works for them… I’ve got no regrets about that.”
Jack added: “I’m still trying to decide whether it’s worth pursuing legal action. My lawyer thinks there is a case for defamation and reputation damage.”
The activist has also asked GoFundMe to investigate whether the organisers of the fundraiser had quietly changed its wording, as “a lot of people have donated to something that is no longer what they originally thought they were supporting”.
Speaking more broadly about the push to keep trans women off the shortlists, Monroe added: “Any action being taken to publicly discriminate against transgender people is a contravention of the law. It’s a contravention of protected characteristics under the Equality Act, and it’s fostering division in an already quite divided political party.
“If they want ‘biological’ cisgender women to stand as Labour Party candidates, they should be using that money. They’ve got £16,000 to spare – they should be using it on people’s positive campaigns, on talking about why their candidate is the best candidate, working in their communities, on helping out their local food banks and children’s centres, on things that genuinely make a difference.
“These are people who’ve got spare change in their back pockets and they’re choosing to sow hate and division rather than unite their communities. If we all choose to take positive action rather than in-fight, the Labour Party would be more united, rather than wasting our time doing things like this.”
Labour is reportedly planning to clarify its position on the issue next week, after it was discussed last night by a behind-closed-doors subcommittee of the party’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC).
A spokesperson for the Labour Party has declined to answer a string of questions from PinkNews or provide an official statement clarifying the party’s stance ahead of a full NEC meeting next week.
A Labour Party spokesperson told PinkNews: “All women shortlists in the Labour Party have always been open to all women, which of course includes trans women.”
It is understood that the NEC will clarify on Tuesday Labour’s policies with regards to self-identification.
Trans women are already competing for seats under long-standing Labour policy.
PinkNews previously spoke to a transgender Labour activist, Dr Heather Peto, who has made it onto an All Women Shortlist for selection in the Labour target seat of Rushcliffe at the next General Election.
Dr Peto said her nomination had been supported by local people, but some Momentum and trade union activists had attempted to campaign to block her from standing.
She told PinkNews that her main critic, who tweets online under the nom de plume ‘Dr Radfem’ was a “a rent-a-quote for being nasty to transgender people, and being hostile to us”.
Dr Peto added of reaction within the party: “Most Labour people, I’d say 90 percent of Labour people, are very supportive.
“It is just the vocal transphobes that are not supportive. I got messages sent to me saying they hoped the hormones I take cause me breast cancer and I die a horrible death.
“I get those types of comments sent to me, but those are just a vocal minority. I spoke at Labour conference this year and I was warmly accepted, and everyone was supportive. There’s just a few vocal people who I just ignore, really.”
She added: “Locally, members have been very supportive, because they’ve always known me as a woman. I’ve been out for 20 years, and I’ve always championed women’s rights as well as transgender rights.
“I’m sure there’s probably a few people who are not supportive, but they’re keeping their heads down.”
Labour MP Stella Creasy was barraged with abuse earlier this month when she spoke out in favour of transgender equality.
Labour’s Sophie Cook came within just a few thousand votes of becoming the country’s first transgender MP during the 2017 election.
Cook was the Labour candidate for the Shoreham and Worthing seat, a Conservative stronghold for over 20 years.
She has spoken about the abuse she expected to get as a trans person campaigning for the seat, and the positive reaction she was actually met with.
Cook said the campaign marked a turning point in people’s acceptance of her and her gender identity.
“Something unexpected happened. Instead of the abuse, I was greeted with love and support, sure there were still a few transphobic remarks online but nothing like I’d experienced previously,” she said.
She had heard how some transgender people in the constituency had moved away because of the abuse, but she was met with open arms in the community.
Cook came away from the election with almost 21,000 votes, increasing the Labour vote by 114 percent and making it one of the biggest swing seats in the country.
She added: “They weren’t voting for a trans woman, they were voting for Sophie Cook, they were voting for the Labour Party. They saw beyond the headlines and the things that made us different and in their way struck a massive blow for trans equality.”
“We need transgender politicians, after all, everyone in society needs to feel represented. But the main reason why I believe that the time is right for a trans MP has nothing to do with equality or diversity, it’s down to the constituents who put their faith in me to represent them, regardless of my gender identity.”