In early December, the UK Conservative Party’s deputy chair for women faced backlash for describing their transgender political opponent as “a man in a wig.” Not only was the comment the cheapest of cheap ad hominem attacks, it was deeply transphobic—and the police seem to agree.
Tory MP Rachel Maclean has received a non-crime hate incident (NCHI) report from the police for comments made against Green Party opponent Melissa Poulton. Maclean shared a Twitter/X post which described Poulton as “a man who wears a wig and calls himself a ‘proud lesbian.’” Maclean added, “While the Greens don’t know what a woman is, my Worcestershire neighbors, the people of Bromsgrove certainly do.”
In response to the blowback over the post, Maclean told the BBC, “Everyone in the UK should be free to live their lives and fulfil their potential regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity and to have the confidence and the freedom to be themselves.”
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In a Twitter/X post on Monday, Maclean fumed at being issued the NCHI, pledging to challenge the decision. “Originally NCHIs were introduced in wake of Stephen Lawrence case and were used as intelligence gathering tools,” she said, referencing the 1993 murder of Black teenager Stephen Lawrence. “It seems wrong and ridiculous to use the same tool to record that a woman said a man cannot be a woman or a lesbian.”
Maclean elaborated her argument in an interview with the right wing outlet spiked. In a veritable salad of contradictions, Maclean claimed to support trans rights, saying “we must treat each other with respect in politics” while adding “it shouldn’t be controversial to differentiate between a transwoman and biological woman.” Of course, that’s what terms like trans and cis exist for, not “man in a wig.”
“What I said was not transphobic at all. It’s not hateful. It’s not nasty,” Maclean claimed. “And it is, in fact, my right – protected by the free-speech laws in this country – to say that there is a difference between a transgender woman and a biological woman. And that a transgender woman cannot be a lesbian.
“Somebody has to stand up and say it. I don’t mind if I get attacked. But it’s really difficult for ordinary teachers in a school, for example, or nurses on a hospital ward to do the same. I’ve heard testimony from lots of these people proving as much. So it is important that people know that they can speak out.”
Poulton responded to the initial comments by characterizing Maclean’s actions as “childish games from a government party who’s going to be out office.”
”I’m here for representation as a queer woman, as a woman with transgender experience,” Poulton added. “I’m sure the people of Redditch will see that they’re attacking someone for who they are. We’ll see what happens at the ballot box.”
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