QUESTIONS TO NEC CANDIDATES

Mick Johnston
A127890

1.      Do you accept that trans women are women, trans men are men, and non-binary people are non-binary - and will you commit to respecting trans people as their self-declared gender – if so, how will you integrate this approach to tackle the culture of entrenched transphobia, from the grassroots membership up to the leadership?

"Yes, yes and this is a big question and relates to a number of the questions below, in particular 3,4,6,7,8. So see my answers to these. I don’t have any personal experience of entrenched transphobia in the Party although I am aware of the Labour Women’s Declaration position. The views of some of its supporters seem transphobic although some of its supporters dislike being labelled as transphobic. They present themselves as feminists and logicalise that the interests of ciswomen are antithetical to those of transwomen. I don’t accept that this the case and wonder what really motivates them. I’m open to persuasion, it’s not a big issue in Thirsk & Malton, but they don’t seem to have that much support and raising their profile by confronting them in a high profile way might not be the best way of dealing with them. I’d like to think that some of those who have leaned toward them and may have signed their petition are not so dogmatic as to insist that Ciswomen’s rights override those of a very small and vulnerable minority. In the end it comes back to your point that transphobia is antithetical to the Party’s aims, with the caveat that a workable definition of transphobia has yet to be established."

 

2.      Will you defend the current Labour Party policy and principle of inclusion of Transgender women on All Women Shortlists?

"YES, although I hope this would not result in Transwomen being pressurised to stand in selections just to make the numbers up."

3.      How would you make sure all identities and all voices under the LGBTIQA+ umbrella are listened to on issues of homophobia, transphobia and transmisogyny, allowing for example, trans people to lead the way on their own liberation.

"The answer is to ensure they havedirect representation at Party fora where these issues are being discussed. As an NEC rep I would do this at the NEC working in liaison with LGBT+ Labour. The NEC has overall responsibility for management of the Party so in theory it could be usedas a platform for ensuring LGBT+ Labour is represented at all relevant for a although I would need to be advised by you what these are."

4.      Do you believe that trans liberation must be an objective of the Labour Party, and that transphobia is antithetical to our collective aims, and if so - would you support the expulsion from the Labour Party of those who express bigoted, transphobic views.

"YES Absolutely. And I believe re-enforcing this message is the key to answering many of the questions raised here.., Yes, but it has to be in the same way that those expressing otherforms of bigotry are dealt with."

5.      Will you commit to a review of how complaints relating to transphobia are handled? and will you commit to in conjunction with LGBT+ Labour and trans-led organisations to develop a clear code of conduct that includes a workable definition of transphobia?

"YES. Got to admit I have no idea how they are handled."

6.      When the ‘culture war’ tactic is used in the press etc and causes an increase in bigotry against certain gender identities and sexualities (often even further marginalising those with multiple minority identities) how would you ensure that these spikes in bigotry found in wider society aren’t found within Labour?

"The broad answer is below under Q.7 & 8. I don’tthink using journalistic jargon like ‘culture wars’ is at all helpful. If what you mean ishigh profile media campaigns which denigrate Trans people then these have to bechallenged in an equally high profile way by the Party. The best way to counter bigotry in the Party is to be seen by Members to be challenging it in society at large. However transphobic bigotry should not be treated any differently from any otherform of bigotry. Establishing the Party’s utter opposition to bigotry and discrimination of all types is as important to defining who we are and how we relate to society asdeconstructing Boris Johnson and what he represents. The Party has not done this well and I am mindful in particular of the shameful way it hung Dianne Abbott out to dry in the face of multiple media denigration."

7.      What structures, processes, and changes do you think are required to change the culture within the party to one where homophobia, transphobia, transmisogyny etc. is not permitted? – also how will you help to improve understanding of trans and non-binary people in the party.

"I don’t think we should advocate special treatment for the above, in fact this is counterproductive. The argument should be that they are dealt with thoroughly and in the same way as other forms of prejudice such as racial religious or misogyny. I don’t believe it helps to lecture people and besides I don’t pretend to understand myself. My personal breakthrough in coping with being Trans was when I stopped trying to understand it and started accepting it. I think the way to gain acceptance is through socialisation and normalisation, which means encouraging more Transpeople to join and be active in the Party."

                                         

8.      Why do you think there has never been a Trans person elected in the UK Parliament, or a Trans person selected for a winnable seat for Labour - and what measures do you think need to take place to ensure Trans people are represented within the party?

"I can only guess as have no data on which to base a view. My guess is that Trans members are deterred from standing for positions and members making selections are deterred from selecting them if they do, by perception that Trans candidates would lose votes. While clearly there are transphobic voters out there my personal experience as a trans woman standing for council elections or campaigning in General Elections is that for most voters the Trans thing is not an issue. On the doorstep in recent elections I have had no hostility to me personally, although a lot, regrettably and unfairly, directed to Jeremy Corbyn... Trans people need to be supported in being active in the Party in the first place. This support needs to come both from the top of the Party, from Regions and from organised bodies such as LGBT+ Labour. However Trans people should notbe raised above other minority groups, just treated equally, and individual members should not be pressured into doing things they are not comfortable with. I would also caution strongly against patronising Party Members. It is quite wrong to assume that Members are overtly or latently transphobic. The vast majority are not and will welcome and support anyone who does a good job for the Party, in whatever capacity,regardless of gender. As an NEC candidate I have to say this next bit. One of the ways to encourage Transpeople to be active is to show them role models who are. A Trans member on the NEC would do more than anything else to achieve this. The most positive thing LGBT+ Labour could do for Trans members right now would be to get me on the NEC bycampaigning unequivocally for members to vote for me."

9.      Do you support the reform of the Gender Recognition Act to improve transgender rights, as well as supporting policies which would improve trans people’s access to necessary healthcare, housing, and employment? And will you organise against and oppose any transphobic policies from our own party or any other?

"Yes. As an individual member I oppose transphobic policies. As an NEC member I would use the position to help LGBT+ Labour and other groups organiseagainst transphobic policies."

10.  Name at least one LGBTIQA+ socialist who inspires you, and explain what inspires you about them.

"James Baldwin. Probably because I read him as a teenager in the 60’s. Many things about him but lets say, courage, articulacy, spirit, determination, style."

Best Wishes,

Mick

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