Counting Dead Women – and counting people who identify as transgender

I’ve been challenged both for not including trans-identified males in my work on Counting Dead Women and for commemorating males who identify as transgender from Counting Dead Women on Trans Day of Remembrance.

This is a brief summary of my position so that I can refer people to it rather than rehash the same thing or ignore them.

Since I started @CountDeadWomen in January 2012, I’ve recorded the names of 1,063 UK women killed by men:

  • 2012 -141 women
  • 2013 -151 women
  • 2014 -156 women
  • 2015 -138 women
  • 2016 – 125 women
  • 2017 – 147 women
  • 2018 – 146 women
  • 2019 – at least 59 women up to 21 July

I haven’t tweeted then all from @CountDeadWomen because I didn’t plan this as a campaign, it evolved naturally.

On the 20th November- Trans Day of Remembrance 2018, I tweeted to commemorate a trans-identified male,  Naomi Hersi. According to some, this makes me a sell-out.

I do not believe that ‘transwomen’ are women but I have no problem whatsoever recognising the humanity of people who identify as transgender. I have no problem acknowledging the humanity of all males. I observe the  minute’s silence on Armistice Day in memory of all victims of all wars.

I recognise that many people who identify as transgender are subjected to violence, abuse, discrimination and even death because they adopt so-called gender norms that are not those stereotypically associated with their sex. I think this is deplorable. I do not believe people can change sex and I think ‘gender’ functions to maintain male supremacy and female subordination.

I can and do recognise that many males who identify as transgender are killed in circumstances related to prostitution and drug use, situations that some would call ‘high risk’. I do not see that as a reason to excuse those murders any more than I think involvement in prostitution and/or drugs is an excuse for killing women.

There is an international Trans Day of Remembrance.  I am happy to acknowledge this day.  There is no equivalence for the far greater numbers of women who are killed by men, killed in most cases because they are women. I think this reflects the subordination of women and the acceptance and normalisation of men’s violence against women as natural and inevitable. I believe it is neither. Counting Dead Women is a way I have chosen to address this for myself.

I believe 7 males who identify as transgender have been killed in the the UK since 2012, that is 7 people too many and 7 people who are missed and mourned by those who loved them. I have not included them in Counting Dead Women and I don’t plan to do so in the future.  As I stated above, more than 1,063 women have been killed by men in the same period.  That is more than 1,063 women who are missed and mourned by those who loved them.

I firmly believe in our right to women-only spaces, services and organising. I believe in  that women who have been subjected to men’s violence are best served by specialist independent women-only organisations running women-only services.

I have worked in services supporting women who have been subjected to sexual and domestic violence, exploited in prostitution and/or experiencing homelessness all my adult life, for 29 years. Last year, nia, the charity where I work gave face-to-face support to over 1,500 women and girls and, where our contracts require it, a small handful of males, some of whom identify as transgender. All people we support are treated with respect and dignity.

If  you think acknowledging the murder of Naomi Hersi makes me a sell-out, so be it. You do your thing, I’ll do mine. If you think I’m denying the humanity of people who identify as transgender by not including males in Counting Dead Women, so be it. You do your thing,  I’ll do mine