Ladies, ladies!

Fists f ly in po­lit­i­cally cor­rect punch-up af­ter trans­gen­der ac­tivists try to turf the TERFs (‘Trans-Ex­clu­sion­ary Rad­i­cal Fem­i­nists’) out of Hyde Park

The Mail on Sunday - - News - By Mark Wood and Sanchez Man­ning

THE trans­gen­der is­sue is the most sen­si­tive in Bri­tain to­day, spark­ing pas­sion­ate de­bate among equal­rights cam­paign­ers.

But now that pas­sion has erupted into the sort of out­right vi­o­lence nor­mally as­so­ci­ated with foot­ball hooli­gans.

Two fac­tions – the Trans-Ex­clu­sion­ary Rad­i­cal Fem­i­nists ( or so-called TERFs) and their bit­ter en­e­mies Trans Ac­tivists – clashed in an un­seemly bust-up that ended with a 60-year-old woman be­ing bun­dled to the ground and punched in the face. The in­ci­dent was caught on video and is now be­ing in­ves­ti­gated by the po­lice.

Mother-of-two Maria MacLach­lan, who de­scribes her­self as a ‘ gen­der crit­i­cal fem­i­nist’, was at­tacked at Speak­ers’ Cor­ner in Lon­don’s Hyde Park at about 7pm on Wed­nes­day.

She had joined around 50 fel­low TERFs who were to be given de­tails of the se­cret lo­ca­tion for a talk en­ti­tled What Is Gen­der? The Gen­der Recog­ni­tion Act And Be­yond.

TERFs are fem­i­nists who are op­posed to some cam­paign­ing by trans­gen­der women.

The event was orig­i­nally sched­uled to be held at a com­mu­nity cen­tre in New Cross, South-East Lon­don, but was switched fol­low­ing on­line warn­ings of a protest from Trans Ac­tivists.

Among the groups threat­en­ing to protest were the LGBTQ+ So­ci­ety from Gold­smiths Univer­sity, an or­gan­i­sa­tion called Sis­ters Un­cut, and Ac­tion For Trans Health Lon­don. Ms MacLach­lan told The Mail on Sun­day: ‘I was chat­ting to one of the speak­ers, Mi­randa Yardley, and peo­ple started to come who looked dif­fer­ent to the rest of us. There was quite a gen­er­a­tion thing.

‘ These stu­denty- look­ing types were turn­ing up and some ar­gu­ments started to take place but I kept well out of it.’

Ms Yardley is a prom­i­nent trans­gen­der writer and was guest speaker at the event along with Dr Ju­lia Long, who de­scribes her- self as a ‘ les­bian fem­i­nist and de­fender of women-only spa­ces’. Ms MacLach­lan said: ‘Ju­lia said she was go­ing to sing a song she had writ­ten. She took a mega­phone and as soon as she put it to her lips, these kids started shout­ing, “When the TERFs at­tack, we fight back.”

‘I thought, “I can film this, it will be in­ter­est­ing.” They were get­ting louder and louder. Then sud­denly some­one tried to grab my cam­era. It was scary. Some­one kept try­ing to get my cam­era. I think it was a girl, but I couldn’t tell be­cause they had a hoodie over their eyes.’

Footage of t he i nci­dent was up­loaded t o YouTube t he day af­ter the al­leged at­tack, and it has since been viewed tens of thou­sands of times.

In a state­ment to po­lice, Ms MacLach­lan later iden­ti­fied a transwoman who is cur­rently try­ing to raise £5,000 for vo­cal-cord surgery to make her voice higher, as one of her at­tack­ers. Her Lu­mix cam­era was smashed and the mem­ory card stolen. She also sus­tained a nasty bruise on her face, red marks on her neck and grazed knees. She added: ‘I didn’t go to hos­pi­tal but it has re­ally shaken me up.’

Sev­eral fem­i­nists called 999 and three cars con­tain­ing six of­fi­cers ar­rived on thet scene, but no ar­rests werew made. Notes were passed among the fem­i­nists let­tingl them know the se­cret venue was t he Univer­sity Women’s Club in May­fair. They left in small groups hop­ingh not to be fol­lowed but were tracked down by the ac­tivists. An­other fem­i­nist,fe Jen Iza­ak­son, said sat en­sion re­mained highhi at the venue. She added:ad ‘ The staff had to formfo a hu­man chain to let ourou peo­ple in and keep protester­spr out.’ Be­causeB stu­dents from Go Gold­smiths had been so voc vo­cal in op­pos­ing the orig­i­nal meet­ing, the fem­i­nists bel be­lieve they formed a sec­tion of the pro­test­ers. A spokesman for the univer­sity said: ‘Gold­smiths prides it­self on its di­verse and in­clu­sive com­mu­nity. We up­hold the right to peace­ful protest but can­not condone vi­o­lence.’ Ac­tion for Trans Health Lon­don is­sued a state­ment say­ing: ‘We con­demn vi­o­lence against women in all forms. We’re proud that many self-or­gan­is­ing ac­tivists, al­lies and sup­port­ers stood against ha­tred, misog­yny and in­tim­i­da­tion.’ A Scot­land Yard spokesman con­firmed an in­ves­ti­ga­tion was on­go­ing and video ev­i­dence would form part of their in­quiries.

GEN­DER WAR­FARE: A hood­iewear­ing pro­tester raises a fist dur­ing the brawl

FLASH­POINT: The ac­tivist holds Maria MacLach­lan, cir­cled and right, who was left shaken

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