Three men complained

Another MP saying no. (Usual apologies for linking to Mail but if Guardian won’t report…)

For a woman who, only this week, was reprimanded for wading into the increasingly febrile transgender debate, you’ve got to applaud Tory police and crime commissioner Lisa Townsend for her sheer chutzpah.

‘It is not a “niche” issue, it is not “hysterical” for women to be taking to the street about it,’ Lisa wrote. ‘We will not accept this gaslighting from men who keep telling us they are women or from those who enable them,’ she added to her retweet and posted it without a second thought.

Three men, including local Conservative MP Crispin Blunt, complained. The Surrey police and crime panel’s complaints sub-committee found that Lisa had not been ‘dignified or respectful’ to trans people. It demanded that she explain herself to the men who reported her over the tweet.

We don’t have to believe that men can be women, and we don’t have to say it, either.

‘Saying that my words as a woman are disrespectful because I’ve chosen to stand up for women who have been raped and telling me I have to explain myself to three men, particularly a male MP from my own party, who’ve complained about my language, is ridiculous.’

According to Lisa, an overwhelming number of her female constituents are genuinely frightened. She says it was the single biggest issue in her inbox when she campaigned to be Surrey’s police and crime commissioner ten months ago.

That’s good to know.

‘It seems perfectly OK, in some quarters, to put up signs saying “Die TERFs” and all the awful, awful things you see, but it’s not acceptable for a woman to say: “I don’t believe transwomen are women. I do believe there’s a difference between sex and gender and that females not just deserve, but have a right, to have our own safety and protected spaces where males should not be allowed.”

‘What many would think is a mainstream view has become something we can’t say without facing this ridiculous process.’

Blunt phoned her to try to get her to stop talking and she explained why no, and she thought they had agreed to disagree.

Mr Blunt, who as well as being MP for Reigate is chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Global LBGT+ Rights, called her again shortly after she retweeted J. K. Rowling’s message in December.

Quoting from George Orwell’s 1984, the author had tweeted: ‘War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength,’ before adding: ‘The Penised Individual Who Raped You Is a Woman.’

After Lisa’s retweet, which included the hashtag #IStand WithJKRowling, she says Mr Blunt ‘essentially said: “I would like you to stop.” He didn’t reference that tweet. He said: “I’m disappointed you’re still talking about this issue. Please stop.”

No you stop. Stop telling women what they can say.

‘I was frustrated. I said: “Crispin, I’m going to be honest. I’m getting a little bit fed up with middle-aged men telling me I can’t speak about what, for me, is a women’s rights issue and is something constituents are writing to me about.”

‘He said: “In which case, I’m sorry for what I’m about to do,” and ended the call.

‘Nearly a week later, I discovered the “what I’m about to do” was to put an official complaint to the police and crime panel.’

Lisa was in Edinburgh on International Women’s Day when she received the panel’s decision. ‘I wasn’t angry. I just thought it was ridiculous,’ she says, rolling her eyes.

Mr Blunt is one of three men she must write to. A second complainant simply said ‘Lisa Townsend is transphobic’ and the other took issue with Ms Rowling’s tweet.

‘The particular point that Crispin made to the panel was that he’d “counselled me” but I’d done it anyway, therefore he’d had to complain.’

Because men always get to tell women what we can’t say, and punish us if we go ahead and say it.

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