By Ollie Bell
Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull, more commonly known as Posie Parker, recently announced that she will be in Dublin on 16 September to have one of her #LetWomenSpeak events. According to her, Let Women Speak rallies are ‘free speech’ events where “anyone can turn up and anyone can speak.” Speakers are encouraged to speak about whatever they like as long as what they say is legal.
So if that’s all Posie Parker’s Let Women Speak rallies are, why have there been counter protests held in response to these events in the UK, New Zealand and Australia? And why is there a Protest Posie Parker protest being organised by Trans & Intersex Pride Dublin? What is the real idea behind these events and what does Posie Parker actually stand for?
Posie Parker’s rise to fame came from being credited with coining the term ‘adult human female’ to define a woman, which she began to promote on billboards in 2018. This phrase has become associated with trans-exclusionary radical feminists as a way of reinforcing the gender binary and restricting trans people’s bodily autonomy and self-expression. Parker has made her anti-trans views quite known, as she has spoken out against trans people using public bathrooms according to their gender, the right of trans people to be legally recongised as their gender, trans people’s participation in sports, and access to trans healthcare.
But unlike many other anti-trans figures, like JK Rowling, Posie Parker has repeatedly said she isn’t a feminist. Instead she says she is a women’s rights activist and defender of women’s sex-based rights. It would be inaccurate to even say that she is a TERF; she is more closely related to the political right wing than radical feminism.
When we look closer at Posie Parker and her ideology, we cannot ignore the links with the far-right movement. Posie Parker is perhaps the most open of the ‘gender critical’ figures to collaborate with the far right and fascists. Her Melbourne Let Women Speak rally was notorious for allowing a neo-nazi group called National Socialist Network to show up in support with a banner that said “Destroy Paedo Freaks” and performed Nazi salutes.
Her events have been attractive to many members of the far right, including Alistair McConnachie in Glasgow (who runs A Force For Good – a fascist, Holocaust-denial group) and Britain First member Joline Bunting who spoke at her Belfast event. Many other anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-abortion politicians, activists and groups have attended her rallies. She has been friendly towards far right men such as Norwegian Neo-Nazi Hans Jørgen Lysglimt Johansen, far-right Youtuber Jean-François Gariépy, and was interviewed by British far-right, anti-feminist Carl Benjamin.
Stand up for trans rights
But apart from the company she keeps, her right-wing ideology is also reflected in what she publicly says. Most stark is her opposition to Gillick competence and young people accessing contraception and abortions, saying that “parents need to take back control of their children”. She has peddled conspiracy theories about Muslim grooming gangs, so much so that the transphobic group ‘Women’s Place UK’ had to disinvite her as a speaker in 2018 due to her views on race and religion. Despite her objection to trans women using women’s bathrooms, she has previously called for armed men to go into women’s toilets in order to ‘protect’ cisgender women from so-called predators. Her support for men’s violence against trans people clarifying that she is anything but a supporter of women’s rights.
We can expect that her Dublin event will draw the support of the Irish far right and not feminists. With a blatant disregard for women’s bodily autonomy and freedom of expression, Posie Parker doesn’t have women’s interests at heart but rather is using it to spread her transphobic views.
Trans & Intersex Pride Dublin’s counter demo isn’t just a rally against Posie Parker, it is a rally against fascism and the transphobic rhetoric they are currently spreading. This protest against Posie Parker has to be big, strong and loud to send a clear message to both her and the far right here that their violent, anti-trans politics aren’t welcome and will not get a foothold anywhere.