Transcript: Helen Joyce on how Labour changed its stance on gender identity, why women’s bathrooms matter, and her spat with Matt Walsh
I spoke with author and journalist Helen Walsh about success on TERF island and more!
Helen Joyce is a journalist, editor, and the author of Trans: When Ideology Meets Reality. She is also a founder of Sex Matters, a campaign group advocating for clarity about the two sexes — male and female — in law and in life.
I spoke with Helen about new political developments in the UK around gender identity legislation and women’s sex-based rights, why women’s washrooms matter, the reality of forcing female swimmers to change with male athletes, and her spat with Matt Walsh.
This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity and readability.
Meghan Murphy: I'm looking forward to talking to you again and hearing about what's been going on of late. One of the things that prompted me to reach out to have you back on the podcast again is that things seem to be changing on the gender identity front in the UK.
The Labour Party recently apparently backed off of its original position on gender identity legislation, saying that it would now protect women’s sex-based rights. Can you explain what happened there, what prompted that, and whether or not you think it will actually make any difference?
Helen Joyce: Yeah, so they're very widely expected to win the next election, which is due next year. It’s not impossible that the government will fall earlier than that and we'll end up having an earlier election. But it's important to understand that no matter how much people care about this issue, it's not going to change many votes.
There are a lot of other things: cost of living crisis, inflation, all the fallout still from Brexit, whether you agreed with it or not. And more than anything else, just that feeling that the government is tired. You know, it's been a conservative led government since 2010.
So really very realistically, Keir Starmer is looking at becoming Prime Minister next year. And he knows that whatever he says about this isn't going to make any difference to that. But what it will make a difference to is how as successful he is as Prime Minister. And the main thing there is what we saw happen in Scotland with Nicola Sturgeon, who is, on this issue, an idiot of the highest order and worse, really decided that her legacy as First Minister of Scotland in the Parliament and Holyrood would be to introduce gender self-ID, despite the fact the Scots don't want it. And she pushed it through in a very authoritarian manner.
This all just really came to a head before Christmas last year, when against last ditch attempts by civil rights activists and grassroots activists to stop her, they pushed it through. And then, delightfully, up turned one of these rapists who suddenly got, you know, prison onset gender dysphoria and decided he was a woman after being convicted for raping two women.
So now the Scottish government has to try and say why he should or shouldn't be in a women's prison and Sturgeon made a total and utter fool of herself. It was such a delight to see her being asked about this man — who has a Mike Tyson tattoo on his face, and goes around in tight pink leggings showing his cock, wearing a wig to try to hide the tattoo… I mean, an absolute thug —“Are you willing to say that he's not a woman? Are you willing to say he is a woman?” And she ended up basically saying there were three genders: male, female, and rapist.
And it just destroyed her.
Now, other things were happening. That's not why she stepped down. She stepped down over allegations of financial irregularity — very serious criminal allegations — but it was clear that she was now a laughing stock and would be unable to govern if she hadn't had those other problems.
So I think that was the wake up call. That's what I hear from friends in the Labour Party who are very knowledgeable about what goes on behind the scenes. It was a wake up call for Keir Starmer to either settle this issue to the extent that he can before becoming Prime Minister or every single damn interview he does will have the “What is a woman” question.
He foolishly attempted to triangulate for a while. He did an interview in which he said that 99.9% of women don't have penises. (What is the difference between the ones who do and don’t, Keir? That's what I want to know.)
And then it just became clear that he wasn't going to be able to do this, so he said, you know, a woman is an adult human female.
Now, he's never going to apologize to the women who were run out of the Labour Party for saying exactly that. You know, he hasn't reached out to Rosie Duffield, the Labour MP who has done the most to try to publicize this issue.
But that's not really the point. The point is that he won't try to impose a radical gender ideology platform and he is clearly sidelining and silencing people within the party who would want to do that. And if the current Conservative government can get a couple of important legislative things through, I think we'd be pretty sure that Labour will not try to undo them, and that's a really good place to be in. We've got hopefully a year to get a couple of important things done under the Conservatives and to be fairly sure that Labour will just let those things sit there on the statute book.
MM: That is great news. It feels weird to say that is great news because it's like a bizzaro world that we're trying to reverse.