DIVA, the popular magazine for lesbians and bi women, has published an open letter to the Lesbian Rights Alliance (LRA) in response to its recent criticism of Stonewall.
In an article published in The Times on 17 July, LRA asked the advocacy charity to remove the L from LGBT. The group claimed Stonewall is negating lesbians by recognizing that ‘male-bodied people with penises’ can be lesbians.
The letter by Lesbian Rights Alliance
The 135 signatories say promoting a ‘trans agenda’ is ‘absurd’ and erases lesbians from society.
The letter also states: ‘Stonewall has rarely represented our interests. Now in your single-minded policy to promote the trans political and ideological agenda you not only fail to represent us but you actually promote lesbian invisibility and erasure.’
The signatories said lesbians are biological women who experience sexual attractions and have sexual and emotional relationships with other biological women only.
They added: ‘If we refuse to accept these men as lesbians you label us transphobes and TERFs, unleashing a torrent of hate speech upon us from your supporters.’
DIVA claps back
DIVA editor Carrie Lyell replied to the LRA in an open letter on 17 July.
‘A Times article, published today, announces “lesbian fury at Stonewall over ‘trans agenda’”, as if the 135 signatories of an open letter speak for every lesbian in the world. Sorry, but you’re wrong,’ she wrote.
‘Those 135 signatories do not speak for us, or for the majority of cisgender lesbians.’
She furthermore added: ‘I do agree that lesbians are underrepresented in the LGBT community. But it’s worse for bisexual people, and even more so for trans people who are also lesbian or bisexual.’
— DIVA Magazine (@DIVAmagazine) July 17, 2018
‘Feminist’ does not equal ‘TERF’
Lyell also attacked the ‘so-called feminists’ who had signed the letter.
‘It is not Stonewall – or any other LGBT organization – erasing lesbian identities, but these so-called feminists who, by peddling hateful and transphobic rhetoric, make people like me not want to use the word lesbian to describe myself because I don’t want to be associated with their views. What a sad state of affairs.’
The letter continues: ‘We urge you to stop claiming to represent us and leave the L out.’
‘Trans women do not erase us’
‘Trans women do not erase lesbians. I believe we are enriched by trans friends and lovers, parents, children, colleagues, and siblings,’ Lyell also wrote.
‘Groups like the LRA would have you believe that it’s “them versus us”. It’s not. They are us. We’re one and the same, and we can’t let divisive, hateful and misguided people drive a wedge between us.’
DIVA publisher Linda Riley agrees.
‘It seems ironic to me to complain about a lack of lesbian visibility while, at the same time, asking to remove the L from LGBT,’ she said.
‘We are stronger as a community and 135 lesbians should not be able to decide what a whole community should believe.’
Stonewall’s Chief Executive, Ruth Hunt, re-tweeted the Diva letter of support.
Anti-trans protests at Pride in London
LRA is an organization consisting of lesbian individuals and groups across England and Wales.
Eight activists from LRA blocked the Pride in London parade on 7 July. They stormed the march with banners reading anti-trans slogans such as ‘Transactivism erases lesbians’.
Stonewall urges everyone to be fierce trans allies
‘We stand in solidarity with those who are calling out the hate that is trying to divide our community. There are groups in the LGBT community who have been pushed to the sidelines, particularly trans and non-binary people,’ said a spokesperson for Stonewall.
‘We’ve recently seen a welcome outpouring of support for trans equality, particularly from cis lesbian, gay and bi people. A movement of lesbians is currently using the hashtag #LwiththeT to reject the views of a small but vocal minority who aims to create division.’
Stonewall also said: ‘What this movement shows is the power of solidarity. We’re encouraging everyone from across the community and beyond to be fierce allies. We’re also strongly encouraging everyone to fill in the government’s public consultation on the Gender Recognition Act so that we can achieve acceptance without exception. We have a responsibility to raise each other up and to stand united. Together we are stronger.’