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HomeUKTransgender Membership Sparks Rebellion within Women's Institute Policy

Transgender Membership Sparks Rebellion within Women’s Institute Policy


Women’s Institute faces uprising as group launches bid to overturn policy to admit transgender members

  • The Women’s Institute faced backlash for policies that would admit trans members
  • In 2015, the WI stated that it welcomes transgender women in its organization

The Women’s Institute is facing an uprising over its policy of admitting transgender members.

Organization administrators have been slammed for imposing equality rules on local chapters on the advice of campaign groups, meaning anyone who claims to “live as a woman” can become a WI member and anyone who declines on the basis of their gender identity is transphobic.

The National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI) has been warned that it risks failing to fulfill its goal as a charity to “advance the education of women and girls” if it cannot properly define what a woman is.

A new group of disgruntled WI members is demanding that the national headquarters suspend the admission of trans women to local chapters and wants members to debate and vote on the controversial issue.

More than 700 people have also signed the petition calling for central England to return to a single-sex space.

Petra Wenham (pictured right) of Elmsett, Ipswch. Petra is the first transgender person to appear on the cover of Woman’s Institute magazine. Her wife is Loraine (pictured left)

A letter to the board of the campaigners, who call themselves the Declaration of the Women’s Institute, concludes: ‘By not defining what a woman is, by having a broad description of a trans woman and by not having a respectful debate, or debate about in what in whatever form, the NFWI has de facto forced individual women’s institutions to accept men.

“This has been achieved through poor policy making, bad advice from advisers and is damaging to women as a whole.”

The WI – founded in 1915 and now the largest voluntary women’s organization in the UK with over 180,000 members – declared in 2015 that it welcomed transgender women and in 2021 put trans woman Petra Wenham, who transitioned at age 68, on the cover of its magazine .

The published policy states, “Anyone living as a woman is welcome to join the WI and participate in all WI activities in the same way as any other woman.”

The document says it is “useless” to ask if there is a difference between a transgender woman who has had sex reassignment surgery and a woman who has not, adding that it would be “deeply offensive and hurtful” to request written evidence of an applicant’s legal gender.

It adds that “transvestites” cannot join the WI because “only those living as women can join the WI.”

A separate Equality, Diversity and Inclusion policy states: “Including transgender women furthers our goals and enriches our membership to ensure we are a place for all women to celebrate who they are and impact positive change in their communities .’

But the new campaign group points out, “There’s no definition of what a woman is.”

The letter to the trustees continues: “If you can’t define the group you want to represent (women), how can you understand their needs and demands?”

It points out that the WI often runs campaigns specifically targeting women as a biological group, such as campaigns against male violence, mixed hospital wards and the gender pay gap.

It says that the WI “cannot legitimately campaign on women’s specific issues and that the constitution has been de facto changed without the consent of the members” as a result of the admission of people born as male.

The letter also burns like the Orwellian equality policy glossary, which defines transphobia as “the fear or disgust of someone based on the fact that they are transgender, including denying or refusing to accept their gender identity.”

Loraine (pictured right) is pictured with Petra Wenham on their wedding day in 1973. Petra transitioned at age 68 and became the first trans person to appear on the cover of WI magazine

Loraine (pictured right) is pictured with Petra Wenham on their wedding day in 1973. Petra transitioned at age 68 and became the first trans person to appear on the cover of WI magazine

The activists say WI headquarters “try to control the minds of its members, who should not question an individual’s intentions, and if they think a man is a bad actor, it’s transphobic.”

Caroline Ffiske of Conservatives for Women told the Mail: ‘Women have the right to vote to keep their same-sex spaces.

“I hope the WI allows this discussion and I hope she eventually votes to remain single with pride.”

The campaign comes as ministers consider amending the equality law to clarify that it is based on biological sex rather than gender identity, a move that could potentially exclude transgender women from women-only spaces.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said he supports the proposal, stating just last week that 100 per cent of women do not have a penis after Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer suggested the majority – 99.9 per cent – did not, which it equivalent of one means. in every thousand have male genitalia.

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