The campaign to cancel Natalie Bird began with an item of clothing.
She was standing in the sandwich queue when a woman marched over asking ‘Why are you wearing that T-shirt?’
The T-shirt in question had the words ‘Woman: Adult Human Female’ emblazoned across it. To some, an indisputable fact. To others, a red rag to a bull. Either way, it proved a provocative choice for a Liberal Democrat gathering.
Days later, in December 2018, Natalie received a letter telling her she was banned from standing as an MP or holding party office for ten years.
The reason? Because she had ‘intentionally and deliberately sought to provoke a negative reaction… by way of wearing a piece of clothing that would be offensive to some members of the party.’
‘I was stunned,’ says Natalie. ‘All I want is some discussion about sex-based rights. As the survivor of an abusive relationship, I know how crucial it is for women to be able to access refuges and safe spaces which no men can access. This is a fundamental human right.’
Natalie, who says the party’s focus ‘has moved from women’s equality to trans rights’, believes it is pushing more and more women out of politics.
‘For speaking out, I’ve been bullied, harassed, hounded… and received twice the punishment [with the ten-year ban] that people receive for electoral fraud,’ she says.
Natalie is not alone. Increasing numbers of women appear to be being ostracised for speaking up for the sex-based rights of women.
Author J. K. Rowling is one of the most high-profile cases — with even actors in the Harry Potter movies denouncing her views.
Professor Kathleen Stock was hounded out of Sussex University having been labelled a ‘transphobe’ and Maya Forstater lost her contract with a think tank for expressing her ‘gender-critical’ views. She later won more than £100,000 in compensation.
And far from there being just a few well-publicised cases of women being ‘cancelled’, there are potentially hundreds more across the UK being demonised for holding their own gender-critical views, meaning they believe biological sex is more important than anyone’s ‘gender identity’ in areas such as women’s sport, health and safe spaces.
As a result of speaking out, their careers, social lives, mental wellbeing and even their physical safety are being threatened.
Natalie, who lives with her two sons in Manchester, first put her head above the parapet in 2017, raising the need for single-sex safe spaces for women at a Lib Dem meeting.