The escalating campaign of intimidation and violence against gender-critical women


After nearly 15,000 people signed our letter to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Joanna Cherry KC MP asked Laura Farris, Minister for Victims and Safeguarding, if she would condemn the escalating campaign of violence and intimidation against women in the name of “trans rights”. The minister responded that she had read our letter and condemned the violence and threats. She invited Joanna Cherry for a meeting to discuss commissioning a rapid review of evidence. 

Our video below shows some of the incidents of intimidation, threats and violence that women have faced from transactivists when they try to meet and speak about the law and about their rights.

Ten examples

60-year-old woman assaulted, London

A group of women gathered at Speakers’ Corner before a meeting on the Gender Recognition Act were met by a small group of trans activists waving placards saying “TERFs not welcome”. Maria MacLachlan was taking photographs when one grappled with her, snatched her camera and smashed it on the ground. Another joined in and hit her several times. The second assailant was convicted of assault by battery. September 2017

Siege on the stairs, Bristol

When feminist activists held a public event at the Jam Jar community arts centre in Bristol, black-clad activists in balaclavas forced their way into the building and blocked the stairs so women could not get in or out. The meeting had to have a heavy police presence in order to go ahead. April 2018

Security guards restrain man to prevent assault, Edinburgh

Joseph “Cathy” Brennan, a trans-identifying man who had tweeted “I think there should be more Speaker’s Corner type incidents” and “British TERFs need to be made afraid”, attempted to assault journalist Julie Bindel after she took part in a panel event at Edinburgh. Bindel recounts that he screamed that “I was scum, I was a c***, I was filth… He was shouting and ranting and raving, ‘You’re a f****** c***, you’re a f****** b****, a f****** TERF’.” Bindel said Brennan lunged at her with raised fists, and a security guard restrained him. Brennan was investigated by the police and accepted a fiscal fine (a form of deferred prosecution agreement in Scotland issued as an alternative to prosecution). June 2019

Lesbians spat at, Lancaster

A group of lesbians attended Lancaster Pride with banners bearing messages that included “Lesbians are female homosexuals” and “Lesbians don’t have penises” and stood on the steps of the town hall. A crowd surrounded them, chanted over them and held up flags to block their signs from public view. Some protesters grabbed at the women’s banners. They were spat at and some protestors screamed in their faces. Robert Mee, CEO of Lancaster Pride, shouted at them: “F*ck off you f*cking dogs”. June 2019

Mob kicks at windows of feminist meeting, Brighton

When Woman’s Place UK organised an event in Brighton to coincide with the Labour party conference, the first venue they booked cancelled a few hours before, saying it could not guarantee the security of the meeting. WPUK moved the event to an alternative venue. Around 100 trans activists, many masked, blocked both entrances and tried to intimidate attendees. Despite a police presence, the protestors were allowed to stand close to the entrance, blocking it and the pavement. A group of protestors went to the back of the building, where they were permitted by the police to kick and bang on the windows of the meeting room for two hours. September 2019

Trans-identified men shout abuse at women, London

When Woman’s Place UK held an event at the QEII conference centre, there was a protest by a small but extremely aggressive group that included several trans-identifying men who shouted abuse at attendees, at people going to an unrelated black business event, and at venue staff and WPUK volunteers. Their chants included “Shut the f*ck up, you c*nt” shouted into the face of a steward; “Call Weightwatchers, your body’s not doing it”; “Your hair is minging, buy a weave”; “Your breath smells like you’ve been eating ar*e, have you been eating her a*se?”; “Are you a lesbian? No man would want that”; “Your breasts are on the floor, buy a bra and some hair dye too”; and “You f**king bald b*tch”. October 2021

Academics threatened with violence, Cardiff

After a group of Cardiff University academics signed an open letter calling on the university to review its involvement with Stonewall, activists distributed leaflets featuring an image of a woman aiming a gun alongside a list of their names and photos with the text “ACT NOW” and “Destroy the TERF menace”. The document warned the academics of “repercussions”. Comments posted on Cardiff University LGBT+ Society’s official Facebook group detailed the “urge to throat punch people when they’re being racist / transphobic / homophobic” and a suggestion for a “petition to make punching transphobes not only legal but rewarded”. A car belonging to one of the signatories had its window smashed. June 2021–February 2022

Masked men intimidate and assault, Manchester

Masked, hooded men tried to intimidate attendees at a Standing for Women rally in Manchester and disrupted the meeting with loud music. Determined not to allow the women to get close to the Emmeline Pankhurst statue, they physically assaulted one woman, grabbing and pushing her. May 2022

Man assaults filmgoer, Edinburgh

Students attempted to stop a screening by Edinburgh Academics for Academic Freedom of a film about gender politics by occupying a lecture theatre. One attendee told the Scottish Daily Express that they were met by “a group of aggressive young men who stopped us from going to the event. They intimidated women old enough to be their grandmothers, jostling and shouting at them in a very aggressive way.” The protestors managed to stop the screening. Robyn Woof, a transgender activist, was later charged with assault. December 2022

Man punches woman in the face, Aberdeen

Women Won’t Wheesht hosted an event at Duthie Park in Aberdeen which attracted trans activist protestors. One of the women attending the event, Julie Marshall, was seriously assaulted by a male transactivist who tried to steal a sign. When Julie ran after him, he struck her full in the face, still holding the sign, causing her glasses to fly off. He then punched her in the arm. Julie suffered a black eye and severe bruising and was in a great deal of pain. He was let off with a warning. July 2023

Our chronological list includes many more examples. We will be sending it to the Minister.