Why British 'women's rights' advocate Posie Parker is wrong about New Zealand

Posie Parker (also known as Kelly Jay Keen) speaking during a Standing for Women protest - which opposes gender-recognition policies - in Glasgow (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)Posie Parker (also known as Kelly Jay Keen) speaking during a Standing for Women protest - which opposes gender-recognition policies - in Glasgow (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Posie Parker (also known as Kelly Jay Keen) speaking during a Standing for Women protest - which opposes gender-recognition policies - in Glasgow (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images) | Getty Images
British anti-trans activist Posie Parker says New Zealand is one of the worst countries in the world to be a woman. But Kiwi editor Amber Allott feels more fear for her trans friends.

It was a bit surreal waking up a few months ago to see JK Rowling tweeting about my home country. Even weirder, she was describing "repellent scenes" from New Zealand, in which a mob "assaulted women speaking up for their rights".

She was talking about a recent 'Let Women Speak' rally, held by British anti-transgender rights activist Posie Parker, in Auckland. Parker and her supporters were drowned out by a cacophony of counter-protesters, and had to be escorted from the area by security guards, after one poured tomato soup over her.

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On Twitter, Parker - who also goes by Kellie-Jay Keen - praised women from New Zealand who did support her at her protest. "I get to leave the worst place for women I’ve ever visited and they live there."

She continued: "I will forever be indebted to them. We will not stop fighting until they are safe to live in their own land. I’m so sorry I couldn’t do more."

In a follow-up article for The Spectator, she wrote that she was sure "that the trans activists who surrounded me would trample me to death if they could. They gather in menacing groups to intimidate us and hurt us if they can".

"Women were injured that day, women who you may never hear about," she claimed. "You will never know their names. They didn’t get to hop on a plane and leave, they have to stay and live in a country that has told them their lives are not worth protecting."

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New Zealand is far from perfect. But it's also a relatively safe, peaceful, developed country - the first in the world to give women the right to vote in Parliamentary elections. A country where women can go to school, access higher education, own property, get divorced, dictate their own sexual health needs, even take paid leave from work if they're a victim of domestic violence. And in circumstances where they can't - it's a country that is actively trying to dismantle the barriers that are holding them back.

Misogyny - both from individuals, and embedded in institutions - still exists. But the worst place for women she's ever visited?

Parker's lucky to have led such a sheltered life. She must have never visited Iran, where women are risking their lives taking part in anti-regime protests, sparked by the tragic death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died after detained by the so-called 'morality police' for allegedly wearing her hijab too loosely.

Nor could she have visited Afghanistan, where women have had their rights systematically stripped back by the Taliban since it re-took power in August 2021 - which most recently, has banned access to contraception. Nor could she have visited Ukraine since the Russian invasion, which has seen women reportedly suffer wartime rape and sexual assault, or have their children forcibly taken away.

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I've personally had frightening experiences as a woman in New Zealand, and have been on the receiving end of sexism. Sometimes I still fret over the sexism my sisters or friends who still live there might encounter.

But I also have some very special people in my life who are either transgender, or don't identify with the gender binary. For them, I feel sheer terror. A particularly cruel, vitriolic brand of hatred has wormed its way into dialogue around trans people - who for the most part, are just wanting to peacefully live their lives while being who they are.

According to New Zealand's Disinformation Project, this has become much worse in the wake of Parker's visit. The tone has become more hostile, more violent. More and more, you hear about instances where that vitriol incites physical violence, and trans people get hurt, sometimes even killed.

I can only cross my fingers that the New Zealand I know and love fights as hard to protect trans people, as it has to protect women.

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