Transgender woman tries to join the Women’s Institute

A transgender woman with a history of verbal abuse and threats against biological women tried to infiltrate the Women’s Institute. Miss Gripper, a music producer from Manchester, posted a welcome email from the WI on a Twitter account.

The message sat among other posts – since deleted – which stated that she was compiling a list of ‘Terfs’ (a slur against women who believe that men cannot become women) who she thinks should be murdered.

The application comes as the organisation – which is the UK’s largest voluntary women’s group – faces a revolt by members protesting against a ‘diverse’ policy which allows men who want to be women to join.

Hundreds have signed a petition calling for change and set up the Women’s Institute Declaration group which says the move is “damaging the WI’s reputation and ability to campaign on women’s issues”.

They are calling for a moratorium on transgender women joining the WI saying the WI should “focus on women as a biological sex class, rather than as an individual expression of gender”.

And critics said the women were right to protest.

Heather Binning, the founder of the Women’s Rights Network, said: “We know that hundreds of members are not happy with this policy.

“And today we see the shocking result – a man calling himself Miss Gripper – boasts online that he has just joined the Women’s Institute. 

“This is a man who said – in several deleted tweets – that he was compiling a list of ‘Terfs’ who he thinks should be murdered.

“A violent, abusive and possibly dangerous man has been allowed to become a WI member.

“We hope the WI are investigating this for the safety of their female members and hope that this is the ‘near miss’ that will make them rethink their policy.

“If the Women’s Institute was so sure that their members would have been fully behind the policy to accept men who say they are women into their groups, why did they not put it to the vote?

“Like the introduction of SelfID in Northern Ireland, we believe this was a cynical move by their head office to slip the new policy in under the radar of its loyal members so now the Women’s Institute becomes the Everyone’s Institute.’

Melissa Green, the chief executive of the National Federation of Women’s Institutes downplayed the protests and said there were no plans to change the diversity policy.

“Being part of the WI is about the experience of being a woman, and that is a combination of both biology and lived experience,” she said.

“For us, transgender women are women and we want to share and celebrate their experience with them.

“So there are no plans to review this policy – which is not new – because we’ve received no communication suggesting that that’s what our members want.”

The WI – despite its reputation as a bastion of Middle England – has a long history of tackling controversial subjects.

It campaigned on venereal disease in 1922, calling for full, free family planning in 1972, and demanding the prohibition of female genital mutilation in 1983.

The WI featured trans woman Petra Wenham and her wife, Loraine, on the cover of its magazine in 2021.

Joanna Rayner, the head of membership at the WI, said: “We are aware that this individual signed up as a WI supporter.

“This is a charitable donation and completely different from a WI member as it confers no membership rights, nor does it bring them into contact with WI members.

“However, the nature of the individual’s tweets are something which we take incredibly seriously and which have immediately breached the terms and conditions of our supporter programme, and therefore this individual’s request to be a supporter has not been accepted.”

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