Letters: Labour and trans rights, for and against homeopathy

Submitted by AWL on 4 December, 2019 - 6:00
trans rights

Labour must break from triangulation on trans rights

The Labour manifesto’s wording on trans rights is a result of triangulation on the part of the Clause V meeting that drew it up.

On the one hand, the manifesto calls for a commitment for the reform of the GRA in order to demedicalise the process of application for a Gender Recognition Certificate and the amendment of birth certificates to correspond with gender identity. This is a policy supported by a broad base of Labour Party members and strongly amongst young activists in the party. On the flip-side, the manifesto also calls for a commitment to maintaining single-sex-based exemptions.

On the surface sounds reasonable to most people, tough it must be recognised that the manifesto here is signalling to a particular layer of transphobic feminists within the broad labour movement.

Following the launch of the manifesto, Dawn Butler, the Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, confirmed that single-sex-based exemptions could not be used to discriminate against trans people. Laura Pidcock, however, when questioned on Radio 4 about Labour’s policy on single-sex spaces and women’s protections, reaffirmed the language of transphobic dogwhistle about not allowing “biological males” into women’s spaces.

Rather than taking a principled stand against bigotry on this issue and on Brexit and antisemitism, the Labour Party has tended to seek the path of least resistance out of fear of losing votes.

Unconfirmed rumours on Twitter that there had been calls from the Leader’s Office discouraging candidates from publicly expressing support for trans rights in speeches and on social media are cause for concern, too.

Labour must break from triangulation and push for the politics of principle.

Natalia Cassidy, north London

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Unfair to homeopathy

I was very sorry to see Solidarity (No. 526, here) jump on the perverse, overly scientistic band-wagon that has been unfairly deriding homeopathy in the stocks of common gossip and print for over a decade.

Martin Goodman MD baldly and falsely attests that homeopathy is “outrageous bunk”. Those of us who regularly use it are quietly confident of its efficacy. I – and thousands of others – routinely witness homeopathy improving the lives of people, including many for whom the orthodox medical establishment has nothing good to offer. Some of the evidence that homeopathy works well can be found here: bit.ly/hom-p .

Goodman’s claim that conventional, double-blind, clinical trials “easily” disqualify homeopathic “pills” starkly reveals his prejudice. Allopathic medicines, which are intended to suppress a particular symptom in any and every patient (often with harmful side-effects), may be compared by such trials; but homeopathic treatment is formulated as gentle medical management for each individual person.

Because homeopaths – like socialists – acknowledge the uniqueness of each person, homeopathic remedies are not amenable to large-scale, positivistic, statistical surveys. Far more suitable research methods are case studies, outcome records and action learning.

It is especially galling that Goodman tries to account (without any apparent evidence) for the support for homeopathy given by some lefties in terms of their ignorant over-reaction to global pharmaceutical exploitation and to the hegemony of the scientistic medical establishment. What is glaringly obvious, however, is that he is over-reacting dogmatically in ignorance to that very scientism by excluding all alternatives and challengers. (He also displays a knee-jerk aversion to royal patronage, but I do not defend royal patronage.)

In aggressive, patronising terms, he claims that we users of homeopathy “lack … education and experience”, whereas it is obvious that these are his very own shortcomings.

I suggest that he start again by talking to some of the well-trained and regulated doctors and nurses, who practise and research homeopathy in the NHS hospitals for integrated medicine in London, Bristol and Glasgow.

Richard Shield, Wallasey

See Storm

In the spirit of the homeopathic “wisdom” that smaller means more potent, I keep my contribution short. Marty Goodman’s article critiquing homeopathy is spot on (see here). I also recommend the hilarious short video, Storm, by comedian Tim Minchin (see here).

Misha Zubrowski, Bristol

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