Today in Auckland, New Zealand, we experienced mob violence that was New York level. I never thought I’d see that here in New Zealand, but today I did.
Kellie-Jay Keen of Standing for Women UK has been touring Australia and New Zealand with her ‘Let Women Speak’ rallies. She encountered some fierce mob intimidation from trans activists in Australia during her rallies, but I really didn’t think that level of abuse and violence would get surpassed in New Zealand.
How wrong was I. The only way to describe the trans activist mob at Auckland today is feral. Kellie-Jay Keen had to get escorted out of the rally after only being there a brief time due to fears for her safety, and the rally was abandoned.
Caitlin was there, and this is her story below. Like many of us she is very, very angry, and like many of us she is also ready for it to be known.
“I am finally home and sitting down with shaking hands to detail what happened today – Saturday 25 March – at Albert Park in Auckland.
I had been planning to go and see Kellie-Jay Keen speak when she came to New Zealand. I share many of her concerns about the erosion of female-only spaces and the medicalisation of gender non-conforming children. These issues generally get zero media attention in New Zealand and, when they are reported on, are reported in a very biased and one-sided way.
As such, I was pleased to be able to go along and listen to KJK speak in Albert Park. Kellie’s main prerogative however, is to offer a platform for ordinary women to speak and so I prepared a speech and looked forward to being able to say my bit.
I prepared a speech that began by talking about my own experience as a 10 year old, being involved in a domestic situation. I was going to try and explain to the pundits out there, the fear and anxiety I experienced for many years after this when I unexpectedly encountered a man. I was going to talk about the necessity at the time of seeking refuge in a women’s shelter, and the primal need for a secret safe space away from all men. And I was going to try and explain that it doesn’t matter if you’re a good guy, a bad guy or a guy in a dress – a man is a man and for women who have been traumatised that is enough to paralyse them with fear. It’s not personal, it’s just how it is.
I wanted to share this story to try an explain to the “we just want to pee” crowd that there are several very good reasons why we have female-only spaces. Dignity, privacy, religious/cultural reasons, breastfeeding and trauma being just some of them.
I wasn’t going to speak to much about why biological men shouldn’t be incarcerated with women or play in female sports – because I still believe that to the majority of people this is self-evident. I was however going to use my platform as an opportunity to let New Zealand women know that this is not just a ‘U.S.A’ or ‘overseas’ issue – that we have men imprisoned with women here in New Zealand right now. We have men competing – and winning – against women here in New Zealand right now. Because where else would I have been able to say this? I have written to MPs of all parties – they know women are concerned, and many even care. But will they speak out? Will they represent these views? No. I have written to journalists whom have written incredibly biased and incorrect stories about this issue – but will they offer an opportunity for an alternative view? Will they correct their stories? Will the broadcasting authority censure them? No.
Finally though, I was going to have a platform to speak. I was going to use my platform to inform parents that surely – no matter where you stood on this issue – the idea of teaching children as young as 5 about gender ideology does not pass the sniff test. Surely having New Zealand’s own Ministry of Education encourage and formally advise schools to socially transition children without their parents knowledge would not sit well with many parents? Surely parents would be horrified to learn that the MoE refers to girls as “menstruators” and encourages schools not to use the term ‘mum and dad.’ I was going to use my platform to speak about the exponential increase around the world of distressed adolescent girls – with no prior history of gender dysphoria – suddenly declaring they are ‘trans’ and demanding puberty blockers and binders. We don’t yet know how big of a problem this is in New Zealand because we can’t ask the question. We can’t measure it, report on it, analyse it. Therefore we may have a really small population of children transitioning – or we could be world leaders. We wouldn’t know – officially anyway – how we are faring with this.
While we have no way or recording or tracking official data, many parents, women and teachers have shared anecdotal stories. We have connected over facebook and joined secret groups to share our stories, our concerns and try and research what we can. What we can see so far is that many people – particularly women and parents – are worried. We are seeing what is happening around the world – the closure of the Tavistock Clinic in the UK, Sweden, Finland and many US States banning the use of puberty blockers due to a huge rise in sterilised, mutilated ‘detransitioners’ standing up and asking why this was allowed to happen to them? And yet here in New Zealand we don’t even report what is happening overseas – let alone here in our own country. Most New Zealanders have no clue whatsoever that a debate is raging around the world about this.
So when I heard KJK was coming here I was excited. I like KJK because she isn’t a feminist, or ‘gender critical’, or any other label in particular. She is a mum who is just fiercely pro-woman. Just like me. And just like me, she is angry about what is happening. I put my hand up to help out and I offered to be a Marshall on the day.
With the increasing hysteria over her visit however, and the fact that I was newly pregnant, it was suggested that my being a Marshall wasn’t a great idea. The concept that I might not be safe helping out seemed odd and foreign to me, but so be it. I would still go, I would still speak and I would do what I could to help.
I arrived early at the Art Gallery café to work on my speech and soon found that a number of other women had shown up to speak and listen. I was by far one of the youngest at 35 years old and surrounded by inspirational older ladies of all political persuasions, backgrounds and sexualities. One had come from Hamilton with her son, one had caught the train from Papakura and told me some fascinating stories about her grandparents in the War and how they got out of Germany. Many were quite timid and frightened, but determined to be allowed to say their piece. Several had bad hips, bad legs and a myriad of other ailments that will pester us all as we age. I am describing here for you the overwhelming majority of women who attended – so that when I describe the fear and violence later you can compare that with this motley crew of determined silver haired women.
On the way to the rotunda, I was surprised by the sheer number of counter-protesters there. All the counter-protesters, at that stage, seemed pretty relaxed and chill and I hoped we could each do our thing. I was proud that it looked as though we may just be able to each have our views and have our say without any abuse or nastiness. As it drew closer to 11am however, more and more counterprotesters streamed in with loud speakers, whistles, recorded sirens and other noise makers. The numbers were staggering and the noise was deafening. I started to wonder how we were going to be able to make our speeches and hear KJK. They were encircled around the entire rotunda and were a lot closer than I had anticipated. I was nervously waiting for the promised police presence to come and stand between us, but this never occurred.
I moved into the rotunda and was in there when KJK arrived. As soon as she arrived, an activist who was also in there under false pretences, threw what looked like tomato sauce or soup all over KJK and the women who stood next to her. It seemed almost as though this was a signal of sorts, because suddenly there were no more barriers, no more fences – we were utterly surrounded. I couldn’t see a single Marshall in the crowd and feared for their safety as the sea of screaming, chanting and feral protesters swarmed the rotunda.
For awhile, they stayed off the rotunda and we made an effort to get a couple of elderly & disabled women up onto the rotunda with us. My thinking at that stage was that the police would arrive any moment and create a safety barrier around us, so if we could just hold on and keep the most vulnerable women out of the mob then we would be ok.
However, as time went on, it became apparent that the police were not there and were not going to turn up. I think the protesters sensed that as well, because they started to get more and more feral and entered onto the rotunda. Eventually KJK and her security team made a break for it and I hoped this would settle the crowd down and that they would back off – it made no difference whatsoever.
The protesters on the rotunda were overwhelmingly men. Not men in dresses as you might expect at such an event (although there were some) – just ordinary looking men. They shoved women, they screamed in our faces, they leered at us, and they tried to forcibly topple over a section of steel gate onto the women sheltering from them on the other side of it.
As we were completely surrounded, we could not escape. At one point I contemplated climbing out over the seats to exit the rotunda, but the rotunda is surrounded by rocks. I wasn’t confident that I wouldn’t get accidentally or purposefully shoved and fall onto the rocks and get trampled. At this stage I had grave concerns for my personal safety and the safety of my 11 week old baby. I kept thinking if they surge, if I fall, if I get trapped under that fence section, if I get punched – I could lose this baby. I kept asking myself – where are the police? How can I get out? What can I do?
I texted my husband who wanted to come and get me – but how? There is no way at that stage he would have been able to get to me and besides, there was no way he’d get there in time. I asked him to call 111. It took him 8 minutes to get through to them and the police told him there were police already there and more on the way. This was patently false. There were no police as far as the eye could see, there were none on the way and I saw none when I finally did manage to get out. And the protesters knew it – you could tell. They knew they could act with impunity. You could tell they knew that they had the blessing of the media, the Government and now seemingly, the Police. At one point someone pointed their flag at one of the ladies up there with us. She grabbed it and it broke. He then used the shard to try jab her in the stomach. I had to dodge out of the way to avoid getting accidentally stabbed with it. I’ve never been so scared.
At this point, a tall man there asked if I was ok. Please bear in mind that when I say ‘asked’ I mean he ‘yelled’ because the noise was phenomenal, and you had to lip-read as someone yelled a question at you to maybe understand what they said. He had a camera so I asked if he was news and he nodded yes. I said no, I wasn’t ok, that I was 11 weeks pregnant and terrified. Despite my best effots at bravery I started to falter at the point at which he asked if I was ok and got teary. Good reporter that he is I suppose, he took that opportunity to ask me some questions and get my name. He then – and I am so grateful for this – asked if I wanted help to get out. I did and so he grabbed my hand and led me out. Behind on the rotunda I left behind the elderly lady with the walking frame and at least two other Marshalls who had been up on the rotunda and I’m not sure who else. KJK had been escorted out by her security some time ago and I had no idea if she was safe or if she had made it out or if the Police had helped her at all. I was shaking, felt sick and just stood back watching the rotunda and cried. I desperately looked for some other Marshalls to see if they were ok, and eventually found some of the women I arrived with.
All I wanted to do today was speak & try raise some awareness of how some of these contentious issues are affecting women and children. I didn’t want to hurt anyone, or scream at anyone or even really engage in protest activity. I just wanted a platform to say my piece.
I knew the Labour Party, the Greens and the Mainstream Media had whipped this up into some kind of fascist, Nazi, anti-trans hysteria. But I still always had faith and belief that our police force would do their duty and provide a barrier between us and the counter-protesters. I still believed that even if some really wacky people turned up, the police would keep us safe.
I underestimated the hysteria that had been whipped up. I underestimated the police. I never seriously thought I would be in real actual danger attending a speaking event in New Zealand. I think Heather Du Plessis Allen asked earlier in the week – why was KJK invited here? Wasn’t it just inviting drama? Well let me answer that. KJK was invited here because she is me. She is a mother, and a woman who is fed up with the erosion of female-only spaces, fed up with being called a ‘menstruator’ or ‘pregnant person’ and fed up with watching young gender non-confirming or homosexual children being sterilised and mutilated. KJK was going to give ME a voice, a platform. KJK was invited here because I wanted to listen to her, and last time I checked, I’m allowed to do that.
We are not ‘anti-trans’ – I don’t particularly give a shit about whether people are trans or not to be honest. Dress how you want, sleep with who you want and live your life. But don’t play on female sports teams, don’t record male rapists as women in the crime stats, don’t use our changing rooms and don’t be jailed with us. More importantly, don’t teach my child that boys can have a period, don’t teach my tom-boy daughter that she really must be a boy if she likes Rugby & hates her period, don’t tell young lesbians they have a ‘genital fetish’ if they refuse to have sex with a man with a penis and don’t socially transition my children at school behind my back. Is that really so fucking unreasonable? Did that really warrant the violence and mob today? Do those views really justify men shoving women and having the media paint me as a Nazi?
This is an election year. I was put in danger today because of the Labour Party, the Greens party and the mainstream media whipping up a frenzied mob of hatred against KJK and therefore by extension, me. I was in danger today because our police force – for whatever reason – decided not to do their job and provide a barricade between peaceful women trying to speak and a baying mob. I was ultimately put in danger though, because no one in this country will stand up to bullies and defend women’s rights. Instead, you sit silently by and tacitly give your consent to this. And I have no idea why. These people will never vote for you, no matter how many ‘big gay outs’ you attend. You say you believe KJK had the right to speak, but you all say you disagree with her views. Which ones exactly? Which view mentioned above precisely, do you disagree with? This isn’t rhetorical – at this point I have a right to know what our MPs think on this matter.
Until you start speaking up for women, I will not vote for you. I’m a mum of three (soon to be four), and a small business owner. I pay taxes out the whazoo and am engaged with my wider community. I am a good civic-minded citizen and today I learnt that it is all for nothing. I expect to be able to speak to MPs about what happened today in person and I expect MPs to stand up and ask why the police provided no protection today. I expect MPs to denounce the violence shown towards peaceful women today in no uncertain terms. And most importantly – I expect to know where your party stands on these issues.
One thing you can be sure of after today is that we won’t have to invite someone like KJK here from the UK again. I am angry after today – and so are many many women and men. If there is one thing being pregnant in the middle of a feral mob does – is it makes you fucking angry and it makes your husband even angrier. And unlike the violent rabid (mostly student & unemployed) trans activists, we won’t use that anger against middle-aged women. We will use that anger to politically and publicly to shame you until you do your bloody jobs and represent us.”