Greens dump new convenor over trans comments

Key points

  • Newly elected convenor of the Victorian Greens, Linda Gale, has been ousted over statements she made in 2019 about trans issues.
  • Victorian Greens leader, Samantha Ratnam, tweeted on Friday night that she had instigated the action.
  • There will now be a new election for convenor. Gale, who is weighing up her options, has been urged not to run.

The newly elected convenor of the Victorian Greens, Linda Gale, has been ousted from the role for written statements she made in 2019 about trans issues.

Gale was elected as convenor one week ago, triggering protest on social media from some members about a three-year-old internal discussion paper she authored, titled “Trans Exclusionary Rhetoric, Contending Views”.

Newly-elected convenor of the Victorian Greens, Linda Gale, has been dumped for statements on trans issues.Credit:Internet

Victorian Greens leader, Samantha Ratnam, tweeted on Friday night that she had instigated the action to have the election result set aside.

“I can now reveal that my action was successful and Linda Gale is no longer the Convenor of the Victorian Greens. There will now be a new election for convenor and I urge Linda to not re-contest the election,” Ratnam tweeted.

The decision was made by an administrative review panel the night before the state council meeting on Saturday.

Gale told The Age on Saturday that she was feeling “shell shocked”, as well as “a sense of betrayal” by some people who had previously expressed respect for her work in many Greens roles over 11 years. She is weighing up her options to contest a re-run election.

Greens leader Samantha Ratnam instigated the action to oust Linda Gale.Credit:Jason South

“I really have a sense of disappointment, as a party member, that our democratic processes have been treated as though they’re nothing and that it’s perfectly legitimate to use a social media pile-on to attack the outcome of an election,” she said.

She strongly denied that she was a “transphobe” and said “despite the experience of the last week, I do think the party is better than this”.

Gale’s paper was written in response to a paper by other Greens members, titled “Trans Exclusionary Rhetoric”.

In it, Gale argued that banning statements within the party such as “there are two sexes”, “trans women aren’t the same as biological women” and “the science is not conclusive” was contrary to a Greens ethos which encourages robust debate.

The paper “said very clearly and up front that this is not in any way against, or an attack on, trans people”.

“We think trans people have a right to exist and to live free of harassment, vilification, or victimisation and their rights need to be respected.

“But if we’re going to be a party that participates in the formulation of laws then we need to be able to discuss the public policy implications … and while most of the implications in relation to trans people are good, positive and uncontroversial, there are areas where they potentially run into conflict with women’s rights.”

The paper did not propose answers but stated that in areas such as “the consequences of having male-bodied people in women’s prisons … in women’s wards in hospitals … and as staff or clients in women’s shelters and refuges – there are questions that we need to talk about”.

After she was elected as convenor on June 11, with 54 per cent of the vote, the paper was the basis of a fierce online campaign against Gale. It prompted Greens Senator Janet Rice to state on Wednesday that unless Gale distanced herself from it, her position was “untenable”.

On Friday, local Greens MP Tim Read said Gale’s position was untenable.

“Her past statements, and unwillingness to acknowledge the pain they cause, have so firmly associated Linda with opposition to trans rights that nothing she now says can alter that,” he wrote on Facebook.

“The Greens and I fully support the rights of trans and gender diverse people – transphobia and discrimination have no place in our movement.”

He said Gale had given her heart and soul to the party for many years, and her work had been valuable but there was now no alternative but for her to resign.

Greens councillor Rohan Leppert wrote in defence of Gale and the party’s democratic electoral process this week.

Gale, a senior industrial officer at the National Tertiary Education Union, was supported by Melbourne City Councillor and Greens member, Rohan Leppert, who on Thursday published a defence of the validity of the election and the choice of Gale.

Leppert said the same Greens members who used social media to “slander” him as trans-exclusionary for expressing concern about “affirmation-only” medical treatment for children with gender dysphoria had used the same public relations tactics to bring down Gale.

“The tactics chosen by Linda’s detractors were straight out of the Trump playbook: to claim that the election was illegitimate and then let a social media pile-on ratchet up the pressure,” he wrote.

The New South Wales Greens this week expelled member Anna Kerr, principal solicitor of the Feminist Legal Clinic for her statements on trans issues made on Greens platforms, including emails to its Womens Working Group.

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