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Trans-rights support groups around the country have been dismayed by the recent article penned in the Green Party’s spring issue of their magazine, Te Awa.

AgenderNZ’s president, Tracee Nelley has condemned Jill Abigail’s article as transphobic divisive nonsense dressed up as “debate”.

In her piece, Jill Abigail wrote;

“My article listed the facts of what has been happening in countries where new legislation to ensure trans gender rights have confused gender with biological sex and is resulting in the loss of women’s rights, and free speech on the issue being completely shut down.”

Ms Nelley refuted Abigail’s assertion that transgender activism for equality and inclusiveness has “resulted in the loss of women’s rights”. She said,

“I fail to understand what “rights” have been lost by cis women? How can anyone lose rights when minorities are accorded equality, inclusion, and empowerment?  Maybe she is describing loss of privilege?

When people in position of privilege have to share with minorities who have been marginalised up to now, they often confuse that lost privilege with ‘lost rights’.


It’s the standard reaction. Women, gays, lesbians, people of colour, ethnic minorities have all experienced similar backlash when those in privileged positions feel threatened.”

Ms Nelley also questioned what “facts” Ms Abigail was referring to in her article. She said,

“I’ve never heard of minorities rights being defined based on the supposed “facts” of others. That’s what universal human rights are supposed to be; universal. If human rights are not universal, if they can be narrowly and arbitrarily restricted based on so-called “facts”, then we’re all in big trouble. It means every minority group, every ethnic group, and cis women as well, can have their rights defined and decided by arbitrary “facts”. Is that what Abigail wants?”

Ms Nelley rejected Ms Abigail’s claims that “malebodied athletes are entering women’s sports and taking the prizes” as unfounded and pandering to uninformed prejudice.

“African-Americans have been accused of unfairly dominating sports like basketball and running. When you look beneath the criticisms it’s little more than racism from a few disgruntled White men. 

If I were Ms Abigail, I wouldn’t lose any sleep over transwomen winning all the medals in the next marathon. The evidence of a problem just isn’t there. In the 2016 Rio Olympics, no openly transgender athletes competed, and even if they had there is nothing to suggest they would win.”

In 2016, Dr Beth Jones at the School of Sports Exercise and Health Sciences in Loughborough University found that transgender athletes did not have any unfair advantage in sporting competition. She said;

“There is no research that has directly and consistently found transgender people to have an athletic advantage in sport, so it is difficult to understand why so many current policies continue to discriminate. Inclusive transgender sporting policies need to be developed and implemented that allow transgender people to compete in accordance with their gender identity, regardless of hormone levels.”


Dr Jones’ research contradicts recent research results from Otago University academics who claimed unfair advantage by transwomen athletes. The Otago academics did not state how female-to-male trans athletes faired in competition.

The Otago academics based their findings on testosterone levels. However, recently South African middle-distance runner and 2016 Olympic gold medalist, Caster Semenya was embroiled in controversy when her eligibility was questioned due to naturally high levels of testosterone in her system. Ms Semenya is a cis woman, not transgender.

Ms Semenya lost her appeal case against the international athletic governing body, IAAF. She will be compelled to take medication to lower her testosterone levels if she wants to continue competing against other women in international running events. It is important to note that  trans-women are bound by the same rules.


Ms Nelley supported the right of the Green Party to remove Ms Abigail’s article. She described the article as offensive, divisive and transphobic;

“Would anyone expect the Greens to post white supremacist, antisemitic, or racist articles in the name of free speech? What about misogynistic rants by Incel men and Mens Rights Activists, attacking women and the feminist movement? No? Then why pick on transpeople as a topic of debate? Who decided that our existence is up for debate? The last group whose right to exist was questioned lost 6 million in ghastly concentration camps.

I recall a placard held up by two women during the marriage equality bill debate. The placard read ‘Can we debate your marriage now?’, essentially turning the debate back on whether heterosexual couples’ right to wed should be debated.

That’s what Abigail’s denial of our right to exist looks like.”

Abigail wrote, “My article has been labelled as transphobic and hate speech and yet in it I said trans people are a vulnerable group that until recently has been excluded from general consideration and now justly claim their right to be treated with equal respect.”

Ms Nelley dismissed her comment as “disingenuous”. She said;

“If someone wrote about that about cis women, people of colour, or others in the LGBTQI community in the same manner and then complained that trans people “are a vulnerable group that until recently has been excluded from general consideration and now justly claim their right to be treated with equal respect”, they would be derided as disingenuous.

Furthermore how can she say without a hint of hypocrisy that “trans people are a vulnerable group that until recently has been excluded from general consideration and now justly claim their right to be treated with equal respect” when she accuses transgender people as being part of some hidden “men’s rights push” or that “young children being taught they can be in the ’wrong’ body, thus reinforcing stereotypes”?

This is the very lack of equal respect she refers to and she deliberately contributes to it.”

Ms Nelley questioned Abigail’s assertion that “No previous extensions of human rights for new groups have involved taking away the rights of others needing protection”.

“Trans people are not taking rights away from cis women,” said Ms Nelley. “But we have heard same arguments from White supremacist Identitarians losing their “rights” and some heterosexual couples losing their “rights” when marriage equality was brought in. We are not taking away anything from anyone. We are wanting what others already expect as the norm in their lives”.

If anyone is contributing to transpeople being “excluded from general consideration” she should look in the mirror. Her comments are unhelpful and feed into hostile narratives against gender diversity, and other minorities. They also enable transphobic hate amongst the far right who often resort to violence against LGBTQI. Abigail’s comments feed the hateful dehumanisation of transpeople.”

Ms Nelley questioned Abigail’s assertion that transpeople were using “language to erase females/women, in the name of ‘inclusiveness’.”

“Gender critical feminist, or TERF, erasure ideology is eerily similar to white supremacist replacement theory.  Perhaps in the ‘Age Of Trump’ it is no coincidence that a gender-based version of replacement ideology has unfortunately taken hold in the minds of some phobic cis women feminists and their willing conservative cis male allies.

AgenderNZ welcomes dialogue with anyone interested in trans issues. We deeply appreciate the support from others in the LGBTQI community, our cis women sisters, and the many lesbians who stand with us in solidarity. No one should have anyone to fear from us as we try to get on with our lives and the challenges we face on a daily basis.”

Ms Nelley said,

Jill Abigail should check her own privilege. There is nothing to be proud of being ‘part of the back lash’ against transpeople. Abigail says she calls on the Green Party to ‘work for solutions that are fair to everyone, rather than reinforcing the current divide’. 

We think that is sound advice and she should follow it herself.”

End statement.




  1. She was born with XY (male) chromosomes but is considered intersex.
    “In April 2018, the IAAF announced new “differences of sex development” rules that required athletes with specific disorders of sex development, testosterone levels of 5 nmol/L and above, and certain androgen sensitivity to take medication to lower their testosterone levels, effective beginning 8 May 2019.[85][86][87][88] Due to the narrow scope of the changes, which also apply to only those athletes competing in the 400m, 800m, and 1500m, many people thought the rule change was designed specifically to target Semenya.[89][90][91][92]
    On 19 June 2018, Semenya announced that she would legally challenge the IAAF rules. On 1 May 2019, the Court of Arbitration for Sport rejected her challenge, paving the way for the new rules to come into effect on 8 May 2019.[93] During the legal challenge by Semenya, the IAAF amended the regulations to exclude hyperandrogenism associated with the 46,XX karyotype and clarified that the disorders of sex development affected by the regulations are specific to the 46,XY karyotype.[94][95] The legal case divided commentators such as Doriane Coleman, who testified for the IAAF, arguing that women’s sport requires certain biological traits, from commentators such as Eric Vilain, who testified for Semenya, arguing that “sex is not defined by one particular parameter … for many human reasons, it’s so difficult to exclude women who’ve always lived their entire lives as women — to suddenly tell them ‘you just don’t belong here.'”[96]
    Semenya has appealed the decision to the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland.[97] On 3 June 2019, the Swiss Federal Supreme Court advised that they had “super-provisionally instructed the IAAF to suspend the application of the ‘Eligibility Regulations for the Female Classification for athletes with differences of sex development’ with respect to the claimant [Semenya]” until the court decides whether to issue an interlocutory injunction.[98] On July 30, 2019 the Swiss Federal Supreme Court reversed its earlier ruling that had suspended the Court of Arbitration for Sport decision and the IAAF rules. For that reason, Semenya will miss the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha in October 2019, while continuing her appeal.[99]

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