#TERF/Bigot/Transphobe – We found the witch, burn her!
a contextual constructionist account of the silencing of feminist discourse on the proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act 2004, and the policy capture of transgender ideology, focusing on the potential impacts and consequences for female-only spaces for victims of male violence

  • Shonagh Dillon

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis examines the clash between transgender ideology and women’s rights in the context of female-only spaces in the male violence against women sector. Through exploring the silencing of feminist discourse regarding the proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act (2004) from the UK Governments of England and Wales, and Scotland, this research provides an original contribution to assess the impact and consequences of gender reform and self-identification, in both policy and legislation, on the United Kingdom’s male violence against women (MVAW) sector.
Taking a qualitative approach, 31 participants were interviewed from both sides of the gender reform debate, this was combined with online ethnographic research from the social media platform Twitter. The data was coded and categorised in a thematic analysis and seven main themes emerged which were collapsed into two chapters analysing the ‘debate’ and the impact of gender reform on the MVAW sector. The findings highlight a stark difference between the public discourse of transgender ideologues and the participant data, the former of which claim inclusion of transwomen in female-only spaces are supported by the MVAW sector. However, the research illuminated that blanket acceptance of transwomen in female-only spaces was largely rejected by both sides of the debate, and the retention of these spaces alongside specialist services for transgender victims were offered up as a solution. The research evidences the topic being shrouded in silence and fear, particularly for women who work within the MVAW sector. Through the passivity of the umbrella bodies in the MVAW sector and unwillingness of politicians to support reasoned public discourse, policy capture of transgender ideology has been enforced. This research provides an original and authentic contribution to the debate.
Date of Award2021
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorLisa Sugiura (Supervisor) & Andy Williams (Supervisor)

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