Tasmanian Times


An open letter to Hobart City Council aldermen

Councillor Holly Ewin

Women Speak Tasmania is writing to you regarding the Salamanca Market Facebook posting on Sunday 10 February which stated, among other things, that …

‘The City of Hobart have been made aware of a group that were distributing anti-transgender materials yesterday at the Salamanca Market.’

We reject as false the characterisation of our pamphlet as ‘anti-transgender’ and note no evidence was provided to support this assertion.

We hereby request a public apology from the Hobart City Council, through Tasmanian media, in respect of its unsupported condemnation of Women Speak Tasmania and the content of our flyer.

We await your prompt response.


Isla MacGregor, Bronwyn Williams and Joanna Pinkiewicz.


Women Speak Tasmania

More here:

Salamanca Market’s attack on women’s freedom of speech


Several minutes after sending this email we received a response from newly-elected Aldermen Holly Ewin, member of Transforming Tasmania’s campaign, without any explanation of what in our pamphlet is ‘anti-transgender’ …

‘Hi Isla, Bronwyn and Joanna,

I am personally deeply offended by the materials and message Women Speak Tasmania distribute and espouse. WST claim that there is no difference between biological sex and gender, which is simply not true.

In terms of free speech, I certainly support that; but it is important to note the difference between freedom of expression and hate speech. Hate speech is inciting discrimination and violence against a certain group within the community, and is against the law. I also note that it is perfectly fine for groups and individuals to distribute materials in and around the city; just not within Salamanca market without prior permission.

Trans and gender diverse people are one of the last remaining groups that it is apparently socially acceptable to discriminate against in this way. To be committed to equality means inclusion, not exclusion. This is why I support HCC staff’s decision regarding WST.

I’ve included some information below from the TransformingTasmania campaign that I’m a part of, plus an article from Medium which I think explain things really well.

Thank you for taking the time to write to me with your concerns.

Holly Ewin’s email shows she is very confused about the defintions of ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ herself and has clearly not read our policy document with definitions of ‘sex’ and ‘gender’:


  • Biological sex should be a protected characteristic in anti-discrimination legislation.

Biological sex is the basis of most discrimination against female persons, for example when they are pregnant or breastfeeding, or have other parenting obligations. It is also the prime factor in the

majority of physical offences against them, for example domestic abuse, sexual assault and rape.

Women suffer discrimination in the workplace, and violence at the hands of male persons not because they identify as women, but because they have female bodies.

  • ‘Gender’ is a term that originated in the study of linguistics as a means of differentiating

sex-related, i.e. female or male, nouns and pronouns. Over time it came to be used colloquially as an alternative to the term ‘sex’, meaning either male or female.

Presently, the terms ‘gender and ‘gender identity’ have come to represent a sense of innate femaleness ormaleness in an individual, regardless of biological sex. That sense is demonstrated, in either case, by adopting the stereotypical appearance and other characteristics of the chosen sex, usually one that is opposite to the individual’s biological sex.

Protecting the characteristics of gender and gender identity in anti-discrimination law essentially protects the interests of those who ‘feel’ their ‘true’ sex is at odds with their biological sex, while the interests of biological females NOT in this category are ignored. Biological females make up slightly more than 50 per cent of the Australian population. At the most recent census – 2016 – 1,260 persons reported as sex and/or gender diverse out of a total population of 23,401,892, or approximately 0.00000054 per cent. So, current anti-discrimination law in Australia provides specific protections for an infinitesimal proportion of the population and ignores more than half of us.

Given the inability of legislators, or anyone, to satisfactorily define ‘gender’ or ‘gender identity’ without reference to the social constructs and stereotypes associated with biological femaleness and maleness, they should be removed from legislation and replaced with the term ‘social identity’, which more accurately describes the self-presentation of a biological male as female and vice versa.’

A very unprofessional response from a newly elected councillor who needs to check her facts before misrepresenting a group’s views on policy issues.

Isla MacGregor is a women’s human rights and free speech advocate

Bronwyn Williams is a retired lawyer and social worker

Women Speak Tasmania is a network of women and their supporters based in Tasmania. We operate as a secular group. We are not aligned with any political party or ideology. We share research and information on a broad range of women’s rights issues. These include – female only spaces, services, groups and facilities; the sexualisation of girls and women; pornography/prostitution and the harms of the global sex trade; surrogacy as a violation of women’s human rights; and ending male violence against girls and women. We understand that sex-based oppression affects all women, and underlies all abuses of female rights. We support the right of women to speak freely about the inequities and discrimination they experience. We aim to give a voice to girls and women in the pursuit of justice, peace and security. We support full autonomy and personal freedom for all women.

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]


  1. Russell

    May 4, 2019 at 1:22 pm

    Spikey, please show us “where it (male naturally becomes female or vice-versa) happens quite frequently” with humans, and define the term “frequently”.

  2. abs

    May 1, 2019 at 3:00 pm

  3. Emmanuel Goldstein

    February 21, 2019 at 12:11 pm

    Councilor Ewin commences with “I am personally deeply offended by the materials and message” as if this has some relevance to the points being addressed.

    Perhaps Councilor Ewin should spend a few weeks digging up busted sewer pipes at dawn in the freezing rain, picking up rubbish, building footpaths, spraying weeds .. or any other task the council exists for.

    • Christopher Eastman-Nagle

      February 21, 2019 at 4:15 pm

      Ms Ewin and her mates may have very thin skins and delicate constitutions, but whenever anyone hits them with a feather they pull switchblades faster than Mac ‘The Knife’ and they take offence more deeply than Chopper Reid after a few drinks .. and they also share those two pit-bull mongrels’ taste for blood.

  4. Christopher Eastman-Nagle

    February 19, 2019 at 6:35 pm

    Rather than getting genuine intellectual training at her orthodox humanities training school, Holly Ewing seems to have picked up some of the more authoritarian habits of oracular (mystificatory ) declamation (rhetorical flourish) of ‘the party line’ instead.

    She offers no evidence base defense for her and organization’s attack on free speech. What she does offer are cliche encrusted labels that are so powerfully condemnatory, they act as automatically self justifying ideological missiles whose status is beyond question.

    It is the classic assumptive tactic of religious clerics and Soviet Comintern apparatchiks to claim all the negative naming rights for heterodox (non conforming) ideas and people; i.e., language enclosure.

    It is the kind of regime gobbledigook that George Orwell and Franz Kafka drew attention to in their literary explorations of highly rationalized but nonetheless irrational worlds.

    Holly starts straight up by declaring a state of ‘offense’ which automatically cancels the need for a genuine debate, because her sense of ‘being offended’ means, ipso facto (by that very fact alone) that what Bronwyn and Isla have to say is not legitimate and does not need serious consideration.

    They are done like a dog’s dinner before we have even started…

    She then accuses WST of asserting that sex and gender are the same which would be a false statement if they had ever made it., which they haven’t.

    She then accuses WST of ‘hatespeech, as in ‘inciting discrimination and violence against a certain group’, without offering a shred of evidence to that effect. In her mind she doesn’t need to because by definition, any opposition to transgen agenda is prompted by ‘hate’ because there is (in her mind) no legitimate argument for that position.

    This is a fundamental denial of ‘the other’ to any principled standing or right to debate their position. White racists accused civil rights workers of being ‘nigger lovers’ with exactly the same intent.

    Holly then goes on to accuse WST of ‘discriminating’ against transgen agenda in ways that she claims are no longer ‘acceptable’, as if this was not the exercise of ordinary judgement still capable of ‘discriminating’ between the pretentious sexual political crib, fudge and bluff being put out by the transgen lobby and the fundamental interests of women.

    And no Holly, ‘equality’ and ‘inclusion’ do come with some caveats.

    When we come into school as preppies, inclusion is the name of the game, but as the years go on, inequalities and exclusions increasing come to apply as human talents and propensities start to make themselves felt. The under 13 school football ‘A’ team is not ‘the mediocre and alsoran exclusion squad’. I know it is tough if you do not qualify to meet the standard to get into i., Bad luck. Try something else.

    And in the meantime Holly, you need to actually justify yourself, because from where I stand, what you are doing is outrageous and pumped with ideological hot air signifying nothing.

    • Geoff Holloway

      February 19, 2019 at 7:52 pm

      Excellent summation, Christopher!

    • Molly

      February 19, 2019 at 8:24 pm

      Agreed. If this is the sole outcome of Holly’s university education in feminist theory, then she really should be asking for her money back.

  5. spikey

    February 19, 2019 at 5:44 pm

    I’m not confused. Holly’s response made total sense. The suggestive echo chamber enabling confusion plays a sorry tune.

    For all of those having trouble discerning the difference between biological sex and gender, you’re right, they are both artificial constructs .. convenient terms that do not encompass all parameters.

    If you’re uncertain what those parameters are, please study biology, and not the king jims remix almanac edition.

    I suggest there’s peeps, with agendas, deliberately pushing this discriminatory hate .. and it’s most likely the usual suspects.

    • Lola Moth

      February 19, 2019 at 6:21 pm

      Sex is not an artificial construct. It is a biological fact. If you wish to tell the difference between the male and female sex of an animal you look at the genitals. If it has a penis and testes it is male. If it has a vaginal opening it is female. You can also do a blood test to check if you are in doubt. You can’t determine an animal’s sex by asking it how it feels.

      • spikey

        February 19, 2019 at 8:42 pm

        Have you studied much biology, Lola?

        I have, and the diversity in what some people may call sex, is a bigger concept than the amount of pins any of your fearful haters could stick in a voodoo doll.

        Love on the other hand, and acceptance, tolerance, empathy and the rest of the indulgent behaviours of less deluded monkeys, makes the world a better place.

        • Lola Moth

          February 19, 2019 at 9:12 pm

          I agree that love, acceptance, tolerance and empathy make the world a better place, but they don’t turn a biological male into a female.

          • spikey

            February 19, 2019 at 10:32 pm

            unless you’ve studied biology, where it happens quite frequently
            once again, not king jims biblical remix


            Spikey, Mike Seabrook and others …

            Tasmanian Times aims for publishing excellence using UK English or Australian English.

            US English is abhorred as TT’s Editors and Moderators try to replace thousands of zzzzz with ssssses, and also loathed are Comments written for the writer’s personal idiosyncratic indulgence.

            Such writing can be incomprehensible to our readers and to TT’s Moderators .. we who must be able to understand the substance of what it is that we are editing before we can edit a contribution intelligently.

            Social media is surely a more rewarding outlet for those wanting their idiosyncratic inventions and grammatical abominations published.

            Spikey, your contribution above is, like that of many other offerings we receive, a grammatical death zone. Resurrections by TT’s staff are very time consuming, and the general rule here will have to be to delete rather than to indulge.

            — Moderator

          • Lola Moth

            February 20, 2019 at 6:49 am

            Spikey, I am not into fiction so I have no idea what the King James Bible says about the matter, but I would love it if you could post a link to the study of where biological males have become biological females with the only treatment being love and empathy.

            If you could also supply a link to the one that studies the pony/unicorn transformation I would appreciate it.

          • spikey

            February 20, 2019 at 8:32 am

            Lola, some light reading for you.
            It would appear that you are quite ignorant on gender and sexuality.


          • Lola Moth

            February 20, 2019 at 11:31 am

            Spikey, I am indeed ignorant of many things but there is nothing in your link that has educated me. I am aware of clownfish and mushroom corals being able to change sex where there is a lack of females, but these creatures are hermaphrodites to begin with. They have recessive sexual characteristics that can become dominant if required for the survival of the species. Humans do not have the capacity to change sex naturally in order to procreate.

            As for human natural sex change it states that the appearance at birth is of one sex, but changes around puberty make the appearance more towards the opposite sex. A simple blood test at birth would solve this ambiguity. It also states that ‘the overwhelming majority of natural sex changes are from Female appearance at birth to Male appearance’ because of hormone deficiency, and ‘a relative handful of Male to Female changes have been reported.’

            Mammals are either male or female biologically. Any hermaphrodites are really a deformity of the reproductive system. You have supplied nothing with your links that leads me to believe that humans with penises are biologically female unless they have been born with a deformity of the reproductive organs, of which there are only a handful of cases.

            As this argument is actually about conflating ‘sex’ with ‘gender’ I am surprised you have not tried to educate me as to how this issue should be addressed.

    • joannapink

      February 20, 2019 at 9:24 am

      Sorry but Wikipedia is not a good source of information. Nature constantly experiments, throwing mutations and anomalies. For fish, it may mean survival, for humans, it does not make any difference in terms of reproduction (dimporphic).

      About 220,000 babies are born with Down Syndrome each year and 130,000 with Klinefelter.
      Abnormal sexual development doesn’t mean there are more than two human sexes.
      It can’t mean this, because a third sex would have to be able to reproduce another way.
      If humans could reproduce without being sexually dimorphic, we wouldn’t be mammals.
      Some chromosome irregularities lead to incomplete or unusual sex development.
      One such condition – Klinefelter’s – may cause identity issues, but this is rare.
      Problematic SRY genes can cause people to develop reproductive organs associated with the opposite sex. Their identity usually matches their bodily appearance, they receive medical help, and they’re infertile.

      Source: https://fairplayforwomen.com/chromosomes-biological-sex-gender/

  6. tintookie

    February 19, 2019 at 2:45 pm

    Holly says that ‘WST claim that there is no difference between biological sex and gender’. what?! where? The entire feminist (and WST) argument against the transgender doctrine is that sex and gender ARE different. Holly is a part of a campaign that is lobbying for the conflation of sex with a persons self-described ‘gender identity’ under law. What an Orwellian reversal we have here! I’m really curious as to how Holly defines ‘biological sex’ and ‘gender’, their relationship to one another and the importance (if any) of each of these concepts. I’m also curious to know whether she is aware of the scores of women who have been labelled ‘TERF’ themselves, just for acknowledging the difference between ‘biological sex’ and ‘gender’, as she has done. Holly may find herself on the other end of the slur if she persists with her belief that ‘biological sex’ is even a thing.

    Holly called the women of WST ‘TERF’ on her Facebook page. I have no doubt that she is aware that the women of WST would object to this label and possibly consider it a slur, as many women do. It is a term thrown at women who refuse to acknowledge the existence of the female-penis, and is often accompanied by violent threats of rape, murder or other misogynistic slurs. On Holly’s own Facebook page, a person named ‘Felix Herbener’ said in response to Holly’s denoucement of WST and her characterisation of their speech as hate speech ‘it’s not a crime to use your fists against hate crime’. Hang on…, is that incitement of violence against a group of women?? I suppose Holly justifies leaving this on her Facebook page because she really believes that wearing t-shirts with the dictionary definition of ‘woman’ on them is hate speech….

    This is also ridiculous: ‘to be committed to equality means inclusion, not exclusion’. Okay, if that’s what you really believe, why not fully make the case for it? To be ‘inclusive’ after all, would mean the rejection of all female, or male-only services, positions, distinctions etc. Entirely. No male or female sports categories. No women’s health or legal services. No women’s sexual assault peer groups counselling services. No womens scholarships. It would also mean the removal of all affirmative action policies and benefits designed to address inequalities experienced by Indigenous Australians. Or scholarships targeted at students from rural background, non-english speaking backgrounds, or from poor families. Trans activists advocate for none of this because contrary to Holly’s lazy posturing, inclusion is not actually about ‘equality’. Sometimes, exclusion is of critical importance to achieving equality. That’s what special measures are for in all of our international human rights conventions and domestic laws on discrimination.

    I’d also love Holly’s comment on ‘hate speech’ and the Cotton Ceiling – the idea that lesbian women are oppressing trans women by not considering them as sexual partners. If saying ‘female is not a feeling’ is hate speech, what about ‘cis-lesbians are transphobic bigots because they have sex with transwomen’. I think that’s much closer to hate speech than citing a dictionary definition of ‘woman’. I’m betting there’ll be no comment – because any ‘trans ally’ that speaks out against the party line that ‘transwomen are women’ will immediately get ‘terfed’ out themselves, even if its in defence of lesbian sexuality.

    • mctessa

      February 19, 2019 at 7:34 pm

      … that should read: ‘cis-lesbians are transphobic bigots because they won’t have sex with transwomen’.

    • Kate

      February 20, 2019 at 9:44 am

      It appears Spikey has his degree in biology from Wikipedia .. the suppository of all known and unknown knowledge.

  7. Lola Moth

    February 19, 2019 at 2:11 pm

    Ms Ewin does not realise how much effort went in to fighting for women’s rights to enable women like her to even be considered for the job she currently enjoys. We fought tooth and nail so that her generation would not have to face the discrimination that was central to our everyday lives. She thinks so little of us and what we fought for that she wants to throw our hard won rights away, or worse, to toss them to men (yes, the ones with penises are called men) as playthings.

  8. Gavin

    February 19, 2019 at 12:37 pm

    … Muddying the waters further and making some popular assertions while completely failing to address mental health .. which is the precursor to the above mentioned symptoms.

    • Molly

      February 19, 2019 at 1:42 pm

      Agreed, Gavin. Unfortunately the trans rights lobby will deny any overarching link to mental health issues, trauma histories or autism in their communities, and call any attempt to approach it as such in the therapeutic setting ‘gate keeping’, or more disingenuously, ‘conversion therapy’.

      This is by this reasoning they advocate for dismantling all risk assessment around sex self-id, which of course opens the door for all of the unintended consequences WST are warning us about – namely, the erasure of women as a meaningful category in law and in life; and the unchecked opening of protected spaces, which has been proven to put women – especially the poor, disabled and vulnerable – directly at harm.

      If they truly cared about the wellbeing of their communities they would be willing to discuss all of the comorbidities named above, which are overwhelmingly found among their population group, and they would desist with their irresponsible framing of suicide as an inevitable outcome (or threat) to their youth; issues that I would argue cause way more everyday distress to the individual than what their birth record is marked as.

      My personal feeling is that Transforming Tasmania and it’s ilk perpetrate a cruelty on their communities by denying them all possible avenues of support from which they can explore their distress.

      • Ben Goodall

        February 19, 2019 at 2:30 pm

        Yes, if trans rights activists identified ‘with’ women instead of ‘as’ women – they would be ashamed of their aggressive takeover bid of women’s safe spaces.

  9. joannapink

    February 19, 2019 at 11:48 am

    I think constructive dialogue is possible on this topic of sex and gender as well as on the impact of legislative changes.

    We need leadership to guide this debate.
    No councilor or political party representative is coming forward to assist discussion and debate. Most of them take place online.

    Holly Ewin does not understand our concerns or our analysis of sex and gender.

    The local media has only contributed to further polarisation of positions.

  10. Tamara Elliott

    February 19, 2019 at 11:20 am

    Holly, many members of the LGBTQI community voted for you on the understanding that you understood gender politics.

    From your statements to WST it appears that Hobart voters ticked the wrong box.

    I doubt that they will be making the same mistake next time .. unless you get delivering your script better in the meantime.

  11. Molly

    February 19, 2019 at 10:30 am

    There is no such thing as gender; only sex, and sex-role stereotypes.

    Ms Ewin also campaigns for reproductive autonomy – I was under the impression that she did it as a women’s rights issue; but for so many of those self described queers it’s really men’s unimpeded sexual access that they are supporting in their political affiliations.

    I agree with Lola, this one should leave the echo chamber and think for herself on this.

  12. Lola Moth

    February 19, 2019 at 7:01 am

    Holly Ewin is very confused. It is her group, Transforming Tasmania, which is trying to claim there is no difference between biological sex and gender.

    As this is the very basis of their argument, Ms Ewin needs to either switch camps to one that aligns to her viewpoint, or she should go back to Transforming Tasmania for an extra dose of brainwashing in order to change her core beliefs.

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