Writing for the Sunday Times, Bindel said she was leaving a talk she had just given at Edinburgh University in Scotland on Tuesday when a “man wearing a long skirt and with lots of dark stubble started screaming and shouting at me, calling me a Nazi and Terf scum (an acronym for ‘trans-exclusionary radical feminist’).”
Bindel said she recognized the transgender woman from an earlier protest of the Edinburgh event, which was a panel discussion on “women’s sex-based rights.” She said activists had sought to derail the event by threatening organizers and “attempting to set off stink bombs in the hall.”
Staff and students at Edinburgh University protested against the event taking place, deeming it “transphobic. Afterward, all 12 members of Edinburgh’s staff pride network committee resigned over what they said were the university’s attempts to censor their objections to the event.
According to Bindel, her presence at the event was the main cause of the outcry, even though she was there to speak about male violence, and not transgender issues.
However, for the past 15 years, Bindel has been a prominent British critic of transgender rights activism, which she has argued poses a threat to women. She has called the movement “the trans Taliban” because of its intolerance of dissent.
The “attack” on Julie Bindel
In her op-ed for The Times, Bindel reported that she earned a standing ovation at Edinburgh before she headed outside to catch a taxi to the airport. It was then, she said, that “a man, who had clearly been waiting around the corner for me to emerge, ran up and began screaming in my face, calling me ‘scum,’ ‘Terf’ and ‘bigot.'”
“He lunged at me and was a split-second away from thumping me full in the face when three security guards pulled him away,” she said. “I took out my phone to try to record the attack. As I did this, the attacker lunged at me again and had to be restrained.”
Bindel later told The Scotsman that she had “almost” been punched.
Her account was confirmed by Rosa Freedman, a British law professor who also spoke at the Edinburgh event and witnessed the incident.
An honour to sit on a panel w/ feminist warriors @ClaireShrugged @bindelj @LucyHunterB et al discussing sex & gender. Respectful discussion facilitated by @uniofedinburgh colleagues. A shame that a TRA violently attacked Julie as we left. Thanks to security for keeping women safe
— Rosa Freedman (@GoonerProf) June 5, 2019
Transgender rights activist Cathy Brennan tweeted Wednesday that she was the one who had confronted Bindel. However, she denied she had intended to assault her.
“Lost my [shit] at Julie Bindel. She filmed me. I’m safe,” she said.
But Brennan said that she “did not raise a fist,” and only “attempted to push past security” because she wanted to “speak face to face” with Bindel, whom she called “a person who has caused great harm to trans people across this country.”
Brennan’s Twitter account has since been deleted.
“TERFs” versus trans
The Bindel-Brennan clash quickly turned into another round in the culture war over transgenderism, which has improbably seen “TERFs” make common cause with conservatives.
Many transgender rights activists last week dismissed Bindel’s claim to have been attacked. Caitlin Spice, a transgender female horror writer, said that the feminist “wouldn’t last 10 minutes as a non-passing trans woman. We get nastier shit buying milk at the store. ”
Am I to understand that the attack on Julie Bindel wasn't an attack at all? That someone 'lunged' at her without any intent to injure? Am I missing something?
Because fuck me, she wouldn't last 10 minutes as a non-passing trans woman. We get nastier shit buying milk at the store.
— 🌶 Caitlin Spice 🌶 (@CateSpice) June 6, 2019
Other LGBT activists simply ignored the alleged attack and condemned Bindel for her views, as well as for misgendering Brennan.
We stand by trans rights & reject any idea of women's rights designed to exclude trans people. There should be no place for the kind of prejudice which talks about a "Trans Taliban" & trans women as "men in a dress" as Julie Bindel has done. Solidarity with EdiUni students
— LGBT+ Labour Scotland (@LGBTLabScot) June 5, 2019
However, after Bindel published her op-ed, a number of fellow trans-critical feminists, voiced support for her, including The Economist finance editor Helen Joyce.
— Helen Joyce (@HJJoyceEcon) June 9, 2019
Labour MP Diane Abbott, a vocal supporter of LGBT rights, on Wednesday stepped into the middle of the conflict by replying to Bindel’s tweet: “Horrible. Hope you are now OK.”
She was subsequently deluged with criticism by transgender rights activists, prompting Bindel to come to her defense.
Can you do me a favour? Those of you having a go at Diane Abbott about trans stuff, please lay off? She has had enough abuse over the years, and much as you disagree with her about stuff, I don't want anyone harassing her in my name. Ta very much x
— Julie Bindel (@bindelj) June 6, 2019