Women’s Institute faces member backlash for admitting men

Apr 26, 2023

The Women’s Institute has come under fire this month for forcing local branches to admit transgender ‘women’.

The WI – formed in 1915 and now the largest voluntary women’s organisation in the UK, with more than 180,000 members – announced in 2015 that it welcomed biological men. Its current policy states: “Anyone who is living as a woman is welcome to join the WI and to participate in any WI activities in the same way as any other woman.”

However, in recent weeks the pushback against this policy has intensified. A group of disgruntled WI members calling themselves the Women’s Institute Declaration has demanded that the national organisation hits pause on the admission of males to local branches and allows members to be able to debate and hold a vote on the contentious issue. More than 700 people have also signed its petition calling for the institution to return to being a single-sex space.

Could there be any more vivid illustration of why the WI’s new policy is a bad idea than the case of Shanu Varma, a male trans rights activist who ‘lives as a woman’ and who last week said he had signed up to the WI? Varma is notorious for his violent online threats, having warned on Twitter that he is drawing up a kill list of opponents of gender ideology and boasting he is a martial arts champion who has paralysed nine people. He even said he was “happy to be extremely sadistically violent” to anyone who threatens him.

The WI was quick to distance itself from Varma, releasing a statement that his tweets “breached our supporter Ts&Cs so this request to be a supporter was not accepted”.

However, writer Sonia Poulton, who reported Varma to the police, warned the WI: “There is not an ‘all-woman’ category unless you are born female. This will come back to haunt you as it has with other organisations.”

Of course, not all transgender ‘women’ are violent. But men and women are different and the WI is asking for trouble by including men in what is supposed to be an all-women’s space. It creates dangers to women that wouldn’t otherwise exist.

At C4M we urge the WI to heed the concerns of its members and respect the difference between the sexes. After all, it’s the difference that led co-founder Adelaide Hoodless to set up the Women’s Institute in the first place.