Photo credit: Jean Hatchet
Artillery Row

Riding for murdered women

Have some respect for female spaces

It is not illegal for women to ride their bikes together. 

For the past five years I have undertaken a project called “Ride for Murdered Women”. It started as a small personal tribute to honour the life of each woman murdered in the UK by a man who was a current or former intimate partner or family member. I ride my bike for each woman murdered in this context since 2016. I’ve cycled for 364 individual murdered women, over 10,000 miles and raised over £50,000 for women’s domestic abuse services.

Since 2009, there have been just 9 trans-identified men murdered by men

Once a year I open this tribute up and ask other women to join me, on a ride starting at 1pm, with everyone carrying the names of the murdered women and wearing something red. It is strictly women-only and over-18 because of the topic. It is a project specifically to raise awareness of the large numbers of men murdering women they know. 

These women are murdered because they are women, because those men hated them. It is always a very moving, deeply emotional day. As we ride, we each think of the women and how they died, who they were, and who they might have been if they’d been allowed to live. We think of their families left behind with unutterable grief. I have cried over every woman on the list compiled from the hard work and incredible activism of Karen Ingala-Smith and her “Counting Dead Women” project.

Yet every year some trans activist or another makes a fuss about the ride being “transphobic” because it does not include trans-identified men either in the list or in the invitations to ride. Every year it is necessary to point out that in the time that I have been riding my bike for murdered women, thankfully, not a single trans-identified man has been murdered by another man in a domestic abuse context. In fact, since 2009, there have been just 9 trans-identified men murdered by men, in any context or setting. Since the last trans-identified man was murdered in the UK, 426 women have been murdered. Women should not have to explain the significance of sex in these crime statistics. They speak for themselves very clearly. 

This year is no different. Within 24 hours of posting details of this year’s annual ride inviting women to join me, I was under attack from someone who declared that they would ignore my “woman-only” criteria and organise a ride to include trans-identified men. She tweeted:

I may well organise a Bristol ride. However, trans women will very much be included, especially given the high rates of male violence they experience

I have always been optimistic, even slightly naïve in expecting that, given the extremely sensitive nature of the project, it would be respected that I choose to ride only for and with women. I would be allowed to quietly honour the lives of women murdered by men without it becoming yet another target for trans activists. It is however just one more thing that women cannot keep for themselves. The cries of “bigotry and transphobia” are unleashed, and the pearl clutching at women saying a polite “no” to men begins. 

No law, and no one on this Earth, can force me to get on my bike and ride for men, however they identify. It is a personal act of commemoration, a way of honouring other women who were not as lucky as me. Who did not make it out alive after being abused by a man. When women choose to ride with me, they are also free to choose not to ride their bikes with or for men. This includes trans-identified men. This is simply women collectively riding our bikes and thinking about murdered women. It isn’t a building; it isn’t a service, a sport, a club or a workplace. Yet this trans activist told me:

Very sad to see the event exclude trans women. Illegal actually.

Of course, riding your bike with other women and choosing not to invite men, children or trans-identified men isn’t illegal at all. This is how ludicrous things have become. Women wanting to meet up or do things only with other women is seen as a bigoted and transphobic act. The Equalities Act does not cover this at all. Women are allowed to say “no” to including men in their daily interactions with each other, just as they would be in their own homes. You can’t make women socialise or organise with people they don’t want to. 

The bodies piling up on the lists are female

The current climate however, means that the trans ideologues scream in our faces that women are not allowed to have boundaries with men who say they are women. We are shoved into mixed sex changing rooms and toilets, sexually assaulted in women’s prisons by men identifying as women, told to “reframe our trauma” by a trans identified male CEO in order to access rape crisis services. On and on they bang on women’s doors and demand access. All against the direct provisions in the Equality Act for single-sex services. 

But this ride is not about them or that. This ride is about the fact that men kill women they know — on average, at a rate of one every four days. We have to make the sexed nature of the crime very clear, in as many ways as possible, to have any chance of stopping it from happening. Pretending this also happens to trans-identified men in the UK is wrong, because it is simply not true. 

The bodies piling up on the lists women like Karen keep, are female. The women on the bikes, (some of whom are the daughters, mothers, sisters and friends of the women murdered), saying they’ve had enough, will all be female. Holding up my project as a barrier that trans-identified men should climb over is one of the most disgraceful and disrespectful things that I have seen trans activists do. 

We will ride. We will honour them. We will do it for women, and we will do it without men. 

Enjoying The Critic online? It's even better in print

Try five issues of Britain’s newest magazine for £10

Critic magazine cover