NUS farce after Twitter ‘trolls’ attack committee for saying ‘women are not female’

Delegates at annual Women’s Conference come under fire on Twitter after moves to include transgender women


An NUS conference descended into farce after Twitter trolls attacked delegates for saying “women aren’t female”.

The annual Women’s Conference was rocked by debates over “trans-inclusivity” after the word “female” was used to describe delegates.

Students Becky O’Hagan and Lani Baird tweeted asking delegates not to use the word female, because it excludes transgender people.

O’Hagan wrote: “Conference, please do not use the term female when referring to delegates, it is not accessible! Women are not female!”

The Conference was supposed to be about electing next year's committee...

The Conference was supposed to be about electing next year’s committee…

But the hashtag #nusscotwom14 was then jumped on by the bemused and angry Twitterati, prompting accusations of online “hijacking” by “scumbag trolls”.

The trolls branded women “cute” and “sanctimonious”, made accounts parodying feminists and posted pictures mocking women from Scotland, where the event was held.

http://twitter.com/AfternoonTory/status/460027476832706561

As the abuse intensified, officers at the Conference were even forced to run around telling people to abandon social media altogether.

The brave NUS delegates battled on, though, and called for resistance to the online onslaught as well as expressing their disgust at the tarnishing of their event.

http://twitter.com/dc_stevens/status/460059687342571520

But some students said the debate was a pointless distraction from the more important issues of the day.

Josh Holloway, a 21-year-old student at Royal Holloway, said: “The semantics of the world female is a minor issue which should have been debated elsewhere. This conference was not specifically about trans-inclusivity and it’s a shame that this debate ruined the day.”

The motions discussed at the conference included maternity leave for students, the under-representation of women in student politics and (appropriately) the abuse and stress which Women’s Officers can face in their roles.

The definition of “woman” has been a hot topic for the Union for some time.

Last year the LGBT campaign changed the definition of the word “woman” to “All who self-define as women, including (if they wish) those with complex gender identities which include ‘woman’.”