Hundreds gather in Wellington to support trans people ahead of controversial Speak Up for Women event

An image from the protest
An image from the protest Photo credit: Twitter/@oliviahaslemore

Editor's note: In a majority opinion the Media Council has ruled that this article breached Principle 4 for failing to distinguish between comment and fact in the sentence “Speak Up for Women has denied being anti-trans but maintains that trans women are not women – a distinctly anti-trans sentiment.”  The full decision is at

Hundreds of Wellingtonians have gathered to protest against the controversial group Speak Up for Women holding an event at the Michael Fowler Centre.

The group is opposing a proposed amendment that would allow people to self-identify their sex, without having to go to court.

Speak Up for Women has also campaigned against the inclusion of trans women in sport, leading to accusations of its members being TERFS - trans-exclusionary radical feminists. 

The term has since expanded to include anyone involved with anti-trans or transphobic groups.

Speak Up for Women has denied being anti-trans, but maintains that trans women are not women - a distinctly anti-trans sentiment. 

In response to the group using the Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington Mayor Andy Foster and councillors Fleur Fitzsimmons and Teri O'Neill organised for the building to be lit up in the colours of the transgender flag. 

Foster told the New Zealand Herald on Wednesday that trans people are a vulnerable part of the community and should be supported. 

"The conversation which is being had around the country has caused angst for the trans community in particular," Foster said.

"This is a vulnerable part of our community, so we are trying to say to them that we're standing beside them and we support them."

The Trans and Non-Binary Dignity Collective NZ have urged Foster to declare a state of emergency to protect Wellington against the event, saying it classifies as an emergency for their community.

"Declaring a State of Emergency will reflect the severity of the situation. This is not about restricting women, this is about the freedom of trans people," a spokesperson said on Thursday. 

The peaceful protest will not stop anyone entering the building to attend the event but aims to show solidarity and support for trans people in Aotearoa.