New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins found himself at a loss for words at a press conference on Monday when asked by journalist Sean Plunket of The Platform how Wellington would “define a woman.” The PM nervously said the question had “come slightly out of left field” for him, tossing up a few possibilities – “biology, sex, gender” – before committing to the latter.
“People define themselves, people define their own genders,” Hipkins answered.
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Plunket reminded the bewildered PM that British Labour Party leader Keir Starmer had recently expressed the belief that “99.9% of women don’t have penises” and made what appeared to be a reference to British feminist Posie Parker’s rally in Auckland. Intended as a stop on her Let Women Speak tour, the event ended prematurely when Parker was doused in tomato juice and had to be rushed out of the park by security as thousands of angry trans-rights activists threatened her physical safety.
“I know it’s a strange thing to say, but given recent events in New Zealand, I’d ask you again, how do you define what a woman is?” Plunket asked again.
Hipkins complained that he “wasn’t expecting that question, so it wasn’t something [he]’d pre-formulated an answer on.” However, he reiterated, “I think in terms of gender identity, people define their gender identity for themselves.”
Plunket went on to reference Hipkins’ previous statements about Parker, whose views he has called “abhorrent,” demanding to know which of the women’s rights activist’s opinions merited that descriptor.
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“I think some of her views being conveyed around the transgender community, some of the sentiment that she’s expressed toward the transgender community, is abhorrent, in my view – that they shouldn’t exist,” he replied. Parker has never said that trans people should not exist.
Parker, whose real name is Kellie-Jay Keen Minshull, vowed to return to New Zealand after the disaster in Auckland led her to cancel a second rally in Wellington and fly home early. “We are going to win this war, women, and then I will come back,” she tweeted on Saturday, demanding an apology from the “gutless coward” Hipkins.
Hipkins delivered a condemnation of the vicious treatment Parker received at the botched rally, though he stopped short of condemning any specific bad actor. “The right to free speech does not extend to the right to physical violence, and so I would condemn that,” he said.