A women’s rights question time that has sparked controversy in other parts of the country is coming to Barnstaple on Friday (October 26).

The 'controversial' billboard placed by Standing for Women at various locations around the country, many of which have been taken down. Picture: contributedThe 'controversial' billboard placed by Standing for Women at various locations around the country, many of which have been taken down. Picture: contributed

The Women Need to Talk event at the Castle Centre hosted by campaign group Standing for Women will see a panel of feminist activists and academics debate proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act.

It is proposed to do away with the current conditions on people wishing to change their gender – to have lived in their preferred gender for two years and been diagnosed with gender dysphoria by two medical professionals, one of whom must be a registered psychiatrist, and the other a doctor who has specialised knowledge.

Instead it is proposing people can ‘self identify’ as their chosen gender and have this legally recognised.

Please note: The event is on Friday (October 26) and not Thursday, as previously published and we apologise for the error.

Standing for Women is against the changes as it believes they could put women at risk – for example in the instance of a transgender woman sent to a female prison.

The billing promises a ‘passionate upfront and lively discussion about the threats to women’s safety, global legislation, lesbian erasure and men’s cross dressing’.

On the panel will be academic Sheila Jefferys, campaign group head Posie Parker, radical lesbian feminist activist Dr Julia Long, campaigner Anne Ruzylo and organiser and former Momentum and Labour Party activist Venice Allen.

Their stance has attracted strong criticism from trans and LGBT rights groups.

Venice said they had organised seven events around the country, with the first cancelled due to pressure from activists and the following five forced to change venue at the last moment.

She said if the Barnstaple event goes ahead as planned it will be the first time it has gone ahead in a public building and without a change of venue.

She said: “We are against the proposals because we think they put women at risk.

“It has become quite a talking point as to whether we should keep medical diagnosis to change sex.”

The issue sparked hot debate on the North Devon Green Party Facebook page. Spokesman Ricky Knight said: “The Green Party fundamentally and ethically supports the rights of transgender individuals and equally supports the position that feminists take on social issues, such as misogyny, male oppression and female safe spaces, be they refuges, prisons, changing rooms or toilets. We have to hope that this meeting can help all of us by shedding some light onto this complex issue.”

Tickets to the event are available through www.eventbrite.co.uk.

The Gazette has contacted diversity and equality group North Devon Sunrise to ask if it wishes to comment.