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To: New Zealand College of Midwives

Call for NZCOM to remove transphobic keynote speaker & make conference a safe space for all

- Remove known transphobic writer as a keynote speaker at the upcoming NZCOM midwifery conference with theme "diversity."

- Apologise to the LGBTTQIA+ community for harm caused, including their LGBTTQIA+ speaker.

- Engage a local member of the community, who embraces the theme of diversity as keynote speaker.

- Make a commitment to working alongside the rainbow community going forward to ensure their safety at NZCOM events

Why is this important?

The New Zealand College of Midwives is holding their biennial conference in November of 2021 with the theme “Celebrating Diversity, Growing Stronger Together.” While the theme of this conference is diversity, the college has invited an openly transphobic writer to present as their keynote speaker.

This writer and proposed keynote speaker has actively perpetuated harm within rainbow communities, shared hate speech toward gender minorities, and had her connection with large organisations in the UK severed in response to her continued harm towards rainbow communities. These organisations include Birthrights who said the following in response to terminating their connection with her: “Birthrights is very clear that we are an inclusive organisation and are here for everyone who gives birth, regardless of how they identify. We reject any suggestion that respecting pregnant non-binary and trans people diminishes women’s rights. I have also seen other social media comments/replies where you undermine trans and non-binary people and state that people can only be male or female. This is harmful and distressing and in my view not compatible with a rights-based approach to pregnancy and childbirth. I’m afraid that Birthrights isn’t able to work with people who don’t share our inclusive values.”

Despite NZCOM's conference theme of diversity, the college of midwives only has one presentation about gender and sexual diversity within pregnancy & birth. The college did not make any effort to reach out to members of the LGBTTQIA+ community within their own workforce, or adjacent workforces, to present their work.

To hold a conference with the theme of “Celebrating Diversity,” and to make no effort to engage with the rainbow communities on being visible and safe at their conference is concerning.

To have a keynote speaker who actively engages in perpetuating harm against rainbow communities is alarming. This keynote address also jeopardises the safety of any members of the rainbow community wishing to attend the conference. Further information and background on this speaker can be found by reading our open letter here:

The Rainbow Midwives Alliance are calling on the New Zealand College of Midwives to urgently remove Milli Hill as keynote speaker, apologise for the harm this has caused to LGBTTQIA+ communities, engage a local member of the community as keynote speaker, and outline their commitment to doing better going forward.


2021-09-06 17:56:38 +1200

Update: The New Zealand College of Midwives have cancelled their "Celebrating Diversity," conference citing concerns over venue availability due to Covid 19. The college did acknowledge the controversy surrounding their appointed speaker, but fell short of apologising to the rainbow community or denouncing transphobia.

We are still calling on the college to commit to denouncing transphobic rhetoric within midwifery, and apologise for the harm caused to the LGBTTQIA+ community amongst recent events, and a direct apology to their gender diverse presenters at the now cancelled conference.

We will continue collecting signatures on this petition until the college have answered the above calls.

2021-08-28 11:40:44 +1200

1,000 signatures reached

2021-08-27 20:35:17 +1200

500 signatures reached

2021-08-27 16:34:53 +1200

100 signatures reached

2021-08-27 15:38:40 +1200

50 signatures reached

2021-08-27 15:19:24 +1200

25 signatures reached

2021-08-27 15:07:50 +1200

10 signatures reached