Belfast Telegraph

Leading Women's Aid figure resigns due to intense online bullying

By Allan Preston

A Northern Ireland domestic violence campaigner has said she stepped down from her role as a Women's Aid ambassador after being subjected to a week of vicious transphobic online abuse.

Alicia Perry, who grew up as a man in Co Antrim, was criticised by a blogger who described her as a transgender male who stole the ambassador's role from other women.

This led to a torrent of abuse against Alicia on Facebook.

Alicia began living publicly as a woman in September 2011 and travelled to England the following year for her gender reassignment operation.

In 2015 she was overjoyed to be selected as the first transgender woman to reach the final of the Face of the Globe beauty competition.

She has also spoken out about enduring horrific domestic abuse during her first relationship as a woman. Since then she has campaigned for a suite of legal protection measures for domestic violence victims, known as Donna's Law.

In October last year the charity Women's Aid named her as a community ambassador to campaign against domestic and sexual violence.

Now, after a week of intense online bullying, she told the Belfast Telegraph why she resigned.

"The decision's nothing to do with Women's Aid or the work I've done, it's a personal decision," she said. "They've been more than supportive to me.

"No-one's advised me to leave, I decided I don't want to distract from the work I was doing."

Ms Perry said the online abuse began last week after she was criticised on social media by blogger 'Miranda Yardley' who accused her of taking a woman's post.

Ms Perry said the online reaction to Ms Yardley's comments soon became intimidating.

"Her article was being shared and the people commenting on it are showing blatant transphobia," she said.

"Some of the horrible things they were saying included them likening me to a sexual predator who is a danger to children. But I have my nephews over nearly every weekend, I have a strong background and that's what really hurts me.

"For someone to say I'm a danger to a child was so hurtful and untrue and probably why I decided to resign, I couldn't take any more."

She said the backlash was mainly from "extreme feminists" living in the UK and the US.

"I have good friends who are feminists and several of them contacted me to say these comments weren't in their name," she said. "Feminism is all about solidarity. But they're just completely trying to drag us back to the dark ages."

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