For over 100 years – actually, probably for over a thousand – women have been fighting for equal rights in most societies around the world. That experience means that women already active in such campaigns have a natural affinity for other disadvantaged groups when they stand up for their own rights. So where did what appears to be a ‘women’s rights v trans rights’ stance come from?
I suppose because so many organisations have assumed that women’s lib is done and dusted, so when they become aware of the issues around transgender and non-binary people, they assume women have what they need now, and can afford to give a bit to make room.
Trouble is, many women feel that they have not finished yet. The drive for equal representation in politics has come a long way, but we ain’t at 50% yet. That the battle for social and sexual liberation isn’t finished should be clear to anyone who has been following studies on the consequences of government austerity policy (bash the carers and you are automatically mainly bashing women) and another side to that is the yawning difference in income between men and women. Similarly, the fact that women in Ireland who have (very nearly) finished the battle for autonomy over their own bodies, are now turning their attention to Northern Ireland, proves that we have not finished.
So, before we change the rules around women to make life easier for trans people, can we have a full and public discussion about the impact that’s likely to have on women, we ask. I don’t know how many people really thought that question amounted to a declaration of war, and how many just pretended they thought that because they enjoy social media wars, but what we need is a civilised discussion about women’s rights – the situation now, and going forward. Just as social media tends to promote sound and fury, being face to face tends to promote discussion and a search for mutual accord. And here is the chance to do just that: in Hastings on 20th June, the Woman’s Place lecture tour will present the discussion, chaired by Megan Dobney, with Philipa Harvey representing Woman’s Place UK speaking, along with Kristina Harrison and Jeni Harvey.
Megan Dobney was the Regional Secretary of SERTUC, which represents TUC affiliated trade unions in London, the South East and the East of England. SERTUC directly represents the interests of those unions’ two million members who live and work in this region. She was also a non-executive director of Greater London Enterprise, and a member of the London Enterprise Panel’s ESIF Committee. These roles followed 30 years experience in the publishing and printing industry.
Kristina Harrison is a public sector worker and well-known socialist activist, who has campaigned on many important social issues, including both women’s rights and trans people’s rights, so she is well-placed to see where the common ground is, and where potential conflicts of interest need to be addressed. Listening to Kristina, it soon becomes clear that the common ground is extensive, the problems surmountable.
Writer Jeni Harvey has been looking at the misogyny (latent and blatant) inherent in the current situation, which goes a long way to explaining why conversations between feminists and the rest of the political world can go badly wrong sometimes.
It’s going to be an interesting night for women and men of all opinions and orientations, so don’t miss it. Hastings, 20th June, 7 for 7.30pm. The venue will be announced nearer the time so please book your place via the link below, then keep an eye on your email inbox, and you’ll find out exactly where nearer the time.
Not convinced yet…?
Fig 1 Here is the list of groups protected under the Equalities Act, according to the Citizen’s Advice Bureau.
Now compare that to Fig 2 below.
Fig 2 (below) This, according to the CPS, is the list of groups protected against hate crime. Notice anything missing?
Please come along on the 20th June.