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activism Politics prejudice women

To the person handing out leaflets outside FiLiA in Portsmouth

Was it the ‘good cop, bad cop’ approach? The kiddies filled the square with obscenities and threats while you did nice and polite leafletting by the conference entrance? Well, maybe you really did mean well and had no idea what they were doing so just in case that is so, here’s a polite reply to the points made in your politely offered leaflet.

You say: “The Truth about GRA Reform for Trans Women”

Firstly, you cannot possibly say what’s right or wrong about reforming the GRA unless you stipulate what reforms you are talking about – there are lots of people suggesting lots of reforms, some good, some not so good, some disastrous for women.

You’d have to give more detail – but I do wonder – do you have any opinions about what trans MEN want and need, or are you one of those who mysteriously only care about trans women? Anyway, regarding the statements you listed about this unspecified reform…

Reverse of leaflet. Points listed are included as headings in the blog post

You say: “Trans women have always used women’s facilities”

You know, the toilets and changing rooms question is not the soul and centre of this, nor did I hear it mentioned even once during the FiLiA weekend. They are the issues the media tend to focus on, so I suppose you think that’s what the average feminist is concerned about. There are laws about toilet and changing room *provision* but in many places – including all private and commercial venues, the rules are up to the proprietor, not a matter for law. Use of women’s facilities is becoming a problem because identifying as this or that is such a trend in recent years that the number and variety of people claiming the right to use women’s facilities is increasing unpredictably. You cannot possibly know where or how this is safe for women, because no-one does.

What concerns us more about the facilities situation is that the demands of trans activists are increasingly making it impossible for parents, guardians and facility managers to operate elementary safeguarding, which relies on women feeling free to call for help if anything concerns them. What made the now notorious wi spa incident so alarming was that a woman who was quite rightly going for help because her daughter had encountered a predatory man was responded to with accusation of transphobia, rather than prompt assistance.

You say: “Most shelters in the UK accept trans women”

We know that and, in many cases, they are right to do so. Most shelters have special facilities, or can direct people to other facilities when it is necessary to apply the Equalities Act exemption for women who need to be in female only company/spaces but, as in the point above, it is getting increasingly hard for refuge and crisis centres to use their best judgement on this, due to bullying and threats of de-funding from trans activists and those who respond to their demands.

You say: “The prison system makes its own determination on a case by case basis”

Are you aware (most commentators don’t seem to be) that this does not mean person by person? The authorities have severe trouble making the law as it stands at the moment work in line with the safety and rights of women. They often depend on waiting to see if women get attacked before they can deal with problem people. This is not fair on women, and has added to the appalling state of fear and tension in women’s prisons. Here’s a snip from a recent judge’s report confirming that sorry state of affairs, and a snip of the relevant bit…

"...A history of sexual offending is an indicator of risk of future sexual offending; and women are more likely than men to be the victims of sexual offending. The evidence therefore supports the existence of a prejudicial effect on women if transgender prisoners in the male estate are transferred into the female estate."
excerpt from the report linked to above

You say: “Individual sporting organisations make their own regulations”

We know this, and current guidelines in the UK state that those organisations should ‘strike a balance’ between fairness and safety on the one hand, and inclusion on the other – that is, women’s sports organisations should try to make their fixtures fair and safe for women *sometimes*. I think that’s pretty appalling, don’t you?

You say of altered birth certificates, “the change is not retrospective”

How can you possibly know that? You don’t know whose reforms will be heard and passed, or what arrangements about birth certificates they might produce. You do realise, don’t you, that the accurate recording of the number and whereabouts of males, females and trans identified people in our country is an essential for all of us, if the government is to plan for and provide the care we each need?

And finally, you say “allow trans women to get married and die with dignity”

That sounds to me as though you are one of the many people who has misunderstood the notion of ‘spousal veto’. A lot of people have got the idea that a person’s spouse can veto their transitioning. That is not true. What the current law does is allow a spouse to veto their partner transitioning *without voiding their marriage*. That safeguard is necessary because some religions and cultures still forbid same-sex marriage. Now, whilst I would agree that that is a backward attitude, I can see that it *is* unfair to shunt a religious person into a same-sex marriage without their permission, can’t you?

As for needing a Gender Recognition Certificate to die with dignity, what on earth do you mean? I thought trans activists wanted to scrap those certificates. Anyway, I’m afraid I can’t comment on that as I don’t get the point. Perhaps someone could explain in the comments.

What feminist activists actually do

So, your leaflet might change minds somewhere if people don’t really know the law, but most of the women at FiLiA are experienced activists, with their minds on tackling the problems women face in the light of war, the climate crisis, rape and porn culture, sexist obstruction of women’s careers and education, and a hundred and one other issues. That means most of the delegates would know the law as it applies to women far better than you seem to and anyway, are fed up of the assumption that we want to think about GRA reform all the time, and/or that we are worrying over nothing.

It’s also highly unlikely such women would give credence to leafleteers who work as part of an event like this …

A selection of the obscene and abusive placards and pavement chalkings around the Guildhall. Sorry, I am not going to reproduce them in detail.
Protestors in front of Portsmouth Guildhall during FiLiA conference weekend.

The real tragedy though, is the things that didn’t happen in Portsmouth, due to misguided objections to FiLiA.