This matters to me as someone who was subjected to years of sexual abuse as a girl, as well as a lot of sexual harassment since my teens, and who has subsequently relied on single-sex spaces to get through life. I want to protect female-only spaces for all the girls and women who need and want them for whatever reason and I try to speak up because I know what it is like, when as a child you are unable to speak up for yourself.
I think that it is deeply wrong of organisations to disregard the needs of vulnerable, previously abused girls by making them choose between the trauma of sharing spaces such as changing rooms or bedrooms with males or facing the consequences of speaking up when they do not feel able or ready to.
Girls’ trust in others’ ability to safeguard them will be diminished.
I have campaigned by handing out leaflets. I requested to speak to a long-established women’s group who then invited me to present the issue. Following my presentation the group expressed deep concerns about the situation. I have written to my MP and then met and discussed it with him twice – he was fairly dismissive of my concerns of the first visit and chose to centre the needs of one group over the needs of others. On our second meeting he was very rude to my friend who had come to support me. I have helped with women’s groups and with children’s safeguarding groups who have been campaigning. A photo of me, but not my name, has appeared in a main stream newspaper and also appeared in a less main stream media outlet.
I have had a very small amount of verbal aggression in public and have also been shouted at when attending meetings. When an organisation that I was involved with held a meeting, the Grade 1 listed building was graffitied with the words ‘T*RFS F*CK OFF’ which was designed to intimidate attendees. A photo of me appeared in a non-mainstream media outlet where the position of safeguarding group I support was inaccurately linked alongside far-right groups. I have not yet had any issues with my work but this is mainly because I have been very careful about keeping my work life, as a hospital-based nurse (RGN) separate from my campaigning. I have no doubt that if they were linked then someone would try to have me removed.