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Academics and researchers

As a young child, I was told that I could not participate in the sports that I loved because they were ‘not for girls’

I can’t begin to do justice to the importance of feminism and womanhood in my life. As a young child, I was told that I could not participate in the sports that I loved because they were ‘not for girls’. I have been overjoyed to see the strides made by women’s sport in the past 25 years, and that – on the whole – there are far more opportunities for girls to participate in sport than when I was growing up.

It breaks my heart to see these strides undermined simply to appease a small group of biological males who seek to ‘affirm their self-appointed gender’ by taking the hard-earned place of women in sport. I am devastated that women’s sporting history is being rewritten by people like Lauren Hubbard and Rachel McKinnon.

Girls and women are subject to all manner of abuse – mostly at the hands of men – and they fully deserve (and need) single-sex spaces in which to thrive and feel safe. Every woman knows what it is to feel unsafe and vulnerable, and no-one has the right to dismiss our concerns.

The idea that biological males can simply announce themselves female and enter women’s safe spaces is obscene. I have never felt more strongly about anything in my life.

It is a topic that I discuss with my partner and trusted friends on a daily basis. While I have engaged with some of the public debates on Twitter, I don’t feel that what I do is enough. I am in the difficult position of knowing that if I speak up, I will most likely lose my job – a prospect that I cannot afford to risk at the minute.

My work colleagues have extremely strong views on the ‘transgender’ issue, and regularly use offensive terms such as ‘TERF’ to publicly bully those with genuine concerns into silence. While I have never directly received such abuse, I know that if I were to be more vocal, I would be their next target.

K