Academics and researchers

I know what awkward teenage years are like

I care because, having been 6 feet tall since I was 12, I know what awkward teenage years are like. In my late teens my parents came under pressure from medical professionals, which they were ultimately able to resist, to allow my younger and taller sister to be prescribed carcinogenic drugs to stunt her growth and keep her within socially acceptable height limits for females. It was the participation of tall women in Olympic sports that changed that perception.

I care because from childhood onwards I was subjected to criticism and sanction for attempting to participate in society on equal terms with boys and men:

  • At the  university I attended female students (only admitted 3 years previously) were massively outnumbered, routinely harassed and the subject of derision about their intellectual abilities in the absence of any female faculty.
  • At Westminster, where I spent the next 20 years as a researcher.

I care because my daughter fitted the model of awkward, bullied, girl with ASD, unsure about her sexuality and  susceptible to the argument that she was “born in the wrong body”. Referrals to groups where she never met another girl with her diagnosis until she was 13 did not help her feel more comfortable, however well-meaning they were. Lesbian role models in her family and social network did. Representation matters.

I have contributed to discussions on social media, attended meetings and events and discussed these issues with friends.

I have lost some friends, although not close ones.

Miriam, Legal & criminal justice policy researcher, administrator, migrant