I care about this issue because at the age of 14 I was raped to try and correct my homosexuality. I came to the UK as soon as I could at the age of 18 to seek asylum due to the harassment I received in my home country following the very public trial.
The people that raped me knew what a woman was, if I’d have been a gay man they would have hit and physically assaulted me and not raped me. It is important that we acknowledge and deal with the issues at the heart of violence against women in the UK as well as internationally.
If women coming to this country to seek asylum for MVAW (male violence against women) cannot tell their stories and get meaningful help because their language is now hate speech or exclusionary then how much of a safe refuge is this country?
I was broken when I came here in 2001, I’d experienced an unwanted pregnancy due to the rape and tried to abort at home due to abortion being illegal in my home country. It didn’t work and I was forced to carry my trauma with me for 9 months only to give birth to a child that only survived for 76hrs due to damage caused to his brain by my attempts to terminate. I have to live with this. A lot of women have to live with these kinds of wounds.
We need a place and a language to talk about our issues and to heal. To find support that demands nothing from us, not validation, not that we change our language, nothing.
I managed to get the help I needed and have managed to carve out a life here. It’s a small life, I can’t trust all that easily and the wounds I carry bleed from time to time, but it’s a life and I owe that to the women that looked after me as soon as I left the airport. The female doctors and nurses I was able to ask for, the female therapist who was with me for 15 years and delayed her retirement to help me stand on my own. The lecturers at my university who guided me and helped me gain a degree and become financially independent of the state. The lesbian community that helped me accept myself. They became my tribe, I am thankful.
I have written to my MP, I have been to his surgery to speak to him. He seems sympathetic, he’s from a Religious minority group himself and seems sympathetic but I’m not sure he has really done much about this as his party is firmly pro trans.
I have joined online forums and signed petitions and donated where I could. All the people I speak to seem to be very sympathetic and understand the insanity of where women find ourselves but many fear speaking publicly as do I.
I’ve lost friends. I work in an NHS mental heath setting and most of the people I work with understand the insanity of the current trans movement but this is whispered in dark corners and can never be said openly.
Everyone is scared, I had a colleague say to me a while back that we, as mental heath services, are going to pay dearly for this in a few years time but we daren’t go against the Stonewall lobby that is everywhere in our Trust.
As a mother, grandmother, feminist, educationalist, woman, this matters to me for a number of reasons. As a survivor of domestic abuse, I know how vital to me were women only spaces. I would not have been able to get the support I needed if I had not been confident that specific spaces were open only to women. The fear of such spaces being available to male-bodied people, however they identify, is very real and, I believe, would prevent women from accessing safety, support and much needed resources.
Sex is real. Women are women. Women’s oppression is based on sex. Women’s hard-won rights are in real danger of being eroded. Trans people have rights and, obviously, shoukd do. These are safeguarded in law. As are sex-based rights. The two are separate. One set of rights should not, and need not, trump another. Women are women, transwomen are transwomen and both should be safeguarded.
I am deeply concerned at what is being promulgated in schools and what children and young people are being told online. Feminism has fought for years to break down gender stereotypes. Our nonconforming children should be allowed/encouraged to be just that. Dress wearing boys and tomboy girls should not be told they are in the wrong body.
It’s clear that many young people, disproportionately girls, disproportionately those with conditions like autism, are being put on a path to medicalised transition too early, too quickly and often inappropriately. There is insufficient research into the impact of puberty blockers and what evidence there is suggests not the ‘pause’ as is often cited but the first step in an increasingly inevitable pathway.
Women are being silenced. We are afraid to speak for fear of casually being labelled and abused as transphobic. We are not. Generally, we are progressive women with histories of fighting for human rights and many causes. We haven’t suddenly become bigots. We are not transphobic. We ARE supporters of women’s rights.
I’ve made social media posts, attended consultation at House of Lords and submitted evidence to the Gender Recognition Act consultation.
P, Women matter