This matters to me because the words ‘woman’ and ‘female’ need to mean something if we intend to use them as a practical and meaningful way to categorise and protect a class of people. If female also means male, it effectively means nothing at all. We need female to mean something specific because we need to be able to speak about, discuss, monitor, evaluate and address the very specific life experiences, oppressions, health issues and prejudices experienced exclusively by females.
Sex is just what we are, it’s not an identity, it’s not a feeling, we become female at conception and we die female. If they dig us up in 200 years they’ll be able to tell we were female, they won’t know (or care) how we chose to identify. Life as female human beings means a different path to navigate than life experienced by males. That’s true no matter how you identify. I won’t swap that basic material fact, rightly defined in for something as flimsy, fluid, subjective and restrictive as gender. I am female, but I reject gender stereotypes forced on females.
Gender stereotypes don’t help females, and they don’t help males either. Live as you choose, be ‘who’ you want to be, but protect in law those who are disproportionately advantaged for their sex – for ‘what’ they are.
I have written letters to politicians, elected representatives and councillors. I wrote thoughtful, detailed letters and received responses from very few. The responses I received were often cagey, tentative, and most avoided the questions I asked, or declined to comment on practicalities of GRA legislation. Often I received basic responses from staffers that basically just ignored everything I asked and instead pointed me to inadequate sources that they insisted would “educate” me, even when I sent letters containing credible references, evidence and stats of my own. It was very clear that several were anxious about the subject, and others didn’t understand the complexity and felt unable to address questions competently.
I can count the number of politicians who actively engaged on one hand, most of them openly agreed with my points and were able to offer informed commentary, and only one didn’t agree but was still willing to discuss. I can’t reveal who that is because they’d probably be kicked out of their party. Politicians seem either poorly informed or frightened to discuss.
I have attended multiple meetings of women’s groups. Only one has passed without threats, protest, disruption or violence against the attendees. All of these meetings welcomed trans attendees, often had trans speakers and opposition campaigners in attendance were always given time to speak. I have worried for my own safety too many times. We never go alone, we organise ourselves to arrive in groups.
I have attended peaceful protests at Parliament. The only disruption or aggression came from those who attended to disrupt speakers. Babies to 90s, male and female, plenty trans people too, but coverage always characterises you as “angry middle aged women”
I have delivered leaflets across my city. I financially support my local grassroots group. I sign and share petitions. I created a GRA reform PowerPoint for elderly women’s group who felt too frightened to ask for info.
I have to be very careful because I know that being vocal about this may lead to activists trying to pressure my employer to sack me.
I work in a role/industry that doesn’t welcome public political opinions. I would love to say more about what I do and why it demonstrates my active, personal and professional commitment to meaningful diversity and inclusion but I can’t.
I am a member of a political party and attended a local party social group for women for some months. A prominent male GRA campaigner started to attend these women’s group meetings and was hostile from the start. He took photos of our group, shared them online, connected my image and name with my social media, labelled me as “anti-trans” which I’m not at all, and effectively doxxed me. I had to stop attending the women’s group. I’m angry about it but couldn’t fight back, I need to protect my family and my livelihood. I can speak my mind freely when it affects only me, but I can’t risk those around me, and that risk is real.
I can truthfully say that I have always been careful in expressing my views, never abusive, but I have still received death threats, abusive comments, sexually violent threats. I have been doxxed. Many women I know have experienced so much worse. That’s the reality of it.