It could have been me

In September 2017 I considered going down to London to attend a meeting. It was about the potential impact on Women and Girls if the definition of Woman were to be changed from “the adult human female of our dimorphic species” to “anyone who feels like a woman”. This would include men – adult human males.

I had concerns about the safeguarding issues this would present, and concerns for survivors of male violence who needed Women-only spaces in which to heal and be safe. I also had personal experience of being part of a regular Women-only event. It had become unviable to keep it Women-only when existing single-sex exemptions provided in the 2010 Equality Act proved to be unworkable. I had a diary clash I was unable to change, so in the end I didn’t go to the London meeting.

Hounded out of the venue
The talk – ‘What is Gender? The Gender Recognition Act and Beyond‘ – was the first of a series being held across the UK. Like others I knew of, it turned out that this one was left without a venue. Those opposed to these meetings had put pressure on the venue – which, concerned for the safety of its staff, had cancelled the event. The attendees were instructed to gather at Speaker’s Corner – that symbol of Free Speech – and await information about an alternative venue.

We are all Maria
Maria, a woman my age, was taking photos and video clips of the gathering when she was suddenly physically assaulted by someone who believed the meeting should not take place. That could have been me. A 61-year-old Woman, waiting to attend a meeting. That made it personal. That made it my fight. A real “We are all Maria” moment.

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