As some of you will be aware, The Harlequin agreed to host a meeting of Woman’s Place UK (WPUK) on 20th September 2018. Given the strength of feeling about this, and the fact that there is a lot of misinformation being spread about me, about The Harlequin, and about WPUK, I wanted to clarify a few things about this.
Firstly, let me state upfront that I am in no way transphobic. I believe that everyone has the right to live free from discrimination and harassment. I fully respect the rights of anyone to dress how they want; I fully support the rights of anyone to be addressed with their preferred name and pronouns; and I fully support the rights of all adults to be in charge of their own bodies, and to live the life that they wish to live. We are lucky enough to have a number of transpeople as our friends and regulars, and I hope they will agree that they have always been treated well and with respect. The exception here unfortunately is one very vocal ex-friend who, for reasons known only to her, is spreading lies about me and about the way she was treated; I don’t know her motivation for behaving like this, but I hope the fact that she is unable or unwilling to provide any evidence tells its own story.
Secondly, I understand that some people have tried to portray WPUK as a hate group. If I believed for one second that this was true, I would not have entertained the idea of hosting the meeting. I was asked if The Harlequin would host the meeting by someone I hold in high regard, and for whom I have the utmost respect. I have been aware of the work of WPUK for some time, and have never seen or heard anything from them as an organisation that has led me to question their intentions. This is not the same as saying that I agree with every view expressed by everyone associated with WPUK; but this is the difference between a group which promotes and encourages debate as opposed to a cult. Shutting down discourse and stifling dialogue by throwing around insults and false allegations – as often happens, particularly in frequently toxic discussions on social media – is counterproductive, and it is essential that organisations like this are allowed to meet and debate.
Listening to women and promoting debate is at the heart of what WPUK stands for. Women deserve to be listened to; their experiences and concerns deserve to be heard; and they should not need permission to meet and discuss their very real apprehensions about things which affect them. For example, it is frighteningly common for women to be subjected to male violence; one woman in four will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. (https://www.refuge.org.uk/our-work/forms-of-violence-and-abuse/domestic-violence/domestic-violence-the-facts/) We deal with the trauma of violence in different ways, but for many the security of women only spaces is essential to their recovery. It is critical that these women’s voices are heard, and that they are allowed to discuss their experiences in a respectful environment.
I am, and always will be, fiercely pro-women’s rights. This does not in any way equate with being anti-trans.
I am happy to meet with anyone to discuss any concerns they have about these issues. I am also happy to answer any questions via e-mail or on twitter so please, do get in touch. Please note, however, than I will not tolerate any attempted harassment of our staff, customers, or suppliers because of their relationship with us. Thanks.