I had to write this.
I was busy at my drawing board yesterday, so I didn't get to go up to London for the LGBT Pride march. I rather wish I had now, as it seems there are still battles to be won, closer to home than one might have expected.
I was privileged to meet Roz Kaveney at a reading at Gay's The Word bookshop in Bloomsbury a few weeks ago. She is a feminist activist, and helped put the GRC together. She was refused access to the womens' toilets at Trafalgar Square, first by the Pride stewards, then by a Metropolitan Police LGBT officer.
Here's Roz' story.
For the first time in thirty-some years of going to Pride, I have come away seriously questioning whether I will ever go again. Official stewards who were running the toilets at Trafalgar Square announced that I, and any other transgender or transsexual woman, had to use the disabled toilets and was not allowed to use the regular women's toilets. I pointed out to the stewards that I transitioned and had surgery before they were born; I was more polite than a polite thing. No dice.
I went and fetched a posse of transwomen and transmen and we made a collective fuss. Their response - and remember these were official stewards AT PRIDE - was to radio in 'we're being attacked by a mob of trannies! send backup'. They were joined by a policeman, who was a LGBT liaison officer, who claimed that we had to be able to show our Gender Recognition Certificates if we wanted to use the women's loos and got quite upset when I explained to him that I had been involved in drafting the Act and that it did not take away rights that existed before it. At one point he threatened to arrest us for demonstrating on private property - those loos belong to Westminster Council, so you are not allowed to make a fuss there.
At one point it was claimed that they had instituted this policy a few minutes earlier because a man had attacked a woman; at another they said it was official Health and Safety policy. I don't think it was particularly to do with how much I do or don't pass - I think I got read in part because I am so tall and turned up in the queue among a particularly short group of lesbians.
It was one of the most wretched experiences I have had in thirty years, only made positive by the love and solidarity of my community - including various transmen who proposed that, since they had no GRCs, they should be made to use the women's loos. Beards and all.
What with the other trans-related mess I am currently dealing with, of which more anon, I feel that destiny is recalling me to the activist standard...
So, tomorrow, there will be letters and phonecalls. More generally, there will be serious kicking of Pride's butt. Pride screwed up in all sorts of ways this year and it will be requited.
Basically, no one gets to shit in my face and call it chocolate fudge. That young cop in particular is going to undergo an educative experience.
Here is an online petition which you are invited to sign