I am writing this exactly one week from the 2021 FiLiA conference, which is being held in my home city of Portsmouth next Saturday and Sunday.
I am sure some of you are concerned about your likely reception. Some may indeed be very worried, and I am sure some of the organisers may even be having sleepless nights.
You are not alone, I am not sleeping either - but you should always fight for what you believe is right, and for that, you have my respect.
I want you to know that as I write this blog, I have no reason to think you will have any safety problems. Those of us who believe you are misguided on some issues all agree everyone must be safe, free from harassment and abuse.
Go to the FiLiA conference in peace. Say "hello" to me - I will offer you two leaflets and wish you a nice day.
Other than offering leaflets trans people, non-binary folk and our many allies are planning to sing, dance, recite poetry, say some speeches, fly trans flags, practice mindfulness, drink in the pub (especially if it is raining) and frankly have a damn good time celebrating diversity!
Sadly, the gender war, which we are all part of, has gotten out of control. Like a forest fire, it is ripping the heart out of feminism, making headlines in the press. My fellow activists and I use words like Nazi's - you call trans women a man in a dress. You tell me about biological sex - I tell you that we live life by gender (if you feel you dont have a gender, it is probably because you are privileged not to be transgender). I tell you that you are wrong - you tell me you are right.
Far too many words.
Let's cut to the chase.
The British gender war is not about a local squabble about who bathes in a North London pond, nor is it specifically about trans people in sport or who goes in what prison. The Karen White (sex offender not trans woman) incident excepted; all current fears are imported, to add to the hype. If debate is needed, fine let's debate sensibly as and when.
The gender war in the UK, in essence, has just one primary source - GRA reform and Self-ID.
Somehow, God knows how, who or why the reform of the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) has been conflated with the Equality Act - making out that men will get access to single-sex spaces at the drop of a hat.
GRA reform means just one thing - I and others like me get to change our birth certificates. You can shout from the rooftops as much as you like that sex is immutable, that sex is real, that biology dont lie - but the simple fact is that it is a human and legal right to change sex.
And for me, as a post-op trans woman, together with others like me without a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC), the reform of the GRA is a big deal.
I often read articles from gender-critical authors, nearly always a woman who neatly wrap up the conditions of achieving a GRC in a few short sentences. The reader sucks it in, saying, "gosh, that seems fair what planet are those abusive, nasty TRA's on"?
Sadly, we are on planet reality - the devil is in the detail. Getting a GRC is far from easy. It is estimated just 1% of trans people have a GRC.
Obviously, the GRA dont work, it needs reform - but some womens groups FiLiA being one, has not been very constructive in making progress.
We need a sensible debate is one cry!
But that debate has been ongoing for five long years, all the time getting more words, more toxicity, more hate!
Is there an answer?
Perhaps not. But at least some progress could be made simply by all agreeing that trans people who are on hormones or had surgery are offered a GRC? It is far from the ideal that I am campaigning for, which is Self-ID, but it would be a quick easy step in the right direction and perhaps 'take some heat' out of the current war.
But all the time, the gender-critical stand in the way of proper GRA reform, or practice discrimination; please be aware I and other TRA's will fight.
Fight to the day we drop.
See you in Pompey - please bring a mask and say hello.