Conway Hall, against discrimination (Unless it’s Transphobia)


Conway Hall, who have close links with the National Secular Society and British Humanists Association, have landed themselves in a spot of bother over their hosting of the upcoming “RadFem2012″ conference in London. For those not in the know, many (Not all!) radical feminists are openly and unapologetic transphobic, using inappropriate pronouns for trans folk and excluding them from gendered spaces when ever possible. Recently, people associated with RadFem2012 have taken to publicly outing Trans people, including writing to potential employers to let them know they’re hiring a Trans person.

A number of people have been talking about running a protest outside the event in July and a few people contacted the hosts, Conway Hall, to enquire about their support of the event. Their reply has many people rightly annoyed, stating that it’s all about protecting “vulnerable groups” and thus fine by them. Inconveniently for Conway Hall, they have acted against misogyny at events they host in the past, such as in 2009. They also seem happy to advertise that, which would suggest that whilst they’re keen to publicly announce their strong anti-discrimination policy, that policy does not extend to Trans folk.

(This may also be unlawful under the Equalities Act 2010, by the way)

If you’d like to complain, Conway Hall have a contact form or you con contact them on Twitter. Their CEO is also on Twitter, if you’d like to contact him direct.

Updates: There is also a list of Trustees you can contact on the Charity Commission web site, although I do not know any of them myself, along with an email address: jim@ethicalsoc.org.uk.

Emma Brownbill points out that Andrew Copson on the Trustee list is chair of the British Humanist Association. He is on Twitter at @andrewcopson

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  1. #1 by Emily on 18 May 2012 - 17:54

    With Sheila Jeffreys as a speaker, this is most definitely not a trans friendly event. It is surprising since Conway Hall have hosted several pro trans events and I would have thought that they would have been more sensitive to this issue.

    Such a shame that characters such as Jeffreys get so many opportunities to spread their hate.

    • #2 by Zoe O'Connell on 22 May 2012 - 08:25

      Conway Hall seem to be using the “free speech” argument.

      Alongside the “we’d like their money” argument.

  2. #3 by Hamish on 18 May 2012 - 21:39

    Ok, I’ve submitted a message to the CEO, informing him of the event’s discriminatory policy. Trans people probably wouldn’t *want* to attend anyway if it has the likes of Sheila Jeffreys as speakers, but the transphobic policy is still wrong (and possibly illegal).

    • #4 by Zoe O'Connell on 22 May 2012 - 08:27

      We might want to attend to heckle Shiela Jeffreys! I don’t think she likes criticism though, presumably because her argument so readily falls apart. I suspect the conference has been arranged mostly to promote her new book.

  3. #5 by RobynN on 19 May 2012 - 07:24

    As a man born woman(?) when I get hold of a GRC do I become a woman born woman?

    • #6 by Zoe O'Connell on 22 May 2012 - 08:31

      That must have been painful for your mother. Most of us were born as babies!;-)

  4. #7 by Rebecca on 19 May 2012 - 15:03

    Good post. I’d just like to add that there are increasingly many radical feminists who are *not* transphobic, and I’m encouraged by how many there were standing up on the #radfem2012 twitter hashtag.

    I think it would be good to make this clear, as it is becoming clearer that this group no longer represent radical feminism. I think it’s actually overegging things somewhat to even say “many” radical feminists; it’s more accurate to say “a small group of vocal radical feminists”, or “a group”. They no longer represent radical feminism, in my mind.

    • #8 by Zoe O'Connell on 22 May 2012 - 08:34

      As Sarah Brown noted, last time this happened we did not have many cis feminists speaking up for us loudly. They were on our side, sure, but not vocal.

      This time, the cis voices angry at having their movement appropriated are nearly as loud as the Trans voices. I find this an encouraging development – we’re winning.

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