Posts Tagged Stonewall
Time Out magazine have published Pride London’s “Power List” for 2011. I’ll save you some time looking: One Trans person on the list, Christine Burns OBE, at number 96. I’m not sure if I should be annoyed at Pride for insulting the Trans community by (mostly) excluding us or annoyed that the community has so little “power” that we barely even register in the top 100.
Oh, a quick look at the judges might be in order – one of the three is Bun Summerskill. Ah, that will be why so many Stonewall award winners, chief executives, directors and so on feature on the list and so few Trans people.
(Only the inclusion of Christine Burns at 96 has stopped me from writing a very annoyed letter to Pride London, asking them to rebrand this to an “LGB” power list and not an “LGBT” one)
Stonewall do seem to struggle when figuring out which campaigns to support, don’t they?
No, they haven’t failed to support one this time. Instead they’ve decided to jump on last decades Jedi bandwagon by asking people to list their religion as “Lesbian”. This is a really bad idea for two reasons.
Firstly, putting any religion in there will mark you down as religious, no matter how silly it is. It’s far better, as the Census Campaign have been urging people to do, to tick “No Religion”. And secondly, the reason for the Census Campaign in the first place is that previous censuses have returned bad data – and the ONS survey results suggest that a census sexuality question would fare no better.
Yes, this is a bad enough idea that Amy Lame, who had the original idea, changed her mind about it.
I just couldn’t resist a quick blogpost when I saw the news that the UK parliament is creating an LGBT group for MPs, Lords and staff with the not-so-catchy title “Parliout”. There’s going to be a party at the speakers house and everything! Being a self-professed LGB and T group, they will of course be inviting all the high profile Trans parliamentarians… except we don’t have any. How about anyone who is Trans who works in Parliament itself? Or even some senior Trans civil servants from other departments? Nope, none I’m aware of.
In fact, I would hazard a guess that there will not be a single Trans individual present at next Monday’s event, much as there were no Trans individuals present at the Prime Ministers LGB-supposedly-T reception prior to Pride London earlier this year. I would be really happy to be proved wrong, but sadly I’m getting cynical about such things. Hey, I’m sure I can free up a space in my diary on Monday if they want someone to come along! I don’t mind tokenism if it means I’m the one who gets to eat the canapés and Champagne for a change…
Guess who they consulted over the formation of this group? None other than our old friends Stonewall, which explains quite a bit.
Please do not claim the T unless you can show you are entitled to it. We have a word for that: It’s called “Appropriation”. And it makes me cross.
In more not-news, the Stonewall demonstration has been cancelled, following their partial U-turn over marriage equality and complete U-turn over the Journalist of the year award nominations.
There are still outstanding issues. Stonewall are explicitly against opposite-sex civil partnerships and want to preserve that as something “special” for LG(b) folk. There is an argument that opposite-sex civil partnerships are not an LGB issue, but that fails on two counts: Firstly, Stonewall should not be against them, as they are, on that score but should leave them alone. Secondly, and more importantly, Bisexual folk might want to get a Civil Partnership rather than a Marriage despite being in an opposite-sex relationship. (For those who want to continue to work towards Equal Marriage, the Equal Love campaign is worth a look.)
There is also the “FIT” video Stonewall produced. If you haven’t seen it, the relevant clip is available on YouTube. Whilst bad (It uses the word “Tranny”) it’s not screaming-and-throwing-things-at-the-computer bad, more just bang-head-on-desk-in-frustration bad. The director, Rikki Beadle-Blair, has publicly apologised for this and the apologies are very genuine. I believe any problems with this video are probably down to Stonewall not being a Trans organisation and thus being unable to get any real input on what is or isn’t acceptable in such a video rather than any failings on the part of Rikki. Stonewall should have realised this and steered clear of the topic.
And the last point is Stonewall’s apparent consultation with the government on the Gender Recognition Act. Fortunately, I suspect we’ve been banging on the door of the government hard enough for the last few months that they’re not likely to take too much notice of Stonewall without checking with us first.
Despite all that, I think calling off the demonstration is the right thing to do. We have a set of smaller points which doesn’t work so well at a demo when you only have seconds to get the message across to attendees. We’ve proven that the LGBT communities can rally a large amount of grass-roots support if necessary and thus have secured major concessions from Stonewall under the threat of a demonstration. If it went ahead now, there would be no reason for anyone else we threaten to protest to back down.
The Pink Paper are reporting that Stonewall have “joined the fight for gay marriage equality”! Excellent news! Lets see what Stonewall have to say about it:
We seek to secure marriage for gay people as a civil vehicle on the same basis as heterosexual marriage, available in a registry office but without a mandate on religious organisations to celebrate it. We seek to retain civil partnerships for lesbian and gay people recognising their special and unique status.
Hang on, something isn’t right here. Who mentioned vehicles? A civil what? And yes, much of the LGBT population of the UK would probably describe Stonewall as “unique” in many respects…
Oh, wait, I understand: They’ve been watching Yes, Minister. “Always get rid of the tricky part in the title. It does less damage there than in the text.” So if we announce it as marriage equality, hopefully people won’t actually read what we said and might think we’re doing something, right?
While it’s possible they’ve just worded this really, really badly I’m sure you’ll forgive me for a touch of cynicism, given that Stonewall hardly have a positive track record when it comes to this sort of thing. If we take what they’ve written at face value, it seems that the only item Stonewall “seek to secure” is the ability to get hitched in a registry office and call it a marriage, with a slightly confused note tacked on at the end about the law allowing Civil Partnerships to be celebrated in churches.
Allowing churches – through their own choice – to conduct gay marriages in churches? No, doesn’t look like they’re in favour of that.
Supporting straight civil partnerships? Whoa! That would just be too radical.
P.S. As I was typing this, Stonewall posted a press release on their web site on the topic.
An update for anyone who doesn’t follow me on Twitter (And if you’re a Twitter user, why not? I’m @zoeimogen) or didn’t see it earlier – Stonewall have removed Bill Leckie from their list of nominees for Journalist of the Year 2010. According to the Pink Paper, Stonewall said simply it has been “withdrawn” and they’re “sorry for any offence this has caused.”
I have to admit to being pleasantly surprised by this turn of events. I’m hoping Stonewall will have an epiphany on other issues soon, such as Marriage Equality.
Stonewall tried to defend themselves against the revelations that they’ve nominated someone they themselves labelled transphobic for an award, but seem to have spectacularly failed. Given that on Twitter they have been pointing people at this Pink Paper story, it seems reasonable to say that it’s a good representation of their position.
They are pointing out that Bill Leckie, the journalist in question, has been much nicer recently and mention his positive article on Gareth Thomas last year. Of course, Gareth Thomas is gay, not Trans, so the fact that Leckie has been nice to gay people isn’t directly relevant. Bindel was nice to Lesbian and Gay people too, but the Trans community are still not particularly enamoured of her.
You think Stonewall might have learnt their lesson from Bindel, but it seems not.
Myself and a number of others responded to Stonewall on Twitter yesterday afternoon and asked them if Leckie has written anything Trans-positive since 2007 – but so far, we have not had a reply. Trans Media Watch have also publicly called on Leckie to disown his transphobic article, which may result in a positive outcome although no thanks to Stonewall.
As an interesting aside, I’ll note that the Pink Paper contribution on behalf of Stonewall UK was by Laura Doughty, the deputy Chief Executive of Stonewall, rather than Ben Summerskill. It’s possible – indeed, even likely – that Summerskill was simply busy yesterday but it may be worth keeping an eye on who is being the public face of Stonewall in case the winds of change are finally blowing through the dusty halls of Stonewall Towers.
I thought things with Stonewall had settled down some. With just over two weeks to go until the Stonewall Awards Protests (Outside the V&A Musuem on the 4th November) it appeared as if there might be a whole week in which they did not manage to screw something up.
But no, it was not to be – on Tuesday, Stonewall announced the nominees for their 2010 awards. And one of the people nominated for Journalist of the Year is someone who Stonewall have themselves pointed out as an example of transphobic reporting.
It seems that back in 2007 a subsidiary of Stonewall, Stonewall Scotland, published a report on LGBT portrayal in the Scottish press. Stonewall Scotland do actually campaign for the full spectrum of LGBT rights, including Transgender. One of the pieces of work they highlighted in their report was an article by Bill Leckie in the Scottish edition of The Sun:
EIGHT o’clock on Wednesday and an army of frighteningly ugly women are pouring into a boozer called Prism for bingo night. Or at least from a distance they LOOK like women. But then you see the poster on the door.
And you realise that this isn’t just any bingo night. It’s Drag Queen bingo night.
Now, I can’t pretend that my devotion to this column is such that I wiggled along to see how it went. Not when I got there and saw someone going in with the same frock.
However, my sources tell me it went a little bit like: “Two fat ladyboys… 88. Unlucky for some … unprotected sex. Five and two… Danny La Rue.” And someone shouted: “Really nicely-decorated house!”
Now, guess who one of the people Stonewall nominated for Journalist of the Year this year is?
I’ve asked it before and I’ll ask it again: Are they actually trying to antagonise the Trans community?
Courtesy of Andrew Godfrey at “Why The Silence Stonewall?”, we now seem to have a copy of the mysterious Stonewall consultation, which he’s also raised some good points about.
But don’t get too excited, as it looks like it’s just been a surveymonkey.com link mailed around to current donors some time yesterday. The second page of the survey contains a list of objectives for people to rate in terms of importance. “Civil Partnerships” (I don’t know why it’s called that and not Marriage Equality) is one of twelve choices, amongst usual Stonewall items such as tackling Homophobic bullying and working with the Media. “Civil Partnerships” gets just two lines of explanation, describing it as “Work to extend the legal form of marriage to gay people” without much of the colourful positive spin put on the other options which all rate at least four lines of description.
Is this Stonewall trying to justify their position by carrying out a survey they hope will support them? I don’t know. It could equally be that this is a long-planned survey and the short shrift given to Marriage Equality is because it’s been added in quite close to the deadline following all the recent fuss.
It might even be that Stonewall are preparing to U-Turn on Marriage Equality and need the completed consultation so they have some way of saving face in their press releases. I can imagine what they’d write already:
“Now we have completed our consultation on Stonewall’s priorities, we’re pleased to support this campaign…“
Imagine, if you will, the common or garden house brick. Wikipedia tells me that they have been around for over ten thousand years and they have many useful features, including strength and a convenient size for a bricklayer to handle.
And then we have Stonewall, who have about as much political ability as a brick as well as being used similarly constructing barriers to progress.
But what has spawned this new found interest in politically active house bricks? The events of last week: If you announce something in a meeting and that creates a storm of protest, then anyone with political ability developed much beyond that of a house brick might realise that it would be good to back-pedal a bit or at least not mention it again. But not Stonewall. Summerskill mentioned during the LGBT Labour fringe on Monday that they’d been consulting with government ministers over the Gender Recognition Act, an event which immediately spawned a Facebook group for a protest outside their awards ceremony next month. For those that don’t know the history, there was already a protest outside their awards in 2008 over nominating a transphobic journalist for an award, but Stonewall’s sole defence at the time was “we don’t represent Trans people and don’t claim to”. For those of us manning the barricades during that 2008 protest, having Stonewall now talk to people about Trans issues is a major insult.
OK, so Summerskill is under pressure because he apparently messed up by announcing the “five billion pounds over then years” figure as a cost of equal marriage at the Liberal Democrat fringe event a couple of weeks ago. That figure is something that it now appears may well be a complete fabrication. Perhaps he just misspoke under intense questioning? But no. Last week saw the publication of a long awaited letter in response to the “Why the silence Stonewall?” campaign. Stonewall have had weeks to work on this and you’d think would be carefully worded to calm the storm but the claim is repeated:
While writing, we should mention that we’re as concerned as you are about the gross unfairness of transgender people having to divorce upon changing gender. Our clear view is that there is a much simpler, and quicker, method of resolving this unfairness than through gay marriage. We have raised face-to-face with both ministers and officials in recent months the minor amendments we believe could be made to the Gender Recognition Act to secure this.
Stonewall, meet brick. It will be your mentor during your Applied Politics 101 course.
This has now gone mainstream, with an couple of articles in the Independent this morning – one from their own reporter and one from Scott Roberts from Gaydar Radio news. Jae Kay has already covered the problems with the reporting, which pretty much boils down to it being weak on facts and the paper having only spoken to Stonewall for a quote and nobody else. What I’d like to see, and this is probably more of a Guardian than an Independent style, is running a few hundred words from Stonewall and a few hundred words from one of us on the same day.
Sadly, I know this won’t happen as actually engaging with the community and in debate is not the sort of thing Stonewall do. We could ask someone else… only there is nobody else as on this, Stonewall stand alone.
We do get one interesting snippet from the Independent coverage though: Stonewall have said of their mysterious “consultation” with their 20,000 members – none of whom anyone seems to have ever met or conversed with online – that it “will finish…later this month.” Are Stonewall leaving themselves an out? It seems odd that after all this pressure they’ve only just mentioned that there is in fact a deadline on this supposed consultation. Perhaps there are hints of non-brick behaviour after all although I won’t hold out much more than a small hope that Stonewall will finally back Equal Marriage after all.
To close, I should mention that tomorrow is the LGBTory fringe event. Having apparently gaffed with the five billion pronouncement at the Liberal Democrat fringe and claiming to speak to the government on behalf of the Trans community at the Labour event, is there some new and exciting pronouncement to spring forth from the lips of Stonewall and further enrage the LGBT community? If anyone can make it to the Broad Street Novotel in Birmingham at 12:45 then you may be the first to hear.