Pride (in the name of love)

September 5, 2008

Roz Kaveney reports on her blog that she’s at last received a response from Pride London regarding the shameful treatment she received at this year’s event.

So – was it worth the wait? Roz doesn’t seem to think so, and I’d have to agree.

I will say no more about this at this point than that I am unhappy with it. It does not seem to address some of the crucial questions I and others have raised with Pride, notably their failure publicly to retract public remarks accusing us of assaulting security staff – something that the Metropolitan Police have clearly stated did not take place – and it does not really answer the question of how a Health and Safety Officer came to make an unlawful and unilateral decision to bar us from the toilets in the first place. I would also dispute some of the interpretations of fact here – in the interests of transparency, I will consult with people before posting and sending a detailed response, and deciding what actions follow.

Wading through the corporate jargon in the response, it seems that at least a couple of Pride London’s points definitely need further clarification:

Items 2 and 3 refer to the appointment of a diversity response expert and a diversity response team. Very nice, too. But what, pray, are these good people actually going to do for their money, hm? Oh, and spot the victim-blaming sideswipe tucked away in Item 3, too.

Worryingly, it’s the question of how this year’s discrimination can be avoided in future, that seems to have been given only the most cursory coverage.

Item 5 covers the “[s]tipulation that all stewards receive Trans awareness training from a recognized organization”. Setting aside the obvious question of why this wasn’t provided previously, my interpretation is that this training will be half-hearted at best. Maybe I misunderstand, but “documentation that can be presented to stewards as part of their training by our respective contractors” sounds as if the training will consist of no more than giving the stewards an A4 printout, which they’ll be expected to read and understand for themselves. Nothing about, say, a practical tuition session for stewards – and Item 6 makes it very clear that Pride themselves won’t be offering training.

I come away from all this with the overwhelming sense that Pride London would really rather that trans people just, y’know, stayed home, really. Because we’re obviously making unnecessary work for them, and complicating matters. I’ve said before that I’m ambivalent about the inclusion of ‘T’ in LGBT(QI), and Pride’s response makes me wonder if they, too, have similar reservations, albeit for different reasons.

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8 September – Edited To Add:

Roz Kaveney sent a message to the members of the Facebook group, Stop Transphobia at Pride, as follows:

Subject: Personal statement by Roz Kaveney

Paul Birrell of Pride has confirmed that the Health and Safety Officer responsible for the offensive and unlawful decision to force transwomen to use the disabled toilets was supplied by Capita. My view is that the next step is to make a formal complaint both to Capita and to SFM, the security firm who provided the toilet stewards – the fact that the police and Pride have acknowledged that there was no assault on the stewards by the demonstrators makes it easier to do this. I have a legitimate complaint against both companies which I will pursue – the EHRC have already offered to help with this.

As far as Pride itself goes, my view is that our attitude should depend on how Diana Taylor’s role works out. I have for some time been uncomfortable with the necessity of acting as figurehead as one of the two people with an actual complaint. It seems to me that Diana’s appointment is enough of a response to my complaints that I can finally accept Pride’s apology and hand matters over to the broader trans community to deal with – I would suggest, and I am open to suggestions on this, that I formally do so at a public meeting between Diana in her new role and the community. Depending on everyone’s convenience, this might be at the next TransLondon meeting next Tuesday or at some other date subsequently to be arranged.

I would like to emphasize – because I know some people have been unhappy with my role in all of this – that I chose, back at the beginning of this, to take my personal beef over what happened to me (and also to the other woman, the one who was assaulted) and turn it, for my part, into an opportunity to get redress for the community as a whole. I have tried to be as transparent as possible in the processing of my complaint and thus to be accountable; I know that some people, and not only the anonymous P.R.I.D.E. mob, have felt that this is not accountability enough.

In respect of my complaint against the Met and now my complaint against Pride itself, I am only too glad to hand further consideration on to the relevant groups – for the moment, at least, I will have to pursue a personal complaint against Capita and SFM because that is the most convenient way to proceed.

I hope this is all clear.

Another step forward, and one hopes that our community will accommodate Roz’ wish to hand it over to the appropriate representatives of the community, to progress matters to a meaningful conclusion as quickly as possible.

Roz, thank you for all the work you’ve put into this; I hope that the outcome will exceed your expectations.

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My previous posts on the debacle are here (newest first):

4 Responses to “Pride (in the name of love)”

  1. Lisa Harney Says:

    Check out this piece by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore. It’s about San Francisco, but talks about the way the gay rights movement privileges certain causes over others, and does not really serve the needs of everyone ostensibly covered by the movement.

  2. Roz Kaveney Says:

    There has been movement since I posted – I will update later after I have talked to everyone at the Picnic for Change this lunchtime. Pride have now named the company responsible for the Health and Safety Officer, which means that we can go ahead with taking proceedings against those companies and the security firm via the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

    There is a good case that getting the relevant companies to improve their practice by a robust and direct approach is more useful than going through Pride; after all, we want to ensure that they not oppress transfolk the rest of the time as well as not doing it at Pride.

    Pride have acknowledged that they were mistaken in their view that there had been an assault on stewards by demonstrators; they are still loth to issue a retraction but have at least said that, should the gay press ask them, they will confirm that there was no assault.

    As to the diversity response expert, and her support team, I and the ad hoc group who have formed round this are going to try and organize a public meeting so that the community as a whole can communicate our concerns to her directly. She seems willing to attend such a meeting.

    Half a loaf, maybe, but a way forward.

    I really want to be in a position to hand all of this over to the community as a whole rather than figureheading as one of the people affronted in the first place.

  3. Helen G Says:

    Roz, many thanks for the update – even slow progress is better than no progress, although Pride’s reticence about the assault allegations is discouraging.

    I’m sure that, having been so supportive this far, the community is ready and willing to take up the baton. You’ve put in a huge amount of work at considerable personal expense and it’s definitely time for the community collectively to take this forward to an acceptable resolution.

    Thank you again.

  4. Lisa Harney Says:

    Oh, Helen…check out my latest post on QT if you haven’t already.

    I do think that the LGBT movement is a fine thing, and part of it is the fact that after kicking us out, they spent all that time gaining access to politicians and working for civil rights at our expense, that our boats are still anchored together.

    A big problem is the way that people now consider a movement that was started by people who aren’t really like them as a movement that belongs to them. Never mind that they systematically shoved any group that didn’t fit into the white assimilationist mold aside. I wish there were some way to hold them accountable for that and redirect the movement to address needs that the entire LGBT community has, rather than privileging the needs of straight-acting gay white men.

    …as you can see, it’s as problematic as our relationship to feminism.


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