Stonewall to campaign for trans people

Stonewall is a charity that campaigns for rights for gay, lesbian, and bisexual people. It announced yesterday that it will now extend its remit to cover trans people.

The historic move follows extensive consultation with over 700 trans people and will see the charity use its platform and experience to help create real change for them.

Stonewall will expand its current campaigns and programmes to include and involve trans people and also develop new work on issues that specifically affect them. Over the next 18 months, the charity will take steps to make sure that trans expertise is reflected in its board of trustees as well as recruiting experts to work with Stonewall staff. Stonewall will also work in partnership with trans organisations to avoid replicating work and focus on new projects so that all lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people can be themselves.

After apologising for previous mistakes, Stonewall started the consultation with trans people by looking at the most effective ways of working in the future.

The full press release can be read here.

19 thoughts on “Stonewall to campaign for trans people

  1. About time, too. Thank God that Eurocentric Ben Summerskill finally left his wealthy white male cisgendered sinecure to allow for this signal improvement to what is, unfortunately, the mainstream voice of counter-heteronormative critique in Britain.

  2. :) a little harsh Nathaniel. It’s great they’ve taken this step and apologised for past mistakes.

  3. Ben refused to engage with the racialisation of new infections of HIV, with the racialisation of the debate about so-called ‘gay marriage’, or with the racialisation of his choices about when and why to care about counter-heteronormative persons in Africa.

    I understand that Ben’s intransigence is what led to Stonewall’s continual dismissal of this debate, with the line (yes, it fell from the mouth of his second in command at a consultation with the BME LGB (not T) community, that I attended, in Waterloo, in 2012) ‘We don’t do trans’.

    As for Stonewall, imagine a different, but nonetheless similar scenario in which it is grandly announced:
    Feminism to campaign for black women’s equality

    Historic move follows extensive consultation with over 700 black women

    Feminism will make current campaigns inclusive of black women
    and develop new work on issues specific to black women
    Do they want a pat on the back?

    Let’s not celebrate this. Let’s wait to see what fruit this bears for people who self-identify as trans. And then, if fruit it does bear, let us celebrate that.

  4. I know where you’re coming from. But I don’t think anything is to be gained by this sort of response. They’ve changed their remit and apologized for past mistakes. Of course there’s more to do (lots more). But it seems counterproductive not to offer some friendly encouragement at this stage.

  5. I’m with Nathaniel. Words are cheap. Let’s wait and see whether they actually act on them before we start cheering.

    Thanks Nathaniel, that’s some really useful background information.

    Monkey: I think it’s relevant to consider whether trans people are also celebrating. Many people I know are cautiously optimistic, but very very wary. It’s good news, sure, but many are taking a ‘wait and see’ approach. Seriously, given the extent of this ‘reversal’ on the heels of decades of trans erasure from the Stonewall riots…we should be skeptical.

  6. Hi Rachel. I agree with the points that you and Nathaniel are making. I realise this morning, also, reading the thread, that my comments to Nathaniel might seem a bit out of the blue. The background here is my frustration with a certain dynamic I see played out time and again both online, but also in various off-screen goings-on I’m involved in, where an individual or group pledges to do something that, on the face of it, looks like a good thing, but then is immediately met with a barrage of criticism because either the thing isn’t perfectly conceived and executed, or – as in this case – because they’ve done something wrong in the past. My worry is that this kind of dynamic isn’t helpful. It’s destructive of good will, and gets in the way of people working together to achieve some sort of good. It often leads to general in-fighting between groups/individuals who have broadly common aims. I feel like there must be a better way to proceed. I’m not trying to say that we should just forget previous mistakes and pretend like things are all rosy. Neither am I suggesting that we should be cheering and offering pats on the back. I think what I’m trying to advocate at this stage is an attitude of (to borrow a nice phrase from that renowned publication, The Fortean Times) benevolent scepticism.

    A sort of guiding thought here is thinking about how an interaction between friends might go if one had done something wrong, and then apologised and pledged to do better. The friendly reaction from the wronged party is surely to give the person the benefit of the doubt. Accept the apology with grace, whilst waiting to see if the wrongdoer did in fact mend her ways, rather than immediately listing all the wrong things the wrongdoer had done.

    Of course, this friendly response wouldn’t be appropriate in all cases. I don’t think giving King Leopold II, for example, the benefit of the doubt is appropriate. But that’s part of what seems so frustrating about these kinds of interactions. The people/groups involved aren’t Leopolds. They are usually – like this case – people/groups who have been doing some good, even if what they are doing is flawed (like most other stuff in the world).

    That’s the thought anyway.

  7. Anon7: I didn’t mean that as a provocation. I was genuinely interested if these were related discussions.

    More generally, I respect Monkey’s opinion, but the more and more I read the coverage – this idea of Stonewall as potentially a great saviour of trans people – when this is 2015, and trans people have had to navigate their own way, and have done so very successfully thank you very much…

    So Owen Jones’: ‘Stonewall is right to bring our trans brothers and sisters in from the cold’
    With the subheading: ‘Trans issues have been neglected by progressives – myself included – for far too long, but at last this mistake is being rectified’

    I mean, were trans people out in the cold because they weren’t the focus of some liberal elite. It reminds me all too much of that old headline:
    “Fog in the Channel, Continent Cut Off”

    Similarly we see the ‘great saviours’ narrative at play in:

    ‘I’m glad Stonewall now has trans people’s backs. Transphobia must be exposed’
    With the subheading: ‘The expansion of Stonewall’s remit might just help trans people to live normal lives that aren’t the subject of abuse or held up for intellectual ‘debate’’

    Or maybe they have their own backs, maybe they are helping themselves to lead normal lives. That some self-appointed group deigns to show interest once the greatest difficulties have been faced.

    I was on the fence a bit, but I’ve got to say, the more I see this ‘savour of trans’ coverage in the media, the more and more I incline towards Nathaniel’s position.

    In short, if I were trans I’d say “thanks, but no thanks”.

  8. Anon@9 – Anon@7 here. Sorry if my response was a bit snippy. That Guardian letter and related issues have been taking up quite a lot of my Twitter feed over the last few days and it’s been eroding my patience. And you make a good point about the ‘saviour of trans’ narrative.

  9. Monkey: I get the sentiment, but trust and good will is *earned*. It’s not as if it was the distant past where the group was doing things directly counter to their current shift. It was very, very recent.

  10. To my surprise I find myself saying quite ofen “intentions don’t matter’ when I’ve been the object of sexist comments. That is, good people need to acquire some knowledge, and the fact that they intended a comment that was pretty insulting to be friendly really is not enough. Similarly, I don’t wish on trans people yet another group who haven’t at least thought about chronic problems and informed action. And pronoun usage, etc. maybe someone needs to put classes on Youtube. ;)

  11. “intentions don’t matter”

    Wow, Anne! I’d love to chat with you about the journey you took to get to this point!

    One of the last conversations we enjoyed together included my expressing my exhausted exasperation with persons racialised as white ruminating deeply over whether they could or should be held responsible for their implicit associations that caused spilt milk. You’ll remember that I said something like I couldn’t care less about this tawdry solipsistic enterprise: the pressing social need is to mop up the milk!

  12. Nathaniel, I miss those chats. I think I agreed with you in theory, as it were. But it became practical and personal when I had to deal with stunning ignorance in memers of the ‘helping professions.’ I think I had previously just regarded, eg, irremediably sexist colleagues as disaster zones, but when I had to deal with medical professionals I needed to have a more detailed understanding. I came to see “I intended to be helpful” as very problematic. I came to feel saying “that doesn’t matter” is a liberating response.

  13. If the conversations lead to the placing of blame, which they sometimes do, then intentions seem to matter. Sometimes the language is ambiguous, as in “You’re racist”, or “You’re a racist”, etc (as opposed to one’s actions being racist, or one’s participating in a racist social structure). Not educating oneself properly can of course be blameworthy, but understandable ignorance is at least somewhat exculpatory. I suppose one could deny that there isn’t any understandable ignorance about these things, but that kind of denial seems more plausible in academic settings.

    I’m inclined to think that Yancy’s stuff (to the extent with which I’m familiar with it), glides too easily between blame-placing on individuals, and identifying bad systemic features.

  14. Ajkreider, “ticks cause Lymne disease” and “not all ticks cause Lymne disease” can both be true, though perhaps they don’t fit well together in the same conversational context. Similarly, “intentions don’t matter” and “some intentions do matter,” can both be true. The first of each pair is currently called a ‘generic’.

    So I think I agree with both what you have said and what I said.

  15. Yes, I agree with the point about generics – and I understand that the failure to recognize the issue of sidetracks important discussions.

    But I wanted to make a stronger point (and it seemed NAT did too, though a different one). I’d go so far as to say that when it comes to judging moral blameworthiness, intentions matter a lot. It might even be the key factor.

    The blameworthiness issue and the “caused underserved harm” issue are just different. And the intentions carry more sway with one than the other. I’m just pressing the point that whether they matter (a lot) or not depends what’s being discussed, not just that they matter in a non-zero number of cases.

    And I think the issues are often discussed together, which is why some think the appeal to intentions is relevant when it may not be.

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