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  • Writer's pictureNorwich Quaker Meeting

Norwich Meeting’s Experience of Conflict around Transgender Issues January 2019 – January 2020

In January 2019 Norwich Local Meeting received an email requesting the hire of a room at the Meeting House for a discussion of women’s rights in light of the proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act (GRA), to which speakers from Women’s Place UK would be invited. The email warned that venues which had hosted similar meetings had been targeted by activists, and organisers personally attacked, so a refusal would be understood. This was the beginning of our awareness of the strife that has been generated around the country over transgender issues.

We feel that valuable lessons were learned from our experience and process, and would like to pass them on to other Meetings which may encounter similar conflict. This account is necessarily long, in order to provide as full and useful a picture as possible. Some of the individuals involved wish to be identified; others are given pseudonyms.

Our clerk looked at the WPUK website and found nothing that was at odds with Quaker values. Norwich elders and the Meeting’s co-ordination group all agreed that legitimate discussion should be able to be held, despite the associated risks. The hiring went ahead in late February, on the understanding that an elder would read a statement at the beginning of the meeting.

In fact, the meeting was run by WPUK. Bookings were taken by the online booking agency Eventbrite and, as with other WPUK meetings, the exact location of the venue was only released on the afternoon of the meeting. As soon as it became known, one of the elders was phoned by Amy, a member of the Meeting (an occasional attender at MfW) and member of the local LGBT community, who urged that the meeting be cancelled, insisting that WPUK is a transphobic group. When her demand was declined she talked of staging a protest outside the meeting.

There was indeed a protest, a peaceful picket of eight or ten women. The meeting was attended by about eighty people, and an elder and the co-clerk sat in on it to observe. Other Friends were elsewhere in the building in case of difficulties. The elder read the following statement on behalf of Norwich Meeting:

Norwich Quakers have agreed that the Friends Meeting House may be used as a venue for this meeting, in the knowledge that similar meetings have attracted violent responses. We do not believe it right that intimidation should be allowed to silence discussion. We will not accept physical or verbal violence on our premises, and we do not believe that these can result in a just outcome. Quakers conduct their affairs in the spirit of their testimonies and wish that all meetings held on our premises conform to these standards. The testimony to equality reminds us that each person is of equal value, and has an equal right to a voice, and to be heard. The peace testimony calls us to be aware of causes of potential conflict and to actively work to avoid these. Hate speech and prejudiced language is unacceptable and we ask that none is used. We suggest that each person who wishes to speak is allowed to speak at least once and without interruption. We also suggest that a few moments’ pause is left between spoken contributions to allow each to be fully taken in by everybody present; and that each person who wishes to make a contribution to the discussion waits until asked by the chairperson to speak, and addresses their comment directly to the chair.

In the course of setting out ‘house-keeping’ details that followed, the chairperson, who was one of the founders of WPUK, directed people to use the toilet of their birth sex, but also pointed out the whereabouts of unisex toilets. Several protesters were present, including a transgender woman who objected to the direction for her to a male toilet.This did, indeed, seem to the elder present unnecessarily provocative in view of the sensitivity of the issue and the existence of nearby unisex toilets, and she took it up with the chairperson by email the following day, who later produced a statement on the matter, for publication if necessary.

Then, just as the first speaker was about to begin, the fire alarm went off and many of the building’s lights went out. A Friend quickly restored quiet and light, and the meeting proceeded without further difficulty. Although the few opponents of WPUK who came into the meeting presented some verbal challenges, the meeting continued in a civil manner. The most telling contribution from the floor was perhaps that offered by a woman who identified herself as an employment rights lawyer who pointed out that all groups have rights but some rights may conflict with others.

Immediately following the meeting, Norwich Meeting House began to receive emails, eight in all, from people objecting to the use of our premises by WPUK, and demanding an apology. We became aware, too, of hostile postings on social media.

We also started to discover that other Quaker Meetings had experienced problems around hiring of space for such meetings, and felt it necessary to consult with Friends House. An elder therefore spoke to the Society’s Inclusion and Diversity Co-ordinator, Edwina Peart, and to Oliver Waterhouse at Quaker Life. Oliver drew our attention to the Young Friends General Meeting Trans and Non-binary Statement, in which the Minutes of February 2019 includes the line, “we note our disagreement with the position that ‘the critique of transgender identities in the political sphere is not necessarily transphobic’”

We were advised to talk to a Friend in Brighton where the Meeting had run into difficulties over gender diversity, and to explore the issue in our own Meeting to discern whether it was a source of distress amongst Norwich Friends. The way we decided to do this was to hold a listening meeting in which our Meeting would consider Quaker Life’s Draft Statement on Gender Diversity. As elders had suspected, this whole issue was indeed new to Norwich Friends, other than Amy. Amy attended the listening meeting and reported at length on the views of that section of the local LGBT community who consider any discussion of gender issues whatever to be transphobic.

Following the listening meeting, elders and clerks considered our position again and issued this statement:

We are sorry that some members of the local LGBT+ community were hurt by Norwich Quakers agreeing to the hire of their premises by Women’s Place UK……………….

The Quaker Testimony to Equality, which upholds the equal value of each individual, is core to our relationships. Following the meeting, we find ourselves in the midst of contention which is new to us. We acknowledge that the proposed change to the Gender Recognition Act is both important and divisive, and that some people are experiencing distress and a sense of discrimination as a result of issues emerging from discussions around it.

In the coming months we will take steps to better inform ourselves on the issues and fears involved by inviting individuals affected to tell us of their experiences, and will consider actions we might take to address the conflict.

We understood that transphobia is a real, constant and appalling threat to transgender people; but we also realised that there are genuine causes for concern among some natal women about the proposed change to the GRA. Quakers have a tradition of attempting to build bridges between parties in conflict and, as this conflict had arisen on our premises, as a result of a decision we had made, we considered the possibility of bringing together individuals on either ‘side’ to hear one another’s stories, and hopefully gain empathy for one another’s positions. It quickly became clear, however, that those people who consider any discussion of the nature of female identity or of possible threats to women by natal men who say they are female, and make their objections in hostile or threatening ways, would not agree to meet with individuals with different perspectives.

We therefore decided to hold two separate listening meetings, inviting speakers who, on the basis of their own personal experience, had reason either to support or oppose the proposed change to the GRA. Focusing on the GRA in this way enabled us to differentiate two quite distinct viewpoints, and we insisted that speakers speak from first-hand experience in order to avoid the making of any assumptions by a speaker on behalf of others.

The first meeting, held in September 2019, was with individuals in favour of the proposed change. Following the February meeting we had received an email from Abigail Maxwell, a transgender woman and Quaker from another AM who had seen the social media posts and who asked if she might come and speak to Norwich Quakers. We also asked Amy to extend this invitation to the section of the local LGBT community she was representing:

“Norwich Quakers have agreed to take steps to gain a better understanding of the issues and fears around the proposed changes of the Gender Recognition Act. We would now like to invite three or four local women who, based on their own, first-hand, experience,have a specific view on the proposed change to the law, and would be willing to speak at a private meeting of Norwich Quakers, to tell us of the reasons for their position and the responses they have received. We will invite those in favour and those who have concerns about the proposed change on separate occasions”.

Amy collated the responses she received. They showed a distorted interpretation of our invitation and revealed a marked unwillingness to speak to us. They included:

I found the Quakers' email to Amy offensively arrogant. Who the F**K do they think they are to judge on this matter? The Roman Catholics have the concept of Invincible Ignorance - until now I didn't realise that the Quakers had adopted it too.

You can’t engage when one ‘side’ is denying the existence/right to exist of the other ‘side’. To expect/demand that the group whose existence is being denied should ‘engage’ is *not* a neutral position. The Quakers should acknowledge this.

Sounds like they're asking for personal stories instead of hard facts so they don't have to take them as seriously.

The Elders are coming across as wanting to pay lip service to debate. Except it isn’t debate. It is a meeting (with individuals) ‘chaired’ by people who are seen as partisan, who’ve knowingly hosted a divisive group. Where’s the neutrality, the openness? ….. They are coming across as high-handed and inappropriate.

One persistent email objector responded:

“While it's great Norwich Quakers have admitted they need further education, I'm concerned they're doing this for that purpose; so they can avoid having to get an independent equalities officer and hear these things from an authority figure and having to change their ways. Also 20 Friends compared to no more than five speakers is overwhelming and intimidating, which I fear is the deliberate intent….. Only inviting people with "first hand experience" definitely, deliberately, diminishes the pool of speakers when this ongoing saga affects many more people than those seeking to change their legal gender. It seems only to be an attempt to squash the voices of those who have opposed Norwich Quakers’ actions since the start of the year…..Even if they weren't aware of the group's [WPUK] reputation, difficult to believe as it is, their publicly phobic actions at the event should have been a wake up call. Instead they're using cheap diversion tactics of "debate on the proposed changes" which is nothing to do with them and will have no impact on anything.”

We therefore had to try other routes to find speakers. Through personal contacts we found three: two objectors to the WPIK meeting: one a transgender women, the other, Barbara, a prominent member of the local LGBT+ community who brought with her and read the written contribution of a transgender person who felt unable to speak in person, and a man who had transitioned to female and back to male twice, and is now married to a woman

We were grateful that Edwina Peart came from Friends House to facilitate the listening meeting, her role in the Society of Friends lending some detachment and expertise. Before the meeting started, a statement from elders was read which included the following:

….. We believe that conflicts require that all those affected should be heard.

This meeting is not an occasion for debate, but purely for listening, for hearing the voices of some of those who wish to see a change in the law on self-identification of gender.

Each guest has been asked to speak for ten minutes. There will be an opportunity to ask questions for clarification only.

An elder will take notes and these will be agreed with the speakers at the end.

Many powerful points were communicated by the speakers:

  • There is a huge amount of hurt around sex and gender in the Society of Friends. Sexual assault and sexual power is rife in society and even among Quakers

  • Parents can put pressure on boys to behave in ways they consider masculine

  • Transitioning from male to female can provide the framework in which an individual can express who they are, eg, soft, gentle, peaceful; not weak, sick, perverted, illusory. It can be a huge struggle to accept these as positives rather than weakness.

  • While we have an idea of the characteristics that are masculine and feminine these do not necessarily correlate in an individual, so that someone may possess some but not others.

  • A Gender Recognition Certificate identifies an individual’s sex; but since at least 1970 an individual has been able to state their sex for themselves on a passport and driving license.

  • The 2010 Equality Act governs which toilets an individual can use and which sports they can take part in. A change to the GRA would not affect any of that. Self-identification of gender already exists in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, and also the International Classification of Diseases. The proposed change to the GRA would mean that there would be no need for a psychiatrist’s certificate.

  • We all judge people by their looks.

  • It is possible to feel female but still look male.

  • All trans people go through a lifetime of pain.

  • Many people only come out as transgender in middle-age.

  • We don’t ask everybody we meet if they are male or female; we are all on a spectrum; some women can’t have babies. Nobody has the right to judge others. If you’re born in the wrong body you know it. Some people will kill themselves.

  • Trans people don’t want special treatment, they want equality.

  • We should all be gender-fluid.

  • Trans women don’t have an advantage in sports – physical strength is lost when hormone treatment is taken

  • The nature of a person’s body is private, although many seem to feel a person’s genitals should be a matter of public record.

  • Outing oneself as trans to an employer, which can be unavoidable, can be highly distressing and can result in discriminatory behaviour on the part of the employer, and embarrassment and isolation among colleagues, especially for someone very young.

  • Meeting the financial costs of the requirements for a gender recognition certificate is beyond the means of many transgender people, which means that they are unable to marry.

  • Transgender people face discrimination and violence every day, which is more and more prevalent with the rise of the far right.

  • Transgender people should not have to face the humiliation of pleading for rights already promised to them.

  • It can be difficult to understand desires and attractions as an adolescent.

  • Moving abroad can be a way of getting away from family, if you have problems due to a trans tendency.

  • Becoming transgender can make a person much more self-confident.

  • The problem with radical feminists is their complete lack of empathy.

  • Gender is not the same as sex. People should not be identified by their organs, but women menstruate and give birth.

  • Quite a number of people have transitioned back, so we must be careful about taking absolutist positions.

  • We must listen to children and ask them to consider if they want to transition for their whole life.

  • It might be possible to be a different kind of man. We need gender diversity, not gender stereotypes.

In an email afterwards, Barbara thanked Norwich Quakers for holding the meeting, saying, “People did certainly listen, and it seemed a positive move i.e. everyone there had good intentions towards each other”. This response to the actual meeting expressed a very different perception of the nature of the meeting from the prospective responses of the other protesters who had been invited to speak but who refused to co-operate. They seemed to believe that either they would not be properly heard, or that there was some ulterior motive in our invitation to speak. The impact of the meeting on Barbara must have been extremely positive, for Amy subsequently made it known that she now felt she could return to the Meeting.

We had difficulty, again, in finding speakers for the second listening meeting (which took place in January 2020), at which we wanted to hear from people opposed to self-identification of gender. But as before, we were helped by an approach from an interested individual. Again, it came from a transgender woman, Ashley Williams, who had become aware on social media of the conflict over the WUPK meeting, and got in touch to offer to speak to us. She put us in touch with a second transgender woman, Debbie Hayton, who, in her first email to us declared that it was ridiculous to call WPUK a transphobic organisation; indeed, she had spoken on a platform with them. Once more, a personal contact came into play in finding further speakers, and three more were recruited, two gay and one straight. All gave detailed accounts of their experience and views, and passed on their written notes, summarised here:

Ashley began by asking: “Who am I? What is the fundamental difference between a boy and a girl?” Addressing these questions, as she did, painfully, during adolescence fifty years ago, continues to give her cause to wonder if she experiences life differently from almost anyone else. She made the following points:

There seems to be an expectation by some that by changing their title, they can also change their core being. This expectation by those less than entirely convinced of their gender identity is patently irrational and untenable.

A relaxation of the current stringent requirements, including the need to have lived socially for at least two years in the adopted gender role before certification can be considered, would make it much more difficult to make the distinction between her and somebody with no genuine or verified intention not to use transition as a platform for abuse.

In physiological and biological sexual terms, she is and will remain a man until she dies.

She is hugely grateful for a social and political climate which allows her to express herself socially as a woman; but that will never make her female.

She cannot and must not assume that she should be accepted by natal women as equivalent to them.

However, if she were to use male designated toilets, it would put her in far greater danger than any likely to be faced by women through her use of their provision.

But she would not use female changing rooms in a public swimming pool, not wanting to make herself vulnerable in that context. She acknowledges that her reservations are not, and do not need to be shared by others, but it is a position she has adopted after much consideration, especially as swimming was formerly a favourite pastime.

Her general perspective on these matters has resulted in her being ‘blocked’ on Facebook by some individuals who found themselves unable to tolerate the distinction she makes between herself and natal women.

Debbie introduced herself as aged 51, married for 26 years, having three children, and working as a physics teacher and member of the national executive committee of The Teachers Union. She explained that:

She had been struggling with severe anxiety and went to her GP for help, and was referred to an NHS gender clinic who supported her through hormone therapy and then gender surgery. The process restored her mental health which had been dire, though it was tough for her wife at the time.

Her position was that trans people are varied. Within the trans community there is the full spread of humanity (no different to the variation you would find within any other group). There are also huge differences in philosophy about what it means to be trans.

She cannot believe that such thing as “gender identity” exists, to be verified or falsified, as there is no objective evidence for it. As a scientist she needs to respect material reality. She is male: chromosomally and physically. And as the proud father of three children, she knows that she functioned as male. She’s made some changes to her body, but cosmetic surgery cannot change our sex any more than hair dye can change our natural hair colour.

She had struggled with a curious psychological condition, an insatiable need to present herself in a way more typical of the opposite sex. For her, trans is not something she was, it is something she does, or did. She transitioned in order to be more comfortable in herself. But she is not a woman.

Why should society facilitate this sort of behaviour? Because it improves life for her and others like her, and enables them to make better contributions to society.

When looking for solutions, we need to consider both groups: how can we improve the lives of transwomen like her without compromising the rights of natal women?

That is radical and is not appreciated at all by trans people who cling to their notion of gender identity. Some have even threatened her livelihood in an attempt to scare her into silence.

She knows the founders of WPUK through the trade union movement, and they campaign together on issues that affect working people. She fully supports the work that WPUK does on protecting the rights of women and girls in a society that’s sadly still riddled with sexism. Transwomen have spoken at six of WPUK’s meetings. Their platform has been important to Debbie as she has developed her own campaign to protect transwomen in society while upholding the rights of women and girls.

Her employer receives dreadful messages about her, questioning her integrity and her suitability to work with children. Accusations and threats are made against the school itself. Her livelihood is at risk.

What does it mean to be a man or a woman? Is it the reality of our physical bodies or a feeling in our heads? We need to talk about this. Attempts to shut down debate by bullying and intimidation are illiberal at best; they are arguably authoritarian and totalitarian.

Debbie thanked Norwich Quakers for hosting WPUK, just as she would want them to host her opponents. Differences of opinion need to be advanced in respectful debate and she is pleased that the Quakers still promote these discussions to foster understanding of people and their ideas.

Jo, a lesbian, raised these issues:

Over the last few years trans rights activists have been successful in eroding the language women use to define themselves, their spaces and the very definition of what a woman has come to mean. This has become both personal and political.

In the name of inclusion, the use of the word ‘woman’ or ‘female’ is increasingly avoided, reducing women to body parts. Examples are: Cancer Research UK used 'cervix havers' in their literature; the UK government proposed the use of the term of pregnant people in place of pregnant women; World Breastfeeding Week opted to leave out the words ‘woman’ and ‘mother’ in their campaign literature. Making women’s reproductive systems central to their identity is deemed by some transwomen (eg Monroe Bergdorf) to be exclusionary and therefore transphobic.

Similarly, lesbian women who do not include transwomen among those individuals towards whom they may feel same-sex attraction are attacked as transphobic. This has caused her and others to withdraw from their local LGBT groups, and they thus lose support for themselves as members of a minority group. Lesbians on campus away from home (including UEA), who want to engage with their community and explore their sexuality in a safe place away from judgement and criticism, are being told they are transphobic.

Male violence against women is real. A study suggests that trans-identifying males exhibit the same male pattern of criminality as any other male. Sexual assaults go up in mixed sex spaces. Yet we have seen a national movement, in the name of trans inclusivity, to remove single sex spaces. Self-ID would give greater access to men into remaining female spaces. The Independent recently published an article stating that hundreds of vulnerable women are being sexually assaulted by other patients while staying on NHS wards – at a rate of one attack every day. At least 1,019 sexual assaults were reported by male and female patients on mixed sex mental health wards between April 2017 and October 2019, according to figures obtained by the Health Service Journal. Just 286 cases were reported on single sex wards over the same period. Men have already abused women and children in women-only hospital wards, prisons, lavatories, and changing rooms, even without self-identification in place. Sex self-ID is a licence for male sexual predators to enter female spaces to carry out sexual crimes against women at their most vulnerable. But merely pointing out that male violence exists is deemed transphobic.

The word ‘woman’ is no longer associated with a person’s sex. This matters because women’s rights are no longer about sex-based oppression. Male and female anatomy will be merged. It has had a profound and damaging effect on how women talk about sex-based rights. This makes difficult even the most respectful conversations about how we fairly balance rights based on sex.

Because GRA reform would allow every trans person to change the sex given on their birth certificate, it would make it impossible to confirm that their sex had ever changed

How would campaigners, policy makers or journalists then be able to do their jobs? Statistics used to monitor the progress of women and children in business and education would become inaccurate, as would sex-based crime statistics. Sex self-ID, would destroy the legal definition of ‘female’ and ‘woman’ and with it the legal rights of those born female, leading to the end of women-only spaces. Female rights – like the right to single-sex services – exist to ensure privacy, dignity, fairness and safety for women and girls. For many abused women, a male-free space is essential for healing. These vulnerable women must not be forgotten.

There is absolutely no justification for allowing someone to switch the sex on their birth certificate without a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria. Changing the GRA would also have a direct impact on the prison system. If sex self-ID is made law it will mean any male prisoner could get a female birth certificate on demand. No medical checks, no intention of surgery, no changes to his appearance, no checking of motives. As psychologists and prison experts have already warned, it is likely that some male prisoners – including violent criminals and sex offenders – will deliberately abuse the new law and attempt to force a move to the female estate to get access to women.

Everyone has the right to love who they choose, to present as they please. But not at the expense of others.

Kitty’s contribution was this:

We live in a patriarchal, sexist society in which gender roles which harm both men and women are socially constructed. These gender roles serve to confine everyone’s behaviour and punish those who go outside the norm.

Sometimes the best thing for people who cannot cope with the constraining pressure of these narrow boxes is to allow them to move over to the opposite box. This can provide a very necessary solution on an individual level.

What we really need to do is break the gender boxes altogether and allow people to naturally embrace aspects of their individual personality that are currently ascribed to the opposite gender role.

Her own father would have benefited from being able to express a more feminine side to his personality. He was a strict, uncommunicative military man, who, it was discovered only after his death, was a transvestite. Had he been able to express himself more freely he would probably have led a happier life.

Because men dominate women in our sexist society, allowing men into women’s spaces must be done with care and consideration, and there should be a process to ensure that those transitioning do not pose a threat to women.

She investigated in depth the question of transphobia when she became aware of the proliferation of attacks on and repudiation of people who questioned gender self-identification. Her online questions were met with some aggressive responses. She found an unwillingness to engage in debate, and an ideology that did not make logical sense and which was in complete opposition to her understanding of feminism.

Some intelligent women who would not have allowed men into women’s spaces were accepting of trans women without question, usually because they knew a trans person or had a trans child.

As she began to express her opinion and share articles online she was regularly called a genitally obsessed, deranged fascist, bigot, hateful transphobe and TERF [trans-exclusionary radical activist], and lost several friends who disagreed with her.

She had conversations with her teenage son, who completely bought into the trans ideology (that gender is fixed and immutable, and biological sex is a social construction), and called her transphobic; she realised that he was being taught in school that people can change sex.

Several children she knows of are transitioning. It became clear that it is the children who are most uncomfortable with narrow, proscribed social gender roles who are transitioning. Their parents are pressured into being happy about the transitioning of their children into ‘their true selves’; they are sold the narrative ‘better a live son than a dead daughter’.

There is an alarming increase in the rate of girls transitioning (over 4000% rise).

Statistics and experience have taught her that men pose a threat to women (98% of sexual assaults, over 90% of violent, voyeuristic and stalking crimes are carried out by males, males make up 95% of the prison population) but recognising and speaking about the truth of this is labelled as bigoted.

There has been a concerted effort to shut down women’s meetings and remove Gender Critical voices from social media and political discourse.

We are seeing the things happening that were warned about, eg, children given puberty blockers and hormones are now de-transitioning, but permanent damage has been done to their bodies; crime statistics are being altered as crimes committed by males are recorded as being committed by women; women’s sporting competitions are being won by males; and transsexuals who are against self ID are being vilified.

Linda Bellos introduced herself thus:

“I’m an out, proud, lesbian activist”. As a black child in London in the 1950’s, she said, she was taught by her father to fight back if she was attacked. These were her views:

There is a new politics of gender. Gender is a new, man-made notion, made up just as women are beginning to become more equal and more demanding of equal pay and rights.

Men and women are both allowed and expected to behave in certain ways, but men and women are actually different only in ways that enable them to propagate the species.

Some people are accused of transphobia because they are critical of the idea of gender which, like the idea of race, is utterly irrational. Are those people attacking women due to transgender issues the same as racists?

The attacks on women as being transphobic have created a movement which has the effect of silencing women. These women are seen as a threat to transgender women who have been male.

We need to develop a society in which race and gender are not issues, and the only differences that are recognised are physical differences.

We should have no male and female stereotypes into which people have to fit themselves. This means unpicking power systems.

Lessons for Friends and others

A number of lessons can be drawn from the totality of this experience, which are, in no particular order:

  • The opportunity simply to speak and be heard, without discussion or argument, is a powerful and unthreatening means of advancing goodwill and understanding

  • Despite all the hostility, there is an area of clear general agreement between those in conflict, namely that the socially constructed boundaries around notions of male and female are far too rigid and prescriptive/proscriptive. These tight boundaries make it impossible for many individuals to fully express themselves; there is a need to loosen societal gender boundaries

  • Genuine fears exist on either side of the self-identification of gender divide, all of which deserve to be heard and understood by those with different experiences and perspectives

  • There is no single, shared understanding of gender identity among trans people; some vehemently oppose discussion of this issue, while others welcome debate, indeed find it necessary

  • Despite Quakerism’s Testimony to Equality, there are individual Friends who are perceived to feel or behave in a prejudiced way towards transgender individuals

  • Refusal by Norwich Meeting to allow intimidation to silence expression of views, has, as a result of the subsequent conflict and the Meeting’s efforts to address the conflict, enabled Norwich Friends who are outside the gender politics community, to gain a more informed appreciation of the complex issues involved

  • In the course of seeking sources of possible speakers, we learnt of the existence of the De-transition Advocacy Network, a support group for people who have transitioned but later regret it, and wish to de-transition.

  • Transphobia is a real threat and injustice to trans people, but predatory and controlling men are a real threat to the safety of women. Both groups deserve justice and society’s protection. It is not acceptable for members of one vulnerable group and a section of their supporters to attack the other, portray them as hateful, or attempt to silence the expression of their concerns.

Nobody benefits from the perpetuation of conflict. There is much more work to be done to take the hostility out of this sensitive and contentious area, to enable common ground to be explored, and to promote understanding of all perspectives.

Norwich Local Meeting Elders (Teresa Belton, Tom Foxe, David Mazure, Luzie Wingen) March 2020

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