Anyone following me on twitter will be aware that the Women’s Equality Party had a debate today on the GRA (Gender Recognition Act – consultation currently going on). There was a great deal of heat around this proposed motion, long before conference (this is a good thing, the more people interested in politics the better) and VERY MANY people are clearly interested in these politics. Obviously, we all welcome the same enthusiasm for ALL issues!

Here’s what I would have said had I been able to have the full 3 minutes I expected. As it was I had 1.5 minutes, so it was a live and very fast edit! – again this is brilliant, because it indicates how many of us care. And the good bit out of all of this, the place where things have been difficult as well as hopeful, is that the motion has now been referred back to the policy/data committee for further, informed, engaged discussion.

My three minutes worth …

It was easy for me to support this motion.

Because of the mothers I know with trans children who watched their children suffer with self-harm, self-hate, blossoming into their new selves in their late teens when they were able to be their true selves. Because of my young trans friends in their 20s, frightened, hopeful and strong. Because of my trans friends, men and women, in their 50s, 60s and 70s, who paved the way and suffered so much in doing so. Because of two friends in their 40s and 50s for whom the identity butch lesbian is no longer comfortable, and trans/non-binary/transman is how they now identify.

When this party first started I was one of a handful of people who answered the dozens, then hundreds, then literally thousands of emails that came in from people wanting to join, to form branches, to stand for election – next month if possible. Some of those emails asked how inclusive would WE be? We agreed very early on that the party needed to say we were – and be – intersectional. Including at the places where that is tricky and complicated and people have different views.

Of course I know this is a difficult issue. I know there are people who feel left behind around this issue, who feel their contributions to feminism and lesbian feminism are being discarded. To those people I say your contribution is acknowledged. I see you. I’ve been out for nearly 40 years, I am enormously grateful to the women who came before. I believe this work, the work of trans inclusion, BUILDS ON that work. Because the actual problem is still what it has always been – patriarchy.

I believe that in 20 years time we will look back astounded that this felt like such a difficult issue. That will happen because of what WE do next. I trust that we will be proud we made a choice to listen, to dialogue, to move forward together.

This conference is my last activity as a steering committee member. I’ve been honoured to be on the first ad hoc steering committee that worked to get things going, and on the second one elected by you at our last conference.

I’m so proud of the work we’ve done, and I’m even prouder of the work we will do in future as the intersectional inclusive party we said we were at the start.

If anyone can bring together the disparate views, with respect and generosity, WE can.  Because if equality is better for everyone, then equality needs to be for everyone.