Its been an interesting week, so far, not least Monday, when i was run hither and thither trying to catch up with various events and discovering, to my amazed amusement that so many of the various campaign bods that i have met over the last few years now seem to be talking to one another.
So people i first met campaigning for the rights of sex workers might now be out and about campaigning for trans rights, or feminism, or whatever. All good stuff!
Never knowingly under a cloud
First, though, to John Lewis, to meet with a high-powered cluster of managers variously responsible for operations, retail and diversity. This, as some readers may recall, is the follow-up to my upset in early December when a member of staff in JL’s Oxford St store lingerie department “helpfully” suggested i try on a bra in a separate changing room. Which in turn was sufficiently like an episode in JL a year or so previous to make me suspicious.
Since i reckoned there was little point in just stamping my foot – and maybe there was room here for learning – i went along with “national treasures”, Terry and Bernard, from GIRES. It was a very positive meeting. An absolute denial that JL had any policy in this respect – good, bad or open to misunderstanding: a thorough willingness on their behalf to listen, learn and engage. I was cheered.
One flurry of GIRES leaflets later and it felt like we had done prettymuch all we could to explain the issues. Something that i felt important was getting past the “democratic” view: that a customer’s objection to sharing facilities with a trans person was as valid as that person’s right to use them.
Really? As Terry pointed out, we’d not allow that for racists any more: “no blacks”, or segregated facilities, are thankfully consigned to history.
Also raised were the inevitable fears over the ubiquitous “man in a
dress” sneaking into the women’s changing rooms for a crafty peek.
We-ell: no-one claims it NEVER happens…but its rare. Very rare –
while the incidence of men in men’s clothes abusing, spying on or even raping is woefully common. I mean: if you followed that premise to its logical conclusion, you’d not allow blokes out UNLESS they were wearing a dress.
Hmmm. Perhaps she has a point! 🙂
All in all, a very good meeting and, so long as they follow through, one of which John Lewis can be thoroughly proud.
Next up (I’ll keep this short, because there’ll be a news piece along in a moment) the Swedish Embassy for a very polite demo. Its all about Sweden’s refusal to amend its policy of requiring trans men and women to be sterilised before they’ll recognise their gender, which is, in practice, quite barbaric.
Yes. A polite demo. No police in sight (does that mean it didn’t get permish?) in a quiet quarter of town just north of Oxford St, also occupied by the Swiss and Norwegian embassies. A very nice man came out and spoke with us. And internationally acclaimed photographer Della Grace Volcano took my picture. Yay!
More on that, later, as i have still to write it up for posterity (and Pink News).
Then off to Fannying Around, which is another of those tongue in cheek events with nonetheless a seriously serious side to it (women’s genital health, in case you were wondering).
And little more to add on that right now either, as it, too, is due a longer write-up later in the week…beyond noting that i loved walking in, as i did, sort of, at the Swedish Embassy thing, and finding myself not surrounded by a sea of anonymous faces – but actually in a room where i suspect i’d already met half the folk there.
Like i said at the start: this is good, not just for personal reasons but because it begins to seem, as i observed at the Critical Sexology conference back in December, that groups and individuals who have spent the last decade working in isolation are beginning to come together.
There is a sea change in the air when it comes to sexual rights: and i think the next decade promises exciting times.