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Today I attended this event. The event came out of the urgency to redress the misinformation spread during the Gender Recognition Act govt consultation, according to the hosts and organisers. I believe that Edward Lord was in attendance.
During the opening remarks the hosts reminded everyone of the need to be sensitive to other peoples' needs and read out a very long spiel regarding house rules (below). Directions to gender neutral toilets were given. UCL were thanked for providing extra funding for the event.
Panel 1 covered 'Trans histories'. The first talk was given by Prof. Robert Mills (University College London): Recognising Wilgefortis, whose specialist area is medieval art history. Bob spent a full 20 minutes arguing that Bosch's depiction of a maiden saint was likely NB.
Bob came to this conclusion because he felt that Bosch had painted the saint with a "wispy beard". Although a more competent art historian or technician might more reasonably conclude that Bosch had used shadow under the chin to create a 3D effect. Detail from painting below.
Funnily enough Bob had looked at other paintings depicting maidens being crucified and they also too had "wispy beards" which is proof surely that these women were identifying themselves against the gender binary.
Bob also felt another very strong indication Wilgefortis may well have been on the trans spectrum is the multiplicity of names which is attached to the image, from Italian, German and French. Having a lot of names is a bit like, well, the multiplicity of genders.
Second talk: Dr. Katherine Inglis (University of Edinburgh): Trans Visibility in Late-Victorian English Publishing

Had high hopes for comedy out of this one, but was sadly lacking, though she did open her talk by admitting her cis privilege and apologising for it.
Inglis chose three books written in French which no one had ever heard of, published by an Italian publisher into English. One was Mademoiselle Maupin, which sounded like a rip off of Dangerous Liaisions *and* As You Like It.
Inglis felt that notions of gender break down in the novel when a man realises the woman he is in love with is a man (for me it was strange that she did not mention the word 'homosexual' once in her long description of this love triangle).
Inglis showed an illustration from the book of one of the characters wearing a bear suit. Personally wasn't sure whether she was making a reference to furries, or not.
Perhaps not, because she ran out of time to talk about the other book, which she said she was thankful for, because it contained lots of 'triggering' material which might upset attendees.
Talk 3.
Prof. Ann Heilmann (University of Cardiff): James Miranda Barry and the Conundrum of Historical Transgender Representation

There have been a number of biographies about James Miranda Barry and Heilmann talked at length about what kind of trans person 'he' was.
Heilmann referred to Rogers Brubaker three categories of trans:
- trans of migration
- trans of between
- trans of beyond

Heilmann feels that Barry belongs more to the 'trans of migration' but I have no idea what that means.
Heilmann opined that so many of Barry's biographers had referred to Barry as simply being a woman living in a time when women weren't allowed to do stuff, and that they overemphasised that her sex was actually female.
Current representations of Barry (i.e. the new 'trans' one) is "haunted" by earlier versions.

It was also felt that the book cover marketing that publishers have used has focused too much on Barry having a "secret".
Heilmann completed her talk by letting us know she had written her own biography on Barry, which is available in all good book shops I'm sure.
Then came the first key note speech from Prof. Stephen Whittle (Manchester Metropolitan University) entitled:
A Perfect Storm: The UK Government’s Failed Consultation on the Gender Recognition Act 2004

Whittle opened by saying that the GRA consultation was a failure.
Whittle wanted to know why women "were dissenting" and why there was a "lack of debate with women". Over 55,000 people responded to the consultation, but there only around 5,000 trans people in the UK. Accordingly Whittle wondered why so many women had responded to it, when
it had such little relevance to their lives? Whittle felt that the vast majority of 'cis' women who responded don't know any trans people and that they were "very angry women".

The first people who opposed trans people in the UK were apparently The Christian Institute.
Whittle stated that "gender doesn't exist" and that trans people had "always self-id-d" with accompanying slide of stats relating to the reasons why trans people don't get GRCs. There were myths amongst the trans community about the difficulty in getting one.
Whittle talked at length about the awful abuse online from mumsnetters. A slide was put with examples of this 'abuse', which were mainly tart and sarcastic responses (were they really the worst examples?).
33% of trans people have revealed their status with the people they live with - and Whittle gave an example of transwoman who had been put through the mill because obtaining a GRC would mean having to admit to their husband they weren't born a female.
Whittle complained that nowadays when you fill out an online application form you get offered more than the binary choice of Mr/Mrs. As a man, Whittle doesn't want to be reminded that he might fit into the non-binary/other categories.
Back to mumsnetters again. Whittle thought their response to Swim England's trans guidance extremely disingenuous, and put up a quote from the guidance which emphasised 'privacy' next to a quote from a MNer which obviously attacked a different part of the guidance.
Whittle did his "all the older lesbians are disappearing" anecdote and observed that all the new lesbians aren't arriving either.
Whittle talked about the Guardian article, edited after publication because statistical data was manipulated. Whittle said that there is no real evidence that violent dangerous men use trans identities to commit crime.

Screenshot from FPFW who got the correction made.
Another slide from Whittle using the word "TERFs" which alternatively was a word he "hated", yet he also said "they are really horrible" and reiterated all the abuse he has received at the hands of mumsnetters.

There was also "nothing to debate" and accepted feminism.
The campaign run by women around the GRA was "vicious" and funded by right wing organisations and anti-abortionists. Whittle felt that many women didn't understand the background to the campaign and didn't understand the harm they were involved in. Whittle embraces feminism.
To wrap up Whittle stated that the GRA consultation should only recognise responses from respondents who are actually trans. That means that the 50,000 women who responded should have their responses discounted really, unless they know someone who is trans.
Oh, and Whittle's also co-authoring a book with Julie Bindel about trans issues.
After the lunch break, the hosts gathered on the stage and informed us very sombrely that a misgendering incident had taken place and made a deep apology, whilst acknowledging that an apology was not sufficient for the violence of misgendering someone.
Panel 2 covered PAST TO PRESENT

Prof. Pamela L. Caughie (Loyola University Chicago):
Queer Modernism and Trans Lives: Lili Elbe’s Life Narrative

Caughie is creating a digital archive of trans histories.
Caughie was mainly fascinated that a Danish text, translated into German, and then English, had failed to retain all the pronouns of the original, and had created a tool where all versions could be compared to see what had been changed.
Oh and btw Elbe regarded her birthplace as the hospital in Dresden where she had her surgeries.
Talk 2.
Prof. Susan Rudy (Queen Mary University of London):
On Gender Ontoformativity, or Refusing to Be Spat Out of Reality: Reclaiming (Trans and Cis) Lesbian Solidarity through Experimental Writing

In which the word 'ontoformativity' was used an awful lot.
Rudy spoke about Nicole Brossard's "These our Mothers" poem, although did not read from it, and that trans lesbians return us to the fraught question of the body.
Then Rudy spoke about Trace Peterson, a transwoman poet, who wrote their poetry *before* transition, and has now been re-released. Rudy read out an abridged version of the poem "Everyone is a little trans".

pen.org/everyone-is-a-…
When Rudy spoke to Peterson about her talk, Peterson revealed that they are more lesbian than bisexual. Rudy felt that lesbians and transwomen have a lot in common and that loyalty and solidarity were important.
Next talk:
Aiden Greenall (Independent):
“Please select one: Mr./Mrs.”: “Mx.” and Non-Binary Resistance

Aiden is a Stonewall employee and felt that the way forward validating trans identities was via low level bureaucracy, and gave the example of service providers use the "Mx"
HSBC had recently included non-binary titles as an option (see screenshot) and that the OED had added Mx to the dictionary shortly after HSBC made this policy shift. The change had been bought about by an LGBT group inside the organisation.
It was felt that if small things, like Mx being included on forms, became standard this would in turn make the case for civic participation and consultation as bureaucracy literally creates the categories and systems we live in.
NBs experience injustice when they can't access the title "Mx" because it means a decision has to be made whether to comply or refuse a service. Aiden encouraged the audience (who I feel on the whole were mainly NB, as were the panel) that disruption was the best way forward.
Pushing for non-binary recognition is low cost but ultimately is lucrative (i.e. companies can make good PR out of 'pinkwashing' their brand simply).
Lo Marshall (University College London):
Negotiating Gender Diverse Worlds Built on Binary Expectations: The Kenwood Ladies Pond

The Equality Act is not something I'm familiar with chapter and verse, but I'm pretty sure Lo misquoted the law with regards to single sex provision.
Lo felt that 'terfs' were mainly white women, and the footage she showed of the women using it in the 1920s (i.e. well before Caribbean or Indian immigration here) as proof that it has always been "all white".
Lo stated that there was no evidence that self-id would enable male predators and that trans people were far more likely to experience violence.

Lo is non-binary, but you wouldn't know from looking at her, as she appeared to me to be a gender-conforming woman.
Lo said effectively that the City of London had 'won' the consultation and that transwomen would be allowed to use the pond. Lo also said that a lot of the responses to the consultation had to be discounted because they were "uncompleted responses".
PANEL 4: REPRESENTATIONS

Lara Bochmann and Erin Hampson (Independent): StepOut (short film)

Lara and Erin are a non-binary couple (i.e. what we would have described as a lesbian couple ten years ago). They made a short film about the anxiety of being harassed on the street.
They feared public scrutiny and the soundtrack included deep nervous breathing.

They also talked about how binders can increase anxiety because it restricts movt and breathe.

They live in Berlin, so it was a big stretch for me to believe they receive constant harassment.
They were woefully short on detail about the actual nature of the harassment and gave no examples, as you would expect normally.

Again from physical appearance alone you would have to be intimate with the 'queer' scene to understand that they were presenting themselves as NB.
Felix Kawitzky (University of York):
The Changeling’s Story: The Fantastic Duplicity of Queer Bodies in Sci-Fi and Fantasy Fiction

Felix was yet another non-binary, who felt their bodily experience was 'supernatural' and didn't want to be 'real'.
Felix once asked their father if they would murder a changeling, and the father said "yes", which obviously means that their father really means to murder them, and isn't that horrible?
Their parents were also into ET ideology though when Felix reported that they had once been abducted by aliens, their parents had to spend quite a lot of time explaining to them that it had been a dream and Felix didn't have the scars to prove it.
okay, this is the final bit now, I promise.

SECOND KEYNOTE
Dr. Meg John Barker (Open University)Trans: Adventurers across Time and Space

Trans people are time travellers and shape shifters. Yep, you heard correctly.
Meg wanted to re-imagine what it is to be trans because of all the dreadful moral panic whipped up by concerned women. Trans people were in a bleak place right now, which was having an impact on mental and physical health.
Misgendering someone denies a trans person their future. When clinicians deny a patient's past that eradicates. People can't cope with complex narratives.

There is a cultural amnesia about transmen pregnancies - every one is the 'first'.
When the Gender Recognition Certificate process asks whether an individual will stay in their chosen gender forever, that is an assault because it doesn't recognise the fluidity of gender. It's an unfair question.
Trans people can find ways to travel through time and transcend time by:
- hormones offer the possibility of multiple puberties
- some trans people look younger
- one can count age from the entry point of transition
- counting your previous selves
Then Meg moved onto 'shape shifting'.

Trans people experience "trans bladder" as they often have to wait longer to use the toilet because of lack of safe toilets. This has a real impact on bodies and brains.
Trans people are good are refocusing from foreground to background. For example when accessing gender identity services, trans people can make their mental health problems to the background.
Transpeople, like shape shifters, are often viewed as inauthentic. In order to avoid terfy people Meg recommended people use terfblocker (she certainly does). There are also filters which can take out specific phrases.
Meg finished with a quote from Travis's poetry and this photo, which was a perfect ending about loving yourself and protecting yourself from the (nasty terfy) outside world.
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