It was called ‘Bloody Difficult Women’ but examples of anyone being ‘bloody difficult’ were in short supply, and the supply of actual women also lacking.

Run by the Conservative LGBT+ group, they invited a range of LGBT+ activists across the political spectrum.
The panel also had two bods from Stonewall - the new CEO Nancy Kelley, and Ayla Holdom.

In total there were 16 on the call, meaning that the audience was just 8 people.

They really should have cut their losses and cancelled.
Nancy was invited to speak first. She didn’t want to talk about Stonewall, she wanted to talk about what it’s like to be a ‘bloody difficult woman’. Being a 'bloody difficult woman' for Nancy involves quoting the made-up facts and figures from Stonewall reports.
Quoting from the Stonewall workplace 2018 report, Nancy said it was a fact that a quarter of all trans people, more than a third of non-binary people and more than a third of bi-women, are ‘not out’ at work.
‘We know that things are *incredibly* hard for TW in the workplace’ said Nancy and quoted the statistic that 1 in 8 trans employees had been physically attacked in the workplace over the last year.
When she’d finished reading her checklist from the Stonewall report, she claimed that politics was bereft of lesbian/bi politicians.

Let me help you Nancy:
Ruth Davidson
Mhairi Black
Angela Eagle
Layla Moran
Justine Greening
Cat Smith
She also said that there were virtually no TW in politics.

Again Nancy, a correction, there are no currently elected politicians perhaps, but not for the want of trying.…
Nancy told us that she had seen a ‘real shift in being seen as less reliable’ since working at Stonewall and gave the example of feeling trusted when having given a speech on LGBT issues at her last job, but when she ‘talks about the same data with the same
brain’ at Stonewall’s office ‘no one listens to a word I say and thinks that I’ve made it all up in my front room’.

One senses that Nancy isn’t entirely happy at her new appointment.

Can I suggest a workplace equality index assessment?
Ayla Holdom introduced himself as having been ‘always apolitical’ and has sat on Stonewall’s Trans Advisory Group for 5 years or so (expressing purely apolitical views I’m sure). He spoke about his career in the RAF and that he is now a helicopter pilot for the police.
He transitioned in 2010 in his late-20s and over the last decade has experienced ‘misogyny’ and is in a relationship with a woman, so has homophobia under his belt too.
The woman from the SNP was interesting. A Chinese lesbian who grew up in Northern Ireland, but now campaigning for Scottish Independence. Her work background was in brokering and the pharmaceutical industry. She also wanted to get more Chinese people into politics.
The second man on the panel was Kathryn Bristow. He is policy officer for the LGBTQIA Greens and is bringing two policy motions to the Green Party conference,…
one for self-declaration of gender, the other increased NHS funding for fertility treatment which would ‘help both women’s rights and LGBT+ rights’.

He described himself as a ‘transsexual non-binary transwoman’ and came out in 2018.
As his day job he works with Gender GP, so no conflicts of interest there then.
The Labour woman had a voice so rough, it sounded like she gargled razor blades. She explained that she’d gotten involved with politics through the SU but thought her identity was intrinsic to the decision.
She’d just been involved in publishing a guide for LGBT+ workers, the guide recommends that time off should be given for transitioning, and that evidence of previous names should be scrubbed from data banks.…
The opening question was the typical ‘things are really bad aren’t they, go on say they are’.

Do you feel politics is not a level playing field for all genders, or do you think your experience and opportunities are still different to men?
Ayla was invited to answer first and said that men presume that there are no problems and that since transition no one regards him as an expert anymore.

Male colleagues were affronted by gender equality and they would ask ‘why are you having a go at me, I’m a good person’.
Ayla wanted to be the visible presence that young girls could see, so that they would be inspired to take up that space.

The SNP woman said that she had seen up close in the private sector that lip service was paid to the ‘gender balance’.
Kathryn picked up on what Ayla said about straight white men and said that the fight was against the system, not a particular person.

Being a queer TWOC, Kathryn said, he can’t think of anything else except ‘the world hates me’.

Is it my colour vision, or is this dude white?
‘Parliament isn’t representative of anyone really’ as ‘only one-third of MPs are women’ and there were obviously also no trans or NB people in Parliament. Kathryn felt that 2% of the population were trans and therefore deserved 13 MPs in representation.
Kathryn was lucky being part of the Green Party, as elections tended to favour women over men, but still trans and NB representation was still very low.

The host, Chinless Wonder, then pointed out that we simply didn’t know if any of our MPs were trans or NB. They might simply
not have said anything yet because they didn’t want to be tokenised. Cross party conversations like this one would change the culture (mem: just 8 peeps watching, one of those being *me*).

Other people said some things, too tawdry even for this thread.
Nancy was asked what she thought at the end of it all and said she agreed with everything that had been said (typical ‘bloody difficult woman’ eh?) and made excuses to log off early (a latent sign of intelligence).
How can we address the additional challenges that BAME women face?

Kathryn: ‘From the top of my head Dawn Butler comes to my mind first, the amount of abuse she faced for just saying “oh look the police just pulled me over”’.
Kathryn explained to us that there was ‘no acknowledgement of the problem’ whilst failing to tell us what the problem was.

Several broken sentences later, Kathryn managed to mention BTW in America and ‘the amount of us who are killed senselessly’.
Chinless Wonder agreed (‘it’s such a big question to target’) and said that she’d seen on YouTube three TW being attacked outside a restaurant and no one helped and it highlighted the disparity.
She's right, that's completely different from all the rioting and wanton violence we’ve been seeing over the summer, of men being kicked in the head from behind, men being pulled from the cars and beaten, mobs chasing people or demanding diners salute.
Ayla told us that Stonewall had black employees and that the was Chair of Trustees was black. Currently white Stonewall employees were educating themselves about racism, separate to their BAME colleagues, so that the latter were not impacted by their ignorance.
Chinless Wonder pointed out you have to be anti-racist and accept you have unconscious bias and privileges.

The SNP woman said that when a Stormont politician Peter Robinson made a racist remark about Muslims ‘which enraged the whole entire country of Northern Ireland’.
Here is a link to his on the record remarks. I think his words are badly chosen, but I don’t really think they amount to being hateful.…
What did the panel think of All Women Shortlists (AWS)?

Everyone thought it was ok, but not really cos it didn’t address the problems, and isn’t it terrible that women can’t get a foot in the door, when are things going to change?
Ayla’s apolitical view was that only 6% of women are pilots, a figure which hadn’t changed over two decades. He’d asked why that was and his male colleagues told him ‘they’re just not applying’.
(According to Mr Google in the UK you need to be a minimum of 5 foot 4 inches to be a pilot, and a sitting height of 34-40 inches, so that automatically disqualifies many women.)
Ayla suggested that perhaps a women-only scheme might help (just think how it might have helped in Ayla’s case?).

Ayla said in contrast to AWS, referring to straight white cis males all the time and in a derogatory way creates a problem (in that case, why bother using it).
‘White cis male’ colleagues were telling him that the world was now bias against them.

Final Q:
What advice would you give to a young LGB+ woman wanting to get into politics?

Kathryn set the ball rolling, and stumbled through his answer, you could literally hear him grasping
at straws, but he somehow managed to arrive at an answer - find a network.

The rest of him all followed his lead, recommending finding a network only. I can't help feeling that somehow no one gave a more full answer because they didn't want to show him up, as there is
literally a dozen other things, other than finding a network. Knowing people is one thing, knowing what you’re talking about is another.

They had not an original idea between them and certainly none were ‘bloody difficult’. Bloody stupid more like.
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