Thursday, 26 August 2010

Response from Penny Mordaunt

When the shit hit the fan about the Equality Act 2010, I was incensed and decided that as well as spreading awareness on the internet, I was going to put in some work going through legal channels to object to this. So I wrote to my new MP, Penny Mordaunt of The Conservative Party. I was not at all optimistic and to be honest I don't have a very good opinion of Tories.

I sent the following e-mail to Penny Mordaunt.

I am writing to you to express my grave concern regarding something I have just learned which has disturbed me greatly.

The provisions of the Gender Recognition Act 2004 that overrode the 1975 act, have now been repealed.

This means that there is now a distinction between 'women' and 'transsexual person with (or without) gender recognition certificates'. I believe this distinction has wide ranging negatives consequences for the lives of many women. I am specifically asking for your help, as my MP and as someone who is listed as having a special interest in health, to protest this.

Healthcare, both primary, secondary and tertiary is important and necessary for all genders. I strongly believe this includes trans people, intersex people and cis gendered people. I believe that in this country mental health services are sadly lacking, and trans people seem to be at the sharp end of this negligence.

In particular, what is worrying me most, is the access that women have to support, counselling and healthcare after sexual assault and rape. Statistics on rape of trans and intersex women are limited, but what little I can find shows me that trans women are some of the most susceptible women to sexual assault, which is usually motivated out of fear, ignorance and hatred of people that are 'different'.

The repeal of the provisions in the GRA now mean that when women other than cis gendered are trying to access services such as rape crisis, they can be denied. This makes absolutely no sense to me, to deprive women who are *more likely* to be raped of support after they experience this rape. This means many women having to suffer mental torment, as well as perhaps not being made aware of the physical treatment they could receive. This means many women are traumatised and potentially not seeking treatment for physical injuries resulting from a sexual assault.

I do not believe it is fair or morally right for anyones ignorance, prejudice or fear regarding trans women to affect their rights to seek basic healthcare and support services, which is what is happening and will happen as a result of this change in law. The fear/misunderstanding/ignorance that leads to cis gendered women
thinking that trans women are not 'real' women or are *really* men, is damaging and threatening to the lives and health of many women in this country.

We really need to see the law changed to recognise the womanhood of all women and STOP the denial of services, anything else is unacceptable because I have said, this puts the health and the lives of too many people at risk.

Thank you very much for taking your time to read this. I look forward to reading your reply and hearing what your opinions are on this matter, how you plan to address this and what we can do to move forward. This is no longer the dark ages, this is a time when we should be recognising that gender and sex are not quite the cut and dry matter that we used to think they were.

After two weeks I had not received a response, so headed over to her website again, where I discovered that she has a surgery on Fridays and you can also book appointments for Mondays.

The call to her office got screened by her PA, who told me in no uncertain terms I'd have to let HER know what my concerns were before she'd pass them on to Penny. She gave me her e-mail address, I sent a copy of the above e-mail to her.

Three days later, I received the following response from Penny.

Many thanks for your note regarding the Equality Act. I have some experience of discrimination on this front as, while a candidate, I fought and won a case against the PCT for denying access to particular healthcare for a trans gender woman. We used the human rights act as leverage, so I am very interested in the proposed Bill of rights and how this will strengthen equality legislation.

However I am no expert in these matters, but your note has prompted me to ask that the House of Commons prepare a briefing note for me on this topic. I would be very happy to raise these issues in the House and with the Ministers responsible.

I will write again once parliament has returned, I am fully briefed and have had an opportunity to assess what I can usefully do to help.

Thanks again for raising this with me.

All best wishes,


I am not particularly used to writing/receiving response to this sort of letter, so I'm unable to tell if it's a particularly good response.

I'm giving her points because she's answered my concerns, shown interest, promised action and promised further contact.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Abortion - laying it down

I am 100%, totally, completely and wholeheartedly PRO CHOICE. I support abortion. I don't think there should be a time limit. I think it should be free and easy to access. I don't believe there are ANY circumstances AT ALL, whatsoever, where an abortion shouldn't be 'allowed'.

I don't believe I, or you, or anyone else should have any say at all in whether a woman has an abortion.

I think people who protest clinics and make these anti choice laws are despicable. I will not now or EVER support anything remotely related to the anti choice cause.

This goes for petitions, protesting clinics, supporting by reading or commenting on anti choice blogs. I especially dislike people who write narratives in the 'voice' of an unborn foetus or make videos in a similar vein. I think it's lurid, vile and disgusting to post pictures of aborted foetuses on the internet.

If you try and get me involved in ANY of this bullshit, I will delete and block your ass so fast that your head will spin. I won't reply to any e-mails you'll send when you try and protest this.

Anti choice = anti woman. My belief SUPPORTS and focuses on the lives and the things that benefit women. I am happy to discuss it and debate it with you, but my mind will never change.

I am not now nor will I ever be anti life, so I refuse to use the expression 'pro life' to describe people who are against abortion. I am PRO the life of the woman.

I am pro life, pro choice and yes, I'm proud to say I'm pro abortion.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Fat - Don't be ashamed, be proud

I can think of only one reason why I don't like being fat. It's a reason which generally eclipses everything else that comes to mind when I think about my size, my weight and my body image.

What other people think.

I've spent a lot of my life trying to avoid conforming, trying to deliberately do whatever I shouldn't. As I've grown older, I've calmed a little and stuck to doing just what I think/feel is right, which as it happens tends not to be the norm anyway. It makes me frustrated and disappointed at myself to think that this one little reason has such widespread and life affecting connotations.

I decided today that I was sick. I was sick of hating myself. Of looking in the mirror and thinking that I shouldn't be fat and not liking that I obviously am.

I decided to make some changes.

Firstly, no reading diet pages in magazines. I don't often buy magazines because I regard them as a frivolous expense and I'm poor. However, I do spend £2.60 a week on buying Take a Break, Chat and That's Life! which are aimed at women older than me, but I still enjoy reading. I decided when I was 15 years old after reading two issues of the so called women's magazine Cosmopolitan, that most women's magazines were probably going to be glossy brochures of crap, designed to make me feel bad about being poor, fat and ugly and not wanting to subordinate myself to men. Now when I buy the three magazines mentioned, they still have articles about diets, how to lose weight, how happy someone is now that they've lost weight (despite the fact that they often look miserable!). If I feel calm, I'll just turn the page over and ignore them. If I feel pissy, and I'll rip them out and resign them to the recycling bin.

Secondly, dressing for comfort. It's ridiculously hot here currently and extremely humid, and being a fat person I get sweaty and uncomfortable. I'm fed up with wearing constricting clothes, uncomfortable bras and being too hot just because I'm trying to look less fat. So yesterday, I went to the doctors with my dad wearing Birkenstocks, blue cotton/Lycra shorts and a blue vest top. I have no doubt that I looked quite spectacularly awful, but I felt soooo cool and comfortable and that kept a smile on my face for the rest of the day.

Thirdly, I'm going to write down and record for posterity everything I love about being the size I am. All the wonderful things that there are about being fat. That's what this post is about.

Bear in mind before reading the rest of this entry, that I don't know a lot of slim people. I'm being very over simplistic here, but in general I've found most of the slim people I know to be very unhappy, fat negative and body conscious in a way that has made me feel stressed and distressed. I don't discount slim people as friends because that would be utterly ridiculous, but I do tend to gravitate towards fat positive and body positive people which help promote in me a sense of well being.

So, without further ado, The Things I Love About Being A Fat Person

  • I can eat whatever I want, whenever I want. In my experience, this is a Very Big Thing. The giving of moral characteristics to food matter is so ingrained in people, that the joy of eating is taken away. I can bite into a fresh pear and love it, but I appreciate it all the more because if I fancy eating a piece or four of cheesecake, I can do that too. None of the slim people I know are naturally slim, they've all dieted and guilted and exercised themselves to the size they are, and most of them are unhappy. None of these people would feel comfortable with eating one piece of cheesecake, let alone four :-D

  • I love the curve of my thigh, the undulation of my stomach, the swing of my breasts. It reminds me of some of the women I've seen in paintings.

  • I love the feel of my skin, the softness and floppiness of my breasts, the dimples of my thighs, the tiger stripes on my stomach. I feel soft, gorgeous and amazing to myself and anyone I've made love to agrees.

  • When my son jumps on me and otherwise plays with me, I have lots of cushioning from inadvertent elbow drops. Which happens a lot with 5 year olds!

  • Clothes hang well, stretch well and drape well over me. I don't feel like a coat hanger wearing a dress, I feel like a woman.

  • My lovers have always felt wonderful about snuggling into my fat, and it feels good for me too. Being completely unabashed about it, I love my OH's head snuggling between my breasts. I love his fingers running across my stretch marked belly.

  • I love that whatever exercise I do is for my enjoyment. That I can stop whenever I want to, that I don't feel the need to do it for a certain length of time or until I've burned enough calories. I enjoy exercising much more since I developed this attitude. I roller blade, do pilates and yoga, take long walks and enjoy it for it's own sake.

  • More space for tattoos and other body art!

  • I am of a size where people are less likely to try and physically intimidate me.

  • I take up more space. In a world where women are told and expected to be slim and unobtrusive, I like to be as attention grabbing as possible!

Thanks be to Anji of Shut Up Sit Down for reminding me of the last two!

I'm sure there are lots of other things, so I'm going to bookmark this post and add to it as I think of them. I invite everyone who reads this to comment with their suggestions. Let's turn this into a body positive thread!

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Information needed - the cost of childbirth

I am writing an article for Mothers For Womens Lib.

It is regarding the differences in maternity health care services between the U.K (where there is socialised health care) and the U.S (where health care is currently mostly privatised).

The denizens of LJ have already been wonderful in providing me with data, but I'm aware that LJ only responses leaves me with a very small cross section of society and I'd like to broaden the scope of my data.

The information I am looking for is:

-Where do you live?
-Do you have insurance, and if so what insurance do you have?
-Did you pay for anything out of pocket?
-Did you employ any additional services such as a doula or a postpartum nurse?
-Did you get your ideal birth? Were you prevented from your ideal birth for financial reasons?
-Did you birth go the way you had planned? If not, are you happy with what ended up happening?
-How much did your birth cost (even if you didn't pay it)?

Many thanks to those of you that are willing to share your experiences with me, the number crunching will take me some time, so the blog post will take a few days to follow!

Any qualitative data will be kept anonymous, and will only be shared with your consent.

Sexuality - what function do all these labels serve?

I have some questions for those of you that identify as queer (bisexual, pansexual, sapiosexual, gay, lesbian, omniosexual, *insert label*):

When did you realise you were the sexuality you are?

Has your sexuality or the way you identify changed over your lifetime?

Do you use different labels now than you used to? Are you ‘out of the closet’ completely, to some people, or not at all?