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Allison Bailey: “I am suing Stonewall to stop them policing free speech”

With permission, we are posting the text from Allison Bailey’s Crowdjustice funding page because the page has been taken down. In itself, this reveals a deeply troubling dynamic within a democratic society.

In a matter of hours the Crowdfunder reached £48k of the £60k stretch target but on receipt of a ‘complaint’ they have removed the page pending investigation.

We support Allison’s fight for justice, not only for herself, but for all women.

My name is Allison Bailey. I am a criminal defence barrister, a feminist, a lesbian, a lifelong campaigner for racial equality, lesbian, gay, and bisexual rights, and a survivor of child sexual abuse.

With other LGB rights campaigners, I helped to set up the LGB Alliance. In retribution for this, Stonewall Diversity Limited (Stonewall), co-ordinated with the barristers’ chambers of which I am a member to put me under investigation. This was an attempt by Stonewall to intimidate and silence me and others critical of what we see as its malign influence in British life: workplaces, schools, universities, the police, the judiciary, the Crown Prosecution Service, and all government departments.

I am crowdfunding to pay for legal representation to take this case to the Employment Tribunal to show that: no one should be discriminated against or victimised for campaigning for lesbian, gay and bisexual rights; LGB people are free to organise and campaign around sexual orientation and not trans rights without apology or permission from Stonewall or anyone else; criticism and investigation of notions of gender identity that are in conflict with, and doing harm to, the interests, safety and rights of women, children and LGB people, is not hateful or transphobic.

Coming out in the era of section 28 

I am from Oxford, England, the daughter of Jamaican immigrant parents. By the time I was 17 years old, I realised that I was same-sex attracted, that I was a lesbian.  It was the late 1980s, a desperately hard and lonely time to be a lesbian, gay or bisexual young person in the United Kingdom. Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988 was an historic act of wickedness that left young LGB teenagers like me with no resources, support or guidance whatsoever. I bear the scars of that abandonment to this day.

Despite section 28 and coming from a community not renowned for its acceptance of homosexuality, I have fond memories of finding community with other LGB people in Oxford in the late 1980s. There were two gay pubs: the Jolly Farmers and the Apollo. I frequented both.  There was also a disco night above the Co-op on the Cowley Road. I knew that being openly and proudly lesbian was an act of self-preservation as much as it was one of defiance and activism. I knew this because I lived it. I can remember sitting in the Apollo as ACT-UP Silence = Death was explained to me and a badge pinned to my jacket. This was my community and I was determined and proud to be a part of it. I always have been.

LGB & racial politics in the USA

I left section 28 Britain for the USA in my late teens.  I would spend the next 6 years living and working in the USA, much of it as a bookseller and community activist. I lived on The Castro and worked in the Mission District, in San Francisco, California; the epicentre of gay and radical left political activism, respectively, at the height of the AIDS epidemic.

I did voluntary work as a Black British woman working with African-American women on a local level to provide advocacy, community support and friendship to other black women, straight and LGB, facing social, health and income inequality in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Black Lives Matter

In 1991, I watched television footage in horror and anger as LAPD officers were captured surrounding and beating Rodney King, an unarmed black man lying prone on the ground.

I hoped against all expectation that the police officers responsible would face justice. In 1992, when those same police officers were all acquitted, I took to the streets in peaceful protest, along with many others in San Francisco, as the Los Angeles riots raged. Then as now, LGB people from all walks of life stood in solidarity against racial injustice. I and many others were unlawfully arrested in San Francisco that night and unlawfully imprisoned. I was sent to Santa Rita Women’s Jail.

I welcome the Black Lives Matter movement.  I am hopeful that we may have finally arrived at a moment in history when racial injustice and police brutality can finally be addressed and reparations made.

However, I reject the suggestion by trans activists and their supporters, including so called anti-fascist journalists, that women like me must give way in our activism to more worthy causes and just shut up about our concerns about the new trans activism, as advocated for by Stonewall.  This argument seems itself racist, misogynist, naive and self-indulgent.

Just as there may finally be a reckoning about racial injustice, I hope there may also one day soon be a similar reckoning about male violence, oppression and woman-hatred; including a reckoning about this moment in history when men tried to run off with women’s rights.

The new trans activism: all scrutiny and critical voices labelled ‘transphobic’  

In early 2018, when I first heard that plans were underway to make the lives of trans people easier, my reaction was that this was a good thing and I did not give it a second thought.  I kept coming across the term ‘TERF’ but ignored it.  I thought that bigots were simply being called out.

Then one day I clicked on a link: terfisaslur.com where someone had collated the online abuse that was being directed at women who I realised had entirely valid concerns and questions about the wisdom of replacing sex with gender.

I learnt that the new trans activism wants to smash the distinctions between men and women; replacing sex with notions of gender identity; making sexual difference a matter of self-identification; and demands that any and every man that wishes to identify as a woman must be allowed to do so.

I learnt that the new trans activism is focusing, inexplicably, on young children and declaring them ‘trans’; treating puberty as a disease to be blocked with powerful drugs; delivering our young people into the arms of a multi-million-pound industry of big pharmaceutical companies and plastic surgeons.

I saw that the same males who would have society regard them as women, were quick to brandish knives, axes, baseball bats and nooses, as they threatened with rape women who questioned the wisdom of replacing sex with gender —TERFs.

I realised that the new trans activism operated a crude but effective system of punishment and reward: agree with every demand of the trans lobby and be safe; object and face vilification, abuse, boycott, character assassination and cancellation.

I was horrified (and terrified).

I wanted to look away, to pretend that I had not seen it; that it did not reveal the worst woman-hating, lesbian hating, misogyny that I have ever come across in my lifetime.

I did not look away and I urge others not to either.  Thanks to brave women who have come before me, such as the late, great, Magdalen Berns, whose courage and no-nonsense approach to calling out the new trans activism as the men’s rights movement it so clearly is, gave me courage.

I realised that I did not have to accept that any man can claim to be legally a woman, without having to undergo any hormone or surgical intervention, psychological evaluation or risk assessment.

I realised that it was okay and necessary to say that it is reckless and naive to think that men will only identify as women if they are stunning and brave and harmless: that the wicked, abusive, predatory, unwell and downright cantankerous will, by some miracle, refuse to take advantage of free and easy access to women, to their politics, safe spaces, sports, legal protections and identities.

I was shocked to discover that significant numbers of male sex offenders are permitted to identify as women and nothing is being done to stop them.  In England and Wales, some 40 per cent or more of trans identified males in the prison population are men with convictions for sex offences, including rape and possession of the most serious indecent images of children.  I read a steady stream of news reports from around the world of males who identify as women committing serious sex offences.

It is repugnant to me and wholly unacceptable, and frankly unbelievable, that the new trans activism demands that sex crimes committed by males who identify as women are recorded as having been committed by women; and that these males can demand to be referred to by female pronouns.

I discovered that women incarcerated in prison are left vulnerable to serious sexual assault and mental anguish, as males, including sex offenders, are locked up with them. The new trans activism demands that a man’s desire to identify as a woman is more important than the right of imprisoned women to safety and dignity.  These women have no way to escape, no choice, they are locked up. I do not see how this is anything other than state facilitated abuse and mental torture.

Where there should have been discussion, investigation and inquiry, there has been the silencing of concerned and critical voices; not voices from the far right, but from women like me, who are of and from the progressive left.

Mantras have been chanted because the new trans activism is a movement that cannot bear scrutiny: TRANS WOMEN ARE WOMEN; TRANS RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS; TRANS PEOPLE ARE WHO THEY SAY THEY ARE; PROTECT OUR TRANS SIBLINGS, and so on, do nothing to engage with and address the serious concerns that exist about replacing sex with gender.

The new trans activists are joined by politicians, journalists, lawyers, writers, entire organisations, and assorted celebrities, in the chanting of these mantras to shut down debate, while others who are appalled at what they see happening are too afraid to speak out. It is cult like behaviour, it is Orwellian, and it has disgraced and shamed a generation.

Labelling all critical voices ‘transphobic’ is a cynical political ploy of the new trans activism. It must be resisted.

Surviving child sexual abuse: understanding that women and girls are oppressed because of their sex and not their gender identity

The man who sexually abused me as a 9 year old little girl; the man who targeted my single-parent mother; the man who told me that I could trust him whilst he slipped drugs into my orange squash to render me helpless as he sexually assaulted me, was tried and convicted of multiple sexual assaults against me in 2015, and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. He was released from prison last month (May 2020) to serve out the rest of his sentence on licence.

I make this disclosure now because I feel compelled to stand in solidarity with other women with similar experiences of male physical and sexual violence. It is not weaponising trauma to say so, any more than recounting racist abuse is.

We must not allow men or women to bury, minimise and ignore the visceral reality of male violence.  We must not allow the new trans activism to force survivors back into the closet; this would be an abuser’s charter.

It should be a cause of great alarm that the new trans activism takes such a regressive and shaming attitude to disclosures of abuse. This culture of denial and belittling has been the bedrock and the hallmark of every abuse scandal. It is a red flag that signals a safeguarding catastrophe in the making.

It is women like me whose lives have been torn apart and seriously blighted by wanton acts of male violence that know that men are often not who they say they are or claim to be.

I know that conflating sex with notions of gender identity will leave women with no legally enforceable boundaries against any man.

I know that if the new trans activism is not brought to heel, women will disappear as a political class.

I am not a woman because of feelings in my head. I was not a little girl, vulnerable to the sexual gaze and then sexual assault by a middle-aged man because of feelings in my head. Women are not murdered and violently assaulted by men on an industrial scale because of feelings in their heads.

Telling little girls and young women that men who have feelings in their head that they are women make them any less of a statistical threat to their safety and well-being is dangerous and fanatical nonsense; legislating on this basis, utter madness.

The need for a new lesbian, gay and bisexual organisation: the birth of the LGB Alliance

In 2019, I helped to set up the LGB Alliance with other campaigners and activists who felt, like me, that organisations such as Stonewall had seriously lost their way in recent years: they had conflated sex with gender, meaning that same sex attraction – the fundamental basis of lesbian and gay attraction, and therefore the fundamental basis of lesbian and gay rights – was no longer recognised.  The impacts of this have been several and severe, and in order to campaign properly for gay and lesbian rights, we felt that a new organisation was required.

Gender non-conforming children and young people, who would otherwise overwhelmingly grow up to be happily LGB, are vulnerable to the new trans activism‘s ‘born in the wrong body’ narrative, leading to an explosion in medical and surgical procedures on healthy young bodies, especially female bodies, so as to conform to 1950s gender stereotypes.

There is now growing evidence that this movement is being driven by homophobia: children and young people who do not want to be labelled LGB in a homophobic society, and parents who do not want LGB children.

Disproportionate numbers of trans identified girls and young women experience body dysphoria because of histories of sexual abuse, depression, anxiety, mental ill-health and autism, and because they are in turmoil about being same-sex attracted — lesbian, yet they are sent down a trans medical pathway.

These young women have had years on testosterone and double mastectomies. They report that their mental ill-health and same-sex attraction was not addressed; they were encouraged instead to view their body dysphoria as a trans identity issue and medical transition as a panacea, a cure all.

These brave young women are detransitioning and speaking out. Their voices and their stories point to an unfolding medical scandal.

It is a terrible indictment of the new trans activism, that one of the greatest threats to LGB people today, especially young lesbians, is Stonewall, and its spin-off trans child and youth organisations. These organisations have been allowed to label gender non-conforming children, aged as young as 8 years old, transgender.

I had been concerned about Stonewall for several months.  In December 2018, my chambers had become a member of Stonewall’s Diversity Champions scheme, and I had voiced my concern about this within chambers.  I felt troubled by the scheme, because I felt that it allowed Stonewall to police the opinions and views of individuals whose organisations (such as mine) had joined the scheme.

Leaving women with no legally enforceable boundaries against men: Stonewall’s Acceptance without Exception policy

The opinions in particular that I felt that Stonewall were policing were those which conflicted with Stonewall’s approach to discussions around sex and gender. Stonewall’s mantra is “acceptance without exception“, particularly of people who were born as men but who then identify as women: as a woman, a lesbian, a criminal defence barrister and someone who has had extensive experience of male violence, abuse and oppression of women, I believe that there should be some exceptions to males being admitted into female spaces.

These exceptions are already recognised and are contained in the Equality Act 2010. The removal of those exceptions, and a change in the law to allow them, is one of Stonewall’s explicit campaigning aims.  I do not believe that this is consistent with campaigning for LGB rights; indeed one of the matters about which Stonewall later complained about me to my chambers was my vociferous objection to a Stonewall advocate lecturing on the “cotton ceiling” – the term used to encourage lesbians to have sex with males.  This is in my view abusive, coercive and fundamentally homophobic. It ought to be absolutely anathema to any organisation which labels itself as a gay rights organisation as Stonewall does.

I have been abused as transphobic and bigoted.  This is absolutely not the case.  I have always been an advocate for transgender rights.  I believe passionately that transgender people must enjoy protection under the law from discrimination and abuse. I abhor all attempts to strip transgender people of the full rights of citizenship; and in the USA the horrific killing of black trans identified males, trans women (by other males).  However, I do not accept, for one moment, that in order to secure protections for trans women, including from male violence, women must lose a single one of the the hard won rights and protections they have from men, however males identify.

The label of transphobic has been applied to me and to others like me who recognise that sex is immutable.  A person may identify as they identify, and they should be protected and respected for their identity. However, a person’s identity is not a license to cause distress or intimidation to others, and can never legitimately be used to put others to harm. There are necessary exceptions to the acceptance of males in female spaces, and those exceptions are necessary to protect women.

These injustices arise as a result of the misguided insistence that gender has somehow replaced sex as a fundamental aspect of human identity.  It is for that reason that I am gender critical.  This is not to say that gender is not a genuine aspect of identity for some people.  But it is separate and does not (and cannot) replace sex.

The result of Stonewall’s “acceptance without exception” mantra is to put women at risk of harm.  The insertion of self-identifying trans women into the female prison population has resulted in the sexual assault and rape of women.  Women would be effectively excluded from the top echelons of women’s sport if male-bodied athletes are entitled to compete alongside them. The acceptance of male-bodied people in female-only public spaces such as changing rooms and medical settings excludes women whose religious beliefs prevent them from sharing space in a state of undress with males. The acceptance of male-bodied people in female-only spaces will cause trauma, fear and distress to many survivors of male violence.

Perhaps most specifically from my point of view, that Stonewall unilaterally and without any mandate whatsoever, and to further its lobbying ambitions, redefined homosexuality as same-gender and not same-sex attraction was an especially egregious betrayal of LGB people, especially lesbians. The inclusion of male-bodied people into the class of lesbian women means that lesbians are excoriated for bigotry and transphobia simply for being same-sex attracted.  This is base homophobia.

It was because of these injustices – and the role as I and others saw of it of Stonewall in promoting these injustices – that the LGB Alliance was set up, in order to fill the void in LGB campaigning that Stonewall had left when they decided to campaign for “acceptance without exception”.

Stonewall (a registered charity) throwing its weight around & trying to police & silence its critics

In October 2019, I tweeted about the launch of the LGB Alliance.  My chambers contacted me to say that they were concerned by some of the replies that they were receiving on Twitter, and asked me to remove reference to chambers on my twitter bio.  I did so.

However, chambers also tweeted that they were investigating me, implying that I had somehow done something wrong.  They did not tell me before they issued that statement, and it does not appear that they were in fact investigating anything when they initially said that they were.

Over a week later, I was informed that a complaint had been received from Stonewall and that this was now under investigation. When the complaint was provided to me, I saw that what Stonewall had written was misleading and disingenuous.  The complaint included a threat that Stonewall’s relationship with chambers would be damaged unless chambers took action against me.

I engaged fully with the complaint, providing a lengthy response to the investigation. Nevertheless, the investigation upheld complaints against me.

I felt that the way in which this had been done validated the concerns that I had expressed the previous year, and which Nicholas Hellen reported in The Sunday Times, and that Stonewall were in effect policing me through my chambers simply for being critical of their work and for raising concerns about their work. I felt that chambers were intimidated by Stonewall into reaching a finding against me, mindful that Stonewall are a significant and (to many people) ostensibly benign organisation.

Stonewall: nothing to disclose — until there was

I lodged Subject Access Requests to my chambers and to Stonewall, asking for the data they held on me.  My chambers replied with 4 lever arches of documents; Stonewall initially denied that they had any documents at all, despite the fact that their complaint to my chambers had already been provided to me so I knew that they had this document at least – and the absence of that document in their response indicated that there were other documents to which I was entitled and which they were withholding from me.

When I raised with Stonewall that I knew that they were withholding documents from me in breach of their legal obligations, and the possibility of a referral to the Information Commissioner, they responded by providing me with some documents. These show that:

– Individuals within my chambers were liaising with Stonewall in the days following the launch of the LGB Alliance,

– Stonewall were involved in eliciting complaints against me from third party organisations and directing them to my head of chambers.

– The process by which chambers was deciding how to deal with me was being shared with Stonewall, and Stonewall were strategising on how to shape its outcome, including in relation to specific internal meetings at chambers.

– “Roundtable” and “data gathering” meetings appear to have been held between my chambers and Stonewall in which I was discussed.

None of this was known to me at the time, and none of it was known to me until Stonewall provided its second response to the Subject Access Request.

(Screenshot from Garden Court’s Website)

The case against Stonewall (& my chambers)

The case that I am bringing is that I have been subjected to victimisation because of the concerns I raised about Stonewall’s actions.

It alleges that I have been indirectly discriminated against because both my chambers and Stonewall treat people such as me who hold gender critical beliefs as being bigoted and unworthy of respect.  Those people are overwhelmingly women. This treatment is therefore indirectly discriminatory against women.

I am suing both my chambers and Stonewall because Stonewall caused and induced the treatment to which I was subjected by my chambers.

What I am crowdfunding for and why I need your help

This is a case about me and my treatment.  But it is also a case about Stonewall and its conduct against people who hold beliefs like mine.  I do not believe that my treatment by Stonewall is unique, and I suspect that there are many others (whether they know it or not) who have been subjected to the same treatment.  I hope that as a result of bringing this claim this treatment will stop.

I have instructed Peter Daly of Slater and Gordon Lawyers, and Aileen McColgan QC to represent me (this is not my area of law and a case of this importance and complexity needs experts in the field of employment law). The claim has been lodged at the Employment Tribunal and once processed both Stonewall and chambers will be required to issue their defences to the claim.  At that point we will be able to identify the full scope of work required to see the matter to a conclusion.

At 2.15pm Allison posted on Twitter that the crowdjustice page had been taken down, incidentally on the weekend of the commemoration of the 1969 Stonewall uprising.

We post the details here as a record.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/allison-baileys-case/

27th June 2020

 

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