Gemma Stone offers her response to a piece by former hospital CEO Kate Grimes which claimed that working with the Stonewall charity on Trans rights issues was ‘incompatible’ with NHS values. Editor’s note: the number of comments the article by Ms Grimes and this reply have attracted underline how sensitive the issues discussed below are. HSJ would like to make it clear that the opinions expressed in either piece do not represent HSJ’s view of the topic. 

Writing in HSJ a former hospital CEO spoke out against Stonewall UK for its recent support of transgender equality. I saw that the editor was offering people a chance to respond, with a view to publication, and as someone who has been constantly asking for trans people to have a voice I couldn’t miss that opportunity. 

It cannot be understated that Kate Grimes seems like a genuinely okay person. Her opening statement in the piece are that of someone who has stood by the wider queer community for decades. Though sadly, that person quickly disappears behind the fog of transphobic conspiracy theory, even going so far as to include claims that the NHS “has been well and truly captured by what some now describe as an extremist trans lobby group.”

We jump from transphobic nonsense to transphobic nonsense throughout the piece and it would probably take me several times her word count to explain them all. But that’s the problem with transphobia and the idea of debating it. Which is something Grimes herself touches upon in the piece, as she slates Stonewall UK for their “no debate” stance. The problem is the age-old phrase: a lie can make it around the world by the time the truth has chance to get its trousers on. 

She uses rhetoric almost verbatim taken from dedicated anti trans groups such as “any man who identifies as a woman is legally entitled access women’s only spaces” in her claims that Stonewall is arguing for the removal of single sex spaces. Which they aren’t. They just argue that transgender women shouldn’t be discriminated against for being transgender, which is also what the Equality Act 2010 says, conveniently. Dedicated transphobic groups have framed this as the removal of single sex spaces and have been campaigning to change policy in order to exclude transgender women. 

This was the basis for their opposition of GRA reform too, in which they claimed that the proposed reforms to the GRA, dubbed self ID, would make it easy for “any man” to enter women’s spaces. This was and is a transphobic lie. In a statement given to the House of Lords by Liz Truss’ right hand, Baroness Berridge, she stated that spaces work on a self ID basis already and the government has no plans to change this.

Grimes also touches on comments made by Stonewall UK CEO Nancy Kelley. Kelley said that “gender critical feminism” was a form of bigotry like “antisemitism”. Which it is. “Gender critical feminism” exists entirely to be antagonistic towards transgender people and equality. It serves absolutely no other purpose and regularly even opposes basic feminist principles even, such as the right to bodily autonomy. A right which trans youth had restricted as a result of the High Court case Grimes also touches on in her piece, which was won by an anti abortion lawyer.

Grimes continues with her barrage on Stonewall UK, claiming that “a black lesbian barrister is currently suing Stonewall after they tried to pressurise her chambers to drop her when she helped establish a new charity representing LGB people.” But again, none of this is true.

Stonewall run a list where if you’re not awful to LGBTQ+ people you’re included on the list. If you hire people who are crappy to LGBTQ+ people you can be taken off the list. Stonewall UK had received complaints about this barrister and the chambers appearing on their list so told the chambers that they needed to sort out the problem or not be on the list any more. 

I don’t bother visiting the doctors when I’m unwell because I, like so many other trans people in the UK, just feel its a waste of time when they already don’t seem to care much about my healthcare

As for “a new charity representing LGB people”, that’s a stretch to say the least. LGB Alliance’s output is again, largely about opposing trans equality including running full page ads which state things like “Self ID gives predators the green light”. This to oppose GRA reform which was just about birth certificates and nothing to do with spaces at all. As for representing LGB people they don’t even manage to do that very well, with one of their founders even getting very close to doing a section 28 and opposing LGBT clubs at schools.

She also briefly touches on the Reindorf report regarding University of Essex’s policies. The report claims that UoE misrepresents the law in its policies regarding spaces, however they don’t? We know that they don’t because an LGB Alliance founder, Ann Sinnott, tried to get a judicial review of this guidance.

Her intention was basically to replace it with the transphobic view of the Equality Act and she was told her interpretation was just absurd and wrong in law. It could not have been a more humiliating defeat for transphobia. Yet still the disinformation that Stonewall’s guidance is illegal persists.

This is a health service journal and its just become a platform for anti-trans propaganda. Which I mean very literally, the campaign to leave Stonewall is an actual dedicated campaign. Seemingly started by a group called ‘Legal Feminist’ and using hashtags like #DontSubmitToStonewall and #LeaveStonewall. They have even been sending vexatious freedom of information requests to all 800 or so companies on Stonewall’s Diversity Champions list, alongside countless letter writing campaigns arguing for people to stop working with Stonewall. 

I could go on, but I’m so tired. Because what’s worse than all of this is the state of trans health care in the UK. From gatekeeping at gender clinics, to wait lists that will take a reported 26 years to clear at current pace, to GPs who just seem reluctant to help or be informed at all. You are s**t out of luck as a transgender person who just wants to get decent healthcare and get on with their life doing whatever is they do. We have to fight so hard for every inch we get knowing that at any moment someone could make a lie about it and we’ll be rolled right back to square one.

I’m exhausted. My mental health sucks. I don’t have good access to the basic trans healthcare. I don’t bother visiting the doctors when I’m unwell because I, like so many other trans people in the UK, just feel its a waste of time when they already don’t seem to care much about my healthcare. We are so disillusioned with the NHS as a system that even if NHS groups around the UK started dropping Stonewall as a result of this blatant transphobic attack; we wouldn’t even bat an eyelid. We’d expect it. 

The NHS has failed transgender people repeatedly already, what’s once more?