A statement posted by Survivor’s Network reveals they are being sued for their stance regarding trans inclusion in their work focusing on survivors of sexual violence and abuse in Sussex.
Services viewed as “women’s services” (read: trans exclusionary) by anti-trans activists have become a battleground for transphobia in recent years. Services have faced a lot of criticism, attacks and abuse for stating one way or another whether they have a trans-inclusive ethos or not. The latest to face the abuse from transphobes is Survivor’s Network.
According to its ‘about us’ section, Survivor’s Network was founded in 1990 by a group of female survivors of childhood sexual abuse to provide services that would support other female survivors. They were the first organisation in Brighton and Hove specifically focused on sexual abuse in childhood and the network has “grown considerably, while staying true to their activist roots”.
Transphobes have taken aim at Survivors’ Network as early as 2019 when the Network posted a tweet including a photo of them happily hanging out with Sophie Cook. A writer, speaker and actor who you may know from her video interviews of figures such as Baroness Helena Kennedy on trans equality. The tweet said Sophie had popped by to learn about Survivors’ Network’s work and shows a small symbol of solidarity via a mug which reads “My Feminism is for everyone”.
Obviously, the replies are filled with transphobic rage over the inclusion of transgender people. This even spilled out onto other sites such as Mumsnet, whose feminism board has received a lot of criticism for its harbouring of anti-trans views. Where they claimed that Sophie was trying to “infiltrate a rape crisis centre to make them inclusive”.
In its statement Survivor’s Network say they are disappointed to share the news of legal action being taken against them due to their trans-inclusive ethos. They explain that “the claimant alleges that we have broken equalities law as it is not legitimate or proportionate to welcome trans women into our women-only spaces”.
This is an inverse of the language surrounding law for trans-exclusion, the so-called ‘single-sex exemptions’. Which state that such ‘single-sex’ spaces would amount to a lawful form of discrimination against transgender people and so the high bar of; “a proportionate means to achieving a legitimate aim” was set. It is not clear to me how an inverse of this would apply in law and the idea of which seems to be an absurdity, but I am not a lawyer etc.
In articles for the Telegraph and Unherd it appears this story centers around survivor ‘Sarah’ (who has been granted anonymity but is allegedly tweeting from @SarahSurviving) taking issue with another survivor attending group sessions. This appears to be specifically because that other survivor is a transgender woman. Which to me this seems like it would be an open and shut case where one client has ordered the discrimination of another and been told no, because that’s not fair.
We will of course be following this story closely, but in the mean time if you would like to share some love and support with Survivor’s Network you can find them on Twitter here and also their donations page right here. Thank you from me in advance.