Welsh women are used to being left out in the cold by our government. Our voices are ignored and requests for meetings have repeatedly fallen on deaf ears. We have even had to resort to just turning up and standing behind our First Minister on his public engagements to get him to notice us. Sorry (not sorry).
And we weren’t going to turn down the chance of letting the fine women attending the Welsh Women’s Labour Conference on Saturday 25th November know our feelings about the proposed self-ID move.
Ours was a united gathering of women from various groups including WRN Wales, LWD Wales, Lesbian Labour, Merched Cymru, Outspoken Women, GetTheLOutUK, Swansea Bay ReSisters, South West Wales ReSisters and LGB Alliance Cymru.
Common purpose, shared goals.
Wales WRN at the Welsh Women’s Labour Conference - We’re Out in the Cold
We had an opportunity to hear the male perspective when we spoke with a passing group of young construction workers making their way to Greggs for a well-earned mid-morning cuppa. They were enthusiastic, engaged and encouraging, each reading the WRN leaflet setting out key facts about why we should all say No To Self-ID.
“Can I buy you a coffee?” asks the foreman as he takes a half dozen leaflets that he wants to give out to work colleagues.
I was accompanied by a great freelance journalist, who was reporting on our campaign morning, and we agree to chat to the foreman on the off chance he’ll agree to give her an interview.
We agree to no names or photos because honest discourse has become a hate crime. The interview is recorded, and our literal man-off-the-street reveals the backstory behind his passion for protecting the rights of women and children, which centred around the traumatic experience of a very young family member.
“It broke my heart, she was so vulnerable”.
He emphasised the need to develop self respect, rebuild trust in a society that failed them and to aspire to define themselves not by what was taken away, but by what they can be.
This man knows all about the importance of safeguarding and I ask him his thoughts on single-sex spaces. He explains why as a father, he understands how essential it is for girls to have the privacy of sex-based facilities, citing puberty and negotiating menstruation as demanding of dignity away from boys and men. He is caring and passionate and recognises that safeguarding extends to boys as well.
Regarding self-ID, his response is clear, “It doesn’t bear thinking about”.
He wants people to stand up against the Welsh government’s proposed legislation. His conclusion is “There should definitely, definitely, definitely be a referendum about this - it’s a serious matter”.
This was the kind of happenstance interaction that we firmly believe reflects the overwhelming position of Wales. Left to its own devices, Drakeford’s posse will kettle every citizen into ‘right think’ compliance and the impact on our children should fill every parent with dread.
Every conversation matters. Every leaflet informs. And everyone should get the chance to say No To Self-ID.
The men of Wales MUST be encouraged to engage because they too have skin in the game as fathers, sons, brothers, spouses and well, for just being decent human beings who would choose right over wrong.
Because the mainstream Welsh media generally still dines at the all-you-can-eat Stonewall table, I’d wager most citizens in Wales simply aren’t aware just how close they are to experiencing the fallout from a government hellbent on criminalising reality.
And women, try as we might, cannot make ourselves heard.