Jen Joins the LGB Alliance
Part 3 : Using the Ladies Room at the LGB Alliance Conference
It was the morning of The Conference, or just Conference as I would later learn the gender critical delegates called it. “Are you enjoying Conference?” they would ask one another, with a smile. Very casual, like. Very hip. Cool, hip young things don’t say “the”.
Myself and Riggs get up early to coordinate and plan. We discuss what we might do if things go wrong, but mostly we talk about where we might get a coffee. We want to get to the conference centre early, not for any practical reason - but more as a sort of low-key flex. I wanted to show how eager I was for Conference. I wanted to impress these people.
As we make our way on the tube, I wonder why I’m not more nervous about all this. In the build up to this day, people have told me left, right & centre that I should be. But I’m just not. It’s not bravery though, because there are plenty of things out there that make me anxious and scared. Missing my last train and having to walk back home in the dark. Having eight spiders crawl into my mouth while I’m sleeping, and live inside my belly. Getting trapped and dying in a deep, tight, claustrophobic cave (that is on fire). But confronting a room full of gender critical activists who appear to hate me just isn’t one of those things. So often, trans people are misrepresented and demonised on the internet. As a trans woman, just existing in an online space such as twitter opens you up to an array of anonymous, obsessive, cruel individuals who often seek to dox you, or intimidate you into silence. And many trans people, understandably, believe the things these cruel, mean-spirited people tell them.
One of the biggest ironies, I think, about the “gender critical” movement is that it paints trans women as space invaders. But in reality, a lot of these people will attempt to engage in “debate” with trans people online who are simply just trying to live their lives in peace - unsolicited. They are goaded into engaging in an argument they never wanted to have, by people they have never even met, who don’t even have the confidence to put their face online.
Full disclosure - for a long time, I worried about gender critical activists. Not so much online, but definitely in regards to their affect on my real, lived life. What if one screams me down in a public toilet? What if a group of GC protesters show up to one of my comedy shows?
In the height of a slight mentally unwell period a few years ago, I also had a very real worry that one of my friends or family might reveal themselves to be gender critical. Or that someone would confront me publicly or even assault me. I was living some days in a sort of “They Live” style nightmare, where everyone I encountered was a potential enemy. It played on my mind for quite a while - and I do think that one of the reasons I chose to attend this conference was because I wanted to break the mystique. I wanted to confront the adult, human boogie-men and women who “live rent free” in the minds of so many trans people on the day to day & at the very least, demonstrate to them that I not only do I not fear them - but I am also willing to engage in conversation, on their patch.
We get off the train and make our way to the conference centre. It’s a large building, right in the centre of town, that holds several different floors for different conferences all running in unison on any given day. There is a clear banner outside advertising the LGB Alliance, like a dystopian nightmare come to life. Police circle the front in pairs. It’s still early, and skies are grey - but a few attendees are here before us, which is annoying. Plus, they’ve got “Adult Human Female” t-shirts on. Hopefully, they’ll have some for sale inside.
Riggs and I get in line behind them, and go through a set of metal detectors. We have our bags searched, and after I am officially classified as not a threat the next task is to get our LGB Alliance Conference 2021 lanyards from the front desk.
The front desk is manned by 4 women, all of whom are also wearing LGB Alliance t-shirts. There are hundreds of lanyards strewn out on the desk in front of them. The woman, who is not wearing a covid mask, asks for my name. I tell her “Jen Ives”. She says “What?” I say “Jen Ives”. She then says “Can you put your mask down, I can’t hear what you’re saying?” She seems to not like masks. I take my mask down and I say “Jen Ives”. She hands me my lanyard, which I put around my neck straight away. The card at the end of the lanyard has my name on it. Are these the ID-cards gender critical activists are so keen on people wearing? I was surprised that they didn’t feature a declaration of birth-sex, but I was grateful as that would have given the game away immediately. The woman behind the counter wished me a good “Conference” as I rejoined Riggs. Little was I to know that later that day, me and that woman we would not be friends anymore.
Conference was on the third floor. I was keen to get up there and see the stalls, but for now only one thing was on my mind. The toilet. Before we had arrived, Riggs and I had gotten a couple of large coffees from around the corner - and sure enough, I was paying for that now. I had to go. I approached a security guard, and inquired as to where I could find the ladies toilets - to which he very helpfully directed me. As I entered, I passed several keen adult, human female attendees of the conference who batted no eyelid at my presence there. I made my way into the cubicle and I did a wee. Then, I left the cubicle and I washed my hands beside another, presumably adult human female at the sinks. As I left the ladies room, another (I’m guessing) adult human female entered the ladies room, completely passing me.
Bladder emptied, Riggs and I got into the lift and made our way up to the third floor. As we ascended, we looked at one another and braced for the unimaginable horrors we would find up there.
The lift stopped. The doors opened. And we were greeted by a smiling woman in her 60’s who handed us both a free brochure and some stickers.
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