Wednesday, 6 August 2014

"National Transphobia Awards...?"

All is not well at the National “Diversity” Awards.

Everyone knows that Sarah Brown and I haven't always seen eye-to-eye. She is a Lib Dem activist and I’m an active member of the Labour Party. I don’t like a lot of things the coalition government has done, even though I know Sarah doesn’t personally support all of these. So we disagree on a lot. Yet in spite of this I am shocked and dismayed that she seems to have been treated so badly by National Diversity Awards.

There are allegations now going round about a stitch-up over the National Diversity Award, for LGBT Role Model, if this is the case it would appalling by anyone’s standards. Sarah has achieved a great deal for trans people since being elected city councillor in Cambridge; she was the only elected openly trans politician in the UK for the time she was there. 

During that time a group of supposed radical "feminists” illegitimately harassed her in order to try and drive her out of office. As far as I can see, none of these people, using the cowardly tactics they did, was a constituent of her Cambridge Petersfield ward, the people to whom Sarah was ultimately answerable. That she was able to hold it together for her full term of office in the face of such brutal Murdoch-style attacks, is a testament to her integrity, courage and tenacity. That she should come under such sustained attack from transphobes is appalling enough, yet there is now a suspicion that the same cowardly and underhand tactics have been used by transphobes to deny Sarah an award she so richly deserves, with one of those allegedly implicated by some trans people in this harassment now nominated for an award in the "gender role model" category. This is someone who attended the trans exclusionary Radfem2013 "conference" where most of the speakers were known transphobes.  If this is true then including someone like this is akin to shortlisting Nick Griffin for a diversity award ceremony that includes ethnic minorities. If being anti-trans is part of being a "gender role model" then the NDA has become a joke. 

Sarah has done a great deal for trans visibility and worked to counter some of the most transphobic elements of the “equal marriage” provisions, or as trans people call it “unequal marriage”. She has also worked tirelessly to expose the failings of trans healthcare and the appalling treatment of trans people by some health professionals. As a result Sarah received more nominations than last years’ winner yet has not even been shortlisted, indeed no other trans women have been shortlisted. This is obviously making many people very suspicious. The organisers of the National Diversity Awards clearly have questions to answer and their credibility hangs on the answers, or lack of them, that they provide. They need to be open about the procedures they use to select and shortlist nominees. The National Diversity Awards will significantly lose credibility if it fails to do so this. For them any lack of openness will be viewed with skepticism. 

So here is a list of questions NDA needs to supply clear and detailed answers to;

  • Did Sarah Brown receive more nominations than any nominee who was shortlisted?
  • What procedures are used to decide who is shortlisted and who receives the award?
  • Have there been any people voting against particular nominees, and if so how were negative nominations dealt with? Did NDA receive any correspondence regarding any nomination that could potentially be regarded as defamatory?
  • What procedures does NDA have for ensuring that some people do not vote many times for the same nominees?
  • What is the NDA's policy on nominations of people who have been accused of holding anti-diversity attitudes in other areas?

One suspects that the first response NDA will come up with is “but in 2012 we awarded…” I don’t care who has received an award in past years, I want to know what is going on now. 

Until the NDA gives clear, properly evidenced, detailed and honest answers to these questions the suspicion will be that there has been a stitch-up and that this stitch-up is of a transphobic nature. Let us be honest here, there may well be perfectly good answers to all of these questions, and the 'transphobic' individual may not ultimately be anti-trans. I hope so and would very much welcome the clarity that the NDA could provide. Yes Sarah has done a lot but maybe others have contributed more. Fine, if that is the case, if the judges have come to that reasoned conclusion no problem, but until this is cleared up doubts will remain. When it comes to something like diversity awards, credibility is everything

The NDA needs to understand that operating in an area such as diversity there is no alternative to being squeaky clean, honest and open.

NDA the ball is in your court...

1 comment:

  1. Lose credibility? From what i experienced this year, they simply do not have any in the first place..

    Their web site is a total mess; badly written, confusing navigation, and even the profiles of past winners carrying incorrect photographs.

    Did you see their emails and instructions for nominations? So badly-worded they looked as if they had been translated from Chinese using Babel Fish. The cut-off dates on the emails and letters were all wrong, too. Amateurish.

    Then they insisted that all the nomination paperwork, including a shed load of documentary evidence in support of it, had to be in less than 48 hours after the closing date. So people nominated right at the start had months to prepare. Those nominated at the end had almost no time at all. Insane.

    So really the whole jamboree seems designed to benefit those who approach the Awards "professionally", starting very early, and with a team in support.

    I have seen better organised village carnivals.

    Christine Beckett