WLRN Interview with Julia Long & Organizers of the What Is Gender Conference in London

Hour-long interview with Trixie & Ruby, two organizers of the What Is Gender conference that took place in London on September 13th and Julia Long, a speaker at the conference.

On September 13th, at Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park in London, trans activists swarmed a group of women meeting to discuss the meaning of the word “gender” and the Gender Recognition Act that is getting support from both the left and the right in the UK.

A 60 year old woman was beaten by several of the male activists and police were called to Speakers’ Corner before the conference took place. The women were determined to hold it despite the attacks and some managed to make it to a secret venue located near Hyde Park.

Our featured picture is by Venice Allen and is of conference participants listening to one of the talks.

In this interview, WLRN’s Thistle Pettersen speaks with Julia Long, one of the speakers at the conference, and with Ruby & Trixie, two of the conference organizers. They talked about what motivated them to organize the conference and give a play-by-play account of what happened before it took place, during the conference, and in the aftermath.

Dr Julia Long is a lesbian feminist, committed to building lesbian feminist community and politics. She currently works for a women’s sector charity, supporting women who have experienced male violence. Until recently she was working in academia, and is the author of Anti-Porn: The Resurgence of Anti-Pornography Feminism. London: Zed Books. She is a long-time feminist activist, and has been involved in groups including the London Feminist Network, Reclaim the Night and OBJECT. She has organised and participated in numerous national and international feminist conferences and seminars.

Trixie is a 29 year old feminist artist, activist and general provocateur living in London. Her band, Daughters of God, are currently recording new material. She got interested in learning more about gender politics via informal discussions with friends and through research online. She and her friends volunteered to organize the What Is Gender conference and contacted over 20 trans activists to participate as speakers but none of them, in the end, accepted the invitation.

Ruby was also an organizer for the conference and is new to radical feminism. The experience of co-organizing the What Is Gender conference has made her aware of just how contentious gender politics can be in 2017. She, along with the other organizers, has not given up. She is a novelist and this experience has made her think her next novel will be about trans activism and feminism.

Only two short weeks after the violence at Speakers’ Corner, these organizers have put together another event called Debate Not Hate: We Need To Talk About Gender. It is scheduled to happen this coming Wednesday, September 27th.


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