The Deputy Chief Executive of gay rights charity Stonewall says she will not rule out beginning a new dialogue with trans groups, following the resignation of Chief Executive Ben Summerskill.
Speaking on the same day that Stonewall announced Mr Summerskill’s resignation, Deputy Chief Executive, and soon to be Acting Chief Executive Ruth Hunt, told PinkNews.co.uk that “there are a lot of conversations to be had”.
She added: “We’ve always spoken to trans groups – I have hosted round tables at Stonewall with trans groups, and there are a lot of conversations to be had with a lot of people who have strong opinions.”
Going on, she said that there was no way to guess the potential outcome from the talks.
“The more conversations we have the better, but I wouldn’t predict the outcome of any of those discussions.”
Ms Hunt also tweeted to say:
Thanks for the messages and the very swift analysis of what we should do more or less of. Lots of discussions to be had and the door is open
— Ruth Hunt (@ruth_hunt) January 23, 2014
Stonewall in England and Wales does not campaign or lobby on transgender issues, instead claiming to work with transgender groups.
On its website, in a section on gender identity, Stonewall says it “recognises that many trans people are also lesbian, gay and bisexual and often trans people encounter homophobia and experience homophobic hate crime” – yet the charity fails to mention they can also be victims of transphobia.
Stonewall Scotland campaigns on transgender issues and its research is trans-inclusive.
It states on its website: “Stonewall Scotland works for equality and justice for transgender people, as well as lesbian, gay and bisexual people.”
Founding Member of Stonewall Simon Fanshawe told PinkNews: “When a CEO leaves after such a long time it always gives an organisation the opportunity to renew relationships with other organisations and to reassess it’s strategy. Life for lesbians and gays is so different now from when we started Stonewall. This is a real chance for board and staff to take the chance to work cooperatively with others to refresh Stonewall’s position and collaborations.”
In a column in Gay Times magazine‘s January edition, prominent journalist and broadcaster Paris Lees asked why Stonewall only lobbied on behalf of LG and B issues.
She said: “There is no doubt that Ben Summerskill has achieved great things for the gay community in Britain, I also have no doubt that Ruth Hunt will continue this good work. I hope, however, that this is an opportunity for Stonewall to reinvent itself and look at what it stands for in 21st century Britain now that many of the legal and social struggles it was set up to combat have been won.
“I understand that in the past prominent trans activists asked Stonewall to let trans people campaign on their own issues. I certainly understand that request, but we can’t ignore the fact that Stonewall is well funded, respected and professional, and I firmly believe there are many areas where we cannot separate combatting homophobia from transphobia. I look forward to the discussions that now look likely to happen happen between Stonewall and the trans community.
“I wish Ruth and Stonewall well, sadly we still need charities that fight prejudice.”