Survivors’ Network, a rape crisis centre and feminist organisation, was sued for allowing Trans women to access their services alongside cisgender women. The Brighton-based charity provides counselling, support groups, legal advice and a helpline to all sexual violence and abuse survivors of any gender.
The Trans inclusion statement of the organisation declares “Trans-inclusive feminism is key to our values and central to our services as a rape crisis centre. Nearly one in five Trans people have experienced sexual assault or the threat of sexual assault and we are committed to supporting our Trans siblings in their survival journey.”
Sarah Summers, a sexual assault survivor who received the support of the Survivors’ Network in the past, has sued the organisation for helping Trans women alongside cisgender women. According to the press release by Didlaw, who is representing her, Summers felt “deeply uncomfortable” when a Trans woman joined the support group she was in.
We are disappointed to share that we have recently had legal action taken against us due to our trans-inclusive ethos.
— Survivors' Network (@SurvivorsnetBtn) May 4, 2022
After she expressed how she felt to the charity, demanding that the organisation set up “female-only” groups, she was offered one-to-one counselling, but they refused to break from their Trans inclusion policy by setting up a group only for cisgender women.
After this refusal, Summers decided to sue the organisation because, according to her lawyers, this policy is “discriminatory” and it puts cisgender women at a “particular disadvantage”.
After receiving news that they had been sued, Survivors’ Network published a statement with the following words: “We are disappointed to share that we have recently had legal action taken against us due to our Trans-inclusive ethos.
“The claimant alleges that we have broken equalities law as (they allege) it is not legitimate or proportionate to welcome Trans women into our women-only spaces.
“We wholeheartedly disagree and we will be vigorously defending the allegations.”
The charity also added: “Our services will continue to be here for you, just as they have been since we started out over 30 years ago. We know that this might feel unsettling, but we’ve got you.”
Gender Criticals are attacking Sussex Survivors Network for being a trans-inclusive service.
GCs have the well-funded Christian Right to pour money into their court cases.
We have only each other. If you can afford to: donate https://t.co/5tkFe5z3vi https://t.co/ki4j06lsl5
— Jane Carnall (@EyeEdinburgh) May 5, 2022
The Equality Act 2010 in the UK includes both sex and gender identity among the protected characteristics, but this case could decide for the first time if service providers can be forced to exclude Trans people from single-sex spaces.
TransActual Director jane fae commented on the news by saying that she was “sickened” and that “this is bullying of the worst sort designed to exclude Trans people from society.” She also spoke about the people who are bringing forward these cases against such types of organisations saying: “They are spending eye-watering amounts of money that could be used to achieve so much for women and LGBTQ+ folks on high profile court cases with little chance of success. In this case, they are tracking a rape crisis charity. The impact will not just be on Trans people, but on all victims.
“Yet their calculation is that many smaller organisations will fold, rather than risk the costs of such a case.” fae added, “This raises major questions over where this money comes from. In addition to resisting cases of this sort, there is urgent need for a far-reaching investigation into the source of funding for these legal actions.”
In their 2018 annual review, Survivors’ Network reported that of the 1035 survivors of sexual violence they supported in that year, 31 were Trans and non-binary. Trans people experience high rates of physical and sexual attacks and, according to a report published by UK’s LGBTQ+ charity Galop, one in five experience or are threatened with sexual violence.
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