Letters - 8 November 2019

From climate action to the advantages of populism

Climate action

I read with interest the item on ‘Sustainability matters’ in the Meeting for Sufferings report (11 October). One way not mentioned where Friends can take action for climate justice is by encouraging organisations to divest – withdraw their investments from fossil fuel companies.

This is a worldwide movement that could have a great impact on how such companies move forward and it will support other companies who are more concerned about our environment. Friends have been contributing significant work in this area for some years now, not least through their involvement in Operation Noah; and our sustainability testimony is a key anchor for such work, which scientists tell us is now so very urgently needed to avoid real climate and ecological catastrophe.

Our Area Meeting has already divested from fossil fuel companies and Aylesbury Meeting is now campaigning for our county council to divest its substantial pension funds. Our campaign so far has included: writing an open letter to the pension fund committee, attending and addressing their meeting, having a slot on local radio, writing to the local press, and teaming up with our local Extinction Rebellion group. In this work we hope to combine our efforts with Quaker Meetings from eight other counties in the south of England, because we have found that all these counties invest their pension funds through an umbrella organisation called the Brunel Pension Partnership Limited.

For those interested in taking similar action there is more information available on Chilterns Area Meeting’s website at http://caqm.org.uk/news.

Tony Philpott

Trans privilege

The anonymous letter (25 October) was a masterclass in propaganda.

What leads the author to their position opposing trans inclusion? Quaker virtue, they claim, ‘promptings of love and truth’, ‘sitting with uncertainty’. What might prompt a trans ally? Wokeness, dismissed with scare quotes. They write of people’s concerns, but the trans woman’s is made abstract: she ‘feels alienated’. The fears of those who allegedly fear us are viscerally expressed.

I have worked to bring gender critical (their term for those who would exclude trans women from women’s spaces) Quakers together and have their voices heard. When allowed to speak to Norwich Quakers, I started with one of my experiences of sexual assault – not because that entitles me to be in women’s spaces but because sexual assault and coercion is quotidian, and asking for experiences opens a world of pain.

Just as some Quakers mask working-class status, gender stereotypes and oppression are everywhere unconsciously enforced, even in our Society. I sympathise with gender critical feminists because I see they fit the stereotypes as poorly as I do, and suffer for it. But making my way of expressing gender nonconformity more difficult, chasing me from spaces I enter under the Equality Act 2010, will do nothing for anyone oppressed by gender. One Friend’s disgust at another’s chest masculinisation surgery prevents her seeing the liberation the surgery gives.

Abigail Maxwell

You need to login to read subscriber-only content and/or comment on articles.