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To just hand over my women's meetup group to a trans member?

(195 Posts)
Mallorie Sun 28-Jan-18 12:06:58

I run a women-in-[industry] meetup group (it's a traditionally male-dominated industry, but don't want to get more specific than that as this is outing enough as it is). I didn't found the group but took over organisation duties when the founder (a good friend) moved abroad.

It's not closed to men - men have been speakers before, and a handful of men will usually attend to support friends/colleagues or just because the speaker or topic is interesting. However, the point of the group is to offer education and networking opportunities for women in our industry, and to encourage women in adjacent industries or in the early stages of choosing a career to consider joining our industry.

The group has grown by leaps and bounds over the last couple of years so I asked for a volunteer to help me with planning and running the meetups and specifically to help start an annual mini-conference. I see now that my mistake was asking in a public forum rather than approaching a few people personally, because a transgender woman we'll call Alex immediately and rather forcefully volunteered - basically they were like "YES I've got this! I've been waiting for this opportunity, I've got so many great ideas, when can we start?" No one else really volunteered and I didn't feel like I had any choice but to let Alex help. Alex is only recently transitioned and I have known them as a tall, big (rather obnoxious blowhard) male for a few years , Alex looks exactly the same but now wears earrings and patterned blouses. Anyway.

Alex's 'help' started with a bullet-pointed list of all the changes in language we needed to make on the group website and any/all tweets, emails, agendas, and presentations to include all 'self-identifying women and non-binary people', a list of rules for attendees and speakers about inclusive language, and a list of themes for upcoming meetups based around dealing with transgender issues in the workplace. The dates and details of the conference haven't even been discussed yet, but Alex has already written a sort of manifesto about how it's a conference for all self-identifying women and non-binary people. The actual industry education and discussions around the actual work that we do in the industry seems not just secondary now, but completely forgotten - Alex's eyes glaze over when I mention anything concrete, for example the details of an expert in a specific technology who has volunteered to speak at the next meetup.

Alex and a younger contingent of the meetup group are super excited about all of this and have taken over the conversation on social media. No one is saying anything against the new regime, and I don't feel like I can without opening a can of worms that could damage my career - something I can't afford to deal with. So I'm thinking about just handing over the reins to Alex and focusing on my own career.

It breaks my heart because I've made so many good friends in the group, and it has genuinely helped support and improve the working lives of lots of actual women, but the women who I suspect feel the same as me about this new direction are silent - probably like me, they're afraid of the repercussions of speaking out.

I wish I'd never asked for help, and that I'd pushed back with Alex from the start, but I feel like it's too late now.

sixteenapples Sun 28-Jan-18 12:10:50

You probably can't win this. Focus on your own career for a bit, gain some different experience and start a new different group for women in a while.

caketree93 Sun 28-Jan-18 12:19:28

It is unfortunate this person is now so enmeshed into your group. I think the best thing you can do now is keep as strong a focus as possible on what your group is designed to do - be that inviting experts or otherwise. If he is overly monopolising your or other peoples time and energy with this kind of thing, I think you're within your rights to say 'we are a group for professional women to talk about the industry, if you want to set up a conference on transwomen and nb people in the workplace fire ahead, but its not something we have funding/time to do here'

Back a few years ago I ran an LGBT group and we had one asshole who wanted us to set up a mens day event (I literally will never stop laughing at the fact that guy is now trans and went on to set up a trans student weekend course). I essentially just brushed him off everytime he came near me. I said we are an lgbt group and our focus this year is on x or y campaign, we haven't the means or time to do a mens day event, but feel free to do it yourself. Same thing for the trans weekend - by all means do it yourself, but my committee's time and energy (as well as our money) will be going to events we decide on collectively as a committee, that adequately reflect the interests of all our members. If we put all this effort into a trans weekend for about 10 people, we have no money left to do events for disabled students or non english speaking students. I think you can also make a resource distribution argument there somewhere.

Geronimoleapinglizards Sun 28-Jan-18 12:26:55

I feel for you but sadly no, I don't believe there's much you can do.

It might be worth one last go at asserting your dominance in the sense of saying 'Thank you Alex, that's a really good point about being inclusive. Now if we can focus our attention on xyz'

Just to see if other members of the group will back you without you having to actually confront Alex over all this.

But Alex sounds narcissistic and I doubt you'll get far. It sounds incredibly depressing

Putyourdamnshoeson Sun 28-Jan-18 12:29:58

Alex is a man, acting like a man, it defeats the whole point of having an all woman's group.
I'd back away, put out a public statement to the group, stating that it no longer serves the purpose for which it was established and you feel you need to leave. They'll know. Leave it a while, start another, cite the exemption in the GRA for having sex based rather than gender based women's only meetings.

NurseButtercup Sun 28-Jan-18 12:30:19

I think you can still turn this around - with minimal conflict.

Encourage Alex to set up a sub-group and organise a series of meetups to raise awareness of the topics that Alex believes are of importance. Let Alex have access to the database to distribute invitations to the meet-ups that Alex and the other person would like to organise. If you've got a newsletter then I'd allow Alex to make a contribution to the newsletter - initially 1/2 page or a page to guage interest.

The attendance figures will demonstrate the level of interest.

In the background - go back to your original plan and approach individuals to help you organise meet-ups and the annual mini-conference.

The thing is - the issues that Alex is raising are now hot topics and a level of awareness/education regarding the impact upon workplace relationship's are needed.

I'm not a trans campaigner or advocate by the way.

KimmySchmidt1 Sun 28-Jan-18 12:34:59

This is funny. It sounds like Alex has failed to transition emotionally and possibly also physically lol.

Nice try Alex!

Allaboutthatcake Sun 28-Jan-18 12:42:47

Be careful about giving Alex access to the database - it could have implications once GDPR comes in if it’s a different use and not really legitimate interest.

BootsAndCatsAndBootsAndCats Sun 28-Jan-18 12:43:53

Is there any way that you can keep Alex busy (and distracted) so that you can do as @NurseButtercup suggests, and approach others to help with the conference etc?

IrenetheQuaint Sun 28-Jan-18 12:43:55

I agree with Buttercup in terms of general approach.

You could say it's great to have a trans perspective and as this workstream is now so thriving you think it might make more sense for it to become a fully fledged networking group of its own. Then you can carry on with the women's group on your own, with a suitable helper. Make an agreement that the two groups will promote each other's events, and go along to the first trans one.

Maybe agree that the trans and women's networks will take turns to run the annual mini-conference. Generously let them have first turn...

StepAwayFromGoogle Sun 28-Jan-18 12:44:49

What NurseButtercup said. Perfect. Definitely worth a conversation along the lines of 'the group was originally set up to encourage women into the industry and support women within it. The trans debate is a part of that but you think the current focus on that, and only that, is detracting from all the other great things the group has and can achieve'.

BootsAndCatsAndBootsAndCats Sun 28-Jan-18 12:44:56

Yes, suggest to Alex that they've had so much success and interest that it makes sense for them to set up their own group.

tenaciousC Sun 28-Jan-18 12:46:01

I'm not sure I believe you as this seems taylor-made to stir up the usual crowd.

Assuming it is though, it sounds like you need a pair (as Alex has) and you can either stand up to them or roll over.

Not saying anything besides on a parenting forum isn't going to change your situation.

UpstartCrow Sun 28-Jan-18 12:47:04

Yes to their own group, and no to giving Alex any members info.

ChasedByBees Sun 28-Jan-18 12:52:00

Buttercup’s approach is great.

YetAnotherSpartacus Sun 28-Jan-18 12:54:34

Oh, a Trojan horse! I'd capitalise on the friendships you already have and step aside and focus on your own career. Keep what you can private and keep your personal networks, but get out. Don't fight. Alex will pull the trans card and you will lose.

FizzyGreenWater Sun 28-Jan-18 12:57:04

Good gracious Alex sounds so... entitled and masculine in approach, no?

I long for the day when all this implodes.

Sugarpiehoneyeye Sun 28-Jan-18 13:02:00

I agree with @YetAnotherSpartacus. This may appear to be the easy option, but is probably the best option in the long term.

RainOnATinRoof Sun 28-Jan-18 13:04:41

The dates and details of the conference haven't even been discussed yet, but Alex has already written a sort of manifesto about how it's a conference for all self-identifying women and non-binary people. The actual industry education and discussions around the actual work that we do in the industry seems not just secondary now, but completely forgotten - Alex's eyes glaze over when I mention anything concrete, for example the details of an expert in a specific technology who has volunteered to speak at the next meetup.*

So he's not contributing in the way you needed and asked for - that's your way out.

Thank Alex for contributing some great ideas about the group, but mention that you still need a volunteer to help with practical conference organisation on dates etc.

Give him an honorary title/role (like Inclusivity Officer). This will flatter him, but will also serve the purpose of restricting his influence to that area, instead of letting him take over the whole group. And then quietly approach other people who might be interested in organising the conference etc. Don't mention anything about the trans debate or trans at all.

balsamicbarbara Sun 28-Jan-18 13:04:58

"actual women"

I think you're showing your true colours here. Trans women are women.

CAAKE Sun 28-Jan-18 13:06:26

I agree with pp that you should back away gently - leave the group to Alex and his handmaiden and just let it self-implode. Because it will. In the process, you'll peak trans most of your workplace and you will have therefore achieved something very useful out of this.

Yes, it will be a great shame to lose what you have built for women in your workplace but as we're seeing this week, there is a great risk that in taking Alex on you will be cast as a bigot transphobe.

athingthateveryoneneeds Sun 28-Jan-18 13:06:42

So being trans-Wendied is a thing, too?

BronwenFrideswide Sun 28-Jan-18 13:09:37

No, balsamic trans women are trans women.

HairyBallTheorem Sun 28-Jan-18 13:11:13

Balsamic I remember you from another thread, vigorously arguing that because "transwomen are women", a man with 65 convictions, currently returned to prison after breaking the terms of his licence on release for burglaries during the course of which he filmed himself wearing teenage girls' underwear, with previous convictions for possession of images of child sexual abuse, should be transferred to a women's prison, because if he says he's a woman, of course he is a woman.

Fortunately, I don't feel any need to buy into this bullshit and am quite happy to say transwomen are men.

MissBeehiving Sun 28-Jan-18 13:12:04

If Alex has ever had a dick, or perhaps still has one, then biologically he cannot be a woman.

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