Artillery Row

The remarkable poise of Allison Bailey

Bailey has shown the strength of her character in the courtroom

Allison Bailey has every reason to be angry. But if she is, you couldn’t tell. During her cross-examination, the hundreds of people who logged in to watch her Employment Tribunal, in which she is suing both Garden Court Chambers and Stonewall, saw a poised woman measuring every word that came out of her mouth. She was demonstrating remarkable restraint in the face of adversity.

‘I don’t know what it means to feel female; I just am female’

Adversity is the only word that comes to mind when describing Allison Bailey’s ordeal from the moment she stuck her head above the parapet and voiced opposition to what she describes in her witness statement as the “proselytization of gender identity theories and beliefs”.

In her month-long Tribunal, Bailey alleges that both her chambers, Garden Court, and Stonewall discriminated against her after she expressed the view that biological sex is a reality. She started expressing concerns after her chambers, like hundreds of public and private bodies around the UK, signed up to Stonewall’s Diversity Champions scheme.

This scheme enables the trans lobby group to supervise, vet and influence an organisation’s internal policies. The scheme argues that everybody has a inner “gender identity” and that this trumps people’s biological sex, in all aspects of private and public life. In her witness statement, Bailey explains why this did does not sit well with her:

My experience of being female has not been defined by my feeling female. I don’t know what it means to feel female; I just am female. My life has been defined by having a female body: gynaecological problems, sexual abuse in childhood, sex discrimination, being a lesbian, a black woman, gender non-conformity and menopause. These experiences are all located in my physical, female body. I cannot identify into or out of them.

This represents a problem for any law firm because Stonewall, through its “trans women are women” sloganeering, has sought to get ahead of the law, advocating against the legal rights that women and LGB people already hold in the UK.

The organisation is on record as seeking “to remove exemptions, such as access to single-sex spaces” that allow for women-only services to exist. These spaces rely on sex being a material reality, as stated in the Equality Act 2010. Stonewall has also been advising public bodies, including educational establishments and government bodies, that men who identify as women can claim the lesbian mantel. Many young women who are same-sex attracted have reported feeling pressured to accept male people into their relationships and sex lives.

It is only natural that a lawyer, let alone a lesbian barrister, would object to the idea that an external lobby group which is on record seeking to contravene the law, should have veto power over the equality policies of her law firm.

When Allison Bailey voiced her opinion, Stonewall filed a complaint against her, demanding that her Chambers investigate her for “transphobia”, which they duly complied with. Kirrin Medcalfe, Head of Trans Inclusion at Stonewall, wrote to her employers:

For Garden Court Chambers to continue associating with a barrister who is actively campaigning for a reduction in trans rights and equality, while also specifically targeting members of our staff with transphobic abuse on a public platform, puts us in a difficult position with yourselves: the safety of our staff and community will always be Stonewalls first priority. I trust that you will do what is right and stand in solidarity with trans people.

In a highly competitive field where black women are underrepresented at the bar and those that do make it get paid the least when compared with their colleagues, this threatening email from Stonewall sought to expel the high-profile and successful Bailey from her chambers simply for dissenting. When Medcalfe, a white man, was questioned about the complaint he filed as a witness during her Tribunal, he asked for last minute accommodation so that he could have his mother, a support dog and a support person to handhold him through the cross-examination. The Tribunal acquiesced.

Nobody accommodated Allison Bailey while she withstood the onslaught from trans activists and an openly hostile work environment inside her chambers. On the contrary, she had to put up with a climate that was expressly disrespectful of her. Employees and barristers would oftentimes refer to her in internal communications as “delusional”, “unprofessional”, “a massive hypocrite” and “the terfy barrister”.

We are living through a period of mass delusion

Her work load was vastly reduced. Her security concerns, given the climate of abuse meted out against feminists who speak out in favour of sex-based rights, were dismissed or entirely ignored by her chambers, who showed her no sympathy. On the contrary, she was the one who was framed and treated like a problem. Her white, male colleagues kept transcripts of her private conversations and shared them with the people investigating her.

People watching her cross-examination saw the thoughtful and measured Allison Bailey belittled and dismissed by Defendants who sought to characterised her as an “angry” black woman who just needs to calm down.

There is no correct way for women to object to the autocratic imposition of “gender identity” dogma. But the difficulties of acceptable speech are compounded when those speaking are the black women who are at the forefront of the pushback against these theories and policies.

Black women have to overcome significant barriers to get a seat at the table and have their voices heard. One of these barriers is the stereotype that a black woman standing up for herself is intimidating, demanding and unruly. Speaking about the stereotype of the “angry black woman”, law professor Trina Jones stated: “Black women are not supposed to push back and when they do, they’re deemed to be domineering. Aggressive. Threatening. Loud.”

“Gender identity” theory thrives by dismissing concerns about sex-based rights as merely representing “white feminism”, and pretending that men who identify as women are just as female as black women. Yet when faced with vocal black and brown women, trans activism reverts back to stereotypes about unruly women who should know their place.

The purpose of the “angry black woman” trope is to create caricatures out of complex people. A black, lesbian barrister who has endured slight after slight, is presented as uncivil and improper in the insipid environment of a courtroom, even when her speech and cadence is tempered and restrained. If she were to complain about this one-dimensional narrative created about her, this would become further evidence of her aggressive nature.

We are living through a period of mass delusion, in which trans lobby groups demand we ignore material reality and replace it with autocratic dogma. Organisations like Stonewall and Garden Court Chambers should be celebrating women like Allison Bailey. In order to become a criminal barrister, she had to overcome immense odds and prejudice. Yet, when she spoke out, she was targeted and ostracised.

Deep down, like many women having to be poised and articulate while their detractors get coddled and rewarded for their yobbish behaviour, Allison Bailey must be seething with rage. Yet she is not allowed to display anything other than immaculate decorum, and she has more than risen to the challenge.

The motto at Garden Court Chambers is “do right, fear no one”. Apparently, nothing prepared them for that most daunting opponent: a black woman who knew her worth, who knew her rights and who refused to go down without a fight.

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