At nearly seventy-one years of age, one dont expect to be jetted around the world talking about trans and women’s human rights, but earlier this month, that is exactly what happened to me. It was a week my body won’t forget. Friday, 3rd of March, a flight to the USA, returning overnight, arriving at Heathrow early Wednesday morning with just five hours of sleep over two long days.
No time to unpack; it was International Womens Day. I was in the house for less than ten minutes before leaving so to attend a Portsmouth Labour women’s event to celebrate IWD with my best mates – that evening, another activist event talking about the hateful and dangerous far-right and how women must fight.
The jet lag really set in on Thursday morning, but come Friday afternoon, it was off to an event I had been looking forward to – time to relax at the Inspirational Women of Portsmouth Awards. Initially nominated in the ‘Local Volunteer and Activist’ category, that got changed to the ‘Inspirational Elder.’ Well, Elder is certainly right!
I had prepared a speech (of sorts) but kept changing it, so consequently had never practised it.
Arriving at Portsmouth Guildhall, with entry through the giant brass doors for the pre-event drinks session, I quickly conversed with a lone woman who I discovered was a former Conservative lady mayoress. Being a Labour Party member, I initially thought, “ouch”, but she was lovely.
We were ushered off to the main auditorium just before seven o’clock, with tables set in neat rows like soldiers on the parade ground, white tablecloths with napkins looking prim and proper. I was placed in a corner with nine other super-friendly women, and we chat and chat some more. The three-course meal followed, with more wine, hugs and kisses from my female friends sat at different tables before the award ceremony started.
And then my name – Steph Richards.
Yes, I was genuinely shocked.
A trans woman was included.
I stumbled through the acceptance speech, cutting bits out as I read, which criticised Tories, not wanting to be controversial or unfair – as a trans woman, I get hit by bricks too often. Then more hugs, kisses, and wine; no one cared less that I was trans, and other women I didn’t know came up to me and said, “well done”.
It is what we all do that matters.