Tue 2 Jul 2024 — 6 min

Disabled activists at a hustings event were harassed and filmed. They had their harassment posted to social media without their permission by anti-trans campaigner Kellie-Jay Keen (also known as Posie Parker).

Keen posted a video showing herself harassing disabled attendees at the Bristol Deaf and Disabled Peoples Hustings held at the Lantern Hall in Bristol on the 25th of June 2024. This event was organised by WECIL and multiple other Disabled People’s Organisations (organisations run by and for disabled people, often shortened to DPOs), including the DPO Forum England. It was live-streamed on Inclusion London’s YouTube channel. This event was a chance for disabled people to question electoral candidates standing in the 2024 general election about their commitments to disabled people’s rights so people could be better placed to make an informed choice when voting in the upcoming election. A source that Trans Safety Network spoke to said that Keen had initially been made aware of the event but was not invited to speak on the panel. Keen filmed herself complaining throughout the event complaining about delays in being allowed entry and that the chair wouldn’t let her ask a question.

According to Disability News Service, Keen was initially refused access due to concerns that she would disrupt the event. Disability News Service also reported that Keens supporters were `swamping the comments section of the YouTube live-stream of the hustings with demands for her to be allowed to join the panel.'

Keen took issue with some audience members pointing out that they had the word ‘inclusion’ on their t-shirts and saying it is ‘dystopian’, ‘Kafkaesque’, and ‘nuts’.  She appeared to suggest that not having a question taken regarding ‘women's rights’ is at odds with wearing t-shirts with the word inclusion on them. The word “Inclusion” is in the name of several DPOs, including Inclusion London and refers to disabled people's inclusion in society.

Keen continued to film and confront audience members. She then began shouting about women-only spaces and concerns that a trans person might give intimate care to a disabled person (although Keen chose to use person-first language).

Whilst Trans Safety Network support any disabled person's wish to have carers of whatever gender makes them most comfortable (a right that already exists in care provision), it is our view that Keen's concern is a non-issue raised as a distraction for her transphobic agenda. The Disabled Peoples Manifesto, which was developed collectively by DPOs across England by the DPO Forum and was central to the kinds of questions asked of candidates at the event, has a big focus on social care provision, demanding a task force to facilitate community-based independent living, an end to social care charging and prioritisation of funding for community-based support because the current situation leaves so many with inadequate care or in significant debt. Keens ‘intervention’ is a motivated distraction from these vital concerns that are already being ignored by political party manifestos. Yet as Disability News Service reports, candidates appear to be making disability policies up.

It is Trans Safety Networks' view that Keen’s concerns for disabled people are disingenuous and an excuse to spread her transphobic views. Disabled people and transgender people face many similar and overlapping issues concerning accessing medical care, demonisation from political actors, poverty and workplace harassment. Many of us are trans and disabled and face unwarranted and unfounded speculation from anti-trans activists as to the origins of our impairment and capacity to consent to healthcare, particularly when it comes to autistic trans people.  This is an issue we have previously campaigned on, with the support of numerous DPOs

Keen has a substantial history of harassing disabled trans people online, including this example below, of the previously described transphobic and disablist tactic of singling out and reposting images of disabled trans people in a stigmatising manner, to make unfounded speculations that hormones are the cause of impairment. Ignoring the fact some trans people (as with any other demographic) happen to be disabled and have the same rights to bodily autonomy as anybody else.

Twitter screenshot of a wheelchair user on a protest posted by Kellie- Jay Keen with the text ‘Don’t take testosterone girls. Osteoporosis is a known side effect

Keen infantilises autistic adults, comparing them with children whilst portraying all autistic people as inherently vulnerable and incapable of making decisions about who they are and what healthcare options they wish to pursue.

Screenshot of a tweet from Kelly-Jay Keen, in reply to another twitter user, the text says ‘I’ve missed your comments on the evil of transitioning children or vulnerable young adults with autism or transing away the gay. Converting a gay son into a “trans daughter” or sterilising children with puberty blockers. Gods work is so selective’

Here, she attacks an autistic trans woman by referencing a disablist series of sketches that have been criticised in the past for promoting disablist tropes.

Screenshot of a tweet from Kellie-Jay Keen in reply to other Twitter users. The text says ‘He has a very large head, blokey voice and gait and couldnt look more manly if Matt Lucas sat in a wheelchair and said “Yeah I know, I am Rose”

The above examples of online harassment and her disruptive behaviour at the Bristol Deaf and Disabled Peoples hustings leave us with no doubt that Kellie-Jay Keens' alleged concern for disabled people is an insincere cover for her transphobic agenda.

Whilst some disabled people may agree with Keen's transphobic rhetoric, the majority of the Disabled Peoples Movement works in solidarity with others on the sharp end of societal bigotry and hostile government policy. In this case, people wanted to attend the hustings event in peace, as disabled people. Many of them were women seeking to question candidates about their political intentions regarding the rights of disabled people and were disappointed to find themselves harassed by attempts to hijack the movement's concerns.