I’ve been wanting to wave my flag on the trans rights issues for a while, but have kept putting it off because it is difficult, and in parts for me painful, but what with the stuff that’s been going on at Sussex Uni this last week I know that I can’t put it off any longer. I know not many people read my blog, but some of my friends do, who may or may not be familiar with the issues, and some of whom may have assumed that with me being gay I am a ‘trans ally’. Well … yes and no … Debbie Hayton, for instance: she’s a trans woman, and I would be proud to stand by her as an ally any day of the week, and there are others. BUT …
… I also stand with Kathleen Stock, Jo Phoenix, Marion Millar, Maya Forstater, Alison Bailey, JK Rowling, Jess De Wahls, Keira Bell, Sonia Appleby, Rosie Duffield, Kemi Badenoch, Graham Linehan, James Esses and all the many others who are called transphobic because they have challenged Gender Identity Ideology (as has Debbie Hayton and other trans people). I personally don’t consider myself transphobic but I know that I AM to the Trans Rights Activists who are fighting to implement Gender Identity Ideology globally. And with great success. In the UK, via Stonewall, it has made its presence felt in all the political parties, the NHS, the Police, you name it: the erasure of the word ‘woman’ is a hot topic at the moment (but not the word ‘man’?); ‘vulnerable’ trans women sex offenders such as Karen White get to serve time in womens prisons and go on to rape inmates therein; gay men and lesbians are shamed for being ‘same-sex attracted’ rather than ‘same-gender attracted’ (but not heterosexuals?); women are called bigots because they do not want to open up their single-sex spaces, refuges, and rape crisis centres to trans women.
Trans Rights Activists, and their ‘allies’ would like us all to believe that
“trans women are women” and “trans men are men”.
I don’t believe it’s that simple, but I do believe …
“[Trans people] deserve to be safe, to be visible throughout society without shame or stigma, and to have exactly the life opportunities non-trans people do.”
Those are Kathleen Stock’s words from her book ‘Material Girls‘, which doesn’t sound like someone who is transphobic to me. But she has been on the end of the most horrendous bullying campaign by Trans Rights Activists who are trying to get her removed from her job. She is now under police protection and has to conduct her lectures via Zoom. I’m nowhere near as erudite and eloquent as Kathleen Stock, so I’ll leave the serious challenges to Gender Identity Ideology to her, and others of her ilk – Helen Joyce of the Economist has also written an amazing and thorough book ‘Trans: When Ideology Meets Reality‘ – where those challenges are clearly laid out.
I will say though that generally I think Gender Identity Ideology is a load of regressive bollocks, playing into gender stereotypes that I thought we were leaving behind. I also think it is very dangerous and harmful, hence the need for people to stand up and speak out, and for me to let my friends know exactly where I stand. I personally don’t believe I have a ‘gender identity’, in the same way that I don’t have a ‘political identity’. I accept that the concept might be a useful tool for some people to describe their ‘masculine’ and/or ‘feminine’ personality traits, but to me it is NOT useful, it is not a ‘thing’ and just seems like a strait jacket, and on a par with the concept of an immortal ‘soul’. I am who I am and I like what I like, pink or blue, no problem.
It hasn’t always been this way – when I was young I was called a cissy and teased mercilessly for being ‘girlie’ and I can remember knowing that I would have been happier as a girl. I can still feel the shame I felt as a child – for being not good enough as a boy. It chills me to my bones that Gender Identity Ideology’s response to that boy would be to identify him as trans and, without any exploration, ‘affirm’ that identity and set him on a course of puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and surgery. This is insisted upon, as the only correct and compassionate option, even when it is known that most of these children will grow out of it. I did. Most of these children turn out gay or lesbian. I did. Pushing them into a trans identity and setting them on the transitioning pathway is to make them dependent on medical interventions for life.
If you are in any doubt of the horrors of transitioning kids – read this interview with Marci Bowers, a top American trans surgeon https://abigailshrier.substack.com/p/why-marci-matters.
For the children who have transitioned these last few years, there are now numerous reports of regret. The ‘de-transitioner’ stories are heartbreaking – there is no way back, very little help available, and furthermore there is censure and rejection from the very community that encouraged them to do it in the first place. My heart beats faster writing this – I could very well have ended up on this operating table, and then as a de-transitioner. Young women are left with facial hair and deepened voices and having had unnecessary mastectomies. Young men are left with micro-penises and stunted bone growth. It is deeply saddening for me to think that the homophobic environment of the 60s and 70s that I grew up in, and that has so marked my life, is actually preferable to what has happened in this last decade.
But “trans people are the most vulnerable people in our society”, or so we are told. Keir Starmer said it himself very recently. I’m not convinced. When most people think of a trans person they see someone who has struggled with gender dysphoria, gone through the process of gender reassignment surgery and are living their quiet lives as members of the opposite sex – like our beloved Mrs Madrigal. Someone we used to call a transsexual. The trans umbrella is much larger now and whilst transsexuals are a significant minority within that, trans now extends to anyone who identifies as a person of the opposite sex to their own biological sex. Gender dysphoria may or may not play a part in that, as may or may not sexual fetish. Some of this group may be ‘vulnerable’ but many are most definitely not, and it is easy to see why women do not want to open up the doors of their changing rooms, toilets, single-sex spaces to anybody who simply identifies as a ‘woman’. That word used to mean ‘adult human female’, but now seems to be more closely equated with trans identified male fantasies of the word – I am a woman when I wear women’s clothes, have my hair styled, wear make-up, tilt my head coyly and flutter my eyebrows.
It is no wonder that women are angry and leading the protest movement against Gender Identity Ideology. They are also the targets of the most vitriolic abuse, because they are not complying. Some women – those in prisons – are forced to comply, and are punished if they ‘misgender’ the ‘woman’ with male genitals who is housed with them. One of the responses to the Stephen Wood/David Thompson/Karen White debacle was that he/she was ‘not really trans’ at all, but whether they were or not is actually irrelevant. If anyone can get into a womens prison by simply saying ‘I am a woman’, then that is a loophole that IS going to be exploited, and has been. If ‘Self-ID’ comes in and any man can declare themselves a woman without any medical validation whatsoever, then at some point some predatory male, trans or not, WILL take advantage of that to gain access to womens changing rooms and single-sex spaces and thus to women. That is obvious. Sex crimes and violence are the real tangible risk, but beyond that is simply the everyday fear that many women will have of sharing their private spaces with unknown males, who may or may not have ulterior motives. How will they know if they are safe? I know we cannot police every aspect of life, but this is a backwards step. (The bathroom/changing room discussion seems to be only about trans women wanting to access womens spaces.) Aside from the validation of identity, one thing I have read is that trans identified males feel unsafe using men’s facilities. I can understand that. I do sometimes. But surely that should just help us better understand the women’s position? This is an ideal opportunity to challenge and educate homophobic and transphobic men. Men come in all shapes and sizes and it would be great to able to wear what we like without fear of abuse and violence if we enter a changing room. It’s time to tackle it. I know that might seem like a bridge too far in the current debate and unachieveable at the moment, but if that’s the case then a second-best option would be trans people arguing for their own facilities. Leave the women alone. And enough with the ‘vulnerable’ argument – you’ve only got to look at the violence and murder statistics to see that it is women who are most at risk in this society, not trans identified males.
A few weeks back now Triskelion Yarn got effectively cancelled. Caerthan had retweeted some gender critical content and invoked the wrath of trans rights activists who had then contacted a show that he was due to attend. The show was supportive right down the line, but Caerthan didn’t feel he could face any potential problems nor did he wish to cause problems for the show. So he didn’t go. Fine – we can still sell online.
He also, wisely, withdrew from social media. I kept an eye on the Triskelion pages to see if the abuse would abate, which it did. Hopefully that’s the end of it – we will see next time we go to a show.
But as a result, I also started to use Twitter. I found it very shocking. So many of the debates seemed to be about language – dictionary definitions, and what words have evolved to mean, what words have been apropriated, invented, and re-invented. How on earth can anything be discussed if we don’t agree on the language? Predictably I have mostly followed gender critical people, but I have also followed a few trans rights activists. I found myself ‘liking’ many of their posts on other topics – the environment, refugee stuff, Chris Packham’s harrassment etc., and thinking … “well … this person has values broadly similar to my own”. Except for the trans rights, where there is this gaping chasm. I’m too much of a coward to engage on Twitter (aside from the verbal blood and gore, I don’t really understand all the Twitter buttons and terms), but it was plain to me that ‘sex’ ‘gender’ and ‘biology’ in particular are not clear in peoples understanding, and I wondered how much deliberate obfuscation of language there has been, and by whom. Are we being deliberately kept at loggerheads?
I don’t know. That, for me, is a very frightening thought. Along with the fake accounts and deliberate lies. Why would someone do that?
But back to the everyday battles that have pushed me to write this. I am frightened for womens right and for women. I am frightened for gay rights. I am frightened for everyday trans people who do not want this much attention. I am particularly frightened for Kathleen Stock. And I am frightened about where this could all end, unless people start finding the courage to stand up and say: “Trans rights – fine, but NOT at the expense of any other group.”
Oh yes … and THEN there’s women’s sports … and the dating apps … and … I’ll shut up.
Thank you for reading if you’ve got this far!
Material Girls – Kathleen Stock
Trans: When Ideology Meets Reality – Helen Joyce
Sex Matters – arguing for sex, not gender to be the basis in law
Transgender identities: a series of invited essays – The Economist
Welcome to Transtopia – Lily Maynard
Gender HQ – A RESOURCE & COMMUNITY For People Concerned about Same-sex Attracted Young People Harmed by Medical Transition for Gender Dysphoria
Transgender Trend – Support for parents of trans kids
MerchedCymru (Welsh Women) – resource for welsh women challenging Gender Identity Ideology
Thank you Rick. Really made a lazy gay man like me think about these issues. Whilst my instincts are always to give people the freedom they desire, I realise that in the real world this will not always be compatible with other peoples freedoms.
To put the rights of certain minorities ahead of other’s rights is not what we have all striven for. I am terrified that we will create further bigoted, “norms” which by not falling in line with, we become again a despised minority.