Saying NO to the Trans Rights Activists. Saying YES to women, gay men, lesbians and … trans people!

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

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.

Tales of the City (Tales of the City, #1) by Armistead Maupin

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!

Recommended Reading

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

Peaches Scarf

I have a bag load of Scylfing 4-ply that we cannot sell because there is a defect in the spinning, but I thought I’d take advantage of it. These colours are the amazing Otter’s Cairn, Mound Fire and Ancient Heart.

Mostly when I weave I am interested in texture, but I have wanted to get a bit bolder with colour this year, so here we go!

It’s a plain weave, very loose set, so the end result is a beautifully light gauzy summer scarf.

Huck Scarf

My first go at huck lace. I found it quite hard work, and easy to get lost, though the end result is really nice.
The yarn is Mama Qucha Sock which gives an amazing body = more like a DK than a 4-ply.

Afon Scarf

So this was three skeins of Cywyn Heavy DK and 3 skeins of … something else! They’d been in the back of the cupboard for so long that even Caerthan couldn’t identify the yarn.

It’s a bit heavier than the Cywyn, but didn’t cause any problems, and in fact blended a bit more easily than I wanted – I was hoping that the extra weight would stand out a bit.

It’s possibly a bit on the long side, and is pretty heavy duty – it’s definitely not going to get any wear until the winter!

I’m very happy with everything else. Caerthan’s colours are always wonderful of course, and the Cywyn Heavy DK keeps it lovely and soft.

the weave was nice and easy – standard broken twill.

Still don’t know what the other yarn is – that will always be a mystery.

Diamond has gone on her way

On Sunday morning our wonderful Diamond, mother of Olive, Heulwen and Lleu, lay down and decided she’d had enough. She didn’t look entirely happy about it, but she wasn’t uncomfortable either, and I knew that there was nothing wrong – it was simply her time to die.

One of the things I find so hard with keeping animals is knowing when to help and when to just step back. Should we call the vet? When should we call the vet? Would we be calling the vet to help Diamond or to help us? In the end I decided not to, remembering sections of Laurie Anderson’s wonderful and compassionate Heart of a Dog, and my own ethos of minimal interference, which has served us well  during our time with the alpacas. So we stepped back.

She refused all food and water, and was sometimes alert, but mostly away somewhere in her mind. I would go in and out of the barn to see her, as would the other alpacas. Gwen went in once, but seemed very uncomfortable and prefered to wait for me from a distance. The point is Diamond had a mixture of peace and quiet and our attention, and it seemed to be the right thing.

On Monday evening, well over 24 hours after she lay down she lifted her head up and looked at me for the last time. I was beginning to doubt my decision, feeling this was going on for too long, but the next time I looked in, after the sun had gone down, Diamond had gone too.

We’ve moved her body to a quiet secluded place to let the scavengers and nature take their course, and meanwhile in the field, life is going on, but I can’t quite see it yet. At the moment, there is something wrong, something missing, something out of balance.

I remind myself that for an alpaca, Diamond had a great life. She arrived at Pistyll Gwyn just a couple of months after us in 2008 and she gave us our very first cria – Olive, from whom she was never separated. She was five when she came here, nineteen when she died, her life spent in one very beautiful place, with the same group of alpacas around her …

R.I.P. Diamond – classy alpaca gem.

My Response to the Welsh Governments LGBTQ+ Action Plan

Here it is. I couldn’t have done it without the help of Merched Cymru‘s brilliant cutting through the obfuscation, and it’s by no means a comprehensive criticism, but I’m pleased that I have got across my main reservations in my own words.

I’m happy enough for people to use bits of it for inspiration of course, but try not to lift it direct – this is very me.

Q1. Do you think the Action Plan will increase equality for LGBTQ+ people and what do you think the priorities should be?
No. It’s centred around trans rights, which are sometimes in conflict with LGB rights and womens rights, as is becoming clearer day by day to anyone with an eye on the news.
Some people (agreeing with Stonewall’s view) now define being gay / lesbian as ‘same-gender attracted’ whereas many gay / lesbian people are pretty certain that it actually means ‘same-SEX attracted’.
I don’t dispute that Stonewall’s perspective is valid, but it is not the only one, and it looks to me like you should have a wider panel of ‘experts’ if you really wanted to increase equality for everyone.
As it is, trans people stand to benefit, while anyone who requires single-sex spaces will lose out.
It is particularly poignant that one of those groups is women. The terrible statistics on violent crime and murder against women make it strikingly obvious that they are the most vulnerable group within our society and any rights they currently have should be strengthened, not weakened.
As for LGBTQ+ people, the common priorities remain safety from harassment, fair policing,  and ending discrimination in employment, housing and health. Beyond that the priorities to me appear to be different.
LGB is based on sexuality, and the priorities are about retaining sexuality-specific rights and spaces; TQ+ is based on gender identity and the priorities seem to be about recognition and validation.
Perhaps you need two plans?

Q2. Do you agree with the overarching aims?
What would you add or take away in relation the overarching aims?
I am all for ‘advancing equality’, as long as it is not at the expense of others.
I’m not sure about the ‘rights’ bit, that seems very unclear. There’s no mention of exactly what rights need to be ‘recognised and mainstreamed’.
If you are meaning the opportunity to record gender-identity on official forms and such then I have no objection to that as long as there is a ‘none’ option (similar to religion) for those of us who don’t believe that gender identity is a thing, and as long as it is in addition to, and does not replace, biological sex.
If you are meaning ‘Self-ID’ I am very opposed to that, at least until the language and terminology in the whole debate has been clarified. Once we stop conflating sex with gender, then I think we stand a chance of creating policies that respect everyone equally. Until then, you have only to look at events in places such as Ireland, Canada and Norway where Self-ID is law, or here, where Self-ID has already been implemented, to see that it has been abused – the case of Karen White, for example. Very bad news for women!
As mentioned before, you need to widen the expertise and views on your panel. Gender Identity Ideology is just one perspective, and not enough if you truly wish to improve the lives of all people in Wales.

Q3. Do you agree with the proposed actions? What would you add or take away in relation the actions?
I could be here all week, but these are the main points for me:
(9) Seek to devolve powers in relation to Gender Recognition and support our Trans community. 
So Self-ID then. Definitely not at the moment. As discussed above. It has already been shown to be abused, both here and in other countries. If the difference between sex and gender is understood and clarified and you retain biological sex-based spaces and laws then no problem.

(10) Use all available powers to ban all aspects of LGBTQ+ conversion therapy and seek the devolution of any necessary additional powers. 
‘Conversion therapy’ has also been in the news recently, and I fear that what you’re actually referring to here is an attempt to stop therapists exploring gender dysphoria, as they would any other dysphoria, or psychological discomfort. Therapeutic practise is already well regulated in the UK and therapists by default will neither affirm nor deny someone’s view of themselves, but they will seek to enhance someone’s understanding of that. THis of course could end up clarifying someone’s feelings about, and intentions to, transition – for or against.  It might open up other possibilities to less invasive, costly, and risky solutions. That is not conversion, but increasing the persons understanding of themselves and their dysphoria. To me that seems a much more balanced approach, and would help to avoid some of the terrible stories we read about from young people who regret their early transitioning, and feel their gender dysphoria should have been challenged.
I’m pretty sure most abusive techniques that were in the past applied to change peoples sexuality are already illegal.

(11) Explore ways unnecessary personal identifications such as name, age and gender markers can be removed from documentation particularly in recruitment practices. 
I thought trans people WANTED to be recognised officially? Maybe I have misunderstood something there – I had thought ADDING a gender identity option would be a good thing for those that want it. If this is about removing ‘SEX’ from forms I disagree strongly – we need that information to understand crime trends, health needs, etc.

(14) Work with Police and Crime Commissioners and Chief Constables, along with other criminal and social justice partners, to review the under-reporting of LGBTQ+ hate crimes with the aim of acting to further improve the levels of reporting. 
I’m very worried about the understanding of what ‘hate crimes’ are at the moment, and feel these need much greater clarity. Just questioning Gender Identity Ideology can invite accusations of ‘transphobia’ and ‘hate’ even though many trans people themselves do not go along with it.
As someone who grew up in the 60s and faced ‘homophobia’ I can tell you from personal experience that someone saying ‘I don’t agree with you’ is a hell of a long way from the violence and hatred that we have spent decades moving away from. (And the police were part of that, so no help there.)

(43/44) Commit to review the Gender Identity pathway for children and young people in Wales following the review in NHS England. 
Commit to review the Gender Identity pathway for children and young people in Wales following the review in NHS England. 
You need to commit to widening the medical treatment pathways for anybody with gender dysphoria, children and adults, so that transitioning, with all its costs and risks, while still an option, is not the PREFERRED option. (To me it seems like it should be a very last resort.)

Q4. What are the key challenges that could stop the aims and actions being achieved?
You need to sort out the definitions, get a wider base of experts and look at the language, some of which many older gay and lesbian people, such as myself, will find offensive.

Q5. What resources (this could include funding, staff time, training, access to support or advocacy services among other things) do you think will be necessary in achieving the aims and actions outlined?
In terms of ‘advancing equality’ I think there is a potentially serious problem brewing in that the activities of trans rights activists across the UK are making non LGBTQ+ people more suspicious and antagonistic towards LGBTQ+ people . I have noticed this in my small rural community, and have felt a need to artifically initiate conversations about trans rights in order to distance myself from the terrible bullying tactics and mystifying language demands that we see on an almost daily basis. Whether this is related to the recent spate of homophobic attacks across the UK (and here in my very local Carmarthen) I don’t know. I want to make clear that I differentiate trans rights activists from trans people themselves, many of whom, I know, just want to get quietly on with their lives. So in short – some resources need to be put into stopping the backslide into more aggressive forms of homophobia and transphobia that had been on the decline.
If that can be dealt with, I think you need to carry on with what was already happening – more varied and less stereotyped exposure on mainstream media, relationship education in schools, etc.
I was not that comfortable in Wales in 2008.
I was VERY comfortable in Wales in 2018.
I’m definitely NOT so comfortable in 2021, and your action plan worries me that I will be LESS so in the future, partly because of what you are proposing, and partly because of what I fear will be the general public’s backlash to it.
You need to put resources into a new panel.
Until Stonewall widen their outlook, you should not waste resources on them. If you don’t understand why, then go listen to the Nolan Investigates podcast on BBC Sounds.

Q6. Do you feel the LGBTQ+ Action Plan adequately covers the intersection of LGBTQ+ with other protected characteristics, such as race, religion or belief, disability, age, sex, and marriage and civil partnership? If not, how can we improve this?
No. How do the sex-based orientations – lesbian, gay bisexual – fit in with the TQ+? You don’t make it clear whether women’s single-sex spaces will be respected as trans rights are opened up, and that to me seems fundamental. Women, not trans people, are the most vulnerable group in our society.

Q7. We would like to know your views on the effects that these proposals would have on the Welsh language, specifically on opportunities for people to use Welsh and on treating the Welsh language no less favourably than English. What effects do you think there would be? How could positive effects be increased, or negative effects be mitigated?
The plan is a messy language muddle in english, in my opinion. I can speak welsh but wouldn’t get very far with this! Much clearer definitions are needed, and only ones that can be AGREED across the whole spectrum of people – not just Stonewall’s Gender Identity Ideology definitions, which most people would question. The english dictionary is a good starting point, before starting on the welsh.

Q8. Please also explain how you believe the proposed policy approach could be formulated or changed so as to have positive effects or increased positive effects on opportunities for people to use the Welsh language and on treating the Welsh language no less favourably than the English language, and no adverse effects on opportunities for people to use the Welsh language and on treating the Welsh language no less favourably than the English language.

Sorry – couldn’t get my head around that one!

Q9. This plan has been developed in co-construction, and discussions around language and identity have shown that the acronym LGBTQ+ should be used. This stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning people, with the + representing other sexual identities. As a result we refer to LGBTQ+ people in the Plan.
What are your views on this term and is there an alternative you would prefer? Welsh speakers may wish to consider suitable terminology in both languages.

I have already expressed that the LGB groups in the acronym have different needs to the TQ+, so I don’t really like the lumping together. Less so, now that trans rights activism is having a detrimental effect across the board.
That said, the much bigger issue is the use of the word ‘queer’. For me this is a deeply offensive word, associated with humiliation, intimidation, verbal abuse and physical violence. It was a word that I internalised for my own intense shame and self-hatred as a child, and which I subsequently spent years trying to break free from. I do remember back in the 80s, during the Section 28 protests we did have a good go at reclaiming it, but it didn’t stick. To have it ‘reclaimed’ here by people using it as an identity, most of whom are too young to have been on the sharp end of homophobia and are not gay anyway, is deeply offensive. I can’t express it enough – absolutely disgusted by this, and it makes me feel that this plan has no respect for people of my generation and of what we lived through. Deeply deeply offensive.

Q10. We have asked a number of specific questions. If you have any related issues which we have not specifically addressed, please use this space to report them:

You have a decent starting point with the trans stuff covered, but this is not balanced with other needs. Please go back and listen to a wider range of voices.