No platform III

So what of Julie Bindel’s claim that gay men and lesbians may be pressured into transition and “sex changes”, to mimic straight people? Yes, it happens in Iran, but does it happen here? Apparently it does. She made the claim on this Radio 4 programme in 2013.

In Standpoint, she quoted one. “I was a messed-up young gay man,” says Claudia McClean, a male-to-female transsexual who opted for surgery 20 years ago. “If I had been offered an alternative to a sex change, I would have jumped at the chance.” Bindel does not suggest what alternative was available, but the obvious ones are reverting, not transitioning, or expressing female while retaining her penis. Claudia would have spent a year or two presenting female before surgery, longer if on the NHS. Those who regret, who blame the doctors, make transition more difficult for the rest of us. In 1990 there was a great deal of normalised homophobia- on the TV, in the papers, on the streets- but presenting female was hardly easier for a gay male than being out gay.

I believe a certain androphile trans woman told my friend Andy that she was “a gay man trapped in a woman’s body”, though she did not revert, and though Andy should not have named her to me. Again, where did the suggestion that she should transition come from?

A gay man born in Italy in the 1970s told me that in his teenage years he had considered transition. Italy has a macho culture; yet he did not.

I could have been straight. A lot of trans women are gynephile. We clearly are not transitioning to conform to a straight female stereotype enforced by patriarchy. The blog self-called “Silly” still carries on, claiming that the evidence for genetic and brain differences in trans women from cis men are all in the androphiles, and the gynephiles are all autogynephiliac perverts. Don’t go there, it is hate speech: in one page she advises the wives of trans women that “in a very real sense” their husband has died. But if there is all that evidence of difference in the androphile trans women, it is not merely that gay men are pressured into transition.

Clearly, not all trans women are gay men pressured into transition, and not all androphile trans women revert, or regret the operation, even if some do. Then, who is the person needing protection? Not the gay man who falsely imagines he has gender dysphoria, and foolishly transitions, then has his penis and testicles removed, willingly- for he only has to say “No, thanks” and the operation will not happen. And most people in Britain can find gay-accepting sub-cultures, especially now, but increasingly since 1967. Conservative Evangelicals and Catholics hate trans people, as well as gay people: you will not find Christians who would reject you as gay but welcome you as trans, though that is a myth other TERFs have peddled.

To protect that notional gay man at the expense of real trans women, who must jump through hoops, and wait, and wait, for hormones and the operation, is transphobic.

Hieronymus Bosch, The Temptation of St Anthony, detail 7

7 thoughts on “No platform III

  1. I recently watched a local TV documentary that followed the life of a male transitioning to female over a period of years. At the start of the program, he had just outed himself as being trans and to his surprise, he had the support of most of his family and the village he lived in. Apparently most of the community recognised he wasn’t a typical heterosexual male and were more supportive than I would have thought a conservative village would be. We watched her as she gained a new confidence, even more so as the effects of the hormone treatment started to take effect. By the third year, she appeared in every way female, apart from the obvious male characteristics of height and hand size, and was eagerly awaiting reassignment surgery. But as time went on, she became more doubtful about need to have surgery, and then started to become less and less happy. A few months later, she stopped the hormone treatment, and started dressing as a male again. He appeared desperately unhappy and he asked that the documentary be cancelled. The documentary picks up again at about three years later, and we meet a restored and happy male with a (male) partner. It turned out in this particular case, the subject of the documentary, had found himself attracted to men and his own homophobia had convinced him that he must therefore be a female trapped in a man’s body. I suspect his circumstances are fairly unique and I’m guessing that homophobia causing belief of being transgendered does not occur very often. I’m glad things worked out well for the subject, and felt that the producers of the program dealt sensitively with the topic. My only concern is that because of the outcome, it might become ammunition to anti LGBT groups to “support” their claims that such lifestyles are purely a matter of choice: “he chose to be trans and then changed his mind and chose to be gay. That’s proof that such people choose to be that way,and are not born that way“. I hope not.

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    • Thank you for that. It is fascinating. What is his name? I would be interested to read more.

      Whatever he chose, he could not choose to be straight and conventionally masculine. His experience shows that fear, loathing and prohibition of natural states- like being gay, or perhaps trans- only causes great suffering, whereas acceptance brings happiness and fulfilment.

      It gives less ammunition to Evangelical homophobes than to gay and feminist campaigners against transition. It shows that some choose to transition when it is not right for them. But it is not permanent. When I transitioned I realised that in five years’ time I might be trying to make a go of life as male, again- but the only way I could find that place was through transition, which was what I wanted more than anything. In retrospect, still expressing myself female, it seems I was right to transition. You can’t know beforehand. Perhaps the answer is to make transition easier, less of a big deal, so that people try it; and agree that it need not involve surgical alteration- more on that on Saturday.

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        • Darling, it really is not that simple. Gay campaigners against homophobia and feminist campaigners against patriarchy want change, increasing acceptance and freedom; but a few of them imagine that rather than being liberated, we are being forced down a narrow path of transition which is not good for us or for society. I don’t think it’s that clear, but have written a case against vaginoplasty for Saturday.

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      • I can’t be of much help in providing more information about him or the documentary. I thought we had recorded the program, but a search through the hundred or so programs we have stored didn’t find it. My wife did a purge of the recorder last week, so it might have been deleted then. I can’t recall either his male or female name, or even which part of the country he lived in, That kind of trivia never stays with me as they were not really important to the actual story. Sorry.

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