We live on the sufferance of others. They could withdraw it at any time. How can we cope with that lack of certainty, the nagging knowledge that we are not Safe?
I am a human being who has made particular choices in particular circumstances. Rosie told me she is a woman, who has had a birth defect corrected. That seemed to me to be a useful defence against self-doubt, but not against other people who are hostile.
Germaine Greer gave her speech, without any allusion to trans women, but we came up in the questions after. Being a woman is a bit tricky. If you didn’t find your pants full of blood when you were 13 there’s something important about being a woman you don’t know. It’s not all cake and jam. I know it’s “not all cake and jam” expressing myself female. I have done it for thirteen years, after all. For me, it is better than the alternative.
If menstruating for the first time is traumatic at all, that is the fault of the female carers for the children approaching menarche. Your mother should have told you it was going to happen, Germaine, that it was perfectly natural, and that you could cope with it with simple measures she should have shown you.
Some women are very attractive, and suffer unwanted attention. Some women are not, and are ignored. These are fundamental parts of those women’s experience of being themself as a woman; yet those in the other group do not know them, and may find it difficult to show empathy. It is not one uniform experience that makes someone a woman: they find themselves socialised in different ways, in different families, and they conform or rebel, and the socialisation fits the individual or does not.
I don’t believe a woman is a man without a cock either. I don’t think anyone does, but the people who come closest are the radical feminists who imagine that the only differences which matter are physiological sex characteristics.
Five women approached Dr Greer as she travelled to Cardiff, to thank her for saying what they felt they were not allowed to say. No. It is not that they are not allowed to say these things, but that their conclusion, that they should exclude and denigrate me, evokes disapproval. Most people see inclusion, acceptance and increasing diversity is a good thing.
Now, we are accepted. The journalist Paris Lees appears on Question Time. The pendulum could swing, and Dr Greer’s views could become the norm. Then my life would be considerably more difficult. The debate goes on about whether or not I am a woman. Sometimes it gets impassioned. It continually reminds me I could be rejected at any time. I feel safety is impossible; but I am safe enough. I am still alive, and no-one is safer than that.