Trans women should be calm and careful in asserting our rights, and possibly even circumspect; but we should not back down from asserting them. Some people need wheelchairs. Conceivably, some people might be boorish in a wheelchair, banging it against others, or deliberately blocking space making it difficult to pass. That is not a reason to deny anyone a wheelchair, and this is a good metaphor for gender recognition as we are equally unlikely to be boorish. Getting recognition might make us more relaxed and confident, so able to listen and respond courteously when challenged, rather than lashing out because frightened and hurt.
Debbie Hayton, writing in the noted transphobe publication The Times, argued against Lily Madigan, a trans woman taking a place in the Jo Cox Leadership Programme, which is aimed at women. I don’t know what that programme is like, but imagine it will draw out talents of self-expression, and aid in building confidence to use those talents. Those of us socialised as boys need to think carefully before taking places in schemes designed to compensate the rather different formative experience of girls, she says: as if the training will not be appropriate.
The bargain we have with society is that we are treated as women: honorary women, or asylum seekers. That means we enter women’s spaces. If we don’t, we are more marginalised. There is no place for us.
Debbie also wrote for The Morning Star, which has a smaller circulation and Marxist heritage. It has published trans-excluding feminism based on a class analysis of the class of men oppressing the class of women, not seeing the possibility of moving between those classes. Under self-declaration, how do women distinguish between a trans woman and an opportunistic man? asked Debbie. Well, self-declaration is irrelevant. I don’t carry my GRC around with me. I usually carry a credit card with a feminine name. That is, if challenged I could show evidence that I am generally treated as female, if my clothes, hair and actions are insufficient for anyone.
My psychiatrist said I was not psychotic- not suffering from delusions- but the diagnosis of transsexualism was based on my own determination and self-understanding. That determination is equally shown by my change of name and change of documents. If for gender recognition I give the additional guarantee that I intend to live in the acquired gender life-long, I don’t see what a specialist’s diagnosis adds to it.
Debbie Hayton argues that being a woman means having a woman’s reproductive organs, generally, or some disorder of sexual development which women have. She is associating with people, a strange coalition of conservatives like Rupert Murdoch and gender-critical feminists, who assert that only cis women should be treated as women, and not trans women. However the fabric of our lives depends on being treated as women. We could never reach an accommodation with the conservatives, whose world view requires that we do not exist and who will enforce that world view on us given any chance.
We might reach an accommodation with the feminists. How can the restrictions gender places on people be broken down, as both groups desire? We can’t do that by abrogating our rights.