“Genuine trans women”

The concept of the “genuine trans woman” promotes transphobia and transphobic violence by suggesting that some people are merely pretending to be trans women, for misogynist, immoral or criminal purposes, and must be opposed. Then no trans woman can be safe, because anyone might judge we were not genuine enough.

From facebook: We oppose any rules that will open up women’s spaces to opportunistic, predatory males. We are not suggesting for a moment that trans women fall into that category, though our argument is often wilfully misrepresented as such. We believe that the best solution for this is to have dedicated spaces for trans women, as they are also at risk of male violence. So all trans women should be excluded, in case one of us is an “opportunistic, predatory male”. This is a verbal formula to justify excluding trans women from women’s spaces, where we have gone for decades.

Lucy Masood, a firefighter, spoke at a Woman’s Place event in London: For me this isn’t about genuine trans women having access to our spaces, this is about men. Men who do not have gender dysphoria, are not women, have no intention of physically becoming women yet believe they have the right to be accepted as women.

Men demanding to be included in all-women short lists, demanding to be woman’s officers, demanding to compete against women in sporting events and now, of course, demanding to have access to women only spaces.

Trans women competing in sporting events have to comply with rules about testosterone levels. She is against people who are clearly trans women, and suggesting that allowing our presence is a threat to women.

Who are these men? They don’t have gender dysphoria, she says. How would she know? Perhaps they do not have a gender recognition certificate under the current rules. That is, they have not produced a letter from a specialist psychiatrist to prove to the Gender Recognition Panel that they have gender dysphoria. That does not show they do not have gender dysphoria: many of us have not seen a specialist psychiatrist because we are on the waiting list, or because we are terrified of transitioning and have not quite admitted that we are going to do so, but nevertheless are testing the waters and going out in public as women. I did that. I had gender dysphoria.

I want those of us considering transition to be able to go out in public and use the loo. They are not currently protected by the Equality Act until they have made the decision to transition. If, without a diagnosis, I could tell Lucy Masood that I had gender dysphoria and she would believe me, there might be little problem; but if I need a doctor’s letter to convince her she is more suspicious than I would like. Disbelieve me if you have clear reason to do so. I should not have to prove myself to anyone, unless what I say is contradicted by what I do. There has not been any great influx of “predatory men” pretending to be trans women in Ireland.

Some people of course will see contradictions and threats anywhere.

Lucy also mentioned people who “have no intention of physically becoming women”. I was ambivalent about that until about a year after I transitioned at work. My intact penis was less prone to erections, as I was taking oestradiol and the testosterone suppressant Goserelin. And yet I was going to work expressing myself as a woman. Clearly, Lucy would exclude a lot of trans women who are currently allowed to go about our ordinary business unmolested, and use loos without trouble.

So while she might claim to include trans women, or not oppose our inclusion, in fact she worries about “men”, and would call a lot of genuine trans women men. It is still transphobia. If you don’t accept that “trans women are women” you should at least accept that “trans women are trans women”- and that includes people considering transition. Nobody seriously considers it without being trans- it is just too costly and difficult.

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