Why would a trans woman be a friend to someone who speaks for “A Woman’s Place”, a transphobic organisation? I wrote, “I hope this evening goes well for you,” when she was off to speak to another such gathering. Does this make me a Quisling, aiding and abetting the transphobes?
She is not transphobic herself. She has several friends who are trans. Some of these speakers have a phobia, showing distaste for fellow human beings, but not she. She is excellent company, charismatic, witty and with a wonderful intellect.
It is good to see how other people think. I thought, we have so much in common: she is as distant from the gender stereotype as I am. Unfortunately, she sees it differently: I think I am unusual, she thinks everyone is different from the gender stereotype. It is merely oppressive. I could put arguments, such as, how would it arise if it were merely oppressive? If it bears some resemblance to how people are, it is more easily sustained, and it is being sustained. I will not convince her of that. Possibly, I may not convince her even of incidental, comparatively unimportant points.
A tiny number of people care very much about this indeed. Trans women, and gender critical feminists care, and are divided, though not strictly as trans women for our rights, and gender critical feminists against. A wider section of the public realise, thank God, that trans women are mostly harmless, that we should be accommodated and not frozen out (though gender neutral facilities may increase, where there is single sex accommodation we should be where we identify), that any of us who are not harmless should be judged as individuals, and that this is a human rights issue. The leader of the Labour Party and many prominent female Labour MPs have said publicly “trans women are women”.
Because I care so much, it would be easy to radicalise, spending time on the web with my side, finding reasons to condemn the other. I am aware of the writings of the broad coalition who condemn us: gender critical feminists, and the more publicly extreme right Tory MPs and Tory publications. Spending too much time reading about their antics could shove me down their rabbit hole, or into depression. I want the debate not to be radicalised, and it seems the only person I can deradicalise is myself.
That involves keeping up this friendship, even if it is under strain from this disagreement. The friendship is more than the disagreement. It gives me a sense of proportion. Whatever is the case in ten years’ time, it will have little to do with what we are debating now. And, I enjoy the friendship. There is more to life than trans issues.