Trans women need LGB people and cis women as allies

If a trans-excluder says that vulnerable women would be scared, seeing me in a women’s loo or changing room, I am silenced. My friends say, “Nonsense!” robustly, and I need that protection, because I am put into such a state of misery and fear that I cannot speak for myself. I just want to hide.

Saying I am dangerous, or that people reasonably fear me, is a threat, because it means that someone might feel justified in attacking me, to defend those vulnerable others. And, more, it raises echoes in me, of being the outsider, not accepted, which may be pre-verbal. It knocks the stuffing out of me. I am terrified. I lose all my energy.

So I am glad to have robust allies against the government’s plan to take away all protection for trans people. The pledge of the minister, Liz Truss, to “protect single-sex spaces” means working to exclude me, and a Tory peer’s extension of that principle to clothes-shops changing rooms show what they want. It is an emergency. Having caused thousands of unnecessary deaths, and repeatedly lied about the number of covid tests performed, they need out-groups for the populace to hate as our anger grows.

First up, the LGBT Foundation. This Manchester charity has been supporting and representing lesbians and gay men for over forty years. They have drafted an open letter to the minister for cis women to sign, to say they do not fear us. Please share it and get as many cis women- lesbian or straight- as possible to sign.

They point out, the language you have used is very similar to the anti-trans rhetoric used by transphobic hate groups and organisations such as Woman’s Place UK, Transgender Trend and the LGB Alliance. They say the evidence shows trans women are mostly harmless, and that medical treatment for trans youth is in the young people’s interest- as you would expect of medical treatment by NHS doctors. An actual, urgent feminist issue is that in covid lockdown intimate partner violence has increased, and they suggest the minister directs her attention to that instead.

We do not need protecting from trans people. Please focus on protecting us from the dangers that are killing women right now. If the Tory attack on trans people succeeds, they will come after lesbians and gays next.

This week, Liberty, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch issued a joint statement. They say we are treated as outsiders without rights, and as always At times of crisis and political change, marginalised groups are often singled out for abuse and hate. We are not heard, but dehumanised, made to defend who we are. In Hungary, Russia and the US trans people suffer vicious attacks on our rights: We cannot allow this to happen here.

Trans men need allies too; but the attacks are different. Trans men are attacked as pitiable and mutilated, trans women as perverted and dangerous. Both are attacked as deluded. Allies point out the attacks are baseless.

10 thoughts on “Trans women need LGB people and cis women as allies

  1. I love the Manchester LGBT Foundation; I attended their Significant Others, Family, Friends and Allies group for some years before l moved down here.. We were called the SOFFAs on the Sofa’s [of the communal space]. Have signed and shared the letter.

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      • Hi there
        In response to your piece, ‘Trans women need LGB people and cis women as allies,’ I speak for many women by saying that it is not trans-women being in female washrooms, refuges, prison wings/cells that is the concern. Rather, it is the possibility that predatory males would be able to gain access to all these spaces merely by stating that they identify as the female gender. To assume that violent, predatory individuals, trans or otherwise, will not seek to take advantage of this would be naive, as was demonstrated by the case of the violent sex-offender Karen White. I don’t think XX individuals need to be protected from trans individuals, but unfortunately it is still the case that XX individuals are raped, battered and murdered by XY individuals with alarming regularity. Reducing women’s safety to increase the safety of trans women is not acceptable. And of course the case of XY individuals competing in sports designated for XX individuals with scholarships, prestige, prize money etc, at stake, is another area where XX individuals are being expected to give up sex-protected rights. Of course trans-individuals should be able to compete in sport but lowering testosterone levels doesn’t begin to address the advantages the average XY body has over the average XX body in terms of strength and endurance. Solutions are required that don’t just involve asking XX individuals to give up hard won rights and protections. We are all responsible for finding those solutions.

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        • Welcome, Gina. Thank you for commenting.

          There was some evidence that Karen White was trans. I understand they had been referred to a psychiatrist with gender identity problems. Most trans women are placed in men’s prisons- the prison service needs evidence before it will place a trans woman in a women’s prison. However, on the prison rules at the time and now they should have been kept out of a women’s prison because they were so dangerous. It does not really affect the argument if Karen White is a “genuine trans woman”- no group of people is entirely without bad people.

          However, why on Earth would any man go to all the trouble of pretending to be a trans woman in order to attack women, when it is so appallingly easy for men to attack women without that effort? Considering the rape conviction rates, what man would pretend to be trans?

          If your concern is not trans women in women’s spaces, please consider the effect your campaigning has on trans women. Gender recognition does not affect rights under the Equality Act, but anti-trans rights campaigning has badly affected trans women and, if successful, would have the effect of driving innocent trans women from the spaces we have been for years. If you don’t intend that consequence, perhaps you could ally with trans women in campaigning against male violence in a way which would not affect trans women- for example, by opposing the continuing defunding of women’s shelters. Let us work together. Ireland had no sudden influx of men pretending to be trans when it instituted gender recognition.

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          • I wish men did not go to the trouble of pretending to be trans-women in order to gain access to vulnerable girls and women do they can spy on, harass and attack them. Unfortunately they do, as outlined in the attached article and many others like it.
            It is also getting easier for predatory males to do this, here in Canada at least. The recent passing of Bill C 16 means that, amongst other things, individuals can legally change their gender without any involved process, surgery or hormonal therapy. This in turn, along with the ubiquity of uni-sex clothing, means it is now easier for men to gain unchallenged access to formerly female, protected spaces.

            I absolutely agree that trans-individuals should also be able to use public spaces without fear for their dignity or safety and have never opposed gender-recognition nor will I. It seems that the safest way forward is for female sex-protected spaces to remain with the addition of all-gender facilities.

            As for allying with trans-gender women, I would now view such a step with great trepidation. For the sin of attending a public meeting to discuss concerns regarding the safety and rights of women and girls, I was labelled transphobic, a trans-exclusionary, radical feminist and met outside by a crowd of chanting trans-women brandishing nooses and mocked-up guillotines. Similarly, the appalling misogynistic abuse that JK Rowling, (who is clearly not trans-phobic), received at the hands of trans-women for the sin of expressing similar concerns, also serves as a cautionary tale.
            I hope that the voices of the less misogynistic, bullying, vitriolic trans-women get louder so that women like myself, who want to support the rights, safety and dignity of all women, XY individuals or otherwise, feel able to reach out and join hands with trans-activists.

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            • It depends what you mean by “transphobic”. It’s a bit like “racist”. Of course it is racist to shout “Go back where you came from” at someone in the street; but it is also racist to prefer a white person to a black person who is similarly qualified, at a job interview, and the interviewer might think themselves colourblind, it was just that the person they appointed seemed a better fit.

              Rowling is transphobic. The myth she peddles, of male predators pretending to be trans, incites people against trans women. Trans women are in women’s spaces already, and kicking us out is not a useful feminist campaign. There are far too few of us to make a difference. The public meetings in the UK are similarly transphobic. inciting fear against innocent trans people. That is their whole purpose.

              Added: I deleted your link to the pdf, as I am willing to allow hostile comments but not links to anti-trans propaganda. I had a look at it. From a position hostile to trans-supportive legislation it claims to have found 29 incidents of a trans woman or man pretending to be trans being offensive in women’s space in the UK, US and Canada. Initially it calls these incidents “violence” but admits later on some are merely voyeurism. I do not doubt the seriousness of the individual events, but in such a large population over a period of at least 12 years, 29 incidents do not justify collective punishment of trans women.

              On p3 it claims to be making a distinction between men pretending to be trans, and genuine trans women. However, what matters is the practical result: if genuine trans women, perhaps later diagnosed under ICD 10 or even 11, are subject to hostility because of the writer’s campaign, the distinction is worthless. Later it complains about the methodology of a rival study, but its own failures of methodology are too tedious and multifarious to list.

              It is a propaganda screed designed to elicit fear of trans women. Please, Gina, exercise some critical thinking and consider the effect your words may have on innocent trans women.

              Possibly as a Canadian you are unaware of the particular British context, in which trans women have been officially allowed in women’s spaces since before 2010, but tolerated there for years before- my psychiatrist gave me a card to show if challenged, in 2001, but I never needed it. The British context, where self-declaration of trans people in birth certificates will not affect our presence already in single sex spaces, shows Rowling’s transphobia.

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  2. In response to your last reply:
    1. I had exercised some ‘critical thinking’ as you suggested I should, and reached the conclusion that violence against wife and girls in public spaces is likely to be as massively under-reported as all other violence against us.
    2. I have never campaigned against trans-women nor will I.
    3. It’s a problem, that by suggesting we keep female sex-protected public spaces/facilities with the addition of all-gender facilities so everyone can stay safe, I am perceived as anti-trans women.
    4. You chose not to address the valid concerns I raised regarding XY individuals competing against XX individuals at high levels in sport. That can probably never be fair but would only come close with a series of handicaps added to address the advantages you have regarding hormones, size of heart, lungs and skeletal size.

    I won’t be visiting your site again as I feel it’s not terribly productive but of course I wish you well in your efforts to live as a trans-gender woman without undermining the rights and safely of women and girls

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    • I am afraid you are perceived as anti-trans woman because you are anti-trans woman. On sports, the IOC requires testosterone levels significantly below male normal, caused by hormone blockers, oestrogen therapy, and often surgery. This shows the athlete is clearly trans. These are things no non-trans athlete will do. The experts accept these conditions are sufficient- why don’t you?

      There are few all-gender services. Trans women are in women’s spaces safely. I pointed out some of the flaws in the document you linked. Trans women have been in women’s spaces for decades. Expelling us will do no good.

      The myths you have attempted to spread do real harm to trans women and children. If you don’t come to see the bias of the places you get such propaganda, but continue to spread it, you will continue to do harm. Please stop. Please address real causes of violence against women and girls. Because the campaigning energies of such as you is diverted against harmless trans women, you are harming cis women and girls as well.

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