Trans women, simply explained

Non-trans friends:

Predatory men pretending to be trans in order to attack women is a myth. It could happen now, if they really wanted, as the Equality Act 2010 in the UK allows those who appear to be trans women to enter women’s spaces, but it does not happen because there are so many easier ways of attacking women.

That myth is transphobic. It creates fear of trans women. Someone might think: “Is that a genuine trans woman? Or is it a predatory man?” They might even feel an enhanced sense of suspicion- “Will there be a predatory man in a dress there?” Yet people who spread the myth often imagine that they are not transphobic because they don’t think they are hostile to “genuine” trans women.

Please, if you see or hear this myth anywhere, challenge it. State the facts. Call it what it is- transphobia. Explain why. Transphobia is spread by people who imagine they are not transphobic at all.


Any attempt to exclude trans women from toilets and changing rooms requires policing women’s femininity. Do you want any woman to reconsider her hair or her clothes to avoid misgendering? What about the tall woman, or the broad shouldered woman? What about the woman who has ceased her public feminine expression and always wears DMs and a crew cut, because she is traumatised by predatory men who won’t take no for an answer? Whatever anyone thinks of trans women in women’s refuges, prisons, hospital wards or sports, excluding trans women from loos and changing rooms would hurt all women, and subject them more to patriarchal control.


So what about refuges, prisons, hospital wards and sports? Women’s Aid helps fugitives from violence, and includes trans women fugitives from violence. No prisoner should be subject to violence: let us work for the reduction of the prison population and the humane treatment of prisoners, not for housing trans women in vulnerable prisoner units with male paedophiles. In hospital all deserve dignity, even trans women. In sport, the IOC requires drastic reduction in the male testosterone level in all trans women competitors. No man would endure that. These women should be able to compete.


I am terrified. After The Sunday Times reported a “government source” promised to “safeguard female-only spaces, including refuges and public lavatories, to stop them being used by those with male anatomy”, and overturn the consultation, where 70% of respondents were in favour of trans self-declaration, I fear legal restriction and public hostility inflamed by public discourse where trans women are conflated with predatory men. Trans women are not the main threat to other women.


What do you say when a cis straight educated white man says “Why do we need labels”?

Because the first time people are labelled is always pejorative. It may be scientific, classifying, othering us. It may be legalistic, regulating our behaviour or expression. It may be abusive, short and cruel to shout in the street. Then choosing our own labels is an act of resistance.


There is no such thing as “trans ideology”. I am a trans woman. I do not seek to define womanhood for any other woman, or deny that sex is real. I don’t define women’s sexuality, or how women should dress or behave. I want freedom for women to be who they are, because I need that freedom myself. When we say “my gender identity is female” or “I am a woman” we are psyching ourselves up to do what we do not understand but want more than anything else in the world- to express ourselves as women. When we want inclusive language for trans men and nonbinary folk it’s just like women wanting inclusive language- “chairman” becomes “chairperson”. When that seems ugly, we work together to improve it: “chairperson” becomes “chair”.


Keep it simple. Conspiracy theories flourish when people are drawn in by all the information available. QAnon addicts relish Q-drops, telling New Information about how wonderful Q+ (Donald Trump) is, and how threatened he is by the Deep State, and “Do the Research” in between drops, analysing. Anti-vaxxers memorise lists of ingredients of vaccines, and their alleged harm. Flat-Earthers study the Bedford Levels experiments. Transphobes and anti-trans campaigners learn about the few trans people who can be made to look bad, and all sorts of detail about sports and shelters and prisons and hospitals and changing rooms, and share it on forums and twitter. Cut through their crap.

Trans women are women, socially, legally and morally. Trans rights are human rights.

12 thoughts on “Trans women, simply explained

  1. The trans ideology argument works well for both TERFS and right wing ideologues as it is easier to demonize a group of people if you paint them all with the same brush and assign them a malevolent intent such as usurping the role of genetic women or subverting young minds by putting them on hormones before they are ready. The fact that none of this is true matters less than selling a portrait that meets their needs.

    Always appreciate your insight Clare.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you. It’s the idea that lesbians are being redefined out of existence, or women are martyrs for suggesting sex is real. Of course sex is real. How could it not be? The only “trans ideology” is autogynephilia theory, which though refuted, lives on in the left and right wing phobes’ conception.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi, just found your blog and wanted to say thank you for taking the effort and going through what must be a very difficult process of explaining these issues from a trans perspective, to those who don’t understand.

    Really interesting point about a white cis man saying ‘why do we need labels?’ and linking this to the policing of trans women, as if you have to meet a certain threshold to qualify for entry into women’s spaces. I recently read Grayson Perry’s book The Descent of Man, and he talks about how the world has been built by and for white cis straight men, which is why being a white cis straight man is considered the ‘norm’ and those of us who who don’t fall into that category has to go through the effort of labelling ourselves, as if we are some kind of deviant. Not only that but then we have to justify our label to others to prove that we fit into that minority and therefore deserve those protections.

    I really wish that trans women’s rights could be viewed from the perspective of protecting a minority, rather than policing male violence. Thank you again for writing so clearly and patiently, I hope I can use what I learn from your blog to become a better ally.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Welcome, quiet person. Thank you for commenting. I liked that book.

      I want to police male violence. That is why I want to divert the campaigning from campaigning against trans women, which distracts from policing male violence.

      Liked by 2 people

        • More than one thing can be right. Yes I want to change the perception that trans women are men needing policed. And I want effort against actual threat of male violence. And I want other perceptions and arguments used against trans women to be changed.

          I want nothing less than full acceptance, and an end to everything restricting that!

          Liked by 3 people

          • We may not get that full acceptannce until the next generation are the main proportion of the populace l fear – judging by all the recent hatred that has sprung up all around us, sadly. It feels a much less safe place than when the GRA amendments were 1st mooted


            • If young people can get that equality and freedom are good things, older people have no excuse for not getting it. If people are using hatred for political ends, even ends unrelated to trans people- power not to oppress us but oppressing us for a few extra votes, ramping up the hatred to get those votes- they are evil, and all good people should make them stop.

              Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree and of course they should be stopped but now people like you, me and my daughter are apparently part of cancel-culture which is anti-free-speech. We call out every transphobe and correct their ‘alternative facts’ but still the bigots with this latest Project Fear have the support of the media, rich and powerful, so their voices are louder and more widespread

    Liked by 1 person


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