On 23 July 2017, Justine Greening promised a consultation on making gender recognition easier for trans people. I had understood the government response was due by Wednesday 22 July 2020, three years later. But on 20 July Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, the worst prime minister since Anthony Eden if not since Lord North, said, “On the general issue of our response to the Gender Recognition Act, we’ve said that we’ll be responding over the Summer and that’s what we’re gonna do”. To include the ers, ums and repetitions were to double the length of the quote, and Mr Johnson appears unaware of the distinction between the Act, from 2004, and the consultation, from 2018.
It had been like awaiting a sentencing hearing, for a crime I did not commit. The postponement does not feel like a reprieve. Meanwhile JK Rowling, the most prominent anti-trans campaigner, continues to tweet– here a quote about detransitioners, from the Sunday Times- “I fear that the detransitioned women I interviewed are canaries in the coalmine. Not only for detransitioners, but for womanhood. They all, in some combination, found being a woman too difficult, too dangerous or too disgusting.”
In September 2017, there was an attempt to hold an anti-trans campaign meeting, where soi-disant feminists wished to foment fear and anger against trans women. Trans people and allies persuaded the venue to cancel the meeting, and the aggrieved haters proceeded to Speaker’s Corner, where they shouted for a bit. Trans people went to make a counter demonstration, and Tara Wolf assaulted Maria McLaughlin. Tara was fined, and produced a self-justifying rant on social media.
On 19 July 2020, Kellie-Jane Keen-Minshull, another anti-trans rabble-rouser, went to Speakers’ Corner and shouted for half an hour. Her placards fell to bits, and an entirely disinterested critic said, “She’s no public speaker, that’s for sure. What a drone.” She may have pledged to go back once a month. I saw one or two keen folk urging a counter demonstration, but this appears not to have materialised.
That’s a good thing. Trans people need to win friends, including among the anti-trans campaigners. Idiots like Tara Wolf did more harm than good. And yet I am sad about it. Three years ago there were hotheaded trans women with the confidence to go out and shout down the haters, and now we are cowed by the hatred. We win friends by persuasion, that a few thousand trans women can be accommodated, and only the patriarchy wins if we are excluded. Why else does Charles Koch fund anti-trans campaigns?
Now I feel a bit like I did when representing at tribunal. There were times when I expected a quick decision, a loss, and when it took longer I began to feel hopeful. Against all chances might we have convinced them? There is no chance we have convinced Johnson, a buffoon, or Liz Truss, his Minister “for” (sic) Women and Equalities. They want a great culture war to distract from the 60,000 covid deaths they have caused by their incompetence, and their complete lack of care to provide good government. However they may not be getting one. Mr Starmer appears quietly supportive while trying to take all the heat out of the situation. I love the #whyimatransally tag. One example: “the answer to this question honestly ought to be ‘because I am a human being and trans people are human beings and it is the bare minimum of basic humanity to believe we all deserve equal access to resources, safety, and respect’.” Respect? Right now I would not mind a slight reduction in the obsessive hatred.
I confess I have read much of a Sunday Times article on “knowledge resistance” by the “ideological left”. It is entertaining. It contains no nuance, and no resistance- it slips down easily like the best propaganda. It includes the line “If the ellipse identifies as a circle, why hurt its feelings?”
Also today I have heard a harrowing article on the abortion debate, on Audm. It puts what the writer calls the two best arguments, for and against. Also on Audm is Jonathan Haidt arguing that grandstanding on social media makes public debate impossibly toxic. And I read I am a threat, over and over again, but strikingly here: “America is doomed, Europe is doomed, Western civilization is doomed- and immigration, political correctness, transgenderism, the culture, the establishment, the left, and the “Dems” are responsible.” If only we were so powerful!
22 July: in Parliament today Nadia Whittome MP gave a proper classification of Liz Truss’s machinations: “Leaked reports of a potential roll-back on trans rights have understandably caused alarm. With hate crimes against trans people up nearly 40% on last year, does the Secretary of State agree that her quibbling on this issue is fanning the flames of populist hate towards an already marginalised group?” Truss was forced to climb down. “Let me be absolutely clear: we will not be rolling back the rights of transgender people. It is important that transgender people are able to live their lives as they wish, without fear, and we will make sure that that is the case.” When? “Over the Summer”.
The point is that now, gender recognition can rely on diagnosis by a specialist psychiatrist, because the International Classification of Diseases calls “Gender dysphoria” a mental illness. However after 2022 that will no longer be the case, and medical treatment will be inappropriate unless we want hormones or surgery. It would be as ridiculous to require a trans person to get a diagnosis from a psychiatrist before getting gender recognition, as it would be to require someone to get a medical certificate of homosexuality before allowing them to marry someone of the same sex. Because our human rights require our gender to be recognised, without the need for surgical alteration, we cannot be required to produce a diagnosis.