“Biological men” and centre-left politics

“Labour is proud to stand with the LGBT+ community,” it tweets. What does that mean in this political climate, and does anyone believe them?

The anti-trans campaigners have moved on. Trans women have been in women’s spaces and services forever, and that just wasn’t a problem. There are so few of us hardly anyone noticed, and they mostly didn’t care. But then in 2017 Theresa May proposed reforming the Gender Recognition Act, and the campaign against trans people got the billionaire rocket fuel it has now. At first, the haters pretended they had nothing against “genuine trans women”, only predatory men pretending to be trans women. One vile slogan against GRA reform was “Self-ID gives predators the green light”. This is obviously transphobic, teaching people to fear “genuine” trans women, and judge us. Is that really a trans woman, or is it a “predatory male”?

But now there is no chance of GRA reform, and the transphobes have moved on. There is still the ritual claim “I have always supported rights for trans people”, along with a demand for “biological men” to be excluded from all women’s “single sex” or “separate sex” services.

Keir Starmer’s response was to support the Equality Act. Trans women can be excluded if there is good reason to do so, and not otherwise. Trans rights are just about fine as they are now, and so are women’s rights. He might think that was safe, but being centrist- listen to both sides, do what is reasonable- is not safe. The Independent reported this in the most confrontational way possible. “Keir Starmer backs excluding trans women from some women only spaces”, as if he had come down on a side. If there was any reasonable discussion, this might be tenable. I have no wish to retraumatise a woman who has just been raped, and would stay out of some spaces if it was reasonable. But the demand is for total exclusion, which brooks no compromise.

Ideally just before Conference attention should be on Labour values and policies, on Keir Starmer and his Fabian Society pamphlet. Instead, Rosie Duffield, relentless anti-trans campaigner, is “trending”.

On The Today Programme culture warrior Justin Webb asked Ed Davey, leader of the LibDems, “Do you believe there should be places in our society where biological males can’t go?” He spent more than a third of the interview (starts at 1.51.40) putting the views of the extremist trans excluders, with a petulant sneer, as if they were only seeking what everyone would agree is right. Absolutely no trans women, not never not nohow, in any women’s service. If I wanted to try on a T-shirt before buying it I should trek to the men’s section. Not all clothes shops have a men’s section. I should be humiliated.

Poor Ed Davey tried to be consensual. “I think the trans rights issue is an issue that all parties are grappling with and we need to come to some consensus across political parties.” Webb demanded a straight answer. Attempt at nuance, with any complex issue, is portrayed as equivocation. No issue is black and white, but any admission of shades of grey is called dishonest.

So Labour needs a clear, defensible position. Trans women might be excluded from women’s spaces if we did something wrong. Karen White should not be in the general population of a women’s prison. But we should not be excluded simply because of who we are. I would treat traumatised women with compassion, but not be excluded by diktat.

This needs a soundbite. “Trans women are women. Trans women should never be excluded from a women’s service because of who they are.”

Then explain as necessary. Any person who behaves badly might be excluded from a service because of what they have done, but not because of who they are. The Equality Act has always protected trans people from the moment they decide to transition. Trans women are vulnerable. Portraying us as a threat incites violence against us.

So Rosie Duffield is trending, and the news is full of the right to “single sex services” meaning No Trans Women, and my friend who is cis, in favour of trans rights, and bi, says Labour’s tweet is “opportunistic and not-credible”. Trans people should support Labour, to get the Tories out. Labour should return the favour. If that made anti-trans campaigners leave, that would be a bonus. They already are only of use to the hard Right.

5 thoughts on ““Biological men” and centre-left politics

  1. I heard this as well and it affected me really badly all day
    I felt abused and lied about without recourse and this is radio 4 today programme accepting a totally bias transphobic narrative
    I was thinking of a formal complaint but such is the climate of hate and lies I thought there is no point
    I m really worried we have reached tipping point now
    Women s right are only given if they exclude trans women
    There never seems to be a fair discussion or balance yet ironically it is supposed to be so called trans activists who silence deee speech and cancel culture
    No one tolerated outright fascism rascist or anti Semitic views in radio 4 or media in general so as a protected characteristic under EA2010
    It seems we are not afforded the same protections as other protected catorgories
    I feel extremely vulnerable
    Isolated lonely I get continual hate from cross dressers seemingly with similar views as gender criticals
    And because they are only out there for once a month or similar they don’t have to worry about the consequences of the vile views currently
    It may seem I m preaching division but this is my life and it’s reality every day
    We need to confront this snd pony out the lies and abuse and what guy wrote here and although it’s not popular
    The fact is there is a difference
    Transitioning trans women
    Have internal GI which is female
    This is not the same as most CDs who are men ( their GI is )
    The GC movement uses this to say we are the same with devastating consequences
    We need to campaign for the facts and demand out story to be heard in a positive realistic way
    that shows up the exclusionary movement fir the hate and liars that they are
    Jenni Murray is spouting in the daily mail saying it’s a fight to protects women’s rights and equality- Shane she doesn’t add
    That means making us unequal and sub human less than
    Feminist ?
    No it’s inequalities she and others are wanting demanding

    Liked by 1 person

    • The anti-trans campaigners will not be satisfied until no trans woman can ever use a women’s service. As for cross-dressers, I just don’t know. I know of a post-operative transsexual who is an anti-trans campaigner, wants to be called “he”, happy to be excluded from services. Keep the faith. Let us encourage each other. There are some people who accept us for who we are.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think folk who are gender nonconforming who side with gender critical views might want to take a step back and reflect on where this is heading. I doubt that the hate we see will magically reduce when ‘spaces are reserved for biological women’ (whatever that claptrap means). I’m pretty sure discrimination doesn’t stop, but snowballs as we’ve seen with anti immigrant talk emboldening overt racism. 🙁

    There’s a growing number of people – perhaps in younger generations – where gender isn’t felt to be the rigid binary of the old order. There’s also some of us -ahem- awkward sorts who aren’t genuine trans women nor are we predatory men. We’re a bit… flexible around how we present. When out in a non-birth gender mode, we fall under a similar gaze as folk who are full time, even if that exposure is shorter. To be out in the world with your worldly goods in a bag on your shoulder, clothes/shoes you can’t run away in, and to be visible as a target; it’s a humbling experience that makes me think about my male privilege and how I take my safety for granted.

    To those who say “it doesn’t apply to me, I just cross dress”, I would ask where do they think society’s acceptance comes from? The freedom to walk openly as you are, to visit a pub en femme, or be treated with respect when shopping for things away from your birth gender: those benefits come from any of us being out – regardless of us being full time, part time, or once in the blue moon….

    …. and if we don’t keep visible and speak out against the nonsense being peddled as ‘concern’, the freedoms we enjoy could go. I feel that needs to be our wake-up call.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for a “part time” view. Yes.

      I want as wide an umbrella as possible. You are my sister. I have said in this post that there could be objections to me, with my GRC, in some particular women’s services in some particular circumstances, which would need tact and kindness to navigate. And no trans person, full or part time, will benefit from dividing us into separate camps or hierarchies, or saying that trans women or a subset of us should not be in any particular women’s space.

      Liked by 2 people

      • “I want as wide an umbrella as possible. You are my sister.”

        ❤️ Thank you.

        We stand united. Our needs, behaviour, and journey may be subtly different, yet I feel very strongly that there’s so much common ground within the Trans community. As an aside, our local Womens’ Centre have been nothing but accepting and supportive of our – even for a part timer like me 🙂. They have a sensible and nuanced approach that balances the needs of the community they support, regardless of a woman’s background (age, religion, culture, origin, or history). They’ve made it work with seemingly without a bump in the road.

        In the… decade and a half… of attending a Trans social & support group, I’ve had the privilege (there’s that word again 🙂) of seeing a wealth of different lived experiences of attendees. Some people have been kind enough to share their personal stores with me as well. The umbrella you talk about, I feel it gives us space – and perhaps freedom – to explore and yet feel welcome, supported, and valid. In my experience, people drift between the definitions until they find one that works for them. That or new terminology appears that fits then better: but they are still under that broad umbrella. Welcome and safe ❤️

        Liked by 2 people

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