Joanna Cherry’s article in the New Statesman (archive link) gives a handy summary of the myths and scaremongering used by the anti-trans campaigners to oppose trans rights. It starts with the headline.
“Our fears have nothing to do with transgender women,” claims Cherry. No, only “Predatory men” who could self-identify their way into women’s prisons, services and sports. She quotes a Scottish minister saying predatory men don’t pretend to be anything else, then swoops on it. Of course predatory men don’t admit they are predatory, often not even when in prison for rape, but what the Minister meant was that they don’t pretend to be women. If Cherry had any better arguments, or less trust in the blind prejudice of her audience, she would not have stooped to creatively misunderstand that as she did.
She does not address the fact that predatory men could self-identify their way into women’s services now. Trans women do not need a medical diagnosis to do so. We get in, under the Equality Act. The EHRC, before its institutional capture, said so. A medical diagnosis is impractical. Doctors know we are trans women because we believe we are women, want to be women, or want to be treated as women. Anyone might hear us say that, and be no less likely to tell future detransitioners from those of us who never do than doctors are.
A predatory man need only pretend to be a trans woman. No-one would ask him to show a gender recognition certificate, a diagnosis or even anything with a female name. Violent men push the door open, or attack women in the street. Deceitful men love-bomb and charm their victims, then increase their control carefully, grinding down the victim’s ability to resist. They don’t pretend to be trans.
Would a mediocre male athlete transition to compete against women, given the appalling hatred and vilification Laurel Hubbard faced? If so, a GRC would not let him do that. Sporting bodies can exclude “transsexual persons”, which includes those of us with a GRC, under the Equality Act 2010 s195, if it is necessary for fair competition or for safety.
Cherry says the Scottish Bill does not define “gender”. Well, the word is far more useful in academia than in law. Feminists can say that gendered expectations and treatment are patriarchal oppression, or talk of gender stereotypes, but in law you need only say that self-identified transgender women should be treated as women, which in effect is what the Equality Act does. Cherry refers to the Scottish appeal judges (the Inner House of the Court of Session) but unaccountably does not quote them saying that a trans woman without a GRC can truthfully say she is a woman, even where there is a public interest in truth and criminal penalties for falsehood.
The Gender Recognition Act was a step forward in recognising trans people’s human rights at the time, as required by the European Court of Human Rights, but only a tiny proportion of trans people have a GRC because it is expensive and humiliating to apply for one, as the Women and Equalities Committee report found. Cherry repeats the same tired old lies, despite them being refuted again and again.
Cherry claims 16 year olds need protection from gender recognition. But, they cannot get puberty blockers or cross-sex hormones without a recommendation from a psychiatrist and an endocrinologist, independent of legal gender recognition.
Finally, an MP and QC, supporting the policy of the Westminster government, apparently supported by the EHRC, who has cited billionaire author JK Rowling and mentioned social media being awash with arguments, writing in the New Statesman, though she could have chosen the Scotsman, Herald, Times, or Guardian, complains of the power of the trans lobby “silencing” critics. It would be funny if it were not terrifying.