The weirdos inside me

“It’s lovely to be sharing space with you again,” says L, and I am confused.

-He’s just saying that to manage me.
-How lovely of him to say that.

Your thoughts are headfuck FM, the endless talk radio, anger and delusion. Be the wise, kind adult watching your thoughts. Actually, it does not feel like headfuck. The thoughts are me, now. I am feeling my feelings, even in my body, wise and kind enough. I feel anger at M, and want J to acknowledge it is right, and it is too hard to get him to. Then she joins the zoom, and I am absorbed in her. I study her background, judging. I go to the gallery to see if anyone is reacting to her. In a small group would I tell her I hate her?

Someone says you look so calm and present, and inside it is a cacophony. J says if someone winds you up that is good data. Someone talks of letting go of someone close, and I want to let go of M.

Everyone has an inner critic and slave driver. Mine says, You can’t say that, when I speak from the heart, and “Harder, faster, harder, faster”. It tells me I know what I need to do: keep the house clean and tidy, apply for jobs, write for publication. It says, Come on, get up. It does not feel my anxiety, but then, I don’t either, usually.

Then what it says and what some “I” separate from it says merge. I am so alone! Zoom is not enough, I can’t bear it. I am afraid. I must control every aspect of my environment- for safety. I want to be safe. Help me I want to be safe. The monster will get me. This is horrible, I can’t bear it.

Sometimes I speak from the heart, and in two conversations with Quakers last week I felt the need to speak to correct the way of this conversation. Get that word in and speak the truth everyone should acknowledge. Then conversation becomes a conflict, I do not hear others, and speak from less than myself.

My desires are in conflict. I want to hide away, and I want to be seen. I want to say, “Everything is alright,” and I do not believe it. I am scared, anxious, watchful, anticipating the future: what if I am in a group with M? What if I am not?

J says once you know what the inner critic says, you can argue against the limiting beliefs, but you need to make them conscious first. I share on the dialogue of the critic and protector. I would have, anyway, but make it about M by referring to not hitting myself with a riding crop and saying sometimes “You can’t say that” is what I need to hear. Later I notice she is gone and wonder if I drove her away. She accused me of being fixated on her. Well, possibly, but it is a problem I am trying to get over. “Lovely, vulnerable share,” say people.

Sometimes I need to hear “Harder, faster, harder, faster” and the inner critic says it reflexively, all the time, so is no more use than a stopped clock. And, I have a hack: if I just give up and do nothing, it stops nagging. I needed it to survive, and now it just hurts me.

I don’t know. I want to hide away. I want to be seen. Or, I do know, I want to be seen, but don’t know how. I am hiding away. It is what I do. And, I talk on zoom. Right now, I am in a prison of my own creation, which I created in order to survive, and it is killing me. I will listen to these people, to hear what they have to say.

That slave driver/inner critic helped me avoid pain and strong emotion I was incapable of handling- rejection, abandonment, and disappointment. Children nurtured, heard and seen don’t need to do that. Hold it like a baby. Rock and console it. Eventually you feel it relax and go to sleep.

In dialogue with it, writing with the non-dominant hand, it may have revealed puzzlement. It knows its ways are not working for me. It wants to feel safe, to be hugged, not to feel alone. It tells me it thought I was a threat. Now it considers me too trusting, needing balanced by threat-perception. It wants to stop fighting, come together and be one with me.

M grows desire like a tender plant, and it gives her power. I need to hate her to free myself. Then I might let my hatred go and wish her well. I tried telling J I wanted him to see me as her victim, and he said I am not. She had a right to act as she did.

She said, “I feel free to love”. I thought that a manipulative lie, but what if she were telling the truth?

In four days since, I have built something of worth on that thought. Other people see things vastly differently from me. I believe there is something so wonderful in each human that calling it “the inner light” or even “That of God” is not hyperbole. But as an atheist materialist, I believe my inner God is a manifestation of my own neurons. Therefore it is not all powerful or all seeing by itself. To be powerful it needs united with God in others. I need to listen to others of widely different perspectives and views to mine, and find the truth in what they say.

In the midst of my powerlessness and lack of perfection, I still find some pleasure.

More in Common

“We have more in common than that which divides us,” said Jo Cox MP, and on the sixth anniversary of her murder More in Common, the foundation set up in her name, published their report on trans rights to argue just that. After interviewing 10,300 people, they produced seven “segments” of British society based on their core beliefs on social issues, their values, identity and worldview. They then classified people by these segments to organise further focus groups and surveys on issues including trans rights.

The report explains the segments. Membership does not depend on voting patterns. They are:

Progressive Activists. They are politically engaged, and seek to correct historic marginalisation of groups. They have the lowest authoritarian tendencies of any group, but a significant minority believe the real injustice is the erosion of “sex-based rights”. Only Progressive Activists are embroiled in the social media wars on trans.

Civic Pragmatists’ starting point is kindness and compassion. They are open to compromise and socially liberal. They are turned off by the divisiveness of the elite media debate on trans.

Disengaged Battlers who feel the system is broken and they are barely surviving. They see no point in engaging with the democratic system, but are tolerant and socially liberal.

Established Liberals. Prosperous, cosmopolitan, pro-market and status quo.

Loyal Nationals. Belonging to a group, and being British, is important to them. They care about fairness. They feel under threat from outsiders.

Disengaged traditionalists. They are self-reliant, patriotic, tough-minded. They emphasise personal responsibility and explain success in life by individual qualities rather than the System. They take social rules seriously and are judgmental about others’ behaviour. They pay little attention to current debates.

Backbone Conservatives. They are optimistic about Brexit, proud of being British, and engaged with politics. They want clear rules and strong leaders. They are the most likely to think transition is unnatural.

More in Common did a survey and then focus groups. 74% of people said they knew someone who is LGB, and 24% knew someone who is trans. Thinking of social groups where I would say I know people, all of them include another trans person. In the past, in work, I met other trans people. Perhaps I have a lower threshold of what it means to “know” someone. 31% of Millennials (born 1981-96) and 48% of Gen Z (born 1997-2012) know a trans person.

2% of people included “the debate about transgender people” in the top three of sixteen issues facing the country. 64% named Cost of living, 32% the NHS, and 29% the war in Ukraine.

More in Common is keen to point out what people have in common. “There is a strong sense of acceptance and compassion,” they say. Live and let live.

More people agree than disagree that a trans man is a man, and a trans woman is a woman. Only “Disengaged Traditionalists” felt otherwise. So the Times and the Tories have not yet managed to create some great divide over the issue. By contrast, there were sharp divisions between the segments on whether BLM is a good thing. The problem is they think a “trans woman” is someone who has lived in their true gender for a significant period or had genital surgery. But, the Equality Act protects us from the moment we decide to transition, and that is when we most need protecting: we are more nervous, and pass less well.

The report says people don’t want to be condemned for an innocent mistake over pronouns, and some sound wounded. My impression from trans people is that in person we are keener to gently educate than to rebuke. We only object if it is intentional. But twitter is different.

It says people think unisex toilets are a good solution for trans women. That is silly. People are used to single sex toilets, buildings have them, law requires employers to provide them. Most women will rarely or never know that there is a trans woman in the room with them. Why have men in women’s loos, because then the rule would be that trans women could use the same loos as everyone else? It makes no sense. Far better to just let trans women use women’s loos. That’s the problem with asking people who have not really thought about the matter what should be done.

It says most people are not following the debate. They know JK Rowling said something, but are not sure what. But they are clear trans women in women’s sports is unfair, especially elite sport. They say a male puberty gives lifelong advantages. That anti-trans argument has cut through.

It suggests that people are aware of the issues around gender identity, but they do not think of it as a political dispute. Instead, they consider how it affects their day to day lives and think about progress in practical not symbolic ways. They want common-sense, compassionate and fair solutions. They wanted to find some other way a trans athlete could compete.

There are four ways to approach culture war, MIC says:

1. Deciding to make things worse, for political gain.
2. Ignoring and avoiding the issue, leaving it to the polarisers.
3. Making passionate arguments which appeal to activists but turn off the general public.
4. Seeking to engage with the majority of Britons

They say most people want to be compassionate, and seek practical solutions. So, MIC recommends building upon areas of consensus, emphasise the shared starting points, and acknowledge the progress that has been made. They want spaces to have the discussion and provide answers to ordinary people.

They recommend, emphasise the shared starting points people have, and build on areas of consensus. Have a case by case approach, so exclusion in sport is OK, but emphasise the experience of people who have found solutions and acknowledge the progress that has been made. Create spaces for discussion, while stopping bad-faith actors setting the terms of discussion. But, “Listen to those worried about the pace of change”.

Finally, “remember this is about people”. I agree that having my life “being treated as ideological footballs is cruel and unnecessary”. There is a better way, but will The Times and the Tories follow More in Common’s lead?


Our mutual friend asked about the possibility of reconciliation. Is that possible? I fear the obstacles to each trusting the other are too great. I don’t know each values the other enough to make the necessary effort.

Neither accepts the other’s understanding of the wrong done to them. Both, being hurt, might not dissociate the other from the cause of that hurt. The obstacles are lack of trust, lack of commitment to the process, and focus on past hurt.

It might be a relatively less risky start for each to state what they like, value or admire in the other. Even that might become a power struggle. And if I held back my resentment, in order to state only positive things, might it burst out of me?

Is care for the other possible, and can it coexist with the necessary minimum of self-love?

It could not be going back to a previous way of being together, and I don’t know what another way of being together could look like. That would be an ever tempting cul-de-sac, to escape the bitterness and frustration of the moment into a fantasy of idealised past. Then the reality of its ending would break through.

Another barrier is sexual attraction. I don’t know that I could get over or past that: resenting my own attraction to the other, wanting to reduce it. I would feel it, now, and that would bring back my hurt and misery.

I do not see the person at all clearly. I saw the mask. I could imagine a different person behind that mask- unsure, hurting, vulnerable- based on the clues I have. With such an imagined person, I could coexist if I had to: the human is near me and I perceive my image of her. But that would not be reconciliation.

What I strive for, here, is complete self-revelation. I don’t recommend it to anyone. I do it because my own ego-mask was inimical to my real self, and I still retain an inner critic shouting out in rage and fear that what I know is my real self is a lie, it is weak and disgusting, I am not like that. I have to pass through what I most fear in order to become what I might be.

We live in society- people who do not know ourselves trying to show a mask to others who see us imperfectly, with a thick layer of group or individual false understandings getting in the way of seeing. If you do what I expect most of the time, if your act mostly fits my understanding of you, then, perhaps I see you as you are. For you are what you do.

Then the expectations diverge wildly and both are angry and upset. Could we be truthful with one another? Could we stop conflict and the desire to dominate or control the other? Could we even imagine what that would look like?

For humans to be together there has to be a way both want it to work. Negotiating that is usually subconscious, a curious dance of minds hearts and souls. But, having given away all my power, I now want at least equal power in the relationship. I do not understand power, or my relationship to it- how I accumulate or surrender it.

In order to grow spiritually, I need spaces which hold me in supportive love, so that I can speak from my heart. Experience is knowing directly, but now I weave a framework of words as a safety harness or support: I feel safer with an understanding of the world expressed in words. The real human is fluid and unknowable, but I can form a better image of myself than the one my ego created.

If others hold me in love I can weave that web of words, and love them in return. Sometimes I find myself in potentially spiritual situations where people talk over each other, and am desperate to get my words in- which makes the situation worse. Noticing that desire, and how it is self-defeating, I might let it go: if I have loving spaces where I can be wholly myself without a mask.

Parliament debates trans conversion

“Your lives matter, and you should be protected from abuse, coercion and control just as much as the next person.” People comment how tense I am all the time. Reading that, from the Conservative MP Peter Gibson, I felt my tension lift a little. It should not need to be said, but I am glad it is. One trans constituent asked, “surely I deserve to feel safe, have some dignity and live my life in peace without being demonised?” Continue reading

Trans people in hospital wards

As a Tory cabinet minister said, the NHS under the Tories is “wanting and inadequate”. But its rules on admitting trans women to women’s wards is good. Its guidance adopted in 2019 (pdf) says trans people should be accommodated according to how we present. We do not need a GRC or legal name change. If our breasts or genitals appear of the opposite gender, we should be given sufficient privacy with curtains or a single side room.

A trans person who has not had a genital operation should not share open shower facilities. Where the treatment is sex-specific, such as a trans man having a hysterectomy, staff should discuss options with the patient. If a patient is unconscious, staff should draw inferences from mode of dress and only consider genitals if this is specifically necessary for treatment (I am sad that needs to be said). A trans woman without her wig should have extra care to ensure her privacy and dignity. Nonbinary patients should be asked discreetly about their preferences.

A child’s preference should prevail even if the parents disagree and the child is not Gillick competent.

Unfortunately, anti-trans hate campaigner Emma Nicholson has become aware of this guidance, and wasted House of Lords time at 1am on 17 March to amend the Health and Care Bill to exclude all trans women from women’s wards. The usual hate campaigners- Claire Fox, David “Blencathra” Maclean- came out to bore everyone with their usual disinformation. The government whip, JoJo Penn, thanked Emma for “all her work advocating for women’s rights”, and I hope that is just the usual oily courtesy shown by “noble Lords” to each other. She said the NHS is currently reviewing its guidance and seeks “privacy, safety and dignity” for all its patients. Guidance should be based on “evidence, compassion, empathy and respect”, but she could not give a date for the review being published beyond some time this year.

Fox put her extreme case emotively. She spoke of vulnerable cis women patients losing their right to single-sex wards. She said women (anti-trans campaigners) were effectively being told “Don’t you worry your pretty little heads”. The hate campaigners in the House of Lords have been whinging about this extensively, and the Evening Standard reported their words uncritically. Then Fox refers to the newspapers. It is all circular. However she gave the good news that Dr Michael Brady, NHS LGBT adviser, is involved in the review, has consulted Stonewall and Mermaids, and stated there are “no plans to reduce the existing rights of transgender people”.

Nicholson told the story of a trans woman constituent when she was an MP. The woman was a police officer, who after transition was given a lower rank. Nicholson claimed that she helped “persuade the police that [transition] was a fully acceptable thing to have done”. Then she claimed a trans woman on a women’s ward raped another patient a year ago. That is explosive.

Ralph “Baron Lucas” Palmer (Con) claimed “trans women are men” under the Equality Act. Michael Farmer, former treasurer of the Tory Party, recited some legal interpretation from anti-trans campaigners, claiming that excluding trans women from women’s wards would be a “legitimate aim”. Timothy Clement-Jones, LibDem, spoke for the amendment despite his party’s definition of transphobia. As nonbinary people are not explicitly protected under the Act, he wanted them assessed for objective sex.

Terence Etherton, former Master of the Rolls (President of the civil Court of Appeal) explained that putting trans women on men’s wards would be unlawful harassment under the Equality Act, as it would violate our dignity. He said changing your name is changing an “attribute of sex” sufficient to clearly fit the protected characteristic of gender reassignment. “It is not a legitimate aim that some people feel uncomfortable sharing accommodation and facilities with trans people of the opposite birth sex. That would make a nonsense of having the statutory protected characteristic in the first place.”

Sal Brinton, LibDem, said Nicholson’s amendment “seeks to create a false understanding” of the Equality Act.

Michael Cashman talked of evidence: freedom of information requests around the country have shown there is no need to change Annexe B, the part of the policy specifically about trans people. He pointed out how Maclean, as a Home Office minister, had blocked an equal age of consent for gay sex with straight sex. That had to wait for a Labour government, despite a win in the European Court. He drew parallels between the hate against trans women now, and against gay men in the 1990s, and “against minorities across the centuries”. Ruth Hunt said “many lesbians” support trans inclusion. To detoxify the debate, she said, we should stick to the facts. Elizabeth Barker, LibDem, said the amendment was not about single-sex wards at all, but Nicholson’s continuing campaign against trans women, and “we should simply not pay attention”. She says trans women “are women with a different experience”.

Trans women are probably safe from this review. We will continue being treated on the appropriate wards, and given dignity and privacy. And the hate campaign will continue.

Positive and negative

Is it good to think positively?

I seek serenity to accept the things I cannot change, and might find it in denial. I will die, but it is not good to dwell on the fact. Before courage to change the things I can I need motivation, made of belief and desire. Desire is a site of my inner conflicts, between what my heart craves and what I have been taught I ought to want. What belief is beneficial?

Looking at any past experience, I would seek all the good in it: all the delight, all the learning, all the evidence of my good qualities or value, or the beneficence of the world. I evolved to fit, here. The world does not revolve around me, but is not out to get me either.

Denial might be a good thing. I read that giving birth is the greatest pain a human can experience, and some women who have done it more than once report forgetting the pain. We construct narratives to understand but also to cope with experience- “Yes it is painful but it is worth it”.

Dwelling on the negative aspects of past experience might make me withdraw. I cannot bear doing that again. Denying the negative aspects of past experience made me withdraw, arguably: I denied them until they were unbearable. So positivity is not a safe space, a simple concept that will always do me good, but a tightrope.

And, we spend ourselves. My body is deteriorating, and doing something until you cannot do it any more may be worthwhile. Even if I avoided everything that will deplete or damage me, I will still die.

I want a positive narrative for My Life So Far. “My world became smaller and smaller until I was finally trapped inside a prison of my own devising.” I read that and was amazed at how it could fit me. I could be crushed under the weight of my own responsibility for my dire situation. Instead, I blame someone else:

I suppressed my true self for a false ego, because I was terrified of death. My parents imposed that ego on me because of their own terrors and their bad experiences. Despite generational trauma my true self survived, and I am discovering her, liberating her, letting her flower. I will continue growing into freedom. I will use my gifts for what I see to be good.

Self-blame depresses and enervates me. Blaming someone else and casting my own actions as unavoidable, or heroic struggle, will make me able to go on. This too is a tightrope, but I feel far from the risk of self-satisfaction stopping me from making an effort.

Considering where I am now: my situation is pretty dire. My CV is unattractive. There, positivity is worthwhile: make it as good as you can, by describing everything winsomely. The obvious action is to do some voluntary work to show I am capable of something. I don’t. Here I have no motivation for the rational choice. But when I want to write something, I do that first.

I choose to believe my feelings and my heart’s desire is a worthwhile guide to my flourishing. My priority is letting the feelings flow. This is being positive about myself. The negativity of my childhood- that self is bad and dangerous, hide it away- harmed me.

I need faith. I need to believe in myself and the world sufficiently to believe action might be worthwhile, and setbacks are not final.

A horse, and a cigarette advert. Is this place trapped in the early twentieth century? Woodbines are still available, and only new advertising is restricted by law.

A new, cuddlier LGB Alliance?

If you looked at the LGB All Liars website on 1 June, you would see a weirdly unattractive home page. It had links inviting readers to give money or help campaigning. Across the top scrolled this message, capitals and all: “GAY TEENS AREN’T SICK. Being lesbian or gay is not an illness to be treated. Click to READ MORE”. Clicking would lead to this page, scaremongering about puberty blockers, which they claim is homophobic conversion therapy. But now that page cannot be found.

Instead, now, the front page has some jolly pictures of people chatting and smiling at a conference. Then there’s a claim that they do good things- they are against sexual orientation discrimination and work to help LGB folk thrive. They are still the same old transphobes- there’s a picture of a van with an advert on it saying “Gay teens aren’t sick” and the headline “Fighting the medicalisation of children”, but if you click that you reach their Donations page. It mentions their work: campaigning against the Scottish Gender Recognition reform and Hate Crime Bill.

Before, if your cursor went on the Campaign icon, the site asked “What policies are there at work? Do your equal opportunities forms ask for sex or for gender?” Their campaigns were against GRA reform, and for Allison Bailey’s attempt to defund Stonewall’s Diversity Champions scheme. One was on “sex in the census”, though the census happened last year. One was the Liars working with a site called Merched Cymru (Welsh Women) against the Welsh government’s LGBTQ+ action plan, because it called trans women “women”. Merched Cymru, asking people to hashtag dimdiolch (nothankyou) did not have a Welsh language page.

The Liars’ End Conversion Therapy page claimed treating trans children is homophobic conversion. So all the campaigns shown were against trans rights.

Now, clicking Campaigns at the top of the new front page shows just one new campaign- to ask the British Newspaper Archive to digitise 11 years of Gay News magazine. Apart from that, the campaigns are the same, including the outdated census campaign, and all against trans rights.

The new About page is divided into three. Their purpose, they claim, is to oppose sexual orientation discrimination. They have several points here which are against trans, but without mentioning transgender or trans people. Their Value of “Reality of Biology”- “sex is binary”- is included twice. They claim they will not accept funding from an organisation which undermines women’s reproductive rights- so they are aware the Heritage Foundation funds anti-trans campaign groups.

The new page headed “Myths” says there are “daft” “wild rumours” about them. The page contains the claim that they “fully support trans people” and trans rights. Apart from that it does not mention trans. The old Myths page had the alleged “myths” they contradicted, including that they are a hate group, that they seek to erase trans people (See “Language”, below).

There’s a new page headed “Resources”. The resources are currently rather weak: under “LGB movies” they name none, but tell you to look on Twitter. The heading Uganda, where gay people are criminalised, also refers to twitter. Under “Language” they have a few definitions: they consider gender identity “a sexist concept based on traditional sex-based stereotypes”. Well, if that were true there would not be trans people at all times and in all cultures, despite widely differing gender stereotypes. They define trans people as “people who consider themselves to be trans”. That is, they deny any and all basis for trans people’s existence. We’re just a “sexist concept”.

Again, anything substantial is anti-trans. As well as twitter, they link to anti-trans blogs.

The new site attempts to hide the hate. The references to trans people on the old site are often expunged now. But they still only campaign to restrict trans rights, and rant repetitively in their News section. There are now fifteen news items since 12 Oct 2021. One is merely a link to the Guardian report of Jake Daniels coming out. It’s better looking than the old News page– rather than a headline and some text, there is a headline and a picture for each blog post. But apart from a hurried link to a Guardian article, it’s still the same old obsessive anti-trans hate.

Here is the truth about LGB All Liars. The petition to reverse their false charitable status will be heard in September. Go there, and pledge some money. They may be trying to conceal their hate, a little- but they are still not doing anything for gay people beyond asking someone else to digitise Gay News.

What I desire

It is lovely to be told “You are such a treasure and your beauty is endless”, and admitting to myself it was merely manipulative is a pain.

When I was younger, I read that “men only want one thing.” “Of course I’ll still love you in the morning” was a cliché lie. More recently in drama, notably The Bridge, there are women who only want a fuckbuddy, and are disturbed when the man develops feelings for her. For me, desire is for relationship, not mere coitus, and there is a term for this: “demisexual romantic”, as if it were remarkable. Perhaps it depends, perhaps anyone can be like that sometimes, and I want a word for the opposite: “physicosexual”, perhaps, someone who only wants the genitals, not caring about the human. Freud wrote of the “physischsexualem Akt”, by which he meant copulation. “Heartbreaker” is also a possibility. (I asked, and someone said “aromantic”.)

“Your beauty is endless.” It had a huge effect on me. I thought she loved me for my mind, when she merely sought to mould me into sexual submission. But she complained that someone else was physicosexual, and breaking feminine hearts, when she did that herself. That was typical of her manipulation. Then she chucked me, and I felt worthless. –

The experience gave me huge joy, and pain at its ending. Remembering how much it delighted me, I wonder if there was any good in it. Was it just a warning not to do that again? Another cliché: “There’s no fool like an old fool”. Two months ago I was hurt, and still emotionally involved. I had opened up to a connection that was merely deceptive, and needed to close off from her. Now, I might learn what I desire.

I want to be taken. I want to be overwhelmed, but I don’t want D/s games for themselves. I would play them for someone if that was what she wanted, to please her. What I want most of all is relationship.

I know I want touch. Touch is a tool in her armoury, a way of exerting control. I said I want to hold you and caress your hair, and she said that would be like stroking a leopard. I saw it as service, she refused what would have been her impossible surrender. She let her slave rub her feet. She might touch the kneeling slave lightly on the back of the neck with her crop, hinting at fulfilment. Withholding touch gave her power.

I wonder if there is anyone complementary to me, who might want me as a soft, supporting partner, want me physically, want my touch and relationship with me. Possibly someone who might have been like that now has decided that relationships are too much hard work, and wants flings instead.

I want relationship, touch, respect, commitment, physical desire and compatibility. I want someone with empathy and emotional intelligence, knowing and being herself authentically.

For the long term, I need someone truthful who values me and wants continuing relationship with me. I have sexual desire and I want to orgasm with another, but (not just from drama such as Conversations with Friends) I know it will be unfulfilling without relationship.

I wish I had learned this in my twenties- perhaps it is all too much to learn in teenage- but my need to make a man of myself was so great it was impossible then.

I hope it is not too late, and If it is, I will have to live with that. I am glad I know what I want, at least. As for my latest teacher, I can let go of her now almost as easily as she dropped me. I delight in the best of the experience without dwelling on the worst.

I learn from this NYT article and Conversations with Friends that marriage is difficult, yet possibly worth it.

Abolishing sex

What would happen if the law no longer certified whether a person was male or female? Now, birth certificates and GRCs say what our sex is, and everyone has one or the other, even nonbinary people, or people with variations of sex characteristics. There are rules on changing classification. What if that was ended? Would it help create a world where children were not socialised into gender, and people could live without gender-based expectations or constraints? The Future of Legal Gender project has published its final report, together with several articles, to answer these questions.

They refer to reform as decertification. It is a proposal made to see what it might mean, rather than to solve a specific problem. They interviewed experts, campaigners and ordinary people. Possible benefits include subverting the basis of discrimination, supporting self-expression, and removing the legal burden of gender change. They asked about possible problems, and clearly anti-trans campaigners have been at them, saying sex-specific services, data gathering, and positive action against discrimination could all have difficulties.

Possibly, law could decertify sex as part of a neoliberal project to stop law and government tackling social inequality. The project wants decertification to be part of a social justice movement to support diverse ways of flourishing. It would need to involve greater public provision, not continuing austerity.

Law could still prevent sex discrimination as it does race discrimination. Most people would object to having a race legally assigned to them. Many service providers recognise nonbinary people, and law is increasingly gender neutral.

People consulted spoke of the need to dismantle male domination, violence, and gender based roles and stereotypes. Trans people could back these goals and still advance their aim for recognition of diversity. The Project says gender is institutionalised, rather than being an identity. It is a set of institutional processes rather than personal qualities. It affects people’s values, patterns of wealth and power, and ways of interacting. They say understanding of sex is interpreted through a gendered environment. I say sex as in reproduction only matters if you want to reproduce, or have a physical health condition. Everything else is cultural. Most people agreed our lives should not be defined by the bodies we are born with.

A leisure centre manager said it was important not to assume someone’s gender. When asked where the changing rooms were, they would say the men’s is there, the women’s is there, and the accessible room is there, and leave it to the customer to make the choice. However, when at the cinema I asked where the loos were, I was sent to the men’s.

Sex inequality in the 19th century involved voting, property ownership, inheritance and employment. These legal inequalities have lessened. We need sociology to recognise and research inequality that remains, relating to poverty, work, violence, exclusion and social stereotyping.

Gender is a complex social phenomenon that produces the categories of women and men to shape people’s lives. Decertification might make that shaping less rigid. It would undermine the assumption that gender divisions in roles or behaviour are natural, lawful or desirable, and support diversity. It might counter early gender socialisation of children.

Would it prevent “single sex” spaces? Many women’s organisations rely on self-identification, not asking for legal documents or assuming that a person’s sex or gender could be known from their appearance. They use risk assessments to manage potential problems, rather than expecting biological status as female to safeguard users. Single sex spaces can imply that the risk to women is from strangers, but most violence has perpetrators the victim knows.

They suggest that sports could be classified as in the Paralympics, which assesses functional capacity. What of positive discrimination, such as all-women shortlists to select political candidates? Applicants could be asked to explain why they fit.

We need data to show the inequalities and needs of different groups of people. People’s experiences differ by social class, disability, beliefs and race as well as gender. Why is the data needed? More precise questions, such as “do you menstruate?” could produce more useful data. Any data collection is intrusive for people- the intrusion is justified if the data is used for their benefit.

Trans people can use a GRC to assert our gender, and that protection would be lost. However, I do not want to provide documentary evidence: I want my word to be accepted. I am a woman.

The project says legal reform can be part of a wider programme of change, one policy tool. It is a creative way of thinking big. The aims would be to end legally registered sex or gender, to help dismantle gender hierarchies, to support people whose gender leads us to be excluded or disadvantages, and to undo broader social injustice and inequality. For discrimination and the public sector equality duty there would be a new ground of gender. Employers and service providers could not impose gender stereotypes. Services could still exclude people based on sex or gender if this was done to address unfairness or safety.

The Telegraph report was merely mocking. “The census could ask ‘do you menstruate?’ instead of ‘are you female?’ to be inclusive of transgender people, a taxpayer funded study has suggested.” Including trans people is not the only reason for the project’s proposals, but they wanted to wind up anti-trans campaigners to hate the study as well as their usual anti-woke, anti-tax readers. A trans woman shared the Telegraph’s hate screed on facebook, so I learned about the report. I am so glad I did.

Reform is unlikely to happen soon, but I am glad people are thinking about the possibility.

Alison Eden

Alison Eden is the Lib Dem prospective parliamentary candidate for Central Devon, a district councillor, and an obsessive hate campaigner. Other LibDem councillors have noticed.

For example her retweet of Sharron Davies’ tweet against trans in sports. Or this retweet, with the ridiculous claim that “women are being phased out”. Or this retweet of Susanne Moore, attacking Owen Jones for standing up for trans people. Or this retweet of JK Rowling boasting that someone called her transphobic. Or this retweet of someone claiming trans men can’t get endometriosis- or are women really. That’s five out of her last twenty tweets, a transphobia score of 25%. It’s almost as if she has the twitter of an anti-trans campaigner rather than a councillor.

She is an extreme transphobe. This article starts with an attack on inclusive language for trans men, and morphs into a rant against trans women- who, she alleges, pose “rape threats”. Then she fearmongers about someone self-declaring and having “instant and unquestioning access to sex-specific places” as if that had not been happening for years. What’s terrifying about her article is its complete ignorance. She does not bother to find the facts before crying out in rage and hate. She just gets triggered, and tries to trigger others.

She claims the challenge is “certainly not the people who seek veracity in their lives through transitioning”. Oh, she’s not against real trans people, just the nonexistent fakes. The trouble is that no-one can tell the difference, seeing me walk down the street. Could I be one of the dangerous fake ones? Can the cis people take the risk?

Her alleged article in the Mid Devon Advertiser is now only available in Nigel Scott’s blog. He is a transphobe, and for years has only blogged transphobic drivel. He claims, without an archive link or other evidence, that she claimed the rights of transitioners “trump” those of vulnerable women. That’s one step further. Sometimes she claims not to be against the real transsexuals, but this article clearly is. She ended by claiming to want “safe places” for the trans women, but “caring compromises”- not among the cis women.

Scott claims Eden was excluded from an online event for members, for proposing to ask Ed Davey about excluding trans women from women’s spaces, as the Equality Act currently permits in restricted circumstances.

If the LibDems are silencing Eden in a party event, why is she still a candidate? Because the Tory MP had an absolute majority, do they hope he will win again?

According to Scott, Eden is clearly within the LibDem definition of transphobia. She advocated for trans people to use “segregated facilities”. The definition was adopted in 2020. So, why has she not been expelled from the party?

Here is the LibDem complaint procedure. It does not ask if behaviour is wrong, but whether there is “risk to the party’s reputation”. Currently, the media would blast the party for disciplining the most extreme anti-trans campaigner. It is not clear that nonmembers can complain, and the page assumes complainants will be members. So, has the party’s definition of transphobia any value at all?