The effects of the culture war

Could attacks on trans people and culture war win power again for the lying, cheating Tories who have done so much damage to this country? Johnson partied while the rest of us were in lockdown, erected a customs border between parts of the “United Kingdom”, threatens to break international treaties so Britain cannot be trusted and he might start a trade war, and lies and lies again about it. On the other hand, Max Hastings in The Guardian claims, Keir Starmer “refused to define a woman comprehensibly”. In fact, Keir Starmer has said trans women are women. The only definition that makes sense is, a woman is anyone who honestly says she is one.

Nevertheless, the public seem to be noticing the bull and bellyaching about culture war issues. IPSOS, the polling organisation, and King’s College London, report that while in December 2020 46% of British people agreed the country is divided by culture wars, now the figure is 54%. So Johnson and his media enablers divide the country further, for their own gain.

78% believe the country is divided, up from 74% eighteen months ago. The number who have read about “being woke” is up from 49% to 65%, and the number who have read about “cancel culture” is up from 39% to 60%.

36% believe “woke” is an insult, up from 24%. It’s complicated. The word is Black culture, so I don’t use it. I call myself an ally to those seeking human rights, and various spiritual terms for my own desperate fight for self-respect. Meanwhile, most people using it intend an insult, as if supporting human rights were a bad thing.

Is the term “White privilege” helpful thinking about race relations? Yes. But 51% of people think it unhelpful.

In 2011, there were hardly any articles in UK newspapers mentioning “white privilege”. The number passed 200 in 2016, and 1400 in 2020. “Cancel culture” hardly appeared until 2018, but passed 3500 articles in 2021. The Daily Mail carried 23% of those articles. Fewer than fifty articles a year mentioned culture war in Britain until 2016, but in 2021 the figure was over 1500. The report does not state the slant of the articles, but they are often contemptuous and vitriolic.

What media chooses to report matters. Hastings links to a clip of some vile little man asking Starmer “Can a woman have a penis?” As if what he thinks about that could show he is out of step with ordinary, prejudiced, Britons, and therefore even though Labour manages the economy better they should stick with the Tories. This report shows that lie is gaining traction with the public. It is far easier to count mentions of a specific phrase such as “cancel culture” than to provide a meaningful measure of the slant of the articles, but they are overwhelmingly against human rights.

The report barely mentions trans: 38% of media articles on free speech discussed universities. It just says some alleged harassment of academic staff for their views on trans rights, but does not count the number of articles referring to trans people. However, as the Guardian article shows, attacks on trans rights are a major tool of the hard Right culture warriors, and are having an effect.

Nova Reid

Why should a 2019 TED talk be in the news? Because it opposes racism, and The Times thinks that’s a bad thing. An NHS site for senior employees includes a link to the TED talk, and even though there is no obligation on anyone to watch it and there are many other links, the Times is outraged. An Opinion article said women suffer microaggressions too (fair point) and everyone should just ignore them.

Should microaggressions be “seen off with scorn”? Aged seven, Nova Reid heard a younger girl ask her mother, “Why is that girl the colour of poo-poo?” Just after transition, I heard a child cry out, “Mummy! Mummy! Look at the strange man!” It lives with me, twenty years later. At that age, it profoundly hurt her.

I don’t blame the child, I am uncomfortable with the parent. So scorn is difficult. What I feel, rather, is pain at my inability to connect and communicate. Some children can be wonderfully acute and compassionate.

I would think the NHS Leadership Academy, for senior employees, has many topics explored as well as racism, and many articles and videos on challenging prejudice, but the Daily Mail as well as The Times found this newsworthy. Wearily, an NHS spokesman (sic) explained to the Times that the video was by TED, not the NHS, and the NHS does not require anyone to watch it. They can, if they are interested. Both the Mail and Times report early in their articles (before most people stop reading) that Nova Reid says that Britain is “a country that legalised oppression”.

Well, Britain is based on oppression. All legal and constitutional authority, including the identity of the Head of State and the official religion, is based on the Norman Conquest which was pretty oppressive to the common people. Our empire accumulated wealth on the backs of slaves and oppressed peoples. Still, Eton boys and billionaires tell the common people to despise “Metropolitan elites” who say racism is bad.

Someone probably said to Jarvis Cocker, “I wanna sleep with common people like you”. I just love the video, especially the bits in the supermarket. Most people in Britain suffer microaggressions, and still the Times and Mail micromanage the NHS, saying it should not provide a link to a video with a particular point of view on that, perhaps alongside other points of view. They don’t want NHS leaders to hear a Black person objecting to racism.

People who come for trans rights are coming for everyone’s rights. They don’t like people pointing out oppression because all their power is based on oppression. The slightest thing anyone does to oppose oppression is fair game, with the right wing propaganda mill screaming “Woke!” The Mail helpfully has a link to all posts tagged “woke-culture”, a chronicle of resistance which the Mail despises.

And yet, this feigned apoplexy has introduced me to Nova Reid and her book “The Good Ally”. “Once hate is gone, [we] will be forced to deal with pain,” wrote James Baldwin. She writes about healing, because racism and other prejudice drives people apart, and opposing it brings us together. Reid is our ally, believing in “the equality of all genders”. She knows about internalised self-phobia. Her tools for opposing prejudice are tools we can use, together, to help everyone.

That some senior employees of the NHS might choose to spend ten minutes watching a video about microaggressions, with the NHS’s approval, is not news. That oil companies plans for drilling would involve the equivalent of 646 billion tonnes of CO2 and an increase in global temperature of more than 2ºC is news.

The transgender Tory

I am not surprised Britain’s first trans MP is a Tory. I was a Tory before I transitioned. Tory transphobia went with my internalised transphobia. Tory social authoritarianism went well with my desire to live according to “values” which did not fit me, and perhaps not anyone. Lots of closeted gay men were Tory MPs, voting against gay rights.

On Tuesday night (29 March) the Prime Minister joked to Tory MPs, “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Or, as Keir Starmer would put it, people who are assigned female or male at birth.” Of course he misses the point: binary trans people don’t object to being called ladies or gentlemen particularly, it’s just nobody has a right to claim I am one, when I am the other. The objection is for nonbinary people. Johnson could have addressed Tory MPs as Friends, or Colleagues; he could have addressed a different group as “Honoured guests”. Language is far more elegant when you avoid the gender binary.

On Wednesday, the Prime Minister lied to the House of Commons again, welcoming Dr Wallis: “I know that the House stands with you and will give you the support you need to live freely as yourself.” But it hasn’t. If it had, Johnson would not have cracked his “joke”, and Wallis would be transitioned. Keir Starmer echoed Johnson. Ian Blackford, the SNP leader, was the first to use pronouns: “I commend him for his statement earlier today.”

Crispin Blunt MP’s article in the New Statesman avoided pronouns entirely, always referring to Wallis by name. Pronouns after coming out but before transitioning expression are difficult. Will Wallis insist on she/her/hers pronouns? When will she transition? In her statement, and follow-up, she said that she intended to step down as MP before she did. Possibly she thought she would never be able to transition.

She also commented on that MPs’ dinner: “It was nice”. The PM jokes about trans people, and the trans person there just laps it up, because she has too much internalised transphobia to see the objection.

She’s been blackmailed, for £50,000. The attempt failed, and the blackmailer is in prison, but she did not come out then, and it shows how difficult she would find it to be out as trans, as a Tory MP. She crashed her car and ran away, perhaps when unfit to drive. I appreciate the stress she is under. Perhaps she did not think she would win the seat from her Labour predecessor, and could stand without the public exposure of being an MP. All this shows the transphobia of society, and the Tory party. Wallis writes about her rape.

I wrote her a brief supportive email, saying I am trans. She wrote back saying “For the time being, I will continue to present as I always have and will use he/him/his pronouns.” Of course. Because that is a more comfortable decision in her position, with the extreme transphobia that surrounds her.

On Thursday 31 March Blunt wrote that Tories “celebrate and want to represent and protect diversity”, and let people be ourselves. Rubbish. He wrote that after the government’s double U-turn, first saying it would not prohibit conversion attempts, then that it would prohibit them on sexual orientation but not gender identity. In the House of Commons, the minister Mike Freer said the government would bring forward legislation while every MP who spoke commended Wallis’ bravery. The minister Liz Truss wants to protect under 18s from irreversible decisions, a spokesman said, which means, banning medical treatment for trans youth.

Trans is just something people are. Why should it be “brave” to “admit” you are trans? Because of the hatred and vilification, the scaremongering, the monstering, that trans people receive. Because of the jokes of people from the Prime Minister down. Wallis is evidence: transphobia is enough to give us PTSD.

Anti-trans nurses

Anti-trans campaigners are targeting nurses’ professional bodies with demands and misinformation. Are they a threat to trans people? How might we respond? The Nursing and Midwifery Council refused a demand that they disassociate themselves from Stonewall, but The Royal College of Nursing journal “Mental Health Practice” published propaganda to misrepresent and attack trans rights, and claim vulnerable [cis] women could find it “traumatic” to be with trans women.

First, let’s look at the misrepresentations of the article and the truth. Hundreds of nurses, it says called on the Nursing and Midwifery Council to withdraw from Stonewall’s Diversity Champions programme. Well, there are more than 690,000 nurses in the UK. The anonymous writer says she will consider the need for safeguarding abused, traumatised [cis] women.

The article attempts to appear even-handed. It says “I understand that the transgender community is also vulnerable to abuse”. However it is grotesquely misleading. It says, sex is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act, Stonewall says access to single sex spaces is based on self-identification and gender identity, but that is not a “concept in law”. It does not mention the protected characteristic of gender reassignment.

Stonewall is right. When a trans person decides to transition, they should be treated as belonging to the gender they present as. “Gender reassignment” protects all trans people who have decided to transition.

The article does not use the term “trans women”. There’s an infallible guide to bigotry. Any impartial account will refer to trans women. Anti-trans propaganda will use other phrases: “biological men”, “those who identify as women”, etc. If someone cannot bring themselves to call us “trans women”, the clearest term for us, which many of us choose for ourselves, then they are prejudiced or phobic.

The writer says, “Stonewall’s advocacy for access to single-sex spaces based on gender identity rather than sex has led to many NHS accommodation policies that undermine the ability of nurses to advocate for and safeguard women in our care.” Then comes the main argument: vulnerable [cis] women need single-sex spaces, but because of Stonewall these include “those identifying as women”, which the vulnerable [cis] women find traumatising.

If there is anyone coming fresh to the campaign of vilification, exclusion and hatred against trans people, they might find that shocking. But, shorn of all the circumlocution, the writer is saying because cis women can be offended or even traumatised when they see trans women in women’s spaces, trans women should be elsewhere. Where that might be is someone else’s problem, she wants to advocate for “[cis] women in our care”.

Many things might trigger a traumatised woman. If trans women, seen as male, might trigger them, male employees might trigger them too. I want not to trigger traumatised people, but don’t see what good removing trans women would do. I know anti-trans campaigners want not to see trans women in women’s spaces, and may get themselves worked up when they do, but that is not the same as being retraumatised.

The writer says she “fears seeming bigoted or being classed as judgemental”. Well, she is bigoted. She wants trans women excluded from women’s wards, where we are usually treated, because she and others do not like us there. She says the NMC should listen to bigots, but even if they have “experienced years of trauma and abuse”, saying all trans women should be excluded is a bigoted reaction. She is frightened for her name to appear, because her ability as a nurse would be questioned. Well, a nurse who says a specific group of her patients should be removed from her ward, for bigoted reasons, breaches the professional standards of practice and behaviour for nurses which state that nurses must “Treat people [even trans women] as individuals and uphold their dignity”, not judge us as a class and advocate that we be driven away.

I have no clear idea how I would answer the anti-trans campaigner’s article. The person who drew it to my attention wanted to find statistics of trans women attacking cis women, to show that most of us are not dangerous, but I would hope that should be assumed except by the most bigoted anti-trans campaigners. No minority should have collective responsibility for crimes committed by its members, and anyone who fears the whole group because of those crimes is a bigot.

I feel deeply uncomfortable to be reduced to pleading. Please don’t judge us! We’re not bad people! We can’t help it, we’re born this way! I could explain how self-ID is at the heart of the Equality Act, and why.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council’s response to an anti-trans campaign group demanding that it leave the Diversity Champions programme is a very different style. It is not a self-righteous harangue like the magazine article, but corporate-speak- we recognise your concerns, but have decided not to change anything.

They say equality, diversity, inclusion and human rights are at the heart of their professions, the codes of practice, and the NMC. The Diversity Champions programme helps them create a welcoming environment for LGBT staff, but provides no legal advice. Separately, Stonewall is one of the bodies consulted when they revise their regulatory standards, as part of wide ranging open consultations with many stakeholders, professionals and the pub-zzzzz.

I have tried to write about trans for cis people. Here’s an example. I am dissatisfied. It spends too much time answering the ranting of anti-trans campaigners, and so pays them more attention than they deserve. A Jew introducing and explaining Jewish culture and traditions could speak for a long time, and should not be expected to spend too much time on the rampant antisemitism in Britain- the vandalism to synagogues and graveyards, the casual prejudice. That is what I would like to write: a positive “This is who we are” article, paying no more attention to bigots and the trauma we face than those subjects deserve. Possibly, attempting it would show how my self-acceptance is developing, and how far it still has to go. But also, being in a society where bigotry is called reasonable opinion, I would have no alternative but to address it. And there is structural transphobia, which people are blind to- waking them up to it is difficult.

Keir Starmer says “Trans women are women”

Will Labour politicians admit trans women are women, and just say so clearly?

On 8 March, (question at 19.50) anti-trans campaigner Emma Barnett demanded Anneliese Dodds tell her the “Labour definition” of the word woman.

Dodds said there are different definitions, the legal definition and the biological definition. To me, the biological definition includes trans women: I am not a ghost or a computer simulation, I am as biological as anyone. Dodds said it depends on context, which is pretty much what the Court of Session said. Then Dodds said that those who have to transition, live as women and want to be defined as women. That’s what the GRA is for.

Dodds may be misunderstanding. That’s what the Equality Act is for: we are treated as women, and truthfully called women.

Then anti-trans campaigners The Times questioned Yvette Cooper on 9 March. She just refused to answer. She refused to go down the “rabbit hole”- she was there to talk about International Women’s Day, so did not want to talk of the definition of woman. Given that The Times is so hostile to trans women, this is understandable, but disappointing. The Times called it “Labour’s rabbit hole,” but the rabbit hole is entirely of the anti-trans campaigners’ making.

Finally the Times tackled Keir Starmer on 12 March. He said female adults are women, “and in addition to that trans women are women”. Finally. “Trans women are women,” says Keir Starmer. There, that wasn’t so hard, was it? He said that’s the law under the GRA and the Equality Act.

What would I say? This is my definition. I would start by simply saying “trans women are women”. If pressed, there are various further things you can say:

Women are so varied. Some women are Scots, and some are English. Some are young, some are old. Most are not trans women, but some are.

Some women have differences of sexual development and are still women. So I would not insist that a “woman” had a female reproductive system because that would exclude many women. Why should women be excluded?

The Court of Session said a trans woman saying “I am a woman” was telling the truth, and it’s sad that we should need the Court of Session, the highest civil court in Scotland, to say so. The Equality Act says trans women should be treated as women.

Most women are not trans. And some women are trans women. Language and categories have to fit reality. If trans women don’t fit your categories, you should change your categories, not erase a whole class of women.

I would hope not to need this one, but- most mammals give birth to live young, and some mammals lay eggs. Are platypuses not mammals?

Added: when anti-trans campaigners use the phrase “biological men” they do not define the term. Including people with Klinefelter’s syndrome but not androgen insensitivity is difficult, and involves a lot of clarifications. Basically, they are Tweedledum: they mean “people I think are men”.

MPs on International Women’s Day

The International Women’s Day debate is a time for the transphobes to come out and play. Trans allies and feminists talk about women’s concerns, such as the gender pay gap, femicide, the failure to prosecute rape, or the plight of women and girls in Ukraine. Anti-trans campaigners use the debate to attack trans people. Fortunately, some allies spoke up for us.

Stupidest lie came from Bernard Jenkin, Con. He noted that between 2012 and 2018 436 rapes were found to be committed by women, so he claims these are committed by men presenting as women. No, the convictions are of women who are “accessory”, that is, women who assist the male rapist. The lie (at best, a stupid misunderstanding) is old, the refutation is just as old, but Jenkin still repeats it. He said,” I am in favour of protecting the trans community in this country,” then vilified us as dangerous. He said “biological men”, “whatever identity [we- he means trans women] claim” should be excluded from women’s spaces.

Jenkin challenged Anneliese Dodds to define “woman”. She should have said, “trans women are women”. She did not. She said there was a “biological definition and also a legal definition”, which might give comfort to the anti-trans campaigners. In fact in general use “woman” includes trans women.

Joanna Cherry again tried to twist the law to give a false impression. She said, “The court said: ‘Provisions in favour of women’ based on the protected characteristic of sex ‘by definition exclude those who are biologically male’.” However the court also said that if a trans woman said she was a woman, that was true. Cherry will continue to cherry-pick, but the court really was not on her side.

Cherry shows how left-wing feminists who become anti-trans campaigners become handmaidens of the hard right. She praised an article by Suzanne Moore in the Daily Telegraph, delighted that transphobes were suing the Green Party, and said, “no self-respecting woman should wish or work for the success of a political party that makes her rights as a woman or a lesbian conditional on her acceptance of gender identity politics”. She is attacking her own party, and threatening to leave it if challenged for her transphobia.

Transphobe Laura Trott (Con) “salute[d] her courage in talking about these issues”. Whereas for trans people, it often takes courage merely to walk down the street.

Malign idiot Peter Bottomley went to the LGB All Liars conference, and harassed the demonstrators outside, asking if they had read Kathleen Stock’s ridiculous book. Well, has he read Shon Faye, “The Transgender Issue”? He attacked the global anti-bullying youth charity Ditch the Label.

Eton Old Boy Dunning, sorry, Danny Kruger (Con) boasted that he made a World Book Day costume for his daughter. Ooh, how domesticated he is! He used cardboard boxes, being unable to sew. Matt Warman (Con) is a dressmaker, though he does not know the word: he sewed his daughter’s costume. On the Cass report, Kruger said he does not believe there is suddenly a lot more young trans people who were previously repressed or denied. I wonder if he has not heard of Section 28: the Tory government deliberately suppressed and denied young trans people. If 0.1% of adults are trans, why should it be surprising that 0.1% of children are? But Kruger blames “telling people that they can change sex”, confusing them.

Kruger claims “trans activism is a new form of misogyny,” but what he calls trans activism is simply trans people living our lives.

Practised phobe Jackie Doyle-Price (Con) only mentioned trans rights when Peter Bottomley specifically challenged her to do so. She wanted to be “fair to transgender people” by defining us out of women’s spaces, but devoted most of her speech to actual women’s issues. She gave an excellent summary on women in prison. Most should not be there, she says, and it harms them. That is what the IWD debate is for. She also spoke out about defunding of contraception leading to more abortions.

Jess Phillips put the haters’ lies into perspective. “For every name that I am about to read, there will be a story about how better mental health services, even the slightest suggestion of offender management or the availability of quick specialist victim support, would have saved their lives. The perpetrators killed, but it is on us if we keep allowing a system where women live under the requirement of giving away their labour for free in the pursuit of their own safety.” Rosie Duffield also chose to speak on femicide.

Trans rights are a women’s issue- feminists support us. But allies decided to speak on issues which actually affect cis women. Maria Miller (Con) challenged Bernard Jenkin: Women’s Aid and Refuge make their spaces safe by risk-assessing users, including trans people. Wera Hobhouse (LD) also challenged him- even though predatory men will find opportunities for violence, trans people still need protection.

Kate Osborne, Lab, found Jenkin’s views “unhelpful and out of step” with the IWD debate. Apsana Begum alluded to us: “We also know that violence against women, including trans women, continues to blight our society.”

Many MPs used the word “gender” as synonymous with sex, as it is in normal usage. With the insistence of the phobes on the word “sex”, this may indicate that they are not themselves anti-trans campaigners.

The debate has nearly 34,000 words, but is an often-inspiring read. There are moments of horror, including descriptions of murder, and victim-blaming by killers, but also accounts of women’s achievements and analysis of women’s needs. There have only ever been 559 women in the House of Commons: the total number of men is not yet ascertained.

Liz Truss, still the minister for women and equalities, and her deputy Kemi Badenoch, did not deign to attend the debate, so the under-secretary for Transport, Trudy Harrison, answered it for the Government. She agreed with Bernard Jenkin that it was important to “protect the language of females—of women, adult human females, girls, mothers, women who breastfeed.” So she spoke against inclusive language for trans men, and against trans rights.

The full debate is here.

The campaign against gender recognition

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.

Idleness .*oil on canvas .*111 x 73 cm .*signed b.l.: J. W. Godward 1900

MPs on gender recognition reform

The Westminster Hall debate showed the grandstanding of anti-trans campaigners, disseminating hate and lies, and mostly well-intentioned allies speaking up for necessary administrative reform, which the Government will not concede. The debate lasted three hours and 27,000 words. What did they actually say? Continue reading

Sex and gender in law and politics

I am a trans woman. I am never going to say my “sex” is male. To threaten me with the offence of making a false answer to the Census, with a maximum fine of £1000, would only increase my determination. I have a GRC, which has never been useful to me, which was expensive and humiliating to obtain, but which by s9 of the Gender Recognition Act ordains that my sex is female; but I would never have said I was male, certainly not after transition, probably not after deciding to transition.

Anti-trans campaigners speak movingly about pregnancy. I understand. Female reproductive biology, its wonder and delight, and the humiliation and threat of it in patriarchy, all matter. The powerlessness and difficulty of new motherhood can radicalise people.

I don’t deny sex is real. But trans people exist. At worst, I have an indefatigable delusion- I believe I am a woman, and cannot be persuaded otherwise. Unless you believe in a “soul”, this is biological, and AI can differentiate trans and cis brains. Recognising trans people does not mean devaluing cis women or their struggles. The great lie is that trans rights are a threat to women’s rights.

Sex and gender are synonyms in law. Gender, in ordinary usage, such as in a form asking your “gender”, is a synonym for sex. The Gender Recognition Act says my sex is female. The Equality Act s7 refers to “gender reassignment” of “transsexual persons”, and the Code of Practice shows trans women use “single sex” services for women. The distinction- sex is physical, gender is cultural- in gender studies cuts both ways. Unless you want to have a baby, or have a health problem, everything else is culture.

The Women and Equalities Committee of the House of Commons, and the Equality and Human Rights Commission, as well as anti-trans hate groups have demanded a legal distinction between sex and gender. I see the benefit for the hate groups: cis women, called “women”, would use single-sex services and transgender women would use the men’s. Perhaps we could still change our sex with two years “in role” and a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, though that is unworkable. Perhaps even with a GRC we could still be excluded. Or the law could be redrafted, so that after we decide to transition trans women could use women’s services unless there was good reason to exclude us, as now. It seems a huge fuss for no benefit.

We used to call ourselves transsexual. The word puts social pressure on us to have surgery, and not everyone wants that, but we could go back to it. I am a woman, not a feminine male.

To threaten criminal prosecution of a trans woman who says her sex is female is cruel and humiliating, yet a hate group tried to get the Scottish courts to do just that. Fortunately, unlike in England, the court refused. The judgment is in this pdf.

The guidance will say, “If you are transgender the answer you give can be different from what is on your birth certificate. You do not need a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC).” It says nonbinary people must say M or F.

The hate group’s bottomless pockets are shown by this malicious attempt, but their strategy of suing whenever they can imagine a cause of action has backfired. They attempted to argue that the word “sex” has the narrow, exclusive meaning that claims trans women are men, and the judge found the complete opposite. He said the statute should be construed in the interests of society. The Scottish government argued that had changed- as trans people are more and more recognised, the court could say that a trans woman’s sex is female, even if she has no GRC; but the judge said there were trans people in 1920 when the Census Act was enacted, and “sex” was capable of including self-identified or lived sex, even in 1920. So, trans women are women, and always have been. See paragraph 55.

In 2018 the Scottish government wanted to specify that sex included gender identity, for the purposes of the census. That definition was withdrawn. The judge calls this a “no-score draw”- both human rights campaigners and anti-trans campaigners agreed it would cause confusion, though for different reasons. However, that certainly does not mean that sex does not include gender identity (para 48).

The hate group attempted to argue that the case of Bellinger, about a trans woman’s marriage to a cis man, defined the word “sex” in law for all time. The judge said it didn’t: it only defined “sex” for the purposes of marriage in England, in 2003.

In England, the hate group got an interim order against the census on 9 March, when the census was due to take place on 21 March. They got the guidance in England changed by a trick. It is unlikely that the proportion of the population who is trans is significantly different in England and Scotland, but if the Scottish census produces a higher estimate it will show the hate group scared trans people from answering the trans question.

Even without a GRC, I would have said I am female. The judge says an answer provided in good faith and on reasonable grounds is not false, and therefore trans women have this right. As our passports say “Sex/Sexe: F”, it shows our sex is recognised by the State even without a GRC. A cis woman who had never thought she was trans would be answering the sex question falsely if she said she was male; a trans man would not be.

Hate groups say it distorts statistics to include trans women as women. The 2011 census could only estimate the Scottish population as between 5.21 and 5.38 million. There are probably not 170,000 trans people in Scotland. Beside that unavoidable imprecision, the effect of trans people is insignificant.

The Scottish census case provides a host of good legal arguments why trans women are women, and our sex is female. The hate group has scored an own goal.

If you have the time, I recommend reading the judgment. However, it quotes over four pages the hate group’s arguments. I found them horrible. I had to keep taking a break, to reconnect with decency and reality.

27 February 2022: The Inner House heard and dispatched an appeal quickly. Lady Dorrian, the Lord Justice Clerk, who gave the judgment in the Scottish Public Boards case, also gave the judgment here. It made this case considerably less valuable to trans people than the initial judgment might have seemed. See paragraph 23: a trans woman without a GRC can say her sex is female if she likes; but where “matters of status, proof of identity or other important rights” are involved, “it may be necessary to apply a biological definition of sex”.

I always understood that without a GRC I would not have a claim for sex discrimination if an employer preferred a man to me (notwithstanding Neil Gorsuch’s argument). I worried Lady Dorrian’s decision in the Scottish Public Boards case imperils trans women’s rights to enter women’s services, if they do not have a GRC, as Joanna Cherry implies. But, read with the census case, it does not.