Safe space, free speech and hate speech

No trans woman should have to hear that trans women are a threat to cis women, without robust rebuttal, ideally by allies rather than ourselves. In particular in universities, where trans women are in their late teens and early twenties, where they live on or near campus and spend much of their time on campus, they should be protected from the idea that we are a threat, either ourselves or that violent men will pretend to be women in order to assault women, if we get recognition. If people say we are a threat, they feel entitled to use violence against us to protect themselves or others.

That might be the most protection we can get.

Safe spaces in Britain have been created by students, usually allies protecting fellow students. This started with far right speakers attacking students of south Asian heritage. The leaders of Britain First, recently retweeted by Trump, or the English Defence League have nothing of use or interest to say, cannot be trusted to tell the truth, and are grossly offensive to most students, not just Muslims. If you do not have the basic empathy to feel with those minority students, you have something wrong with you. Some students are prejudiced, and BAME students will receive microagressions, but generally the most overt racism is taboo.

Now, the National Union of Students policy is that attacks on students cannot be tolerated, and it was a cis woman NUS women’s officer who opposed Germaine Greer speaking in Cardiff. Their video here explains that as charities they have to be careful external speakers do not incite hate crimes, and consider health and safety. That is separate from their no-platform policy, which bans the EDL and Al-Muhajiroun. Freedom of speech should be balanced with the right to be safe from harm, such as Linda Bellos saying she would take off her glasses and punch one of those bastards- trans women. That is incitement to violence, but as they put it it might have a “possible impact on campus cohesion”, emboldening TERFs to mock or threaten trans women. If “risks or tension arose at a similar event before” that might be a reason to refuse a speaker a platform within the Student Union. The Union might consider “robust regulatory steps” to allow a higher risk event to go ahead. Steps to mitigate risk could include having Union officials observe, stewards provide security, or the speech submitted to the Union in advance.

Germaine Greer could simply have been told not to mention trans people. At another speech she made in Norwich she refused to answer a question about trans women, saying “What do I know?”

The risk to cis women of trans women in women’s loos is less than the risk from other cis women. Self-certification when one pledges to live in the acquired gender life-long by oath is sufficient protection against people faking.

Before researching this I did not know the difference between the No Platform policy, applied to particular extremist groups, and the External Speakers policies, applied to all speakers. This is arcane. When everyone knows about the difference, it is a useful distinction to allow people to distinguish different issues. When listeners might not know, there can be a bait and switch, making someone answer about extremist groups and then ridiculing the answer as if it applied to any speaker.

Bullying in Schools

The Church of England supports homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in schools shock! It would not admit that-

The church has just published “Valuing All God’s Children”, which says some lovely things. Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, said in the introduction, Every one of us is loved unconditionally by God. We must avoid, at all costs, diminishing the dignity of any individual to a stereotype or a problem. Church of England schools offer a community where everyone is a person known and loved by God, supported to know their intrinsic value. In the context, that means trans kids are accepted for who they are. The guidance, according to their press release, aims to prevent pupils from having their self-worth diminished or their ability to achieve impeded by being bullied because of their perceived or actual sexual orientation or gender identity.

However, they quote Stonewall’s research: 9% of trans pupils receive death threats at school. 46% of pupils hear transphobic language “frequently or often”. 84% of trans pupils have self-harmed, 45% have attempted suicide, and 68% of LGBT pupils report that school staff only “sometimes”, or never, challenge HBT language when they hear it.

In the early years context and throughout primary school, play should be a hallmark of creative exploration. Pupils need to be able to play with the many cloaks of identity (sometimes quite literally with the dressing up box). Children should be at liberty to explore the possibilities of who they might be without judgement or derision. For example, a child may choose the tutu, princess’s tiara and heels and/or the firefighter’s helmet, tool belt and superhero cloak without expectation or comment. Childhood has a sacred space for creative self-imagining.

Um. Not every child with gender diverse play is trans. The guidance is not clear on this. That should be general guidance, not guidance on HBT bullying. The language teachers use when they comment, praise or give instructions [should] avoid labels and assumptions
which deem children’s behaviour irregular, abnormal or problematic just because it does not conform to gender stereotypes or today’s play preferences. In our highly gendered society, everyone needs that protection, not just trans kids.

Tutus and tool belts, a memorable example, was picked out by the New York Times for its headline covering the matter. I hardly think the NYT would cover any other guidance by the Church of England to its schools, but trans stories, with the frisson of weirdness, get coverage.

The Daily Mail rushed to a transphobic nutcase, or “conservative Evangelical”. What would she say? These rules are unkind, unloving and lacking in compassion. We are all against bullying, but the church is using these guidelines to pursue an agenda that runs counter to the church’s teaching. We are getting to the point where if you are not careful, the slightest slip from the correct agenda in a Church of England school will get you punished. The anti-bullying agenda is aimed against people who step out of line — the anti-bullies are becoming the bullies. That is, she wants to stand up for children and adults who would enforce restrictive gender norms, and deny we are “made in the image of God”, even by mockery, taunts and bullying. She gets reported in the Daily Mail and NYT.

Grassroots Christians, including teachers and school staff, have HBT views on Christian Doctrine, and are self-righteous about that, banding together to protect their right to bigotry. The Church’s report confirms that when it reports those statistics on bullying, teacher non-intervention, and self-harm. Possibly the Mail is looking for the controversy, in an attempt to make the story interest its readers, but it dredged up another homophobic windbag who said she and others long for clear and courageous biblical leadership, that is, they want bishops and press-releases to be as openly homophobic as they are. That bigot was recently on the Archbishop’s Council- the bigotry is at the top and throughout the church.

It is important that the church hierarchy says nice things, though perhaps they only do so to continue to get funding from the State. They could do more, but have not: We have not offered lesson plans or materials for physical, social, health and economic education (PSHE) or relationships and sex education (RSE), but the appendices do provide practical examples and templates for schools to use as they instigate anti-bullying policies and strategies.

Meanwhile, little girls are discouraged from playing with superhero capes, in case they are thought to be unfeminine. It’s insane.

The report pdf.

Gender Recognition in Scotland

The Scottish Government proposes that a person should get gender recognition, if they make a formal declaration before a Notary Public that they intend to live in their acquired gender until death. Making a false statutory declaration is a criminal offence, and their research on other countries allowing self-declaration has not found evidence of false or frivolous statements. There is support from women’s rights organisations including Scottish Women’s Aid and Rape Crisis Scotland, whose joint statement says, We do not regard trans equality and women’s equality to be in competition or contradiction with each other. We support the Equal Recognition campaign and welcome the reform of the Gender Recognition Act.

Rape Crisis and Women’s Aid in Scotland provide trans inclusive services on the basis of self identification. We will continue to work collaboratively with Scottish Trans Alliance and other equality organisations with the aim of ensuring that new processes are appropriately designed and without unintended consequences.

Limiting the number of times one can change sex might restrict frivolous applications. Malta requires second and subsequent applications to be considered by a court. However Sam Kane has transitioned three times, male to female to male to female, and I feel each time she did it feeling distress and oppression. She reverted because of sexism and transphobia. These things are not her fault and she should not be penalised for them. Colombia only permits two changes, which must be at least ten years apart. That might make me fear an honest declaration, since I cannot correct it if I am wrong. When I transitioned, I thought it possible that I might be trying to live male five years later. It is an additional difficulty, just one more thing requiring a leap of faith. I consider my real transition to be the day I transitioned at work, or “went full time”, which required enough clarity, determination and trust, as I would have made a fool of myself to revert.

Even the suggestion that men might do this frivolously, or maliciously to get access to women’s space, is repulsive. Even three in a year might be a leap, a bad experience causing reversion, then a second leap of faith which is even more courageous. I do not want someone showing that courage and determination to be investigated in case they were frivolous. Instead, deal with actual wrongs. Women’s space is not a good place for sex crime, as the criminal is outnumbered. Women’s support groups have experience with difficult behaviour and ways of dealing with it.

The Scottish Government proposes that 16 year olds should be able to affirm their gender change, as Scots law generally gives rights as adults to people over 16, and protections as young people until 18. They are consulting on various options for younger children, such as allowing parents to affirm for them. The parent would be trusted to do this in the best interests of the child, and consider the child’s wishes. Alternatively, a child who could show they had sufficient maturity to make the decision could affirm.

Ireland and Denmark do not require the consent of a spouse before a married trans person can declare their gender. If the gender change breaks the relationship, the trans person should not have to undergo the expense of divorce before getting their gender recognised. If the relationship remains, the trans person will not make the declaration without their partner’s support. In either case they should not require the partner’s consent. Consent can be used to put improper pressure on a trans person. The other may feel betrayed, and feel that the trans person has broken the relationship, but that does not entitle them to take revenge by refusing consent.

Now, if one partner seeks gender recognition the other can use that as grounds for divorce. This should not be a separate ground for divorce. The usual ground is “unreasonable behaviour”, and a spouse should be able to argue that gender change is unreasonable behaviour. This is such a slight change; it means that gender recognition broke the marriage in the particular circumstances of this couple, rather than normally or generally.

They are also talking of increasing recognition for non-binary people, though this will require action by the UK government and additional rights in Equalities legislation.

They don’t address the question of what it means to “live in your acquired gender”. For me, does it mean always wearing wigs and at least attempting to talk in a feminine register? Does it mean anything else about clothing preferences, or particular behaviours? I think it means what the person believes it to mean. Women can wear what they like and do what they like. I feel most people who change gender will have a particular view about what it means, and attempt to resemble the assigned gender, but that is subjective too.

Consultation document pdf is here. It describes ways to respond to the consultation.

Solving our problems

Is trans in teenage girls a social contagion? Should their parents and the doctors save them from themselves? I thought I would ask an expert who has thought deeply about this. I read that Bulimia was a social contagion, that people started to suffer from the disease of bulimia when they read about it.

-Well, we are a social species. Everything people do is a social contagion.

It is so obvious when she puts it that way. Richard Dawkins coined the word “meme” to mean an idea which people adopt not necessarily to their benefit. There might be aspects to the idea which make it long-lived. People find solutions to their problems. Eating disorders fulfil an emotional need, as cutting does.

There are clearly bad contagious ideas, such as the Bridgend suicide outbreak. That people in your town- you may know them, or have common acquaintances- kill themselves makes the idea more possible. It gets rid of the problems of being a young person, but also gets rid of all the possible solutions, the creativity of the individual.

There are solutions from medical experts. Should a very large person have bariatric surgery, reducing the size of their stomachs? Some people think it wonderful, some think it “mutilation”. It means you can never eat a full meal again, so have to eat several times a day. It cannot be reversed. People have difficulty absorbing vitamins, and may have severe pain.

So bariatric surgery replaces your problems with a whole new set- just like my trans surgery has sorted my discomfort, at a cost.

Yes. And what if the research on gut flora yields results? Some people put on weight because of the way they absorb food or hormonal feedback to the brain not properly telling them they are satiated. If such problems were solved medically, people would still comfort-eat, but would not put on weight the same way.

Should the deaf child of deaf parents have cochlear implants? she asks. Well, I think in sound. I have no mind’s eye, but a subtle mind’s ear, able to hear an orchestra in my head. I take in information through sound. I think, of course the child should, but recognise some such parents object. So the medical establishment says the child should have the operation, and the parents refuse because Deaf culture is a beautiful thing, and this will remove the child from Deaf culture. The child may still be part of Deaf culture, loving their parents and learning Sign, but if the parents refuse the surgery the child may come to resent that; but if there are not enough deaf children, the subgroup may cease to exist.

Solutions to our problems are chosen by the individual, and suggested or opposed by the family or the wider society. Being a teenage girl is difficult. How much easier to be a man! Well, there is misogyny. Bariatric surgery is mutilation, she says, but it might stop you getting spat at in the street. The hatred and mockery is wrong, and an ideal society would not fat-shame, or slut-shame, but in this world they do and finding a way to avoid that is a good thing. Transition takes away certain problems and replaces them with others. Some people regret it. Parents and carers oppose it, valuing what the teenager does not- fertility damaged by testosterone, the natural body.

“Natural body”- Ha! Impossible! Every action and choice changes our bodies. Chest masculinisation surgery changes it more quickly and radically.

The problems we face exhibit our creativity and determination. Once I saw a man roll up to his car, get himself and his wheelchair into it, and drive off- swinging about like a gymnast, quickly and efficiently. I was impressed, and he might prefer fully functioning limbs. Alison Lapper gets around independently in an adapted car. Technology gets her wheelchair in and out. That’s more expensive, but it works for her.

I want to gather everyone like a hen gathers her chicks. I want those who regret saved from transition, and those who strongly believe medical transition is necessary to access that. I want reconciliation between trans and terfs, though the positions are so extreme. And if this desire came from giving emotional support and care to my mother, from before I could remember-

surely a bad thing, a demand on me before I was ready for it, which has hurt me life long-

is that care, compassion and desire for their good and their happiness not still Beautiful?

Not necessarily- or, Yes, and No; but that is quite a long argument in itself.

Lucy wants to get beyond binaries. Negative and positive thinking, male and female, trans and cis. Even “Non-binary” is a failure, because it differentiates itself from Binary. What transcends this? The Tao, perhaps. Flow.

TERF ideology

I was debating halal slaughter, and someone said, “If anything it’s an attack on Islam, NOT Muslims! you do see difference?” Yes; though I might not if I were Muslim. In the same way, when a TERF says “We have nothing against trans women and no radical feminist ever wrongs a trans woman” they are asserting a difference between the people and our understanding of reality. Here I don’t see the difference, and unless a Muslim can become apostate as easily as a trans woman detransitioning a Manchester City supporter becoming a Manchester United supporter oh, I don’t know, no matter of identity is easily sloughed off- I don’t see the difference for Muslims either. And, that man really does not see the problem: he thinks Muslims should just stop being wrong. He wants their good, and their freedom from delusion. They don’t see it that way.

TERFs believe they don’t wrong us. It is simple. Women are oppressed; women need women’s space; a trans woman is not a woman; therefore trans women should not enter women’s space. Trans women do, so should be excluded. Trans women attack TERFs, who should defend themselves.

It is a class analysis. Women are the oppressed class, they say. All men, however unsuccessful, benefit from being male, as do we. All women have been oppressed. One does not stop being part of the problem by meaning well, but by acting against the class structure. That is why they have to insist that transition is conservative and supports the class structure: I am feminine, therefore I must be a woman, posits that women are or should be feminine. But conservatives disagree. They say I am a man, so should not transition. They think I attack their values, and their judgment should count.

Fortunately most people are swayed by individual stories, suffering and transcending. They can see us as individuals. The class analysis is unattractive. And social structures are cultural. It is not a matter of strict logic, that I have a Y chromosome therefore should use a man’s toilet, but society can make allowances and turn a blind eye. I am generally tolerated. The law gives me gender recognition. We are a mostly harmless anomaly, a tiny number of people.

TERFs debate on line whether they should recognise our pronouns out of courtesy, or call me “he” self-righteously, like conservatives do. They protest that their critique has a completely different basis to conservative hostility, but much of what they say, threaten and do echoes conservatism.

Their stance becomes an identity, just as ours is, the Manchester United supporter or the Muslim. They will not be converted. So we need to be peaceful, and refuse to rise to their provocations. They want to sway the general population against us, and try to accomplish that by making us look bad.

The tragedy is that we subvert the patriarchy, which they claim is their goal, and they divert their energy against us rather than the common enemy.

There is only one gender: Human

We are imprisoned by gender. Its expectations restrict us, trans folk more than most. We are people. There is no feeling only women, or only men, feel; no virtue for one which is not a virtue for the other; no gift which fits one more than the other. So there is only one gender, naturally: Human.

We can pick from a palette of gender expressions, those with which we feel most comfortable, hence name-gender: my gender is Clare. Yet that is restrictive. It means I have an idea that some gender expression is naturally me, some is not, or at least some is less fitting or comfortable. My gender is human. There is no gendered expression which does not fit me.

Women cry so we will not swear, men swear so they will not cry. Yet women swear, and men cry. These are a matter of expectations, fashions, taboos. The taboos restrict some people more than others, and we transition, or campaign against those expectations, or just find spaces where other non-conformists can make us more comfortable. Everyone will learn gender in their family and with their age group, and have some gendered expression which feels more comfortable.

Or perhaps if we cannot explore a particular gender expression we yearn for it, like a painter who does not know all the properties of a colour so wants to use it again and again to master it, to learn it from the inside, before moving on from it. Being refused a gender expression makes you need it more.

There is sexuality, as well, and all sexualities are possible for all people. Mostly we follow fashion, and don’t know any better. With a compatible person you will work something out.

All virtue is virtue for me. I am capable of all feelings, and all reactions. I am human. I contain multitudes. I accept no restriction on my gender expression. It is the only way I may be free; and the only things which restrict me are in my own mind.

Oh, I said the opposite yesterday. I am trans, I said, it is a way of being, more than simply an identity. I do not know enough to be consistent. Self-contradiction is my way of groping towards truth.

Academic debates, trans lives

Erudite academics applying philosophical techniques to the nature of trans affect my life, but only if I let them.

Prof. Kelli Oliver protests that she is openly bisexual and has mentored women and students of colour in her male-dominated discipline, in order to eliminate injustice and inequality. I find myself in an educational environment in which outrage, censoring and public shaming has begun to replace critique, disagreement and debate. She is still getting hate mail after defending Rebecca Tuvel, who wrote an article comparing transracialism to transgender. One way we delegitimise Nkechi Amare Diallo is by using her former name, though she has changed it, an act equivalent to deadnaming a trans person.

Mmm. Deadnaming. Prof. Oliver pointed out that Caitlyn Jenner herself refers to “Bruce”: I will refer to the name Bruce when I think it appropriate. Bruce existed for sixty-five years, and Caitlyn is just going on her second birthday. That’s the reality. I feel it behoves me to bear references to Stephen. I have enough ways for people to provoke me, without that. Yet deadnaming distresses many transitioned people: it is a way of denying the reality of transition and gender identity, the person’s gender and right to assert it.

Deadnaming is unfriendly. I can imagine psychologists or philosophers debating these matters in an academic setting, and if Rebecca Tuvel’s journal article had just been in print in University libraries perhaps no-one would have objected to it. However, it was available on-line, and so the least active transactivist and lots of incipient trans folk, as well as people of colour who objected to “Rachel Dolezal”, read it and got angry. As Kelli Oliver says, some who were in a position to ruin Rebecca Tuvel’s career read it and objected.

What you don’t know rarely hurts you. Had it been only available in print in a scholarly journal, trans activists would not have heard of it, and few might have bothered to communicate objection if they had to type a letter and use a stamp- perhaps even dictating rather than writing, in my first job I used a dictaphone to dictate letters for secretaries to type. Now, it is online, and gains notoriety. People read it. We are hurt by it. Transracialism is not accepted by black people, and I don’t like it compared to transgender. Others can make moral or practical distinctions, but finding those is effort.

I stop being able to ignore Rebecca Tuvel. People talk about her. So she affects me, threatening to delegitimise me. I have no safe space. Just as once there was a Gender Recognition Certificate I had to have one, so now Rebecca Tuvel impinges on my consciousness and that of other trans folk I have to read her.

The Guardian had an article saying that teenagers were not having gender surgery. Comments were opened, and people saying prejudiced things about trans people had a field day. Their comments got lots of upvotes. Some suggested that the Transgender Day of Remembrance was a fraud, that there was no evidence murder rates of trans folk were any higher than the general population. A few trans folk answered, and were abused.

Any TERF can join a TERF bubble, and learn horrible words like autogynephilia, or about assaults on cis women by trans women, including sexual assaults. Then they can come out and attack us with them. Articles about transracialism, or by Anne Lawrence, are used to attack us. And yet it need only affect me if I let it, if I read the hostile articles and the difficult arguments. People will transition, whatever the climate of hostility. Perhaps no-one I know IRL would read them, but me. I could just cut myself off from all this ferment, simply by switching off my computer, and no-one I know IRL would care. But I am drawn to it, however much it stresses me. Academic freedom has to take account of the casualties.

Possibly it would be better if philosophers and psychologists could debate trans in ivory towers, find a solution and just apply it. Actually, no, we have fought for what we have, it gives us a sense of agency. We are part of this argument. We know what we want. If academics debated, then lawmakers followed their recommendations, the world would be like the prayer of Teilhard de Chardin, archaeologist and mystic:

Ah, you know it yourself, Lord, through having borne the anguish of it as a man: on certain days the world seems a terrifying thing: huge, blind, and brutal. . . . At any moment the vast and horrible thing may break in through the cracks—the thing which we try hard to forget is always there, separated from us by a flimsy partition: fire, pestilence, storms, earthquakes, or the unleashing of dark moral forces—these callously sweep away in one moment what we had laboriously built up and beautified with all our intelligence and all our love.

Since my human dignity, O God, forbids me to close my eyes to this . . . teach me to adore it by seeing you concealed within it.

But then the world is.

Kelly Oliver in NYT.

Puberty blockers

No-one transitions on a whim. It is so difficult to transition that anyone who does probably is trans. That includes children.

There are 12.4m children aged 0-15 in the UK, and 1.4m 16-17 year olds. So 800 children on puberty blockers is a tiny fraction. Help, help, the sky is falling! cries the Daily Mail. They reported the fact, and sensationalised it- “Huge growth”- from what? Is not 800 out of 12.4m a tiny number? Then they interviewed and photographed a 17 year old trans woman who said puberty blockers saved her life, as she would have been suicidal suffering male pubertal changes. And then they started quoting transphobes. A spokeswoman for the Grassroots Conservatives campaign, who could be assumed to have no expertise whatsoever, said, This drastic notion that we should change our gender should be a last resort, as if a handful in a hundred thousand showed mass poisoning of children, or even the possibility that anyone who had the treatment did not need it. The children are diagnosed with life long gender dysphoria. The doctors predict that these are the children who will never regret their decision.

A woman speaking for Transgender Trend, a parents’ group speaking against transition, said These kids are not old enough to make life-changing decisions as if they were not diagnosed by doctors who were clear the treatment was appropriate. A doctor said the treatment relieved suffering, and three doctors said it was unsupported by rigorous scientific evidence, as if control groups could ever be ethical.

The treatment is puberty suppression. It gives children and families more time to make the final decision to transition surgically, before puberty changes the child’s body to appear irrevocably of the gender assigned at birth.

There were 2016 referrals of children and adolescents aged 3-18 in 2016 (yes, it is an odd coincidence). Children may remain under the care of the clinic for several years. Help, help, the sky is falling! said the Daily Telegraph. Chris McGovern, chair of the Campaign for Real Education so not obviously a medical expert called this a “politically correct agenda”. The Telegraph blames feminists! Feminists were attempting to reshape school policies on gender… children were being forced to “unlearn” the difference between boys and girls. If children did not know the difference, they would not know they wanted to transition. Liberating children from rigid gender roles would reduce the pressure to transition.

I feel that not all children who are trans will have been able to convince their parents, even if they have had the courage or desperation to try. I feel the children who are referred will be the strongest-minded and most certain trans children. And only a minority of those referred get any treatment. They are encouraged to transition and live in role, including at school, but most do not get puberty blockers, leave alone surgery.

Before puberty blockers, trans girls have their sperm frozen so that they might have children later in life. The Daily Mail opposes this. Storage costs £300 a year, and the Mail says the money should be spent on people with sympathetic health problems, not these weirdos. The article put “trans girls” in scare quotes, and referred to them as boys who believe they are female.

“Shouldn’t be allowed at all” was one of the highest rated comments. Consider the hostility to transition! No parent would accept it unless completely convinced. The barriers to a child’s transition are so great that children who do are trans.

I feel that schools which prevented gender indoctrination and permitted children to experiment with gender would produce more balanced adults. I am ambivalent about transition in children. What if it is wrong for them? I understand the worries- but surely all those involved are doing their best, for the best interests of the child.

Changing gender

Who would want a gender recognition certificate, anyway?

I did. I was more or less OK with the law calling me a “man”. I had a passport and driving licence which indicated I am a woman. I was not thinking of marriage or civil partnership. But when the law offered the chance to be declared a “woman”, I wanted it. I can’t think of any way it affects my legal rights. It makes me almost certain to go to a women’s prison if imprisoned, but I have not committed that sort of offence.

Should someone with a penis be sent to a women’s prison? It is a grey area. Whichever prison we go to, we are going to have a tough time. In the cause of protecting themselves against us, people are violent towards us. If a trans woman has committed a violent crime, she is capable of violence; and if she has transitioned before she was charged, and wants to go there, I would send her to a women’s prison. If she were violent or threatening there, I would subject her to prison discipline- though that requires a sufficient number of prison officers.

Now, under the gender recognition act, I needed to show I had lived as a woman for two years, which I proved with wage slips, and I needed to show I was likely to live as a woman for the rest of my life. The evidence required for that was letters from two doctors, one on an approved list of specialists. I am not faking this, or trying to prove a point. I am sincere. This is my life.

Under the consultation, which has not yet opened, Proposals to streamline and de-medicalise the process for changing gender will be part of a broad consultation of the legal system that underpins gender transition.

Why should I need a doctor’s diagnosis? Why should I need any written evidence beyond my bare assertion that I am a trans woman, and I intend to live as a woman for the rest of my life? To stop anyone getting a GRC insincerely, and to protect others from us, if we might harm them. Provisions on evidence and length of time have to be justified, but can be if a good case can be made that people would be harmed.

There might be policy on trans women in women’s prisons. Any restriction is subject to Human Rights challenges. I tend to feel we should be placed in women’s prisons and the system should work to prevent violence, by us or against us. That depends on having sufficient prison officers. Perhaps there could be restrictions on getting a GRC, for people who had been in prison or charged with an imprisonable offence. Prisoners seeking gender transition have psychological assessment, and also have hormones. Taking hormones would deter most men.

I feel most men would not like to sign a form saying that they are women. I doubt anyone has had a second GRC for a reversion. I would have heard of it. It would have been reported. Google would find it. People do not transition lightly.

Another suggestion was that men go to great lengths to get into women’s refuges. Well, former partners whom women have fled often try hard to track them down, and sometimes the refuge’s security fails; but I don’t see how a GRC, and the attempt to prove he needs domestic violence services, would help a man find his former partner.

So there are a lot of scare tactics about theoretically possible, highly unlikely scenarios where a determined man might lie to get a GRC then use it to attack women. There are so many other ways men can attack women, without all that effort, why bother? The advantage we gain is that we would no longer have a long drawn out, expensive, intrusive and humiliating procedure in order to get a GRC. There is no real cost to anyone in granting self-certification. None.

Reconciling trans and terfs

We could start to reconcile trans folk and gender-critical feminists by asking- what do we have in common? We are gender diverse, and this means we are oppressed. We have a common oppressor, the conservatives seeking to enforce gender norms and the ordinary people unthinkingly reinforcing gender norms.

We are hurting, and angry. We have a lively sympathy for those hurt in the same way, and a desire to support them, stop the hurt and condemn the causes of the hurt. There are similarities in the way we are hurt, even though there are differences both sides feel are important.

Each side hurts the other. There is the tragedy. How to move forward? By recognising that the other group is not the main enemy or main source of oppression, and that the other side is hurt too. We are all gender-diverse, because we do not fit into, and we oppose, restrictive gender conventions. That is what feminism is. Both sides do what we do and are what we are, and get slapped down for it. Then it becomes the most important thing in the world for us.

I want you not to be hurt is the moment of reconciliation. There are apparent zero-sum games in this- can trans women come into women’s space?- which are difficult, and need to be set to one side while we see how we hurt each other, and how to protect each other.

Non-conforming men and women are those who least fit the gender stereotype. We should recognise that the other exemplifies those human characteristics we feel least fitting and most oppressive, which we resist as strongly as we can. That is, we revolt each other. The gender-critical feminist looks at me and thinks, that is not what a woman is, or should be, but a grotesque caricature of the worst aspects of cliché femininity. The answer is to see why I do as I do: because I am gender diverse. I would not present as this femme stereotype if it were not the best approximation I can find for who I really am. The imaginative leap I ask of them is to concentrate on what we have in common, not what divides us.

The gender-critical feminist is revolted by the idea of mutilating women’s bodies, but needs to see that it works. If T breaks the trans man’s voice and gives him facial hair, then he has chest masculinisation surgery, people really do see him and treat him differently. Ideally that would not be necessary: we would value everyone’s gifts and strengths, and support everyone’s weaknesses; but with the world as it is, the trans man pays a price he is willing to pay, and is freed from gendered oppression.

Trans folk need to recognise the basic idea of radical feminism, that it is not reproductive roles that determine gender differences, but culture. There is no masculine or feminine virtue or vice which the other sex does not share. Men often have greater strength, but in post-industrial economies strength is less and less relevant.

Gender-critical feminists need to recognise how difficult that is for us. I want to express my feminine side. That is condemned. I am hurt, and I hide it, seeking to please others- a personality trait which in other circumstances would be positive, but here is poisonous. The doctors give us a way out: I suffer from “gender dysphoria”, and they name the appropriate treatment, of hormones and surgery. When I am not able to express my soft, yielding feminine self, “I am a woman” becomes my means of defence.

Society has dictated a narrow path for us. An AMAB child can wear a dress to school, if they call themself a girl and wear girl’s clothes all the time. The answer is to cease segregating children’s clothes between girls’ and boys’, as John Lewis wants to, and to recognise that the clothes are a symbol for the personality or nature of the child which the child wishes to express, rather than the true gender itself. All boys should wear dresses sometimes, to see what it feels like and whether they like it.

I sought to be poisoned and mutilated because that was the way I could justify and realise expressing my real self. It comes at a cost, but it works.

I don’t think I am getting far with these ideas of reconciling gender-critical feminists and trans folk because I am asking more of them than of us. But- let us devote our energies to our common enemy!

I started this post because of a squalid little scuffle between TERF and trans, described here. Why was the alleged victim filming, and why did she have someone in a headlock? Why were there no charges? The New Statesman makes her out to be a victim, and this blog post just about calls her a Nazi. There must be a better way.