Is the Quaker meeting a safe space?

The Meeting might seem a safe space, where we come together in Friendship to worship. We come to recharge, away from the World, to be better fitted to live in it. Often it is. I come away feeling loved. And “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”.

God gave me a gentle working over at Zoom worship, reducing me to tears. I hope I come away with strengthened Love, better fitted for my world, with greater understanding, and it was painful. It did not feel safe at the time.

There was a harsh sound like a fog-horn, in repeated blasts, and I was irritated. Someone should mute themselves. They are not showing proper respect to the meeting. Such a horrible sound would distract anyone. I was certain of the rules, and my entitlement.

Then my wise Black Friend ministered on the love and mercy of God, quoting psalm 139 on God’s inescapability. Black Friends have told me the Quaker meeting is not always a safe space. “Can I touch your hair?”

The meeting is safe as far as we work to make it so. We have love, one for another. The practice of sitting still, like poker players where a sigh or the slight tightening of muscles indicates inner turmoil, is an attempt not to distract our Friends. (I find sitting still difficult.) Only love will bind us together, create safety amongst ourselves as we run our meeting, with our different desires and understanding.

Some find that having something to do with their hands, such as knitting, seems to help them centre down. Others find this distracting- perhaps, it is the sense that the crafters are breaking the rules. They should not be doing that. Here is a Quaker discussion. Love can bring us together- the person who is easily distracted, the person who needs something to do with their hands, and others supporting both.

Looking back at it, Quakers are delighted with our 2009 YM, agreeing that we would treat gay marriages precisely equally with straight marriages. This outcome was not widely predicted. Gay Friends went to YM feeling valued members of their meetings, their relationships accepted, even celebrated, knowing that “the acceptance of homosexuality distresses some Friends”. Those Friends too might be apprehensive about the meeting. We came together in Love, led by Spirit, and other yearly meetings have split over accepting gay people, each side believing they were rooted in Christian principle and even in Love.

Again Friends approach YM in fear. Again, our sense of ourselves- the trans person, and the gender critical- feel threatened. With the clerk in a discussion group, I knew I should not lobby her about the Correct Result of YM, but the temptation was so great I could not speak about the topic.

We must be prepared to be changed. I have been changed beyond recognition, and as God Loves me into wholeness it has been intensely painful. In Meeting I am weeping, for myself and for the World. And at the end of the meeting I hear the foghorn again, accepting it. It does not bother me, and I weep again in joy.

Only Love can save us. All will hear things that might hurt them, but the meeting is not mine to control, and others will say what seems to them right at the time, which may be an act of courage. I pray for a good result, and try to let go of conceptions of what that result should look like.

The British Government v Trans People

A Northern Irish court case has revealed Liz Truss and Boris Johnson’s labours to inflame a culture war against trans people, after the previous Conservative government had decided to treat us reasonably. The anonymous JR111, let’s call her Jennifer, applied for judicial review because the government blocked her from getting a gender recognition certificate. For example, the government has a list of specialist psychiatrists qualified to diagnose “gender identity disorder and transsexualism” for a GRC, but none of them practise medicine in Northern Ireland. Continue reading

What conversion practices should be unlawful?

It should be unlawful for a priest to preach that gay is sinful, if a gay person is present.

I consider the effect on the gay person. They may have been traumatised by prejudice, which makes it more difficult for them to resist that lie. The priest- imam, minister, whatever- has power in the community, and ostracism from community hurts. I would not make it criminal, but I would enact that any gay person present during an anti-gay sermon after the law came into force could claim damages for it, and allow such claims for twenty years after, rather than the accustomed three, because of the time it can take victims to recover and realise how harmful such preaching is.

Praying away the gay should be criminal. A figure with any religious authority who tries to “heal” a gay person or counsel that gay person to be celibate should be charged with a criminal offence. The gay person is never wholly voluntarily in such a situation, as they are affected by general societal homophobia or the specific homophobia of the religious body.

Note that the religious body attempts to change who the person is, not just how they act. The faculty of being sexually attracted to other humans is part of the person’s very essence. More people are bi than the culture admits, and prejudices and fears might prevent someone acknowledging an attraction, but the attraction comes from our very nature. Some people are mostly attracted to male or masculine, some mostly to female or feminine.

It’s not what you call that attraction that is the nature of the person. If you think they are a man, and they are attracted to men, you call them gay, but the attraction does not change if in fact they are trans, really a woman, and they transition. They may still be attracted to men. They may admit more attractions, as they are not suppressing their essence after transition, but even if the words we use for them, heterosexual rather than gay, change, their truth, their nature, of being attracted to men, does not.

So it is completely ridiculous to call transition “conversion therapy”. It is a complete fabrication. Unfortunately, some people hate trans so much that they are putting forward that argument- either in a hategasm where they cannot control themselves, or in the cold, deliberately deceiving way that they and their ilk might use denying climate change or evolution by natural selection.

On 15 May, Janice Turner told this lie in The Times, claiming that parents might try to transition a gay child to avoid the stigma of being called gay. She appears to believe that there is no stigma in being called trans. This is divorced from reality.

Worryingly, she claims that the government plan to include compelling someone to transition in the definition of unlawful conversion therapy. The idea that a parent could, or that even the medical professional most committed to children being able to transition would go along with it, is ridiculous. That is the lie she tells, though, in an attempt to smear Stonewall and Mermaids.

So what should be unlawful conversion therapy for trans people? The religious figure preaching against it should be subject to paying damages. The religious figure praying over a trans person should be criminal. What about psychiatrists, psychologists and psychotherapists?

The definition here is simple: attempting to change who someone is should be unlawful. Exploring who someone is should be permissible. Robert Withers, who pretends to transphobes that he can cure trans, should never be allowed near trans people, but a therapist should be able to help a person presenting as trans to get to know themself better.

Sometimes it will be subtle, but the therapist should be aware when they are putting pressure on a person. If they are unaware, they are not qualified to be therapists, because the therapist in a position of authority can damage people by suppressing their nature, in all sorts of ways apart from LGBT. Professional bodies are capable of investigating and disciplining such therapists.

Criminal sanctions will only be available when the pressure to change is clear beyond reasonable doubt. That is enough to protect any therapist helping a client explore their relation with their gender and gender identity. So the definition of criminal conversion therapy could be quite simple: it is an offence for someone in the position of therapist to attempt to change someone’s gender identity. However much some might attempt to obscure it, there is a clear line between attempting to change someone’s nature and helping them explore it.

British Government to ban conversion therapy?

The British government is not going to ban conversion therapy. Instead they are going to start a consultation. They could look round the world at legal bans, or look at what expert bodies have published, but instead they are going to ask religious bodies their thoughts about religious freedom, that is, freedom to preach that LGBT is Abomination unto the Lord, and the usual nutcase transphobes about how trans medical treatment is “conversion therapy” against lesbian and gay people.

They are also writing, still, about “conversion therapy”. It is not therapy! Sometimes it is pseudo-therapy, aping some aspects of therapy- there might be a psychologist, talking to a person about their thoughts and feelings- but it is the opposite of therapy, as it seeks to prevent the person expressing their true self, and seeks to force them into a conventional understanding of what it is to be a man or woman. And sometimes, it avoids the appearance of therapy, as when a priest laid hands on me and prayed to God that I stop cross-dressing. That is an abuse of power, and should be criminal. The pretence that an attack on someone’s core being is “therapy” or “the Love of God” is one of its most damaging aspects.

It is anti-SOGI conversion practices. SOGI, sexual orientation and gender identity, should be clear enough for anyone to understand or look up. Call it what it is.

Liz Truss started with a lie: “As a global leader on LGBT rights”. Most advances on LGBT rights have come about under a Labour government, and equal marriage would have been defeated by Tory rebels without Labour support. Ten years later, the British government is definitely falling behind. So, no, it has not “always been committed to stamping out” anti-SOGI conversion practices, or it would have done so by now.

She writes of “the coercive… practice of conversion therapy”. I had two experiences, of having a psychiatrist and psychologist attempt to stop me cross dressing, and having a priest lay hands on me to cure me. I sought them out. In that moment, they were voluntary, not coercive. The coercion had happened many years before. My apparent free choice of conversion therapy was from programming. My recovery is proceeding many years after.

How will they “protect the medical profession”? The medical profession have ethics rules against conversion practices.

I am bothered about “upholding religious freedom”. Children are taken to worship, or to coaching by religious bodies, and when there are children present such religious bodies should not be inveighing against gay people or trans people, because they may damage gay or trans children present. Ideally, they should not be preaching a heteronormative family structure of Mummies and Daddies. The Rev Tina Beardsley explains some debate on conversion practices in the Church of England.

Even adults who have bought into religious structures, and find community there, or fear ostracism if they come out, are intensely vulnerable before homophobic or transphobic preaching. I do not want it argued that a gay man can decide to be celibate for religious reasons and is entitled to support in that from his church.

The religious bodies have the power, and LGBT+ folk are hurt. Where people realise they have been damaged by that religious power, they should be able to claim compensation for that damage.

When will this happen? After a consultation. The trans consultation was announced in 2017, launched a year later, and only this month the Government acted- to reduce the costs of getting a GRC, slightly, but keep the greatest cost, that of getting medical evidence. Then, “as soon as parliamentary time allows”. Don’t hold your breath.

Meanwhile Liz Truss and her rabble preach hate against trans people.

Is transphobia as bad as racism?

What turns speech into “hate speech”? What should prevent it?

Ruth Smeeth wrote in the Times that an employment tribunal case had placed anti-trans campaigning in the same category as “dangerous extremism” which threatens society. She claimed anti-trans campaigning was not the equivalent to racist hate speech.

Anti-trans campaigning is often couched in terms of safety. But then so can racism be. 1960s America had unashamed campaigners for segregation, who would argue in terms of safety. Black men were lynched after being accused of sexual crime against white women.

Homophobia can claim to work for the safety of children too. Section 28 of the Local Government Act, which was in effect from 1988 to 2003, prohibited the “promotion of homosexuality” and prevented teachers from acknowledging that people could be gay. This tortured gay children. Yet in 1999 in Parliament Jill Knight claimed that “children at school [were] being encouraged into homosexuality and being taught that a normal family with mummy and daddy was outdated.”

Prejudice is also couched in terms of difference. Racists argue that Black people are different from white people. That is the basis of the “great replacement” conspiracy theory. In the same way, trans-excluders argue that differences between trans women and cis women are in some way relevant, so that we should be excluded from shop changing rooms.

The classic free speech defence is that wrong speech will be subjected to the light of truth, and be refuted. This ignores the question of power. Governments of the Right have encouraged racism and homophobia, and governments of the Left have moved to sanction them. Now, racist views are encouraged by the Murdoch media empire, because these views tend to preserve hierarchy and their own power.

Theresa May described her “hostile environment” policy- making sure immigrants without a current visa or right to remain could not work or rent, expelling them from homeless shelters, closing their bank accounts. This, combined with the Home Office’s restrictions on evidence and incompetence led to the Windrush scandal.

The Smeeth article is not an attempt to justify anti-trans campaigning or a discussion of the issues. It uses the word “dangerous” but does not say what the danger is. People who agree with it will be prevented from thinking: they will see the word “dangerous”, agree that danger must be bad, and so conclude that their anti-trans campaigning is unobjectionable. Smeeth uses the word to describe the ET decision- the danger is of restricting speech- but also dangerous extremism, where speech should be restricted.

At its core is an assumption that all good people agree “racist hate speech” is bad, but anti-trans campaigning is not equally bad.

Smeeth claims a right to say who needs or deserves protection. Minority ethnic people need and deserve protection. I agree. She claims, though she gives no reason, that trans people do not deserve the same protection.

Teaching pseudo-scientific claims of racial difference, even where backed up by selected data by tenured professors, creates a hostile environment for Black people in universities. It’s not a question of how language is used or whether it imitates dispassion. The cold hate of Jill Knight is as damaging as the hot hate of the Nazis shouting “Jews will not replace us” in Charlottesville.

Racists, homophobes and transphobes can easily find powerful backers and ready audiences. They make money from their speech, just as climate change deniers do. Smeeth’s claim that trans people are entitled to less protection than racialised people or gay people makes it easier to persecute us, and drive us out from ordinary society. All transphobia, from debates in university common rooms and Quaker meetings, to assaults on trans people, is linked: it shares a view that we might be in some way dangerous, or not deserve protection, that we have less value than the normal people.

The ALBA party manifesto and transgender

I was surprised to see a picture of someone with a trans flag round her shoulders, in the new ALBA Party manifesto. It’s on a page headed “Scotland’s many people”.

It claims its “commitment to women’s rights” does not mean it rejects trans rights. ALBA wishes the two groups were not set against each other. It wants a Citizens’ Assembly to develop proposals on Gender Recognition Act reform. So it would chuck out the two consultations and the Bill already drafted. It says it supports human rights for all LGBTQ people. Hurrah! It recognises we are human! That’s a start, anyway.

On the same page it says religious people have human rights too, and it supports their human rights as in the European Convention on Human Rights. This is absolutely minimal, and means almost nothing. It was written in a hurry by someone with better things to do.

Its “Women and Equalities” page, however, has a picture of a woman in overalls with ear and eye protection, so a rare woman in Scotland. It echoes the trans-excluders’ rubbish: Sex-based rights! “Female only” spaces: they think I am a man, so should not be in a “female only space”. Possibly, they would tolerate people with GRCs, but not other trans women, and make getting a GRC more difficult. “Single sex sports”, contradicting the International Olympic Committee. And then it mentions “reform”, though it does not say of what. At the end, it mentions gender recognition.

So, it’s a complete excluders’ charter: it claims trans women are men, no trans women in women’s spaces. The Women and Equalities page has nothing to say about equal pay for work of equal value, say, an actual feminist concern, only trans exclusion. That’s the only issue they deem of interest under “Women and Equalities”. Apparently it is the only issue the “ALBA Women’s Conference” addressed.

It is totally bizarre that women, especially women considering themselves feminist, would want to join a party led by Alex Salmond. He admitted sexual contact with two of the complainants in his trial, both junior to him and much younger. He said he wished he had been more careful with others’ personal space. One charge of sexual assault with intent to rape had the strange Scots verdict “Not Proven”.

So why has ALBA eighteen women candidates for the Scottish Parliament? Because they do not care about sexual assault if they can campaign against trans rights.

Otherwise, it’s a party for those dissatisfied with the SNP, who do not feel their talents were properly recognised. There have been other independence parties in Scotland as rivals to the SNP, but if a second vote for a different party gives any additional tactical support to independence, the Scottish Greens fulfil that function.

ALBA was founded on 8 February 2021, and has featured in dozens of articles. Polls show them with 1% support, which is too much. Nigel Farage spoke out for them.

Margaret Lynch, a candidate, expressed the homophobic lie that Stonewall wants to reduce the age of consent to ten. This is based on ILGA, the International LGBTI Association, which includes Stonewall, backing the Women’s Rights Caucus Feminist Declaration at the UN. To “end the criminalization and stigmatization of adolescents’ sexuality” means not treating adolescents as criminals. No-one wants to legalise paedophilia. The age of 10 comes from the UN’s definition of adolescent as aged from 10. Salmond defended Lynch.

8 May: I am delighted to see that Mr Sleepy Cuddles and the transphobes of his party won not a single seat in the Scottish Parliament. Transphobes Joan McAlpine (SNP) and Jenny Marra (Labour) are no longer MSPs.

Objective history

Can we be objective about the British Empire?

The Times complained that the National Trust encouraged children to “lament Britain’s history”. There’s a group of “members, supporters and friends” of the National Trust that wanted “an objective assessment of history”, and thought such denigration wrong.

What does Restore Trust want? To avoid demonizing anyone’s history or heritage. To enjoy the beauty of the stately homes without “intrusive interpretation”. To focus on the property, and the families who created them. To use history as a tool for understanding, not as a weapon.

For the Colonial Countryside project, children wrote poems about Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India, and The Times reports that one such poem “has been removed” from the Trust’s website. Children were upset about the uses of animals by the families involved.

I wondered if it were possible to be objective about history, to take a God’s eye view. I do want to demonize Richard Drax MP, who inherited his family’s sugar plantation in Barbados. From 1640 to 1838 the family used slaves on that estate. He has inherited the profits of slavery. He may have breached company law, and has breached House of Commons rules. He voted for a reduction in welfare benefits, and against measures to prevent climate change. From these facts I find Drax to be a bad man.

The Times refers to the “Indian mutiny”, choosing not to use the term “First War of Independence”. I don’t know if objectivity is possible. “Mutiny” calls the Indian soldiers bad. “War of Independence” casts them as heroes. Language might denote the struggles of Imperialists and the local peoples who resisted them, without implying that one side or the other were morally superior, but the language the Imperialists used claimed their superiority in every way- morally, intellectually, physically, spiritually, culturally and technologically. So an objective view requires new language, which conservatives might dislike.

Between 1850 and 1947 the Indian economy grew an average of 0.55% a year, because wealth was taken from India to Britain, and used for the benefit of those wealthy families. At the same time, those families and others in their ruling class exploited British workers, and took common land which previously all could use for their benefit. My political view is that this exploitation is wrong, and should be demonized.

I suppose a political view that exploitation is unavoidable, and we should celebrate those who do it most successfully, is possible, but I don’t think it is objective.

Even if you write an account of wars, conquests and independence victories, with as neutral language as possible, it is a choice to pay attention to that, rather than to technological advances. Whether war produces technological advance better than peace can be assessed objectively with evidence, but does not mean war is preferable.

News reporting is about choices too. That a child’s poem was on a website, and now is not, is not news. That people object to that child’s poem is only news if you want to emphasise what they say. I am pleased that children are learning about slavery, and how intrinsic it was to the Empire and British wealth. I consider abhorrence of slavery and anyone who would defend it a simple moral value which shows the advance of humanity as well as any technological advance.

Looking round a great house and its beautiful gardens, seeing its works of art, seeing the servants’ quarters and kitchens and getting an idea of how they, as well as the family, lived, learning of the careers of theft, exploitation and blackguardry that built its wealth or frittered it away- how any of this is presented is a choice.

It is good to promote human flourishing, the greatest happiness of the greatest number. History which shows how that is achieved or prevented is worthwhile. History that hides it, to make white British people proud of our Empire and its achievements, is bad history. All history is political. I love the politics of Colonial Countryside. That its opponents have to take refuge in calling it “subjective” rather than pointing out anything untrue or immoral in it shows the strength of its position.

Trans Rights at the Green Party Conference

The Green Party of England and Wales conference, ended today, has supported trans rights. They passed this, which will now be part of their policy document:

RR531 The Green Party believes that trans, non-binary, genderqueer, third gender and intersex people should have their gender legally recognised and be empowered to update their birth certificate and any other official documents, without medical or state encumbrance. We support the right for individuals to update their legally recognised gender by self-determination, the only requirement being a statutory declaration, to how they would describe their gender, including having the option to change their name on all documents.

A similar paragraph came up at the Autumn 2020 conference. “Self-declaration” has been replaced by “self-determination”, because declaration might imply choice, and we are who we are. But “without requiring approval from a doctor or a judge” has been replaced by “the only requirement being a statutory declaration”. A statutory declaration has a penalty of perjury for falsehood. The new version adds the bit about changing the name on documents. In 2002, my university agreed to give me a degree certificate in my new name.

When Theresa May announced her proposal in 2017, that was what I hoped the law would be. We are not ill. ICD11, which comes into force next year, acknowledges we are not ill. To require us to produce a letter from a specialist psychiatrist stating that we are not ill in a particular way is ridiculous. Unfortunately, the Tories have moved even to the right of Theresa May, and believe culture war is a good way for them to retain power.

The Green Party also passed a motion to recognise trans parents on their children’s birth certificates as father or mother appropriate for their gender.

However, they have a large number of anti-trans obsessives, as if their main aim was ending trans rights rather than stopping the climate disaster. They had motions

  • To prevent medical treatment for trans children, disingenuously titled “To prevent irreversible damage to children with gender dysphoria”. They also had an emergency motion to prohibit GenderGP from operating in the UK, when the High Court has stopped the NHS from providing treatment.
  • To “ensure gender and sex are not conflated” by mandating misgendering of trans women in all government data, forcing the disclosure of birth sex of trans people.
  • To kick trans women out of women’s sports, claiming that women have “physically diminutive stature and strength”.

There was also an amendment proposed to RR531 which would have turned its meaning around. With this level of obsession, anyone would think the climate was absolutely fine.

Siân Berry, the co-leader and London mayoral candidate, was delighted. So was Caroline Russell, member of the London Assembly.

Unfortunately, a large minority voted against trans rights at the conference: about 230 of just over 500 voting. Shahrar Ali, their home affairs speaker, tweeted darkly about “things that move us away from recognising truth and reality”. It is as if he cannot see the truth before his eyes, that trans people exist, that we always have done, and that trans recognition increases freedom by subverting gender stereotypes. He moved the motion against GenderGP. Ali says this is about child safeguarding.

I am a trans woman. I would have hoped that the Green Party would support trans rights because trans people are a harmless minority. Unfortunately, some people are riled up to prevent trans rights, and become obsessive as if this was the most important issue in politics. I am glad the Green Party voted the right way, and appalled that so many Greens wanted to waste time persecuting trans people.

More fully human

Paolo Freire sought political liberation for oppressed groups, including LGBT groups, through personal liberation. Power relations benefit a few, at the top, while people who would benefit from solidarity with each other are turned on each other for small differences of status in the hierarchy. To correct this, he sought to make people “more fully human”, relating as equals not through domination.

To relate as equals, we listen from the heart, engaging empathy and compassion to empower oppressed groups. This Mutuality is a basic human value for Friere. It subverts society, which is based on a “collective lie” through which all accept a way of life maintaining the interests of the privileged. Being Alienated from ordinary society could be an advantage, as you might begin to challenge it.

Freire thought people could mature into a greater understanding of how they are oppressed. In the lowest level, “magical consciousness”, they accept life’s circumstances as fate, without challenging social injustice. People are forced into inferiority, robbed of our dignity, confidence and self-belief. Freire likened this to domesticating animals for service, and said children’s education is often formed for this purpose. The answer is to work for empowerment of oppressed groups, by raising consciousness.

In the second stage, “naïve consciousness”, they see their problems as personal failures rather than disadvantages caused by the structure of society. This is like internalised homophobia, where the queer person believes they are less than the straights. It is “false consciousness”, imposed by the powerful.

The third stage is “critical consciousness”, when life situations are seen to be caused by social structures. People need the language to express the way they are oppressed, which can otherwise simply seem to be the way things are.

Oppression is structural, embedded in society, not random and personal. Britain has had 130,000 deaths from Covid because of Tory government corruption and failure, not because of individual selfishness.

Normality is a social construction, a culture of silence, where the dominant group’s values are imposed on the subordinated groups, silencing them. The oppressed internalise the dominant cultural attitudes, and so feel ignorant and unimportant.

“Placatory practice”, making the symptoms of discrimination slightly less painful without tackling the root causes of discrimination, is not enough. The dominant group may encourage this with “false generosity”, a term coined by Engels, which does not challenge structural inequality. They treat the oppressed as passive objects in need of benevolent gestures, rather than active individuals who can transform our world.

The answer is Problematizing- showing the unchallenged normal to be contradictory and oppressive, so that groups see them clearly and are encouraged to resist. The dominant group responds by pathologizing the oppressed, attempting to convince them that their poverty is caused by their own inadequacy, or attempting to silence them.

Praxis is the unity of action and reflection. We think about what we do, to develop theory from our actions, and to “walk our talk”, acting based on our theories. When people see their political context and the unjust contradictions of everyday life this is Transformative. In authentic praxis, theory and practice are so integrated they cannot be separated.

The oppressed need safe spaces, by themselves, to explore how they are oppressed, to support them seeing that they are not inadequate. Knowledge is power. Sharing our stories builds energy for action. Freire sought to return the humanity stolen from people. Capitalism is destroying the planet with climate catastrophe and mass extinction.

We speak from our Power, which is liberated from ego.

From “Community Development in Action” by Margaret Ledwith.

“Fair Play for Women” and transphobia

Fair Play for Women presents itself as a website campaigning for women’s rights: on 1 January 2021 its main page called it “A resource for policy-makers, journalists and the general public: We provide expert legal and scientific input to help make good policy which maintains fairness and safety for women and girls.” Its speakers have been interviewed on the BBC. Should it be trusted?

It raises large sums for court actions: it sought £70,000 to sue the Office for National Statistics to change the guidance on sex, (captured 20 February 2021) after raising action against the Ministry of Justice to exclude trans women from women’s prisons.

It uses emotive language to drum up support. To men, it says “Fair play for women is there to speak up for you, your mum and your daughters.” This makes men feel they are acting protectively when harassing trans women. Protecting from what? “If you are told your mother is in a female-only hospital ward you need to be sure she won’t find someone born male in the bed next to her.” Well, hospitals have individual rooms in wards, to protect privacy.

But FPFW figures are incorrect. It asserts, “only 2.8% of the transgender community is undergoing any gender-affirming treatment with the vast majority 97.2% simply self-identity with no modifications to their sexed body whatsoever.” It trivialises transition, claiming we do not seek treatment, while the waiting lists grow past two years. That is based on this study. However, the study says,

the current communication should not be viewed as an attempt to obtain an average measure of transgender prevalence. Rather our analyses aimed to explore patterns of the reported estimates, and to perform an assessment of the extent and sources of agreement and disagreement across studies.

It is not able to provide a comparison between figures. It had 95% confidence that between five and fourteen people in 100,000 sought surgery or hormones because they were transgender, a huge variation. The larger figure identifying as trans was too high: as the meta-analysis says, “there is a good reason to suspect that reliance on a single survey item (‘I wish I was the opposite sex’) may have resulted in an inflated estimate.” It does not indicate what these alleged trans people do- perhaps few or none cross-dress in public, or would want a ward for the other sex in hospital. Yet FPFW concluded, “the overwhelming majority of male-born transgender people retain their penis and are fully male-bodied.”

This is propaganda. It should not be used to inform policy.

On the action against the Ministry of Justice, it says, “Of the 125 transgender prisoners in prison in 2017, 60 (48%) had convictions for sexual offences. Of those, 27 (45%) had been convicted of rape.”

27 is 22% of 125. Does that indicate how dangerous trans people sent to prison are? No, because most sentences of imprisonment are for less serious crimes. The number of rapists is high because rapists usually get long sentences, and FPFW do not state whether they are in men’s or women’s prisons- generally, they are in men’s. There were seven deaths of trans prisoners in men’s or women’s prisons between 2008 and December 2017.

Vikki Thompson was in prison for shoplifting when she died in a men’s prison.

The prison service does not take prisoners’ word that they are trans. Trans women need to show evidence that they live as women outside to get into women’s prison, and a gender recognition certificate may not be enough.

Fair Play for Women is not a resource for good policy, and provides neither legal or scientific expertise. It is a propaganda machine to justify excluding and even attacking trans people.