Being an anti-trans campaigner

What is it like to be an anti-trans campaigner?

Naomi Cunningham, a barrister, used to run a pro bono charity, matching young barristers with employment tribunal claimants with interesting cases. Now, she is chair of Sex Matters, and devotes a great deal of her time to expanding the rights of anti-trans campaigners to express their anti-trans beliefs, and restricting the rights of trans women to use women’s services, that is, to live our normal lives. It is not fair to suggest that she considers trans inclusion a graver threat to women than poverty, it is simply that her skills qualify her to do far more on restricting trans rights than on any other women’s rights issue.

Lizzie and Marilyn go on Twitter several times a day to hate on trans women- to deny we are women, and claim we are a threat, and read and share tweets to that effect.

Naomi Cunningham had to sit in the same room as Robin Moira White. How awful for her. But, I went to the loo several times last month, in small loos in restaurants and large loos in Friends House, stations and art galleries. I never saw another trans woman in a loo. I only noticed another trans woman in public once, and I am sensitive to trans women. Unless they work with trans women, Lizzie and Marilyn may have similar experiences- seeing one of us is fairly rare.

But despite this, we loom large in their consciousness. They immerse themselves in social media where trans is a great threat to women and children, repeatedly making themselves enraged and afraid. ACA says, “We became addicted to excitement”- these strong emotions, which bear no relation to their actual experience, give them a high. They might not see an actual trans woman for weeks. Still, there are real world effects- Lizzie, who would have voted and perhaps campaigned for Labour, no longer will. The National Conservatives are delighted.

And they hold two things in their mind at once: they are entitled to express their gender critical views, which are entirely reasonable, and most trans women do not have a legal right to be in women’s services. On the other hand, there is an immediate threat to children, and of an invasion, a swarm of violent men coming in to women’s services and the end of women’s rights.

I do not consider “gender critical” views in general are “worthy of respect in a democratic society”. The problem with the Forstater case was that there was very little evidence of what Forstater believed. To believe sex is real is trivial. Anti-trans campaigners believe that trans women could be violent men, pretending, and therefore it is reasonable to fear and exclude trans women. This incitement of fear, and automatic distrust and aversion to a specific group of other human beings seen as a group, is the part which is not worthy of respect, and is easily evidenced, now, by their twitter feeds. They also believe falsehoods which tend to reduce respect and trust for us, such as, most trans do not seek medical treatment, but 26,234 trans people waiting for a GIC appointment shows that is wrong.

Anti-trans campaigners are suffering and so fearful and angry that it makes them act against their own interests. So, I call for sympathy for the anti-trans campaigners, for Naomi Cunningham, Marilyn and Lizzie, for all of them. I would even talk with them and attempt to find common ground, if they would accept my understanding of my own needs. Right now, the hate and obsession spreads. I am frightened. Yet, as I moved through the world last month, nobody challenged me or insulted me to my face. I only notice the ATCs if I go on the internet. It gets our attention by showing us “what is most threatening about the world”, and we- Marilyn, Lizzie and I- cannot look away. We are the same, caught in the same trap. We need to find a way to be allies.

The anti-trans campaigners think trans women don’t need women’s services, and could present as male if we tried. So excluding us causes no real loss, and including us is the end of women’s privacy and rights. Yet in our real world experience, they may not notice one of us for weeks on end, and I don’t get challenged.

How could we work together? We could share our actual experience. Right now, whatever the media noise, or the plans of Westminster or Holyrood, trans women are not a problem for them, and anti-trans campaigners are not a problem for me. From there, we could address our common interests: how do we reduce the culture of impunity for male violence against women? How do we reduce the power of gender stereotypes? I want them to see that I am not a serious threat to them, however the thought of me in a women’s loo makes them feel. I want them to see me as a human being. I offer them the same.

Anti-trans campaigners, prominent and obscure

Naomi Cunnningham, barrister, gave evidence to the Women and Equalities Committee about the GRR Bill on 31 January. Though Robin Moira White, barrister and trans woman, was there, she expressed strong distaste for trans women, whom she sees as men.

Anum Qaisar, SNP MP, put to her that Scottish Women’s Aid and others supported the GRR Bill. Other threats to women’s rights in Scotland include poverty, cuts to services, rape conviction rates, and the experiences of immigrant and refugee women. Yet media attention is devoted to GRR rather than these real issues.

Cunningham called that “whataboutery”. She thought GRR threatened women’s ordinary privacy and dignity. All women are entitled to their own boundaries, and some find it particularly threatening to use a toilet in the presence of men.

She thinks thousands of trans women might get GR. Lord Falconer thought it might be hundreds. She does not know and does not care. She talked of what others call “real transsexuals”, though she did not use the term, a few thousand people envisaged in 2004. She talked of the “man who identifies as a woman who passes,” who has had surgery and hormones, dysphoria for years, assimilated as a woman, where “people would think he was a woman”. But now people might apply who “cross dress for erotic purposes” or to avoid being sent to a men’s prison after they “committed horrible crimes and think they will have a nicer time in a women’s prison,” or just want to exercise power by transgressing women’s boundaries. Not all will be predatory, but there is nothing to stop predatory men.

She says any trans woman without a GRC can be excluded from a women’s service because she is a “man”, contrary to the EHRC statutory code of practice. Unfortunately, Lord Falconer agreed with her. This is becoming the common understanding, without any case law in England to back it up.

She produced an argument I had not heard before. A women’s service which includes trans women to her includes men. “The permission to provide a service for one sex only becomes meaningless”. There is no service which is needed by women and “men with GRCs” because “that is not an actual category at all”. So the entitlement to women’s services ends.

To her, trans inclusion destroys all women’s rights. To me, trans inclusion is a recognition that human categories are fuzzy, and making an exception for a tiny group- less than 1% of the population- who need it. She will never agree with that.

Naomi Cunningham, whom I like and respect because of her Employment Tribunal Claims textbook and blog, which as an ET rep I found useful, finds me repulsive. If 1% of “women” are trans women, that is far too many. She fears us, because we could be dangerous. That ET blog is defunct. Now she blogs on Legal Feminist, where on 10 February she raged about the “law going bonkers” for putting trans women in women’s prisons, just before the guidance in England was changed. Her latest blog is of interest only to trial lawyers and litigants in person, but all her previous ten blogs, long and detailed, were anti-trans. One was against a conversion therapy ban.

She does not tweet in her own name, but is co-founder and chair of Sex Matters, another tiny hate group. So I looked at one of their tweets, and found Marilyn had retweeted it, so took Marilyn as my representative sample of an ATC. Well, this is a blog, not a detailed study.

Marilyn, who shares a name with a New Romantic singer, is a “real actual WOMAN with two beautiful golden retrievers (bitches)”. She tweets about her dogs, and hating trans women. Her pinned tweet is on her dogs, but thirty tweets in three days are anti-trans. Her most recent tweets, as I type, were 3, 13 and 21 hours ago. That is, she goes on twitter several times a day to hate on trans people. This particular hater has not done replies- none of her tweets in those three days are her own words.

I poked about, and found no replies to various anti-trans tweets, but found Lizzie replying to the first trans woman’s tweet I checked. Her latest tweet, a reply, is “I’ll never vote Labour again, due to their shocking disrespect towards women and girls, their utter insanity and their slavish devotion to Transworld. Same with LibDems/Greens, and I will not vote Tory, so am politically homeless. – Lizzie, a woman and Adult Human Female.” In 30 minutes it has had thirteen views, and no likes. One reply is to an ATC- even though the ATC has attacked a trans man, Lizzie corrects him for using a male pronoun.

After scrolling for what seemed like ages, I found a reply from two days ago. It had 53 views, and three likes. It was her reason for not using the term “trans woman”- instead she will only use transsexual, transgender or transvestite. Her latest tweets are, as I type, 3 and 35 minutes, 12 and 16 hours, all anti-trans.

Reem Alsalem

Reem Alsalem, the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls, has issued a press release and statement (pdf) condemning Western governments and societies for actions against anti-trans campaigners. Anti-trans campaigners are delighted.

I see those women as anti-trans campaigners, condemned for campaigning against trans rights or trans inclusion. Alsalem characterises them differently, as “Women coming together to demand the respect for their needs based on their sex and/or sexual orientation” or “expressing their opinions and beliefs regarding their needs and rights based on their sex and/or sexual orientation”.

In the first phrase, “needs” appear to be seen as objective, but in the second it is “opinions and beliefs” about “needs and rights”. Neither addresses the question, do women need services, social groups, lesbian dating apps, sports competitions, prisons where they are guaranteed trans women are legally excluded and staff and service-users wish to enforce that exclusion? I argue they don’t. If they believed they could convince other women that they did, they would say so, rather than claim they needed “single-sex services”. There’s no dispute women need single-sex services, just whether there’s any value in rigorous exclusion of trans women.

By not addressing that question, Alsalem is treating all expressions of trans-exclusion, however extreme, as entitled to protection. She is concerned that women who hold “lawful and protected beliefs” are “smeared” as Nazis. Well, Kellie-Jay Keen is a Nazi. Where beliefs go beyond what is “worthy of respect in a democratic society”, they should not be protected.

So I would not protect expression inciting fear of harmless trans women by attempting to associate us with criminal trans women. Isla Bryson is a convicted rapist. That does not mean all trans women are potential rapists, or that a cis woman’s fear of a trans woman she does not know is reasonable, or that a trans woman should be sent away because a cis woman might fear her. It is theoretically possible a violent man could pretend to be a trans woman in order to prey on cis women, but the violent men appear to prefer other ways of finding victims. So banning trans women because of the risk that a violent predator is pretending to be one of us is unjustified. Speech expressing that risk incites fear of trans women, and that makes more likely violence against us. Alsalem herself confirms speech that “incites violence and hatred” should not be protected.

She says anti-trans campaigners should not be smeared as “genocidaires”, but the anti-trans position is close to the UN definition of genocide. She says the term “extremist” is used to shame women into silence, but extremism, including the position that all women’s services need an absolute ban on trans women, is shameful.

Alsalem is concerned by “intimidation and threats” against the anti-trans campaigners, and “reprisals such as censorship, legal harassment, loss of jobs, loss of income, removal from social media platforms, speaking engagements and the refusal to publish research conclusions and articles”. Banning such “reprisals” infringes on the right to freedom of association. If an anti-trans campaigner claims that trans women should be excluded from women’s services, on stage, then trans workers and our allies in the venue are being harassed and intimidated, and are entitled to protection from such harassment. The venue could “threaten” to withhold a platform from an anti-trans campaigner and it would be entirely reasonable. Similarly, a political party could “threaten” expulsion of a member, even an MP or MSP, for speaking out against the principles of that party. The Labour party has expelled members for antisemitism, and withdrawn the whip from MPs, and should similarly expel MPs for anti-trans campaigning.

Alsalem says law enforcement should not permit counter-demonstrators to drown out anti-trans campaigners. An assembly in a public place creates no right to be heard.

Alsalem does not mention which governments or societies in particular are silencing anti-trans campaigners, but in Britain such views attract huge sums of money for hopeless legal action and are repeated by politicians and others all over legacy media and social media freely.

Alsalem gives no examples, but her allegation that hate speech laws “are being taken to mean that any interrogation of the scope of rights based on gender identity amount to hate speech against non-binary persons and perhaps even incitement of hatred and genocide” is ridiculous. What? Any interrogation of the scope of rights at all? The suggestion in the Equality Act 2010, for example, that trans women might be excluded from women’s services if it was a ”proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim”? Alsalem should give examples of where something that is not hate speech results in a conviction for hate speech, or withdraw that allegation.

I agree that “the rights to free expression and peaceful assembly are crucial to ensuring that societies can develop their priorities and policies democratically and balance the rights of diverse groups in a pluralistic society”. But this statement gives no evidence that women’s rights are illegitimately constrained in Britain. Anti-trans campaigners should suffer consequences if their expression of their views harms trans people.

Alsalem is an unpaid volunteer. She is supposed to “Transmit urgent appeals and communications to States regarding alleged cases of violence against women and girls” but this letter does not mention any actual cases.

I consider it is better to be measured and objective, as far as possible. I am happy to call Kellie-Jay Keen a Nazi. I don’t think it right to call, say, Joanna Cherry a Nazi. But sometimes the hatred and gaslighting of the anti-trans campaigners is so horrible I just want to scream.

Traits six and eight

The woman plods up the stairs, then in the corridor she hesitates, and turns. I ask, “Where do you want to go?” Out, she says, pointing. I apologise. In the corridor, the signs are clear: one end, “Trains to London”; the other, “Way out”.

On the uncrowded train, there are seats behind each other, and seats facing each other with no table but a gap, just, for two sets of knees. A couple with two large suitcases leave them by the doors, and sit in one of the coach-style seats. I am so tempted to help, but forebear. “Does the door open that side?” asks the man. The woman does not know. Eventually they work it out, placing their suitcases between the facing seats, sitting beside them.

Working for the CAB, helping people, I realised how much pleasure that gave me. It’s best if it is simple and clear: when the photocopier jammed, heads would turn yearningly, hoping to help, mine among them. I also liked patient, systematic legal interpretation, and making people feel better by listening to them. It was my desire, but possibly caused by childhood trauma- it fits the Laundry List trait six. “We have an overdeveloped sense of responsibility, and it is easier for us to be concerned with others rather than ourselves; this enables us not to look too closely at our own faults.”

Can I find a desire which is not merely scratching an itch?

What shall I do today? I need to do my washing. I could play the piano. Instead, I pick up my computer. Then two hours have passed, and I have achieved nothing. I penetrate the brain fog to find my underlying feeling: it is sadness, with some frustration. I turn back to the computer, and type:

“Your mental health would be better if you could stop thinking of trans as a threat. 48,000 people is a tiny number. You are most unlikely to see a trans woman in the street. Campaigning against trans women because one did something bad to you is the definition of phobic prejudice.”

Or this, which may have gone too far: “I am sorry you were abused. Patriarchy, innit. Do not campaign to strengthen the Patriarchy by removing trans rights.”

Ha! That’ll show her! But it doesn’t. She has a comeback. It’s strange how she’s coming from fear. According to her, only trans women with a GRC- probably around 3000 of us- are entitled to use women’s services, and she must have heard the Government’s desire to exclude us too. Yet she still fears the abolition of women’s services, by which she means the remote possibility she might see a trans woman in one.

My typing is trait eight. “We became addicted to excitement.” We create turmoil or drama to feel connected to reality, to experience strong feelings with no real relation to our actual lives. The righteous indignation I feel, typing that, is pointless. I will not persuade her.

It’s my birthday. 25 May last year I bought the Emotions Anonymous blue book. I committed to the twelve steps. I want to know myself, express and live from my true self, and take responsibility for my life and obligations. Three months later I bought the ACA Red Book, which gives me the words: I want to free myself from shame and blame which are carry-overs from the past, and become free to make healthful decisions as an actor, not a reactor- do my washing now, rather than typing furiously on my laptop, so I can go out in the sun later.

Social-liberal Conservatives?

In July 2013, David Cameron said, “I don’t support gay marriage in spite of being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because I am a Conservative.” It is one of his most famous quotes. He was expanding the circle of Us, the good people. No longer would gays be Them, the scary people. Conservatism exists to protect Us against Them, as well as to let the rich do what they like, reduce taxes, cut public services, and roll back any regulation protecting workers, consumers or the environment. Then the far right won the Leave referendum, and Cameron resigned.

In 2017 Theresa May proposed reforming gender recognition, to make trans people Us and get rid of the Tories’ “Nasty Party” image, even if asylum seekers would still have been Them. Had he stayed, Cameron would have done the same. But the far right need a large group of Them to make their voters frightened and complicit, and pick on trans. Rishi Sunak is enthusiastically in, and Michael Gove wants to sound civil rather than actually be civil. He wants trans exclusion, just not for Tory MPs to look deranged about it. If Braverman or Badenoch saw me enter a women’s loo, they would confront me themselves; Gove would send a security guard.

Is there any vestige left in the Tory party of a reasonable rather than ravening approach to social issues? No. The closest is Matt Hancock, who has not regained the Tory whip since going on “I’m a publicity-seeker” on ITV. He had to publish his speech on his own Linked-In page. Hancock wants to cut tax and regulations protecting workers, consumers and the environment, but he does not want “a divisive culture war”. Instead he wants “the socially liberal positive values that people under 50 overwhelmingly support”. He did not mention trans, but perhaps Matt Hancock, repeatedly humiliated, sacked and disgraced, is the socially liberal face no longer in the Tory party. And he did not mention benefit claimants, so we don’t know who remains among his Scary Them.

He started his speech by saying “It’s great to be here and to see the room so packed,” but from the picture in The Guardian he was speaking in a room above a pub. The Times gave a sharp rebuke, calling him a “self-serving, busted-flush narcissist” and then objecting to “trans visibility week”.

With a few exceptions such as backbencher Alicia Kearns, the Tory party are gunning for international human rights of trans people.


The UK government is working to reduce or remove protection for human rights. Ministers claimed their Bill of Rights Bill would allow UK courts to ignore European Court of Human Rights precedents, though it may have been withdrawn, yet again. Victor Borloz, the United Nations Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, visited the UK from 24 April to 5 May, and has given a damning preliminary statement (pdf), before a comprehensive report due before Summer 2024. Continue reading

An “Adult human female”, and toilets

I am in another city for the weekend, and visit the Quaker meeting. In the lobby, people are chatting, relaxed, before meeting. As someone takes off her back-pack, I see the sticker on it: “Woman, n. Adult human female.” I then go into meeting for worship, where the convention is that we sit still and quiet.

My body is still, but my mind is racing. Now is not the time to stand in ministry, but I imagine doing so. I might say, “I am a Jew, and someone here has a swastika sticker on their backpack”. That’s how I feel: the campaign group portraying trans as Bad and Scary, and making trans the Outgroup to protect the Good People from, so that “defensive” violence is legitimised against us, includes Rupert Murdoch, Ron DeSantis, JK Rowling, Viktor Orban, Joanna Cherry, Rishi Sunak and that woman, and I am scared.

Or I could go to my Trump Card. Yearly Meeting 2021, Minute 31: “We seek to provide places of worship and community that are welcoming and supportive to trans and non-binary people who want to be among us. Belonging is more than fitting in.” I do not feel welcome. But I do not like trump cards: her trump card would be “humans are sexually dimorphic”, that is, my delusions should not impinge on other people. But, from inside it does not feel like delusion. Trump cards only work in a zero-sum game.

But that woman does not conform to feminine gender stereotypes. I bet she’s been challenged going into women’s loos, or knows someone who has. She’s campaigning to make her life worse.

I think of sharing past distress: lying weeping, curled in the foetal position, repeating “I am not a man”. Ah. I am thinking of my distress in the past. Emotions now come into consciousness sometimes through story. Perhaps I am distressed.

I am distressed.

I sit with this, in silence, for an hour. Someone ministered, and I cannot now remember what they said. By the end, I have two words: “contingent welcome”. I want my Friend with the sticker also to feel welcome here. Is there anything someone feels they could not bring to the Quaker meeting? Is our welcome contingent on hiding parts of ourselves? What parts of yourself do you feel might be unwelcome in Meeting?

I need all of me- my transness, my sensitivity, my potential for being triggered- to be welcome in the Quaker meeting.

After Meeting I stayed for the business meeting. There is a great deal from Finance and Property. YFGM had signs on loos: “stalls with bins” and “stalls and urinals”. They marked the disabled toilet “All-gender toilet”. Should this meeting follow suit, “recognising the Equality Act and the Gender Recognition Act”?

The GRA is irrelevant. It seems the false interpretation of the Equality Act has infected their understanding.

I feel threatened when someone alludes to or asserts that false interpretation. Trans exclusion turns my life upside down. Now, I feel excluded from amateur running, even fun runs- I might be classified as “male”.

The reason for marking a loo “stalls with bins” is that marking it “women” (or “Merched”, which I did not understand the first time I saw it) seems like a rule- particular people only. “Stalls with bins” is a description, so that people can use whichever fits their needs. Arguably, men’s loos should also have bins in case trans men need them. Disabled loos should always have sanitary bins.

Such a change would need careful explanation to the cis, so that they could know in advance how alienating any objection they made would be to a nonbinary person.

Or, the disabled toilet could be marked “All-gender toilet”. That’s for nonbinary trans. I am binary trans. I am a woman. I use women’s loos. Of course. Then the nonbinary person does not have to use a loo marked “men” or “women”, so is not pressured to define themself other than nonbinary by the signs on loo doors. There is a great deal of other social pressure to define as binary. Anything we can do to reduce that social pressure is a good thing.

Should there be a sign on the all-gender toilet that disabled people have priority? They need the raised toilet and the support rails around it. No. Such a sign implies the disabled person’s need for that loo is more real, or more important, than the nonbinary person’s. I see the temptation: disabled people are also systemically devalued.

But, but- what if some vile anti-trans-campaigner man, say Graham Linehan, goes into the women’s loo offensively shouting that he can call himself a woman if he likes? Deal with that if it happens. Rules can only protect us up to a point.

I want the Friend with the sticker welcome in her Quaker meeting. And, that cannot come at the price of my needs. My needs matter and are not to be dismissed in some “objective” way- humans are sexually dimorphic, whatever. With my internalised transphobia lessening, I might need less help to assert my own needs, but I still need help.

And the second half of this post, on toilets, is my happy place. I have been explaining as calmly, clearly and winsomely as I may the precise considerations around trans inclusion in toilets. I like writing. This patient intellectualising makes me feel safe.

Politics, life and drama

I write on trans, including summaries of law reports and parliamentary debates. I downloaded the EHRC letter, and read it, and have been unable to write about it.

A trans woman can use women’s services from the moment she decides to transition, by law, when she is expressing female, unless excluding us is “a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim” (PMOALA). The EHRC says, falsely, that only trans women with a GRC have an entitlement to use women’s services, and that entitlement should be taken away- single-sex and separate sex services should be segregated by biological sex not legal sex. In 2016 the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee recommended partly repealing the PMOALA exception, so any trans woman with a GRC could not be excluded. The government refused.

It will be an election issue. The Prime Minister announces that “no woman has a penis”, effectively saying that trans is meaningless, and we are simply deluded. Now, society accommodates my settled and intractable weirdness, by treating me as a woman. The Prime Minister, the Conservative Party, The Times, Mail, Express, Telegraph and often the Guardian, parts of the Labour Party and even the Greens, say this should stop.

There is writing about “women’s rights” barely mentioning trans. Pithy statements such as “humans are sexually dimorphic” are all that need be said for some people, trans women are men and should be treated as men. Sometimes they say that we should be allowed to wear what we like and they don’t want us to suffer violence.

The enormity of this overwhelms me. I can’t write about it systematically. A friend has paused her transition because of it, and fears for her job. We talked and shared our fear and misery. Trans social media, where I find some social contact and support, is full of the proposed change, though my preferred group mostly shares action against it and writing condemning or mocking it. I’m thinking more of Etty Hillesum.

What could I say? Trans is no threat to women, children or anyone else. A trans ban would disadvantage cis women. Permitting harmless eccentricity benefits society. I could try to argue these points, or critique texts, but there is no joy in it, and my thoughts turn to anguish or ranting. And, life goes on.

On Sunday 17th I went to the Quaker meeting, then the Tate. At Friends House there was a Narcotics Anonymous conference, and people crowded the garden, happy to be with their tribe. I chatted with one about my own Steps, about the Higher Power and the Inner Light. He loves Friends House, the peace in the heart of London. He had tried Quaker meetings. He found silence for an hour a bit much, but sometimes the meeting “Opened up”. Then in the George Fox room there was lively ministry, and eight stayed talking until 1.30.

In the Tate Members’ toilet, a woman said, “Is it me, or is it very dark in those cubicles?” She might not have read me before asking. Well, the bulbs are dim, and the ceilings, floors and laminate doors and walls (floor to ceiling, for privacy) of the cubicles are dark. I agreed they are dark. I presume people read me when they hear my voice, but she did not faint or start screaming or report me to the staff, and I hope she will not be writing an article for the Daily Mail.

At the Tate, I saw H (Not to be confused with other H’s on this blog) for the first time since last Summer. We have hardly messaged since 2019. We talked of all sorts of things. We ended talking of the trans ban. She said it’s important to remember that women are frightened of male violence. How could I forget? I was triggered. Yes women are frightened of male violence, and so society should deal with male violence- maybe, prosecute some rapes, or refer potential coercive control cases to well-funded social services. A trans ban makes things worse. She insisted, I insisted and bored and frustrated myself.

On the train home, I read a circular email, including a note that my trans friend was working with gender critical Quakers and well-meaning uninvolved Friends to find common ground. That started me ranting in my head- my lips were moving, I was not speaking aloud-

THE ONLY WAY FORWARD IS TO GET EVERYONE TO AGREE THAT TRANS IS A GOOD THING AND SPREADING SUSPICION OF TRANS IS WICKED HATEMONGERING. And all the arguments. And expression of hate and fear of the haters and excluders. And lots of swearing and words like f’wit, traitor, quisling which I would not want to get between me and my sweet, gentle Friend.

How can I cope with my rage and terror when all this comes up for me?

Cis people: the trans ban will not affect your day-to-day life in any way. If you see a trans woman, that is good luck for you, bringing you face to face with the strangeness and beauty of humanity. But trans and asylum seekers could be a major issue at the election. The Tory record on the economy, preventing crime and prosecuting criminals, the NHS and public services, are all a complete disaster, but hate and fear might grub them a few votes. Do we want to live in a liberal/”woke” society, or an authoritarian one?

One lesson from this is that while there is all this Threat- the trans ban- all the actual experiences were lovely. If I live the day I have now, it’s fine, and the Dreadful Things that might happen might not happen. And the quintessential Dreadful Thing- Death- will certainly happen, but maybe not yet.

Monday I was still prone to ranting. I was in a conversation with a man who did not perceive what was obvious to me, and I had a rant to myself about that; then I read an NYT article about Harlan Crow, Clarence Thomas’s billionaire benefactor, and had a rant about that. The heart of all my ranting is,


I do not feel heard, and so I do not feel safe. Thomas will make administrative regulation impossible, the mass extinction will ensue, and the rats and cockroaches will take over. But I cannot have any effect at all on SCOTUS, no matter how hard I shout or pray. I was shouting and crying then shaking like a terrified animal.

“Feelings and buried memories will return. By gradually releasing the burden of unexpressed grief, we slowly move out of the past.” I hope that’s it…

The effect of the trans ban

What if the law was changed, so that sex was defined as biological sex, and gender recognition stopped having any effect at all?

Would my passport now say “M”? There is no statute on passports. They are issued under the Royal Prerogative, by the Home Secretary. It declares my “sex/sexe”- in English and French. The International Civil Aviation Organisation has standard guidelines on machine-readable passports. The sex recorded might be discretionary, but “to avoid confusion” if the government said sex is biological they might equally decide to record my sex there as M. I do not want to travel on a passport marked M.

What of my driving licence? Now, in the driver number, the second digit is a 5, indicating I am female. I got that before the Gender Recognition Act. If I were male, it would be 0. If I were born in October, November or December it would be 6. “Miss Clare” indicates I am female, but my driver number might call me male. Would the regulations go so far as to demand it called me “Mr Clare”?

Before transition, once, when presenting male, I was utterly desperate, could not find the men’s, and went in the ladies. I was horribly embarrassed, and desperate not to be seen. Such embarrassment, a purely social sanction, is what keeps men out of the women’s loos. A woman, seeing me, would object, and I would know her objection was rightful. But, being a woman, that does not apply to me. Even after the ban, I might go in the women’s. Well, I am one of those Bad Trans, the out-group from whom the Tories will protect the Decent People.

So I go into the loo, I use it, wash my hands, check my lippy, leave like any other woman. Even after sex were redefined, that is not a crime. The problem comes if anyone confronts me.

Now, I have a right to use the loo. If directed to the men’s, I would assert my right to use the women’s. If told there was a restriction, I would want to know what the purported “proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim” was, and where I could complain, or where I should send my letter before court action. I would be polite, and hope to make enough problem that they let me past. I have not yet been blocked. Based on the EHRC Code of Practice, laid before parliament in 2011, I hope I would win any court action. It’s a code, so legally more persuasive to a judge than any guidance the EHRC issues.

And after the ban? I would challenge any person blocking my path or objecting to my entry. I would say they have no right to suppose they are certain of my biological sex, or my legal sex, come to that, and no right to ask me because of my right to privacy. But anyone challenging me might say they had a right to ask my legal and biological sex because of the right to privacy of the cis women using the loo.

Now, if someone blocks my path and I push past them, I would say that was asserting my legal rights, so entirely permissible. If they sought to block me, that might be a criminal assault.

After a ban, if I push past them it is I who commit the assault. I could be arrested and charged. If I raise my voice, that could be a “breach of the peace”. In England, that entitles a police officer to arrest me and take me somewhere else. In Scotland, breach of the peace is a crime in its own right.

I might not be confronted, I might just get in, and use the place as normal. That’s the fiendish part of the proposals: single-sex and separate-sex services are governed by the Equality Act. If someone objects, but the staff turn a blind eye or refuse to stop my use of the toilet, the objector may be able to claim damages for indirect discrimination. So the EHRC letter suggests.

Several organisations might want to provide toilets by gender, including me as a woman, rather than by sex. They might be forced to bar me from the women’s, by a threat of legal action by one objector.

Possibly a changing room in a shop might be different. Men’s and women’s clothes are in different areas of the shop. Often, the changing rooms have solid doors, with a lock. If refused entry, I could argue that the rules for allowing a service to be restricted to one sex only are not met. People are entitled to privacy, but they get it, because I cannot see them unclothed. It might work.

Touching another human being in an effort to get where they do not want you to go, or to prevent them going where they want to go, could be a criminal assault. There need be no bodily harm. Partly it depends on what the legal right to go, or prevent access is, or the person’s reasonable belief. It’s a risk. I don’t want a physical confrontation, even if a court might subsequently decide I was in the right.

After twenty years expressing female, I hope I could cope with any embarrassment or hostility. It would be horrible transitioning in such a climate.

Hadley Freeman in the Times

Hadley Freeman is a less florid example of gender critical derangement syndrome (GCDS) than Enoch Burke. I cannot imagine her arrested for breaching an injunction. But when an article she writes refutes itself, it seems her obsessive transphobia has blinded her.

Columnists do not write their headlines, so it is not her fault that the headline was untrue. “Liking my tweet is a cancellation offence”- no, Freeman confirms there was a history of anti-trans tweets, such that Elon Musk’s twitter suspended the liker’s account. “I was the cause of her cancellation,” writes Freeman. No, a history of anti-trans obsession, on twitter at least, caused a fashion show to disinvite her, which most people could survive.

Freeman turns the withdrawal of an invitation into cancellation. Turning petty inconvenience into martyrdom is a sign of GCDS. Making herself the centre- “I was the cause”- is another.

Another is denying you are attacking trans people. Freeman claims her tweet “wasn’t about trans people at all; it was about women’s sex-based rights”. “Sex based rights” means women’s services rigorously excluding trans women. Nobody objects to women’s services excluding men, they just don’t define “men” in the way Freeman does.

Another is not understanding about an employer’s disciplinary action. Freeman reports that City, University of London, “let go” a sociologist, Laura Favaro. Why? Well, “her colleagues described her work as ‘an attack on trans people’.” But for Freeman, that is no reason at all, as no attack on trans people is objectionable, and anyway all Favaro was doing was sociological research. “I know what it’s like to live in a dictatorship” says Favaro, darkly, and Freeman quotes her ridiculous hyperbole without questioning it.

Another is circumlocutory ways of not mentioning trans people. In that article, Freeman calls us “gender activists” or “a loud but very niche minority”. We are not really trans, to her: it is just “whims and magical thinking”.

Freeman can see, dimly, that not everyone agrees with her that Trans is Bad. She calls them deluded: “young, highly educated, highly online graduates remain notably in thrall to the idea that the censorship of feminists is for the greater good”. Note “in thrall”- their thoughts are not their own, or they would agree with Freeman. Favaro was sacked for anti-trans campaigning distorting her “research”, but Freeman thinks her martyred for “feminism”.

Bombast is a symptom of GCDS. “The time has come to speak up, because I don’t want other women to go through this. Silence will not protect us.” Freeman cannot see how ridiculous she is.

The Times, a propaganda site, nurtures and coddles Freeman’s GCDS. On a search for “Hadley Freeman” on the site, the second result is “Freeman leads the feminist fightback”. That could have gone to Freeman’s head a bit, though Janice Turner might be narked. The letters show more GCDS: for Norah Ward of York the possibility that there might be a trans woman in a woman’s loo is “dystopian”.

Freeman joined the Times from The Guardian, a paper happy to print transphobia. It would be a comfier billet for a feminist- one sign of GCDS is giving up feminist causes for full time anti-trans campaigning. The Times reported that Freeman accused Katherine Viner, editor, of “censoring” her. Freeman worked for the Guardian for 22 years, and presumably knows what an editor’s job is, but that becomes “censorship” when it means getting in the way of her anti-trans obsession. And Freeman might disapprove of The Times’ climate denialism, but her transphobia is so important to her she ceased to care.

The Times search shows Freeman’s articles since December. Her first article, on 3 December, claimed “feminism became a dirty word” when “progressive organisations have dutifully fallen” behind trans rights.

7 January: “The prize for being a good parent is hatred”, surely a self-refuting line. But “good parent” means the Bayswater Club, and absolute opposition to trans children. 21 January: “gender activism” is “a cover for misogyny”. On 11 February she claimed “The Tavistock gender clinic ran out of control,” though most children referred there did not get puberty blockers. On 5 March she claimed the anti-trans books The Times plugs are “censored”.

Gender critical derangement syndrome turns feminists into anti-trans campaigners who cannot see when their own words refute them.