Excluding trans women without mentioning us

“We want to expel every last trans woman from every single women’s service, and guarantee that none will ever enter again. We want to control language, so that no-one can acknowledge that trans men are men, so oppose any and all language that refers to trans male obstetrics or reproductive health.”

If only the “gender-critical feminists” would say what they wanted clearly, there could be a debate. We could ask, who would this change in the law harm, and would it benefit anyone? Can we balance different people’s needs? Are there conflicting rights? Unfortunately, expressing their desires so clearly would show how paltry they are, how little conceivable benefit they would produce, what harm they would do.

So they often couch their demands for exclusion in terms of “belief”. No-one is sacked for “believing sex is real”. They are, rarely, sacked for demanding trans exclusion or being rude to trans people, but more often the trans employee or customer will be driven away. I don’t care about their beliefs, I care about their oppressive actions. Unfortunately they seem to have persuaded themselves that “trans woman” is a meaningless term, not distinguishing us from men. So they talk of mixed sex and single sex spaces, and women losing rights or access, as if women’s loos were full of men.

On Woman’s Hour, Emma Barnett interviewed Kishwer Falkner, the chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission. The website said they would consider equal pay, a feminist issue, but the whole six minute interview covered “guidance for preserving single-sex spaces”. They did not mention trans women at all. Barnett, interviewing, was concerned that businesses would not be clear when they could discriminate against us, and so discriminate less than they might. Falkner hopes to report in January. It’s clearly about trans women, to a trans woman, simply because it paints a picture of no women’s loos being available in theatres, and businesses with customer toilets not knowing there can be “separate sex-based areas”.

The problem in businesses is that the women’s toilets often have the same floor area as men’s, so that women queue while men’s cubicles go unused, but they do not mention that. Of course there are women’s loos in business premises, it’s just that they accommodate trans women too.

Explaining this to someone who really does not see it is about trans exclusion, or is disingenuously denying that, is difficult. You have to translate. Falkner says the EHRC gets complaints from “experts in the field”- trans excluders- that “organisations’ websites”- Stonewall- misinterpret the exception.

It is a non-issue for most cis people. Trans women use women’s loos. So what. But they paint it as “relating to listeners’ lives”. It is true that there are fewer public toilets, but that is because of Tory public spending cuts, not because of trans issues. There is tugging on heart strings. Falkner says in one theatre “there was no single-sex space for women but for one toilet right in the rafters”. Theatres have bars, so they need toilets. Falkner craves sympathy for “an elderly woman climbing long flights of steps”. What if I were in the Gods, queued for the loo, then found it had a sign on the door saying it was a “single-sex toilet”. But no, this imagined elderly woman climbed from the stalls because the stalls loos admit trans women.

They want to exclude us from toilets. They want to upend our lives. They want not to mention us- we should be excluded, like any other “man”. Falkner says far more businesses could exclude trans women from women’s services than do, now- except she doesn’t, she says they could “use the exemptions that exist,” an abstract phrase in an attempt to sound dispassionate. She won’t anticipate the guidance, because that could cause legal problems, but she mentions the NHS, so we could be put on men’s wards, and retail, so we could be not allowed to try clothes on before buying. All without mentioning trans women once.

“All we need to do is point out what the law says,” says Falkner, and businesses will exclude trans women. I dread the guidance.

Framing it as a “women’s rights issue” and not mentioning trans women makes them terribly self-righteous. The Guardian had an article headed “My hope for a more open discussion of women’s and trans rights is fading”. Tell me about it, I thought. But again the complaint was about the powerful trans lobby oppressing women. Kathleen Stock! The writer complained of Stonewall, Edinburgh Rape Crisis, Keir Starmer, and Carla Denyer supporting trans rights, but did not ask herself “Are we the baddies?” Her views are being silenced, she complains.

She had hoped for a “more open discussion” because of Forstater’s Employment Appeal Tribunal case. All the EAT said was that Forstater’s beliefs were not as bad as fascism, so she should not be sacked merely for holding them. She is delighted that the UK Sports Council tells sporting bodies to exclude trans women. In an article which calls for balance and an end to polarisation, she claims that “the fear of male abusers who could take advantage of self-ID rules is rooted in fact”. Her idea of a “balanced discussion” differs from mine.

“Human bodies have limits,” she says. No trans surgery! Children are under threat! And then, “My own understanding is neither fixed or complete”. She claims an open mind, though her belief in her own righteousness is unassailable. And because she is merely “asserting her beliefs”, she does not notice the people she would hurt.

She does not feel her beliefs are recognised as valid, but that is the wrong question. Should trans women be expelled from our women’s spaces? What good, or harm, would that do? Meanwhile, if anyone advertises a “single sex space” I will take refuge in the Gender Recognition Act s9, which says that as I have a gender recognition certificate my sex is female. If they mean, “No Trans Women Allowed!!” they will have to say that.

Before Falkner, we had an Equality and Human Rights Commission. It was concerned for the rights of those who suffer unjust discrimination, and those whose human rights are breached, and worked to improve their rights. Now, Falkner says her organisation is for everyone in the country. So, she will tell businesses when they might be entitled to discriminate against trans women, and exclude us, because her organisation is for their benefit as well as for the trans women’s. It will not stop there. On the same principle, she would advise those who do not pay women equally how they can challenge the evidence of that.

Offence, hurt, fear and trust

There is a caricature of a trans person or woke ally, objecting to some phrase as not the latest, most correct language, and being “Offended”. When should you use the word “trans,” and when “transgender”? Someone in my mostly-safe space said that they “weren’t sure of the right words”, at the weekend, and I was in part irritated, in part frightened. It maintains a hard-Right myth that the powerful metropolitan elite, the radical Woke, and even trans people are oppressing ordinary people by demanding they talk and think in a particular way.

I am way beyond offence at misgendering. I will try to maintain an illusion that the other means well, just made a mistake, and mistakes are OK.

Or if I hear on the radio a fawning interview of an anti-trans campaigner, I am not offended, I am frightened. The outside world, where there is hostility to me simply because I am trans, has intruded into my house. I am interested in politics, and want to read mainstream centre-left commentary, but in the New Statesman, Guardian and BBC anti-trans views are regularly platformed uncritically. I am not the Elite, using being Offended to oppress others. Instead I hear the powerful broadcast their hostility to me simply because I am trans.

Well, what do you expect? Do you think society should support its members, and do you expect such support? That expectation, the basic trust that society is on my side, is a sign of privilege. Do you think the police support the population generally, or the powerful? A friend told me of going with three bus-loads of demonstrators. The police turned them back, closing a dual carriageway but for the buses with a police escort, which changed at each county boundary. They weren’t allowed to pee. Later, she got £5000 compensation. For her, the police are an oppressive force, and the courts work for her because she has the contacts with the knowledge and funds to use them. Not everyone has.

My bad experiences with policemen are not that bad, in the scheme of things, and I still feel some nervousness seeing a police van with seats for officers and a cage at the back for a prisoner parked in my street. Probably the person they have come for is violent or theftuous. I have some trust that their work has some value, but not a sunny expectation that if I am in a confrontation they will be on my side.

Society as a whole does not seek my good. I can survive and find allies. Much distress comes from the difference between expectation and reality. Surely the New Statesman and Guardian, even the BBC, should support the rights of minorities? That is not how the world is. I need to see reality as it is, however discomfiting the experience.

I remember Saira’s casual contempt when abused in the street. The men shouted “Fucking Paki!” She told me she thought, “Oh, get it right”- her parents were from Bangladesh. She is not cowed by them. Also at the weekend there was lovely, charming and just the tiniest bit creepy Alan. His delight and admiration at my femininity, beautiful hands, indeed personal beauty, was flattering, and I was perturbed for my boundaries. He told me the secret of good posture walking and standing was not to pull the shoulders back but to tighten the muscles of the lower back slightly, which support the rest of the body in a relaxed posture. Hold your head high. Pass through the hostility unashamed.

Of course it is frightening. Bad things may happen. Powerful men are inciting anger and hostility against trans people. I cannot trust society to support me. I can only trust myself. This is about stepping into power. The problem is that society tells us we will be safe, if only we don’t make a fuss, rock the boat, get noticed. I have tried that for too long. It does not work.

I had a wonderful weekend. I cycled to Peterborough, got the train to Diss, stopped off in Ely going, Norwich coming back, to see the cathedrals, and spent three nights with ten friends. The devoted love our hosts have for each other, in spite of difficulties, is inspiring. I also touristed a church, opened up for a prayer group, with a tower from 1500 but the rest rebuilt in the 19th century. The priest chatted a bit, of her six churches, testing out whether I might worship there. I don’t believe in God the Father Almighty, I told her, and she said there is also the Spirit, as if there is a choice.

At one point I spoke on “It’s not easy being trans” and a friend got up and walked away. I love her humour and intelligence and I sympathise with her resenting becoming a foreigner at Brexit. I want that friendship, but nothing is guaranteed.

Men and Women: healing the wound of the planet

What is wrong with the relationship between Men and Women? Sixteen questions on how it could be put right, from Jamie Catto:

15) Where do non-binary, trans and LGBTQIA people intersect with these questions?

Mentioned as an afterthought, on the outside looking in, at the sharp point showing the conflict clearly. As the wise others, who can’t play the game, so have a clear view of its rules, or as people broken by normality and desperate to fit in, even if it means negating ourselves. Hoping to save the World, or hoping to survive. Let’s start with some of the easier questions.

14) Are there different laws in your country depending on your gender?

I have a detailed knowledge of the Equality Act rules on women’s services, where trans women can go, and the rules on when we might be excluded. Rape is defined as the penetration of a vagina by a penis without consent, and in Scotland these specifically include trans people’s surgically constructed organs. Only heterosexual sex counts as “adultery” or “consummation” in marriage law. I could get more technical if you like.

3) What checks and precautions do you take to feel/be safe when you go out in the evening?

If I have more than one drink I want to sleep in the same building. I just don’t go out, especially since March 2020. When I go out I don’t take precautions particularly and sometimes I have only just avoided trouble.

4) What would it take for you to feel safe without taking those precautions?

A bit more money, so that they did not seem like precautions- taxis everywhere, go out when I feel like it. Walking through a park alone at night? I just don’t.

13) Do you think men and women have different brains?

I know they do. Women have more white matter than men. The Bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, central section (BSTc) is twice the size in men that it is in women, slightly larger in gay men, and the same size in trans women as in cis women, but no use as a diagnostic tool because it can only be measured by dissection. I looked into this stuff, trying to work out whether I was truly transsexual, before I realised the only question is, would I be happier transitioned.

Men and women have similar psychology. There is no trait, vice, virtue, emotion, or aptitude, which is in one sex and not the other, or is not equally valuable in both, but gendered expectations exaggerate or squish traits, which harms everyone. People vary within sex far more than across it. So,

1) What are the most uncomfortable stereotypes you feel are associated with your gender?

Stereotypes affect us because of the demands or expectations of other people. I face the “tolerant”, who judge whether I am trans enough- “Have you had the operation?” I also face the hostile, for whom I can never be right- performing femininity I am a reactionary, enforcing a stereotype, but if I play with the stereotypes I am a man, not even a “transwoman”. Some accept me as I am. So the uncomfortable stereotypes are the ones which are furthest from who I am, like with everybody, and so will be different for everybody.

The one which has harmed me most is conventional heterosexuality. I don’t identify as lesbian because I have my father’s sexuality: a pansy, or soft male, attracted to viragos, or strong women. I was so terrified of not being seen as a Real Man that I did not know that, and before transition I could not form relationships as I wanted a partner to complete my Normality disguise rather than to relate to. My mother died and my father found a new partner who was right for him, but I see men with the wrong woman who wants them to “be more manly”, and they try, making themselves miserable.

Stereotypes are harmful because they don’t take into account human variation and persist because seeing a human as they really are is hard, and the stereotypes often kind-of fit.

7) Do you want more touch that doesn’t necessarily have to lead to sex?

I want cuddles. To have sex would mean breaking down so many trauma-induced barriers that it may not be possible.

6) Do you have anything you need to be forgiven for?

Yes.

8 ) What would it take to be seen as you are without other genders’ preconceptions and definitions of what your gender is and should be?

When someone has expectations of me, it sets up a fear reaction in me: I must fit in or I will not be safe. So I have to accept myself as I am, know myself, and heal away all the inhibitions which prevent me from seeing who I am, which are reinforced by disgust and horror at who I am, and an inability to perceive who I am, or see that as in any way good. This has been a lot of work. One phrase I have for it is “step into my power”, which gets in the way for me, as my concept of power does not fit who I am. It has been a lot of work, and I am getting there. I am not weak, sick, perverted, disgusting, ridiculous and deluded, as I thought, but loving, creative, beautiful, soft, gentle, peaceful.

What questions did I leave out?

2) What would it take for Men and Women, and the nuanced genders in between, to step into their full potential together?
5) How can Men heal the abusive and violent sins of their ancestors?
9) What do the different forms of violence and abuse, on both sides of the gender divide, look like?
10) What positive progress do you notice in these areas? What gives you hope?
11) How do you perpetuate the sense of battle and divide between the sexes?

The “nuanced genders in between” are mentioned in the second question, and still an afterthought, because all these questions assume a conventional heterosexuality, with a man “wearing the trousers” in a relationship with a woman, and I can’t begin to answer them. I am not a man in that sense, and while I have suffered harassment as a woman- a man coming on to me on a bus, abused as a “whore” or “slut” when I did not conform to a man’s expectations that I would do what he demanded- it has been less, and as an adult. And I yearn to surrender myself, but to a woman, not a man. My scars are different.

16) What questions are missing from this list?

The questions address various aspects of

How are you hurt?
How have you hurt others?
How can we make things better?

So, ask those general questions directly.

And finally,
12) What would you like to do that you can’t do now if you changed gender?

I did! It liberated me to be myself!

Come, join me.

Falsehoods told by anti-trans campaigners

Trans rights matter to anyone who takes human rights seriously, to anyone who knows that they are not free if anyone is unfree, to anyone who knows they flourish better as more are enabled to flourish. But trans rights affect only a tiny minority of people personally: there are very few trans people, between 0.1 and 1% of the population.

Trans rights also affect transphobes. If a woman feels unable to use public toilets because there might be a trans woman in there, then she is a transphobe. Society should take care of people who feel phobias, but not alter the world so that they will not face the thing they fear. Transphobes have a disproportionate view of the effect of trans people on them, and pay us disproportionate, fearful attention.

If anyone is scared seeing a trans woman in a women’s service, my heart goes out to them. They are not served at all by the anti-trans campaigners, and that trans woman is as unlikely to be dangerous as any other woman.

Anti-trans campaigners use falsehoods to pretend that trans rights harm others, or that others are affected, or that trans rights are more important than they are. They may convince themselves of these things- either because they are transphobes, or because they are radicalised by social media echo chambers, or because they make a profit from the billions of dollars available for anti-trans campaigning, or because they use culture war to distract from rightwing economic failure. So it is useful to know the kind of falsehoods they tell themselves and others.

I say “falsehood” rather than lie, because many may be deluded, not taking sufficient care to check whether what they say is true.

One falsehood is around what AMAB (Assigned male at birth) people might be seen in women’s services. Almost all will be entitled under law to be there, that is, to have a claim for discrimination under the Equality Act if excluded. They are referred to in the Act as “transsexual persons”, which means, those who have decided to transition from one sex to the other.

Some other groups might be there. There are trans women, transsexual in ordinary language but not in the meaning of the Act, who are considering transitioning but have not yet made a committed decision to do so, or who have decided they cannot at the moment. Transition, with the level of hatred and prejudice against trans people, is terrifying. These women may be among the most vulnerable trans women.

It is highly unlikely they will be cross-dressers, people who have no desire or intention to transition. Most cross-dressers do it in private, or underneath men’s clothes. However if they are cross-dressers, they are probably as harmless as women.

Anti-trans campaigners say they may be “predators”, violent men “self-id”ing as trans in order to enter women’s spaces. This is highly unlikely. When violent men go in women’s services, all they need do is push the door open.

A violent man would be very stupid to try to get a gender recognition certificate in order to enter women’s spaces. He would have demonstrated that he had planned his offence, increasing the penalties.

Some trans women are violent. And some cis women are violent: if you would not judge all cis women by Myra Hindley and Rose West, do not judge all trans women by violent trans women. We are not “all alike”, and the belief that we are is a strong indicator of prejudice against us, as it is with any minority group.

Anti-trans campaigners claim that being trans is caused by sexual perversion. This is not true. The main suggestion how is repeatedly proved wrong, and no more likely than that bad parenting or sexual abuse in childhood can make someone gay. However, even if something had turned someone trans, they are trans now.

Anti-trans campaigners tell falsehoods about the Equality Act, which allows trans women into women’s services from the moment they decide to transition. They even falsely claim to be in favour of trans rights while working against us.

The anti-trans campaigners attempt gaslighting when they don’t mention the word “trans”. They have various phraseology for this- “sex-based rights”, “single sex services” (which, unfortunately for them, in the Equality Act means including trans women) and the repeated suggestion that sex is different from gender. Arguably it is, but that is of no use at all in deciding the moral question of whether trans women should be allowed to use women’s services.

Some factual issues shade over into linguistic ones. Trans women prefer to be called “trans women”. Calling us “male bodied biological men” is an attempt to claim that our differences from men, and similarities to women, do not matter. Biology does not make us men, and it is politer to describe us with the words we choose. On that principle I no longer use the word “terf”.

The truth is that because there are so few trans women few people will notice much difference if trans women were kicked out of the women’s services we have been in for years. They rarely see us in real life anyway. So their main falsehood is that trans rights matter to you, unless you are trans, or in favour of human rights.

No, there is no such thing as “trans ideology” saying sex does not matter. All we need is that people accept trans people exist and are worthy of respect as human beings. This is not science denying: it is accepting the evidence of your own eyes. We exist. Of course sex matters, and allowing trans people to transition does not affect that. The term “gender identity” helps people understand what trans people are, unless they are deliberately failing to, but it is no part of an ideology and we could stop using it tomorrow.

Anti-trans campaigners go into all sorts of detail about all sorts of different issues. The detail is a way for them to distract themselves from their real lives. They can spend endless hours memorising details and honing their phraseology in their echo-chambers, rather than go into the real world and meet some trans people.

I shared this post, and people commented that it does not mention asexuals, or intersex people. This is a post about falsehoods told by anti-trans campaigners about trans people, and it does not mention lots of things. While some intersex people express as nonbinary, there is not such a campaign against intersex people as there is against trans people, though those intersex people assigned to one gender at birth and later changing to another suffer the same opposition as trans people do.

I did not mention sports, and immediately there started a huge thread on sports, with lots of detail. I am not qualified to comment on the effects of “a male puberty,” testosterone suppression or oestrogen on trans women. I have the anecdotal evidence from trans women that we experience a loss of strength and athleticism on transition, which echoes my own experience, and I was never strong or athletic.

Separate from moral issues of fairness, the facts that matter are that there is little research on how testosterone suppression and oestrogen affect athleticism; that no man would pretend to be trans in order to compete against women when that involves reduced testosterone levels; that all athletes have natural advantages as well as the results of hard work and training; and that some cis women are taller and stronger than some trans women.

I have not here particularly addressed the moral issue, but that issue is simply stated: the rights and needs of trans people have the same importance as anyone else’s, and fairness means fairness to trans women as well as to cis women.

Anti-trans discrimination and the Explanatory Notes to the Equality Act

Can a group counselling session simply kick out any trans women, because the organisers think the cis women would not want them there?

Having lost on the meaning of the Equality Act, the anti-trans campaigners are now arguing on the basis of the explanatory notes. The lies they tell each other have a real world effect, inflaming resentment against trans women, and at worst violence against us. The explanatory notes do not say what the haters claim, but then, the statute did not say what the haters claimed either, and that did not stop them.

Under schedule 3 paragraph 28, a women’s service can exclude trans women if it is “a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim” (PMOALA). This is a phrase used over and over again, with a great deal of case law defining it. There is an explanatory note saying any exclusion has to be “objectively justified”, which puts it in slightly less formal language but adds nothing. The note explains that this replaces a provision in the Sex Discrimination Act, but does not say which, so is of little use. That provision was added by regulations, as in 1975 the Sex Discrimination Act did not mention trans people. A note further on says that a halal butcher does not have to sell kosher meat, but only a Jew can sell kosher meat.

Then the note gives an example:

A group counselling session is provided for female victims of sexual assault. The organisers do not allow transsexual people to attend as they judge that the clients who attend the group session are unlikely to do so if a male-to-female transsexual person was also there. This would be lawful.

The organisers in this case don’t bother asking any service users, they just make a decision themselves. They have a set rule against trans women which they apply if any trans woman asks to join. They think no cis women would attend, rather than thinking possibly one or two cis women would cease attending. It all seems fairly unlikely. Many cis women are trans allies. Acting for the service, I would want better evidence to exclude a trans woman than that.

There has to be a legitimate aim. The organisers’ aim would be to support cis women recovering from sexual assault, but the service users might continue coming and value the trans woman’s contribution. Even if one of the cis women is a transphobe, and would not attend because there was a trans woman there, it is still unlawful discrimination to choose the cis woman over the trans woman. If no cis woman service user would attend, the provider should still try to persuade them to accept the trans woman.

This is a service for survivors of sexual assault. Clearly a toilet or changing room should accommodate trans women.

Explanatory notes are written by civil servants. The Act has been debated in parliament, and amendments considered in committee. The notes have not. Imagine an executive officer having ten minutes to think of an example, and it getting a cursory read-over from a higher executive officer. The aim might have been to show that nothing less personal and intimate, no service users less vulnerable, would justify exclusion. Nevertheless where the statute is ambiguous, or if it can cast light on the “scene” of the statute, the notes might be used as an aid to help interpret the Act.

All the example shows is that where women are talking about something particularly personal, where traumatised women are vulnerable, there might in theory be an argument for excluding a trans woman. But that is only relevant if the statute is ambiguous. There is a great deal of case law on the meaning of PMOALA. A common example is requiring an engineering degree for job applicants. That would be indirect discrimination against women, because more men than women have an engineering degree. PMOALA is a defence if the employer can prove it: it would have to be a legitimate aim, to prove that the applicant had knowledge necessary for the job, and it would have to be a proportionate means, so that the knowledge could not be demonstrated any other way.

So you would have to balance the needs of the vulnerable trans woman with the needs of any cis woman who objected. If the organisers think cis women might not like to be in a group with a trans woman, rather than excluding the trans woman the alternative means is to speak to the cis women and explain to them that the trans woman is not a threat.

So it is not the case that it is “appropriate for spaces to be exclusively reserved to those born female”, as an anti-trans campaigner said in the New Statesman this week. He claimed this was according to the Equality Act, even though his interviewee told him service providers can exclude trans women on a case-by-case basis.

Such misinformation incites resentment against trans women, and in the worst cases violence.

Good and evil

There are evil ideas and evil acts. Are there evil people?

For white British people, there is a short list of evil people most would agree on: Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, each responsible for millions of deaths. Black British people might add some British colonialists: I might add Edward Colston as a named signifier for thousands of slavery profiteers.

Hitler believed that Jews were dangerous to Germany, and desired that the German people prosper. He did not see himself as the baddie. Yuval Noah Hariri, in “Sapiens,” said the Nazis were “humanists”. It is a blindness, an absence, to fail to see the suffering caused, to delight in or not to care about it. Evil is not a force but a lack, an inability either to see the humanity of the loathed group, or that all humanity is one.

Quakers say, “Search out whatever in your own way of life may contain the seeds of war.” What in me is like that? Where does my lack of care cause suffering?

I might say the campaign against trans rights in Britain is evil. Trans women are in women’s services unless there is a particular reason to exclude an individual. So to demand “single sex spaces”, and by that mean spaces from which trans women are rigorously purged, is evil, a chilling lack of regard for the needs or feelings of other human beings. To name this- “we want women’s spaces without trans women” might be disturbing to some, so there are a variety of ways to obscure the truth. The anti-trans campaigners might avoid all mention of trans women, and use the phrase “single sex services” as code. Or, they monster us: they seek to incite disgust, fear and aversion, saying, That person might not be a real trans woman, but a sexual predator. That trans woman retains their penis, and is a threat.

As with Hitler, an apparent positive desire, to protect [cis] women, is perverted into a project to hurt a minority. Yes, “Women are entitled to discuss their rights”, but should consider who their changes would affect, and use clear language. “Sex-based rights” means, “No Trans women”. They would use clear language, expressing that, if they did not on some level know that their demands are mean and destructive.

It is hard to see where to draw a distinction. The final extremity is death, but the start of it is disregard, a failure to see the value of the human person, or consider their reality. That leads to disgust, to street abuse and violence. Again it is a blindness or a lack: the anti-trans campaigner does not see the effect of their campaigning on their victims, or does not care. And many people who would happily call Nazis evil would blench at the idea anti-trans campaigners are evil.

Possibly when you see them arguing against trans rights, you would see a light of fanaticism in their eyes, an inability to consider other points of view or the pain of their victims, which might be a little worrying. And yet in their lives and interests beyond anti-trans campaigning- a love of the music of Schubert, perhaps- they seem entirely normal and reasonable.

Jesus said, let the one who is without sin cast the first stone. If evil is a lack, or a blind-spot, most people have blind spots. A belief that there are monsters, separate from the Good People, might lead to attempts to cast the monsters out, and find they are Jews, or trans women. I do not believe there are evil people. No-one is good but God alone.

The New Statesman and trans

Are trans people a threat to women and children? You decide: The New Statesman is even-handed on the matter. It printed a review of Shon Faye, The Transgender Issue, and Helen Joyce, Trans, and an interview with Helen Joyce, in which a man, Harry Lambert, parroted her accusations in a fawning manner. On its website but not the print edition it had an interview with Shon Faye.

The editor really should spot the signs in the Helen Joyce hagiography. There is a threat to women, Joyce and Lambert claim, and it’s a bigger fight for women than the suffragettes faced. Inclusive language for trans men and nonbinary people is “dehumanising” for cis women, who are “vulnerable”. Anyone standing up for cis women’s rights to spaces without trans women, in a completely reasonable way, is “demonised” and “vilified”, despite their heroic “suffragette” status. There is a threat: schools, hospitals and prisons adopt “self-ID” where there are no safeguards, and people simply say they are trans. This is “regressive” (a word to offend NS’s “progressive” readers) and schools are “at risk”. Trans children receiving treatment from doctors is “a massive medical scandal”. “A climate of fear” prevents cis women from standing up to the Trans Threat.

Trans people dangerous! Cis people- women and children!– at risk! The minority is demonised in the article, which Denies Attacks and Reverses Victim and Offender.

This is of course ridiculous. Self-ID in prisons? Then why are most trans women prisoners in men’s prisons? A moment’s thought would refute all this, but the emotive words threat, risk, fear, prevent that thought. And so ordinary decent NS readers are taught to fear a minority. NS is not Völkischer Beobachter, but the article is Stürmeresque.

Sophie McBain reviewed both Faye’s and Joyce’s books. Writing of Faye, she seems mostly sympathetic, but gives statistics of girls referred to the gender clinic: 40 in 2009/10, 1806 in 2017/18. “Not all of these will transition medically” she says, but in fact the proportion is tiny: 16% were referred for puberty blockers, and only 9% for cross sex hormones.

No-one is being “pushed into identifying as trans”, as the article suggests. The problem is the opposite: if a trans child manages to reach the clinic, despite all the obstacles and the years-long waiting list, they are still unlikely to get treatment. The “massive medical scandal” is trans children left untreated, not as Joyce and these articles would have you believe innocent cis children being transed just because they are gender nonconforming or gay.

Then, in the course of balance, McBain goes on to Joyce’s book, which “raises questions”. What about the detransitioners? Should self-ID get you into women’s domestic violence shelters? Should any trans women (she does not mention the hormone requirements) be in women’s sports?

McBain does not simply accept Joyce’s views. “The more conspiratorial aspects of the book are the least persuasive”, she says, of the allegation of a “well-funded, politically sophisticated group of trans activists”. Harriet Harman produced our current system of self-id, out of decency and solidarity not ideology. McBain says Joyce “raises important, complicated issues”, and suggests teens with gender dysphoria should have “emotional support and counselling” rather than puberty blockers. She is right that “true freedom comes from dismantling gender stereotypes” but not as a replacement for hormone therapy. Then she suggests that male sex offenders get into women’s prisons by self-ID.

McBain gets a lot right, but her attempt at being judicious and nuanced means she falls for some, though not all, of Joyce’s paranoid propaganda. She calls Joyce’s figures that women athletes are slower than men, the “strongest parts of Joyce’s book, grounded in rigorous research and focused on the facts”, ignoring that all women athletes have exceptional physiques from natural aptitude, and hormone rules mean that no male athlete pretends to be trans.

If I just avoid news and comment sites which publish transphobic lies and propaganda, that means avoiding of all the mainstream British sites. If I read sites which print progressive views I support, such as The Guardian or NS, I will come across disturbingly transphobic articles which make me anxious and depressed. I don’t know what to do about this. I recommend you read the Shon Faye interview. It makes some excellent points. Now I will re-watch Philosophy Tube.

7 October: the transphobe Lambert attacked the Green Party in the new issue of NS. He claimed new co-leader Carla Denyer calling the anti-trans hate group LGB All Liars a hate group would divide the party and drive away supporters. He asked her co-leader Adrian Ramsay if “spaces” should be reserved for “those born female”, clearly showing his trans-excluding ideology. Ramsay told him the law: services could exclude individual trans women on a case by case basis. Lambert then told a falsehood about the current law, claiming that services could restrict access “on the basis of sex”, by which he means cis women only. He then claims that the leadership contest revolved around trans rights because Siân Berry challenged Shahrar Ali, rather than because Ali made an attack on trans rights his whole pitch.

Joy and Discipline

The problem with letting your body love what it loves is, how would you know?

I am a human being in society, and society defines what is good or not good to love. I know that exercise is good for me. I want to keep fit, so that when I need physical endurance I can do what I need to do. I know that the body keeps up the capacities it experiences a need for, so that in zero gravity muscle tone diminishes even if people exercise. If my heart’s capacity is regularly exercised it is good for it, and though a man I know died from a heart attack just as he got home from a cycle race, that is anecdotal evidence and the scientific consensus is-

but scientific consensus can be wrong- think of all the work defining Ptolemaic astronomy, specifying the epicycles-

and it is scientific consensus mediated to me through society, and influenced by the same society as I am-

I motivated myself to exercise by counting the climb I made. One run involves a climb of 489 feet according to Google Maps, another is 997 feet. I would climb the height of Mount Everest, 29035 feet, before 31 December and I started a document, no app required, to tot up the distance cycled and height scaled. I am ahead of schedule. If I do a particular shorter run, today, Wednesday 29th, I will have scaled the height of Mont Blanc.

Society tells me what it is good for me to desire, and what is not. I can be certain the desire to express myself female comes from me, because society opposes it so strongly. I don’t believe in any particular cause of it. I have a story of the birth of my love of writing. One grandparent taught me Scots dialect, another Cockney rhyming slang, and I saw the breadth and expressiveness of language. But that is at least unobjectionable, and arguably admirable.

I found counting the feet climbed, seeing progress to a target, increased my motivation to go out cycling, and I still found myself just staying in. It seems to be a desire formed under social pressure. I should keep fit. It is good for me. Being out in the sun alleviates depression. It feels like a more meditative state, being aware of my surroundings and the effort I am making (not too much, don’t tire too quickly) in contradiction to scrolling facebook, an addictive, pointless, bad thing to be doing.

Society sees scrolling facebook as a Bad Thing, but it is for my self-discipline to limit it. We don’t, as a society, act together to control the company. Being fat is a bad thing, but society does not limit the sugar and fat content of addictive foods.

Taught to deny and suppress my feelings and not to notice if I was working beyond capacity, I was stressed beyond endurance within three years of leaving university, but with no way of limiting my stress, so that I was sacked. In my next job the way I found of limiting my stress was going off work depressed, and I have no better way of limiting stress now than withdrawing. What do I love? I love writing. As I do not get paid for it, it does not seem enough.

There remains discipline. I ought to exercise, and if I transition then I ought to conform to female beauty standards. I should fit in. Then I read a comment: a fat nonbinary person, wrestling with their gender, wondered whether they imagined they were nonbinary because as a fat person they had failed to perform womanhood.

The comment was below Abigail Thorne’s latest video, in which she ate cake after being frightened to, because that is “bad”- not conforming to the requirements of female beauty. Cake is a naughty self-indulgence. I like eating cake, but only with others. It feels like a treat which relaxes me into sociability, and that relaxation seems pointless when alone.

There would be some pleasure in the sunshine and the beauty, if I cycled. The self-indulgence, the Bad Thing, would be to just not go. So, should I indulge myself? I want to take care of myself, and that could mean either developing or resting myself. None of these words seems to help find what would be good or right or the thing I prefer.

I went cycling. I have now ascended a height equivalent to Mont Blanc. There was some pleasure in it. Not going would have felt a bit yuck, as if I had shown myself mediocre, again. That judgment forms under social pressure, and may be true, but does not seem so connected to my heart impulse.

What makes me come alive? Writing something, yesterday, did. It may even be published. That was me being my best self, creating something beautiful. It made me totally happy. It was not governed by any rules- don’t eat the cake, do take exercise. It was just Me. I would like more experiences like that. “Do what makes you come alive.”

And on Saturday I felt liberated. That felt awesome.

I decide what I want by predicting how it will make me feel, and that does not work. Sometimes I want something simply because I want it- a big thing, such as transition, which has made me feel miserable, scared, alone, and also made me able to be myself with other people rather than trying to put on an act. Or a small thing, like writing. I feel all sorts of things: I want to manage my feelings to feel more comfortable, but that would be an all-consuming project, if it were possible at all.

“Biological men” and centre-left politics

“Labour is proud to stand with the LGBT+ community,” it tweets. What does that mean in this political climate, and does anyone believe them?

The anti-trans campaigners have moved on. Trans women have been in women’s spaces and services forever, and that just wasn’t a problem. There are so few of us hardly anyone noticed, and they mostly didn’t care. But then in 2017 Theresa May proposed reforming the Gender Recognition Act, and the campaign against trans people got the billionaire rocket fuel it has now. At first, the haters pretended they had nothing against “genuine trans women”, only predatory men pretending to be trans women. One vile slogan against GRA reform was “Self-ID gives predators the green light”. This is obviously transphobic, teaching people to fear “genuine” trans women, and judge us. Is that really a trans woman, or is it a “predatory male”?

But now there is no chance of GRA reform, and the transphobes have moved on. There is still the ritual claim “I have always supported rights for trans people”, along with a demand for “biological men” to be excluded from all women’s “single sex” or “separate sex” services.

Keir Starmer’s response was to support the Equality Act. Trans women can be excluded if there is good reason to do so, and not otherwise. Trans rights are just about fine as they are now, and so are women’s rights. He might think that was safe, but being centrist- listen to both sides, do what is reasonable- is not safe. The Independent reported this in the most confrontational way possible. “Keir Starmer backs excluding trans women from some women only spaces”, as if he had come down on a side. If there was any reasonable discussion, this might be tenable. I have no wish to retraumatise a woman who has just been raped, and would stay out of some spaces if it was reasonable. But the demand is for total exclusion, which brooks no compromise.

Ideally just before Conference attention should be on Labour values and policies, on Keir Starmer and his Fabian Society pamphlet. Instead, Rosie Duffield, relentless anti-trans campaigner, is “trending”.

On The Today Programme culture warrior Justin Webb asked Ed Davey, leader of the LibDems, “Do you believe there should be places in our society where biological males can’t go?” He spent more than a third of the interview (starts at 1.51.40) putting the views of the extremist trans excluders, with a petulant sneer, as if they were only seeking what everyone would agree is right. Absolutely no trans women, not never not nohow, in any women’s service. If I wanted to try on a T-shirt before buying it I should trek to the men’s section. Not all clothes shops have a men’s section. I should be humiliated.

Poor Ed Davey tried to be consensual. “I think the trans rights issue is an issue that all parties are grappling with and we need to come to some consensus across political parties.” Webb demanded a straight answer. Attempt at nuance, with any complex issue, is portrayed as equivocation. No issue is black and white, but any admission of shades of grey is called dishonest.

So Labour needs a clear, defensible position. Trans women might be excluded from women’s spaces if we did something wrong. Karen White should not be in the general population of a women’s prison. But we should not be excluded simply because of who we are. I would treat traumatised women with compassion, but not be excluded by diktat.

This needs a soundbite. “Trans women are women. Trans women should never be excluded from a women’s service because of who they are.”

Then explain as necessary. Any person who behaves badly might be excluded from a service because of what they have done, but not because of who they are. The Equality Act has always protected trans people from the moment they decide to transition. Trans women are vulnerable. Portraying us as a threat incites violence against us.

So Rosie Duffield is trending, and the news is full of the right to “single sex services” meaning No Trans Women, and my friend who is cis, in favour of trans rights, and bi, says Labour’s tweet is “opportunistic and not-credible”. Trans people should support Labour, to get the Tories out. Labour should return the favour. If that made anti-trans campaigners leave, that would be a bonus. They already are only of use to the hard Right.

Doctors can give medical treatment to trans children

Trans children can be treated for their gender dysphoria, says the Court of Appeal. This is a huge relief to parents and children. It is for the NHS to decide whether the treatment should be available at all. It is for doctors, parents and children together to decide whether puberty blockers should be taken in individual cases. The courts cannot set out how doctors should approach future cases.

The case of Gillick established children under 16 could make their own decisions about treatment if the doctor thought they were mature enough to do so. At the time, contraceptive treatment for children was controversial. The Court of Appeal restores the ability of mature, competent children under 16 to make decisions for themselves, supported by their parent and doctors. This affects all children and all treatment, not just puberty blockers.

There are eleven million children in Britain. In 2019, 2519 were referred to the Gender Identity Development Service, GIDS. They faced a delay of up to two years before assessment. Of the children assessed in 2019, 161 were referred for puberty blockers.

The High Court had accepted the evidence produced by the anti-trans campaigners, even though it was controversial. They decided that when adolescents started puberty suppression, only 1.9% did not go on to cross sex hormones. Even if that were true, it could have been because the children were truly trans and properly consented. It did not apply to patients of the GIDS. 1648 patients were discharged in 2019/20, and of a random sample of 312 of them, 16% (49 children) had been referred to endocrinologists for puberty blockers, but only 55%, 27 children, were approved for cross-sex hormones. Two of the 49 did not commence treatment, and five were discharged without being referred to adult gender services (so would not get CSH on the NHS).

So a tiny proportion of those who will eventually transition happily were referred to GIDS, and of those only a few were treated. The system shows great reluctance to treat trans children, and the courts should not impose more. The doctors prescribe puberty blockers to alleviate the current distress of gender dysphoria. The children and parents seek it in order to avoid the characteristics of the assigned sex, and gain the characteristics of their true sex: allowing this is the way the distress can be relieved.

Doctors and parents together assess whether a child can understand to consent to treatment. It’s hard to see what a judge or other lawyers could add. The legal question is fairly simple: does the child understand the treatment, and does the doctor consider it is in the child’s best interests. The judge does not know the child better than the doctor does. So a court application might forestall a future legal challenge to the decision, but cannot give additional certainty that the decision is right, only delay, worry and expense.

The High Court gave guidance on when treatment might be permissible. The Court of Appeal said the High Court could not do that. At para 56 they quoted Lord Scarman in the Gillick case, saying a legal rule giving certainty about when a child could consent would be inflexible and could obstruct justice. If such certainty is necessary it should come from legislation after a full consideration of all the relevant factors. Courts only hear the evidence brought by parties to a particular case.

They quoted the House of Lords in Burke’s case: “The court should not be used as a general advice centre”. It should not make wide-ranging decisions about difficult ethical questions, only about the particular question between the parties.

The NHS had given detailed rules on the management of the GIDS, including when puberty blockers might be prescribed. The High Court had found these rules to be lawful. Therefore, there are restrictions on the evidence the court in a judicial review could hear. The anti-trans campaigners had lodged their expert evidence late. They never sought permission to lodge it. The Court of Appeal said in a judicial review the court would usually prefer the evidence of the defendant.

The High Court had gone beyond what a court should do. Keira Bell has made unguarded comments about appealing, and anti-trans campaigners will continue to attack the GIDS by any means available, but it appears this particular attack has failed for now.

This is a feminist victory. The Gillick case, which enshrined children’s rights to necessary contraception and abortion, is safe for now. Feminism wins when in alliance with LGBT+. Everyone loses when “feminists” or “LGB” split from LGBT+ rights.

The decision.