Debbie Hayton

Is Debbie Hayton a True TranssexualTM or a “feminine man”? It depends who is talking to her.

On 4 May she and sixteen others wrote to the Guardian, saying “Transsexual people undergo a meaningful transition, including hormone therapy and surgery”. They distinguished this from “male bodied people, including sexual fetishists, demanding access to women’s space”. However on 10 May in the Guardian, Gaby Hinsliff reported her saying she had male privilege from her upbringing, in an ideal world would present as a feminine man, and gave this utterly bizarre justification for transitioning: The problem is, as a teacher, if I express myself completely as non-gendered, I couldn’t get on with the job. If somebody comes in saying: “I’m not a woman or a man” then every time I did a new class, you would have to go through that with them, when what you really want to be doing is teaching them”.

So, she got castrated so as not to have to explain herself to pupils. Actually trans women need to be explained to pupils, and the explanation is not necessarily easier than of an effeminate man the pupils might think was gay. I can see it might be a problem for a supply teacher, but others don’t get new classes that often. If the school has an ethos of acceptance and respect for difference, she will be accepted, and if the school is an academy, many of which have an authoritarian ethos, she won’t. It may be more difficult to get a job where she can fit in. Or, she can pretend to be someone else, like every other teacher in a bad school.

Debbie is active in her teaching union, which has several gender-critical feminists. Do they like her? No. I saw a facebook thread. “Like a too eager puppy,” said one. “Somewhat cute but has annoying habits, like humping your leg. I am a cat person.”

Why tolerate her? “When accusations of ‘transphobia’ are made, TIMs get listened to and women don’t. Like it or not we’re stuck with them.” TIM means “trans-identified male”, or trans woman. But they’re not happy: “I prefer the ‘PUNCH TERFS! DIE CIS SCUM!’ variety. At least they’re honest.”

I am using whatever platforms I have to attempt conciliation with gender-critical feminists. I identify as a feminine male, and have had the operation. I have much less visibility than Debbie Hayton. I would even speak on an “A Woman’s Place” platform, if they would have me, even if another speaker gave a transphobic rant. All trans women are ludicrous and easy to mock. There is an intense vulnerability in being yourself, which many of us do not manage even after transition.

And, don’t throw other trans women under the bus. Don’t claim sexual fetishists are demanding access to women’s space- for some TERFs, with an unforgiving understanding of autogynephilia, that includes post-op transsexual women who have ever been aroused by dressing female, so all gynephile trans women. Don’t claim reform of the Gender Recognition Act has anything to do with such problems. One radical feminist graciously said she would permit me in a woman’s loo, because she knew I was post-op. But, when I was considering transition and going out dressed to see if I could hack it, with a functioning penis, I still needed the loo.

Using the word “male-bodied” is problematic. It won’t endear you to the TERFs, many of whom believe it fits you. Your pelvis is still male, and every human cell will have a Y chromosome. Your labia are a mere simulacrum, the shredded remains of your penis.

That letter said she had a right to define as transsexual, but transgender activists sought to remove the distinction. Well, some object to the word “transsexual”, precisely because it distinguishes between us and creates social pressure to have surgery. I could identify as transsexual but instead identify as trans. There is a great temptation to claim I should have rights, because I have a medical condition, diagnosed by a psychiatrist, but there are all those fake trans perverts from whom I, as well as the real women, need protection. No-one prejudiced against trans women will make such distinctions, so claiming that does us no good and gives ammunition to our enemies. Debbie wrote, A Plea to Trans Activists: We Can Protect Trans Rights Without Denying Biology. However no-one denies biology. We all know what we are. And no-one is a trans activist- we are just ordinary people living our lives, speaking out against everyday prejudice.

At yearly meeting

Yearly meeting, a thousand Quakers in one building in Euston for four days, is heavenly for me. I am with my tribe. Sitting in the sun, I said I had mislaid my lunch, and a friend bought me sandwiches. She has previously bought me coffee, dinner and champagne, and had me to stay, and shows me the weirdness of my world can be lovely as well as threatening.

That was after the Salter lecture, organised by the Quaker Socialist Society and given by Diana Jeater. She wondered why she, rather than Zimbabweans, should be considered a world expert on Zimbabwe, and spoke on how we in Britain are still colonialist. British people went to Africa, and some went to study Africans; but to explain them in British concepts for a British understanding, with metaphors we were comfortable with, which did not precisely fit. So they attempted to formulate how grammar worked in local languages, and then in schools told locals they were speaking their own language ungrammatically. People say “I have been to Africa” as if it were homogenous. We looked at them as if our technological superiority and different religion were superiority of civilisation, and imposed on them. How would it be, if we could find new words, to understand their other ways of seeing? Or let them say who they were, rather than defining them? This is so close to the idea that trans people should speak for ourselves rather than mediated by cis people that it strengthens my acceptance of myself.

I am sad to say that Quakers who spend less time with me seem to like me more- or perhaps it is just harder to negotiate ongoing relationships, and occasional encounters can give the joy of seeing and sharing without the difficulty of working together. Those who have met me before here want to talk to me, and while they care for me they also receive from me. I was glad to see someone again, though they spoke of the increasing difficulty of travelling, and dislike of being apart from their wife. If you’re ever in —-? I will look you up, I said. I may not see them again.

One observed that she had not heard me speak in the business meeting yet: um. Well, even with a thousand people there I often know I can contribute something worthwhile, and I spoke on racism later- to much the same effect as I wrote here. Most of that session was from people pre-arranged to speak, and there was only time for one person from the floor. I was moved to hear my words “Who is like me?” in the minute of the session. The meeting the evening before was a synchronicity. All worked out for good. What one woman heard was that “we are animals”- she brought her young daughter to hug me, as her daughter says the same thing.

Two years ago there were signs on the disabled loos that non-binary people should use the unisex toilets in the basement. This year the disabled loos were marked all-gender toilets. That was OK. I tried the men’s once, and though it was clean I was more uncomfortable than anywhere else- I felt my awareness shrink to my physical location, so I did not bang into anyone. I could not allow myself to be aware of anyone’s reaction to me there. I don’t know how they reacted.

We are included and heard. I heard trans folk give ministry in meeting, and from someone at Oxford meeting about the hire of a room to “A woman’s place”- she showed there was no transphobia in the Quakers hiring out the room. Quakers stood with the demonstrators outside. They only heard details of the room hire at 3pm that day, which was dishonest of AWP. If they make a statement I will publicise it as soon as I hear of it. Yet at the Quaker Gender and Sexuality Diversity meeting, some expressed trans-excluding views. I hope we can hear each other amongst Quakers.

Different experiences

Trans-excluders argue that trans women do not have women’s experiences, so must be excluded from women’s spaces, and the experiences we cannot share are having a female reproductive system, and being socialised as women, which they experience as oppressive.

I don’t have that experience of menstruation, but nor do many women with disorders of sexual development, who would be accepted as women by the trans excluders. To be clear, “But you accept intersex women as women” is a valid argument against “You are not women, because you do not have a woman’s reproductive system”. It is a lifelong series of experiences, usually following the same path, which moulds a person’s life, but it does not mean that I cannot be accepted as a woman, and I have experienced variations in hormone levels which I have found difficult.

I don’t have the experience of men coming on to me and not taking no for an answer from the age of 13, but here women’s experiences are variable. Some girls are seen as unattractive. People are seen as more or less sexual. I have experiences of anxiety or anguish around relationships, and I have had men coming on to me or feeling me up. It can’t be said that we do not have women’s experiences of relationships, as women’s experiences are varied, and we share them with many.

Being socialised as a woman- well, women’s experiences are varied there, too. If you want to climb trees as a child, does your family encourage you or not? Some families are keen that their daughters not feel restricted in what they can do. As with everything, some families are keen to fit in, and some to nurture and celebrate the gifts of each child. That is what is most important for me: the parallel trans experience of not being allowed to be yourself, which happens to those of us least fitting our birth gender, may be mitigated or reinforced by family.

The women who would most keenly exclude us seem to have had these experiences together at a peculiar intensity- shame inculcated at bodies and especially menstruation; sexual abuse and harassment from early teenage; and gendered expectations not fitting their true selves and felt as particularly oppressive. That can seem like one Woman’s experience which “transwomen” can never experience. Sexual harassment can be appalling- I worked briefly in a hotel where the cook often repeated a vile phrase about sex with young girls. If he acted on it! I don’t know how many women have such an intense experience, and how many react to it as trans excluders seem to.

Generally, though, the difference between women who welcome us and those who would exclude us from women’s spaces is openness to us, and not particular experiences. Can you feel sympathy with this person, or do you experience them as intruding where they should not be? If we might be harmful, what level of harm and what level of likelihood of that harm is believable, or necessary before we must be excluded? Some would take a logical line- woman is biology, not gender identity, so we are not women, but back that up with heightened statements of the risks we pose. Yet if you are open to including us, our experiences are not sufficiently different from other women’s to make you stop.

Quaker whiteness

In Britain, most Quakers are white. A far smaller proportion of us is BAME, Black, Asian and minority ethnic, than the population. What can we do to change that?

In my last Anglican parish, the vicar worked hard to include Afro-Caribbean people. The church warden was Afro-Caribbean, as were half the choir, and people came to my church from all over the borough. The BNP was rampant there at the time, and the vicar may have saved one member from involvement with them. And still, at church socials, usually black and white people sat at different tables. Coffee after the Eucharist was mostly white.

For me, Yearly meeting is like a colossal party. I shed my radiance on many people there, and on leaving was stopped for two hugs of beautiful warmth and togetherness. I am grateful. There are many people there whom I have worshipped with over the years, and made connection, but also I can go up to someone I do not know and start a deep conversation, thoughtful, playful, sharing, truthful. Heart meets heart. A thousand people in Friends House might suit the more extrovert of us, and I see some reserved folk whom I know only by reputation, powerful intellects, equally deeply feeling but not showing that as profligately as I do.

I stayed with a local Friend who volunteered to put up Friends from elsewhere. On Sunday night I went to worship at eight, and heard the buzz of conversation down below ebb away. I felt it enriched our silence. I went back on the Tube, and on the platform was recognised by a Friend. Three of us talked in the car, and I enthused about Yearly Meeting Gathering last year. It was like a party, I said. And the man of Asian heritage asked, “Why is this different?”

A day after that conversation I was doubting my interpretation of his question, and two days after my doubts increase, but I remember my certainty of the meaning that evening. It would be impertinent for me to speak for him, and this was my impression: that while YM in London may be more intense than YMG, more focussed on the meeting for worship for business, for him there was not that ease of moving into groups, hearing and being heard, togetherness, a relaxation and removal of masks more profound than alcohol could ever achieve- and part of that was white racism. White people there were not interacting with him in quite the same way as with other white people. We are great apes, with fifty million years of primate evolution behind us, and dividing up others into in group and out group is hard to shed completely.

I love to be with people who are like me.
Who is like me?
How can I expand my understanding of “who is like me”?

There are a lot of us queers in BYM, possibly more than in the general population, and much of the reason is the welcome we get. Quakers are alive to HoBiT- homophobia, biphobia and transphobia (maybe less so to biphobia) and have worked against it. Our support for equal marriage is a powerful witness. I am Quaker because I am trans- I might have found the Society if I had not wanted to transition, but as it was I was a stranger and you took me in. One answer might be to find some equivalent principled work that we could do to serve BAME people, though it is hard to see an example. And supporting equal marriage does not just benefit us queers, but the whole Society: we are all enriched when more voices are heard.

I am aware of the working class origins of many Quakers, but generally because people have told me their histories. About three quarters of us have at least one degree, and many regional accents are moderated or even expunged. We are more homogenous than we should be. There is that of God in every one, and you do not need a degree to hear it in yourself, or feel that spiritual connection with All that we so value. There are people inspired by the Spirit who would enrich us, if they could find us and we could welcome them.

I am an aspiring ally to disadvantaged groups, because I am trans and it behoves me to see other oppressions beyond my own. Yet I am not speaking as an ally here. An ally would say, what barriers are we white people erecting to make it harder for us to connect to others? Speaking as a white person, wanting the good of white people, I ask, how can we hear other voices, expanding our understanding of truth, and enriching our knowledge of God?

Mental health

Normally, the word “Kafkaesque” is too strong for my life. I have not turned into an insect, or been arrested on charges I don’t know, but which could be capital. I am not in the position of the mother who knows the social worker will take her child if she does not give the right answer, but has no idea how to believe what she must say.

Today has not been completely wasted.

Water has been coming into my flat for years, but only when the rain was particularly heavy and the wind in the right direction. Since March it has been coming in most rainy days. I told the letting agent in March, and eventually when I saw him and the landord outside, I invited them in to see the damp patches on the ceiling, the crack which drips along its entire length and the bucket under the light fitting with several pints of water in it. We went up on the flat roof, and saw the guttering on the upper storey was broken.

A few days later I saw a man with a blow-torch applying more sealant to the flat roof. Never accuse the landlord of not spending money. Water is still dripping in, though. Trickling, sometimes, down the light fitting. I called the agent again, and the secretary would see what was happening. She sent a man round.

The man and his son went with me up on the flat roof, where we saw water flowing from the break in the gutter onto some gravel on the flat roof. The son poked around on the gravel for a bit, and the father said the roof should slope a bit, rather than forming puddles like that. It may still be under guarantee. He thought the gutter should be fixed, but could not just come and do any job needing done- he had to provide a report, then a quote, for everything. Next door has water flowing down an inner wall. He left down the metal stairs and I just stood for a bit, thinking I should probably go down again but not really seeing the point.

Today I cycled to Scotstoun to see someone who works for the local mental health services. I had been referred by the woman trying to get me back in employment, then a woman, Ines, had phoned me, and told me I could have a “follow-up” appointment. She had quizzed me in great detail about my suicidal ideation, and I told her those metal steps were my chosen place for the drop, and how I had considered the precise nature of the rope and the knot I would need. I found the detailed quizzing wearing. Today, Bharti was surprised to hear I was suicidal in December, she thought it was in 2009. No, that was when I left the office at lunchtime intending to take my sleeping pills. The thoughts of hanging were around the start of this year. Even as I said it, I was unsure of the point of explaining.

I got the impression that she did not think she could do anything for me, perhaps because of funding, or the particular service she offered, and wanted to create a file record to justify that decision. “You’ve not got any goals,” she said, near the end of the 45 minutes. I reminded her that I had said my goal was to get back to work, as Esther’s minions were liable to take away all my income. I would like my rational self, which tells me to apply for work, and my emotional self which can’t bear to, to be talking to each other and working together. I would like to be able to talk about these things without crying. Near the end I was blurting all sorts of stuff about why I could not trust or respect my GP practice- the first mistake I can forgive, the second carelessness is more troublesome. Was that a mark down against me?

But the day was not completely wasted, because I cycled thirty miles in sunshine, and spent some time in mature woodland with these bluebells.

The edge of transphobia

Can someone speculate about trans women having male privilege, or being excluded from some women’s spaces, without being transphobic? As not all criticism of the Israeli government is antisemitic, but some is, some such speculation may come from a deeply felt position of support for trans folk, or honest curiosity; and then be used by transphobes to exclude us.

I don’t think Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is transphobic. Back in March 2017, before the self-ID confected debate and hate-explosion, she was interviewed on Channel 4 news:

Interviewer: if you’re a trans woman who grew up identifying as a man who grew up enjoying the privileges of being a man does that take away from becoming a woman are you any less of a real woman?

Adiche: So when people talk about are trans women women, my feeling is that trans women are trans women. I think if you’ve lived in the world as a man, with the privileges the world accords to men, and then changed gender, it’s difficult for me to accept that we can equate your experience with the experience of a woman who has lived from the beginning in the world as a woman and who has not been accorded those privileges that men are. I don’t think it’s a good thing to conflate everything into one. I don’t think it’s a good thing to talk about women’s issues being exactly the same as the issues of trans women. Gender is not biology. Gender is sociology.

She says we have male privilege, though she was prompted to say so by the interviewer. Perhaps she did not know a great deal about the issues, though that is no excuse if you decide to speak out. Lots of people accused her of transphobia- we had that luxury then- and she clarified her comments on facebook:

Gender is a problem not because of how we look or how we identify or how we feel but because of how the world treats us.

Girls are socialized in ways that are harmful to their sense of self – to reduce themselves, to cater to the egos of men, to think of their bodies as repositories of shame. As adult women, many struggle to overcome, to unlearn, much of that social conditioning.

A trans woman is a person born male and a person who, before transitioning, was treated as male by the world. Which means that they experienced the privileges that the world accords men. This does not dismiss the pain of gender confusion or the difficult complexities of how they felt living in bodies not their own.

This is not to say that trans women did not undergo difficulties as boys. But they did not undergo those particular difficulties specific to being born female, and this matters because those experiences shape how adult women born female interact with the world.

And because to be human is to be a complex amalgam of your experiences, it is disingenuous to say that their being born male has no effect on their experience of gender as trans women.

Transphobic? It may help that I consider that there are differences; that I did identify as an inadequate male, before I revolted and knew I am not a man– which is different from those trans women who knew they were girls in childhood. Bullying for being effeminate is different from being socialised as a girl, and the violence cis women and trans women face now is subtly different. Even the one who knew she was a girl was socialised to be a Real Man, not to be a properly feminine woman, to reduce herself, etc. And I see that socialisation, which not all trans women might acknowledge.

Last month, Adichie gave a lecture in Manhattan, spoke at the Women of the World festival in London, and was interviewed in the Guardian. “For her, gender is a social construction”, we are told. Well, for me, too, though not for all trans women. And the interviewer, Lisa Allardice, felt the need to ask her about something she said about trans women, more than a year ago. That’s shitstirring, and more likely to be transphobic than Adichie’s comments. Adichie is an intersectional feminist, particularly interested in the different experiences of different groups- black and white women, cis and trans women. So she focuses on differences. Why raise the matter now? So that controversy might be stirred again, transphobes encouraged to talk of the different experiences of cis and trans women, and trans women portrayed as unreasonable. Some people talking about those differences really are transphobic.

Allardice writes that Adiche “was accused of killing trans women with her words” and that there were calls to burn her books. Oh, those vile unreasonable trans women! Allardice is clutching her pearls, while delighting in publicising our worst actions. But at least she quotes Adiche’s refutation of that. Perhaps she did not understand it: a white woman had said feminism is not all about her, but about black women. Of course feminism is about her. I wish she’d said, “Here is all the shit I get because I am a woman, but I think about all the other women who don’t have the white privilege I have, I can’t imagine what that must be like.” That for me would be perfect. And, of course, feminism is about me, and other trans women, even if feminism includes matters of reproductive rights which will never directly affect me.

You can talk about difference and our different experiences without being transphobic. The issue is, why you want to talk about that? And, not everyone understands the nuances of how our differences affect our feminism, so people have to explain; but the differences should not be a weapon against trans women.

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Self ID as a threat

In 2009 Alex Drummond transitioned from male to female. She still has her beard, and did not opt for hormones or surgery. I’m widening the bandwidth of how to be a woman, she said.

I rarely sympathise with the Mumsnet terfs, but when one asked why she couldn’t widen the bandwidth of how to be a man, I am with her. Men should be able to wear skirts if they wish, and should act as feminine as they feel inside- but if it means accessing women’s spaces, I feel there should be some restriction, to honestly intend to appear as a woman. Alex claims to be a woman, she may honestly believe she is one, and so that is not enough: she should not have to alter her body if she does not want to, but keeping the beard means she should not be in women’s spaces. There. I have now taken an exclusionary position.

We’ve all had to start somewhere- male features, bad wigs, unfashionable ill-fitting clothes, thick make-up not quite covering the stubble, obviously trans women. We might intend to transition, but not have started on hormones, or even beard removal yet. You shave as close as you can, and stubble shows. Why should that exclusion not apply to me? If I don’t pass now-

Because of my intention to appear like a woman, which is more than belief that I am one. Mix it up by all means, but go to the toilet of your birth sex, or gender neutral toilets. I will go to gender neutral toilets where available. What if I just could not appear as a woman at all? If I were street homeless, I could not maintain a wig- and therefore, could not socially claim to be a woman. Practically, I would revert.

No, you don’t have to wear skirts, makeup, high heels, long hair all the time. Women can dress down, and so can you. And at the margins it can be difficult- if women can dress androgynously, why not trans women? Of course we can- but not in women’s spaces.

I know that self-ID is a minor administrative change, only affecting those of us who intend to transition life long, not affecting the prevalence of medical treatment of trans folk, or our numbers. And some people appear to believe that it will result in a crowd of men claiming to be women, invading women’s spaces. In reality there are not that many of us, and we’re there already. Or it will in some way restrict other ways of challenging the gender binary, where people are forced to identify as trans rather than as with their birth sex. It’s not a threat, but they claim it is, a personal threat because their identity as a woman, though not “feminine”, is under threat.

Those who don’t like trans people are using the minor administrative change to open up the whole question of trans women in women’s space. They want us excluded, even though we have been there all along. They talk about genuine trans women and predatory men, and the boundary between these two groups- genuine so at least grudgingly tolerated, and predatory so to be excluded, and ideally shamed and prosecuted- is fuzzy. Some would exclude pre-op trans women. Some would go further, look at our motivations, decide some post-op trans women were “autogynephiliac” and exclude us too.

As there won’t be any particular change, there is no new threat. Trans women have been expressing ourselves as women, broadly tolerated, for over fifty years. Transition is a radical act, and only a very few will undertake it: it needs not just gender dysphoria, but the conviction that you will be happier transitioned and can make a go of it. Yet the pretence is that there will be a sudden influx of- people who are objectionable in some undefined way, and they may use that as an excuse to try to exclude me.

A right to use a bathroom

“Women’s rights and trans rights should not be mutually exclusive. Yet they are, according to trans activists. Why is this?” Do our rights conflict, and if so is it anyone’s fault?

I would say they don’t. A few thousand trans women use women’s services and spaces, and while a few thousand women object strenuously and loudly, we can’t know what proportion of the female population don’t care, or have not thought about it. So I go to the loo or the changing room, just like anyone else. No-one’s rights are infringed.

If a woman was frightened or made uncomfortable because she saw a trans woman in a loo, I would regret that, but using that possible fear to forbid trans women to use women’s loos seems to be asserting some nebulous right to not be distressed when out in public, or not be distressed by trans women, or define who is entitled to use women’s services.

Who decides who is entitled? Society as a whole. It’s not just government: when North Carolina had its “bathroom bill”, businesses boycotted the State, and the Governor lost his re-election. Some people care a lot, and gain some influence. It’s not a matter of strict logic, making a definition of “woman” including women with a disorder of sexual development but not trans women entitled to separate spaces, but agreement. I tend to hope that many people’s view of themselves as liberal, tolerant, decent people is enhanced by their acceptance that trans women are women. We are mostly harmless, and if they get a warm glow of satisfaction that makes them feel benevolent towards us, Hooray.

No, seriously. Hooray. It’s a total pain that my right to exist depends on the good will of society, but that is the human condition. No-one can survive alone.

So, rights do not conflict. But even if they did, it would not be my fault. Since the 1960s, the British government has treated trans women as women. When I transitioned, there was a well-worn path for it. Clever lawyers had carved out rights against discrimination from the Sex Discrimination Act, and they were later entrenched in a statutory instrument specifically about trans people. I went to the GP, who referred me to a local psychiatrist, who sent me to a gender identity clinic. I arranged a date that I would transition at work, and then got my bank account, passport and driving licence in my female name. A few years later, after the Gender Recognition Act was passed, I got a gender recognition certificate.

Brave women pioneered that pathway, asserting their right to be seen as women. Doctors, seeing what their patients wanted, gave it to them, so the women went to those doctors. Trans women use women’s loos, and have done since before I was born. I would not have transitioned if no-one had gone before. Finding people who had made a go of transition gave me the courage to attempt it.

Some trans-critical feminists don’t want intact penises in women’s loos, but could tolerate post-operative trans women. But that is not good enough- before I transitioned at work, I was going about socially expressing myself female, and using loos. I had to do that, because I could not have transitioned without some experience of what it was like. And I got a bank card in my female name six months before I transitioned.

I did not do it as of right. I felt the need, so I did it. No-one told me they objected. It is not a matter of rights, logic, or strict definitions, it is a matter of rubbing along together.

Transition is a path open to us. It’s been open for decades, with tolerance from government, and few people caring enough to object.  Those TERFs seeking to exclude us from women’s spaces are trying to close off that path. They are making the change.

A Woman’s Place

Woman’s Place UK is a transphobic organisation, hosting public meetings where transphobic speakers are cheered on by transphobes. It is also highly confused, misunderstanding or wilfully misrepresenting the current law and the proposed changes. It is transphobic because it peddles falsehoods about trans women and trans rights with the purpose of inciting fear, and mocks trans women with the purpose of dehumanising us and fomenting hatred.

A room full of women cheering and applauding when Pilgrim Tucker says, around ten minutes into this video, if you have a dick you are not a woman, are being incited against us whether or not you agree with the sentiment. The vast majority of transgender male to female trans women don’t have what are called bottom surgery, she says. By no means all of us have it, but it is not “the vast majority”. I have heard over 40% have it, though many of us are on waiting lists.

The whole speech sets us out as potentially violent abusers, and the audience as our victims. It is a single argument. First, she defines self-ID: at 4.40, Any man can be a woman just because they say they are one… just literally a signature on a form. This is inaccurate.

5.00 She deals with the Equality Act. Trans women can be excluded from certain spaces for women only. Even though those men [trans women] are legally seen as women. Exclusion is important, she says, 6.00 because men are much more violent compared with women, much more sexually intrusive and predatory towards women. She calls us violent and predatory. 9.00 Trans women have a conviction rate for sex offences that is very much higher than for biological women.

She denies she is calling us all violent- 9.30, Now of course as with men we are not saying by any means that all trans women are rapists or sex offenders. Then she says women should be frightened of us anyway: Just the fact that they are much more likely to be than we are.

She claims the Equality Act exemptions are not being used, not because they are unnecessary in most cases, not because rape crisis centres and shelters want to help people in need and can cope with trans women, but because of 12.00 pressure from the Trans lobby. Would that we were so powerful! We can’t achieve that without the support of those services.

12.50 And there are predatory men who will use any means to gain … access  to women’s spaces when they are vulnerable -yes, she means trans women- and all they have to do is sign a piece of paper -misrepresent the proposed change again.

Then, referring to the debate AWP has manufactured about this small administrative change, she claims to be the victim: but we are not being allowed to talk about these facts… 13.25 Trans Rights Activists are lobbying campaigning bullying threatening manipulating. With the full-hearted support of Rupert Murdoch’s platforms, she can hardly claim her position goes unheard.

Frightening men. Women as victims. She attempts to stoke fear and anger against trans women, who are mostly harmless. That is simple transphobia. In a loo, theft is more of a risk than assault, and a man wanting to commit a sexual assault in a loo would hardly bother dressing as a woman first.

She wants women, stoked with this transphobia, to view themselves as righteous, justified and heroic: 16.00 for every single time each one of us is speaking up, even with shaky voices, even in fear we see more and more women speaking up and standing up.

The enemy are coming for you. You  are righteous: defend yourselves (I paraphrase). It is clear rabble-rousing to hatred and fear. It is transphobia.

There’s a shocking transphobic article in The Guardian. Under the headline “Violent misogyny is unfortunately not confined to the internet’s incels,” Catherine Bennett writes, a red bespattered T-shirt reading: “I punch terfs!” (trans-exclusionary radical feminists/women who disagree with me), may have struck a chord with anyone following the current UK debate about the government’s self-ID proposals. To date, threats, from one side, which echo, inescapably, some of those in the pro-Rodger playbook (“die in a fire terf scum”) have yet to generate comparably widespread concern, even after a woman was punched. Her assailant had earlier expressed the wish to “fuck up some terfs”. Tara Wolf did us great harm; but it is not “one side” of the debate, it is a few violent angry people. To link that to murderers is fomenting anger and fear against us.

“Genuine trans women”

The concept of the “genuine trans woman” promotes transphobia and transphobic violence by suggesting that some people are merely pretending to be trans women, for misogynist, immoral or criminal purposes, and must be opposed. Then no trans woman can be safe, because anyone might judge we were not genuine enough.

From facebook: We oppose any rules that will open up women’s spaces to opportunistic, predatory males. We are not suggesting for a moment that trans women fall into that category, though our argument is often wilfully misrepresented as such. We believe that the best solution for this is to have dedicated spaces for trans women, as they are also at risk of male violence. So all trans women should be excluded, in case one of us is an “opportunistic, predatory male”. This is a verbal formula to justify excluding trans women from women’s spaces, where we have gone for decades.

Lucy Masood, a firefighter, spoke at a Woman’s Place event in London: For me this isn’t about genuine trans women having access to our spaces, this is about men. Men who do not have gender dysphoria, are not women, have no intention of physically becoming women yet believe they have the right to be accepted as women.

Men demanding to be included in all-women short lists, demanding to be woman’s officers, demanding to compete against women in sporting events and now, of course, demanding to have access to women only spaces.

Trans women competing in sporting events have to comply with rules about testosterone levels. She is against people who are clearly trans women, and suggesting that allowing our presence is a threat to women.

Who are these men? They don’t have gender dysphoria, she says. How would she know? Perhaps they do not have a gender recognition certificate under the current rules. That is, they have not produced a letter from a specialist psychiatrist to prove to the Gender Recognition Panel that they have gender dysphoria. That does not show they do not have gender dysphoria: many of us have not seen a specialist psychiatrist because we are on the waiting list, or because we are terrified of transitioning and have not quite admitted that we are going to do so, but nevertheless are testing the waters and going out in public as women. I did that. I had gender dysphoria.

I want those of us considering transition to be able to go out in public and use the loo. They are not currently protected by the Equality Act until they have made the decision to transition. If, without a diagnosis, I could tell Lucy Masood that I had gender dysphoria and she would believe me, there might be little problem; but if I need a doctor’s letter to convince her she is more suspicious than I would like. Disbelieve me if you have clear reason to do so. I should not have to prove myself to anyone, unless what I say is contradicted by what I do. There has not been any great influx of “predatory men” pretending to be trans women in Ireland.

Some people of course will see contradictions and threats anywhere.

Lucy also mentioned people who “have no intention of physically becoming women”. I was ambivalent about that until about a year after I transitioned at work. My intact penis was less prone to erections, as I was taking oestradiol and the testosterone suppressant Goserelin. And yet I was going to work expressing myself as a woman. Clearly, Lucy would exclude a lot of trans women who are currently allowed to go about our ordinary business unmolested, and use loos without trouble.

So while she might claim to include trans women, or not oppose our inclusion, in fact she worries about “men”, and would call a lot of genuine trans women men. It is still transphobia. If you don’t accept that “trans women are women” you should at least accept that “trans women are trans women”- and that includes people considering transition. Nobody seriously considers it without being trans- it is just too costly and difficult.