New anti-trans commissioners at the EHRC

Kemi Badenoch has appointed two new commissioners to the Equality and Human Rights Commission. The minister “for” women and equalities continues her institutional capture of the now-misnamed EHRC.

Kunle Olulode MBE has been working against the rights of Black people. He was a commissioner on the Sewell report on Race and Ethnic Disparities, widely derided for minimising disparities and the difficulties PGM face in Britain. The Sewell report does not mention LGBT people, as if black LGBT people did not suffer discrimination.

Arif Ahmed MBE has been working against the rights of trans people. He gave evidence to the House of Commons Human Rights Joint Committee that freedom of speech meant the rights to say Trans is Bad without any consequences. Download two pdf documents. The Committee did not publish a report.

In June 2020, working with anti-trans campaigner Selina Todd, he gave evidence that the freedom of speech of “left-wing” “feminist critics of transgender ideology” was inhibited.

Trans is not an ideology, any more than gay is an ideology. Trans, like gay, is just how some people are. The ideology is of the anti-trans campaigners, denying that trans people have the needs we have, and alleging we are a threat to women and children. They should be allowed to voice these opinions, just as they should be allowed if they wish to claim Jews are a threat to women and children. Then they should suffer consequences for uttering hate-speech. Hate speech inhibits freedom of speech by suppressing the speech of minorities. However Ahmed, Todd and the first-named author of that evidence, Nigel Biggar who is a theology professor, wrote that the offensive speech should not be sanctioned. Instead, those complaining about it should suffer.

The evidence attacks Advance HE, an international higher education charity, for its trans equality policy statement, which says,

“The curriculum will be checked to ensure that it does not rely on or reinforce stereotypical assumptions about trans people, and that it contains material that positively represents trans people and trans lives.”

Ahmed is in favour of anti-trans stereotypes. He forced his Cambridge college to host a speech by discredited anti-trans campaigner Helen Joyce.

The evidence also attacks Stonewall for opposing anti-trans speakers who deny that trans people exist as the gender we say we are.

The evidence creates a false opposition between freedom of speech and equality and diversity. There is none.

I am always glad when haters share good news. Biggar et al write, “Universities are keen to sign up to Advance HE’s and Stonewall’s initiatives. Membership signals their commitment to equality and brings financial reward,” as if that were a bad thing.

Ahmed demanded that the Government refused to fund UK Research Innovation (UKRI) until it ceased to recommend membership of Stonewall Diversity Champions, and required universities to prioritise “free speech” and “academic freedom” as they defined it, over gay and trans rights.

In his further evidence in February 2021, Ahmed said students had demanded a college sack a member of staff. But, the member of staff was a porter, not an academic, and Ahmed produced no evidence he was actually sanctioned.

Ahmed complained that the Cambridge University proposed free speech policy sought the power to prohibit speaker events that threaten student welfare. Again, he wants the power to say what he likes- that I am a threat to women and children, for example- without any consequence.

He misunderstands free speech. He says people are frightened to say they supported Brexit. The only sanction they face is ridicule: Brexit has damaged the economy more than Covid.

Ahmed will join other commissioners, including the EHRC chair Kishwer Falkner, in working against trans rights. Badenoch named Alasdair Henderson deputy chairman (sic) of the Board. Henderson was a barrister involved with Keira Bell’s case against the Tavistock GIDS.

To calm me down a little, here is a photograph of a beautiful place.

Trans people exist

Trans people exist. It’s a simple point, but very hard to convince the anti-trans campaigners. How would you feel if a priest said to you, “I’m glad you are here. Please come say hello; I would love to hear more about your perspective and experience”? It might be enough for a Christian trans person to feel welcome, and want to join that community. It is what we know. But it is gaslighting: the theology professor suggesting it wants the priest to convince the trans person of the “Catholic understanding of reality”.

Her explanation of that reality is crude. She actually relies on Genesis: sexual difference as fixed and God-given. But she thinks she is being inclusive, and approaching trans people “with a spirit of generous curiosity: What truth will I find here?”

The problem is she believes in “gender theory”. We are not trans, really: we simply have false beliefs. Now I get that completely. I believe I am a woman, and many say I am not. Surely I could be persuaded otherwise? Or, I want to be a woman, but could be told that is impossible?

The point of being trans is that persuasion does not work. Tell me that someone born with testicles, a Y chromosome and a penis is not a woman, and I redefine the word “woman”. I understand why the denier might believe that. It makes a certain sort of sense. But I still believe I am a woman. I still want to be a woman.

Trans people exist. Trans women are people born with testicles who want to be women or believe they are women, who desire to transition and so do that. Before I transitioned, I really wanted to believe that I was “not really trans” and therefore should not transition, and I wanted to get rid of the desire, which because of internalised transphobia I thought repellent and ridiculous. But I failed. So I transitioned, and twenty years later am still transitioned.

Trans people exist. We’re the ones who want to transition and stay transitioned. We get how others feel this is ridiculous, but however cogent the arguments are against, we still want to stay transitioned. You can’t argue or persuade us out of it. Eventually, one would hope the anti-trans campaigners would realise that, and stop trying the arguments that don’t work- but they don’t.

So the “theory” or ideology, the false understanding of the world, is not trans people’s, but the anti-trans campaigners’. Our understanding accepts that trans people exist. Theirs doesn’t. They think, contrary to all the evidence, that we should simply be persuaded that we are wrong, and so detransition.

That theologian, Abigail Favale, believes “there is a givenness to the created order”- that is, that the real world has reality humans just have to accept. She thinks that means that trans women are men. But what it really means is that trans people exist.

She is not above taking arguments from the “feminist” anti-trans campaigners. Women’s lives, she says, are “contoured by the facticity of femaleness”. I think she means if you don’t have a womb you’re not a woman, though elsewhere she writes that being born a woman without a uterus is a “sex-specific” difference of sexual development, so that the person is still a woman.

In her world, the person welcomed by that priest would accept “the Catholic view of reality” and presumably stop taking hormones or seeking surgery. Would they be happy? She does not address the question. They would simply be conforming. Would Favale even notice they were miserable and unfulfilled? So, when we leave, and find a community that accepts us, Favale would be sad and uncomprehending, imagining we are mired in sin and delusion.

Trans people exist. Anti-trans campaigners can’t see that. Perhaps they’re only trying to persuade cis people- but then, they do not care about us at all, except as a problem they want to go away.

Dobbs v Womens Health, and trans

The US Supreme Court ended the constitutional right to an abortion, which was based on the right to privacy. This may affect the right to contraception or to gay marriage, or even gay sex. As Kagan, Breyer and Sotomayor said, “Today, the proclivities [inclinations] of individuals rule. The Court departs from its obligation to faithfully and impartially apply the law. We dissent.” It is a dark day for women’s rights, and so a dark day for human rights.

But that has nothing to do with trans, surely?

The anti-trans campaigners disagree. Libby Purves in The Times said that 19th century prostitutes had “a degree of generally understood protection” because “their physical difference”- the unthinking belief that having a womb made you a woman, having testicles made you a man- had “value and vulnerability”. Prostitutes, protected? She’s delusional.

The protection those women had “has almost vanished now” except in fundamentalist Islam, which veils women but, for Purves, believes “women” have female biology. Words like “menstruators” (including trans men and AFAB nonbinary people) “can erase the idea of womanhood”. Compassion pretended for trans people or for embryos, as if Libby could not distinguish the different groups who feel such compassion, ends women’s rights, she says.

She claims trans activists say there are 130 genders. Well, gender is imprecise, varying and unclassifiable. Facebook had 58 genders but only three pronouns. Women’s Health magazine has sixteen different terms for gender identity: not different named genders, but different ways of conceptualising gender. I don’t agree with all of it, but it’s not bad. Times writers just make stuff up.

Here’s the article. Now, in a desperate search for subscribers, the Times is available for £12 for the first year. Rupert knows how little his foul propaganda is worth.

Camilla Long, also in The Times, repeated a lie that is so stale it is a cliché of disinformation- even if you are left-wing, don’t vote for the relatively left-wing party because they’re not for your interests really. If you believe in the right to abortion but also “believe in biological sex”, she said, “there is no one to vote for”. As if the rights of a few trans women should make cis women angry enough not to vote to preserve their right to bodily autonomy. This is a standard vote suppression tactic. I commented. One woman, frothing at the mouth about “autogynephilia” and trans women jerking themselves in loos, said she had only once seen a trans woman in a loo and, beyond being there, she saw her do nothing objectionable. Another said she had never met a single trans woman.

The choice is between giving what Libby Purves calls a tiny minority an even break, and getting bodily autonomy for all fertile women. Long would have people surrender the right to a medical termination in order to spite trans people.

Sonia Sodha in the Guardian also wanted to connect Dobbs v Women’s Health to trans. She wrote the abortion article everyone could- poor people, the victims of violent men, indeed any woman might need an abortion, etc. Then she starts on trans: “women” is an offensive word, she says. This is probably an attack on inclusive language for trans men and nonbinary people, but Sodha is too incoherent for us to be sure.

Women are a sex class she says, who need “sex-based rights” in the words of the headline. It’s an anti-trans dogwhistle. Women need women’s rights, and every good-hearted man should support abortion rights, even if he thinks no woman he knows might ever need one, because it is the decent thing to do. But Sodha brings in sex v gender, creating the division she claims to oppose.

Trans people in hospital wards

As a Tory cabinet minister said, the NHS under the Tories is “wanting and inadequate”. But its rules on admitting trans women to women’s wards is good. Its guidance adopted in 2019 (pdf) says trans people should be accommodated according to how we present. We do not need a GRC or legal name change. If our breasts or genitals appear of the opposite gender, we should be given sufficient privacy with curtains or a single side room.

A trans person who has not had a genital operation should not share open shower facilities. Where the treatment is sex-specific, such as a trans man having a hysterectomy, staff should discuss options with the patient. If a patient is unconscious, staff should draw inferences from mode of dress and only consider genitals if this is specifically necessary for treatment (I am sad that needs to be said). A trans woman without her wig should have extra care to ensure her privacy and dignity. Nonbinary patients should be asked discreetly about their preferences.

A child’s preference should prevail even if the parents disagree and the child is not Gillick competent.

Unfortunately, anti-trans hate campaigner Emma Nicholson has become aware of this guidance, and wasted House of Lords time at 1am on 17 March to amend the Health and Care Bill to exclude all trans women from women’s wards. The usual hate campaigners- Claire Fox, David “Blencathra” Maclean- came out to bore everyone with their usual disinformation. The government whip, JoJo Penn, thanked Emma for “all her work advocating for women’s rights”, and I hope that is just the usual oily courtesy shown by “noble Lords” to each other. She said the NHS is currently reviewing its guidance and seeks “privacy, safety and dignity” for all its patients. Guidance should be based on “evidence, compassion, empathy and respect”, but she could not give a date for the review being published beyond some time this year.

Fox put her extreme case emotively. She spoke of vulnerable cis women patients losing their right to single-sex wards. She said women (anti-trans campaigners) were effectively being told “Don’t you worry your pretty little heads”. The hate campaigners in the House of Lords have been whinging about this extensively, and the Evening Standard reported their words uncritically. Then Fox refers to the newspapers. It is all circular. However she gave the good news that Dr Michael Brady, NHS LGBT adviser, is involved in the review, has consulted Stonewall and Mermaids, and stated there are “no plans to reduce the existing rights of transgender people”.

Nicholson told the story of a trans woman constituent when she was an MP. The woman was a police officer, who after transition was given a lower rank. Nicholson claimed that she helped “persuade the police that [transition] was a fully acceptable thing to have done”. Then she claimed a trans woman on a women’s ward raped another patient a year ago. That is explosive.

Ralph “Baron Lucas” Palmer (Con) claimed “trans women are men” under the Equality Act. Michael Farmer, former treasurer of the Tory Party, recited some legal interpretation from anti-trans campaigners, claiming that excluding trans women from women’s wards would be a “legitimate aim”. Timothy Clement-Jones, LibDem, spoke for the amendment despite his party’s definition of transphobia. As nonbinary people are not explicitly protected under the Act, he wanted them assessed for objective sex.

Terence Etherton, former Master of the Rolls (President of the civil Court of Appeal) explained that putting trans women on men’s wards would be unlawful harassment under the Equality Act, as it would violate our dignity. He said changing your name is changing an “attribute of sex” sufficient to clearly fit the protected characteristic of gender reassignment. “It is not a legitimate aim that some people feel uncomfortable sharing accommodation and facilities with trans people of the opposite birth sex. That would make a nonsense of having the statutory protected characteristic in the first place.”

Sal Brinton, LibDem, said Nicholson’s amendment “seeks to create a false understanding” of the Equality Act.

Michael Cashman talked of evidence: freedom of information requests around the country have shown there is no need to change Annexe B, the part of the policy specifically about trans people. He pointed out how Maclean, as a Home Office minister, had blocked an equal age of consent for gay sex with straight sex. That had to wait for a Labour government, despite a win in the European Court. He drew parallels between the hate against trans women now, and against gay men in the 1990s, and “against minorities across the centuries”. Ruth Hunt said “many lesbians” support trans inclusion. To detoxify the debate, she said, we should stick to the facts. Elizabeth Barker, LibDem, said the amendment was not about single-sex wards at all, but Nicholson’s continuing campaign against trans women, and “we should simply not pay attention”. She says trans women “are women with a different experience”.

Trans women are probably safe from this review. We will continue being treated on the appropriate wards, and given dignity and privacy. And the hate campaign will continue.

A new, cuddlier LGB Alliance?

If you looked at the LGB All Liars website on 1 June, you would see a weirdly unattractive home page. It had links inviting readers to give money or help campaigning. Across the top scrolled this message, capitals and all: “GAY TEENS AREN’T SICK. Being lesbian or gay is not an illness to be treated. Click to READ MORE”. Clicking would lead to this page, scaremongering about puberty blockers, which they claim is homophobic conversion therapy. But now that page cannot be found.

Instead, now, the front page has some jolly pictures of people chatting and smiling at a conference. Then there’s a claim that they do good things- they are against sexual orientation discrimination and work to help LGB folk thrive. They are still the same old transphobes- there’s a picture of a van with an advert on it saying “Gay teens aren’t sick” and the headline “Fighting the medicalisation of children”, but if you click that you reach their Donations page. It mentions their work: campaigning against the Scottish Gender Recognition reform and Hate Crime Bill.

Before, if your cursor went on the Campaign icon, the site asked “What policies are there at work? Do your equal opportunities forms ask for sex or for gender?” Their campaigns were against GRA reform, and for Allison Bailey’s attempt to defund Stonewall’s Diversity Champions scheme. One was on “sex in the census”, though the census happened last year. One was the Liars working with a site called Merched Cymru (Welsh Women) against the Welsh government’s LGBTQ+ action plan, because it called trans women “women”. Merched Cymru, asking people to hashtag dimdiolch (nothankyou) did not have a Welsh language page.

The Liars’ End Conversion Therapy page claimed treating trans children is homophobic conversion. So all the campaigns shown were against trans rights.

Now, clicking Campaigns at the top of the new front page shows just one new campaign- to ask the British Newspaper Archive to digitise 11 years of Gay News magazine. Apart from that, the campaigns are the same, including the outdated census campaign, and all against trans rights.

The new About page is divided into three. Their purpose, they claim, is to oppose sexual orientation discrimination. They have several points here which are against trans, but without mentioning transgender or trans people. Their Value of “Reality of Biology”- “sex is binary”- is included twice. They claim they will not accept funding from an organisation which undermines women’s reproductive rights- so they are aware the Heritage Foundation funds anti-trans campaign groups.

The new page headed “Myths” says there are “daft” “wild rumours” about them. The page contains the claim that they “fully support trans people” and trans rights. Apart from that it does not mention trans. The old Myths page had the alleged “myths” they contradicted, including that they are a hate group, that they seek to erase trans people (See “Language”, below).

There’s a new page headed “Resources”. The resources are currently rather weak: under “LGB movies” they name none, but tell you to look on Twitter. The heading Uganda, where gay people are criminalised, also refers to twitter. Under “Language” they have a few definitions: they consider gender identity “a sexist concept based on traditional sex-based stereotypes”. Well, if that were true there would not be trans people at all times and in all cultures, despite widely differing gender stereotypes. They define trans people as “people who consider themselves to be trans”. That is, they deny any and all basis for trans people’s existence. We’re just a “sexist concept”.

Again, anything substantial is anti-trans. As well as twitter, they link to anti-trans blogs.

The new site attempts to hide the hate. The references to trans people on the old site are often expunged now. But they still only campaign to restrict trans rights, and rant repetitively in their News section. There are now fifteen news items since 12 Oct 2021. One is merely a link to the Guardian report of Jake Daniels coming out. It’s better looking than the old News page– rather than a headline and some text, there is a headline and a picture for each blog post. But apart from a hurried link to a Guardian article, it’s still the same old obsessive anti-trans hate.

Here is the truth about LGB All Liars. The petition to reverse their false charitable status will be heard in September. Go there, and pledge some money. They may be trying to conceal their hate, a little- but they are still not doing anything for gay people beyond asking someone else to digitise Gay News.

Murray Blackburn Mackenzie

Murray Blackburn Mackenzie claim to be policy analysts. Their twitter and website have a reassuring air: a picture of the Forth Rail Bridge in sunshine, a logo of three grey wavy lines to look serious. They could be a long-established firm of Edinburgh solicitors, though few solicitors would have a request for donations on their front page, or endorsements from four notorious anti-trans campaigning politicians.

They are generally referred to as policy analysts, for example by The Guardian. Note the headline: “Scotland’s gender recognition reform is a ‘recipe for bad law’, say campaigners”, though the article itself says Rape Crisis Scotland and Amnesty, and every party but the Conservatives, support the proposals. Who is against? One of these “policy analysts”, tiny hate group Four women Scotland, and LGB All Liars.

So, why bother reporting what they say? Is a tiny hate group’s opposition to gender recognition reform overwhelmingly supported by Scottish civil society actually newsworthy? The Herald is a model of reporting, quoting at length supporters of the law as befits their importance, but still quoted MBM, calling them “a policy think tank”. The Scotsman calls them a “policy group”, and had a silly piece quoting one of them at length after she resigned from the Royal College of Nursing. The RCN had investigated her for a potential breach of contract. Reporting on the gender recognition consultation, The Times quoted the Catholic Church, the Church of Scotland, and “the policy analyst” MBM.

What do they tweet about? Their pinned tweet is about gender recognition reform. All their 54 tweets in May are too. One of them is Kath Murray, a criminologist. Her pinned tweet is about “recording sex accurately” (No Transwomen!) and again her tweets are overwhelmingly attacking trans rights.

Do they blog about anything other than trans? In 2021 they did an article about whether the Green Party, now it is in coalition with the SNP, would retain opposition party privileges. So I did a quick google. It doesn’t. In 2020, they did a three page submission on the Lobbying Act. And, that’s it. By contrast, they have eighteen posts this year so far on gender recognition, scaremongering and making unsubstantiated allegations of harm.

Everything else is an attack on trans rights. Under “education”, there are three articles, all about trans rights. One makes the shocking allegation that “no university in Scotland has any form of organised representation or networking for female staff”, but read closely, it reveals that it means all the women’s groups may include trans women. It then goes on about anti-trans campaigners as if they were victims.

There is a great deal on their site about data collection. All of it is advocating trans exclusion. For example, they are desperate that trans women should be told to tell the census that we are men, even though the Court of Session disagrees. They make a number of unsubstantiated claims that trans women being allowed to say we are women is “harmful” to accurate statistics, though the proportion of the population who is trans is under 1%, and trans men and trans women will cancel each other out.

All of their work on criminal justice and policing is about trans: for example, they do not want hate crime law around misogyny, but around the characteristic of sex, which they define to exclude trans women from the category “women”.

Who are they, anyway? Two former civil servants and a research fellow. Just as anyone can set up a wordpress blog, it seems anyone can call themselves “policy analysts” or consultants, get to make scaremongering, unsubstantiated claims to parliamentary committees, and have their words reported unquestioningly by the press, as if what they said matters. It only matters because the press decides it does. So MBM’s message of hate and exclusion spreads.

Ricky Gervais

What did Gervais say on Netflix? Content: transphobia.

“I love the new women. They’re great, aren’t they?” He then goes on sarcastically to imagine correcting an anti-trans campaigner. “What if he rapes me?” “What if she rapes you, you fucking terf?”

Why is this offensive? Because it portrays people who say trans women are women as condoning rape, and fears of a trans woman raping a cis woman as reasonable. It incites fear against trans women. It ridicules anyone who wants to treat trans women with respect or decency.

In The Times, some bore who has written a book called “How Woke Won: The Elitist Movement That Threatens Democracy, Tolerance and Reason” praised Gervais extravagantly. She claims declaring our pronouns and believing in gender fluidity is “trans ideology”, which she claims is powerful. He’s not attacking trans people, she says, but trans ideology.

She says a rape victim might have to describe her attacker as a woman in court. This is untrue. She claims ten years ago there would have been nothing funny in saying only a man has a penis, because it is biological fact. Gervais “punctures pomposity” by poking fun at the prohibition on saying it.

However, it is not true to say only women menstruate. Trans men exist. The word “woman” cannot properly relate to reality or human society if it means “adult biological female”. And dictionaries are not prescriptive: because lots of people include trans women when using the word “woman”, trans women are women.

For Gervais, if a woman fears rape, some people are so stuffed full of “woke nonsense” that their reaction is not sympathy but to insist she calls the person she fears “she”. That’s the joke. I plead guilty. Yes, I want people to refer to trans women with female pronouns. The Times writer finds that pompous and ridiculous, and Gervais skewering it funny. She hooted loudly and punched the air.

That’s what Gervais means when he started by saying “I say something I don’t really mean, for comic effect”. Only the character says outrageous things- in this case, “You fucking terf”. (Terf is not a word I use.)

But here, there are two characters. There’s the ridiculous woke fool, impersonated by Gervais for his audience to hoot at, and there’s the straight character, the poor reasonable woman who fears rape when she sees a trans woman. She is not held up for ridicule, but for sympathy.

Gervais imagines someone fearing rape when she sees a trans woman, and therefore wanting all trans women expelled from women’s loos, and portrays her as sympathetic. Her opponents are pompous, ridiculous elitists threatening reason. This encourages those who want trans women out of women’s spaces. Therefore it is offensive.

The Times writer says Gervais is punching up, at that Elite, on behalf of the masses who want trans exclusion. I say he is punching down, encouraging trans exclusion. I win Oppression Olympics here: a writer in The Times, elite in privilege if not in ability, and a wealthy comedian, want me excluded.

Many people might echo Nick Fletcher MP wanting consistency and predictability in the world, so that the word “woman” can only mean what they want it to mean. They are from all walks of life, and many may be less privileged than I am. But, do you want them to be able to drive me out? Do you want them squabbling with me, rather than unionising and voting Labour? Which elite is a threat to them really?

Parliament debates nonbinary people

140,781 people signed the petition to make nonbinary a legally recognised gender identity in the UK. So, there was a debate in Westminster Hall. However, only six MPs bothered to speak, and only one was an unequivocal ally. Anneliese Dodds, the shadow secretary for women and equalities, was particularly disappointing. Content: transphobia. Continue reading

Sunday Times says Britain supports trans rights?

“The whole country supports trans rights,” said the headline in the Sunday Times. That is true, but the article indicates a new attack on trans rights.

When I was volunteering, a colleague wanted to know whether I had had the operation or not. We were sitting at the desk, ready to answer the phone or speak to anyone who came in, and she started talking about her breast reduction operation. Then she went on to vaginal steaming and vaginal cleansing treatments. I knew what she was after, so I told her. “That’s ridiculous,” I said. “Vaginas are self-cleansing. Mine isn’t, but yours is.”

Was she really a person who had no objection to real transsexuals, just those men pretending to be women? [Irony ALERT]. No. We found she was prejudiced against the real transsexual too, though she probably thought she just disliked me because of who I was, nothing to do with being trans.

The problem with the Sunday Times 3 April article was the definition of trans rights, which is pretty restrictive. Children should be protected from “irreversible medical interventions”. That they are already does not matter. Very few children referred to GIDS get puberty blockers, leave alone cross sex hormones, and none get surgery under 18.

But the idea that “trans women are women” is the position of “activists and campaigners”. According to the article, voters think that doctors should approve any transition, trans women should not be in women’s sporting events, and even after getting a GRC trans women should be excluded from some women-only spaces.

In other words, the “trans rights” the Times supports are conflicted. Young trans people are not allowed surgery, but trans surgery is everyone’s business and adults without surgery are suspect. Trans women are entitled to be in women’s sporting events, at all levels, unless there are clear objections for fairness or safety. Often there aren’t. There are cis women rugby players bigger than the maximums for trans women. But all that is gone: the Trans Rights the Sunday Times supports have an absolute ban. I could not join a park run as a woman.

This denies trans rights as they exist in the Equality Act. From the moment one decides to transition one is protected. The Times reports that about 85% of people would support a family member who came out as trans. The great roll-back of trans rights the article proposes is called “sympathy, understanding and tolerance”.

Commenters on the article judiciously debated which additional rights they would also withdraw, while also stating how tolerant and sympathetic they are. One said that if you had a genital operation you were a “guest member” of the chosen sex. One replying said they could not be guest members, they were still the original sex. One said they should not access a “sexually secure area”.

So we can wear what we like, and be tolerated as weirdos, but trans women are not women and should never be treated as such or called such. Then they say how reasonable and tolerant they are.

Of course the hostility will continue, but the Times has the answer. It is as reasonable and tolerant as anyone could be expected to be, and only activists and extremists would disagree.

Some thoughts on the Cass review

The interim Cass report is deeply worrying for trans children and parents who desire their good.

The Cass interim report does not say, any child being refused puberty blockers they desire “should have a formal diagnosis and formulation, which addresses the full range of factors affecting their physical, mental, developmental and psychosocial wellbeing”. That is, it does not sufficiently recognise that refusing treatment may also do harm to a child.

Puberty blockers (PB) or cross-sex hormones (CSH) are called a “life-changing intervention”, but the life-change can be for good, helping a child avoid the wrong puberty, and that is not sufficiently recognised by the Review yet.

Doctors and patients, here, may have different aims for treatment. Doctors may wish to alleviate immediate distress, and see inhibiting development of sexual characteristics as a bad thing. But children and parents want their distress alleviated too, and both reasons are good and sufficient to justify prescribing.

That said, there is a lot of good in the report. Local services should help with distress and other conditions such as “autism spectrum disorder” (sic), though CAMHS, child and adolescent mental health services, are underfunded. There should be more expertise, and shorter waiting lists. The report says “assessments should be respectful of the experience of the child”.

The report says there should be more systematic research on outcomes. There its problem is with medical ethics. A doctor should act for the good of their particular patient, and not others. This limits research, which is for the good of the whole community, not for the particular patient. The NHS asks for consent to research, but research is not its principle aim. The review’s recommendation of a “learning health system” where treatments are under academic review is a revolutionary change, which might benefit patients.

Paragraph 1.7 worries me. It says there is disagreement on whether children can be really trans, so that they need to transition, and whether questioning gender is just part of growing up. Possibly both can be true for different children. Read with 1.14, it shows a failure to see the value of affirmative care. No doubt some staff have said they feel “under pressure to adopt an unquestioning affirmative approach”, but the main pressure is the other way. The High Court used Keira Bell’s case, and a highly unorthodox approach to evidence in judicial review, to shut down the prescription of puberty blockers. The mainstream media is hostile to PBs. There are any number of practitioners groups which take an unquestioningly hostile view of trans treatment.

If there is “predominantly an affirmative, non-exploratory approach” to care, why do only a fraction of those children referred get prescribed PBs? The Court of Appeal in the Bell case heard evidence it was only 16% of patients discharged in 2019/20, of whom only half had started CSH.

But I like Dr Cass’s letter to the children saying they need more services. Some good could come of the report. If evidence is systematically collected it will include evidence of successful transitions and flourishing lives.

I read it because of the Observer editorial, which takes an absolutist anti-trans position: they think PBs for children are always wrong. The vast majority of those on PBs go onto CSH, says The Observer, against the evidence cited above. To them, even though people revert because of transphobia, even though reverters retransition, a single detransition is evidence that no trans child should receive treatment. To them, all the wrong is in giving PBs. They don’t believe children can be really trans. Cass at least admits the possibility.

Dr Cass tells the children that there will be opportunities to get involved with the review. Trans children and their parents should take all opportunities. The haters certainly will.