“Biological men”

What do the anti-trans campaigners seek to achieve by the phrase “male-bodied biological men”? What do ordinary people hear?

When I read Rosie Duffield’s twitter rant against trans people, I thought it was a fig leaf. Complaints would flood in to the Labour Party, and she would say, “Who, me? Transphobic? I have always supported gay rights and human rights, and the rights of all trans people to live freely as they choose. I am only against violent men pretending to be trans.”

Then the Labour Party would say “We don’t believe she has demonstrated hostility or prejudice based on gender reassignment or identity”, quoting their rule book 2.I.8. She has never rebelled against Labour this parliament. She probably has some name recognition in her constituency, but outside it only among people with an obsession with politics. Complaints against MPs are a political issue, and the NEC will not discipline Duffield. After an investigation by the EHRC they take antisemitism seriously, but not transphobia. But when she refers to “lists of murdered women”, no man was pretending to be trans after being murdered, and Naomi Hersi, who still spent some time presenting male, was never included. Andrea Waddell, murdered in 2009, was initially included in the Femicide Census, and only removed in 2020. She is referring to trans women, not pretenders. Here’s the Labour Party complaints policy. Please do complain– you don’t need to be a member of the party- but don’t hold your breath. I have complained.

The phrase “biological men” started out as a way for anti-trans campaigners to make a distinction for themselves. They were not against “genuine transsexuals”, who have had a diagnosis and a genital operation. They were against “self-id”, which would result in people who weren’t genuine transsexuals in women’s spaces. They are far beyond that now. They initially realised there were some people who couldn’t help it (irony alert) and were to be pitied not condemned, but now they are against all trans women.

It could be a compliment. They call us “biological men”, as an admission that legally and socially, from a freedom of the individual and human rights perspective, in ordinary language and in the views of most people who don’t really care, we are women. However more likely it is a despairing assertion that they are rational and scientific. This is to deny the evidence that trans women exist, and always have. Trans women are women. They call us “biological men” to reassure themselves, but we do not disappear, or change our nature.

The anti-trans campaigner goes into a loo and sees a trans woman. And instead of thinking no more of it, like any normal person, she has an extreme emotional reaction, like an arachnophobe seeing a spider. Then she goes on the internet, like a QAnon cultist or anti-vaxxer, and finds others who share her fear and rage, and together they express their perplexity. “But- it’s a Man. A biological man.” Obviously they could not say “Real man”. It’s a verbal tic.

As for “male-bodied”, initially it might have meant not having had a genital operation, but now means a Y chromosome. Even Klinefelter syndrome people, with two X chromosomes, are included.

It’s gaslighting. To write “trans women are men and shouldn’t be in women’s services” is horrible, but just simple hate. Instead she writes “I’ve always fully supported the rights of all trans people,” and until you are used to the tactic there is a weird, destabilising feeling.

Duffield now seeks notoriety among trans people and anti-trans campaigners. So she writes this self-righteous screed, and trans people and our allies take notice, and are disgusted with her. One more stupid hater. What about ordinary people who don’t take an interest in politics, leave alone trans rights?

Most people don’t know what “woke” means, and pay no more attention to the arcane rantings of transphobes than they do to 9/11 conspiracists. Burning aviation fuel might not melt steel, but instead of being intrigued, and reading on, they think about their real lives and real concerns. Then the word “biological” might be confusing. Of course men should not be in women’s spaces, they would say. But trans women? Don’t know, don’t care.

Trans people and Rape Crisis Scotland

“There are a lot of women left completely without access to rape crisis services. What is to become of them?”

You would read that with concern. On the face of it, it is horrifying. But I knew the woman who wrote that is an extremist anti-trans campaigner, and a very little digging showed that she meant this:

“Some women claim that any rape crisis centre which serves trans women is ‘mixed sex’, and they refuse to use it. Rape Crisis centres should exclude trans women, at least some of the time. If they do not, anti-trans campaigners will use people’s sympathy for rape victims to campaign against trans rights.”

But she also wrote, “I’ve been seeing this play out on social media. A working class, survivor-led organisation [anti-trans campaign group] …” They are trying to find rape survivors to claim that they will not use rape crisis Scotland because there might be a trans woman there. They are trying to recruit rape survivors to forego their confidentiality not to speak up about the trauma of rape, rape culture and patriarchy, but to campaign against trans inclusion.

So, I did some digging. Rape Crisis centres in Scotland accept trans women. Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis “welcomes self-identifying women”. Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre says “Trans women will be provided with the same quality of individual and group support as other women.” Rape Crisis Scotland says their member services support women: “This includes those who self-identify as women”, following RCS’s national standards.

In May, Mridul Wadhwa was appointed chief executive of Edinburgh Rape Crisis. Rape Crisis Scotland said they were “Proud to have her as a colleague”. Sandy Brindley, its chief executive, objected to the “targeted harassment” against Mridul. Unfortunately, because she is trans, the hate groups started objecting and seeking publicity. The Times had an article seeking to stir things up, quoting various haters objecting, and a claim that she was not legally entitled to be considered a woman, a claim that is completely without foundation.

And today, tiny hate group Four Women Scotland is making further claims, and quoting a podcast interview of Mridul. The hate group’s site is too insignificant for the Internet Archive to have archived it: I had to ask them to do so. This is their inane ramblings, archived for posterity.
What did Mridul say?

She called rape victims who would not tolerate being in a group with, or being counselled by, trans women, “bigoted people”. Cue howls of outrage by the anti-trans fanatics. I got the transcript from the hate group. It appears incomplete. But it quotes her as saying survivors might have fear of trans people, and “it is okay to hold those things… we will work with you”.

That is, no rape survivor will be excluded, even if they are prejudiced. The brilliant Deborah Frances-White, comedian and podcast host of Guilty Feminist, was entirely in agreement with her.

I hope the haters will be unable to recruit rape survivors to speak about their rape, in order to campaign against trans women. Unfortunately, as many anti-trans campaigners have been raped, perhaps some will use their rape experience to campaign against trans women. That would cheapen and diminish their recovery, to use it against other people in that way.

For now, though, I hope it is just a social media storm. It arises, a few twitter addicts get incredibly worked up, and then it passes as if it had never been. They move on, to be triggered about something else.

Mumsnet Law

Anti-trans campaigners have a peculiar interpretation of the Equality Act. Trans people are entitled to protection from discrimination, but for the anti-trans campaigners that only means no-one is entitled to treat you badly on the grounds that you are a “man”, as they would put it, presenting female or a “woman” presenting male. On transition, trans women, or “trans identified males”, are not entitled to use women’s services because these are described in the Equality Act as “single-sex” or “separate sex” services (schedule 3, paragraphs 26 and 27).

After two years and a diagnosis, you might get your gender recognition certificate, where your gender is declared on the certificate and, unfortunately for Mumsnet lawyers, your sex is also changed by s9 of the Gender Recognition Act. So, for them, the purpose of the Equality Act, schedule 3, paragraph 28 is to allow you to be still excluded from all women’s services. The legitimate aim is to alleviate the distress of cis women who see you there. So, after exclusion, you would have to produce your GRC to show you could not be excluded under paragraphs 26 or 27, and you would still lose a discrimination claim because of paragraph 28.

For the die-hards, the dismissal at a preliminary hearing of Ann Sinnott’s case does not change this. The EHRC guidelines said that trans women could be excluded from women’s services. When trans women go into women’s services, that goes back to tolerance, or that nobody bothers to exclude us, as it was before 2010. A cis woman service user might try a human rights case on her right to privacy if the service provider did not exclude us.

Of course I look at this from the perspective of a trans woman, and am horrified. Could a judge ever accept it? They could say that the plain meaning of the words “single-sex” and “separate sex” requires it. I don’t think that was the intention of the Act. It gives the heading “gender reassignment” then defines a “transsexual person”, who is “a person who has the protected characteristic of gender reassignment”- from the moment we decide to transition. So, the Equality Act confuses gender and sex and does not make the distinction the Mumsnet lawyers make.

Fortunately Sinnott’s case shows that excluding a trans woman from women’s services is indirect discrimination.

Now I consider the concession made by Karon Monaghan, QC for the trans-excluders in the case of FDJ, the recent case on trans women in women’s prisons. The judge said, “As Ms Monaghan QC on behalf of the Claimant pointed out, the relevant legislation (to which I will refer later in this judgment) [including the Equality Act] tends to use the words ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ interchangeably”. So, under the Equality Act, my sex and gender are both female, from the date that Act was enacted or the date I decided to transition, whichever is the earlier. Otherwise, the trans women in women’s prisons described in that case would simply be transferred to men’s prisons, as they do not have GRCs.

There appears to be unlimited money available for cases against trans rights. I feel it is like Donald Trump’s cases against the 2020 election- useless legal action designed to provide cover for his social media campaign. The radicalisation, the fundraising and the legal actions have the aim of increasing hate, even if the cases mostly fail or are irrelevant. If people believe, however disingenuously, that they have the right to complain about trans women using women’s services, they will.

Helen Joyce, “Trans”

Birds swim, fish fly, mammals lay eggs. Nothing natural comes in nice, clear categories. However precisely we define them, every concept has fuzzy edges which challenge our understanding of it. Most or all women are indeed “adult human females”, whatever that means, and some women are trans.

I only did not chuck Joyce’s book across the room because it was on an e-reader. Every paragraph contains falsehoods or inaccuracies or simply misses the point. “This is a book about an idea”, she claims, which she calls “gender identity ideology”, which is simply not the way I see myself or any other trans person.

According to Joyce, “gender identity ideology” is a wide-ranging philosophical system which defines and describes everyone. It “sees everyone as possessing a gender identity,” she claims. However, many women, especially anti-trans campaigners, say they have no particular sense of a gender identity. Therefore gender identity ideology vanishes in a puff of logic. But, since it is her ideology rather than ours, trans people don’t vanish with it. We’re still here.

As a quasi-scientific explanation of humanity used to justify the argument that trans women are women, gender identity ideology only exists in the minds of the anti-trans campaigners. What we have instead is stories. I wanted to transition more than anything else in the world, but the thought terrified me. So I needed stories to justify this decision to myself and fortunately the word “transsexual” was there to help with that. I was a transsexual. There is fiddling with language since- transsexual, transsexual person, transgender, trans woman, whatever- but it made enough sense to me for me to transition. And I wanted stories to tell other people, to explain myself. This is my identity. It feels like who I am. And others observed how much happier and more relaxed I was, expressing myself female.

If “Trans” is a book about an idea, as the first sentence of the introduction says, then it can be put in the bin. It refutes a straw man so ridiculous that no-one need pay any attention to it. So what if Magnus Hirschfeld, Harry Benjamin and John Money had ridiculous ideas. They helped a huge number of people find our true selves. Unfortunately it is a book about people, which seeks to change how trans women are seen and treated, to expel us from the women’s spaces we have been in for decades, officially and as of right since 2010. Yes, all of them: her chapter “We just need to pee” sternly expels us.

Trans people, mostly harmless eccentrics, are portrayed as the great threat, to women and children. She claims studies show children with gender dysphoria mostly “grow out of it”, but such studies were flawed, based on the idea that being trans was a “disorder”, and some children were referred to clinics because they had a few cross-gender behaviours- boys liking dolls, for example- not a consistent, years-long conviction that they were of the other sex.

Rather than ordinary people trying to live our lives, she claims there are “trans activists”, funded by billionaires. The funding is on the other side. Someone I knew got money from a billionaire, paid through an intermediary- but she is an anti-trans campaigner. There was around £20,000 for a Times full page advert, and there are oodles of more or less hopeless cases against trans rights.

“Gender clinics have come under activists’ sway”, she claims, and the result is the mutilation of children! Help! Murder! Polis! What could we possibly gain by transing cis children?

However, in case her hate is showing, she distinguishes “ordinary trans people who simply want safety and social acceptance” from those nasty trans activists. Who are they? They have not had surgery, because people coming out as trans don’t usually “under[go] any sort of medical treatment”, (her claim is untrue) even though those cis children are “fast-tracked to hormones and surgery”.

She discusses David Reimer, whose penis was damaged when he was a baby, so he was brought up as a girl. His parents and teachers maintained the fiction that he was a girl, but he was unhappy and unfeminine, gaining the nickname “Cavewoman”. This is evidence of an innate gender identity, which survives despite socialisation. Joyce denies that. She claims his biology made him a boy. This contradicts much feminist thought, which claims that femininity is the oppression of the patriarchy, and that women have “masculine” characteristics which get suppressed by socialisation. But Joyce claims that being a biological male made him masculine despite his upbringing.

It’s all a ridiculous fantasy, belying Richard Dawkins’ cover quote: “Frighteningly necessary, thoroughly researched, passionate and very brave”. So he’s a transphobe: trans is frightening, restricting us is necessary. Did he even read it?

“Woman: adult human female.” Why is this definition seen as stirring up hatred?

Because that is its intent. It’s like “There ain’t no Black in the Union Jack”- a statement which might seem trite or inane, so obvious as not to need stating, has a particular association for those who weaponise it, and its intended victims. I am a woman, they falsely deny that.

A full page advert in The Times, with many more viewers when circulated on social media, asked that question. There are two stages to this, and the hatred is more overt in one than in the other. First, we need to know the facts.

Trans people have been transitioning for millennia, and since the 1960s in Britain this has been officially recognised. Psychiatrists were supervising trans people and getting our documents changed then, and when I saw my psychiatrist in 2001 he gave me a card saying that it was a normal part of my treatment for gender identity disorder for me to use women’s services. The Equality Act 2010 made this clear: trans women could use women’s “single-sex” spaces unless there was a particular reason to exclude someone. Socially, trans women are women, which means we can live our lives, mostly, freely and without hurting anyone.

The number of transitioned trans people has increased. In 2002, the government estimated there were 2000-5000, and in 2011 GIRES estimated that 12,500 adults had presented for treatment but another 90,000 might later. Now, around 50,000 have. This is an increase by an order of magnitude in twenty years, but is still only around 0.1% of the UK population.

In 2017 the UK Government proposed reforming gender recognition. One possibility was to remove the requirement for a psychiatrist’s opinion before we could get a Gender recognition certificate (GRC). That would be appropriate, because the International Classification of Diseases no longer classes gender dysphoria as an illness. At that moment, the hate campaign really got going. Now, it is obvious on facebook. Some people are vitriolic and obsessive anti-trans campaigners, but perhaps 30% of the population are mildly transphobic– mostly tolerant because they don’t care, but holding a few anti-trans opinions.

On social media, the people supporting the “adult human female” slogan are increasingly radicalised, and the hate is clear. Always, there is an attempt to present trans people as seeking new rights, or predatory men pretending to be trans in order to get into women’s spaces, to create fear and disgust and invoke the cognitive bias of loss aversion. There is the claim that cis women in women’s prisons lose if trans women are housed there, and endless reference to Karen White. White is a rapist, and should not have been in the women’s general population, but the campaigners argue we are all like that which is a standard tactic to dehumanise a minority group. There is constant reference to Laurel Hubbard, and the claim that her inclusion makes women’s sports unfair, though there are hardly any trans people in sports at any level.

However, there is another stage. They want to normalise the idea that trans women should not be in women’s spaces. This is Joanna Cherry’s line: she claims to support trans rights, while demanding that trans women be excluded from women’s spaces. That is behind the demand to distinguish gender from sex, and the insistence that trans women are men.

The last Labour government fostered an inclusive society, where prejudice was seen as a bad thing. It stopped being normal to express bigoted views about LGBT or BAME people. People are willing to let others live their own lives and make their own choices, and if those choices are different from the ones they would make people are less likely to condemn. For the hard right to change that takes huge effort. The right wing press has for decades presented immigration as a threat, and now is doing the same to trans people.

This requires repeated monstering, mockery and hatred. But someone who minimises trans people’s needs might not realise they were hateful. Consciously, instead of hate and fear they might feel slight distaste, pity, indifference to our pleas, contempt and a sense that we were deluded and ridiculous. It is this indifference which the advert is designed to arouse. The groups behind it refer slightingly to “men’s feelings”, denying the desperation we feel before we transition. Once this stage is reached, we become the out-group, the people it is normal to despise. Refugees, whom even the BBC calls “migrants”, are already in this position. After trans people, who will be next?

Another advantage the hard right gain from such propaganda is to demoralise and split the Left. The Green Party is conflicted, and has lost its co-leader Sian Berry. There are efforts in the Labour party to create similar conflict.

Anti-trans radicalisation

Anti-trans fantasies that the law is what they might hope it to be are so prevalent that there is a name for them, “Mumsnet Law”.

Here is a sample. OTSOTA tweets, “Sex is a legally protected characteristic. Transgender ie someone who has legally been certified after assessment as a person of biological SEX LIVING AS a member of the opposite SEX for 2yrs intending such to death, is a CONDITIONAL protected characteristic Self-ID = no legality”. When someone replied with a quote from the Equality and Human Rights Commission, he said this is “fraudulent”, and saying it “ignites a witch hunt against women”. Weirdly, he claims a degree in Law. What he says is not true.

So I went to Mumsnet, where they were responding to the prisons judgment. “Legally, we need ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ to be crystal clear. We need absolutely watertight definitions that are clearly understood by everyone. They need to be applied to every relevant policy and piece of legislation.” ArabellaScott wants “single-sex spaces” to exclude every trans woman. Fortunately, she does not think that is the law now. Because they have been confronted with the actual law, on that thread they fantasise about other things- “The 97 other assualts (sic) might all have been trans women with GRC”. They have no sympathy for trans women- “These 7 assaults were avoidable”, one says, but none mention the eleven assaults on trans women in men’s prisons in one year. Some of the 97 sexual assaults recorded in women’s prisons might have been against trans women.

They are radicalising, encouraging each other to hate more.

On another thread they discuss protected characteristics in a school. TheInebriati fantasises about the law, saying schools must provide “single sex”- no trans girls!- toilets. But CharlieParley is mostly correct, saying that once a trans person decides to socially transition they are protected. They are wrong to correct “The Act protects transgender people.” They write, “Well, to be precise, the Act protects transsexual people”. The characteristic is gender reassignment, and the Act conflates sex and gender.

GrownUpBeans fantasises- “Gender identity is protected as a belief.” No, anti-trans beliefs may be protected in some cases, but gender identity (reassignment) is a protected characteristic in its own right.

StumbledIn links to the protected characteristic of sex in the Equality Act, without any commentary. Elsewhere, this is a basis for fantasy law.

Oldwomanwhoruns claims “gender reassignment” is not relevant, because children cannot undergo gender reassignment. This is false. Children can decide to reassign.

2fallsagain is correct- “there are still situations where a male person can be legitimately excluded from a female space”- but could mislead. Trans women are not excluded from women’s services on the grounds that we are “male”, because we are not. “Gender reassignment does not trump sex”, they say. Well. Trans women are entitled to use women’s services, but can be excluded if there is a particular reason for it. CharlieParley corrects them.

Saltyslug has confused the Equality Act and the Gender Recognition Act. “Gender reassignment is a formal process involving specialist consultants, gender dysphoria and usually takes two years to get the certificate”. They are wrong. We are protected under the Equality Act from the moment we decide to transition. We do not need a gender recognition certificate. After BadGherkin corrects them, they refer to the gender recognition application process.

A brief look finds Mumsnutters misstating the law. The radicalisation, which was in full flow on the prisons thread, was mitigated on the legal  thread, as two posters corrected the worst errors, but the fantasists did not listen. That tweet, so self-righteous and so wrong, indicates how deluded some people are about the law. Such delusions may lead to angry outbursts at trans people in public.

Trans women in English prisons

Dark money is funding court actions against government bodies, human rights organisations and women’s rights organisations, seeking to make trans lives harder. These cases are often terribly weak, but each win only reverts back to the status quo, and may contain a tiny thing the trans-excluders can use, in their desperate attempts to harm trans people.

There was a case seeking to exclude trans women prisoners from women’s prisons, which failed. The judge took time to compliment the QC for the trans-excluders, who presented the case with her “customary skill”. He did that because he needed to comment that “the weakness of the arguments is the failure to give sufficient weight to the way in which the policies permit, and indeed require, the necessary balancing of competing rights.” (Judgment, paragraph 91.)

The trans-excluders lose, because they cannot see the need to consider the needs or rights of vulnerable trans people. They may continue fomenting anger and fear against trans people, and raising large sums of cash, but apparently are not good at assessing whether a case is worth pleading. It appears money is no object for them. One witness they led gave irrelevant and inadmissible evidence (72)- I imagine them railing against the human rights of trans people, ineffectually.

What do we learn from the case? The court accepts a distinction between the words “sex” and “gender”, and quoted another case claiming sex relates to “physical characteristics, including chromosomal, gonadal and genital features” while gender “is used to refer to the individual’s self-perception.” In reality, I am just as much a “real woman” as a cis woman is, and gender refers to a wide range of cultural norms and expressions including the norm that trans women are women. However the claimant conceded that the Equality Act uses the words interchangeably. Perhaps all the trans women on GIC waiting lists should start calling themselves “transsexual women”.

47% of women prisoners are serving indeterminate sentences or sentences of four years or more. That is, they are dangerous women serving sentences for serious crime. They included the claimant in this case, who has recently been released back into the community on licence. The claimant argued that seeing a trans woman in a woman’s prison amounted to “torture” under the Human Rights Act, despite the seriousness of the crimes committed by cis women, and the fear they might raise in others. The prison system is full of violent offenders.

The average length of a custodial sentence for women is 11.3 months. That is, most women sent to prison are sent there for less serious offences. However most women actually in prison are there for serious offences.

With that context, the offences of trans women actually in prison seem to fit the profile of cis women. There are no central statistics of how many women prisoners have a gender recognition certificate, but it is thought to be fewer than ten (para 13).

In March 2019, there were 163 transgender prisoners, of whom 81 had been convicted of one or more sexual offences. There were no details of whether those prisoners were currently imprisoned for sexual offences. 129 were in men’s prisons, of whom 74 had been convicted of a sexual offence, so there were seven trans women in women’s prisons then who had been convicted of a sexual offence at some time in the past.

Between 2016 and 2019 there were 97 sexual assaults recorded in women’s prisons. Seven of these were committed by trans women without a GRC, four by one prisoner. In 2019, eleven trans women were recorded as sexually assaulted in men’s prisons. No trans woman was recorded as having committed a sexual assault in a women’s prison (14). In March 2019, there were 34 trans women without a GRC in women’s prisons.

Mr Justice Swift gave the opinion that the prison service should keep a record of how many trans women with a GRC are in women’s prisons (103). The problem is that this may result in their being outed, which could be a criminal offence.

Both judges said that there could be a “significant psychological impact” on a cis woman seeing a trans woman in a women’s prison (76-77; 100). This should not be overstated. They have made a decision on the relevant facts for the purpose of this case, so it should be read as even if there is a significant psychological impact on cis prisoners, the rules are still fair. However it is still horrible to read that I am scaring cis women as I go about my daily life, when they see me in women’s services. If that were the case, trans women would have been ejected from women’s services before now: I have been in women’s spaces for twenty years.

Trans women in prison are not allowed to shower with cis women (38).

The prison service has a rule (9) that “Women prisoners shall normally be kept separate from male prisoners.” However this is not the same as invoking the Equality Act single-sex exemptions, as the claimant demanded (44). No person in charge of a service, including the prisons minister, had any obligation to apply those exemptions (88). This will make it considerably harder for the trans excluders to win cases against any women’s service that admits trans women, though I doubt it will stop them trying. I worried that this court action would blur the distinction between the Equality Act rules allowing men to be excluded, and the rule allowing trans women to be excluded. Fortunately it did not, because it was so misconceived.

The trans excluders tried to argue that statistically, a trans woman was five times more likely than a cis prisoner to sexually assault a cis prisoner. The judge called this “a misuse of the statistics” (75). They tried to argue that there was indirect discrimination, as cis women were more affected by trans women than cis men were by trans men, and failed: perhaps they are, but the prisons service has to look after the needs of trans women.

Effectively, the trans excluders lost because putting trans women in women’s prisons follows the legitimate aim of ensuring the safety and welfare of all prisoners, including the trans women (87). The prisons service demonstrated that the means adopted are reasonable, at least from the point of view of any challenge by non-trans prisoners.

Trans women will continue to be in men’s prisons, and continue to live in fear there, and be assaulted, often sexually. But the excluders have failed in their attempt to make more trans women live in such fear and threat.

Dr Sarah Lamble of the Bent Bars Collective intervened in the interests of trans prisoners. She is a reader in Criminology and Queer Theory. She argued that the lack of reliable data prevented assessing the risk of trans prisoners as a group. Because there are more trans prisoners than are recorded, the proportion who had committed sexual offences is likely to be lower than the claimant had asserted. There is no reliable basis for claims by trans excluders that trans women have “male patterns of criminality”.

When a trans woman without a GRC asks to be placed in a women’s prison, the prison service will continue to be assessed by a Local Transgender Case Board and/or a Transgender Complex Case Board (24). It seems that such boards err on the side of placing trans women in men’s prisons, placing those trans women at risk. This court case could never lessen the risk to vulnerable trans women, but at least it has not made it worse.

The Guardian misled with these figures. It did not mention the assaults on trans women in men’s prisons. It did not show that the number of trans women convicted of a sexual offence in women’s prisons was only seven.

The word “TERF”

I will no longer use the word “TERF”.

It is a good word to express contempt, with that plosive T. Someone is only a terf, an enemy, a deluded person. They claim it is a slur, and use it to claim victimhood- see the horrible things they call us! “Punch a TERF!” they quote, endlessly.

It stands for “trans-excluding radical feminist”, and one objection I have to it is that anti-trans campaigners are not necessarily radical feminists. Some are conservative Evangelicals, and some have no particular feminist views other than hating opposing trans people. They are sucked up by social media radicalisation. Radical feminism is a world view, centring women’s oppression in the reproductive system, with particular attitudes to paying for sex, surrogacy, and violence against women and girls. One might engage with it. Often, you cannot engage with trans excluders, whose only relevant philosophy is no trans women in women’s spaces, not never not nohow, and no treatment for trans children (usually not trans men either) because they cannot believe trans children exist.

I changed “hating trans people” to “opposing trans people”. The most horrible attitude in them is dismissal: they talk of “single-sex” spaces excluding “men” as if trans people did not exist. They pretend to dispassion. There is a ghastly and complete lack of sympathy. Their one priority is protecting [cis] women.

I don’t like the term “gender critical feminist”. Some only take in feminism through social media posts, never reading more widely. And, believing that gender is an oppressive social construct need not mean that you are hostile to trans women in women’s spaces. Instead, it could mean that you welcome us, as we subvert gender norms.

Their idea of “gender ideology” deludes them. They claim trans people are divorced from reality, but the only thing you need to believe to accept trans women in women’s spaces is that trans people exist, and are mostly harmless.

Some anti-trans campaigners object to being called “gender critical” too, because they want to conceal the fact that their expressed desires affect no-one but trans people. So they claim to be campaigners for “sex-based rights” or “women’s rights”, pretending that their desired ends might give protection from “predatory men” rather than harm trans people.

They dislike the term “trans excluders”, arguing that common sense excludes “trans identified males” from “women’s spaces”, but trans women have been in women’s spaces mostly harmlessly for decades, so in effect they campaign to drive us out. So they are anti-trans campaigners, whatever they claim about respecting trans people or supporting trans rights.

The worst of them spread vile myths, and incite fear of us by constant reference to the worst of us. They may identify with Maria MacLachlan to claim vicarious victimhood, even martyrdom. It is a common tactic in anti-trans campaigning. Consumed by a sense of their own righteousness, many of them have lost all sense of proportion. And yet, each is an individual, with human vulnerability and with some capacity of empathy. Unfortunately, people’s empathy is usually shut down if they feel threatened, and mainstream media keeps them constantly triggered.

The media thrives on drama, and the simplest drama is confrontation. The media obsesses on anti-trans v trans. So the BBC had a profile of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and used the time as if the three most important things about her were “Half of a Yellow Sun”, “Americanah”, and her remark in 2017 that “trans women are trans women”.

Our empathy can be shut down too. This weakens us, making us angrier and less creative. Both sides are victims. They are wrongdoers- victims of violent men, they refuse to draw a distinction when considering harmless trans women. Then their sense of victimhood and standing up for their rights feeds off reasonable or angry demands that they cease their exclusionary campaign, or be silenced. But their initial victimhood is real, serious, and worthy of empathy.

I have removed the word “terf” from front page links, and from my tags, replacing it with anti-trans campaigner. I have left it in the titles of older posts.

Picture today: I see resonances, but I picked this because I have just watched the great film “All about Eve”.

The attack on Stonewall

Stonewall, the LGBT charity, supports trans rights, and helps companies by advising on discrimination law. This gets it an income of millions, which it spends on charitable campaigning. Because it supports trans rights, it is under sustained attack from well-funded anti-trans campaigners, and any mistake it makes is exploited.

In response, it should rigorously divide its campaigning from its advice arms. When advising, it should take a more judicial position, rather than advocating for LGBT rights. It should invest in technical expertise to make clear the legal underpinning of its advice. Rather than saying “You should do this”, the advice section might say, “If you do this, these are the risks”. There are risks in all courses of action.

In Winter 2019/20, Essex University cancelled the invitations of two transphobe academics to speak. One was to speak on trans women in prison. The other was to speak on a panel on “The state of antisemitism today”. It is worrying that the report of barrister Akua Reindorf bleeps out the ordinary descriptive word terf, quoting “’Shut the **** up, ****’.” Terf is simply a word for trans excluder or anti-trans campaigner. Treating it as a slur or rude word reduces the language trans people can use to oppose the removal of our rights, and attempts to drive us out of ordinary society.

[Update 2 July 2021: The Vice-chancellor of Essex University, Anthony Forster, has apologised to trans students and staff and committed to working with Stonewall.]

Reindorf makes Stonewall’s imprecision on the law look far worse than it is. She writes, “In my view the [Supporting trans and non binary staff] policy states the law as Stonewall would prefer it to be, rather than the law as it is. To that extent the policy is misleading.” (Para 243.11)

However, when we consider the actual imprecisions she names, it does not look nearly so bad. For example, Reindorf explains that the policy protects “gender identity” rather than “gender reassignment”.

The Equality Act is well enough drafted, but capable of attack by non-lawyers. Reindorf explains “gender reassignment” clearly enough, but merely quoting the name might make people think we were protected only from my gender reassignment surgery, rather than our decisions to transition. In effect, gender identity is protected, because no-one knows it until we decide to transition, the moment our protection starts. Non binary is protected, as the employment tribunal has decided.

The policy, on Stonewall’s advice, says that denying a trans woman access to women’s loos is discrimination”. Reindorf states this is inaccurate, because “the protected characteristic is gender reassignment”, but that is a distinction without a difference.

Reindorf mentions the provision allowing a trans woman to be excluded from women’s spaces where it is a “proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim”, but does not suggest that anywhere in the University of Essex there would be such a legitimate aim. If anyone wanted to argue such an aim, possibly the university might have a moral obligation to hear them out, but no legal obligation under the Equality Act or anywhere else to argue such an aim or exclude trans women. It has a positive legal obligation not to unlawfully discriminate against trans women.

Reindorf also mentions health and safety legislation, which in 1992 required employers to provide toilets on a single-sex basis. But insofar as that might prevent trans women from using women’s toilets and changing rooms, it is superseded by the Equality Act.

Any organisation which wishes to exclude trans women from women’s spaces must identify and prove both a legitimate aim, a reason for doing so, and that excluding a trans woman is a proportionate means to that aim. If they cannot, they are discriminating unlawfully and could be liable for damages. Stonewall is entitled to advise that. There are no cases where a legitimate aim has been found, so it is hard to argue what such an aim might be, but the distress of a traumatised woman on seeing a trans woman whom she sees as a man in a women’s changing room may not be, because the trans woman’s feelings and needs are of equal value to the alleged traumatised woman.

There is huge glee in transphobe circles about Stonewall’s advice to exclude the transphobic speakers being called in question. A former Tory MP and regular columnist for The Times wrote there that Stonewall should stop working for trans rights. Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he? The Times publishes a barrage of anti-trans propaganda.

In any case, as Neil Gorsuch so clearly explained, discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity is discrimination on the grounds of sex.

The terfs (no need for ***) will continue assaulting trans rights and claiming trans women are dangerous. Generally, all Stonewall need do is make clear the technical basis of its advice.

The ALBA party manifesto and transgender

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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