Tara Wolf

Tara Wolf, a trans woman, has been convicted of assault of Maria MacLachlan. There are estimated to be 1.2m violent incidents in a year in England and Wales, including 13,000 assaults with a blade with intent to cause serious harm; yet this minor assault reaches the pages of The Times. It was tried before a district judge, a professional lawyer, rather than a magistrate, which shows the case’s sensitivity, but still. The article starts,

A transgender activist was branded a “violent thug” yesterday after being found guilty of attacking a 60-year-old woman at a rally.

Tara Wolf, 26, who was born male but identifies as female,

Why the need to explain? Most people will understand the term “trans woman”, and anyone who doesn’t would hardly be interested in the article. Thank goodness they don’t know her dead name. Who “branded”- I think they mean “called”- her a violent thug? Her victim, who has not behaved with grace. That bit’s at the end of the article: The judge also said, however, that Ms MacLachlan showed “bad grace” for failing to use her attacker’s preferred pronoun during the trial. Ms MacLachlan, speaking outside court, told of her disgust at being forced to address her attacker as a woman.

“It was particularly offensive because he is a violent male,” she said. “I have no problem addressing some of my trans friends as ‘she’. I have made a few trans friends as a result of this incident who have been very supportive and I completely respect them.

“They are not pretending to be women. He is a violent thug.”

Well, if you want people to sympathise when someone misgenders you, don’t assault them. Tara herself showed little remorse, issuing a statement which I have only seen on facebook: Throughout the trial, the claimant and witnesses in support of her spitefully referred to Ms Tara Wolf using “he” pronouns, despite being instructed to desist in this behaviour by the district judge. These bigots were offered the opportunity to refer to Ms Wolf as “The defendant”, an inoffensive gender neutral term, but persisted in their campaign of harassment against Ms Wolf by repeatedly misgendering her, intent on continuing to cause psychological harm against the defendant.

Well, Boo-Hoo. If you’re that much of a shrinking violet that psychological harm ensues from being misgendered by people who are never going to pass up the opportunity,

don’t assault one of them!

I mean, really. It’s not rocket-science!

Tara quotes the judge as saying she had caused “low harm” by her assault, and had “low culpability”, but she was still convicted. Tara says the fine was £150, and neglects to mention the £30 victim surcharge and £250 costs, which must not be “grossly disproportionate” to the fine or a sum beyond the capacity of the defendant to repay within a year. The fine depends on the defendant’s disposable income, so it is not clear whether it is large or not. £30 is the minimum surcharge, which is not paid directly to the victim. Instead, Maria could make a claim to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.

It’s odd that Maria’s criterion for deciding whether to call a trans woman “she” is whether they claim to be women. If they don’t, and don’t offend her in any other way, she will deign to use female pronouns.

The Daily Mail’s headline was that Tara had “walked free from court”, as if all such minor assaults should end in clink. What would our prison population be then? 1.2 million, perhaps, a greater proportion of the population than even the USA. The Mail’s report gives considerably more detail, including the judge’s statement I suspect if that was the only altercation that was recorded during that event, it would not have resulted in this trial. So far from prison, in fact, that she was only prosecuted to make an example of someone. The commenters are still disappointed.

The videos appear to show MacLachlan holding a trans woman in a head lock but the judge “rejected evidence” of that. At the verdict, Julia Long, a passionate transphobe, shouted “Guilty, guilty, violent. The man is guilty, I don’t care.” Then she and her companions went to the court’s balcony and shouted “Guilty, guilty of male violence!”

Me too

I have been sexually assaulted. One man sought to use his power to gain sexual favours from me. Another I despised treated me as sexually available, simply because I am trans.

I am glad to be able to say, Me too. I am an asylum seeker, not a colonist. I accept difficulties of being a woman. I do not have it as hard as women do; one experience of a man’s power, and he did no more than hold my hand, though I felt-

I do not know what I felt, but I did not want to see him again. It is hard to put it into words. Something inside me is screaming in revulsion. Something is saying, oh don’t make a fuss, it was not that big a deal. He just held my hand, and later told me I did not snatch it away, so he felt encouraged. He was concerned that any contact be consensual, or appear so, but he inveigled me into his house with the possibility of a job I would value. He used his power to place me in a position where

I got off lightly.

I am aware of terms like “the casting couch” and “sleeping her way to the top” as if it were the women exploiting the men. In the acting profession, physical attractiveness is one of the main reasons to employ someone. This is part of the patriarchy, and when women are angry I get nervous. I got off lightly, I have not had the experiences I read of, I have been devalued and feel besmirched, but not raped.

I was sexually humiliated when presenting male, around the age of thirty. I went into Manchester for a formal dinner, and was walking across Piccadilly Gardens in my kilt, black jacket and bow tie when a group of men started asking if I was wearing anything underneath it. One, larger than me, came up to me, took hold of me, put his head next to mine-

whispered soft, calming words that unmanned any resistance

and put his hand up my kilt to find that I was indeed wearing underpants. “Yes, he is,” he shouted to his laughing friends. I did not resist. He assaulted me, and I feel shame. Well, now that’s done: and I’m glad it’s over.

And anger. I never wore pants below a kilt again.

I have the Ars Amatoria by Ovid, one of those books which was forbidden in English translation as obscene but permitted in Latin, for the upper classes. I remember a bit of it which I paraphrased as, you must take care when seeking a wife, or even a mistress, but for a quick shag anything in a skirt will do. I opened it at random, and by one of the paintings by Graham Baker, of a man pulling a woman’s garment from her though she was holding hands with another man, I read

women are often pleased
By force, and like what they’re giving to be seized.
The girl whose citadel is stormed
By sheer audacity feels warmed,

and would be “sad” to have escaped intact. Other pictures show a woman kneeling to fellate a man, and a genuflecting man lifting a woman’s skirt. How should a woman laugh? No “grotesque guffaw” or “raucous, unpleasing sound” is permissible, only a sort of light trill, as is befitting to their sex.

The paintings are pastiches of Greek pottery.

The problem is imbalance of power, and the powerful exploiting their power. I have no power. I am old enough not to be continually bothered, and more likely to be assaulted as a trans person than assaulted sexually. I am big enough to fight someone off, perhaps, though I have always run away, or submitted.

It has not been as bad for me, as it is for other women.