We zoomed for an hour. She ranted for the first twenty minutes.
I saw how paltry were her Gotchas. The absolute facts, which show she and her like are in the right, are victims, include Tara Wolf’s assault. She named Tara’s victim. Then there was a point of their Badness, or their Goodness, which I don’t care about but somehow we both had at our fingertips. So called “Gender-critical” demonstrators were racist at Black Lives Matter demonstrators! BLM has repudiated that, she claims. I really don’t care, but it shows our level of detail and the lengths we go to.
She has a logical basis to her arguments which misses out a great deal of reality but appeals to such people. What is a woman is based on genes, gonads and genitals. Even intersex women are women because of primary or secondary sexual characteristics at birth. Trans women are men, so should no more be in women’s spaces than a seahorse in a stable (my analogy: I cannot resist these plays with words).
She knows that vulnerable women need a space where they will be completely certain that no trans woman could ever come. I questioned her on that. She admitted there are so few trans women, but still asserted the possibility a trans woman might enter would take away the safety.
Then she claims a right to organise as a protected characteristic- to meet and campaign- which I cannot find in the Equality Act. Her protected characteristic is sex, so women with these views should be able to meet and campaign together without objection. She also seems to misunderstand the provisions about excluding trans women from women’s spaces, which assume that trans women are women.
She is wrong about all this, but her certainty is undentable. That we are a tiny, vulnerable minority, and that we can evade transition only by continuing suffering, does not matter to her at all. She is the victim. Lesbians are victims. I say, what about Diva, the lesbian magazine, and Stonewall, whose chief executive was Ruth Hunt, a lesbian, from 2014, now succeeded by Nancy Kelley, also a lesbian. They don’t speak for her, and she resents this.
She dismisses my Gotchas. Right wing? WoLF took a strategic decision, as they could not get funding anywhere else, that one time. Then she mentions a self-hating trans, as if she does not remember that trans writes repetitive, derivative rubbish for The Spectator. I talk of the Times, and she says it is less anti-trans after the editor changed.
On the Labour Party, she does not think she damages it by launching her “Declaration” at the start of the election campaign. Rather, she thinks she is saving it. She tries to persuade socialist campaigners to remain in the party. Three hundred left in one day! On that, I was the dismissive one- three hundred out of half a million.
Then she views her tiny, hating minority as brave lone campaigners. She was at the LGB All Liars launch! There were [self-hating] trans women there! There are lots of lesbian organisations! They are tiny, and it’s always the same dreary obsessives, but she does not see that.
I sat in silence unable to think of anything useful to say. She thinks her lot are the oppressed ones, unable to see how the hard Right are using them. For example, when I wrote to my MP the minister wrote back using the term “single-sex services”, trans excluder jargon claiming there is a rigid distinction between gender and sex and that it matters, rather than “women’s services”. Can there be a meeting of minds? Almost certainly not. That hour on zoom from 8.30, followed by my messing about until midnight, probably contributed to my misery the following day.
I am reading “Always Coming Home” by Ursula LeGuin, in which a woman from an egalitarian society, where wealth is counted in what they give away, goes to a militaristic, theocratic, hierarchical society where wealth is what they take from others and retain. Women are not allowed outside, and are veiled in the presence of men. She writes of the “general of the women”,
If we could have worked and talked together and come to know each other I think it would have been better, for she was not a spiteful person. But that was prevented by our misunderstanding, fixed and made incurable by her jealousy of her power, and my shame.
The least privileged cling to their few privileges, against each other. So much of that book is relevant:
But since the Dayao did not talk decisions over in public council, as people usually do, there was no way for disagreements to come together into agreement. So ideas became opinions, and these made factions, which diverged and became fixed opponents.
I don’t know that talking is possible. I know that our marginalisation is the same. I know that she cannot gain rights by taking away mine. My concept of how we might come together, fighting for the rights of both, involves her welcoming trans women in. Hers involves me campaigning behind that self-hater. I am trapped in the zero-sum game. Could we work for the good of the Labour party?