Maya Forstater

I have a philosophical belief that Maya Forstater is a transphobe. Her employment ceased because of her transphobia, and the Employment Tribunal has found against her enraged, entitled challenge to her dismissal. Like all “gender-critical” transphobes she thinks of herself as a martyr, but she was sacked, rightly, for being willing to humiliate and disregard others unfortunate enough to encounter her.

Forstater believes that no-one can change sex, and that trans women are men. The judge questioned what she thought of disorders of sexual development, and found she accepts they exist, but believes everyone, even those with such disorders, has one sex or the other (para 41). The judge questioned whether such a belief could be described as “scientific”, as she does, but decided that the belief was sufficiently coherent to qualify as a belief, even if it is wrong (para 83).

Forstater claimed (para 78) that her belief that trans women are men was important because it was necessary to support her sense of self. That is the transphobia. Rather than seeing a trans woman in women’s space and accepting that’s probably OK, lawful, and completely unthreatening to anyone, she starts to feel her sense of self threatened. She wants to object, and possibly she wants the trans woman excluded.

This is illustrated by her dispute with Gregor Murray, a non-binary person, who complained about her to the Scout Association. She had referred to them with the pronoun “he” in a tweet (paras 35 and 89). It is not clear from the judgment what happened before the complaint, but responding to the complaint she said, I reserve the right to use the pronouns “he” and “him” to refer to male people. While I may choose to use alternative pronouns as a courtesy, no one has the right to compel others to make statements they do not believe.

The judge decided, para 90, I conclude from this, and the totality of the evidence, that the Claimant is absolutist in her view of sex and it is a core component of her belief that she will refer to a person by the sex she considered appropriate even if it violates their dignity and/or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. The approach is not worthy of respect in a democratic society.

This is the basis of his decision. Forstater is entitled to hold her belief, to state it, and even to act on the basis of it in many situations: not all harassment is unlawful. But she was claiming in tribunal that this was a philosophical belief protected under the Equality Act, and that she had a right not to lose her job because of her belief. The judge has decided that her belief fits all the criteria for protected beliefs (para 50) except the last: it must be worthy of respect in a democratic society, not be incompatible with human dignity and not conflict with the fundamental rights of others. She might even have a claim of indirect discrimination- she asserted women are more likely to hold such beliefs, and that claim was not part of this preliminary hearing. There are other issues between the parties and the case may continue. The only decision is that her belief that trans women are men is not protected under the Equality Act.

She “believes” that she can call me a man and I have no right to object. If she had a right to act on that belief in all circumstances, my right to not be harassed would be worthless. The judge says (para 87) It is obvious how important being accorded their preferred pronouns and being able to describe their gender is to many trans people. Calling a trans woman a man is likely to be profoundly distressing. It may be unlawful harassment. Even paying due regard to the qualified right to freedom of expression, people cannot expect to be protected if their core belief involves violating others dignity and/or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them.

I say if a trans woman is distressed by being called “he” she should grow a pair, or perhaps, “grow them back”. Some people will take any opportunity to distress you once they see they can do so that easily. Then again, perhaps I could distress Maya: I would look her in the eye and say, calmly, “I am a woman”; and her brain would explode as her “sense of self” disintegrated.

She stated there was an opposite belief which people held which she thought was wrong (para 5); Some people believe that everyone has an inner “gender”, which may be the same as or different to their sex at birth, and that gender effectively trumps sex, so that “trans men are men” and “trans women are women”. Typically such proponents believe that that “trans women are women” from the moment they identify as women (if not before). That’s not what I believe. I believe culture enforces gender roles and stereotypes from birth, and that because culture limits the way people who don’t fit those stereotypes can act, some people transition. It’s not necessary to believe anything to treat a trans woman with respect, and using the wrong pronouns deliberately can be harassment.

To me it is entirely reasonable not to renew someone’s contract because you reasonably fear she might harass, disrespect, or even distress a client. The Daily Mail exaggerated to the point of lying: Britons have no right to ask whether a transgender person is male or female, said their headline. Their first sentence was gibberish: A landmark ruling (No, an employment tribunal, not even an employment appeal tribunal) has found that there is no right to question whether a transgender person is a man or a woman. There is a right, it is just limited under certain circumstances, as your right to swing your fist ends in my personal space. You can assert I am a man, but there are situations when that is objectionable.

The Mail journalist, not understanding, even manages to say something Ms Forstater might find offensive: If the employment judge had sided with Miss Forstater, firms would have been barred from sacking staff if they expressed the belief that there are only two genders, even if some people found that offensive. The anti-trans campaigners have to educate even their allies on the difference between sex and gender.

The Telegraph got the law mostly right, but devoted paragraphs to expressing Ms Forstater’s anger and distress. So did the Guardian. That will give some readers the required dopamine hit of anger against trans people.

The Guardian quoted Index on Censorship, which supported Ms Forstater’s claim: From what I have read of [Forstater’s] writing, I cannot see that Maya has done anything wrong other than express an opinion that many feminists share – that there should be a public and open debate about the distinction between sex and gender. That is arguable. It points up how narrow the judgment is. It has not even decided that the termination was reasonable and lawful, only that her argument that it was unlawful because her belief was protected has failed. In the emotional atmosphere, few supporters of Forstater will see this nice distinction.

JK Rowling tweeted, Dress however you please.
Call yourself whatever you like.
Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you.
Live your best life in peace and security.
But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real?

That is the misunderstanding the phobes will push. Getting the truth out to barely interested parties will be difficult. Some, er, trans-critical-curious people may be radicalised by this lie. The row about Rowling being transphobic, now reported in the Guardian, only increases the exposure of Forstater. Whether Forstater had won or lost this case, the reporting would have been a disaster.

Here is the judgment.

The Centre for Global Development, the Respondent in Forstater’s claim, has made statements about the case.

15 November: the hearing begins.

18 December: CGD and CGDE pride themselves as workplaces that support and advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in both policy and practice. We have always disputed the claimant’s allegations, and are grateful Judge Tayler has ruled in our favor regarding this particular matter. We look forward to continuing to make our case in the Tribunal as the Claimant’s employment status is considered next month.

Employment status affects what rights Forstater has and what action she might win in an employment tribunal. It’s the difference between a “contract of service” and a “contract for services”- it’s quite technical. CGD and CGDE maintain that Ms. Forstater does not have the necessary employment status to pursue these claims as she was an unpaid visiting fellow and occasional paid consultant.

3 January 2020. Another decision on protected beliefs: Casamitjana v The League against cruel sports. A short summary judgment found ethical veganism, which is not solely about eating but also about using animal products or products tested on animals. The LACS did not contest the point, and a short summary judgment was issued confirming ethical veganism is a protected belief. I could not find it today on BAILII or the Gov.UK ET decisions site.

Emma and the Muslim

Emma Sherdley worked for a women-only driving instructor’s group. Many women would prefer a female driving instructor. A Muslim student stopped the two hour lesson after one hour, saying she had to go home to breast-feed her baby, then her husband complained to the employer that Emma was not a woman. The husband then sued.

Cue a giggly, nudge-nudge story from the Daily Mail, which gave her dead-name, and quoted the exact words of his original phoned complaint: “You have sent me a man. Send a proper female. How dare you send me a man with a deep voice.”

Emma told the Mail, “I always knew as a child that I was a woman stuck in a man’s body”. Generally, the story is positive about Emma, whose employer praises her as “friendly, professional and patient”. The employer gets the last word: “For [Emma] to be subjected to abuse and threats is simply intolerable”.

I don’t like the idea of a woman needing her husband to book her driving lesson. The husband sounds like a transphobic bully. But of all the Daily Mail articles on trans women, most of which mock and deride us, this is the one I find most loathesome, for it uses us to give a Muslim a kicking. The Mail clearly hates Muslims even more than trans people.

The story went around the world, to Lifesite News in the US. It referred to “Emma” as “he” throughout, and gave this explanation:

The practice of “gender reassignment” or sex-change therapy comes from the popular opinion among psychiatrists that there is a distinction between a person’s sex and his “gender”. The theory, promoted heavily by the homosexualist movement, is that sex is genetically and hormonally determined from conception, while gender is culturally conditioned and is therefore malleable. Hence the theory of “gender dysphoria” where a person feels as though he was born with a sex that conflicts with his “gender”.

It then quotes the director of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University calling “transsexualism” a symptom of personality disorder, and says the concept of malleable gender grew from the radical feminist movement in the 1970s. Tell that to my radical feminist chums.

The Police UK forum demonstrated perfect “I’m not prejudiced” language. “The law says she’s a lady now… though she needs to sort her makeup out. She looks like something out of Gilbert and Sullivan in that photo.”

“Would you have been totally happy with a trans gender turning up? It wouldn’t bother me although I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it made a few people uncomfortable.” Me? Prejudiced? Never.

Even the one wading in at great length to defend us, in sensible tones, used unfortunate language: The law is not an ass in this respect – it has simply been modified so that it can take a more enlightened and sophisticated approach to gender designation rather than the mind-numbingly simplistic “if it’s got a willy it’s a fella” theory grunted by numbskull Sun readers. I would rather Brutus had not referred to willies, but there you go.

This was ten years ago. We are more in the news now, with the manufactured debate about gender recognition, but the language has not changed much. Emma died aged 51 last year, much loved Mum of Katie and Rachel. Donations to Trans-Positive Bradford.

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!”

Bullying in Schools

The Church of England supports homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in schools shock! It would not admit that-

The church has just published “Valuing All God’s Children”, which says some lovely things. Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, said in the introduction, Every one of us is loved unconditionally by God. We must avoid, at all costs, diminishing the dignity of any individual to a stereotype or a problem. Church of England schools offer a community where everyone is a person known and loved by God, supported to know their intrinsic value. In the context, that means trans kids are accepted for who they are. The guidance, according to their press release, aims to prevent pupils from having their self-worth diminished or their ability to achieve impeded by being bullied because of their perceived or actual sexual orientation or gender identity.

However, they quote Stonewall’s research: 9% of trans pupils receive death threats at school. 46% of pupils hear transphobic language “frequently or often”. 84% of trans pupils have self-harmed, 45% have attempted suicide, and 68% of LGBT pupils report that school staff only “sometimes”, or never, challenge HBT language when they hear it.

In the early years context and throughout primary school, play should be a hallmark of creative exploration. Pupils need to be able to play with the many cloaks of identity (sometimes quite literally with the dressing up box). Children should be at liberty to explore the possibilities of who they might be without judgement or derision. For example, a child may choose the tutu, princess’s tiara and heels and/or the firefighter’s helmet, tool belt and superhero cloak without expectation or comment. Childhood has a sacred space for creative self-imagining.

Um. Not every child with gender diverse play is trans. The guidance is not clear on this. That should be general guidance, not guidance on HBT bullying. The language teachers use when they comment, praise or give instructions [should] avoid labels and assumptions
which deem children’s behaviour irregular, abnormal or problematic just because it does not conform to gender stereotypes or today’s play preferences. In our highly gendered society, everyone needs that protection, not just trans kids.

Tutus and tool belts, a memorable example, was picked out by the New York Times for its headline covering the matter. I hardly think the NYT would cover any other guidance by the Church of England to its schools, but trans stories, with the frisson of weirdness, get coverage.

The Daily Mail rushed to a transphobic nutcase, or “conservative Evangelical”. What would she say? These rules are unkind, unloving and lacking in compassion. We are all against bullying, but the church is using these guidelines to pursue an agenda that runs counter to the church’s teaching. We are getting to the point where if you are not careful, the slightest slip from the correct agenda in a Church of England school will get you punished. The anti-bullying agenda is aimed against people who step out of line — the anti-bullies are becoming the bullies. That is, she wants to stand up for children and adults who would enforce restrictive gender norms, and deny we are “made in the image of God”, even by mockery, taunts and bullying. She gets reported in the Daily Mail and NYT.

Grassroots Christians, including teachers and school staff, have HBT views on Christian Doctrine, and are self-righteous about that, banding together to protect their right to bigotry. The Church’s report confirms that when it reports those statistics on bullying, teacher non-intervention, and self-harm. Possibly the Mail is looking for the controversy, in an attempt to make the story interest its readers, but it dredged up another homophobic windbag who said she and others long for clear and courageous biblical leadership, that is, they want bishops and press-releases to be as openly homophobic as they are. That bigot was recently on the Archbishop’s Council- the bigotry is at the top and throughout the church.

It is important that the church hierarchy says nice things, though perhaps they only do so to continue to get funding from the State. They could do more, but have not: We have not offered lesson plans or materials for physical, social, health and economic education (PSHE) or relationships and sex education (RSE), but the appendices do provide practical examples and templates for schools to use as they instigate anti-bullying policies and strategies.

Meanwhile, little girls are discouraged from playing with superhero capes, in case they are thought to be unfeminine. It’s insane.

The report pdf.

Pressure to change sex

Scare story in the Daily Mail: NHS pressured our kids to change sex: Transgender backlash as desperate parents accuse overzealous therapists of ‘blindly accepting’ children’s claims to have been born in wrong bodyDoctors fear being sued after the NHS signed a ‘memorandum of understanding’ banning staff from challenging patients who believe they are born the wrong sex. YouTube, Instagram and Tumblr make trans cool, encourage teens to threaten suicide or self-harm if their parents oppose them, show where to find binders and hormones “and other sex change aids”, whatever those might be, and spark a social contagion. Adolescents are “heavily influenced” by messages they send to one another. NHS Scotland and NHS England have signed a Memorandum of Understanding banning staff from challenging patients who believe they are born the wrong sex. Doctors fear being sued, and a psychotherapist called Bob Withers cautioned that the memorandum could prevent therapists from exploring patients who say they are transgender but are suffering from other mental health conditions. He says it means the psychotherapist cannot look at the psychological reasons for the gender dysphoria.

So much for the Daily Mail. What is the truth? Here is the Memorandum. It commits the NHS and other bodies to ending conversion therapy, defined as the assumption that any gender identity is preferable to any other, leading to attempts to change or suppress gender identity or sexual orientation. Gender identity includes all binary, non-binary and gender fluid identities.

Personally I find non-binary and gender fluid identities preferable, as they give people more freedom. My identity as a TS liberated me to be myself, at the cost of undertaking the transition I understood an M-F TS would undertake. Non-binary or gender fluid permits maximum variation in gender expression without preventing any surgery or hormone treatment. It’s not “I am trans therefore I want hormones” but, given that I have this identity and these desires, might I want to transition, or to have medical treatment? What desirable or negative effects might that have? We move beyond one size fits all- I am TS, therefore I have hormones then surgery- because that is restrictive.

The memorandum goes on, gender identity is not a mental disorder; but people uncertain of their gender identity might seek psychological help. Some people may benefit from the challenge of psychotherapy and counselling to help them manage dysphoria and to clarify their sense of themselves. Clients make healthy choices when they understand themselves better. Withers and the Daily Mail are wrong: counselling for self-understanding is still possible.

There may be grounds for exploring therapeutic options to help people unhappy about their transgender status live more comfortably with it, reduce their distress and reach a greater degree of self-acceptance. So professionals may explore hormone or surgical treatment, within the guidelines for that. The real problem is that there is little funding for specialist assessment or mental health treatment. Adolescents get referred to the Tavistock clinic, whose waiting lists grow.

Puberty blockers

No-one transitions on a whim. It is so difficult to transition that anyone who does probably is trans. That includes children.

There are 12.4m children aged 0-15 in the UK, and 1.4m 16-17 year olds. So 800 children on puberty blockers is a tiny fraction. Help, help, the sky is falling! cries the Daily Mail. They reported the fact, and sensationalised it- “Huge growth”- from what? Is not 800 out of 12.4m a tiny number? Then they interviewed and photographed a 17 year old trans woman who said puberty blockers saved her life, as she would have been suicidal suffering male pubertal changes. And then they started quoting transphobes. A spokeswoman for the Grassroots Conservatives campaign, who could be assumed to have no expertise whatsoever, said, This drastic notion that we should change our gender should be a last resort, as if a handful in a hundred thousand showed mass poisoning of children, or even the possibility that anyone who had the treatment did not need it. The children are diagnosed with life long gender dysphoria. The doctors predict that these are the children who will never regret their decision.

A woman speaking for Transgender Trend, a parents’ group speaking against transition, said These kids are not old enough to make life-changing decisions as if they were not diagnosed by doctors who were clear the treatment was appropriate. A doctor said the treatment relieved suffering, and three doctors said it was unsupported by rigorous scientific evidence, as if control groups could ever be ethical.

The treatment is puberty suppression. It gives children and families more time to make the final decision to transition surgically, before puberty changes the child’s body to appear irrevocably of the gender assigned at birth.

There were 2016 referrals of children and adolescents aged 3-18 in 2016 (yes, it is an odd coincidence). Children may remain under the care of the clinic for several years. Help, help, the sky is falling! said the Daily Telegraph. Chris McGovern, chair of the Campaign for Real Education so not obviously a medical expert called this a “politically correct agenda”. The Telegraph blames feminists! Feminists were attempting to reshape school policies on gender… children were being forced to “unlearn” the difference between boys and girls. If children did not know the difference, they would not know they wanted to transition. Liberating children from rigid gender roles would reduce the pressure to transition.

I feel that not all children who are trans will have been able to convince their parents, even if they have had the courage or desperation to try. I feel the children who are referred will be the strongest-minded and most certain trans children. And only a minority of those referred get any treatment. They are encouraged to transition and live in role, including at school, but most do not get puberty blockers, leave alone surgery.

Before puberty blockers, trans girls have their sperm frozen so that they might have children later in life. The Daily Mail opposes this. Storage costs £300 a year, and the Mail says the money should be spent on people with sympathetic health problems, not these weirdos. The article put “trans girls” in scare quotes, and referred to them as boys who believe they are female.

“Shouldn’t be allowed at all” was one of the highest rated comments. Consider the hostility to transition! No parent would accept it unless completely convinced. The barriers to a child’s transition are so great that children who do are trans.

I feel that schools which prevented gender indoctrination and permitted children to experiment with gender would produce more balanced adults. I am ambivalent about transition in children. What if it is wrong for them? I understand the worries- but surely all those involved are doing their best, for the best interests of the child.

Daily Mail morality

How wonderful to be a Daily Mail reader! You can feel morally superior not only to immigrants and benefit claimants, but also the Prince of Wales’ wife! Their Saturday headline was Camilla shouldn’t be queen, say public. Morally superior, but only at the cost of being permanently angry, and daily apoplectic: yesterday’s headline was “Labour’s Queen of Hypocrisy“- Labour MP says something moderately sensible, having bought a housing association house in an auction. How that might make wanting housing associations to maintain a stock of affordable housing hypocritical is a mystery.

I asked the coffee bar owner if that was his politics. Diplomatically, he said they used to get the Daily Mail all the time, and he’s not entirely happy with that, but now they get random newspapers. It’s an election campaign! That means you can offend everybody!

Mail morality is based on hating, fearing and feeling superior. On 27 October 2010 it cried “75% of Incapacity claimants are fit to work”, not bothering to state that the test had been rewritten with precisely that purpose. It has been made worse since, but then someone unable to use a pen to “make a meaningful mark”, such as a tick or cross, would only score nine points, insufficient to get the benefit.

March 4 2015 neatly linked two hate groups: “Jihadi John family’s 2o years on benefits”.

Thought or analysis is rare. Mail readers are told the emotional reaction they should have. A measured response, on the one hand this, on the other hand that, is unheard of. Mail readers are told that their thoughtless bigotry is courageous: on 16 March it screamed “At last! A man who dares tell truth about race”. Occasionally it gives a useful tip, though long after you heard it somewhere else. For example, you should shop around when you renew insurance; but it couched it as Shock! Horror! “The betrayal of loyal customers.” You are a good, “Loyal”, person, and it counts for Nothing! What a wonderful opportunity for self-pity. On the same page, familiarly, and with mocking condescension and fake pity, it addresses the Duchess of Cambridge: “Oh Kate, are you really showing grey roots at 33?” Do we care? Mail readers are obsessed with the Royal Family.

A large part of the front page each day is a picture of an attractive woman, usually in her thirties, because the readership is older. The top third gives a Special Offer: “Free bag of compost delivered free to your door!” As opposed to the usual delivery of manure.

I know it is an old joke. Dan and Dan nailed it brilliantly. Who’d live in a democracy, eh? I choose my picture to give us something beautiful.

Monet, Impression, soleil levant

Giving blood II

File:Blut-EDTA.jpgI rarely look at the Daily Mail without thinking, yuck- but occasionally it surprises me, and I feel amazed horror and disgust. I saw its headline about Benefits Britain: a man murdered six children, and for the Mail the headline about the story is that he was a benefit claimant. The news now about benefits is that the Government is cutting housing benefit deliberately to drive people out of their homes- no, they cannot keep a social housing house, they must go private renting. The Mail however seeks to demonise the claimants.

Sitting waiting. A woman asks her little girl if she would like to sit quietly, or to watch. The girl wants to watch, surprising the older woman and me. “I wouldn’t have wanted to watch when I was her age,” says the other. “You must remember that they are not hurting me,” says the mother, then caresses her back as the child hugs her. My blood does not sink fast enough in the test solution, so the carer gives another test. I sit, patiently, as she fiddles with the plastic tubes and needles, and the plasters, just as I lie passively when another takes the 470ml. It is so easy to drop into this passivity, that when the first carer does not give me a plaster for my fingertip and I bleed over my hand while she does the backup test, I wait for her to notice and wipe my hand for me.

More waiting. I have my e-reader with me. “How d’you get on with that, then?” asks a man as he sits down. He does not own a kindle, but has access to one. “Do you pay for the books?” He doesn’t. He is reading the plays of Aristophanes. “The trouble with that is you have to read 19th century translations,” I say. I have scored a victory, though I did not know it at the time. “That’s the best translation,” he says, vaguely. I get called to lie down with the tubes.

I am pleased to donate so quickly, once she finds the vein it only takes five minutes as I clench and unclench my buttocks as instructed- to keep blood pressure up. I have the cup of tea after as a granny talks to her grandchildren about the donor card she has been given. The Polymath comes to the table. “I only come here for the conversation”, he says. He tells me more of Aristophanes, and how he took the mickey out of So-Crates. Socrateees, I mean. A bit like Descarteez, the famous Ancient Greek French philosopher, I say, or it was Des Carteez, the philosopher on the Northern comedy club circuit. Another point to me. He heard American tourists talk of Ivan Solzhenitsyn. Except it wasn’t Ivan, was it? For the life of me, I cannot recall, and after a minute he puts me out of my misery: Alexander Solzhenitsyn. I have the feeling he is scoring points at that moment, after he has talked of how dreadful to be offered decaffeinated coffee, and the fall of Athens. How dreadful to have to show off your wit and erudition in that way! Worse than blogging.

Seeking the slime

The test of liability for medical negligence in the UK is that in Hunter v Hanley, or Bolam. Against a case of negligence for choosing a particular treatment, or a failure to treat, there is a defence if

the doctor has acted in accordance with a practice accepted as proper by a responsible body…of professional opinion.

If an outmoded and ineffectual treatment is still chosen by a minority of old-fashioned practitioners, then there is no liability on the doctor for choosing it.

In the light of the Equality Act, the General Medical Council is revising its guidance on personal beliefs:

5 You may choose to opt out of providing a particular procedure because of your personal beliefs and values. But you must not refuse to treat a particular patient, or group of patients because of your personal beliefs or views about them. And you must not refuse to treat the health consequences of lifestyle choices to which you object because of your beliefs.

The Daily Mail got in a complete tizzy about this: Christian doctors forced to carry out sex change operations!! Indeed, those seeking gender reassignment (as opposed to the larger group who are gender variant) are protected under the Equality Act, but a surgeon has a choice of what operations s/he will train to perform. More generally, a doctor cannot refuse to refer to a gender clinic, or refer for speech therapy and perhaps hair removal if the health authority will pay for it, where the entire scientific and medical consensus is that reassignment is the correct treatment. Previously, a bigot could refer his patient to a colleague, which I might prefer, but can no longer.

It is disturbing that someone would say “Christianity” prevents him from properly practising the profession of doctor, and giving the treatment which proper doctors give. That is a Christianity from Hell, and not from Heaven. Also, it is disturbing that someone would practise as a doctor without sympathy for his patients. However, the Mail managed to find a doctor who feared that he would be forced to treat against his “conscience”. Only twenty gender recognition certificates are issued each month, so he is unlikely to see one of us.

What the Mail does is seek out “It’s the end of the World as we know it” stories on the most spurious grounds. What are the threats? What are the reasons for me to

Always keep a hold of Nurse
For fear of finding something worse?

This is a bad habit, and too common: how did I find out about the Mail article? Because trans folk were discussing it on Facebook, looking at how hostile people might be to us. When I recognised it in myself I called it slime-hoovering, seeking out and sucking up the slime to justify a fearful, constrained existence. I do it less, now I have seen it in me. I still err on the side of slime hoovering rather than unreasonable optimism, I think.

It is one of the reasons why I have any time at all for the “law of attraction”: being open to opportunity and blessing in the world has to be better.