The privileged trans woman

Diana Thomas is a privileged trans woman, even though that’s normally a contradiction in terms. She wrote an article for the Daily Mail, headed “Ex-Cambridge University rower and married dad DIANA THOMAS spent six decades as a man… So why does she say trans militants are only stoking intolerance?”

She spent £40,000 on hormones, laser, electrolysis, and coaching to feminise her face, hair, body and voice. She will have genital surgery as soon as she can. Most trans women don’t have £40,000 to spend in that way. She was privileged because she got into Cambridge University. She says she went to all-boys schools, which probably though not certainly means fee-paying schools rather than public schools.

She attacks trans folk who don’t have £40,000 because we make ones who do, like her, look bad. “It would be transphobic to deny my legally female gender,” she writes, but she claims “trans activists” “insist that all a person should have to do to change sex is wake up one morning, say, ‘I’m a woman,’ or, ‘I’m a man’,” as if anyone actually does that.

She criticises how we “look, sound, talk or behave,” not accepting that we do our best to fit in, because we have internalised transphobia too.

She’s not entirely privileged. She suffers dreadfully from internalised transphobia. “I was filled with shame, self-disgust, bursting with pent-up anger and unhappiness. And yet, ironically, I thought I was protecting my family and my marriage by trying so hard to be a real man,” she writes. Now she is 62 and divorced. She feels some need to bare all in the Mail, and tolerate their use of a pre-transition photograph. That shows self-hatred. She does not realise she deserves better.

We all deserve better. In “It’s a Sin”, the men dying of AIDS think they deserve it because of their internalised homophobia, because homophobia was instilled in them like everyone else. Diana is still enforcing her transphobia on other trans folk.

In the article, she seeks to portray herself as a reasonable trans woman, when really she is refusing to stand up for trans people whose trans problems she does not think she will face. “I mean, just how lunatic do you have to be to transfer a male sex-offender — convicted of raping women — to a women’s prison, just because he has suddenly decided that he’s female, too?” I don’t know if anyone “suddenly decides” they are female, but while prisoners may lie I want trans women treated as women, even by prisons. I don’t think that’s a matter of “public institutions, so terrified of defying the latest woke diktats that they have entirely lost the faintest vestige of common sense”. It shouldn’t mean risking people’s safety.

She is not a trans man, so she does not care about trans men, either. She thinks inclusive language for trans men menstruating, having a cervical smear or giving birth is ridiculous, and that female columnists calling this “yet another assault on women’s rights” have a point. Here’s a sample of the inclusive language, about pregnant women and people, she so objects to.

If she did not have internalised transphobia, she would have more dignity than to write about her private prostate surgery in the Daily Mail. She might have got beyond “We’re born this way”. Yes we are; but we do not need that as an excuse.

She writes of her delight at a few words exchanged with other walkers in the country, which she thinks indicate her being treated as a woman. Yes, it’s lovely, and it’s also perfectly normal. “Old friends have rallied round,” she says, sounding slightly surprised, as if they would ghost her just because she transitioned. That’s the internalised transphobia again.

I would have hoped the press would have got beyond such stories. Some details are straight from the 1960s: “I was born male,” she writes. Now she is “true to who I am”, which makes her calmer and happier. Her life of achievement is mostly behind her. Write about our achievements, not the same old prurient rubbish.

Why does she say trans militants are stoking intolerance? Because of internalised transphobia, and because she does not care about problems trans people have, which she does not think she personally will face.

Trans aged 18

Is there a specific attack on trans rights for young adults? After the disastrous case of Bell v Tavistock, restricting puberty blockers for 16 year olds, is there a move to reduce treatment for older teenagers? How might such a campaign work? A lot depends on what “adolescent” means.

Aged 18, ideally, you have a strong relationship with your parents, and anti-trans campaigners make much of the fact that brain maturation continues until age 24.

The UN formally defines adolescent as aged 10 to 19. This Lancet article says “understanding of continued growth has lifted [the] endpoint age [of adolescence] well into the 20s”. A lawyer might want a precise definition. A doctor would consider the good of the actual patient. A gender psychiatrist should balance the potential harm of changing sex characteristics where a patient might revert against the harm of delaying a trans person’s transition.

The NHS has changed the name to Children and Young People’s mental health services, from Children and adolescent mental health services. Most patients “transition” to adult services aged 18, but some do at 16 and there may be some flexibility. This means it is usual in Britain to treat an 18 year old as an adult.

WPATH does not provide a definition of adolescent, but the WPATH standards of care state that adolescents diagnosed with gender dysphoria are far less likely than children to detransition. Many adolescents do not report a history of childhood gender nonconforming behaviour, so parents may be surprised.

On the assessment of adolescents, WPATH says,

Assessment of gender dysphoria and mental health should explore the nature and characteristics of a child’s or adolescent’s gender identity. A psychodiagnostic and psychiatric assessment – covering the areas of emotional functioning, peer and other social relationships, and intellectual functioning/school achievement – should be performed. Assessment should include an evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of family functioning.

The change from fully reversible interventions, including puberty blockers, to partially reversible interventions, including cross sex hormones, should not occur until adolescents and their parents have assimilated fully the effects of earlier interventions.

Testosterone makes the voice deepen. Oestrogen causes gynaecomastia.

The Mail had an article which is little more than “anti-trans campaigners say trans is bad”. GenderCare, operated by Dr Stuart Lorimer, who also sees NHS patients, was allegedly prescribing cross sex hormones to 18 year olds after one consultation. The Mail says,

There is no suggestion that Dr Lorimer or GenderCare, which sees individuals from the age of 18 and charges up to £300 per appointment, have contravened any medical guidelines. But parents and campaigners are concerned by the speed at which drugs that can have serious health risks, including blood clots, strokes and infertility, are being prescribed to potentially vulnerable young people.

A stroke would be a severe consequence, which is unlikely.

The Mail produces two parents who say their 18 year old offspring had a hormone prescription after one consultation, and a group of parents hostile to transition whose spokesperson says treatment for people in their early twenties is unsafe. It’s not news. It could indicate that after Keira Bell there is an attempt to roll back treatment for older people, even up to 25.

A campaign to limit treatment for 18-25 year olds has no potential loss for the anti-trans campaigners. The more such views are expressed, the more people might think they seem reasonable. However to succeed, it needs to overcome profound barriers. The main one is the NHS definition of adult, as a person over 18.

Could a doctor prescribing hormones to an 18 year old presenting as trans be liable for damages in court? The legal test is in Bolam v Friern Hospital Management Committee. A practice accepted at the time as proper by a responsible body of medical opinion skilled in the particular form of treatment in question was not negligent merely because there was a body of competent professional opinion which might adopt a different technique.

That is, the very existence of WPATH is enough to protect doctors following their standards from negligence claims. There are prodigious, well-funded attempts to chip away this protection, and the Bell case advances them, but for the moment there can be no particular attack on 18-25 year olds’ treatment.

The other possible attack is on professional competence through the General Medical Council. Doctors must:

  • Work in partnership with patients.
  • Listen to, and respond to, their concerns and preferences.
  • Give patients the information they want or need in a way they can understand.
  • Respect patients’ right to reach decisions with you about their treatment and care.
  • Support patients in caring for themselves to improve and maintain their health.

In providing clinical care doctors must:
a) prescribe drugs or treatment, including repeat prescriptions, only when you have adequate knowledge of the patient’s health, and are satisfied that the drugs or treatment serve the patient’s needs.
b) provide effective treatments based on the best available evidence

Again, there are significant difficulties in making an ethical case against doctors prescribing cross sex hormones, and arguably no particular case, yet, referring to 18-25 year olds.

Could NHS funding be withdrawn? Local commissioners make their decisions on what to offer patients, based on medical need not Daily Mail campaigns. This would be an attack on all adult gender services, not specifically 18-25. Even Liz Truss was talking about increasing provision of gender clinics, though that turned out to be a re-announcement of new clinics previously announced.

There will be increasing noise about gender services for adults in their twenties. It is unlikely to have an effect on the treatment specifically of 18-25 year olds.

Redvers Buller and nonbinary people

Who was General Sir Redvers Buller, VC, GCB, GCMG, and what relevance has he to nonbinary people? He is relevant to nonbinary people, I assure you.

Buller was a man of great physical courage. At the Battle of Hlobane in the Anglo-Zulu war, he rescued three other mounted infantry, a captain, a lieutenant and a trooper, carrying them to safety on his horse, one at a time, and winning the VC.

In command in the second Boer war, he lost the battles of Colenso, Magersfontein and Stormberg in one week, gaining the nickname “Reverse Buller” among his troops. Frederick Roberts took command, but as second in command Buller won the Battle of the Tugela Heights. Wikipedia tells us he was scapegoated for Boer guerrilla tactics, and sacked in October 1901. About 50,000 subscribers in and around Exeter paid for an equestrian statue of him, which the city council now considers removing.

I don’t think the Empire is something for British people to be proud of. It was economic exploitation of areas whose economies would have grown better outside it. Cotton grown in India was taken to Lancashire to be made into cloth, then sent back to India, rather than being processed locally. The statue should not be in a city centre. I had forgotten Redvers Buller, having read about him in “Farewell the Trumpets” by Jan Morris, credited as “James”. That’s the most definite reference to a trans or nonbinary person in this post. No, there is no clear evidence that Redvers was nonbinary.

That did not deter the Daily Mail, whose headline about the statue was, “Council is slammed for ‘ridiculous and historical wokery’ over plans to remove a statue of a British war hero – with official report claiming it ‘impacts anybody who does not define themselves in binary gender terms’.”

The Mail opposes the statue of a “war hero” being moved. Of course. That is disrespecting the Great British Empire, but The Mail also hates any mention of nonbinary people. It says, “An equality impact assessment carried out as part of the review also concluded the statue would impact anybody who ‘does not define themselves in binary gender terms’.”

The council’s papers are here. The Equality Impact Assessment does not mention nonbinary people, but rightly comments that moving the statue would have a positive impact on BAME people and immigrants. The report to the council says the statue “personif[ies] racism and the glorification of a colonial past”.

Is its prominence still relevant to the people of Exeter today? No. The Boer War was a nasty, inglorious conflict.

Possibly the quote was removed from the papers after the Mail reported. Its full quote, given in the article, is, “The General Buller statue represents the patriarchal structures of empire and colonialism which impact negatively on women and anyone who does not define themselves in binary gender terms. The consultation will need to ensure that the views of women, transgender and non-binary people are captured and given due weight”.

Mere use of the word “patriarchal” is enough to upset the Mail. However the quote indicates that the statue is not more relevant to trans and nonbinary people than to cis women. Nonbinary people are mentioned because, to be inclusive, any mention of patriarchy’s effect on women has to refer to trans and nonbinary people too. That is the only relevance of the report to nonbinary people. Any equality impact assessment, and lots of council reports, would refer to “women and nonbinary people”.

I agree. Patriarchy impacts on cis women and trans people. It also impacts on a lot of men. The Mail did not make any argument against this, merely quoting. “Wokery” was the word of conservative historian Andrew Roberts, who commented “In the year 1900 every man was a sexist”.

Buller’s biographer said, “This man was always a great supporter of and campaigner for the many native communities he came across.” That would appear contradicted by the battle of Kambula.

Redvers Buller: not apparently nonbinary.

Dani Laidley

A charge of stalking becomes national news when the alleged stalker is AMAB in women’s clothes. Reporting on Dani Laidley treats them as a man, even while stating they asked police to call them Daniella. It also shows the photographs of them in a wig and dress taken by a police officer, even while condemning that police officer who is suspended and likely to lose his job.

Dean Laidley was a former player in the Australian Football League, then coach of North Melbourne. Aussie Rules football is a contact sport played with an oval ball, played all over the world though only professionally in Australia, where it is the most popular sport. The leaked photographs, published by the Murdoch outlets, show them in the interview room with a long blonde wig, and in a mugshot with makeup but without the wig, showing a man’s haircut, short at the sides, apparently receding. Now they have been outed, I comment on the outing.

Senior cop stood down over ‘appalling’ photo leak as troubled ex-AFL coach faces seven charges, blared Murdoch, even while showing both photographs. Laidley’s alleged crime is not the news: a report says further charges are to be revealed at a court hearing on May 11. ‘If only they knew’: Ex-AFL coach’s former manager, teammate react to troubling police photos it blared in a separate article, though that turns out to be one of those non-news articles where two tweets are quoted and waffled over. Summarise the tweet, quote the tweet, say what the tweet said. Ricky Nixon tweeted, “Guess who’s the least surprised person in Aust. on Dean Laidley — if only the media knew what I knew,” and then deleted it, saying Laidley had confided in him for fifteen years. I think most have taken my original tweet re: Dean Laidley the wrong way regardless of what he’s been charged with everyone is different stop being jealous.

Of course the Daily Mail also published the photos, with the headline Dean Laidley’s fall from grace: The tragic moment that left the AFL great a ‘broken man’ before his shocking arrest on stalking charges while on bail and dressed as a woman. “Tragic”, they giggle. They begin, AFL great Dean Laidley was a tormented soul who never fully recovered from the death of a footy fan he clashed with in 2006. “Clashed with”- what? Body-slammed? No, the man harangued him about how badly the team was doing, footage of the confrontation was broadcast nationally, and that evening the fan killed himself.

The Mail quotes, The images circulating of a high-profile arrest today are [a] deplorable breach of privacy,’ Liberty Victoria tweeted. The transphobic overtones only serve to make the breach even more egregious. Not good enough @VictoriaPolice: we are watching.
Please deal with this unacceptable incident swiftly & properly.

Transphobic overtones. Well, yes. There are few details: Dean Laidley has been arrested; photos from the police station of them dressed female were leaked, and a police officer has been suspended; various people have commented. The claim that they “demanded” to be addressed as Daniella came from The West Australian (behind a paywall) and was quoted elsewhere, including here.

Why is it newsworthy? Because they were a prominent professional athlete and coach, but also because they were dressed female. That someone is trans should not be in the news unless they want it to be: I find “My Struggle” articles problematic for other reasons, but outing someone is transphobic. Why mention it at all, except for prurient motives? Then, all the transphobia is in the reader. The transphobe looks at that pitiable mugshot and feels disgust- disgust for all of us, as the association is with perversion. The photo is published to produce that result. I can see no other reason why it should interest anyone. The Mail reported that he had been seen outside barefoot and “dishevelled”- but there are no photos of that.

Another Mail article quoted at length things people had said on TV about the case, and that Laidley’s drug use and “lifestyle choices”- unnamed, but what else but the dressing?- were an “open secret”. And published the photos again.

That Laidley cross-dresses should not be reported. It should not matter. They are interesting because they are an athlete. Being trans is a normal attribute, of a small minority. The press mentions it because they think people will be amused or disgusted. On May 11th, at the bail hearing, their barrister stated they have gender dysphoria, but referred to them as “him”. They were released to a rehab centre, but the alleged stalked woman stated she was petrified of them and exhausted by their attention.

11 November: Dani Laidley has now transitioned. While in prison on remand, she hid drugs in her bra, and was charged with that. She had to write a thank you letter to the officer who arrested her. However, because of the release of photos of her in custody, the magistrate said she had suffered significant extra-curial punishment, and if she remains out of trouble for four months those charges will be dropped. She still faces charges of stalking.

18 November: we now have the stalking charges. The victim was living in a house she owned jointly with Laidley. On 16 April the victim obtained an intervention order against her, but she continued to send texts, 43 in one day, sometimes high on methamphetamine, including a marriage proposal. This is clearly not acceptable, but the magistrate today gave her an 18 month good behaviour bond. This will be broken if she contacts her victim again. As Laidley was high on drugs, the magistrate could not conclude that Laidley intended to cause harm, or knew that her conduct was likely to cause harm or raise apprehension or fear.

To me, that she intended to send the texts should be sufficient, that it was stalking should be considered objectively- 43 unwanted texts in a day is harassment- and her guilt should be based on the effect on her victim. However, if she does not get high again she may have the sense not to breach the bond, so I agree with the sentence: the coverage is a penalty, and the bond may prevent further stalking.

The Daily Mail reported this breathlessly, referring to her as “fallen AFL legend ‘Dani’ Laidley” and giving details of her medical treatment.

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. [Update: her appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal commences on 27 April 2021, and as soon as the judgment is published I will explain it here.]

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.