Authoritarian transphobia

Are anti-trans campaigners fascist, authoritarian, or all right-wing? Arguably.

What is fascism? This source says, ultranationalism, illiberalism, a strong impulse to regiment society, and the forcible suppression of opposition. Roger Griffin defined fascism by its core myth, national rebirth achieved by revolution, which he called palingenetic ultranationalism. Fascism in Britain opposes immigration, and claims rights for “indigenous” white people against others, saying the people or the culture are diluted by immigration. It might be possible to argue opposing transition is fascist like opposing immigration, but seems a bit of a stretch.

I don’t want to call them fascist, because of the monstrosity of fascist regimes in Europe and South America. The “strong impulse to regulate society”- well, they claim transition is a threat to trans men and to children, and that trans women are a threat to cis women- is not enough to be fascist by itself.

Are they authoritarian? Bob Altemayer defined authoritarian as right-wing, being three attitudes: (1) authoritarian submission –a high degree of submission to the authorities who perceived to be established and legitimate in the society where one lives (2) authoritarian aggression –a general aggressiveness, directed against various persons, which is perceived to be sanctioned by established authorities (3) conventionalism –a high degree of adherence to the social conventions that are perceived to be endorsed by society and its established authorities. I found that here. However Britain is still part of European human rights structures, which mandate self-declaration of trans people, though the Conservative party now entrenched in power on a minority of votes cast last month proposes to change that. We have a strong strain of social liberalism in this country, that people should be able to choose our lifestyles, or live authentically as we are.

Again, their desire is to create a group against whom general aggressiveness is sanctioned, rather than follow an authority. In the past, society as a whole was prejudiced against LGBT people, and has grown more accepting; anti-trans campaigners want to roll that back.

So they are right-wing, promoting or entrenching a hierarchy, rather than left-wing, promoting equality. Even there they might demur- they are fighting for women’s rights, they say. The right wing trans excluder says women are different from men, socially, so trans women are not women. The left-wing trans excluder says women are oppressed, and that the only relevant difference is the reproductive system. I have some sympathy with that: women are oppressed, by sexist attitudes and by sexual harassment. However trans exclusion will not benefit women’s rights, and the far right is funding TERFs.

The anti-trans campaigners want to create a hate group. They say trans women are a threat, mock us, and claim to fear us. In that, creating a hate group by themselves, without following an authority, they might be seen as hard-right insurgents or even fascist, moulding social attitudes in an authoritarian direction, but that diverts debate onto whether they are authoritarian, right wing or fascist generally, and what these things mean. Many anti-trans campaigners will be liberal and left-wing concerning other opinions.

Claims that free speech is under threat are mainly on the right. Winston Smith said Freedom is the freedom to say that 2+2=4– to state obvious truths, or to state what I see as truth even if widely denied- and they want the freedom to say “sex is real”, “trans women are men”. However, again, this is a means, not an end: the end is to make trans people an excluded group, mocked and vilified. Use of right wing tools in one instance does not make them right-wing. They want to stop us using our language. They claim they are not anti-trans, just for trans people to have the same rights as everyone else, for example that trans women, being men, should not enter women’s spaces. They refuse the words TERF, cis, trans woman. Control of language is a source of power, but creating or forbidding words and phrases as a way to promote or suppress particular ideas is a tool of right and left.

So I would not say that the anti-trans campaigners are authoritarians, or fascist, or right-wing; just that they want to create a hate group. That is bad enough. That cuts to the heart of what they are doing. Women will be no safer and no better off if all trans women are excluded, and trans people will be considerably worse off. Feminist campaigning energy is being diverted from punching up, and seeking reform which might do women some good, towards punching down at trans people.

If my freedom to live my life as a trans woman is denied, everyone is less free. That should be enough to condemn the anti-trans campaign.

anti trans propaganda

What about the rape victims excluded from women’s services by the presence of male bodied people?

That would raise feelings of concern and perplexity in kind, caring people. It does not mention trans women by name, because trans women also are a vulnerable group, who might gain sympathy from the well-meaning.

When seeking to exclude trans people, don’t name the trans people. Instead, suggest there are threats to vulnerable women, and make dark allusions to trans people. “Male-bodied” is a weird term to use in normal conversation, but does not have the sympathetic connotations of trans people. Instead it alludes to the well known phenomenon that some women after a sexual assault cannot bear to be touched by a man, even a male relative.

Make it a question. An assertion of fact- rape victims are excluded- could be answered by demands for justification. What about the vulnerable? demands compassion and care without leaving space for challenge.

Having raised concern and compassion in potential dupes, the propagandist can produce more and more detail, increasing emotion, until finally he names the solution-

Vulnerable women are excluded because we need single sex spaces.

There are no single sex spaces, because the male bodied people insist on going there.

At that point the natural sympathy for the underdog of the caring middle class person has been developed so far for the rape victims that it can outweigh their sympathy for trans people.

Stating that rape victims would not go to rape crisis centres because of the theoretical possibility that they might see a trans woman there would be obviously ridiculous, especially as there are so few of us.

Still the propagandist does not use the term trans woman. He refers to “trans rights activists”, unreasonable, domineering people pushing for the right to ride roughshod over everyone else, setting women’s rights at naught, entirely solipsistic and lacking any sympathy. Or to “male-bodied” people again, weird, as out of place in a rape crisis centre as a fox in a henhouse. Never mind that over half of Rape Crisis centres also help men who have been sexually assaulted.

To build up hate, avoid anything which could humanise your hate-group. That is the basis of the tactic of professing sympathy with “real transsexuals”, also allegedly the victims of the TRAs. Except that when pressed, no one is ever admitted to be a “real transsexual”, and even “trans women” are falsely distinguished from them. Even those who speak on behalf of WPUK are told to use the men’s loos.

See what I did there? I did not use the names of WPUK’s trans collaborators. I do not want the names to be remembered, because I do not want the people to be given too much significance, and referring without names dehumanises them a bit. They are “collaborators”, rather than people.

It’s about feeling. It’s about shutting off any sympathy for the out group, trans women, and creating a sense that they threaten people who deserve sympathy, such as children, or rape victims. The allegations have almost no substance, but can still be spun. So any act which can be portrayed as offensive by a trans woman is emphasised, and constantly returned to.

Of course people should be engaged and persuaded, but that should be primarily by facts. If you need to distort facts, and rely excessively on building emotion in order to persuade, you are a propagandist.

I tend to feel we need to persuade. Someone referred to anti-trans campaigners as “fascists”. That’s arguable: as she says, if its philosophy is of morally mandating marginalized groups out of existence it’s fascist. However, fascism is associated with nationalism, and British fascists like the BNP have sought to justify violence against Jews and non-white people. Fascism is abhorrent. Use of the word “fascist” without showing the arguments justifying that puts people off, even many trans allies. They think you absurd. Yes our opponents are arguably fascist- show what they are doing, building hate for a vulnerable group through lies and half truths, before naming this as “fascist”.

Examples: “If Corbyn were to declare ‘my pronouns are she/her’ Labour would have its first female leader”. Yes, but why would he? This spreads the canard that transition is a whim or fantasy, rather than the only thing we can do.

“It isn’t about trans rights because gender critical feminists are in favour of trans people having the same rights as everyone else.” She would take away my Equality Act rights and expel me from spaces I have inhabited since 2002, but she refuses to countenance the language that describes that, or anything anyone could object to. She is preaching hate, but claims it is love.

The Brexit Party

I have just had the Brexit Party leaflet for the EU elections on 23 May. It is Fascist.

What would “honouring the referendum result” mean, exactly? It would mean listening to what campaigners for Leave said in 2016- such as greatly increasing the funding for the NHS, or seeking membership of the EEA (the “Norway Option”) as Nigel Farage does in this video. None were calling for “No Deal”. It would mean recognising the small majority for Leave, and not simply ignoring the desires of 16.1m voters.

Why is it fascist? Because of the Leader-worship. Only Farage gets more than two sentences in it. There is a large photo of the man, looking more like a frog than usual.

It is full of lies. “The Brexit Party will restore trust in politics.” No, the Brexit party has no MPs and is set up to be no more than an angry protest group. The only thing it stands for is leaving the EU, on “WTO rules” which would mean tariffs charged on goods traded between the UK and the EU, and an end to our “Just-in-time” manufacturing. To restore trust in politics, we need politicians who tell the truth and act in the interests of the people, by producing good quality public services. Farage’s mixture of bluster and fantasy can deliver nothing.

Though Farage has no policies beyond that, he has airy promises: “Let’s put the principles of Trust, Honesty and Integrity at the heart of our democracy”. That would involve silencing Farage. He wants the principles of Hate, Anger and Fear at the heart of our politics. What does he say? “Betrayed… humiliated… failing MPs have defied 17.4m of us… Politics is broken. Enough is enough.” What does the rest of the leaflet say? “Betrayed… Taking ‘No Deal’ off the table is bonkers… Failed… Damaged trust in our democracy… our country humiliated…”

The stab in the back myth. Though it is good to see his sister attack Jacob Rees-Mogg: “The Conservative Party has failed… and damaged trust in our democracy”. May’s deal failed generally because of his posturing, and that of his “European Research Group”. These hard right campaigners hate each other almost as much as they hate the people who vote for them.

The UKIP leaflet is quite as evil as Mr Farage’s, but with an added dollop of fuckwittery. Brexit has been betrayed, they scream. Conservative, Labour, Lib Dem, Green & SNP MPs betrayed you. I don’t know if they forgot Plaid, but that is rabble-rousing. Caroline Lucas is one of the most intelligent, principled and energetic MPs we have. Trying to foment resentment in this transparent manner is wicked. It too has a picture of the Leader, but I needed to google him to make sure. Openly and repellently racist, this wotsisname has a poor selfie in front of a sign reading AXE LADY HAW HAW.

I shall vote Labour, even though they are not yet opposing Brexit. At the last election in the East Midlands, UKIP (the far right) got two seats, and the Conservatives (the hard right) got two: 40% of the seats on 26% of the votes. Labour got one. Greens and Lib-Dems had 127,839 votes between them- their votes combined would not have entitled them to a seat, but being in the centre or left, had their votes gone to Labour there would have been two Labour MEPs and only one Tory. Splitting the Left vote only helps the hard-Right.

There are two sites which purport to advise who to vote for, as a tactical vote to Remain. I searched for tactical vote remain and came up first, with Remain United nowhere. Remainvoter’s recommendation in the East Midlands is highly suspicious. It recommends voting Green, who came fifth last time. They say this will get one LibDem and one Green Remainer MEPs, one Labour and two Brexit. I don’t believe them. Remain United recommends voting LibDem, for one LibDem remainer MP. Your Green vote would be wasted. I am sorry to sound paranoid, but who is behind remainvoter?

The Labour position makes sense. It is possible to honour the referendum with a deal with Europe in the interests of the British people, rather than a few shadowy billionaires. Their headline is Vote Labour to bring our country back together, as an antidote to the hate and fear spewed by Farage and his ilk. Labour would keep a close relationship with the EU that protects workers’ rights and environmental standards. If we can’t get changes to their bad deal or a general election, Labour backs the option of a public vote. This is because the Hayekist Tories have done a deal to decimate public services, which left-leaning Leave voters would not want. We cannot just ignore that Leave won the referendum. However, we would not vandalise the British economy. I am grateful for Keir Starmer’s insistence on a confirmatory referendum before supporting any Brexit deal, in the talks which are now defunct.

We need international co-operation to end the climate crisis, the death of our oceans, and the current mass extinction. A Tory bonfire of regulations and taxes in the interests of the hyper-rich could just kill the planet. With Tory leadership contenders also talking of “Betrayal” and “Humiliation”, we need trust and hope. Only Labour can provide it.