The vulnerable cis woman

One trans-excluding argument is that cis women need space for cis women only, because of male violence. If the cis woman sees a trans woman in women’s space, she will see her as a man, and will have the same fear reaction that she would if there was a man there. I am mortified at the idea I could terrify someone. The argument arouses my sympathy with my potential victim, leave alone a feminist or someone who has not thought of social justice issues. How can we counter it?

It was put to me like this. Young women may suffer continual sexual harassment and occasional extreme experiences such as sexual assault or a man demanding sex who will not brook refusal from whom she has great difficulty escaping. She seeks refuge where only women should go, a toilet, and then I come in. She reads me as a man, and her refuge is penetrated. More, almost all loos have only one door, and as I am nearer to it, I prevent her escape. Her trauma is redoubled.

The argument appeals to some feminists particularly. I wondered why a woman would be revolted by chest masculinisation surgery, yet insist on vaginoplasty? She could tolerate a “Post-op transsexual” in a women’s loo, but not a “trans woman”. Others argue against all surgery, such as Green campaigners claiming that just as we should not mutilate the rain forest we should not mutilate healthy bodies. That feminist’s position made sense to me if she sees solely from the cis woman’s point of view, thinking that the trans man is a woman victimised by society into imagining she wants to be mutilated, who is then mutilated. The answer is reducing the oppression of women and the shame inflicted on women. But the trans woman is a potential threat to women. If the trans woman has no penis the threat is slightly less.

The argument plays on my feeling of being conditionally tolerated. I will be permitted if there is no problem for anyone else. I am wary of angry dismissal, and want to avoid it, so am alive to reasons to exclude. This is internalised transphobia. Other trans women take a stand on their rights asserting trans women are women, and this may be an overreaction/ rebellion against internalised transphobia.

Anyone else, either a social justice warrior or an ordinary person who hardly thinks about such things might say, thoughtlessly, either that trans women are men and should not be in there anyway, or that trans women are also vulnerable and need women’s space. The argument particularly appeals to someone who places women’s needs above those of other vulnerable groups, which raises the question what is a woman?

Groups subject to oppression will succeed when we work together and support each other. BAME people, LGBT+ people, working class people, disabled people, have the same interests in tearing down structural injustice and implicit bias. Conservatives and oppressors have an interest in setting oppressed groups against each other and creating out-groups whom all of society can look down on. When cis women exclude trans women only the Patriarchy wins.

One is not born a woman, but becomes one, and the kind of woman may depend on skin colour, class, and disability. Talk of general women’s experience applies to more privileged women. Our socialisation is not primarily based on gender, but on all these factors. White middle-class feminists talking of the particular problems arising from feminine socialisation are placing their own problems first, ignoring those of other women, and defining what womanhood means, when feminism requires womanhood to have no stereotype at all. Judith Butler says identity categories are always normative and exclusionary. They mean that there are women these feminists’ campaigns ignore.

Trans women are oppressed as other women are. Like all women, we are required to spend a great deal of time on our appearance, or suffer from being treated as invisible. Any woman performing gender in conventional ways reinforces those conventional ways. The goal is to end these gender stereotypes, but we all succumb. Trans women have women’s experiences of sexual harassment and violence.

Taken from the NYT: When a cis woman complains that trans women haven’t had the same experiences as “real” women-born-women, then, what she’s really saying is, “Trans women haven’t had the same experiences as women like me.” If 30-plus years of intersectional feminism has taught us anything, it’s that this is precisely the move that feminists need to stop making. See also Gal Dem.

What about Judith Green’s argument? She says in her sex abuse survivors’ group, the women needed a single sex group as they had been socialised to look after the men. Had men joined, the women’s implicit bias would have stopped them caring for their own needs and placing the men first. However, trans women are also socialised to put ourselves down, ignore our needs and feelings, and cover up our real selves.

Let us be allies. Anything else is the conservatives’ work.

Selina Todd

Selina Todd’s invitation to lecture at the University of Kent should be withdrawn, because she campaigns against trans people’s rights. Many academics agree, and have signed an open letter to the University.

As colleagues and students at the University of Kent, we would like to register our opposition to this event. Selina Todd is a self-proclaimed gender-critical feminist who has been widely criticised for her arguments against trans people’s- particularly trans women’s- right to self-identify. We believe that the message that our hosting of Selina Todd sends to trans and nonbinary students and staff in the university, our students who are trans and nonbinary allies, and our trans and nonbinary future applicants, is that the School, and more broadly the University, believes that trans identity is “up for discussion”.

They say there has been no proper consultation, that trans and NB people have to defend their right to exist. As Sara Ahmed says, there cannot be a dialogue when some at the table are, in effect or intent, arguing for the elimination of others at the table. Todd’s ideas encourage trans excluders, contribute to a wider climate of intolerance, and justify transphobic violence. Todd has many platforms to spout her views, arising from her privilege which trans and NB people may lack. Transphobic speech is hate speech putting trans and NB students and staff at risk.

What kind of thing does Todd say? She complains that she has been misrepresented, the poor thing, then starts with a misrepresentation. I believe that UK law should remain as it is, with sex a protected characteristic under the 2010 Equality Act, against the claim of some trans activists that people should be able to define themselves as men or as women simply by describing themselves as such. Gender recognition reform will not affect the Equality Act, which already protects those who have decided to transition in their true gender. She implies transition is a silly whim rather than a terrifying but necessary striving for freedom to be ourselves. She goes on to claim that trans rights are “highly socially conservative”. She should tell that to her social conservative allies. Her page headed My Feminism currently only mentions trans issues, as if equal pay, VAWG or reproductive rights do not matter to her. Not everything she writes is harmful: I found her essay on refusing to be overworked interesting.

The public lecture comes under Colonial and Postcolonial Studies. In October, David Olusoga and Razia Iqbal spoke on Empire. Todd’s title is Women and Social Class. The University has put out a statement that Her visit is in conformity with the University’s Code of Practice concerning Freedom of Speech, External Speakers and Events. They link to their Student trans support policy, which specifically includes those who do not seek medical treatment, and nonbinary people. It recognises people might transition at University: The University recognises that the period of transition can be very complex and difficult for the student, and wishes to act in a supportive and sensitive way to ease any transition period. It’s a 37 page policy. As Sara Ahmed says, having a good policy document can be an end in itself- asserted to be proof that they are trans-accepting rather than a pledge to take useful action.

The Universities and College Union election candidates have made a joint statement on Academic Freedom and Trans Inclusion. The right of transgender, non-binary, and gender diverse people to self-identify in no way threatens academic freedom. Claims to the contrary not only undermine the dignity of our colleagues and students but also divert attention from those forces which are increasingly undermining academic freedom in the United Kingdom. They show that media stories do not show the real threats to academic freedom, from the ways academics are managed, but made up threats in a way that undermines the dignity and threatens the safety of transgender, non-binary and gender-diverse people.

29 February: Todd was kicked off the platform of the Women’s Liberation Conference in Oxford, because feminist trans allies threatened to boycott the event. Lola Olufemi, not a trans woman, said, I have seen first-hand how middle-class white women with social capital have used their gatekeeping power to harass trans people, threaten them with defamation, actively work to curtail their rights, refused to extend solidarity, and then claim victimhoodResist this imposed culture war, and practise a feminism that recognises that trans liberation is central to our collective liberation.  Todd made a statement, claiming single-sex spaces are enshrined in law, but “her opponents believe the law should be changed”. It is difficult to believe Dr Todd does not understand the current law on self-declaration, so she is deliberately lying.

Trans excluders at the “Inclusion Gathering” shock

The Quaker “National Gathering on Diversity and Inclusion” weekend started with a talk from Heather Brunskell-Evans, “philosopher and social theorist”, “Gender concerned” Quaker, campaigner who claims the greatest threat to women’s human rights comes from trans inclusion and “trans ideology”. Edwina Peart, organiser, phoned me up beforehand to warn me about it, saying when we carefully and with boundaries open this conversation we begin to see some similarities between what have been seen as diametrically opposed positions- I don’t believe they are. I applauded the bravery, and felt it might be too much for me personally to bear. I frightened my friend, who emailed, Be just another woman, don’t be the ambassador for trans, let others wrestle with the issues.

The programme, sent to participants on Monday 13 January, said something different. Other arranged speakers were introduced as keynote speakers, but not Heather. Edwina Peart wrote, It is one of my goals as diversity and inclusion coordinator that Quakers sit with issues around gender diversity and trans inclusion and ultimately reach a position. I feel that momentum is building through the strands of work that are occurring under this theme. However, this cannot develop into an active standpoint without the inclusion of the Gender Concerned group. This is an opportunity for deep examination of their position and an analysis of its base. It will encourage us to consider how we can be inclusive and welcoming of trans Friends living their gender truthfully. I do not think a position will be achieved without acknowledging, laying bare and ultimately allaying the fears of some cis gendered women and men.

I found that disrespectful. One “allays” fears that are groundless. Meeting with and hearing anti-trans campaigners, I do not hear fears. Yes, they talk of individual trans women who have committed crimes as if we should all be judged by the worst acts of the worst of us, but what I hear is righteous anger. They think it is part of the systematic disrespect the Patriarchy shows women that they should have to share spaces with trans women, and women’s spaces are valueless if trans women might be there. I am aware Heather in particular finds the thought of chest masculinisation surgery, which she would call double mastectomy, revolting.

As far as I understand it, she finds gender stereotypes oppressive, and finds that oppression only gets worse when we are driven to surgery to alter our bodies in order to escape them. Whereas, in the imperfect community we find ourselves in, I find surgery a completely reasonable thing for someone to choose. She thinks we will find freedom from gender norms by rejecting the norms but valuing our beautiful bodies. I think freedom from the norms is harder to achieve than that, and any tool- even surgery- should be permitted. This is different from the usual trans view, that trans people need surgery to cope with gender incongruence.

This is my disagreement with Heather. Continue reading

Trans and politicians

The Labour Party leadership contest is on. What are the candidates saying about trans people? What would we like them to say?

There is a principled position- trans women are women, trans people know who we are, including trans children. And there is a “principled position”- sex is real, gender is meaningless; there should be no men in women’s spaces; trans women are men; children are under threat from trans ideology. It’s nasty, it’s unrelenting and it is unwilling to compromise.

So what I want is pragmatism. I want politicians to affirm certain clear truths: it is wrong to judge a class of people by one or two individuals. It is a propagandist way of fomenting hate. Even if someone can name a trans rapist and several trans people she dislikes, most trans people are decent folk trying to live ordinary lives. Trans women are mostly harmless, and mockery and hatemongering is wrong. No man will pretend to be trans in order to assault women: rapists don’t need to. Yes “sex is real”, but gender is all-pervasive in the culture and some people deal with gender nonconformity by transitioning. Children below puberty may identify as trans, and allowing them social transition in school improves their mental health. All children should be supported and bullying is unacceptable. Children above puberty are not a threat until proved so, if they are trans they can be accepted in schools in their true gender. Children who feel safe, valued and respected will thrive and seek their own best interests. With an increase in child referrals, child gender clinics need more funding and more training for professionals.

You have a right to free speech, but if you claim the right to insult someone you may suffer consequences. The law, which says trans women can enter women’s space but be excluded if that’s reasonable (a “proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim”) is good enough.

Then we could get over the drama. There is a huge amount of abuse: when Jess Phillips tweeted “I was one of the MPs who wrote the report on improving trans rights” an anti-trans campaigner made an excellent point: “Nothing you do or say will ever be enough”. Exactly. He meant for the “Trans Rights Activists” who s/he thinks make unreasonable demands, but the transphobe who tweeted that she is a “traitor to her sex” won’t be satisfied by anything less than total ideological purity either. And some oaf tweeted “Can’t wait for you to lose embarrassingly”: twitter is a place for hatred and spite where opposing groups meet, and for extremists to encourage each other into even more uncompromising positions.

There will be more direct questions. Keir Starmer said something worthwhile, and a video is circulating: We have instinctively to protect and defend, and we mustn’t make a political football and I’m really worried on this particular issue that a particularly vulnerable group is being used as a political football across the Labour Party and we have to deal with it in a much much better way than that and the Government has effectively now abandoned this and any legislative change I think won’t come under this Government so we’ve got to make the argument on this loud and clear and start with the proposition that this is a group, a small group of people who have been subjected to incredible abuse and discrimination for a very very long time.

Precisely. He did not say what “the argument” was, so he could weasel out of challenges from the transphobes, but it’s pretty clear he is not condemning the small, vulnerable group (us).

And, let them move on! Jess Phillips worked in women’s refuges. Of course she is interested in, say, the Weinstein trial. As the Weinstein trial begins I am reminded of the bravery of those who spoke truth to power– neatly including her slogan for the leadership, Speak Truth. Win Power. Trans women should be too. Violence against women and girls is a women’s issue, so a trans women’s issue, so everyone should be concerned with it.

Lisa Nandy put it well: see her video.

More Simeon Solomon: the androgynous beauty of Bacchus.

A progressive response to anti-trans campaigning

When younger I found gender nonconformity disturbing but now enjoy exploring it in myself. I saw your cashmere scarf. It had several colours including black, in large oblong blocks, but one of the largest was pink. You let me feel how soft it was. It was definitely a woman’s scarf. Your colleague bought it for you, and I thought, she knows, values, cares for you. I had a strong reaction to it. I was so discomfited by it. Men should not have such things, leave alone let anyone else notice them! You smiled, inviting me to join in your delight in it, and I felt hope. I don’t know what the average man’s reaction to you having such a scarf would be. I hope anyone who knew you would respect you and see your beauty.

If you have surrendered the safety we find in convention and embraced the strength that comes with open vulnerability (which I can write of but am not sure I believe in) I admire you. You told me something of your hurt. I see something of your strength. I don’t know what others’ reaction to your discreetly feminine scarf would be, beyond that some might feel contempt or disdain, or not notice, or like it- or even not care. Caring so much I find it hard to believe anyone would not care.

So the first response of comfortable, cis people to anti-trans campaigners would be to notice the gender non-conformity of so many, and find a way to support it. It’s difficult. It is something trans people share with many of those campaigners.

Their hurt and mine is the same.

The fear, the microaggressions, the sense of self-betrayal when we hide it (Now I’m closeted as well, thought Charlotte Prodger when she said her partner was her “friend”). This was written about people experiencing racism, but it’s not just racism: They are often made to feel excluded, untrustworthy, second-class citizens, and abnormal… and that they feel trapped in a stereotype. The burden of constant vigilance drains and saps psychological and spiritual energies of targets and contributes to chronic fatigue and a feeling of frustration and anger.

This hurt matters. Search out whatever in your own way of life may contain the seeds of enforced gender conformity.

And it is difficult. My hurt can be used against me in a number of ways: concern-trolling, denigration, or for the entertainment of others, feeling vicariously, feeling good about themselves for being sympathetic, and even if you use it to educate yourself about how the world is I feel used, unless it results in you taking action. I may feel used even if you are an ally.

Trans exclusion is not a solution to gender non-conforming anti-trans campaigners’ hurt, but it is a symbol that their hurt matters. They may find transition completely repulsive and incomprehensible. Surely these people will come to their senses! Mastectomy is mutilation! What about the detransitioners who have been mutilated? They find community with each other, as they face similar problems. That community has value. If they could get over their repulsion, they might find community with happily-transitioned trans men. What we have in common should be far more important than what divides us.

The other hurt revealed to me by anti-trans campaigners is of a barrage of sexual harassment and assault. No, women will not be safer in toilets if they are absolutely certain there are no trans women there, but excluding us is a symbol of their value and that something might be done for them. Can we speak out against this, against street harassment, harassment in work, sexual assault?

I hope Quakers can find a way to love each other with the difference and pain. Yes, me too. I hope we can come together. That has to mean addressing anti-trans campaigners’ real concerns, of sexual harassment and of stifling gender stereotypes, and convincing them we mean it rather than simply asserting trans women are women. I hope for Emily Thornberry’s feminist movement [which] is big enough and big-hearted enough, and if someone believes that they have been born as a man but they are a woman, we have space. We can’t expect that big-heartedness unless we address the trauma.

Elif Shafak puts it beautifully: anger, when left alone for too long, is highly corrosive. And, most important, it is addictive. It must be diluted and counterbalanced with more powerful, positive feelings: empathy, compassion, kindness, sisterhood and love. I’m not suggesting that we should suppress female rage or be embarrassed by it, not at all, but if we make that our main guiding force, we will be lost in the maze of our own cultural ghettoes, echo chambers, identity politics. And the only thing that will benefit from this will be patriarchy itself.

Anti-trans campaigning

Anti-trans campaigning radicalises and spreads like anti-vaxx, or conspiracist lies. It is not a proper position for any feminist or Quaker to adopt.

The first myth is that men will use the ability to “identify” as trans as a way to access women’s spaces, and women will be unable to resist. The seducers seeking to make converts at this stage pretend that they are not hostile to “real transsexuals”, just to abusive men. Even this myth makes me unsafe: it suggests to women that there are people who appear exactly like me– read as AMAB, presenting female- who are just pretending, for voyeuristic purposes, or even to sexually assault them. It’s a lie because self-declaration has always been the basis of trans diagnosis and trans rights.

As people go down the rabbit hole, beginning to believe the myths, the group of “real transsexuals” gets more and more circumscribed. Stories about the motivations of trans women spread, of gay men transitioning to trap straight men, or of autogynephilia. There is fear-mongering about penises, though most trans women have had lower surgery, or want it, and do not want their penises seen by anyone.

Eventually there is a campaign for “sex-based rights”, for a rigid distinction between sex and gender, so that even “real transsexuals” must be excluded. And yet the first myth, of being frightened of predatory men not real transsexuals, still spreads.

Campaigning for “sex-based rights”, making a rigid distinction between sex and gender, takes no notice of how society is. Society assigns gender at birth, and everyone is subjected to different treatment and expectations based on what sex others perceive them to be. In all societies there are gender-variant people who do not fit the gender stereotypes, and some of them have always transitioned.

That anti-trans campaigning hurts actual people. Harmless transitioners are treated with fear and suspicion. And feminist campaigning energy, rather than addressing real problems like unequal pay or street harassment, is diverted to deal with a symbol.

The effort is to see us and treat us as a class rather than as individuals, and anti-trans campaigners, along with the Times and other right wing propaganda, relentlessly focus on a few criminal or objectionable trans people, saying the worst individuals are typical of the class, and blackening those individuals as much as possible. Law allows trans women to be excluded from women’s spaces but the exclusion must be proportionate to the need, so normally individuals, rather than all trans women, will be excluded. The campaigners demand that all are.

Gender variant people, those who transition, those who find another way to express their gender variance, and those who are closeted, oppressed by gender yet finding no way to stand against it, should support and affirm each other. Promoting one way of responding to gender variance over others helps none of us. The anti-trans campaigners give too great emphasis to those who regret surgery, and revert. Reverters exist, but are apparently a small percentage of transitioners. Anti-trans campaigners reinforce a binary view, but detransitioners find a new way to be gender variant. Here is a call for solidarity between groups, against the “logic of fracture” which appears when the pain of victimhood leads to callousness or blindness to – or worse, pleasure in – the pain of others who are coded as adversaries; their humanity – their victimhood, too – is obscured by fear and suspicion. Fracture makes us mutually suspicious and reduces empathy, and the writer recommends solidarity- in a very different context, that of incipient communal violence, but in a way which applies to all groups tempted to mutual antagonism.

Solidarity requires overcoming differences to find common cause. That’s what makes it powerful as a concept… Solidarity is almost never easy. It is often less immediately gratifying. It can feel like being left vulnerable in what already feels like a moment of great vulnerability. But it is required to resist the process of fracture. 

Anti-trans campaigning is not proper to a Quaker because it ignores the truth of how society is and how trans people are, and demonises us. It divides people, gender variant people and equality campaigners, and sets us against each other. Quakers should not engage with it or give it any credibility. It is not proper to a feminist because it pretends a threat where there is none. It creates a symbol of women’s rights, where women campaign for a symbol rather than for any improvement in women’s position, just as Leave voters and anti-immigrant campaigners are campaigning for a symbol of their value rather than something which will improve their lives.

The genuine revulsion such campaigners feel for trans surgery prevents them seeing that hostility to trans people in wider society drives us to prove ourselves genuine by surgery.

Anti-trans campaigning is based on a lie. And yet, like anti-vaxx, and white supremacist myths, it pretends in its view of sex not gender to be rational, science-based, and concerned for people’s well-being. Trans exists, and they deny reality, calling our rational response to a gendered society a mental illness.

Cutting out anti-trans campaigners from discernment would allow loving consideration of the needs of people, of trans people, detransitioners, gender variant people, and the interest of outwardly gender-conforming people in the matter. It would respect individual choices of people in how to live their lives, and help others understand and support them, and thus be enabled to find new ways of living the good life.

I am aware that several are British people using their own names, and the anger against trans people seems an excellent place for Russian trolls to operate, saying things people will agree with, radicalising them, making them less likely to listen to opposing views.

Anti-trans campaigners whine that they are silenced, when they are well-funded and supported by such as The Times, and given prominent platforms including at Westminster and Holyrood. Silencing their falsehoods, hatred, and misconceptions would do us all good.

Paula Bolton

An author of the “Labour Women’s Declaration”, which I consider transphobic, asked me to support it, because we get on so well. I like her. Even, I admire her. She wrote this about her work for women’s rights. Read and weep, for there is so much to admire:

In the early 80s with thousands of other Women in the Peace movement we went to Greenham common and protested about Nuclear Weapons and were treated appallingly as Women…

I was asked to speak at the May Day Rally in 1986 – with 20 minutes notice! My comrades had suddenly realised that they didn’t have one woman on the platform. I was tempted to refuse and show up the sexist attitude which was normal at the time. But in the end I spoke – I had my 2 yr old nephew with me in a pushchair. As I entered the Labour Club (which my Dad founded in 1963) the doorman pointed to Daniel and said “You can’t bring that in here”. I said” That happens to be the grandson of the founder of this club – and I happen to be one of the speakers so I suggest you hold the door open for me!” I barged my way in and gave a very fiery speech – without them even finding me a space to sit alongside them on the podium BTW…

(I advised a woman who wanted to claim discrimination against her working men’s club.)

I started the Women’s Centre with my sister in 1986 appalled at the amount of Domestic Abuse taken for granted all around me. I listened to, and gave emotional support to thousands of Women over 20 years. Survivors of Rape, incest, sexual abuse, sexual harassment, unwanted pregnancy, failed contraception – Lesbian mothers losing custody to violent fathers, stories of unfair working practices like having to wear a red badge at Perfil perfume factory if you were on your period, tales of women being paid a fraction of their male colleagues – a door man earning 4 times as much as the female manager because – to quote the boss “he is a young man and will have higher expenditure” …what than a single mum on the bread line???…

This Woman of Steel is not going to sit back and let the hard won rights that we have fought for alongside thousands of other women – be taken away.

Reading this, I only admire her more, and feel anger for what she has had to endure. But why is she now working to exclude trans women? After working for women’s rights for decades, she now goes on the (trans excluding) lesbian march in Leeds, writes this, and joins the “LGB” group whose only concern is to exclude trans women.

She emailed me, I have never once suggested that you are a threat or dangerous in any way. The issue is abusive men. How to safeguard women and girls from them. I don’t know whether she believes that. I emailed back asking I too am against abusive men. The question is, do you think anyone who would call themself a trans woman is an “abusive man”, and if so on what criteria?

Well? Tara Wolf committed assault, and Karen White committed rape, but we have reason to suppose they are genuine trans women. The prison authorities believe prisoners have shown themselves to be untrustworthy, so seek evidence that someone is genuinely trans. The anti-trans campaigners should say why they think the proper way to deal with these women’s crimes is to exclude all trans women, rather than to punish the perpetrators.

Or, does she seriously believe a man would pretend to be a trans woman in order to assault women? It is, tragically, too easy to assault women without going to such efforts.

After decades of worthwhile campaigning against injustice, Paula Bolton is now punching down at weaker targets, and a companion of the hard right and its billionaire backers. It is tragic.

Supporting those billionaires there is now a “Feminists women and girls declaration” from some Green Party members. It had six hundred signatures. It’s the usual bilge, sex-based rights and the rest of it, as if the only threat to women’s rights were trans women. You’d think Paula’s experiences would have convinced her otherwise, but she does not act as if they have.

Listening and speaking

Lunch out with a woman I like and admire a lot, and a man who talked all the time. I asked her what she did at uni and she answered with an apologetic air, as if it was clichéd for someone like her, rather than his boundless self-confidence. She talked of living abroad, at one time she could get a word in edgeways, and I hardly remember a thing he said.

Similar unjustified self-confidence can be seen in this Tory leaflet:

There’s Spaffer Johnson, his tie neatly knotted, and Mr Corbyn in- a t-shirt! Shock, horror! They accuse Labour of “wrecking the economy” though under Labour, the debt generally goes down and economic growth is higher than under the Tories. The Tories claim they will “deliver Brexit”, though through incompetence, infighting and an inability to get a good withdrawal agreement they have delayed it eight months already. It’s lies and bluster. I take some hope from their negative, fear-mongering leaflet: it shows they do not believe they have anything positive to offer. They fearmonger against Mr Corbyn because they are running scared.

Here, by contrast, is Labour.

It begins, I believe that we can make real changes when people come together. So do I. This is the message of hope, the promise of working together for the common good, that makes politics worthwhile.

I went leafleting on Friday for 2 1/2 hours, and on Sunday morning I was still stiff. I went leafleting again, and now my ankle feels weak. I will have to wear a support. I had hoped to leaflet on Saturday morning but the depression stopped me. I don’t know it will until it does. I imagine I will be able to get up and do what I (think I) want to do, and then I don’t.

When my ankle went weak, though, I asked for a lift home. I did not push myself beyond what I could manage.

Caroline asked me what instruments I played, and then if I wanted to join a band. I felt anxiety. I am glad of being aware of it. No, I do not want to join a band. I have a synth and an amp, and have no wish to play with others. Possibly if I built some self-confidence. But I would not have known.

So, I improve at listening to myself, noticing and valuing myself.

The Tories are happy to waste public money, if they can increase hate and misery. 89% of people informing on ESA and PIP claimants to the Department for Withdrawing Payment are making baseless allegations. Yet the Tories spend, and the DWP investigates all allegations.

I love this paragraph of the Labour manifesto:

We will improve the safety of the
family court system for domestic
violence victims and prohibit their
cross-examination by their abuser.
We will introduce protections for victims of so-called revenge porn. Labour will introduce a no-fault divorce procedure. We will uphold women’s reproductive rights and decriminalise abortions.

But nutcase Christians have gone apeshit. The Labour Party have pledged to introduce abortion, on-demand, for any reason, up to birth, lies one site. Abortion should be no concern of the criminal law. It shoulfl be between a woman and her medical advisers. No doctor will do an unnecessary abortion. Any abortion after 24 weeks will be traumatic for the woman. No one does these lightly. Doctors’ organisations will enforce ethical rules.

Labour manifesto and trans

The Labour manifesto is launched. Labour government is the best hope of enhancing trans rights.

Labour has a proud history of standing shoulder to shoulder with LGBT+ people. We abolished Section 28, equalised the age of consent, created civil partnerships, and only with Labour votes could equal marriage become law. Labour is committed to reforming the Gender Recognition Act 2004 to introduce self-declaration for transgender people, but we are not complacent about the culture shift required to make LGBT+ inclusivity a reality. The Conservatives have been slow to understand the scale of abuse and discrimination LGBT+ people continue to face in our society.

Self-declaration is different from the TERF term “self-ID”, used to foment fear. We declare who we really are, rather than “identify” in a way they dispute and claim men would use to harm women.

Section 28, the appalling provision outlawing “promotion of homosexuality” in schools, normalised hatred of gay people just as the hard right seeks to normalise hatred of trans people now.

I take this as a pledge to shift the culture. It is brave and bold.

We will ban the dismissal of pregnant women without prior approval of the inspectorate.

I love this. Discrimination law must be enforced by victims of discrimination, often without legal help. I represented a pregnant woman who experienced health problems during her claim, and could not continue. She was scathing about the brilliant reference she settled her claim for, like the excellent appraisal she had just before her pregnancy, so unlike the dreadful appraisal she had when she announced her pregnancy.

Discrimination law must be enforced by the State, or victims will go unheard and uncompensated. I hope pregnancy is just the start.

Ensure that the single-sex-based exemptions contained in the Equality Act 2010 are understood and fully enforced in service provision.

I am not sure about that one. The single sex exemptions allow trans women to be excluded if it is a “proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim”. As that’s a defence which has to be proved by the excluder, TERFs allege that services do not exclude as they are frightened of court action.

I don’t know what it means. TERFs could take comfort from it.

Excluding trans women is not a proportionate step to make women safer. This is:

Ensure women’s refuges receive the long-term sustainable funding they need. Misogyny and violence against women and girls will become hate crimes.

After the Windrush scandal and the Tory islamophobia scandals, this is essential:

Achieving racial equality is a bedrock Labour value. It has never been more important than in the current climate. We are proud of the way our country has been shaped by the contributions, cultures and values of people from around the world.

All minorities should support this. Right wing hate seeks to oppress us all. All of us should stand together.

Misogynist transition

Do teenage girls identify as trans because of misogyny? Does prevalent discrimination against women, sexual violence coercion and assault, make them fear womanhood enough to declare themselves boys?

In a society not prejudiced against gender noncomformity, I don’t believe I would have transitioned. I have made no secret of this. A lot of people, AMAB and AFAB, may decide to transition because their gender nonconformity is not tolerated, and any body dysphoria would arise later because of their understanding of what transition means. But that is not transitioning because of misogyny, because it is discomfort with gender norms enforced on boys and girls alike. Instead, it is prejudice against gender non conformity, commonly known as transphobia.

Do gender stereotypes fit anyone? Not me, or lots of other people with a Y chromosome. I fit feminine better. I did not want anyone to know, and tried to make a man of myself. Many men may appear masculine- I did- and secretly fear their true selves being seen. Do the stereotypes fit anyone? If apparently fitting is no guide, perhaps not. Angry feminists, raised to keep quiet and not cause trouble, think that no woman fits the feminine stereotype. Who benefits? It’s patriarchy, they say. It fits and benefits men.

Not me, I say- or gay men, or darker skinned men. Not working class men. Men may benefit in some ways but not “showing weakness” is a burden. One of the ways the norms are enforced is by language- it is hard to express “abnormal” positively. Naming oppression is a major feminist project. I don’t know positive words for male femininity. It’s hard enough to find words that acknowledge our existence.

Does any woman actually fit femininity? Many seem to. Many say they do. It could be false consciousness but feminism is outspoken, with many platforms. Surely The Guardian would have got through to its feminine readers by now?

So, I consider the people asserting that misogyny makes girls want to transition to male, and hear their revulsion, not only against chest masculinisation but against the very concepts of trans boy, trans man, or non-binary. They hate being told what pronouns they can use. This anger and disgust, the refusal to entertain the idea that trans men may know who they are or what they want (though it is clear misogyny to decide you know better than others what is good for them) is, again, transphobia.

Faced by this pincer movement of transphobia, from feminists as well as social conservatives, we prove ourselves to be Real Trans in the only way we know, by seeking hormones and surgery. The way to freedom is to validate each person’s choices, to allow us to choose our gender presentation and to end discrimination, not to prevent any way of being gender non conforming. If misogyny makes girls transition, trans exclusion makes that worse not better.