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.

A declaration for all women

This is not the time to start campaigning against trans rights in the Labour Party, as some members unfortunately are doing. This election may unseat a Tory government which has created chaos, division and hatred, damaged the economy, set British people against each other and ruined our social safety net. Trans women are in all parties, and trans women like me are canvassing, leafleting and working for a Labour government. However a group seeking to roll back the rights of trans women and denying that trans women are women have started a campaign within the Labour Party, SNP and other parties to exclude trans women from women’s spaces.

This is my draft of an answering declaration, in solidarity with trans women, for when any woman suffers discrimination we all suffer.

1. Women and girls are subject to many forms of oppression. We are all subject to sexism. Some of us are subject to oppression because we are trans women, some because of our skin colour or national origin, some because we have disabilities, some because we are lesbian, some because we are pregnant, some for other reasons or several reasons. None of this oppression is acceptable.

2. Women are strongest when we are in solidarity, and others hear our voices and support our aims. We recognise that if discrimination against any group of women is normalised we all lose. We oppose discrimination against trans women.

3. We are concerned at the several campaigns to exclude trans women from women’s spaces. We recognise that no trans woman is a threat to any other woman simply because she is a trans woman. We do not judge any group by the actions of one or more of its members, and we reject attempts to foment prejudice against trans women because of the actions of any individual trans woman.

4. We recognise that transphobia and transmisogyny exist. Where any woman objects to the presence of trans women we will hear her, and seek to grow sisterly solidarity.

5. We recognise the campaign of vilification and hatred against trans women. We oppose all speech designed to foment anger or fear against trans women. We recognise it is hate speech.

6. We do not want trans women excluded from sports. We accept that the IOC rules requiring sustained reduction of testosterone levels are reasonable, and that trans women complying with sporting bodies’ rules should be allowed to participate.

7. We support women’s human rights. We recognise the widespread discrimination and problems of women including period poverty, unequal pay, unequal expectations in caring roles or house work, domestic violence… We oppose the diversion of women’s campaigning energy into a divisive campaign to exclude trans women.

(Note this in particular needs careful drafting. There are many threats to women’s rights and freedoms. Concentrating on trans exclusion helps no woman.)

8. Trans women are women.

Here is the petition drafted by some trans excluders, with my notes.

1. Women and girls are subject to discrimination and oppression on the basis of their sex.

This excludes trans women, because there is an implicit assertion that trans women are female by gender not by sex. We suffer sexism because we are women, and transphobia because we are trans women.

2. Women have the right to freedom of belief, freedom of expression and freedom of assembly (Articles 18, 19 and 20 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights).

3. Women have the right to discuss policies which affect them, without being abused, harassed or intimidated.

Yes; but trans allies are entitled to object to meetings whose purpose is to foment anger and fear against trans people. Some organisations take discrimination and inclusion seriously, and so refuse to let rooms for attempts to foment trans exclusion.

4. Women have the right to maintain their sex-based protections, as set out in the Equality Act 2010. These include female-only spaces such as changing rooms, hospital wards, sanitary and sleeping accommodation, refuges, hostels and prisons.

There is an argument that trans women are female by gender but not by sex. Some people assert you cannot change sex. While these are often semantic issues, semantics or beliefs about sex and gender should not be used to exclude trans women from women’s space. Trans women are women.

5. Women have the right to participate in single-sex sports, to ensure fairness and safety at all levels of competition.

Trans women should not be excluded from sport where we are demonstrably trans women, by reduction of testosterone levels. In amateur sports such as fun runs trans women should be accepted as women if they say they are.

6. Women have the right to organise themselves, as a sex, across a range of cultural, leisure, educational and political activities.

Yes, insofar as permitted by the Equality Act.

7. We condemn all attempts to undermine or limit the rights of women to self-organise and call on the Labour Party and the trades union movement to actively support these essential freedoms.

Condemnation of hate speech, disagreement, and refusal to provide platforms for those spreading fear or anger against trans women should be the position of the Labour Party. The Labour Party has women’s rights in its rule book, in women’s forums, officers, additional delegates and women only short lists.

Utterly distressed by reading that discriminatory declaration, I went out campaigning. It’s wonderful to speak to a former Tory worried about the direction their party is taking, who will now vote Labour.

A gender-free child

Anoush is being brought up gender-free. They can choose their gender later. At 17 months, they are a “lovely little human” who loves dolls but also motorbikes and machinery. Their parents are circus performers, who live on a house boat. They want their child to be who they are, not moulded by the unconscious bias of others into pink is for girls stereotypes. The grandmother found the child’s sex when she changed their nappy, but even other family members do not know.

Hooray! People want to know what genitals someone has so that they know what gender stereotypes to enforce. Even if they consciously desire to subvert such stereotypes and let the child be themself, they will unconsciously steer the child to “boy-things” or “girl-things”. That this is not happening in the first few years of life may be an invaluable foundation, even if when potty-trained and out in the world people will start caring what toilet they use, and nurseries will want to know. The stereotyping afflicts all of us.

So it was odd to read feminists opposing this treatment. Catherine Bennett in the Guardian strongly objected. People should be able to bring their child up free of gender stereotypes while acknowledging their sex.

Clemmie Millbank, in the Independent, also a parent of a baby of seventeen months, observed the gendered treatment given by her fellow Millennials, and the way her husband told their son not to be a wuss when he banged his head. Boys are rebuked for lashing out, but there’s a rueful “boys will be boys” tolerance which would not be extended to girls. Yet she says,

Every time we tell a little girl she’s pretty and a little boy he’s clever, we need to stop ourselves and consider our actions. The only way to tackle gender bias is by confronting it head on, not by hiding it.

Conscious incompetence here would be painful. Always you would ask yourself, am I cuddling this crying child because she is a girl? Am I not cuddling out of a rebellion against stereotyping when I really should? You tell someone to “grow a pair” and feel instantly ashamed.

Bennett claims that the parents are placing gender above sex. The gender-neutral extremist must be continually patrolling their own narrative, whereby gender, a matter of choice and chance, eclipses human biology.

I don’t think they are. There is nothing to indicate that they will alter the child’s body, or ignore their genitals later, just that they want to prevent gender bias now.

Sex is physical, gender is cultural. That is my observation, that of many others, and the basis of feminism opposing women’s oppression (and to a lesser extent men’s) by stereotypes. Actual humans do not naturally fit gendered boxes. So taking action to prevent forcing a child into those boxes is necessary. Some people feel the forcing is natural and appropriate – boys should be boys- some do it thoughtlessly.

I am sure Catherine Bennett would not buy a pink princess shirt for a toddler girl relative. She may even be able to cuddle crying children equally, whatever clothes they wear. Does she despise an unmanly man, or unconsciously reinforce femininity ever? The social pressure to do so is strong.

She is so hostile to concepts of gender neutral as a way to subvert the culture of gender, so hostile to trans people, that she cannot see the value of hiding a child’s genitals. It makes it impossible to stereotype! Is that not obviously a good thing, especially for a feminist?

No one fits the rigid gender boxes. Some people get along with them more or less. Some of us are so tortured by them that we must escape them by any means. We transition, or we change pronouns, or we self-consciously try to give off the signals of the other sex, to change others’ expectations and treatment of us.

None of this is acceptable to some feminists. Only their way is allowed. You can only subvert gender while being clear about sex. They even ally with the far right to oppose transition.

We have to accept all tools to subvert gender, and celebrate everyone fighting it. There are too many people who actively support stereotyping, who think boys should be that type of boy, made to man up, ashamed of showing emotion, and girls should be gentle and caring. Unless we are allies against that our cause is doomed.

A “Christian” site was confused, and in part progressive. This is the progressive bit:

As Christians we love the variety of gifts and personalities God has given to males and females made in his image. We do not want to restrict God, if indeed that were even possible, and narrowly define gender roles and behaviour in ways that are not supported in the Bible.

It seems they think stereotyping can be too restrictive. However they also think “gender is programmed into our DNA”. It is “deeply disturbing” to think Anoush might choose a gender identity different to the one their genitals indicate. But, how could Anouch do that, if it’s against DNA programming?

I wish the parents well. Anoush has a chance to find themself. It would save a lot of angst if everyone else had too.

Woman’s Place UK Manifesto

Woman’s Place UK has published their manifesto. There is a lot of good stuff in it, that I would support, except for the core demands, sneaked in in coded language. But we know what the code means, don’t we, ladies?

No trans women!

They start with barely a hint of transphobia:

We are united by our belief that women’s hard-won rights must be defended. We are against all forms of discrimination. We believe in the right of everyone to live their lives free from discrimination and harassment.

They don’t say here, or anywhere, that “woman” does not include trans woman. Or that excluding trans women from women’s space could ever be discrimination.

On economic status, they want caring work valued, and benefits restored. They want better enforcement of the Equality Act 2010. Careful what you wish for: that’s the Act that protects trans rights.

They oppose violence against women and girls. Here is the tragedy of their position: all their campaigning energy, and mine, is diverted onto their campaign

No trans women!

Implement the abolitionist model, criminalising those who exploit prostituted people (including pimps and sex buyers) and decriminalising the prostituted, providing practical and psychological exiting support.

That’s code too. Sex workers oppose it. They are “Sex worker excluding radical feminists” or SWERFs.

On health care, they demand Implement the NHS strategy of Elimination of Mixed Sex Accommodation in hospitals. Commit to uphold right to request a female clinician, carer or support worker and to have that request respected. But they don’t see me as female.

No trans women!

On education, they want An end to the provision of education by lobby groups and untrained or unregulated providers in all state schools and colleges. They really hate Mermaids, the charity supporting trans children and their families.

No Mermaids!

I entirely agree when they demand, Introduce a duty on schools and colleges to challenge harmful gender, sex and other stereotypes. That would benefit everyone. But Robust defence of the human right to freedom of speech in academia is because of students angry at ignorant and transphobic attitudes of some academics. Free Speech is not threatened when the media is relentlessly transphobic, and while students have campaigned, no academic career has been threatened for reasonable writing.

On Law, they say, Strengthen the Equality Act by restoring the statutory questionnaire; the duty to protect from third party harassment; and the power of tribunals to make wider recommendations. Enact Section 1 to compel action to reduce socio-economic disadvantage. As a former employment tribunal representative, I agree wholeheartedly. And with this: Enforce Public Sector Equality Duty and Equality Act, though they’d better watch out: the Equality duty was the reason their meeting in Leeds was cancelled. There are a lot of assorted demands, such as, Overhaul aggressive immigration laws and end the hostile environment policy. Many on the Left would agree.

Where women are housed in the prison estate, accommodation must be single-sex to protect their privacy, safety and dignity. So trans women, however long we have been transitioned, however harmless we are- me, perhaps, if I campaign too hard for Extinction Rebellion or pacifist causes- must rot on male vulnerable prisoner units with the paedophiles.

Participation in public life: Defend the use of sex-based mechanisms such as all-women shortlists.

“Sex-based” is of course code for you know what.

Here’s a radical demand: Action to end sexist, demeaning, objectifying, stereotypical images of women and girls throughout society and in particular in media, arts, advertising and the political sphere. Yet I agree: the campaign against “page 3” should only be the start. It would be a huge step towards abolishing the Patriarchy. It would however require them to devote their entire campaign to it. Many who support trans rights will not join them while they are anti-trans. Fully implemented it would mean censoring Shakespeare, but there is no suggestion here where they might start.

Support for sex-segregated sports. No-one seriously opposes having separate women’s competition, it’s just how you define “woman” on the margins. Caster Semenya is a woman who should be entitled to enter women’s competition. So are trans women compliant with the IOC rules.

Women should be supported to pursue their right to freedom of association. That is, hold feminist meetings excluding trans women. Weary sigh. If the debate were not so charged, trans women might leave them alone, and go to women’s groups only by invitation. I don’t want a feminist gathering suddenly to focus on me, where my presence is the only issue. But the WPUK campaign has done a great deal to inflame the debate.

So there’s a lot of good stuff here, but throughout there is the coded demand:

No trans women!

And the rest has not the slightest credibility, because they have not held one meeting, or posted one video, except to campaign against trans rights. They could put radical feminism on the national agenda, but instead they campaign against us. It is a tragedy. We should be allies.

I found the profusion of developing pine cones beautiful:

“Cis privilege” and safe spaces

Do we regard women’s need for safe spaces as privilege?

Well, I don’t. Yet “cis privilege” exists. I try to create understanding and see from more than one perspective. I want to get beyond trump cards, the killer argument which makes one side win, or Oppression Olympics, where we compete to show our suffering is greater. I would welcome a response which might find some grain of value in this, and build on it.

I do not believe in “female privilege”, as Patriarchy favours men. The need for women’s safe spaces comes from Patriarchy. But Kyriarchy- rule by lords, or the privileged, over others, is a useful word: people of colour, queers and others are also oppressed. There are intersections.

Trans people are in all sorts of cultures around the world, over millennia. Trans people are those who think they are, want to be, or want to be seen as, the other sex. The word transsexual was coined to fit that, but it does not quite fit. Some thought that the word increases pressure on us to have surgery which some of us may not want, and some say that we fit a cultural perception of the other sex so “transgender” fits better. Then some object to being seen as culturally a woman: if by genes, gonads and genitals you are a woman, you are a woman no matter what the culture thinks.

Part of privilege is not having to explain yourself. We’re everywhere, and we always have been throughout recorded history. Still we have to explain ourselves. We have to explain ourselves to ourselves, to pluck up the courage to transition, and we have to explain ourselves to others, to justify doing what we want to do.

Being a Quaker, I value experience above belief. I observe that dressing in clothes deemed fit for women by my culture and a feminine name were what I wanted more than anything else in the world. This came after a period when I tried to make a man of myself, going for long walks with a rucksack filled with bricks, or joining the territorial army. Lots of trans women do. I now think of that as suffering social pressure to conform as a “normal” male.

Part of privilege is having spaces where you fit. At Yearly Meeting I noticed a queue outside the “All-gender” toilet, and wondered if I were female enough to use the women’s. I decided I was. I have only noticed all-gender toilets in the past year or so, and might be delaying a wheelchair-user’s use.

The need for safe spaces is the opposite of privilege. The common space is made for men- so when there is a sex murderer on the loose, the police tell women not to go out alone, rather than impose a curfew on men. And, the common space is not made for trans folk either. We don’t have our discrete spaces, we are lumped in together.

So we scrap amongst ourselves. I experience a great deal of sympathy from women. Some are proud to be allies, speaking up for trans people. Many say “trans women are women” which as a factual statement might be disputed, and its implications taken to the extreme are absurd. Non-trans women are women too. But it’s a statement of intent about practical arrangements, about how we treat people.

Some women are upset and angry to see a trans woman in women’s space. Some women are creeped out by it, and some collect stories of actual trans woman sex offenders, as if to tar us all with the same brush, but not all women are.

I tend to feel that temporary solidarity from women who are repulsed by a trans woman in a woman’s loo would advance feminist concerns and subvert conservative gender roles (conservatives hate trans women because we subvert gender roles by transitioning, even if we reinforce gender roles in our presentation after transition). So I feel recognising some trans disprivilege has value, even if you don’t feel privileged over us yourself.

If “trans” refers to one who crosses over, “cis” means one on the same side. I want a word which means “non-trans” without clearly excluding trans women from the class of “women”. Now, we have two sets of terms, one prioritising genes gonads and genitals as a way of moulding how people should react, and the other emphasising universal (though rare) human actions. Could we have one language?

Advice for Julie Bindel

I doubt she will hear it, but I will try.

Julie Bindel is a gender-critical feminist often accused of being transphobic, including by me. There has been some concern about British gender critical feminists working with the hard Right in America against trans rights. Venice Allan went to America to make contact with hard-Right groups, and also apparently “laughed at a racist posh girl calling a feminist activist a Nazi”.

My advice is, don’t do this in public on Twitter. Phone her up, or just ignore it.

You agree about a lot. I don’t agree with this, but you both believe that trans rights conflict with women’s rights, and you both campaign for women’s rights against the encroachment of trans rights. You don’t campaign about all the same things, but most things one campaigns on, the other will be broadly sympathetic.

There are two views which a gender critical feminist might have. One is that the hard-Right is anti-woman, seeking to enforce regressive gender stereotypes, against birth control, and against bodily autonomy when there might be an embryo, and you would have nothing to do with them. The other is, while the hard-Right is wrong about almost everything, they are right that trans women are a threat in women’s spaces, and might provide useful support for feminists on the Left wanting to make that argument.

My personal view is that no feminist should have anything to do with The Heritage Foundation, but I can see why Posie Parker does.

I admire Julie Bindel’s integrity even as I disagree with her. I admire the directness of her campaigning. She uses words brilliantly, her polemic skewers her enemies, yet she should be able to make the leap of empathy with Posie Parker to understand why she has done what she has done, and (if she criticises at all) only criticise in private. You agree about almost everything. Do not let the one thing you disagree about come between you.

I agree with Julie Bindel when she said, in three tweets on 1 February,

Before anyone suggests that what I am about to say is in order to get myself a reprieve from the 15 years of hell being targeted by the trans lobby, I am aware that even if I set fire to myself in the street by way of ‘apologising’ I would simply be accused of causing the death of trans people who were in the vicinity and died of smoke inhalation – so not only do I feel I have nothing to apologise for, it would be a massive waste of time. But I want to say how I despise the latest tactics of Posie Parker and disciples, and want no part in it. As far as I am concerned, they are motivated by narcissism, bigotry, and ego. They are causing harm. THE END.

But I do not think she should have said it in public. It gives delight to her and Posie’s common enemies. Where do you think I found that screenshot above? On a trans campaign group. Everyone there is delighted at their- oh, I’ll be honest, our- opponents falling out.

In a similar way, the Heritage Foundation want to set gender critical feminists and trans people against each other. They are on the Right, and they recognise that gender critical feminists and trans people are on the anti-authoritarian Left, however much we might accuse each other of being right-wing. The Heritage Foundation is delighted that their enemies are fighting amongst themselves, for thereby we give ammunition to Right-wing causes and reduce the effectiveness of the Left. They might achieve that by funding trans women, so their choice to fund the gender-critical feminists is instructive: they believe that no-one will see the difference, and imagine that these women are standing up for traditional gender roles; and they believe that preventing the freedom to transition will lessen all freedom to express gender variance. That their desires are bad does not mean that their perceptions of the route to what they desire are unintelligent.

The Left is fractious. To the Left of the Labour Party, recently, there have been the Socialist Workers Party, the Socialist Party, the Communist Party of Britain, and the Socialist Labour Party, with clear differences between them a bit like the differences between the Free Church of Scotland and the United Free Church of Scotland. For me, Jeremy Corbyn and I don’t know, Chukka Umunna would be better PMs than Theresa May and I would leaflet and door-knock for either of them within the Labour Party. Twitter especially, and the internet more generally, makes the fractiousness worse. We have to find ways of working together.

Since writing this post, I have changed my mind. Julie Bindel is right. The hard-Right funding for gender critical feminists should be proclaimed as loudly as possible.