Ky Schevers

Ky Schevers compares trans men detransitioning into “gender critical” circles to the “ex-gay” movement. Having spent time with them, and transitioned to male again, he says they are harmful both to trans people and detransitioners. He has written some perceptive Medium posts about his experiences. Any human being might recognise the tension between seeking acceptance from others, and being proudly who you are, which for trans people is particularly fraught.

At times I have needed to say different things about myself, and wanted different affirmation from others. Before I committed to transition, I wanted to, yet was too frightened, and I read up on “autogynephilia”, and told myself my desires were unreal. Then I decided I would transition, and joined Transsexual UK, a Yahoo group. There my desire to transition was affirmed, though it was nastily transmedicalist- not just the clear desire for hormones and surgery, but the implication that those who did not want surgery were perverts or transvestites and we should distance ourselves from them. And all the time I have wanted affirmed just for me, for who I am.

Since the March lockdown I have been powerfully affirmed here, Saturdays at 11am GMT. It is a space for everyone, not just trans, where we can show ourselves.

Ky transitioned female to male, then detransitioned, and joined gender critical groups. They would affirm him if he asserted that he was a woman, that being butch was fine but saying that it was in any way “masculine” was wrong, because that was a way some women were and all women were allowed to be if they wanted to. He used his strong gifts for thinking, analysis and writing on a wordpress blog which is now deleted. His crashchaoscats tumblr is now “Hemp Life Mag- CBD reviews, news and guides”, with no obvious indication it has ever been a detransition blog.

As a F-M-F detransitioner, part of his belief system was that he had undertaken a terrible act of self-harm caused by “transgender ideology”, and it was important to him to shield others for similar harm. His “Open letter to Julia Serano” remains, shared by another on facebook, and I copied it to a word document which I retain. He wrote to Julia, a powerful transadvocate,

I see these young women, lesbian and otherwise, finally find other women they can relate to, who also feel out of place in this society, who don’t fit the patriarchal myths and I watch them grow proud of being female, being a woman. It has been beautiful to watch and amazing to be a part of so many women’s healing.

You can choose to listen to us and change how you talk about us or you can keep repeating the same misinformation. In case you do choose to listen, I’ve included some links to other detransitioned women’s blogs and videos. In any case, we will keep speaking our truths because even if you’re not listening, a lot of women are and they need to hear what we have to say.

There it is. Beautifully articulate, powerfully expressed, definite, and he would say now completely wrong. Or at least if right for anyone not right for him. I wrote about him at the time.

There has to be a better way. As he says, people who transition and detransition have a lot in common with people who are transitioning or want to, or who have transitioned. It would be so much better if they could be in community together for mutual support. And yet they are pitched against each other, forced to argue that the other groups are deluded and perhaps that they personally have been in the past.

I want a Gender Variant community, of people who recognise that gender stereotypes do not fit them, and support any way of coping with that- living against the stereotypes, living with a particular presentation such as “butch”, having surgery- because we recognise what we have in common. I don’t know it is possible. Too many people are invested in their own way and want to save others from different, wrong, paths. There is a strong taboo in the wider community against body alteration- some people even condemn tattoos, piercings, or rhinoplasties, leave alone what we have done. He says,

People also need spaces where they can freely explore how their sense of gender may have been shaped by trauma and/or living in a homophobic transphobic patriarchy without being pressured to adopt a particular identity or interpretation of their experiences.

Ky now feels he was exploited by people with their own axes to grind- conservative Evangelicals who claim gender variance is a sin encouraged by feminism, parents of trans people who are disgusted by their children’s desires and encourage each other to oppose them, or conversion therapists who want to make money from them. “Ideologically motivated detransition is conversion therapy,” he says. We want to be accepted in community, because we are social beings, and so we seek out their conditional acceptance. But,

People invested in transphobic ideologies have no interest in helping detransitioned people heal because they want to frame transitioning as being as damaging as possible.

I needed to sort out who I was as opposed to what I had become in order to belong to the community.

Now, he says, it is “surreal” to accept himself as a trans man and lose that community. “I still care about a lot of detransitioned women but I no longer feel like I can be close to them.” How could he, when he sees them as perpetrating the same harms? Could he just be with them, without trying to fix each other? Could we each accept that my path is right for me now, and just because it is different to your path does not mean either is wrong? Could we support each other in such different choices? We need an identity, and feel such confusion when that identity changes- I thought I was a “man”, and now see I am a trans woman. An answer might be to cling less tightly to a rigid conception of that identity, but that troubles straight people and raises our internalised self-phobia.

He feels terribly guilty.

I betrayed the trans community by adopting and promoting transphobic views and creating material that was then picked up and used by other anti-trans groups. I betrayed the detrans community by coming out as trans, leaving the community and talking openly about how detransitioning hurt me. I further betray them by naming the harm done by the detrans community [including Keira Bell.]… The thing I’m really trying to figure out is how do I take responsibility for my past actions and do what I can to fix the damage? … I don’t want to harm others, even unintentionally… Those transphobic ideas harmed me but they also motivated me to speak and act in ways that harmed other trans people as well.

He has been writing. It is his skill. It is powerful stuff, and anyone interested should read him and engage with him, trans people, allies, and those he says are exploiters.

He is vulnerable. Not for the first time,

I am dismantling who I once was and still figuring out who I want to be now.
I’m working to heal from the damage of trying to erase an important part of myself.
I was in pain and I wanted it to stop.

The exploiters should have pity on us, but they too have their needs and identities to protect. I will have pity on him. Ky, you were seeking community and seeking to understand yourself in a blizzard of conflicting interpretations, anger, contempt and fear. You did your best to help others and find community. I will not blame you for anything you did, however mistaken you now feel it was.

These are Ky’s three Medium posts:
Detransition as conversion therapy: a survivor speaks out.
What is ideologically motivated detransition?
Moving between worlds deciding what to do next.

The Quaker case against trans inclusion

Why would Quakers oppose trans inclusion? Liz Truss, say, might oppose it as an authoritarian, wanting conformity, as a nationalist, seeking out enemies, and as a Conservative tactician, desiring to sow dissention on the Left, but these motives do not apply to the Quaker anti-trans campaigners I know.

The Quaker case against trans inclusion is founded in love and human need. As a trans woman who disagrees, I may be the best person to put it. If we are to reach unity on this matter, that case needs heard and addressed. A Friend complained that Friends seeking trans exclusion based their case on apparently rational argument, rather than feeling. If the feeling were expressed she might be able to sympathise; but it is too much to ask people to express their feeling, at least in a meeting for worship.

The case against trans inclusion is based in experience, and accounts are readily available on line. Everyone knows some of it. We all know women who have had violent, abusive partners or sons. A Quaker told me her Quaker husband hit her, and other Quaker women, talking quietly and privately, have told me they know of cases too.

There is the experience of women afflicted by gender stereotypes, girls brought up not to be too forward, to be caring of others’ feelings, not to put their wants first. At puberty men want sex from them, and won’t take no for an answer. Experience varies. I have hints of it- after transitioning aged 35, when I was not read as trans men might abuse me as a “whore” or a “slut” when I did not do as they wanted, touch my bottom, come on to me, call out to me in the street. One woman told me of not being given any tools to deal with sexual demands, of men grudgingly accepting the excuse “I already have a boyfriend”- that is, not that she objected but that another man might. There are experiences of assault and rape.

There is deep hurt and anger at being devalued as human beings. Such hurt may be too great to express in a business meeting, too great a threat to self-respect. It is one thing to express ones hurt in order to win others over, and achieve a result, and quite another to express hurt, and gain nothing, for it to be judged insufficient. Take care what humiliation you ask of Friends. I express my hurt to Friends if I know I will receive sympathy, understanding, and the help I want. I do not want to express hurt so others may experience my emotion vicariously and still speak against me. Expressing anger is more fraught, as it may provoke opposition.

And then there is delight, of coming home to our tribes. We talk of “Coming Home to Friends”, finding people amongst whom we perfectly fit. I first had that feeling around 1990 with Mensa, when I highly valued my intellect and devalued or ignored my emotional intelligence. Then I had the same feeling with the Sibyls, a Christian spirituality group for transgender people, when I was considering transition. Other Friends have this feeling in feminist circles. There is a sense of being free: with no men, the long ingrained habit of deferring to men falls away and you can speak up. Women “listen each other into existence”, blossoming as they value each other, finding their voices as they are heard. There is solidarity around sharing a female reproductive system, with its pain, delight, taboos and vulnerability.

There is the sense that trans women are men, and that men in these spaces diminish that sense of support and solidarity. There is revulsion at trans men’s medical treatment, and fear that these are teenage girls, rejecting oppressive femininity and having womanhood stolen from them.

After the feelings, come the logical arguments. Women need single-sex spaces for reasons of privacy and vulnerability, and just as men should not be in those spaces neither should trans women, because trans women are men. They may resist the term “trans women”, preferring “trans-identified male”. The Woman’s Place UK Manifesto talks of “sex-based” rights and “single-sex” spaces without once mentioning trans people.

I think my needs should be taken into account too, because I could no more not be trans, not be a trans woman, than these women could not be cis women. However, that is disputed, in the long, rational arguments that people hone amongst themselves.

It is my feeling that those women who do not tolerate trans women in women’s spaces are particularly far from the feminine gender stereotypes. This is disputed: they might say that feminine gender stereotypes are merely oppressive, and fit no-one. Whatever, my own perception of their gender variance is at the heart of my sympathy for their need. They might object to my language, talking not of “trans exclusion” but “the need for single-sex spaces”- for them, treating trans women with respect and dignity and giving us equal rights does not mean admitting us to women’s spaces; however changing my language in that way is a step I cannot take, because I too have needs and value.

Others can express their need better than I can; but I don’t think they should be required to. God is Love, requiring that all of us are valued.

Practically, the only question for Quakers is around a few room hires. However, for some women, trans women in women’s spaces become a symbol of sexism, patriarchy and oppression, of their needs and desires being discounted. It becomes personal, linked to experience of violence and trauma, even the single most important feminist issue. The British government is moving against all work for equality, and opposing trans rights for them is a way of putting the Left in disarray.

Quakers are seeing that the testimony to equality requires us to become more aware of privilege- white privilege, male privilege, class privilege and cis privilege among others. I don’t think my needs should be discounted either, because trans people are vulnerable too. Ceasing to meet in person, the difficult issue of trans rights is off the British Quaker agenda, but Quakers should be standing up for trans rights, which requires addressing these issues.

Ovarit and transphobia

“Ovarit” is a forum set up to hate on trans people. It has very strong rules: the “gendercritical” circle is the place for hating trans people, the “women’s liberation” circle is for feminist topics, and the “Activism” circle for calls to action. There is a stern warning about the things which belong in other “circles”. There are also rules about abuse: Continue reading

Amy Dyess

“We were constantly triggered. Now I realize we were used as pawns in a culture war. It was never about defending and strengthening lesbians. The goal was to divide our community.” Social media does not keep anyone informed. Keeping us triggered is the point. Keeping us angry, defensive, fearful. Amy Dyess has revealed the hate and fear of the anti-trans campaigners, who she calls “gender critical”. She quotes their propaganda in her article, and it is vile, saying trans rights is persecuting lesbians. Amplifying it made her feel needed, that she was helping lesbians, giving her good feelings when her life was so difficult.

She was brought up evangelical, and people said it was immoral for her to marry. Some trans or allies’ tweets “saying lesbians were hateful for not liking penises” seemed lesbophobic to her, even though she is sometimes attracted to trans women. Perhaps they were. She was insecure and in pain, so open to “GC” propaganda. Her recruiter love-bombed her, and co-ordinated action against “Diva, PinkNews, Autostraddle, Juno Dawson, Grace Petrie, Ruth Hunt, Ellen Page, Chase Strangio, Rhea Butcher, and so many more”.

Amy Dyess was living in a car, working full time and trying to get a better job. She was groomed to go on TV to put the gender critical case. She was offered a house. Rosa Freedman, who distanced herself from the Republican and Evangelical right, offered to fly her to Britain, and have her speak at different events. Julie Bindel paid some of her expenses. There’s a lot of money in the GC movement. Much of it comes from Republicans (Julie Bindel spoke out against that).

“Gender-critical” Memoree Joelle, former editor of AfterEllen, supported Donald Trump.

When Amy Dyess considered suing Twitter for discriminating against women’s free speech, the Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF) proposed she got funding and support from religious right organisations.

Hands Across The Aisle, a religious right organisation seeking out wedge issues to detach leftists from the Democratic Party, worked with Posie Parker and produced anti-trans content as well as the founder’s homophobic content. Julia Beck, Meghan Murphy of Feminist Current, and Julia Long also worked with HATA.

Amy Dyess is against “political lesbianism”, “the harmful idea that women can ‘choose’ to be lesbians and strategically deny men sex”, “an anti-lesbian ideology”. She did not feel safe at WPUK events because Judith Green attacked her for criticising political lesbianism. “Lesbian rights depend on ‘born this way’,” she says. I disagree. It’s nobody’s business who you go to bed with but yours. “Born that way” might make some homophobes relent, a little, on their homophobia, but if they think lesbianism is not a perfectly reasonable choice, needing no justification, they are still homophobic.

I am not sure of the rigid boundary between straight, gay and bi. A woman I knew married a man and had a daughter, and I think she thought she was straight. Then she had an overwhelming affair with a woman, and told me she was lesbian. Then she went back to her husband. “Political lesbianism” could be a cover for a bi woman, and there is biphobia among LGBT folk (internalised in the B). Or a woman who had always been attracted to men could find herself attracted to a woman, and call herself a “political lesbian” because she found it reassuring. “Gold star lesbian” is the mocking phrase for someone who tells others she’s only ever been with women, and makes a point of it.

“I didn’t think that I was anti-trans, but looking back over the screenshots it’s clear that I was.” She still had trans friends in real life.

She wanted kindness, and I feel she misunderstands #fuckkind. The point is that being kind and considerate of men’s feelings is part of women’s socialisation. #fuckkind can be liberating. Who should you listen to, or pay attention to? Kind should be a choice not an obligation. If we could all stand up for our rights, and hear each other without being triggered, we might work together. LGBT+ should be allies despite all the tensions, because the prejudice from straightworld is so much greater. But we are traumatised, and triggerable.

1 December: Amy Dyess has written again about the cult of “gender-critical“. She says escapees need reconnection, protection and recovery. They need to reconnect with the loved ones they pushed away, and with former friends. Protection: some angry and desperate GCs will slander you. “If you’re sincere, most trans people will give you a break.” And, Recovery: unpacking what happened, which may require therapy. “There’s life after GC,” she says.

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.