Amol Rajan

A transphobe was arrested at a protest while causing a disturbance. He goes out in a sandwich board reading “I ❤️ JK Rowling” on one side, “gender ideology does not belong in schools” on the other, and he gets into confrontations. “My pulse is often elevated way beyond what it should be” because of the stress of these encounters, he says. I read this and thought, “I hope he gets a heart attack”.

I am not proud of this. The man crowdfunds billboards against trans rights, which get far more attention on twitter. He is an insurance broker from British Columbia. In a sane world, he would not hate or campaign against me, and I would not hate him because I would never have heard of him.

Six months since JK Rowling’s hateful screed against trans rights, it continues to reverberate. I would rather not be reminded, but there’s this long article in The Cut, on how Rowling’s life and personality have led her to transphobia. Rowling is controlling over her wizarding world, and a transphobe Kathleen Stock is a proponent of “extreme intentionalism”. In contrast to Deconstruction, Stock argues a text is “a set of instructions to imagine certain things”. I disagree, but it might appeal to a controlling author.

I would have ignored Amol Rajan’s blog post mentioning Rowling had it not been for the DW article. I poked around the DW site. Is it some crackpot hard right site funded by US billionaires, like Spiked or The Critic? No, it is Deutsche Welle [wave], “Germany’s international media organisation”, “an unbiased media organisation… conveying Germany as a liberal democracy”. It takes interest in Free Speech, and for once means real free speech issues like journalists getting arrested, rather than some claimed right to spew transphobic hate free from criticism. So why did it have an error in its headline, and another in its lede? It wasn’t a BBC award, but a jeu d’esprit of BBC media editor Amol Rajan.

What was the “award”? Rajan writes a blog post once a year naming a few essays he really liked. He admits the heading [Bertrand] Russell award is just something he made up, as if I were to award a George Eliot prize to Laverne Cox (except I wouldn’t, as I am terribly jealous of the recognition for trans writers). He claims not to take a view on the issues raised, but says Rowling was brave because of the disapproval she faced. But he likes plain language, even plain language spreading hate, like Enoch Powell’s most infamous speech.

DW writes throughout that it is “The BBC” giving this “award”. Pink News covered the story, but few others did, and I would not have but for Deutsche Welle and some wailing and gnashing of teeth in trans facebook, first over Rajan’s blogpost then over DW’s report.

Had he other form on trans? Some trans people, disabled people, BAME people objected to “Little Britain”, and when Netflix removed it Rajan went on BBC news to discuss the issue. I could not find what he said, something about “nuance”, but viewers liked it, said the Metro. Rajan condemned “offence archaeology”, which is trawling through ten year old tweets to find something that might offend, then using it to discredit the now-famous twitterer. The hard Right objects loudly to this as “cancel culture”, but Breitbart uses it against journalists- sneakily quoting anything that might be read as offending Left wingers: see this Atlantic article under the subheading War on the Press.

Also on Trans facebook: the Law Commission consultation. “We provisionally propose that the offences of stirring up hatred be extended to cover hatred on the grounds of transgender identity and disability. Do consultees agree?” Oh God, no. There would instantly be all the haters, self-publicists and provocateurs crawling out of the woodwork, saying hateful things and blogging them, daring the CPS to prosecute them.

Where trans teens are refused access to the right toilets for their gender, they are more likely to be sexually assaulted. That puts Rowling’s “fears” in context.

And- it is not personal. Up until 1900 anything you actually heard was personal. In 1896, the New York Times circulation was less than 9000, when the population of New York city was 3.4m. There was no media for most people beyond talking face to face. There were telephones, but most people wouldn’t have one. Now I can comment on any news I see, then note how many Likes and replies I get. People identify personally with their political party so that an insult to it is an insult to them, their personhood. This is not healthy.

Amol Rajan liking JK Rowling might affect the general view of trans rights in the UK by an infinitesimal amount, but a lot of people’s heart rates might be elevated. It’s not personal. It grabs my attention in a way that is not good for me.

Troubled Blood

In “Troubled Blood” by JK Rowling, the serial killer Dennis Creed tricks his female victims into his van by wearing a woman’s coat and wig to appear unthreatening. He “camouflaged himself behind an apparently fey and gentle facade”. He was abused as a child, then aged 12 began covertly watching women undress and stealing their underwear, which he wore while masturbating. He is a “genius of misdirection in his neat little white van, dressed in the pink coat he’d stolen from Vi Cooper, and sometimes wearing a wig that, from a distance, to a drunk victim, gave his hazy form a feminine appearance just long enough for his large hands to close over a gasping mouth.” He keeps his victims’ jewellery as trophies.

Is this transphobic? The Guardian books blog said not, saying he is “not portrayed as trans or even called a transvestite”. They say, don’t rise to the Telegraph’s criticism, a week ago (I found the article on Tumblr)

the disappearance of GP Margot Bamborough in 1974, thought to have been a victim of Dennis Creed, a transvestite serial killer. One wonders what critics of Rowling’s stance on trans issues will make of a book whose moral seems to be: never trust a man in a dress.

Pink News did, though it did not report the details. Much of the abuse seems based on the Telegraph review, and the books blog points out the Telegraph likes enraging social justice advocates. Vanity Fair’s headline was “JK Rowling proves her commitment to transphobia in her new novel”, apparently without reading the book. The Independent only read the review, not the book, and recounted Rowling’s other reported transphobia in a worthless article saying nothing anyone interested in the issue didn’t know already.

Vicious transphobe Catherine Bennett repeated Rowling’s transphobic ploy of portraying the dispute as between decent and reasonable women with “concerns” against a baying transactivist mob. Bennett also again obscures the difference between hate crime, which is actual crime, and hate speech, which isn’t. Making misogyny a hate crime would not criminalise any tweet which is not criminal already, as incitement to violence or terrorist threat.

There is a real trans woman serial killer: Beate Schmidt, who murdered five women and a baby. However, fiction multiplies that- “The Silence of the Lambs” came before Rowling’s 900 page doorstop.

Should we care? Well, Rowling clearly hates trans people, demonising us repeatedly. Defences include the argument that Creed is not a trans woman. Well, who is to say? Many people would transition if there was not the storm of hatred, but do not. I know trans women diagnosed by psychiatrists who put off transition. Creed is a figment in a transphobe’s imagination, but some trans women masturbate when dressed female, and may even steal underwear if they cannot get it any other way, especially as children.

Why did Rowling make Creed a cross-dresser? Well, he is a serial killer. Without the writerly skill to make Creed horrific, terrifying or repellent, she resorts to clichés. She finds cross-dressers repulsive, so she imagines her readers will too. She also says he was abused as a child. We cannot assess whether Creed is really trans, because he is a mere grab-bag of characteristics, rather than a character.

That defence of Rowling is transphobic. Creed is not a trans woman, it says: Look, he murders people! Well, trans women can be criminals, just as gay people or left handed people can be. One “bad apple” does not taint all of us, and it is transphobic to judge us all by one criminal trans woman.

Creed wears a woman’s wig and coat. Rowling is associating trans behaviour with murderousness. That is enough to be transphobic. Yes, trans women may be criminals; but there are so few of us, we are a tiny proportion of criminals. For a demonstrated transphobe to give a criminal trans behaviour is transphobic.

Should there be an outcry? There is an outcry because trans people have no power. Ideally, people would see how immoral Rowling’s transphobia is, and stop buying her books. In the real world, some people may buy the book because of Rowling’s transphobia. I imagine Bennett avidly reading a book she would otherwise have sneered at. People tweet because we can’t do anything else. Transphobes at the Telegraph and Times are loudly delighted.

Being reasonable about trans

There are disputes about trans women in women’s spaces, on the Left. If people on both sides can genuinely be reasonable, some reconciliation might be possible. And, if you can appear reasonable to ordinary people who don’t take much interest in trans rights issues, you can win them over: defeating the other side, who are the enemy.

In The Atlantic on 6 July, Helen Lewis wrote that JK Rowling’s views on gender are “compassionate”! Rowling “wrote about her sympathy for transgender victims”. You don’t want to read yet more analysis of Rowling’s screed. I have gone through it again to find all the bits which could be said to show compassion to trans people, and that is a footnote to this post which only people who really want to need read.

I thought, reading Lewis’ article, but that’s ridiculous. I went back to Rowling’s post. All her attacks are on “trans rights activists” who say completely ridiculous things, in her view. All the threat is from them. For someone who sympathises with Rowling’s position, she could appear compassionate to trans people, and ordinary people who don’t really care could be persuaded.

For reconciliation to be possible, trans people would want trans excluders to admit some obvious facts:

1. Trans women have self declaration already.

We have self-declaration formally under the Equality Act since 2010 but informally from medical treatment and the government response, giving documents indicating trans women are female, from decades before. I wanted a bank card in my female name for when I was dressed female, before I went full time, and when I produced evidence I was seeing a psychiatrist about transition I got one. I was in women’s spaces twenty years ago. So:

2. Trans women are in women’s spaces now, and if “predatory men” wanted to go there too by pretending to be trans, they could, now.

Predatory men have far easier ways of attacking women than pretending to be trans. And transition is not a whim: we agonise about it, and many of us fight it as long as we can.

3. Trans women are mostly harmless, and do not deserve collective punishment.

In any group there are a few bad apples. There are bad people in all the groups I am a member of: Scots, left-handed people, Quakers… Just as I should not be treated with suspicion as a Scot in England, so I should not be treated with suspicion as trans.

Trans excluders- gender critical people, is the term they use, might want trans people to agree certain propositions too:

1. Sex is real.

Well, yes, but what conclusions do you draw? In an attempt at reconciliation, I would want to get beyond the zero sum game. Emma Nicholson (and WPUK) want no trans women in the changing rooms at Marks and Spencers. That’s the last thing we should look at. “We were constantly triggered”, wrote Amy Dyess.

2. Concerns about detransition, medicalisation, and loss of fertility or sexual function matter.

Yes. Some people detransition. And, medical treatment liberates trans people. Possibly, trans people would seek hormones and surgery less desperately if we were accepted without it.

I am not the best person to state their “obvious facts”. There’s a lot of quibble-room.

Lewis’ last line is about Severus Snape, saying he was morally complex: “A bully, a victim, a villain, and a hero: human”. She says Millennial Potterheads, and people in the trans debate, see in black and white, where there are only shades of grey.

On 7 July, a trans woman called Kim Humphery wrote in the Guardian about how many feminists are trans allies. She writes that the media portray a vicious social media battle between trans and feminist activists, but in reality trans and feminist theory cross-fertilizes, and most feminists see trans as allies. She says feminist voices need to be heard on institutional responses to sex and gender, and we need to abandon “the dead-end of territory-claiming wars over biology and rights”.

It can’t be done through social media. Most newspapers won’t do it either.

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These are all the parts of Rowling’s post that could possibly be read as trans-friendly. To me, she is merely hostile, attacking trans women who stand up for ourselves, or even tweet occasionally. Is she, from a position of bad faith, merely pretending to be reasonable? Could she convince those centrists who don’t really care?

The image in my mind is (Male Stereotype ALERT!) of James Bond in Casino Royale, trying to rescue Vesper Lynd from drowning. He can’t reach her. She slowly drifts away, vanishing in the murky water. Continue reading

Lloyd Russell Moyle, the Labour Party, and trans rights

“Labour must stand with trans people against a new section 28,” wrote Lloyd Russell-Moyle in Tribune. It’s a good article.

Recently, of course, we saw people like JK Rowling using her own sexual assault as justification for discriminating against a group of people who were not responsible for it. Trans people are no more likely to be rapists; in fact, they are more likely to be victims of sexual assault themselves. That’s why, despite JK Rowling’s hate towards them, hundreds of trans people wrote to complain to The Sun when it trivialised her domestic abuse on a recent front page… Those who try to weaponise women’s rights as a tool to push transphobia are hurting women and trans people, and we should not be quiet in calling it out.

JK Rowling’s hate is well documented. Her ex-husband’s violence does not excuse it and is entirely irrelevant to innocent trans people. However Sir Keir Starmer, leader of the Labour Party, told Russell-Moyle, a shadow junior minister for the Environment, to apologise. When I searched for him, Google was quoting wikipedia as saying he is a “politician and men’s rights activist”, though the lie had been deleted from Wikipedia when I went there. He is a politician who has a reasonable view on trans rights.

However Russell-Moyle apologised on twitter.

I want to apologies unreservedly about the comments in the article that I wrote last week in Tribune regarding Trans rights in which I mention J.K. Rowling. J.K. Rowling’s first disclosures of domestic abuse and sexual assault in her recent article on Trans issues were heartfelt and must have been hard to say. Whilst I may disagree with some of her analysis on trans rights, it was wrong of me to suggest that she used her own dreadful experience in anything other than good faith. I have asked Tribune to remove the line in question.

The paragraph is still there. Tribune explain, “It is against Tribune’s editorial policy to amend the contents of articles after publication in the fashion requested,” but they publish the apology.

As Moyle says,

While it is sickening to see trans people being caught up in a lazy attempt by the government to gain headlines, we must also know that their existence was threatened day in and day out even before this latest fiasco. Socialists must not only defend their rights, we must stand with them against exploitation, intimidation and mistreatment by the state.

On Monday morning, Keir Starmer, leader of the Labour Party, was interviewed on The Today Programme (from 2:10:04 on the recording). He said “The PM is good on promising and bad on delivery”- mentioning the broken promise to build affordable housing- but the interviewer wanted to ask about his sacking Rebecca Long-Bailey, former shadow Secretary for Education, and Lloyd Russell-Moyle.

On Rebecca LongBailey, he said he will “take the action that is necessary on antisemitism… we can move forward with a clearer view of what needs to be done to rid the Labour Party of any sense of antisemitism”. Good. I have followed the equivocation, a little, what Amnesty International said, what Maxine Peake said, what Long-Bailey actually tweeted, and equivocation just perpetuates the smell of antisemitism.

JK Rowling was clearly in bad faith. To describe her experiences of partner violence would have been brave and valuable in the struggle for women’s rights. To describe them and then go on to express vile prejudice against trans people is using them in propaganda and demeans her. However as the interviewer Nick Robinson pointed out, she is a life long Labour supporter, and as we know very rich with a huge platform.

What did Starmer say? He said social media is never the best guide to public opinion.

[Moyle] was wrong to say that and he has apologised for it and I have accepted that apology… that was my judgment call and I’ll be judged if you lead a political party you have to take responsibility for the decisions you make.

The interviewer framed the question in exactly the most damaging way, saying “the conflict between two sets of rights trans rights and women’s rights to safe space How do you as Labour leader choose which side you come down on?” He gabbled in the way people do in these interviews, never pausing for fear of interrupting, producing a stentorian monotone.

I think that’s the wrong question, and that’s the problem: people are saying which side are you on this. I think the trans community deserve more protection than they’ve got. I don’t think the legislation goes far enough. That then takes us into difficult questions. Let’s take those difficult questions in a mature calm way without taking sides. Treating this as a political football which is what’s happened over the recent months is completely the wrong way forward. There’s a better way, and that is to reflect, and to do it in a mature, I would hope cross party basis, because the entrenchment is no way- that doesn’t protect the trans community, it doesn’t protect some women who are completely concerned about safe spaces. Let’s have the conversation.

I am convinced there is a way forward here if everybody is prepared to stop chucking bricks at each other, have a mature conversation, not treat it as a political football, and I think the sooner we get to that the better.

Well. He often says “trans rights are human rights”- trans people are human, I hope no-one would disagree. It could be completely neutral, even anti-trans: transphobes claim to support trans rights when seeking trans exclusion. “I don’t think the legislation goes far enough” to support our rights. He isn’t taking sides, he says. I trust he is a progressive. Here he was neutral, and with the storm of Government transphobia that is hard for me to hear; but his words before have been supportive.

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On Good Morning Britain, the same day, Keir Starmer got friendly questions about the PM and the polls, and transphobic questions about trans rights. Piers Morgan ranted:

There is a creeping sense that the transgender lobby is being so aggressive that it’s actually beginning to damage women’s rights? … I mean can somebody who is born with a male biological body simply say I am now identifying as a woman and be afforded full respect do you think that’s right… and have all the rights a woman should have?… JK Rowling is trying to defend women’s rights, she’s not transphobic, from anything I’ve read, she says she supports transgender people, she supports their rights to fairness and equality… is it right that people born in male biological bodies should be able to compete in sports against people born to female biological bodies given that there is in almost every case a massive physical advantage…

Susanna Reid backed Morgan up.

RLB does not actually write the words over which she was sacked but she retweets an interview, but LRM had actually written the article in which he criticised a woman for talking about a sexual assault that she had experienced.

Keir Starmer did not state a personal view. He said Moyle was right to apologise.

Well what I’ve said in this because it is a sensitive issue, trans rights are human rights, the legislation we’ve got doesn’t go far enough and we all have a cross party consensus about it to look at it and see whether it can be developed. But what concerns me here is that this whole issue has become a political football. There must be a space for a mature discussion about how we improve the rights of the trans community, obviously preserve safe spaces. I’m very conscious of the experience of women that have gone through sexual assault, sexual violence, I worked on it very hard as DPP with women’s groups, I do absolutely understand that, but there is two sides here. Let’s stop the political football and have a mature debate about how we improve-

I think we need to respect the right to self-identify, but we need to look at the framework that goes around that. That’s where the legislation needs to take place. That’s where the broad discussion needs to take place. I really don’t want to get drawn in to doing the opposite of what I’m suggesting here which is treating it as a political football. It’s complicated, it’s sensitive. I don’t think that hurling things at each other is the way forward…

I think we can go forward on this if we have a sensible debate about it without just drawing hard lines in the sand. On both sides we need mature reflection on it. We need absolutely- There was a cross-party consensus about this on the discussion that needed to take place and that’s fallen away and that’s a great shame. I actually think these are practical issues there are good questions, let’s reflect on them and find a consensus on the way forward because just chucking mud at one another is not going to help.

Starmer played a straight bat on this. ITV’s article under the video quoted at length stuff they had got they found interesting, but on trans they only quoted “[Moyle] was right to swiftly apologise and he did.” However he said some reassuring things for trans people. “The legislation does not go far enough”. “We need to respect the right to self-identify”. I consider he means there needs to be an advance in trans rights. It might not be as far as we wish. He says we should not draw hard lines. I don’t think a consensus is possible with the hard line anti-trans campaigners, but it might be with some people.

I don’t like the interviewers at all. Anti-trans campaigning was portrayed as reasonable concern, and Morgan played up the alleged threat of male bodies.

JK Rowling speaks out on sex and gender

It’s four in the morning, as I write now. I really should not have gone on the internet. I have read JK Rowling’s essay, and I feel complete terror, the bottom falling out of my world. So I will start with a memory of safety, of being cradled in support and love. I was bent over, and I remember clearly my tears not just rolling down my face but dripping onto the floor, as I was held and consoled. Continue reading

Trans woman admits “Sex is Real” shock!

JK Rowling has been tweeting again.

If sex isn’t real, there’s no same-sex attraction. If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased. I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives. It isn’t hate to speak the truth. The idea that women like me, who’ve been empathetic to trans people for decades, feeling kinship because they’re vulnerable in the same way as women – ie, to male violence – ‘hate’ trans people because they think sex is real and has lived consequences – is a nonsense. I respect every trans person’s right to live any way that feels authentic and comfortable to them. I’d march with you if you were discriminated against on the basis of being trans. At the same time, my life has been shaped by being female. I do not believe it’s hateful to say so.

Where to start?

Well. Sex is real. Absolutely. Sex is how almost all flora and fauna reproduce. Sex is real in its effects on people, in sex-related medical conditions. Much of our culture revolves around sex, and ascribes experience related to being female or male specific meanings, but there is a “real” thing underlying that culture, and it can be difficult to establish what is real and what is cultural.

And, trans people are real. We exist. We do not rely on anyone saying “sex is not real”. Claiming trans people “erase the concept of sex” is transphobic. We don’t have the power.

However, if a form requires you to state your “gender” rather than your “sex”, that is not a denial that “sex is real”. For most purposes English uses “gender” and “sex” as synonyms. It might reduce sex discrimination to cease to specify sex except when that is essential.

So. Sex is real. Women menstruate. Women get pregnant. Women give birth. All this matters. Experiencing these things shapes people’s lives, but much of what is experienced is cultural. If a man denigrates you because of menstruation, that is cultural. Trans people have the experience of denigration too.

Lesbians can be attracted to cis women and not trans women and nobody cares about that. We just care when they deny that a cis lesbian in a relationship with a trans lesbian is a real lesbian, or announce loudly and repeatedly that they could never be attracted to a trans woman, or that trans women are not women. That is, we do not want to define “lesbian” for others or force anyone into a relationship or a hook-up they do not want, we just want them not to be vocally transphobic.

What are the “lived consequences” of sex? They are physical- the physical processes of menstruation and pregnancy, and cultural, including the vulnerability to rape culture. They don’t mean that trans women should not be treated for every social purpose as women. Women who do not menstruate and are not incontinent do not need sanitary towels, and are still women. Women who are not pregnant do not need maternity care, and are still women, even if they are trans women. Trans men can get pregnant and are still men. Trans men menstruate.

I don’t know why Rowling would use the term “same sex attraction”. Some Christian homophobes use it, but it could be used to distinguish the attraction from the culture around it. But then, there is no need for a separate term. People fall in love. People are sexually attracted to each other. People form life-partnerships. Much of the culture of lesbians is around resisting homophobia. Homophobia is only cultural, not “real” like “sex is real”. If there were no homophobia, if the culture simply accepted that people may hook up or form life partnerships without being of opposite sexes, there would be no need for counter-culture or resistance.

That does not mean that saying “lesbians are real” should give cover to transphobia.

To say “Sex is real”, or “same-sex attraction exists”, is not transphobic. It becomes transphobic if it is used to justify transphobic conclusions: to argue that trans women are men, or trans women are not lesbians, or trans women should be excluded from women’s space.

This twitter thread is transphobic because it implies that standing up for trans rights, or speaking up for trans people, might in some way mean “erasing the concept of sex” or “removing the ability of [cis women] to meaningfully discuss their lives”. Menstruation matters. Intrauterine cysts matter. Endometriosis matters. Talk about them as much as you need, demand the help you need to live with or overcome them.

To avoid transphobia we need to make a rigorous distinction. We do not erase sex, or say sex is not real, or say it does not matter, physically or culturally. It is transphobic to eject a trans woman from women’s spaces because she is a trans woman rather than because she has done something relevant and objectionable, as an individual, justifying exclusion. Being a trans woman, by itself, does not justify exclusion. Trans men may need cervical smears and trans women don’t, but that is only relevant to the provision of cervical smears, not to women’s space generally.

These tweets are transphobic, more in what they imply than what they say on their face. “Women like me”- does she mean her, specifically, or other women who say “sex is real”? If a woman campaigns against violence against trans women, but also to exclude trans women from women’s space, she is acting in a transphobic manner.

Rowling is attempting to stop us calling out transphobia. Yes sex is real. Period poverty matters. Girls missing school because of menstruating matter. But any transphobic conclusion anyone seeks to hang on the idea that sex is real is still transphobic.

Rowling is transphobic in assuming the role of martyr. She, or “women like me”, is accused of “hatred”. Well, if you express transphobic ideas then you’re a hater, not a martyr.

To say “Sex is real” is not transphobic. Sex is real. There. I said it. But to say “Sex is real, therefore [transphobic conclusion- trans men are women, you should always say “pregnant women” rather than “pregnant people”, lesbians can’t be attracted to transwomen, whatever]” is transphobic.

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Added: Various people, including Daniel Radcliffe, have responded to the tweets by saying “Trans women are women”. Really, here, we should be saying “Trans men are men”, as Rowling initially said that women menstruate, excluding trans men. She was responding to this article, headed “Creating a more equal post-Covid 19 world for people who menstruate”, who the article said were “girls, women and gender non-binary persons”, also excluding trans men. I found that from this Guardian article.

“People who menstruate”, “pregnant people”: including trans men and nonbinary people offends Rowling. There are ways round that. The headline could be rewritten, perhaps “Reducing inequality arising from menstruation”, though the social model of disability, which explains that inequality arises from how society is organised not from physical conditions, might improve it further: “Reducing inequality related to menstruation.” The article argues that development aid should continue investing in menstrual health and hygiene, so the headline has to involve menstruation somehow. Talking of menstruation as a women’s issue may make it appear of no concern to men- talking of it affecting “people” shows all people with empathy should be concerned.

I am not sure how I feel about the Guardian explaining how the stooshie started. It provides context, but does not excuse Rowling. Language which includes trans men and nonbinary AFAB people might be made more elegant, but going back to just using the word “women” is not the answer. “Critics accused her of being transphobic”- well, talking of “women” menstruating excludes AFAB trans people, and the article should explain that, rather than merely saying “critics accused”, as if the accusation might be baseless.

I wonder if we should not do the transphobes’ work for them. “Sex is real!” they cry. “We are erased!” With a piteous air of martyrdom. We could wearily point out the transphobic errors they make, but another way to respond is to ignore everything that is not clearly and on the face of it transphobic. Mocking the phrase “people who menstruate” is transphobic. But this mini-rant might just be ignored. “If sex isn’t real, there’s no same-sex attraction.” Congratulations on your trivial reductio ad absurdum! If gravity wasn’t real, there would be no planets. “It isn’t hate to speak the truth,” she says, obscurely- what can she mean? So one might politely ignore her gibberings, or, less politely, say, “Well, yes. So what?”