Kathleen Stock and LGBT conversion therapy

Is there a problem with free speech in universities? No. Kathleen Stock, OBE, professor of philosophy at the University of Sussex, is the great hero of the trans-excluders, yet she has published little academically on trans rights. She prefers sites like thearticle. She argued there that Stonewall’s definition of conversion therapy was illogical. Here it is:

Conversion therapy (or ‘cure’ therapy or reparative therapy) refers to any form of treatment or psychotherapy which aims to change a person’s sexual orientation or to suppress a person’s gender identity. It is based on an assumption that being lesbian, gay, bi or trans is a mental illness that can be ‘cured’. These therapies are both unethical and harmful.

Prof. Stock imagines an AFAB person aged 14, who is aware they are attracted to “women (or at least, to females like her).” It seems Prof Stock thinks lesbians are incapable of unrequited love for straight women. If they were some heartache would be avoided. M, whom Prof Stock gives a female name, has dysphoria, which Prof Stock claims is “an unconscious response to the social imposition of sexist and heteronormative stereotypes upon females”.

Prof Stock’s argument that the therapist cannot avoid some kind of conversion therapy is this:

If [M’s] self-diagnosis (‘I’m a boy’) is questioned by the therapist, the therapist can be construed as failing to affirm, and so putatively ‘converting’, a trans child to a ‘cis’ one. If, on the other hand, [M’s] self-diagnosis is affirmed unquestioningly, the therapist is effectively failing to affirm [M] in a sexual orientation of lesbianism; something which also looks like conversion by omission.

Orientation conversion therapy would entail attempting to make M attracted to men. It is objectionable because it disapproves how M is attracted, and attempts to change that. It can’t be changed, but the attempt can hurt the victim.

Rather, Prof. Stock imagines it is about words and descriptions. M’s transition would not stop them being attracted to women, but, Prof. Stock says, it would stop her being a lesbian. They are the same person, with the same attractions, but because the words used to describe them change, Prof. Stock thinks this is conversion therapy. However, if M is trans, rather than confused, M has never been lesbian.

M’s nature is not changed. A therapist might legitimately explore M’s gender dysphoria, to assess whether transition is appropriate, but need not change M’s nature at all. It would become conversion therapy if M could never convince the therapist they were trans, and the therapist insisted on making M happy to present female. It would not be conversion therapy if M was not trans, and the therapist helped her discover that.

Prof. Stock can’t quite believe in trans men, even though she is obsessed by them. Her description of M assumes M is really lesbian. But no conversion therapy need be attempted here. The therapist wants M to be happy and well adjusted- so does not attempt to change their orientation or their gender identity. Therapists never affirm trans self-diagnosis “unquestioningly”. They challenge us.

If Prof. Stock really is the main anti-trans campaigning philosopher, one would expect something better than this. Prof Stock has not been unable to publish transphobic rubbish in academic journals not because it is transphobic, and there is some problem with her freedom of speech to utter transphobic ideas: the journals have not published her because her ideas are too silly.

The work of the Scottish artist Gertrude des Clayes has recently come out of copyright.

Tweets and reality

Is Eddie Izzard a lesbian? It depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.

Some words have precise meanings. A zoologist plying his trade would not call her a “cat”, meaning the family Felidae or the genus Panthera or Felis. But you might see her moving on stage with feline grace. She is not a planet, because that has a clear meaning- Pluto was, then it wasn’t- but she is a star. She may be a hepcat- I knew slang, I thought it was 1960s, two words, hep for fashionable, cat for cool person. Words are slippery. Even scientific words have fuzzy edges where they may or may not apply.

Eddie says he’s a lesbian in a man’s body, and is that a good thing? A lesbian is a woman attracted to women. Homophobes find that weird, shameful or disgusting, and mourn the time when more people shared their opinion. If Eddie calls herself a lesbian it’s aspirational, something he wants to be. It becomes something to be proud of.

It’s only a bad thing if it forms some sort of threat to lesbians. The Times argues that it is, that lesbians are erased. Grace Petrie tweeted that if the transphobes were concerned about lesbian erasure, they might start a regular lesbian life column. No, because they only support lesbians in order to attack trans folk. The Daily Mail even supported a trans woman, once- to attack Muslims.

Insisting on too rigid a distinction between lesbian and bi might be biphobic. Trans women are women, so trans women attracted to women and not men are lesbians. If you think that’s a threat to lesbians, please explain why.

Right now, there are things to be angry about. The extreme incompetence of the British government has led to a sudden lockdown, when we can only go out to work if it is impossible to work from home, no more than two people can meet outside in a public place, and all the shops but pharmacies and supermarkets are shut. Schools are shut, but even on Monday 4th the Department for Education had a high-level meeting insisting they would be open, and children would be regularly tested for covid. So schools, without additional funding, have had to plan a testing regime, only to find now they will have to implement distance learning, with no notice. The hospitals are full, but infections have continued to rise, which means people will die who would have survived had they received proper medical care. Bizarrely, churches can open for worship, though many run food banks.

So, the usual suspects stir up anger against trans people instead. Jackie Doyle-Price, Tory MP, tweeted anger at Eddie calling herself a lesbian. Rosie Duffield, a Labour MP who should know better, liked the tweet. Tories, being English Nationalists, need to stir up hatred against enemies. Duffield has no such excuse.

Duffield also liked a tweet about a transphobic picture book, “My body is me”.

Bodies are different. Children are too.
Some prefer pink things. Some prefer blue.

That might be seen as reinforcing gender stereotypes in the most basic way. The book, which is unavailable on Amazon, shows children with “girl” hairstyles and “boy” hairstyles.

My body can act like a low flying plane
A mermaid, a dragon, one part of a train.

The plane- a boy walking, with planks strapped to his arms. Why low-flying? I stuck my arms out, no planks needed, and yelled NEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAOOOOWW. I was definitely high flying. It doesn’t set much store by child imagination. The mermaid is clearly a girl. Rigid gender stereotypes, again.

You are born in your body. You don’t have a spare.
So love it, hug it, treat it with care.

“My body is me” might be materialist, denying the existence of an immortal soul, so distressing Christians, but “You are born in your body” is denying the truth of trans children. Most children simply won’t understand, they won’t know what the alternative might be, but the five year old AMAB child who knows she is a girl will learn in the most direct way that she is not acceptable as she is, and has to keep quiet about it. Most children are cis, so will be unaffected. Some are trans, and will be traumatised.

Pink News reported, and quoted Duffield’s response- “click bait non story sourced solely from the weird world of Twitter” which she inhabits.

Duffield is doing the Nationalists’ work for them, spreading hate. It is deeply hypocritical of her to say that the pandemic and Brexit chaos are more important issues.

Should we respond to the phobes? Arguably not, it just gives them oxygen. Trans people spending too much time looking at this may become depressed. Haters will be encouraged to hate more. On the other hand, Duffield is doing Tory work, supporting Tories, and spreading hate in the Tory interest, so the Labour Party should take action against her.

Normal

How can we find delight, in not being “normal”?

“Normal” means something like usual, or common, but it’s related to “norm”, which means rule or value. If you are normal, you fit in. On facebook I saw a “quiz”, purportedly to test gender, personality, lifestyle and politics, and did it, even as I thought, why am I telling the data thieves? I was pleased to come out more female than male, though in the middle, but thought it might be because I said I was interested in makeup but not gadgets.

Why should that be female? It’s descriptive, rather than prescriptive- they asked women and men, and women were more interested in clothes and makeup. It follows the culture. People are moulded like this. How natural it is depends on how malleable people are, and I think people are malleable. And some people do not fit at all.

“Normal” or “Abnormal” in this test refer to personality. Do you have disordered personality traits? According to the page, some “abnormal” means you share traits with people who are “crazy” or have a personality disorder, but are not necessarily one of them. To me, the concept of a personality disorder makes sense. It is a disability, making it harder to function, but again that depends on how rigid society is, and in what ways. Or a personality disorder is a response to trauma, or a sane response to an insane situation. A man told me “I grew up in a plague zone, and caught the plague”. Societies can be disordered, as in Nazis “just obeying orders”, that is, fitting in or being normal.

One said “disorders” should be called “conditions”- as if “disorder” is a moral judgment. That moral judgment could mean that such people are bad, to be condemned, or afflicted, to be pitied.

I did not like the way Male, Normal, Traditional and Right-wing were all on the left side, as if they were the positive qualities. They’re also in the address bar for your result, so that being Left-wing or Progressive is a low score. To me, what they call “Traditional” lifestyle, shown by for example denying the possibility of gender fluidity, is a personality disorder, causing friction with worthwhile and valuable people. I want to stretch the concept of “normal” to include gender fluidity.

One said some trans or autistic people wanted classed as disordered or disabled in order to benefit from medical insurance or disability discrimination law.

Meanwhile, the Telegraph had a scare story. “Lesbians facing ‘extinction’ as transgenderism becomes pervasive”. It had no information, just quoting the rantings of LGB All Liars. They said there were 24 trans kids but no gays or lesbians in one school. If they were all taking hormones, that might be a worry, but in a year 161 children under 16, out of 12 million children in Britain, were referred for puberty blockers. The rest of these trans kids are using different words and ideas to explore their identity. It is extremely hard to get medical treatment.

I don’t know if anywhere there are a couple, both AFAB nonbinary, who refuse the terms lesbian or bi, but if there were it would be a change of language not of reality, or even of acceptance. Same sex attracted women may feel social pressure to act “normal”, and even marry men, or deny their attractions. You build up a self-image of a normal, acceptable person and are terribly conflicted when your unconscious desires lead you to explore. Then your self-image breaks down. I hope it gets easier to find our tribes and accept ourselves, and to accept other people’s difference.

There is delight in finding ourselves and being ourselves. First we are rejected by some, and that hurts and frightens and leads us to anticipate more rejection, but we find acceptance from others. Delight comes in recognising the value of the acceptance, and stopping caring so much about the rejection.

The Telegraph article is behind a paywall, so I got the text from Ovarit, a “feminist” forum set up to hate on trans people.

The haters admit, lesbians support trans

Where could I find evidence of the support of lesbians and feminists for trans people? Oddly enough, the whining of haters. “There are very few public stories of lesbians on the ‘cotton ceiling’” said a transphobe, Angela C Wild, who worked with a named transphobe organisation to try to get more, but failed. While QAnon and other conspiracist groups can get 200,000 in a facebook group, Wild’s energetic attempts to find transphobic lesbians found respondents from three continents, but only resulted in eighty responses to her questionnaire.

“The sample does not claim to be a representative sample of the lesbian community,” Wild writes. Rather, her eighty respondents show an extreme view. “Would you consider a transwoman (sic) as a potential sexual partner,” she asked, and though lesbians will, all but one of her respondents said no. Wild uses the word “transwoman” though she does not consider it appropriate, preferring to think of us as males. This is valueless as research, but some of the stories are interesting.

The haters were members of lesbian or LGBT groups online or IRL. Though 58 of them were part of groups excluding trans women, they still felt “silenced” or unable to speak freely. Allies of trans women had excluded forty of the haters from LGBT groups. One hater had been sacked- perhaps it was Maya Forstater. The pressure came from “other women” (that is, not trans women) within their groups.

Online, it is easy to find your own kind. Facebook will suggest groups for you. So, some of the respondents had left their LGBT groups and joined hater groups, where they could be sure their views were not challenged. They prefer hater groups even though they say “how much more difficult it has become for them to meet lesbians”- the hate they share was their main focus. One said in a city of a million people all the lesbian groups included trans women, at least potentially.

On dating sites, in getting messages from trans women, one is quoted as saying “she has never felt coerced or intimidated”. While others claim to be pressured, they admit that the pressure comes from cis lesbians. Despite her repulsion against trans women, one had had a relationship with one, but they judge us on our looks, claiming we were not “making an effort to pass”.

This document cannot be dignified by the term “research”. For example, Wild misrepresents Dhejne’s research, though Dhejne has refuted Wild’s interpretation, and in her “references” cites tweets, youtube, and a Medium article. Though facebook radicalises people, by suggesting extremist groups to anyone who might do a search, Wild has found few people, and they tell of the pressure from cis women including cis lesbians to accept trans women.

Wild’s account makes a number of serious allegations, of threats and even assaults, but these come from a prejudiced source, from anonymised obsessives who would rather leave a lesbian group than accept the possibility that a trans woman might join. Most lesbians understand that if hatred against trans women spreads, lesbians will be next in the firing line. Now, with this Tory government, we need LGBT solidarity.

For example, there is this statement on the Pride in London website, when such haters disrupted the Pride parade in 2018:

The lesbian board members at Pride in London made their anger towards the unsanctioned group clear and our organisation as a whole condemns their actions. The protest group showed a level of bigotry, ignorance and hate that is unacceptable.

We reject what this group stands for. They do not share our values, which are about inclusion and respect and support for the most marginalised parts of our community.

We are proud of our trans volunteers, proud of the trans groups that are in our parade, proud of our trans speakers at events and proud of the trans people who take part in our campaigns and proud of those who cheered even louder for them yesterday.

While The Times and other powerful right wing forces seek to spread hatred of trans people, and internet contacts ensured her questionnaire reached Canada, Germany and New Zealand, Wild’s “research” shows this has little purchase among lesbians.

A Quaker transphobe

Though a few Quakers are viciously and closed-mindedly transphobic, most transphobia among Quakers comes from arrogance or ignorance, and a failure to see privilege, rather than hate. The Friends Quarterly has printed a transphobic article, because the transphobe has disguised her hatred. In this post I analyse the article, and illustrate the hate. This is a content warning. If you feel able to bear a gaslighter pretending her transphobia is speaking out for vulnerable cis women, read her quotes below. But as trans people will spot the transphobia immediately, this post is mainly for Quakers who might wonder what the fuss was. These well-intentioned souls may be asking, “Who, me? Surely I am never transphobic?” Continue reading

Being trans, and being a woman, or being a man

I know that I’m trans, said a trans man, and I have been transitioning for a few years, but I really don’t know whether I am a man or not.

As a matter of being, rather than language, what makes a trans man a man and a trans woman a woman?

To me, many of the differences between men and women are socially constructed rather than innate. They have been going for some time: Aristotle thought that reason was in control in men, and while women could be reasonable their emotions rather than their reason was in control, and therefore men should run politics outside the home, and not women, and men should rule within the home even if they listened to their wives and cared for them. In answer to this Walter Scott has a wife who, more intelligent than her husband, persuades him to do what she decides, and always lets him have his way in small things, and backs off if he is stubborn, and never says “I told you so” when he is wrong and she was right- and so manages to make most of the decisions.

And in reality no-one makes decisions by reason alone, motivation and desire arise from emotion, and often from social expectation or convention, rather than from reason. Men are emotional. Women are reasonable. The emotions which are celebrated in one or the other are different. Anger is found repulsive in women where it may be admired in men. Gentleness is seen as more feminine. Yet men can be gentle, and women angry.

There is no characteristic, or virtue, which one sex has but not the other, and each is of equal value in each.

Generally, men have male reproductive systems and women have female reproductive systems, and on average men are bigger than women- but there is a wide overlap. And while people think about sex a lot, that is usually sex to relieve a need or bind a couple together. As Paul said, “The two shall become one flesh”.

For most social purposes, being a man is about fitting masculine stereotypes. People talk about “growing a pair” of testicles, about testosterone and its putative effects, and about swinging dicks or dick energy, but really it is about a role rather than a physical type.

So possibly a trans man is more of a man than a cis man is. The trans man has chosen to be a man, and the cis man just been one by accident.

It’s Lesbian Visibility Week, which has shout-outs to trans women, and I was thinking about identifying as a woman but not as a lesbian, even though I am attracted to women. If I really thought I was a woman, surely I would call myself a lesbian? Many trans women do. So I get the sense of not being real. Possibly it’s that “lesbian” is more physical- there are butch and femme lesbians, supporting or subverting, fitting or being different from feminine stereotypes, so it’s less a matter of social expectation, and more about genitals. I am not sure of that- lesbians form long term supportive relationships which is about human complementarity and compatibility, not simply about sex. There’s that pervasive sense of not being good enough. And possibly I am writing about that trans man and trying to reassure him because thinking of being a woman is a bit iffy for me too.

And socially I am a woman, because I fit feminine stereotypes, in being emotional (though I am glowing at being called “calm and analytical”). The range of women, mentally, physically, anatomically, and in every characteristic, is wide. I am a trans woman, because I have transitioned, and someone else is a trans woman because they want to transition. We want the role, the social expectations, sometimes to approximate the anatomy. That is a huge part of what “being a woman” means. One is not born a woman, one becomes one.

A Mermaids training session

Mermaids is the charity caring for trans children and teens in the UK. Recently, their training session was recorded, so you can listen to it and hear how reasonable it is. There are also transcripts.

The man who clandestinely recorded it clearly thought he was being so brave going undercover, challenging the trainer. There was a shock, horror article about it in the Times. When you listen to it, you can see that any gender critical person who was not prejudiced about trans people, would find it unobjectionable. The Times article is a complete distortion of what is said.

The trainer, who is lesbian, proves the Times wrong. “Trans ideologists are spreading cod science,” says the headline- no, her statistics are clear. She starts by talking about “gender reveal parties”. We find out what is between the foetus’ legs, and it becomes he or she, and so we get pink or blue clothes. “Lots of children don’t fit those boy and girl boxes.” Lots of things are on a spectrum. People have different heights and skin colours. On a scale of 1 (Princess Barbie) to 12 (GI Joe) the trainer puts herself as a 5. Yet the Times claims the two extremes are the only alternatives given. It is a deliberate misrepresentation of a subtle argument that gender varies between everyone, not just trans people; and some people are gender fluid, being one style at one time and one style at another. “We’re not all one thing,” she says.

The Times mocks talk of jelly babies, but it would help participants become playful and so permit them to think in less rigid ways. As the audience shows, everyone knows the extreme stereotypes, which are strongly emphasised by the culture. Gender identity is different from sexuality, but neither may be controlled. Some people are intersex.

Jan tells her own experience. She had no problem being a tomboy, but in the early seventies was terrified of people knowing she was lesbian, as a child, but being a boy who likes “girlish” activities is different. GI Joe is a stereotype, cultural not innate, but “when people buy into it it becomes real”. She began to define trans and cis, but the interloper interrupted, and put her off track. Then she defines non-binary and gender fluid. Some people identify as queer, and some people hate the term. People can socially transition without transitioning medically. No-one need know a trans person’s operation status. Trans women can be gay or straight- a straight trans woman is attracted to men. Younger people are far more comfortable with gender fluidity.

She speaks movingly of when she internalised homophobia. “There are places where I would be in danger, and people… who hate me because of who I am.” That is, lesbian. It’s like carrying a heavy weight. She wants being queer, or trans, to be not an issue any more. She explains pronouns and misgendering, how painful it can be.

She gets gender incongruence slightly wrong. It’s not a psychological condition in the draft ICD, but that ICD has not yet been approved. There is evidence of a biological underpinning to trans. There are positive role models visible in society, lesbian and trans. She refers to brain research, and googling I found this. Always there is new research. 1% are trans, she says, though not how many of them transition.

She explains the history of Mermaids, supporting trans children and their parents. 40% of those children cannot be out at home, so schools should support them. She explains the Equality Act and the difficulties LGBT people can face from family and society. Maybe 10% of the population are bigoted against us, so the rest should be mindful of that and speak up for us.

When a child is fully supported to lead their own transition, their mental health is the same as their peers’. When the child is prevented, their mental health suffers. Because parents are resistant, and GPs may be unsympathetic, schools can refer people to the Tavistock and Portman clinic, the Gender and Identity Development Service for under 18s. After a long series of assessments, where medically indicated, a child may be given puberty blockers. Low doses of cross sex hormones are not given to children under 16, and rarely to older children. The youngest child seen is 4.

Attendees should research further, at the Tavistock website and Stonewall. They should challenge stereotyping, and be able to tell children about available support. Children can change their name officially, and choose a name to be known as in school. Staff should be told of transition on a need-to-know basis, and it should be treated matter-of-factly: just as a woman may change her name on marriage, so a child may change gender presentation. Mermaids can help schools with any necessary policies.

Janice Turner in the Times clearly finds all of this unobjectionable, as she attacks things Jan the trainer did not say. The man making the recording tried to challenge the trainer, claiming that her suicide statistics were wrong, and that she had based them on a survey of 27 self-referred people, though she had referred to the Stonewall School Report, which says at page 7 that 45% of more than 592 trans people had tried to take their own lives. He claims that the suicide statistic is used to put pressure on schools, and minimises the evidence of suicide attempts. He is not an honest reporter. The second recording ends abruptly, and it is not clear what happened after that.

Similarly, the transcripts are made by anti-trans campaigners, and are littered with inaccuracies. For example, where the anonymous recorder spoke of “dysmorphia” the transcript records it as “dysphoria”. There are also sarky asides- where the trainer is assertive, it calls her “really really cross”. It says [long, looooooong pause for us all to reflect on whether it’s wise to challenge Mermaids woman further. Clearly no one else is prepared to take her on] Actually, it is at most five seconds.

The transcripts are misleading. They put in headings which are not on the audio, such as Help kids to socially or even legally change their name. You don’t need to tell the parents. In fact, feel free to ignore their authority! You would think a feminist would have heard of Gillick competence: children can decide whether their parents should hear about their medical treatment. Mostly, though, the transcripts do not seriously distort the message of the trainer, if you ignore the headings.

Audio recording part 1 part 2.

Googledocs transcript part 1 part 2.

Lesbians support trans

The world’s leading publications for lesbians support trans people, and are speaking out for us. Here is the statement:

Not in our name
Lesbian, bi and queer media unite to send a message of solidarity to the trans community

Following further vitriolic attacks on trans people in our media, the world’s leading publications for lesbians are coming together to send an unapologetic message of support and solidarity to the trans community.

DIVA, Curve, Autostraddle, LOTL, Tagg and Lez Spread The Word believe that trans women are women and that trans people belong in our community. We do not think supporting trans women erases our lesbian identities; rather we are enriched by trans friends and lovers, parents, children, colleagues and siblings.

[Clare: It’s diversity, innit? “Enriched”. That’s the heart of it. We are happier and livelier and better able to be ourselves when the widest range of people are welcomed in and their voices heard.]

We strongly condemn writers and editors who seek to foster division and hate within the LGBTQI community with trans misogynistic content, and who believe “lesbian” is an identity for them alone to define. We condemn male-owned media companies who profit from the traffic generated by these controversies.

[With the exception of the Morning Star, the publications opposing trans rights are on the Right or Hard Right. They are not feminist, and they are not pro-lesbian. They know that all the general public will hear from the argument is the message that trans is bad and dangerous, which supports Right-wing narratives about how men and women are different. All the stuff about gender non-conforming expression gets condemned by the same mouths.]

We also strongly condemn the current narrative peddled by some feminists, painting trans people as bullies and aggressors – one which reinforces transphobia and which must be challenged so that feminism can move forward.

[While some trans people tweet unpleasant things, most of them have few followers and little in the way of platform. And they are speaking up for their right to exist. I condemn all trans violence and threats of violence, but we are too weak to make much of a threat, or to bully anyone.]

We are really concerned about the message these so-called lesbian publications are sending to trans women and to young lesbians – including trans lesbians – and we want to make in clear this is not in our name.

As the leading publications for queer women, we believe it is our responsibility to call out scaremongering conspiracy theories levelled at the trans community, and make it clear that DIVA, Curve, Autostraddle, LOTL, Tagg and Lez Spread The Word will always be safe spaces for the trans community.

Forty years ago, to be a lesbian was to be questioned and persecuted. Today things are better for cis lesbians but there are still places where to be a lesbian is impossible.

So it is for trans men and women, as well as non-binary people, many of whom identify as lesbian, bisexual, gay or queer. We know something of these struggles. And just as they and other allies have supported us, so we must support those among us who are trans, or risk ending up on the wrong side of history.

The sooner we stop focussing on what divides us and instead focus on our commonalities, the stronger we will be to confront the other injustices imposed on us.

We won’t be divided.

Clare: Trans women should speak up for lesbians and for feminist causes generally. Trans is the front the forces of oppression have chosen, at the moment, but lesbians still suffer prejudice and discrimination. We are stronger together.

The statement is here.

Queer Quakers

I distrust the idea, but still would call the Woodbrooke garden a “holy” place. I stood contemplating bees at a rhododendron, in my sensory experience in the moment, which is a brain state that I will still call a “spiritual” experience, though I have not progressed to a Tao-like “flowing like water”, responding in the moment as an integrated being. People progressed through the garden like meditators in a labyrinth, seeing.

I am dissatisfied. It was beautiful, and insufficient, as am I. Had I had particular encouragements this week I might be less depressed now than I am, but I am depressed because of it. I feel insufficient, I fear I have made things worse, doing my best. I don’t understand and I hate not understanding, particularly when things are important to me. Writing this clarifies that for me. Of course I knew it, but now I am conscious of it. And if we were -no, we were– in a holy place, with time to hear and see each other and ourselves, which makes our coming together as good as it could be. And still I fear I am blundering. Good intentions may not be enough. Am I letting people down?

There was more, there, than I could possibly take in. There were lovely gay men whom I hardly noticed. The programme was flexible enough for us to fit it to what we needed. We had planned whole group work and ended in small groups: that means I got more time to talk, so could clarify my thought that way, and fewer people to listen to. Listening to more people might have been too much to take in.

You looked at me and I saw such misery on your face. And I don’t know it was misery, or what it meant, but I guess. I don’t know because I approached you then could not talk to you, and fled. We are in a place of peace and reconciliation, and it was not enough. I saw and heard of your attempts to come together with us trans folk. I was there, some of the time. I was impressed, even surprised, by some people’s reconciliation work.

We started combatively. One came for the opening session but not to any after. Others missed sessions. A gay man and a trans woman had planned the weekend, and someone asked what lesbian involvement there had been in the planning. That matters if lesbians have different interests. Someone said there had been tension in the past between lesbians and gay men.

We shared our traumas. We cried and hugged, sometimes, but also spoke them into the air. If I felt we had ended in a place of loving understanding, I would feel those traumas were heard and acknowledged, glad they could be spoken. As it is, there was incomplete understanding. We agreed not to disclose personal stories told, and I won’t, however long I remember them, and I hope no-one regrets speaking them. Someone walked out as I was speaking. I can guess why she did, but could not have predicted it beforehand. My attempts to comically self-deprecate about my experience were heard as- insulting, perhaps.

There is a “we”. I can define it, but, basing it on “gender diversity” know others might find my definition meaningless or insulting. I can state what I think are common interests, common experiences. I am wretched that we might be against each other. I am glad we could come together and not sure it is enough. If this is a gender and sexual diversity community it should feel- more-? Will we just split?

This is my definition of gender diversity. Sex is man and woman, gender is the stereotypes culturally attached to them, masculinity and femininity. So gender diversity includes people who are “gender non-conforming”, who do not fit those stereotypes even if they are quite certain they are the sex they were born with. No, it does not “erase lesbians”, or Stonewall would not be supporting it with a lesbian chief executive.

I am accepted, or at least tolerated, in enough places. Like others with very different views about trans, I am concerned about particular kinds of people. Some are phobic, and some are acting on conflicting principles. I wish trans was not an issue. While it is, our “community” is an arena for thrashing out these issues, which can be a difficult place to be.

Lesbian liberation

Some people can just be themselves, some try to be something else, and some can almost be themselves if they find a label. The label “transsexual” liberated me to be almost myself. The Lesbian Rights Alliance, a hurriedly-set up name which has a facebook page but not yet a website, claims that the identities of “tomboy” or “butch” allow girls to express themselves other than in a feminine way, but these identities are being erased. The facebook page has 296 likes according to Google. It is seeking the experience of lesbians: Are you a Lesbian currently living in the UK? Have you experienced harassment, rape threats by Trans Identified Males (“trans-women”) on dating sites/social media? Have you been pressured by LGBT+ groups, student unions etc to accept the penis as a female sex organ? Have you ever felt pressurised to have dates with men self-defining as lesbians? If you have had a date with a self-defining lesbian have you experienced rape or sexual assault?

I find this reassuring. It is a myth going round transphobic circles. I am glad they do not have the evidence for it. No-one should pressure another into sex; and there is no need for anyone to say they would never have sex with me, or a group I belong to.

It claims, Only a few years ago young girls were allowed to be ‘tomboys’ – have short hair, wear trousers, and undertake games and activities which traditionally have been considered the domain of boys, without being told that they had to change their sex. Many of these young girls defined as lesbians when they reached adolescence. This is no longer allowed. Transgender training given to schools is telling teachers that these girls are experiencing ‘gender confusion’ and should be assisted or supported to self‑identify as boys.

This is a serious allegation. Gendered Intelligence would tell schools they should support trans children, but not force that identity on children who had not expressed it. I am glad that Transgender Trend printed this in their “Resource pack for schools” because it reduces their credibility.

I can believe that butch girls are “bullied, stigmatised and isolated” but not that they are pressured to socially transition. Trans is not a “positive and fashionable identity”. We, too, are bullied, stigmatised and isolated- see the Stonewall School’s Out report. And Stonewall was a gay organisation led by a lesbian before it was trans-inclusive. Out, campaigning lesbians do not encourage cis lesbians to transition to male out of lesbophobia. The allegations are paranoid.

There is no acknowledgement or support for these young lesbians in schools and no funded youth groups for them outside of school, although there are many funded trans youth groups. Some schools, not all, have an LGBT group.

They say some tomboys later identify as lesbian, and refer to young lesbians in schools who do not want to conform to feminine stereotypes. But not only lesbians do not want to conform to feminine stereotypes, and not all radical feminists are lesbian. Some might grow up to be heterosexual viragos, and some might just be experimenting. Yes schools need positive information about lesbians, but also support for children experimenting with identity beyond narrow stereotypes. The “Lesbian Rights Alliance” ignores the rights of girls who do not fit that identity. We all have to work out our identity for ourselves, and those of us who have should support a wide range of identities including bespoke identities, so that no-one is excluded.