140,781 people signed the petition to make nonbinary a legally recognised gender identity in the UK. So, there was a debate in Westminster Hall. However, only six MPs bothered to speak, and only one was an unequivocal ally. Anneliese Dodds, the shadow secretary for women and equalities, was particularly disappointing. Content: transphobia. Continue reading
I am not surprised Britain’s first trans MP is a Tory. I was a Tory before I transitioned. Tory transphobia went with my internalised transphobia. Tory social authoritarianism went well with my desire to live according to “values” which did not fit me, and perhaps not anyone. Lots of closeted gay men were Tory MPs, voting against gay rights.
On Tuesday night (29 March) the Prime Minister joked to Tory MPs, “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Or, as Keir Starmer would put it, people who are assigned female or male at birth.” Of course he misses the point: binary trans people don’t object to being called ladies or gentlemen particularly, it’s just nobody has a right to claim I am one, when I am the other. The objection is for nonbinary people. Johnson could have addressed Tory MPs as Friends, or Colleagues; he could have addressed a different group as “Honoured guests”. Language is far more elegant when you avoid the gender binary.
On Wednesday, the Prime Minister lied to the House of Commons again, welcoming Dr Wallis: “I know that the House stands with you and will give you the support you need to live freely as yourself.” But it hasn’t. If it had, Johnson would not have cracked his “joke”, and Wallis would be transitioned. Keir Starmer echoed Johnson. Ian Blackford, the SNP leader, was the first to use pronouns: “I commend him for his statement earlier today.”
Crispin Blunt MP’s article in the New Statesman avoided pronouns entirely, always referring to Wallis by name. Pronouns after coming out but before transitioning expression are difficult. Will Wallis insist on she/her/hers pronouns? When will she transition? In her statement, and follow-up, she said that she intended to step down as MP before she did. Possibly she thought she would never be able to transition.
She also commented on that MPs’ dinner: “It was nice”. The PM jokes about trans people, and the trans person there just laps it up, because she has too much internalised transphobia to see the objection.
She’s been blackmailed, for £50,000. The attempt failed, and the blackmailer is in prison, but she did not come out then, and it shows how difficult she would find it to be out as trans, as a Tory MP. She crashed her car and ran away, perhaps when unfit to drive. I appreciate the stress she is under. Perhaps she did not think she would win the seat from her Labour predecessor, and could stand without the public exposure of being an MP. All this shows the transphobia of society, and the Tory party. Wallis writes about her rape.
I wrote her a brief supportive email, saying I am trans. She wrote back saying “For the time being, I will continue to present as I always have and will use he/him/his pronouns.” Of course. Because that is a more comfortable decision in her position, with the extreme transphobia that surrounds her.
On Thursday 31 March Blunt wrote that Tories “celebrate and want to represent and protect diversity”, and let people be ourselves. Rubbish. He wrote that after the government’s double U-turn, first saying it would not prohibit conversion attempts, then that it would prohibit them on sexual orientation but not gender identity. In the House of Commons, the minister Mike Freer said the government would bring forward legislation while every MP who spoke commended Wallis’ bravery. The minister Liz Truss wants to protect under 18s from irreversible decisions, a spokesman said, which means, banning medical treatment for trans youth.
Trans is just something people are. Why should it be “brave” to “admit” you are trans? Because of the hatred and vilification, the scaremongering, the monstering, that trans people receive. Because of the jokes of people from the Prime Minister down. Wallis is evidence: transphobia is enough to give us PTSD.
The International Women’s Day debate is a time for the transphobes to come out and play. Trans allies and feminists talk about women’s concerns, such as the gender pay gap, femicide, the failure to prosecute rape, or the plight of women and girls in Ukraine. Anti-trans campaigners use the debate to attack trans people. Fortunately, some allies spoke up for us.
Stupidest lie came from Bernard Jenkin, Con. He noted that between 2012 and 2018 436 rapes were found to be committed by women, so he claims these are committed by men presenting as women. No, the convictions are of women who are “accessory”, that is, women who assist the male rapist. The lie (at best, a stupid misunderstanding) is old, the refutation is just as old, but Jenkin still repeats it. He said,” I am in favour of protecting the trans community in this country,” then vilified us as dangerous. He said “biological men”, “whatever identity [we- he means trans women] claim” should be excluded from women’s spaces.
Jenkin challenged Anneliese Dodds to define “woman”. She should have said, “trans women are women”. She did not. She said there was a “biological definition and also a legal definition”, which might give comfort to the anti-trans campaigners. In fact in general use “woman” includes trans women.
Joanna Cherry again tried to twist the law to give a false impression. She said, “The court said: ‘Provisions in favour of women’ based on the protected characteristic of sex ‘by definition exclude those who are biologically male’.” However the court also said that if a trans woman said she was a woman, that was true. Cherry will continue to cherry-pick, but the court really was not on her side.
Cherry shows how left-wing feminists who become anti-trans campaigners become handmaidens of the hard right. She praised an article by Suzanne Moore in the Daily Telegraph, delighted that transphobes were suing the Green Party, and said, “no self-respecting woman should wish or work for the success of a political party that makes her rights as a woman or a lesbian conditional on her acceptance of gender identity politics”. She is attacking her own party, and threatening to leave it if challenged for her transphobia.
Transphobe Laura Trott (Con) “salute[d] her courage in talking about these issues”. Whereas for trans people, it often takes courage merely to walk down the street.
Malign idiot Peter Bottomley went to the LGB All Liars conference, and harassed the demonstrators outside, asking if they had read Kathleen Stock’s ridiculous book. Well, has he read Shon Faye, “The Transgender Issue”? He attacked the global anti-bullying youth charity Ditch the Label.
Eton Old Boy Dunning, sorry, Danny Kruger (Con) boasted that he made a World Book Day costume for his daughter. Ooh, how domesticated he is! He used cardboard boxes, being unable to sew. Matt Warman (Con) is a dressmaker, though he does not know the word: he sewed his daughter’s costume. On the Cass report, Kruger said he does not believe there is suddenly a lot more young trans people who were previously repressed or denied. I wonder if he has not heard of Section 28: the Tory government deliberately suppressed and denied young trans people. If 0.1% of adults are trans, why should it be surprising that 0.1% of children are? But Kruger blames “telling people that they can change sex”, confusing them.
Kruger claims “trans activism is a new form of misogyny,” but what he calls trans activism is simply trans people living our lives.
Practised phobe Jackie Doyle-Price (Con) only mentioned trans rights when Peter Bottomley specifically challenged her to do so. She wanted to be “fair to transgender people” by defining us out of women’s spaces, but devoted most of her speech to actual women’s issues. She gave an excellent summary on women in prison. Most should not be there, she says, and it harms them. That is what the IWD debate is for. She also spoke out about defunding of contraception leading to more abortions.
Jess Phillips put the haters’ lies into perspective. “For every name that I am about to read, there will be a story about how better mental health services, even the slightest suggestion of offender management or the availability of quick specialist victim support, would have saved their lives. The perpetrators killed, but it is on us if we keep allowing a system where women live under the requirement of giving away their labour for free in the pursuit of their own safety.” Rosie Duffield also chose to speak on femicide.
Trans rights are a women’s issue- feminists support us. But allies decided to speak on issues which actually affect cis women. Maria Miller (Con) challenged Bernard Jenkin: Women’s Aid and Refuge make their spaces safe by risk-assessing users, including trans people. Wera Hobhouse (LD) also challenged him- even though predatory men will find opportunities for violence, trans people still need protection.
Kate Osborne, Lab, found Jenkin’s views “unhelpful and out of step” with the IWD debate. Apsana Begum alluded to us: “We also know that violence against women, including trans women, continues to blight our society.”
Many MPs used the word “gender” as synonymous with sex, as it is in normal usage. With the insistence of the phobes on the word “sex”, this may indicate that they are not themselves anti-trans campaigners.
The debate has nearly 34,000 words, but is an often-inspiring read. There are moments of horror, including descriptions of murder, and victim-blaming by killers, but also accounts of women’s achievements and analysis of women’s needs. There have only ever been 559 women in the House of Commons: the total number of men is not yet ascertained.
Liz Truss, still the minister for women and equalities, and her deputy Kemi Badenoch, did not deign to attend the debate, so the under-secretary for Transport, Trudy Harrison, answered it for the Government. She agreed with Bernard Jenkin that it was important to “protect the language of females—of women, adult human females, girls, mothers, women who breastfeed.” So she spoke against inclusive language for trans men, and against trans rights.
The full debate is here.
The Westminster Hall debate showed the grandstanding of anti-trans campaigners, disseminating hate and lies, and mostly well-intentioned allies speaking up for necessary administrative reform, which the Government will not concede. The debate lasted three hours and 27,000 words. What did they actually say? Continue reading
Trans allies found Wes Streeting “disappointing”, but I see where he’s coming from. And, when the authoritarian Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill promises to criminalise protest, David Maclean, “Lord Blencathra”, wasted a self-indulgent hour of debate railing against trans women as a danger to “women”.
The Shadow Health Secretary grew up in the East End of London. His mother’s father was a bank robber. His father, and father’s father, were working class Tories, with strong patriotism and Christian faith he still shares, even though it took years for him to accept his sexuality and reconcile these parts of his identity. Finding he was gay, members of his family would have been surprised, disappointed, and concerned for him. Aged 38, he is grateful to the pioneers of the Lesbian and Gay Rights movement, whose abuse he recounts- outed by The Sun, a brick through the window…
So there was prejudice which was frank hatred, and there was prejudice seeing itself as Christian principle, and on equal marriage he respects the Christian prejudice. That required listening, discussion, empathy and respect. Hearts and minds were changed, and now there are Methodist gay church weddings. He hopes for the same on trans rights.
In his BBC interview, now available as a fifty minute podcast or a two minute video, but initially a 23 minute broadcast, the interviewer took a strong anti-trans line. Women are women, who fought for their right to safe spaces, [meaning No Transwomen!] which should not be overturned. All of this is rubbish. Trans women have a legal right to enter women’s services, and are no threat.
The video Jolyon Maugham found “disappointing” omits that question, and starts with Streeting’s soft-sounding but pro-trans response. He says women’s rights should be respected, LGBT people should listen, you don’t win the argument by shutting down JK Rowling. He wants to win the argument, and hear anti-trans campaigners’ distress as a way to win them over. I am not sure that will work, but am glad someone is trying. He objects to “feminists” using dehumanising language about trans people. It is gratuitously obnoxious.
I had thought the podcast would give the whole interview, but the next bit from the video is edited out. Streeting talks of anti-trans hate crime and trans mental ill health, which he wants to address. So most listeners will not hear about the hate crime. This is a distortion.
Tory peer David Maclean, “Lord Blencathra”, avoided Capital Gains Tax on a £750,000 house by claiming it was his main residence, and got £20,000 parliamentary “expenses” by claiming it was his second home. Rather than addressing the anti-freedom aspects of the Police etc Bill he stuck in an anti-trans amendment and insisted on debating it on the floor. There were many moments my contempt for him bubbled over, but the main one was when he withdrew his amendment because it had no chance of success. He wasted an hour and 23 minutes of Parliamentary time on his pointless hategasm.
His amendment to this oppressive Bill would have required that trans people are ordinarily imprisoned according to their sex registered at birth, and if in exceptional circumstances they were not they should be held in accommodation specifically for trans people with no access to “prisoners of the opposite sex”.
He has had a great many letters, he says, and from the love-bombing of anti-trans campaigners he falsely deduces that his amendment has support. Tory Patrick “Baron” Cormack was also love-bombed, and quoted the words: it is so easy to “stand up for womanhood and motherhood” as a Tory, if all you have to do is express hatred for trans people.
Maclean says that “gender reassignment protection [should not be] a separate protected characteristic in the Equality Act 2010”. As it currently is, he wants to change the Equality Act to withdraw protection for trans people.
He kept his foul amendment despite the teach-in organised by the Ministry of Justice. The Tory minister, David Wolfson QC, knew he would not persuade the haters, but tried in the teach-in, and tried again in the debate. He said you could find heat but no light on Twitter. He said all the trans women in women’s prisons have gone through a rigorous risk assessment, and our safety matters too. It is a balance of risks to cis women and trans women. 90% of trans women prisoners are in men’s prisons. If there was one trans women’s unit, it would be too far for most friends and families to visit. It would be “cruel”. The minister is “alive to the risk of suicide”. Before 2019 there were some sexual assaults by trans women on cis women, but “We learned the lessons of that and since 2019 there have been no such assaults”.
Former Reform MEP Claire Fox continued the hate, despite having attended the teach-in. Ignoring the facts, she demands “single-sex spaces” excluding trans women. She quoted hate from Twitter, even the suggestion, which she had just heard refuted, that “anyone who claims to feel like a woman” might be imprisoned with cis women. Fox: “I say hear, hear to that.” She ignores any threat to trans women. Instead she claims “biological reality” vindicates her, as if the fact of trans people’s existence for millennia around the world did not matter at all. She called the amendment practical, pragmatic and humane, as if our safety did not matter.
David Pannick said putting a trans woman with a GRC who had lived as a woman for twenty years (that’s me, my twenty year anniversary is in April) who has had GRS in men’s prison would be a “disaster”. I agree. I find it terrifying. If I chained myself up like a Suffragette, this bill would render me liable to a ten year prison sentence, if they could get a jury to convict. So I suppose I might be safe enough demonstrating for XR, but maybe not if I demonstrated for trans rights.
David Hope, former Scottish supreme court judge, spoke out against the “cruelty” of the amendment. “It is not a choice. They are driven.” It needs to be said, because Maclean, Fox and the rest ignore it: “The [trans] offender requires as much consideration on the grounds of safety and emotional distress as the people around them in the prison in which they are placed.”
Michael Cashman said the amendment perpetuates the stereotype of trans women as sexual predators. Edward Faulks, who had been April Ashley’s barrister, said how April Ashley had been put in a men’s prison.
Hater Michael Farmer, former treasurer of the Tory party, called for women’s rights “based on sex not gender”. That is, to him the most important thing in women’s rights is excluding trans women. With this language they can expatiate on women’s rights, as if trans women did not matter at all. By contrast Michael Berkeley, composer and broadcaster, said “effeminate” people would be “targeted” in a male prison.
Former Tory MP Nick Herbert put it bluntly: “if people’s fears are provoked and if media campaigns suggest that women cannot be safe, there will be such fervent outrage, but that is not a reason for us to depart from the facts.” That’s the answer to Wes Streeting. He can listen all he likes, and just hear the wilful distortions of the transphobes. As they rant on, they just get more self-righteous.
Jennifer Jones, a Green party member, flouted her party’s policy to play the “I’m a woman” card, objecting to men speaking against the amendment. Well, I am a woman too, and I care about women’s safety- but I care about all women’s safety. She claimed there was “sexual predation” in women’s prisons, despite the changes in 2019.
Elizabeth Barker, LibDem, spoke “as a woman who cares deeply about the physical safety of women”. She objected to media suggestions that trans allies did not care. She pointed out the factual errors in the haters’ speeches, and the polls with leading questions designed to elicit anti-trans opinions. As she said, the amendment was not based on evidence, so should be rejected.
Brian Paddick, LibDem and former police officer, quoted some of the abuse he receives as a trans ally: “You nasty little misogynist… MRA bigot”. He affected not to know that means “Men’s rights activist”, putting the hater in their place.
Frederick Ponsonby, hereditary Labour peer and fourth baron, had actually spoken to governors of women’s prisons, who assured him they could handle any problems from trans women prisoners.
The haters in the House of Lords, and their adoring admirers such as the one who sent hate to Brian Paddick, show the chances of Wes Streeting’s approach are slim. They are utterly self-righteous, and they use the language of women’s rights as if trans women did not matter. They call us men, as if trans as a phenomenon was a worthless delusion. But they have a long way to go before our protections in the Equality Act are chipped away, even with this Tory government. My right to protest is not nearly so safe.
The parliamentary committee are not our friends, and have recommended keeping trans medical bottlenecks at the moment when trans medical care could open up. They recommend more gender clinics, when gender clinics should be shut down.
Trans is easy to recognise. Trans men are people assigned female at birth who are convinced that they are men, want to be treated as men, or want to express themselves as men. They may want bodily alteration to appear more clearly to be men, to themselves and to others. Trans women go the other way. We know who we are.
That settled conviction is in some way different from those mental illnesses which divorce one from reality. I don’t understand how, particularly, but my understanding of myself as a woman is different from my friend’s schizophrenic daughter’s belief that there is an electronic device in her head which enables the Government to know what she was thinking. My desire to express myself female is more like a gay man’s desire for a particular male partner- incomprehensible to some straight men, but not “insane” or “psychotic”.
The committee say there are huge waiting lists. 13,500 trans people were waiting as of January 2020, before covid. Their evidence was a BBC report. The report’s figure came from Freedom of Information requests to each gender clinic, but some figures date back to July 2019 and the committee heard evidence that lists have increased since then. One clinic’s waiting time was increasing by five months each year, even before covid.
A trans person should be able to go to their GP and say that they are trans, and get a prescription for hormones. If the trans person understand that hormones may reduce their fertility and sexual response, that should be enough. The GP might want a psychiatrist to make absolutely sure that the patient was not psychotic, but should be able to check that themself. They might not like the idea of a healthy testicle being amputated, but they should accept that orchiectomy is beneficial, just as they should accept that abortions are necessary.
The trans person needs hormones, hair removal and speech therapy for women, and psychological support for the transition, which can be the most stressful experience in a person’s life. They may not need medical treatment at all- if a trans person wants to transition without threatening their fertility they should be able to do so.
So NHS England funding the Royal College of Physicians to develop education in gender dysphoria medicine is a backward step (report, para 194). Physicians, medicine, not surgery. These physicians would have the boring task of giving hormone prescriptions to patients who asked for them.
In Wales, there is the germ of a new path. There are around 70 GP “clusters”, and any GP who wants can train to be the lead on gender identity within the cluster. Cat Burton from GIRES gave evidence that most people approaching their GP just want to talk to someone about dysphoria arising from presenting in their assigned gender. They might not transition socially. They might just take hormones. Whether the “tiny minority” who have surgery is a small proportion of those who transition, or of those who approach their GP whether or not they transition, is unclear from the report. How Cat knows and who she asked, whether there was a survey and how systematic it was, is not clear from the report. I had thought trans men needed chest masculinisation to transition socially.
I would love to know how many more people talk to their GP about dysphoria, than transition. That would show how terrifying transition is, because of all the prejudice.
However, the Committee recommends more “trained and specialist clinicians”, para 197. They would keep the bottlenecks, even though they admit the new pilot clinics cannot make surgery referrals (para 191) and cannot reduce the waiting lists.
If there was the political will, the NHS could cut the surgery backlog by temporarily reporting private surgeons who perform the operation across the EU.
The committee found trans people have difficulties accessing primary health care. Some GP practices make difficulties over recording correct name and gender. A trans man with a cervix still needs smear tests. Getting them is a computer problem, but the NHS should be able to sort that.
Michael Brady, national adviser for LGBT health, said GPs needed training in order to be “more comfortable” using correct pronouns and managing trans patients (para 204). In other words, GP practice is filled with prejudice.
The committee found that LGBT people are more likely to be mentally ill, but there is insufficient mental health care and GPs might seek mental health support from GICs, though they do not give it. Psychiatrists treating for other conditions challenge trans people’s gender identity.
After the LGBT consultation in 2017, the government committed to an LGBT action plan rectifying the problems it identified. The committee found the Johnson government has gone back on this. Liz Truss confirmed that, para 218. She said she was working on banning conversion therapy instead, as if doing both were impossible.
The committee considered nonbinary recognition. The government and EHRC said it was too difficult. There were complex practical consequences for public life. The LGBT action plan had committed to seeking evidence on nonbinary recognition, but even that had not been done (para 225). The committee was reduced to demanding the government explain what difficulties might prevent nonbinary recognition, but since ministers refused to appear to give evidence, that recommendation is unlikely to be followed. The committee called on the EHRC to research the area, but with Lady Falkner, Akua Reindorf and others on its board this is unlikely.
While there was a majority on the committee for all these restrictions on trans rights, anti-trans campaigner Jackie Doyle–Price voted for them to be even more restrictive. Her constant ally was Phillip Davies, men’s rights activist and anti-feminist MP.
The report of the Women and Equalities Committee on Gender Recognition (GR) Reform strongly condemns the government. They say the refusal of ministers to properly engage with their enquiry is “inexcusable” (Recommendations, para 6). The Government Equalities Office (GEO) delay in responding to the GRR consultation “exacerbated tensions” between trans people on one side, and trans-excluders and anti-trans campaigners on the other, but also “caused real distress” to many trans people (Recommendations, para 4).
However Liz Truss (para 64) has indicated she will ignore the report, saying Continue reading
Tonia Antoniazzi MP is a transphobe, who uses her voice in parliament to attack trans rights and attempt to make trans people look bad.
On 17 May 2021, in a debate on the Queens Speech on violent crime, where Labour MPs should have been pointing out the many failures of the Tory government, Antoniazzi chose to make a misleading case against trans people, in order to smear us as sex offenders.
How does recording sex by gender identity affect the profile of sex offenders? Does it matter?
Most victims of sexual offences do not report them, so the number of crimes in crime surveys is far higher than the number of charges or arrests. About 3% of women were estimated as having been sexually assaulted in 2017, from a survey of a representative sample, and 1% of men. In 2016 there were 53m UK adults, so that is around 800,000 women sexually assaulted, and around 200,000 men.
However only 6960 offenders were found guilty of sexual offences in all courts in England and Wales in 2017. The conviction rate was 62%, but there is a time lag between charge and conviction or acquittal. So say 11,000 people were charged in court.
Women make up 2% of prosecutions for sexual offences, says Antoniazzi. You can download a spreadsheet. In 2017/18, 28,589 males were arrested for sexual offences, and 628 females.
Say 0.1% of women are trans women who have taken some step towards transition. So, say 25,000. Say they have “male patterns of offending” as anti-trans campaigners claim, though this is not backed up by evidence. If the proportion of trans women was 46 times the proportion of cis women who were arrested for sex crimes, 26 might be arrested for sexual offences, and six convicted. If they are counted as women, then the number of women arrested has gone up by 4%.
But if there were 26 trans women who were counted, or not, as women, the proportion of arrestees who were women would go up from 2.15% to 2.24%. That is, a tiny percentage of arrestees are women, whether trans women are included as women or not.
That statistic, that 0.1% of women are trans women, is my best estimate, but it is not clear how many people identify as trans, ever express themselves in public as their true gender, or take steps towards transition. The census, which starts to be published next year, may start to give us a better idea.
A tiny proportion of those arrested for sexual offences are female, and that proportion is not changed beyond a rounding error whether trans women are included as women or not.
Antoniazzi says, “We need to count sex”. She objects to police forces counting suspects’ sex on the basis of gender identity. She wants trans women counted as men.
Even if trans women offend 45 times as much as other women, the increase from 2.15% to 2.24% of offenders is tiny. There would be no change in conclusions drawn about the need to protect women and girls from male violence, or the relative threat from women or men. Trans women need protection just as cis women do.
Whether we need as a society to take violence against women, or men, more seriously is shown by the proportion of offences resulting in arrests. Of about a million sexual offences, there are 6960 convictions. Most victims do not report the offence.
Recording trans women as men does not make any change to the lessons we learn. Women are vulnerable and need more protection than we have. Such protection might be improved by greater resources for police, and greater cultural condemnation of male sexual violence. The culture still makes excuses for men, and even glorifies male sexual aggression. Complaining that trans women criminals should be called “men” actually reduces the effort to protect women, because it diverts campaigning energy from a real threat to a harmless minority.
And, it would make life harder for vulnerable trans women in the justice system. If we are recorded as men, we have yet more evidence that the system is against us for who we are, rather than what we have done.
It would probably backfire on the anti-trans campaigners, showing trans people do not have a high rate of sex offending. They want to say, Look, look, there were six trans women convicted of sexual offences!! Trans is Bad!! They’re all like that!! Of course we are not all like that, and I am not a sex offender, but the extremists use such stories to radicalise each other.
An MP should consider the 800,000 women who suffer sexual assault in a year, and speak up for them, not speak against trans people, a tiny, vilified minority.
The records of “biological sex” of offenders she demands would tell us nothing except that some trans women are criminal. We know that already. If it is ridiculous to say Rosemary West is a murderer therefore cis women cannot be trusted, it is equally ridiculous to say Karen White is a rapist therefore trans women cannot be trusted. Antoniazzi would stir up fear against us.
“We must respect the privacy of transgender people,” she says, but would make an exception when we are arrested.
Then she cites an increase of 84% in reported child sex abuse by female perpetrators between 2015 and 2019. It could mean 2015 had particularly low figures and 2019 particularly high. We can’t establish a trend without more years. We don’t know if this is because of increased reporting, and one expert the BBC quoted thought that explained the whole increase. But the MP called recording trans women as women “data corruption”, and suggested the increase was due to “those identifying as women”. In 2019 there were 1048 more offences reported than in 2015, and to suggest that a significant proportion of those were by trans women is monstrous as well as ridiculous. It is clear hatred.
Antoniazzi then refers to Lauren Jeska. Her attempt to murder was a monstrous crime, but to use it to argue that the justice system must count trans women offenders as men is also monstrous. The number of convictions of women for attempted murder is so small- six in 2017, from Antoniazzi’s figures- that even were it to double it would tell us nothing about female violence. She fulminates that calling Lauren a woman “falsely elevates the number of females convicted”. It does not, because trans women are women.
Antoniazzi has demonstrated a level of prejudice against trans women that should result in withdrawing the whip. Statistical arguments by other transphobes and haters are no more robust than hers. She met with anti-trans hate groups as long ago as 2018, and asked questions about trans women sex offenders in prison in July 2021. It is a good job she left the Women and Equalities Committee in November 2019.
“I am a proud lesbian, a proud feminist and a trans ally, and I see absolutely no contradiction between any of these values.” I find Angela Eagle’s words moving, and wish they did not need to be said. The House of Commons debated Pride, and stood up for trans rights, and other MPs had similar thoughts: Alyn Smith, SNP, said “Women have nothing to fear from trans equality.” Kirsten Oswald, SNP, said “Trans people should feel safe, secure and welcome”. They need to say it because we don’t feel that.
Mhairi Black, SNP, gave a powerful speech which is worth watching. She starts with the British Empire exporting homophobia round the world. We LGBT people are more likely to self-harm or be suicidal, or the victim of a crime, but less likely to report it to the police. It is worse for trans people. She spoke of the “organised and concerted international campaign against the trans community”. An International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation report found “Transphobia has long been one of the most major and ubiquitous narratives around which the far right mobilises… Transphobia should be recognised as a security concern.” She connects the US right-wing to campaigns in Britain “purporting to speak for LGB people”, though in reality LGB people support us.
The Values Voters Summit speaker claimed “women, sexual assault survivors…ethnic minorities who…value modesty, economically challenged children…and…children with anxiety disorders” might be drawn in as allies against trans, by preying on their fears. In reality,
We are battling the same problems and the same patriarchal beast.
The anti-trans campaigners target trans inclusive rape crisis centres. The media platform these hateful views uncritically. Trans people contact her, because they are too frightened to contact their own MP. We are living in a moral panic fanned by organised misinformation and radicalisation.
You can also watch Stewart McDonald, SNP. “God is shining on us”, he said. I am glad when Christians speak of their Christianity, in speaking up for LGBT rights. He said, “We do not have a community if we expel one part of it”. He talked of transphobia in the Times and the Herald. If an Imam wrote such things people would “go off their nuts”- good to hear the vernacular in Parliament. He and I find hope in Stonewall and the Equality Network. Martin Docherty-Hughes, SNP, also talked of “non-state actors targeting the most vulnerable, specifically our trans brothers and sisters”. “Diversity is our greatest strength,” he said.
Alistair Carmichael, LD, made the same point: “using defining characteristics for a political purpose is as low as it is possible to go.” As Ian Byrne, Labour, said, “Division of communities leads to a breakdown of cohesion and the opportunity for hate and fear to flourish.”
Sarah Owen, Labour, attacked “so called charities” and MPs pandering to those who call trans dangerous. She said trans people are fearful when the media refers to the “Trans Taliban” to describe “trans people who just want to get on with their lives”. “Those who genuinely believe in human rights do not choose which human’s rights they support and which they do not.” Precisely. If the Government can remove protection from Shamima Begum, it can remove protection from me. She said, “we need to start seriously asking ourselves who these people are coming for next”.
Kim Johnson, Labour, spoke of how the government had disbanded their own LGBT+ advisory panel.
Angela Eagle connected that radicalisation to the Conservative Party, talking of “the Government’s increasing appetite for fomenting divisive culture wars that seek to pit one group in society against another. That emboldens bullies and problematises vulnerable minorities. It generates fear and resentments, which can only do harm.” Homophobic and transphobic hate crimes soar, but prosecutions plummet.
Many MPs spoke of trans health care. Charlotte Nichols, Labour, gave a waiting time of 18 months, which seems low to me. She said, “supporting LGBT rights is political. We are not a colourful add-on to brands that do not challenge ongoing homophobia or transphobia. A rainbow does not mean that every storm has ended.” There is some confusion here. She says, “more than 13,500 transgender and non-binary adults are on the NHS GIDS waiting list in England”, but GIDS is the Gender Identity Development Service, for children and young people. Still, it is a huge statistic. Elliot Colburn, Conservative, said we face “years and years” of waiting lists. Kim Johnson said that even after the Government’s planned new gender clinics, there would still be nearly 10,000 on waiting lists.
I worry that the emphasis on health care pressures trans people into medicalisation we might not choose for ourselves.
Angela Eagle said the Government have reneged on their commitment to reform the GRA. “The current bureaucratic, demeaning and intrusive process, which involves them having to get doctors to agree that they are suffering from a mental illness and to certify that they have lived in their preferred gender for two years, is no longer fit for purpose.” Crispin Blunt, Conservative, mostly praised the government, but alluded delicately to the government’s “misfired response” to the GRA consultation. The speaker rebuked him for taking too long.
The Plaid Cymru MP Liz Saville Roberts used GRA reform to call for greater devolution to Wales.
The debate is personal. Peter Gibson, Conservative, who is gay, spoke of his nephew Luke who is trans: “I am reminded of the same journey of fear, acceptance, love and celebration that gay men and women go through”.
Angela Crawley, SNP, spoke of being raised Catholic, a faith she still respects and “to some extent I admire”. It made her feel deep shame and believe she could never have a family. Now “I am incredibly proud of who I am”. She moved me to tears, especially when she congratulated Angela Eagle, “whose very presence, bravery and courage in this Chamber have paved the way for so many of us”.
So did Dan Carden, Labour, also on video, who said how frightening coming out can be- but “hiding who you are into adulthood will cause you far more suffering anyway”. He was traumatised. He suppressed his emotions and became alcoholic. “Drinking was destroying my body.” “For me, it was about losing who I was over a long period of time. It was desperate isolation.” In his third year of recovery he has a loving partner and appreciates everything he has.
I used to live in Newport, and am glad one of its MPs, Jessica Morden, Labour, singled it out: the council flew the Progress flag, to recognise “the breadth of sexual and gender identities that we welcome” in Newport.
Alistair Carmichael, LD, did not speak of trans but spoke of the most northern Pride in the UK, in Kirkwall, and the delight of gay friends who have given blood for the first time. It is a symbol of inclusion.
Wera Hobhouse, LD, spoke of all the Tory promises since 2015 to ban conversion therapy, and their current undated consultation which is only further delay. She said Alan Turing is now on the £50 note. He suffered chemical castration ordered by the State, and the current delay on conversion therapy means his use as a figurehead is hypocrisy.
Bizarrely, the minister Mike Freer claimed the government “are committed to levelling up outcomes for LGBT people”, showing how meaningless that slogan is. He said, “the Government believe that the current provisions of the GRA allow for those who wish to legally change their gender to do so”.
Joanna Cherry, self-proclaimed lesbian campaigner, was too wily or too ashamed to attend with her usual dog-whistles.
MPs also mentioned inclusive education, also a target of the far right; HIV; and international aid, which the government is cutting.
When Izzard was nonbinary, no-one cared. But now, she’s transitioning!?
In 2017 in The Hollywood Reporter she said she identified as transgender but had both “boy and girl mode”. But in 2020, her pronouns were given as she/her, and it was international news. Now, she is recording a drama in a male role, and wanted to go back to he/him, but was told she can’t be both.
She came out as “transvestite” in 1985, and people would stand a foot away and ask “What the fuck is that?” They turn you into an it, she says. “People don’t expect a trans woman to be able to run 130 marathons for charity and it changes their sense of what a trans woman is,” she says. That’s because they expect trans women to be physically inadequate and without any staying-power.
Will she physically transition, asks the journalist. There it is. Are you going to have your balls cut off. What will your genitals look like. Any privacy interviewees might have about medical conditions is denied the trans woman. She has always had breasts envy, and he asks if she is taking hormones. She refuses to say but “smiles”.
She wants to be a Labour candidate. I would love to have her stand here.
Some people are nonbinary, and that matters. They could change pronouns but not presentation, they could present differently on different days like Izzard still does, they could mix it up like his man’s suit and high heeled shoes. But there’s still this idea of proper transition, hormones and surgery. Either medicalised transition is thought of as acceptable, but anything else is still seen as perverted or wrong, or medicalised transition is something the cis have somehow got their heads round but nonbinary is beyond their comprehension. No one should have to undergo surgery to be accepted. No one should have their gender expression restricted.
Izzard thinks radical feminists should be our allies. “I’d like to get to the place where we don’t have to have this fight because I’m trying to deal with rightwing fascists.” Of course. My way to make allies would be to talk about common interests rather than women’s spaces.
The House of Lords transphobia increased, using the excuse of international women’s day. Content: transphobia.
Ralph Palmer, a Conservative hereditary peer, said:
Stonewall, please climb out of the hole of misogyny and bullying that you have dug for yourself. The needs of trans people, which are pressing, are not best served by adding to the disadvantages of women.
Tories, of course, want it to be a zero-sum game, a conflict of rights. We have so much in common, especially our interests, with all feminists, and they want to obscure that. It is a shame some self-identified “feminists” go along with them.
Anthony Young, a Labour peer, said “I want to make it clear that I believe in fair rights for transgender people. I am not transphobic, although no doubt I will be accused of it after this contribution”. Not a good line. Why is he transphobic? Well, “Fair rights” to him means exclusion from women’s spaces. I don’t want “fair rights” according to Young’s definition, I want human rights.
He is transphobic because he spoke out against inclusive language for trans men as “nonsense”. Then he said,
I want to conclude on the problem of the increased violence towards women and children taking place during Covid. We need to ensure that we protect safe spaces for women in hostels, refuges, hospitals and prisons. Physical threats to women, including rape, by transgender men are a terrible indictment on our society.
By “transgender men” he means trans women. I had to think about that one, but perhaps we will have to get used to it. The problem of increased violence towards women during covid has nothing to do with trans women. It is cis men. The juxtaposition shows extreme fear or hatred of trans women, and attempts to instil it in others. It is transphobic.
Fortunately Sal Brinton, Liberal Democrat, spoke up for us.
On top of the concerns about the attacks on trans people, there is now a real concern that the equalities rights granted over many years are being rowed back on. Over the last two days, three government advisers have resigned over this issue, the Conservative LGBT+ organisation is demanding an investigation and many Back-Bench MPs are worried.
I was somewhat surprised by the assertion of the noble Lord, Lord Young, that women’s refuges were dangerous places because of the threat of trans women being there. I am not aware of any such cases, and for the Domestic Abuse Bill, a number of women’s refuges and other organisations made it plain that they are trans -inclusive. In fact, a 2017 survey showed that the reality is that one in six trans women experience domestic abuse themselves.
Yet Caroline Nokes MP said,
On this International Women’s Day, let us champion all women—gay women, who do not need conversion therapy; trans women, who want to be treated with respect and fairness. Remember, they are the ones most likely to suffer domestic abuse.
Kirsty Blackman, MP, SNP said,
We must consider this—we must look at stereotypes—and we must always consider intersectionality: we must check our own privilege. Younger women, ethnic minority women, bisexual women, trans women and disabled women are more likely to be domestically abused.
Wendy Chamberlain, MP, LD, referred to single-sex spaces but said they were needed because of “the fear of sexual violence perpetrated by men”. Exactly. Not trans women.