Excluding trans women without mentioning us

“We want to expel every last trans woman from every single women’s service, and guarantee that none will ever enter again. We want to control language, so that no-one can acknowledge that trans men are men, so oppose any and all language that refers to trans male obstetrics or reproductive health.”

If only the “gender-critical feminists” would say what they wanted clearly, there could be a debate. We could ask, who would this change in the law harm, and would it benefit anyone? Can we balance different people’s needs? Are there conflicting rights? Unfortunately, expressing their desires so clearly would show how paltry they are, how little conceivable benefit they would produce, what harm they would do.

So they often couch their demands for exclusion in terms of “belief”. No-one is sacked for “believing sex is real”. They are, rarely, sacked for demanding trans exclusion or being rude to trans people, but more often the trans employee or customer will be driven away. I don’t care about their beliefs, I care about their oppressive actions. Unfortunately they seem to have persuaded themselves that “trans woman” is a meaningless term, not distinguishing us from men. So they talk of mixed sex and single sex spaces, and women losing rights or access, as if women’s loos were full of men.

On Woman’s Hour, Emma Barnett interviewed Kishwer Falkner, the chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission. The website said they would consider equal pay, a feminist issue, but the whole six minute interview covered “guidance for preserving single-sex spaces”. They did not mention trans women at all. Barnett, interviewing, was concerned that businesses would not be clear when they could discriminate against us, and so discriminate less than they might. Falkner hopes to report in January. It’s clearly about trans women, to a trans woman, simply because it paints a picture of no women’s loos being available in theatres, and businesses with customer toilets not knowing there can be “separate sex-based areas”.

The problem in businesses is that the women’s toilets often have the same floor area as men’s, so that women queue while men’s cubicles go unused, but they do not mention that. Of course there are women’s loos in business premises, it’s just that they accommodate trans women too.

Explaining this to someone who really does not see it is about trans exclusion, or is disingenuously denying that, is difficult. You have to translate. Falkner says the EHRC gets complaints from “experts in the field”- trans excluders- that “organisations’ websites”- Stonewall- misinterpret the exception.

It is a non-issue for most cis people. Trans women use women’s loos. So what. But they paint it as “relating to listeners’ lives”. It is true that there are fewer public toilets, but that is because of Tory public spending cuts, not because of trans issues. There is tugging on heart strings. Falkner says in one theatre “there was no single-sex space for women but for one toilet right in the rafters”. Theatres have bars, so they need toilets. Falkner craves sympathy for “an elderly woman climbing long flights of steps”. What if I were in the Gods, queued for the loo, then found it had a sign on the door saying it was a “single-sex toilet”. But no, this imagined elderly woman climbed from the stalls because the stalls loos admit trans women.

They want to exclude us from toilets. They want to upend our lives. They want not to mention us- we should be excluded, like any other “man”. Falkner says far more businesses could exclude trans women from women’s services than do, now- except she doesn’t, she says they could “use the exemptions that exist,” an abstract phrase in an attempt to sound dispassionate. She won’t anticipate the guidance, because that could cause legal problems, but she mentions the NHS, so we could be put on men’s wards, and retail, so we could be not allowed to try clothes on before buying. All without mentioning trans women once.

“All we need to do is point out what the law says,” says Falkner, and businesses will exclude trans women. I dread the guidance.

Framing it as a “women’s rights issue” and not mentioning trans women makes them terribly self-righteous. The Guardian had an article headed “My hope for a more open discussion of women’s and trans rights is fading”. Tell me about it, I thought. But again the complaint was about the powerful trans lobby oppressing women. Kathleen Stock! The writer complained of Stonewall, Edinburgh Rape Crisis, Keir Starmer, and Carla Denyer supporting trans rights, but did not ask herself “Are we the baddies?” Her views are being silenced, she complains.

She had hoped for a “more open discussion” because of Forstater’s Employment Appeal Tribunal case. All the EAT said was that Forstater’s beliefs were not as bad as fascism, so she should not be sacked merely for holding them. She is delighted that the UK Sports Council tells sporting bodies to exclude trans women. In an article which calls for balance and an end to polarisation, she claims that “the fear of male abusers who could take advantage of self-ID rules is rooted in fact”. Her idea of a “balanced discussion” differs from mine.

“Human bodies have limits,” she says. No trans surgery! Children are under threat! And then, “My own understanding is neither fixed or complete”. She claims an open mind, though her belief in her own righteousness is unassailable. And because she is merely “asserting her beliefs”, she does not notice the people she would hurt.

She does not feel her beliefs are recognised as valid, but that is the wrong question. Should trans women be expelled from our women’s spaces? What good, or harm, would that do? Meanwhile, if anyone advertises a “single sex space” I will take refuge in the Gender Recognition Act s9, which says that as I have a gender recognition certificate my sex is female. If they mean, “No Trans Women Allowed!!” they will have to say that.

Before Falkner, we had an Equality and Human Rights Commission. It was concerned for the rights of those who suffer unjust discrimination, and those whose human rights are breached, and worked to improve their rights. Now, Falkner says her organisation is for everyone in the country. So, she will tell businesses when they might be entitled to discriminate against trans women, and exclude us, because her organisation is for their benefit as well as for the trans women’s. It will not stop there. On the same principle, she would advise those who do not pay women equally how they can challenge the evidence of that.

Jane Garvey

“Person says something in someone else’s interview!” It’s a bit third-division that, the kind of thing a website does that does not have proper journalists (like this one). Here is the once mighty Times, allegedly a newspaper, doing a report about an interview on Radio 4. The actual interview is here. The trans stuff starts about ten minutes in.

The Times headline is pure clickbait. “Jane Garvey exits Woman’s Hour with plea on trans debate.” What plea?

I have interviewed more trans women than trans men on WH so that tells you something. Other people maybe need to think a little bit about that. I have also been called anti-trans and anti-women, I’ve been called too feminist, I’ve been called not feminist enough. It is genuinely a very very difficult area, we are never going to please everybody listening when we talk about it I also have to say from a purely practical perspective is this the issue that vexes our audience more than any other. Do they think of it as the most controversial or the most important thing we could be talking about? No, I honestly don’t think they do.

Make of that what you will. Especially given that the BBC requires a phobe to stick their nose in whenever trans folk are interviewed, for alleged “balance”, it seems she finds phobes boring, and the controversy they raise dull. The current head of Ofcom finds that “balance” “extremely inappropriate“. Though Paul Dacre might want only phobes.

The interviews Jane Garvey is most proud of are of ordinary people, “sharing in their real lives and challenges”. She feels she connects with listeners, and is blessed by the “adulation” she receives for what she calls “showing off”. She thinks Woman’s Hour should do more features on women’s caring responsibilities, for without the carers “Britain would just buckle”.

I don’t know what she thinks interviewing more trans women tells you. It could tell you that trans women are women and WH interviews more women than men. It could tell you that she thinks WH should pay more attention to trans men, because she thinks they are women. It could just be that there are more trans women than trans men so suggestions of women being made infertile are overblown. But here’s a suggestion that Jane Garvey thinks it is because trans women have male privilege.

The Times’ propaganda is clear. Trans was not the most important thing in the interview, and Jane Garvey wanted less concentration on trans issues, and perhaps particularly less anti-trans propaganda. The Times built this up into a story, because for them “trans person runs a red light” is a story.

Jane Garvey has said much the same before: the Daily Mail had a headline in December 2018, “Listeners complain that we do too much on the trans debate, says Woman’s Hour’s Jane Garvey”. In July 2018 she interviewed the mother of a trans man: starts at 27.20. She said that she has no choice who she interviews, but she is not hostile.

Jane Garvey is not an obsessive phobe. I don’t think there’s much indication that she is an ally, but I don’t think she will become a full time anti-trans campaigner. That’s a mercy, I suppose.

Aphantasia: having no mind’s eye

I have no mind’s eye. I can’t visualise things in memory or imagination.  This blog is about the experience of being trans, where some people find me viscerally disgusting and others are fomenting fear and anger against people like me. And still, it is alienating to hear people talk about how strange people like that (aphantasiac) are. It is a good thing that All in the Mind on Radio 4 should report on it, to help people understand others’ differences, but I now feel frustrated and sad- while also delighted to hear the voices of people who share this. I am here! Hominem scias!

On the programme someone commented It’s “only been known about for four years”. Well, I have known about it all my life. I have had to imagine what a mind’s eye is like, which I think is a greater leap of- the word is image-ination, but I can imagine, I assure you. I have told people about it, and they have not understood. I hate the word “Aphantasia”- I googled “phantasia meaning” and find the Greek word is usually translated “imagination”.

I have always avoided painting and drawing as much as possible, because I cannot imagine an image before committing it to paper. Instead I write verse: here I do not conjure up images, but sensuous experience. Does it do anything for you? My family as animals together, I wrote: you might create a picture, but for me it is a sense of togetherness unmediated by words, like a hug.

Unmediated by words-

I am good with words. Dysphasia is as frightening to me as blindness. On Radio 4 people like me at a conference reported my own experiences. One reads novels. Her friend said that was like a movie playing in his head, and she thought that sounded really cool, but for her it is just the words. Like an audiobook, the words play in my head. I don’t know if an audiobook conjures images for you, but for me it is just the sound of the words. Yet I know Dorothea Brooke and Elizabeth Bennett like real people- I have no idea what they look like, but know what they feel and desire. I had that conversation with my father as a child. He knew how many novels I read, but still could not understand how I could experience them without visualisation, and my impression now is of him finding this weird and sad.

So, letting words go, in meditation and immediate experience, is a way of touching emotion directly, inner experience as well as outer perception. I have done lots of guided visualisations too, and can use them to access the unconscious, just not in pictures.

On the radio, they said it is hard to come up with measurements so “we can only really ask people what their experience is”. Um. When I close my eyes, I see dark- or bright light shining through my eyelids. It makes sense to me that there might be gradations of this experience, or levels of skill in visualisation. Brain activity does not necessarily correlate to conscious experience. I do not know my unconscious experience, without hard work in excavation, or it just coming to mind.

And I have tried to visualise something: on the radio a CGI artist was asked to visualise a sphere, I tried a beach, the sea, the sky- two straightish lines, three colours. Like him I tried it for a week without success.

This experience blew my mind at the time, and is still intensely memorable. As it means so much to me, it might delude a researcher into thinking my usual experience different. I was driving home through the city, and I thought I could go — or I could go — . Not by Manchester Road or Featherstall Road, but-

I was thinking without words, and that was utterly strange to me. I only thought in words. I fantasised, planned, remembered in words. It wasn’t like seeing, really, but when I read of blind-sight, not seeing an image but knowing what is there, when someone has a healthy eye and optic nerve but brain damage causing blindness, it seemed it was like that. I know what’s there. I don’t see it. In dreams, I know what’s there- I don’t remember seeing anything, though I suppose I might. A nightmare must be more terrifying if like a movie. I know how the bookshelves are arranged in the living room. I know the colour of my Oware board, and its curve.

I have a good mind’s ear. Elgar could look at a score and hear an orchestra in his head. I can hear an orchestra playing a piece I know, and sight-sing a short, single-line phrase. I tried to imagine something I had not heard- a solo violin playing the National Anthem- and found this difficult, though having done it I can repeat the exercise. Like as if I have laid down a memory and can replay it.

On All in the Mind Claudia Hammond, who I am sure is more empathetic than that, played the presenter’s game of being the ordinary person, saying this is all a bit strange isn’t it. Her guest Catherine Loveday, a cognitive neuroscientist from Uni of Westminster, explained rather well:

For most of us, remembering is so wrapped up in the visual experience that it’s hard to imagine how someone can remember if they’re not visualising something but obviously people can, we know that congenitally blind people can still have memories, and if I think back to my holiday in Wales I can still have lots of other memories other than the visual thing, I can think about what I was smelling, what I was thinking about, what I was hearing and saying all of that comes back so we can still have memories without visual elements to them but about a third of people who have aphantasia also have significant memory problems.

And still it’s from the point of view of the Normal person. That Normal person may understand, though feel vaguely pitying. I was really excited to hear the programme trailed- at last! The experience of people like me! I still feel that delight, in hearing my fellow aphantasiacs, though I wish it did not need mediated through the perspective of the Normals- people who are Normal in that way, at least.

I would like a mind’s eye. It would be great to play a movie in my head. I am sure I would still retain all the ways of thinking, imagining and remembering that I have now. Possibly I have developed them because of the lack, but possibly I would have developed them anyway.

Hominem scias, I wrote, as if you would understand it, in order to alienate you if you don’t, so you may get something of the feeling I had listening. It is from the motto of the Royal Life Saving Society, Quemcumque miserum videris, hominem scias: whomsoever you see in distress, recognise in him (sic) a fellow man (sic). Educated people may do a bit of Latin, but I would not expect anyone to read the phrase if they did not know it, as I could not myself.

I learned another name for something that happens to me. Bright light makes me sneeze. People either say, Oh! Yes! Me too! if it happens to them, or express incredulity if it doesn’t, because it sounds ridiculous to them.

It’s called a “photic sneeeze”, or an Autosomal Compelling Helio-Ophthalmic Outburst.

There’s a village in Argyll called Ardrishaig, with the emphasis on the second syllable, to which the only possible response is “Bless you”.

Good news II

Friend shared on facebook: One of the best things you can do to cleanse your mind is to stop reading the newspapers, stop watching the news, turn news 24 off, turn radio news off. The news is so disproportionately biased towards bad news, that it makes us believe that the world is a bad place to live. Stop letting ‘news’ infect your mind.

So I listened to The PM Programme. How bad is it? Eddie Mair starts with the words “Fred Talbot: Teacher, TV weatherman, child abuser.”

New revelations on tax: HMRC did not prosecute a wealthy businessman even though he told them he had not paid tax for 24 years.

The scale of the rubbish we dump in the sea.

Then, the news headlines. The bombing of the city of Dresden has been commemorated again. Headlines broadcast a soundbite of Justin Welby’s sermon stating his “regret and deep sorrow”.

Headlines: fighting in eastern Ukraine has intensified.

Increasing number of young people don’t drink alcohol. The proportion of 16-24 year olds who are teetotal increased from 19-27%.

Featured reports: 5.05-5.09   Fred Talbot. Is the conviction of a criminal “good” or “bad” news? Bad that a teacher should abuse children, good that he should be convicted. His crimes were in the 1970s. In 1984 he resigned because he had propositioned two boys. There has been a huge change of culture to permit such prosecutions.

5.09-5.13 8 million tonnes of rubbish has been dumped in the oceans in a year. Plastic is a light material, with low density. It may double by 2025, and animals ingest plastic or get entangled in it. Again good: we care about these things. Finding out is a step towards taking action.

5.13-5.17 tax and tax evasion. HMRC failed to prosecute one of Britain’s most flagrant tax cheats. Paul Bloomfield with a fortune of ÂŁ60m claimed to have no income. He claimed to have his helicopter and jet paid for by “benefactors”. The incompetence of HMRC pursuing the rich, and its vindictiveness pursuing the poor who were blamelessly overpaid tax credits, angers me. The only good I can find is that we are hearing about this, and our anger may have some positive effect.

5.17-5.20 schools in Liberia have been closed because of the Ebola threat, but next week are reopening. “People don’t shake hands any more, it has changed our way of life.” Children have been stuck at home for seven months, and had an hour’s radio tutorial every evening. The interview concentrates on the difficulties and uncertainties, but reopening is good news.

5.20-5.27 Thaw in relation between Cuba and the US. Students turned out for the March of the Torches celebrating Jose Martin, hero of the Revolution. Vox pop of the students: one said the problem was between the governments, not the people. Young people want change, including greater access to the internet. Clearly good news.

5.27-5.30 Headlines repeated.

5.30-5.35 Will digital material held in the Cloud be lost, if we do not preserve the technology to play them? Backwards compatibility is not guaranteed. Some say the files can be migrated to new formats, and the UK Digital Curation Centre has done a great deal of work developing tools and techniques.

5.35-5.39 The attack on Dresden firestorm killed 25,000 people. Justin Welby: So much of your story and the journey which brings us together in this beautiful place is for sombre reflection as well as rejoicing. The welcome is “miraculous”, he said. Indeed it is. We are friends now. The President of the Republic said that Germany started the war, and Germans do not forget the victims of Germany even when they remember German victims.

5.39-5.43 Rosa Parks’ private papers were sent to the Library of Congress, and have now been opened up to researchers. We celebrate her courage and achievements.

So the news can be seen as good news. Some horrible stories are told, but there is hope in almost all of this. I am glad to listen to it.

BBC Home Service

Who decides?

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/bc/B_Pierpont_252v.jpgWho then decides if I am a woman? I do. Scientists and policy-makers agree on that. This quiet revolution has taken place without many of us noticing, maybe because we thought it concerned only a small minority of the population. But it affects all of us, and the way we organise society. If we can accept that sex and gender are a personal choice, with a whole range of possibilities between the extremes of male and female, man and woman, the battle of the sexes as we know it will be over. What comes next? Perhaps a new model of society where we negotiate relationships with each other and the State on our own, individual terms.

I love Jo Fidgen’s conclusion to her Analysis programme. Despite my critique of one ridiculous, vile contribution, I find the whole programme positive and informative. At the moment it is not quite true. There is no recognition of a third gender in law: in law, one must be one or the other. And while in Australia some can have an X instead of M or F on their passport, I understand that is only people with particular intersex conditions.

The law says I am a woman, contrary to my original birth certificate; but the birth record in Forfar still states that I am male, it is only the extract copy that I can change; and I can only change that because a psychiatrist from a statutory list of specialists and one other doctor have certified that I had lived female, and am likely to do so life long, and I have formally promised to do so. Even with equal marriage there will be slightly different rules for opposite sex and same sex marriage. It is my choice in that no authority insists I am male against it, but there is great difficulty having the choice recognised; and it is a choice to act on my fundamental nature,http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/9b/B_Pierpont_174v.jpg/557px-B_Pierpont_174v.jpg rather than a free choice of which sex is best to be generally.

And yet as I read on a blog months ago, the issue for the whole LGBT community is a gender identity issue, as we seek the freedom not to conform to gender stereotypes. That has to liberate everyone: no-one entirely fits the stereotype.

(Tranny claims trannies are at the cutting edge of the liberation of humanity. Ha!)

Am I a radical challenge to the very notion of gender, or a conservative reinforcement of stereotypes? The former. The radfem myth- person with stereotypical repulsive male behaviour, in ridiculous, clichéd and highly sexualised clothes- does not really fit reality. The argument that we reinforce Patriarchal ideas of femininity is the alternative radfem attack. Often we are ultragirly, but if we were not we might be able to make a go of life as men. And- there are ultragirly women, as well as more masculine women.

The point of feminism is that women should have choices, and fulfil ourselves. “Radical Feminism” is not that radical position, but a reaction to sexism. To a Chauvinist “women should stay at home and look after the children” the Radfem position is a reaction- “Not bloody likely”. The mainstream of feminism has gone beyond that: women should have a free choice. Feminists who falsely call themselves radical might meditate on “What you resist, persists”. The rest of us have moved on, to modelling and so creating the non-oppressive world. That is the radical challenge to patriarchy.


 Tuck your penis, as if it was not there

How to tuck your penis, to achieve a feminine profile, so you can wear swimming costumes like the one pictured.

Julie Bindel insulted a trans woman: A male to female transgender person pre-op, came in, and obviously had male genitals.

You can avoid this problem.

When I dressed female before transitioning, I learned to “tuck”. I pushed my testicles back into the inguinal canal whence they descended before puberty. I then folded my penis back between my legs, and held it in place with control pants, which also pull your tummy in. I did this when wearing a ballgown with hooped underskirt– tranny dos are flamboyant- leave alone a short skirt. When I transitioned, I tucked all the time until I had my operation. I was concerned there might be risks in this- twisting the testicle and reducing its blood supply- but took care, and took the risk. The risk seemed worthwhile.

tucked penis 1

Take the scrotum gently with the fingertips of both hands, then exert gentle pressure on the testicles, upwards, moving each around slowly until you feel a little give. Push the testicle up, there, and it will slip into the canal.  Each testicle has its own canal. Then fold the penis back between the legs, and pull on your control briefs to hold it in place. I did this daily for 18 months with no ill-effects. It was perfectly comfortable, and I could look down and see a feminine shape, which was reassuring as I grew to dislike my penis more and more. The photos are me in a swimming costume, pre-op. Have a look at more photographs.

The testicle descends of its own accord when you untuck, but if it does not and you really want it to, gentle pressure behind the scrotum does the trick.

Tucking and taping

Tape is unnecessary, if wearing a mini skirt. When you are taking hormones, ordinary panties will do, especially with tights, but I wanted to be sure, and I wanted my penis tightly held back, so used control briefs. Brevity is the soul of lingerie, but when it has to be firm and extensive it can still be pretty enough.

But if you want to wear a thong or bikini bottoms, you need to tape.

Micropore tape is flesh coloured and gentle on your skin. Cut two lengths long enough to stretch from the base of your penis to the top of your anal cleft, when tucked. Stick these to your penis, and wrap a third length around the penis, loosely enough not to constrict the blood supply if you get an erection. Tuck your testicles, pull the tapes back and stick them inside your buttocks. You have a feminine silhouette, under the briefest panties. Practice makes perfect, and you can tuck with complete confidence.

SEE ALSO: Lace: on getting a properly fitting brassière.

“Autogynephilia”. No, we are not perverts, we are women.

Tranny blog: on tranny chasers.

Try the Home Page. All human life is here: see the guide to Trans life. And- leave a comment! What would you like from this blog?

Tucked penis 2