Tara Wolf

Tara Wolf, a trans woman, has been convicted of assault of Maria MacLachlan. There are estimated to be 1.2m violent incidents in a year in England and Wales, including 13,000 assaults with a blade with intent to cause serious harm; yet this minor assault reaches the pages of The Times. It was tried before a district judge, a professional lawyer, rather than a magistrate, which shows the case’s sensitivity, but still. The article starts,

A transgender activist was branded a “violent thug” yesterday after being found guilty of attacking a 60-year-old woman at a rally.

Tara Wolf, 26, who was born male but identifies as female,

Why the need to explain? Most people will understand the term “trans woman”, and anyone who doesn’t would hardly be interested in the article. Thank goodness they don’t know her dead name. Who “branded”- I think they mean “called”- her a violent thug? Her victim, who has not behaved with grace. That bit’s at the end of the article: The judge also said, however, that Ms MacLachlan showed “bad grace” for failing to use her attacker’s preferred pronoun during the trial. Ms MacLachlan, speaking outside court, told of her disgust at being forced to address her attacker as a woman.

“It was particularly offensive because he is a violent male,” she said. “I have no problem addressing some of my trans friends as ‘she’. I have made a few trans friends as a result of this incident who have been very supportive and I completely respect them.

“They are not pretending to be women. He is a violent thug.”

Well, if you want people to sympathise when someone misgenders you, don’t assault them. Tara herself showed little remorse, issuing a statement which I have only seen on facebook: Throughout the trial, the claimant and witnesses in support of her spitefully referred to Ms Tara Wolf using “he” pronouns, despite being instructed to desist in this behaviour by the district judge. These bigots were offered the opportunity to refer to Ms Wolf as “The defendant”, an inoffensive gender neutral term, but persisted in their campaign of harassment against Ms Wolf by repeatedly misgendering her, intent on continuing to cause psychological harm against the defendant.

Well, Boo-Hoo. If you’re that much of a shrinking violet that psychological harm ensues from being misgendered by people who are never going to pass up the opportunity,

don’t assault one of them!

I mean, really. It’s not rocket-science!

Tara quotes the judge as saying she had caused “low harm” by her assault, and had “low culpability”, but she was still convicted. Tara says the fine was £150, and neglects to mention the £30 victim surcharge and £250 costs, which must not be “grossly disproportionate” to the fine or a sum beyond the capacity of the defendant to repay within a year. The fine depends on the defendant’s disposable income, so it is not clear whether it is large or not. £30 is the minimum surcharge, which is not paid directly to the victim. Instead, Maria could make a claim to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.

It’s odd that Maria’s criterion for deciding whether to call a trans woman “she” is whether they claim to be women. If they don’t, and don’t offend her in any other way, she will deign to use female pronouns.

The Daily Mail’s headline was that Tara had “walked free from court”, as if all such minor assaults should end in clink. What would our prison population be then? 1.2 million, perhaps, a greater proportion of the population than even the USA. The Mail’s report gives considerably more detail, including the judge’s statement I suspect if that was the only altercation that was recorded during that event, it would not have resulted in this trial. So far from prison, in fact, that she was only prosecuted to make an example of someone. The commenters are still disappointed.

The videos appear to show MacLachlan holding a trans woman in a head lock but the judge “rejected evidence” of that. At the verdict, Julia Long, a passionate transphobe, shouted “Guilty, guilty, violent. The man is guilty, I don’t care.” Then she and her companions went to the court’s balcony and shouted “Guilty, guilty of male violence!”

TERF thinking

TERFs see trans women and “trans ideology” as a threat to women and girls. So they make us Other, with derogatory terms like TIM and now “parasite”. Seeing opportunities rather than threats, positive thinking rather than negative, helps you seize those opportunities so that the threats become insignificant. It is adaptive. Why should TERFs think in this embattled way, and what consequences does it have?

They see trans as a threat. They say trans boys are damaged by testosterone, chest masculinisation and binding, rather than freed to express themselves more fully. They say trans women in women’s spaces are a threat to women. They say this blurring of the definition of “woman” and “man” will make women’s liberation impossible, that the oppressed class will not be distinguished from disguised oppressors, so cannot liberate itself.

I see trans as a boon to gender-critical feminists: individually, it helps people express who they really are, and collectively, it subverts gender roles. Allowed to develop naturally, we will move from a strict trans attempt to pass completely, involving surgery and hormones, living in Stealth, and a rigid understanding that trans women are born that way, or have women’s brains, through identifying as “non-binary”, and picking and choosing from the symbols of gender the better to express our underlying gender variation, then not needing the labels at all. The result will be a severing of the link between gender and sex, which is what the gender-critical feminists want.

It is part of my belief system that there should be no out-group, that creating out-groups to be disparaged or opposed incites conflict and impoverishes everyone, and I have read two explanations of this: rejecting out-group thinking is a sign of maturity or spiritual growth (Yay me!) or it comes from a comfortable childhood. That’s arguable too. Yet here am I in an out-group. Are TERFs simply less spiritually advanced?

Anecdotally, the more extreme radical feminists seem to have been traumatised in some way. The iron enters into their souls. The world ceases to be a safe place where we can achieve goals, and becomes filled with threats to be warded off. The threats exist. We differ in how we try to deal with them. Sara Ahmed, who is trans-inclusive, points out some deny them. Between that and magnifying them, becoming a Crusader against them, comes a middle way, awareness of risk without obsession.

I see value in drawing people’s attention to the threats. Others are in denial: they should wake up! “I could not believe how compliant they were”- it feels like an uphill battle, like being Miles Bennell on the road outside Santa Mira seeing lorries full of giant pods. Much feminist work, such as #MeToo, involves speaking out where we have been silent.

It is enjoyable, though not positive in the same way, to radicalise each other, swapping verbal formulations on Twitter and forums. It gives a sense of belonging. That radicalisation can attach to any cause indiscriminately, good or bad.

Being open to accepting trans people means being willing to see good in others, or change your mind. Someone under immediate threat concentrates on evading the threat. You look at wider possibilities when the threat is gone. Some people may not be persuadable: here is Elena Ferrante on how all women are oppressed. Meanwhile masculinity is war on the irrepressible plurality of human existence.

TERF propaganda

In a Youth Drama group a 17 year old boy at the start of their transitioning journey informs you that you must refer to them by their chosen female name and only cast them in female roles and that on an upcoming residential they would expect to be sleeping in with the girls. If not they would report you and the young person quotes their rights at you. Parents always insist that their teenage sons and daughters would sleep separately and under safeguarding you need to ensure separate sex accommodation. In addition two of the girls in the group are survivors of sexual abuse.

It starts by referring to the child as a boy. She’s a trans girl. Then it uses innuendo. It implies a threat, of unwanted sexual conduct by the trans girl, but does not spell it out. If you spell it out, you render it ridiculous, but the writer seeks to inflame fear and suspicion so leaves the reader to imagine what might but probably won’t happen.

It raises an issue without any context. How long has the teacher known the pupil, and the other pupils involved? What dormitories or rooms are available at the residential centre? What do the other girls think?

It implies that the survivors are vulnerable. Survivors respond in a variety of ways. All the children here are entitled to the support of the staff, tailored to their individual needs, and as a teacher you would know those needs. A teacher positive about the gender change could create acceptance in the group.

It demands an instant response. A teacher should certainly agree that the pupil should not take male roles, and would use her chosen name, but could reasonably request time to discuss the residential. That teacher would be aware of transitioning children and possibly of the ways schools supported them.

Well, I would not want to play a man, either. The girl quotes her rights and threatens to “report” her teacher. We can be fearless in enforcing our rights, but generally when transitioning we do not want to adopt a defensive posture from the off. We want to make transition work, and to maintain good relationships. Has the teacher shown hostility in the past?

It is ignorant of the law. Schools have various ways of coping. A residential fee-paying girls’ school in London has a protocol on allowing pupils to identify as male or non-binary. We consulted the pupils to find out what the issues were. Their main preoccupation has been to look after people who don’t want to identify as one gender or another, said the head teacher. So the pupils want to be supportive, and the teachers do too. There isn’t the problem insinuated by that writer.

Another fee-paying school put a trans boy in the boys’ boarding house. The Telegraph report misgenders them as “girls”, but they play in the boys’ football team. It quotes as reasonable a head teacher claiming trans is “a hysteria”, and as ridiculous a head teacher who does not use gendered language for pupils. Any problem would be immediately reported, so there is none.

The propaganda ignores the law. Wrigleys solicitors suggest that as sex and gender are different, and because of exceptions in the Equality Act, it may not be discriminatory for a boarding school to refuse to admit a pupil to a single-sex boarding house and its facilities because of the pupil’s sex or gender reassignment.

A little time critically analysing the propaganda shows the fear it seeks to insinuate is unfounded. The propaganda is dangerous, though, as readers might be affected emotionally by it, lacking the tools to analyse it. It is fear-mongering, and therefore reasonably called transphobic.

TERFs: the new tropes

Not getting a sufficient rise out of calling trans women “men”, they now call us “parasites”. But they may have gone too far in denying anyone but they are feminists.

David TC Davies MP hosted an event by “We need to talk”, an anti-trans campaign, in the House of Commons. Davies is not particularly feminist: he voted to reduce the abortion time limit from 24 to 12 weeks. (After the limit there can still be abortions, to prevent “grave permanent injury” to the mother, and for similarly grave reasons.) He wishes to foment hatred of immigrants: after the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, he posted “Paris attacks show need to scrap Human Rights Act”. His aim is to split the left, here by supporting TERFs, just as The Spectator, the hard-right magazine which shares its writers with Breitbart, prints their articles. So he uses FGM, arguing the commitment to supporting diversity means turning a blind eye to forced marriages, not doing enough to prevent honour killings, ignoring female genital mutilation. He is trying to turn feminists into Islamophobes.

Ooh, how radical they were! Look at their forums, and you see “Trans-identified male”, or TIM, as their way of referring to trans women. “TIF” comes up very rarely. But as with any addict, the old levels of hate and disgust cease to have an effect, and they need to be more extreme. Sheila Jeffreys said, when men claim to be women…and parasitically occupy the bodies of the oppressed, they speak for the oppressed. They become to be recognised as the oppressed. There’s no space for women’s liberation. It’s not clear what she means by this. Insofar as trans women’s interests differ from cis women’s, she seems to be saying that our interests will be more important. But if we speak for women about feminist concerns, such as the gender pay gap, we are on her side. Trans voices are never louder than cis voices. Cis feminists still get bigger platforms.

Jeffreys called transgender a “sexual fetish”. Again this is radicalising: no trans woman transitions except for femininity, even if there is some arousal, and some feminists have admitted there are a variety of causes, but increasingly they pick on “autogynephilia” as the cause even though there is no correlate for trans men and it does not apply to androphile trans women. The fetish works as a “parasitism” on us. Actually, that could work as well as “born that way” or “I have a woman’s brain” arguments: we are helpless in the face of the desire to transition, so should be allowed to do so comfortably.

“Gender critical feminist” is a tautology- feminism implies being gender critical, they say. That’s fine by me, I will go back to the word TERF. Being gender critical only means that you don’t accept that all women are or should be feminine, not that people do not have a wide range of gender expession. “Feminist is enough to describe that you are critical of the gender doctrine” said a tweet. “By using the word trans we validate this false concept. There are only men and women. Let’s take back our language” said a tweet. The most extreme stuff is left out of Pink News.

Men can’t become women, what’s so difficult about that? It depends on how you define woman. Culture has always had a part in that. There are gender non-conforming people, and transition is one of the ways we free ourselves. Closing that off does not mean that trans men will become angry feminists like her, necessarily. They may just feel stymied, and fail to thrive. Free us up to respond to gender and watch it collapse under its contradictions.

The longer this is a live issue for people, the more extreme positions get. It is only a live issue because the government promised a consultation on gender recognition reform in the Autumn, but has not got round to it yet even though the Scottish consultation has finished. I infer that the Government Equalities Office and its minister Amber Rudd is aiding David Davies’ attempt to split the Left.

Angela Crawley, Equalities spokesperson for the SNP, said As a lesbian woman and a feminist, I stand with trans and non-binary people against the appalling prejudice and discrimination they continue to face. Trans rights are human rights, and the SNP is committed to making Scotland a fairer and more equal country for everyone.

Quotes taken from Pink News.

Ward, Henrietta Mary Ada; Chatterton, 1765; Bristol Museums, Galleries & Archives; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/chatterton-1765-189233

Breathing space

I need space to survive, and being trans restricts that. I need to be able to move through the world, with a home to live in, means of transport, meaningful work, streets I can walk down without fear, places I can go for help, ways of participating in social life. As I am trans I may face hostility, prejudice and discrimination limiting me. If I am out I will need lavatories.

I do not assert a right to be in any of these spaces. It feels as if I am there on sufferance, on the toleration of other people which is never guaranteed and may be withdrawn at any time.

I did not find another way of being. I tried to make a man of myself, to fit cultural masculinity because it seemed that otherwise I would be shunned. Then I found the delight of being my true self in the gay village in Manchester, and it seemed possible to be who I am as a trans woman, as a transsexual as I called it at the time. “I am not a man,” I wept, meaning that cultural masculinity did not fit me. It never seemed possible to live openly as a pansy, or soft male. I thought soft men were gay. My father, who might have been my pansy role model, used the word as an insult. He was my role model in hiding my softness away.

I fit into the world as a “trans woman”, mostly suffered or tolerated with some mockery, misunderstanding, hostility. Even with the hostility it is better than presenting male. Society tolerates me in women’s spaces. I use women’s loos and changing rooms. If gender neutral space- clothes shops, toilets, shelters- is to be carved out, a lot more people will have to identify as gender neutral than currently identify as trans.

I am gender critical. Gender is cultural, and not somehow related to evolved sex characteristics. After the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act we see that women can work as barristers and solicitors as well as men, and increasingly we see women in STEM. Women can vote without going insane, contradicting concerns expressed before 1918. Gendered responses are strongly conditioned in our society, enforced by most people from small children up. A man in a pink shirt was told he would have to give up his “man card”. Gender is orthogonal to sex, ideally: Jung said men must discover their anima, or inner feminine, and women their animus, and was right, but it is such a struggle achieved so late in life because of that conditioning.

Mumsnet TERFs started paying attention to my blog, and I have had 186 clicks from there, hundreds more page views. More people read such threads than comment on them, but the commentary on me is hostile. They judge me. I wrote on autogynephilia to show it cannot exist, but my words were used as proof of it. I hope I might have persuaded some who read without commenting, but they are interested in trans issues and reading TERF threads so it’s not certain.

They say, It is an issue of men’s right not to be inconvenienced.
AGP actively impedes the ability to empathize with women.

The issue is that I  need space. I am excluded, and they seek to exclude me further. If I see distress or hostility, my instinct is to back away, to seek a work-around rather than to provoke. I am empathising. I am there, due to forces I cannot control.

They doubt I am gender critical: being gender critical means conceptualising gender as an external imposition, not a spiritual identity.
I don’t understand how a MiT can call themselves a gender critical feminist… Without gender surely we remain with biology – a man being male and a woman being female?

I observe that people have gender, just that it does not correlate with sex. It is part of human variation. I object to procrustean attempts to constrain gender expression, not gender expression itself.

I observe that there is a great deal of unthinking enforcement of gender, and ways to subvert it: trans and non-binary, “gender-critical feminist” as an identity, building resistance, and attempts such as Natasha Devon’s challenging of stereotypes. She was the former “mental health tsar” and spoke to the Girls Schools Association conference- she has platforms.  The comments on this thread show thoughtful support and mindless hostility. There is movement.

How can gender stereotypes be subverted from where we are now? Partly through visible trans folk, living out our radical rejection of the gender norms fitting our birth sex. When I see gender neutral space, I will go there.

One says, Not every male has a sexual motive for transition (ie, gay males wanting to sleep with straight men aka HSTS, third gender etc; straight males getting off on feminine presentation aka AGP). There are some people with catastrophic body dysmorphia and some people who are genuinely in retreat from masculinity. But these people have nothing whatsoever to do with transactivism or transactivists and the reason we don’t hear from them is not that they’re the silent majority – it’s that the population is tinier than tiny.

She understands that body dysmorphia and being unManly are motivations, but divides the motivations into discrete categories, so that anyone who has ever been aroused can’t be in that “tinier than tiny” group. But no-one will transition M-F unless they feel themselves unManly. (Tell me a better word- “effeminate” really isn’t it.)

I am so sad that this has made me feel less compassion for trans people. I am sorry for them but I’m angry that their cause has been hijacked by cross dressing men… But I think I want to develop a ‘we don’t negotiate with terrorists’ stance. The trouble is that we have made a zero-sum game together. If she sees the problem as men in women’s space, I am in unwilling confrontation because I have nowhere else to go. The problem is, The Patriarchy. The problem is, gender conformity and gender enforcement. These problems we could attack together, but for the zero-sum game.

I managed to peak trans them [centre-left 30 something blokes] instantly with the sports issue. That is, Hannah Mouncey using masculine size competing against other women. They are “live and let live” people, like anyone they don’t show hatred for minorities easily, but she managed to make them hostile, and exults in this. Competitive female cyclists are far faster than I am. It isn’t relevant for most trans women. Some people go to Mumsnet to radicalise themselves, then go out to radicalise others.

Marie Dean

The “cross-dressing Burnley burglar” is serving an indeterminate sentence for public protection, after breaking into houses and stealing underwear and being charged with burglary and voyeurism. S/he videoed herself on her phone, in the underwear in the victims’ bedrooms, and the quote picked by the Lancashire Telegraph to give its readers an entertaining feeling of disgust, loathing and derision was “I hope you don’t mind me borrowing your underwear. They smell nice.” Possibly the sentence would not have been so great but for the videos. The story is the worst kind for the trans community- predatory trans in your daughter’s bedroom, getting sexually aroused- but these are upsetting things to do, and ordinary decent readers of newspapers will want to read about them.

Then she was back in the news because she is on hunger strike. This got a sympathetic write-up in The Observer (the Guardian’s Sunday paper). She claims that the prison authorities “deny her chosen gender”, and it is not clear what that means. She has been diagnosed with gender dysphoria, she is in a men’s prison, and she claims prison officials “refused to give hair straighteners, epilator or any makeup”. Hair straighteners get hot, and could conceivably be used to assault someone, but if a friend outside is willing to give her makeup, or she can buy it herself, I don’t see why she should be denied it. A letter from friends outside said she should be “given back her clothes”. Convicted prisoners wear prison uniform, but she should be entitled to wear women’s uniform.

In the same prison run by incompetent profiteers Serco, Jenny Swift killed herself. She complained of “bullying”, though Serco claimed the prison officer was being “robust”. She was angry at officers calling her “fella”. Prisons are understaffed and underfunded, with little or no attempt at rehabilitation and increasing suicide, self-harm and violence.

The indeterminate sentence indicates Marie Dean was seen as a danger to the public, and that is not just from burglary. The judge must have believed her behaviour could lead to physical harm. She has no right to be in a woman’s prison, as the Ministry of Justice has to take care of her safety and that of other inmates. She has the right to be treated with dignity, and that means being able to express herself as female and be free from violence. “Assessments will be made on a case by case basis” says the government.

The story is a gift to the TERFs, and in the Murdoch press Janice Turner took advantage. Corbyn must decide if he’ll sacrifice allies who aren’t prepared to see women’s safety compromised for the sake of dogma. This conflates two completely different issues, whether trans women should be allowed on all woman shortlists for appointing candidates for election, and whether a trans woman should be placed in a women’s prison. Gender identity does not erase biological reality, she argued. Well, so what? Jeremy Corbyn has decreed that gender self-identity is official policy. That means that transitioned women can get on all women shortlists, and that Marie Dean should be allowed to express herself as a woman and not be misgendered. It does not mean that she should be placed in a women’s prison. Marie Dean, and the disgust many will feel reading of her crimes, is irrelevant to how trans women should be treated, but trotted out by Janice Turner to oppose any trans rights at all.

Notour TERF Sarah Ditum played the same game in the New Statesman. If being denied hair straighteners can be presented as a cruel and unusual punishment, one might imagine that housing female prisoners with a voyeur would rate somewhere even higher. But in prison, as everywhere else, the expectation appears to be that women’s safety comes last. Belittle the difficulties the trans woman faces, and conflate the threat she poses with issues pertaining to trans women generally:  it’s so dispiriting to hear Jeremy Corbyn on Marr this weekend, saying things like “we should respect people however they identify” or “where you’ve self-identified as a woman, then you are treated as a woman.”

Also in the Murdoch press was the story that Women’s Aid was considering whether to employ trans women. That is, an organisation run from top to bottom by women, committed to the needs of their service users and women in general, with a great deal of expertise on those needs and with knowledge of the relevant law, would make a decision in the interests of their organisation. They may decide to continue refusing to employ trans women. However, that is boring, so to make the news entertaining we had a load of TERFs wheeled out to make “Help, help the sky is falling!” quotes, to make readers feel pleasurable disgust and fear.

Lancashire telegraph.
The Observer on Marie Dean, and the Guardian on the death of Jenny Swift.
The New Statesman.

Bras

You can’t wear binders all the time. A trans boy needs a bra, because you need to run about a bit as a teenager and it gets uncomfortable in the chest area without. What should that bra look like? Quite possibly like one from Yellowberry, a company set up to sell bras for teens and tweens by a seventeen year old woman, Megan Grassell. A social worker and sex ed teacher contacted them saying it would be good if their site could appeal to intersex, trans and non-binary teens, and got a brush-off: “We don’t feel that growing boys need bras”. See above.

A tweet complained, and Megan Grassell apologised, fulsomely. We are constantly working to be more inclusive with our marketing, models and brand stance. Of course: as a bra is an aspirational garment for many young girls, wanting to develop into women, Yellowberry wants its advertising to show the people children want to be. She drew down a storm onto her head, of mostly British TERFs abusing her for giving in to Trans bullies. Often the TERFs did not understand: If boys can say they are girls, then where are girls’ safe spaces? The approach was for boys who can’t get chest masculinisation surgery yet. These bullies are deliberately targeting businesses to open up female spaces to men out of fear of harassment, “Sceptic Shrew” said. Trans boys may be consigned to female spaces, but Sceptic Shrew would not object to that. She is only phobic about trans females, AMAB, not about trans males.

Bras stop musculature developing properly to support breasts, say some people, to me as rational as vaccine deniers. I did not like being bra-less at all when walking, if I had to hurry just a little, after my breasts developed. Yes, lots of women get great relief slumping on the couch in the evening, their bra finally off, but not during the day.

What is “feminist lingerie”? According to a British company, Neon Moon, it is feminist when your body shapes your underwear, not the other way about. That might be more for younger women than older, for slimmer rather than plumper. Their clothes look quite pretty, even sexy, with a black lace playsuit. It is the antithesis of the dawn of the Underwire, which would give an anorexic teenage boy cleavage, and he would not necessarily have to be AFAB.

Bras like breasts are very personal, expressing self-image, aspiration and insecurity. I see no harm at all in bras for “masquerade”, to quote a TERF tweet, as they are for self-expression even if only the wearer sees them. May we all be happy in our bras, and squabble less about the bras of others.

Trans v TERFs

They say women need to be protected from men. If gender identity has primacy over sex, then sex as a protected characteristic ceases to exist. That is the argument we fight, and reconciliation may not be possible. It is a zero sum game- they win, or we do.

David Davies MP, a Conservative backbencher, chaired a meeting at the House of Commons of “Transgender Law Concerns”, and invited TERFs to speak. Judith Green was one of them, and her speech is online. Traumatised by male violence, she left home aged 16 and after months putting it off attended a group for female survivors of childhood sexual abuse. There she learned that her boundaries were important- that the abuse was wrong and she had a right to protect herself, truths the abuser had gaslighted her out of. As women, they had been brought up to take care of others, so wanted solidarity but not shared space with male abuse survivors. She would have been silenced and retraumatised if a trans woman had been there. The Equality Act allows services to exclude trans women, but that is not enough: it should allow service users to demand such exclusion. 26% of women have experienced domestic abuse so women need women’s space without men, and without trans women. Services are frightened of court cases compelling them to include trans women, so give up without a fight.

Navigating male sexual aggression, intrusiveness and harassment is a much more universal female experience. Therefore every woman needs protection. Why are they not more vocal? Because they are brought up to take care of others. Survivors of male violence need similar protection in clothes shop changing rooms, so we should be excluded there too.

Littlehey prison specialises in male sex offenders, eleven of whom, 1% of the inmates, are on the Transgender Pathway. Women prisoners should be protected from sex offenders, and this indicates trans women have male patterns of violence, she says. Statistics must record biological sex, not be compromised by “women” including “trans women”.

Miranda Yardley popped up to argue that gynephile trans women are autogynephile perverts, often “unremarkably masculine”, and only “Transsexuals” such as herself, after her operation, should be protected. She deliberately muddies the waters when she says I am not anti-transgender, I am transsexual, because she has just made a distinction to exclude most trans women from protection under law.

Everyone has to draw the line somewhere. I feel that those of us who transition or intend to should be protected: so if you intend to live life long as a woman, even before transition, you should be allowed in changing rooms. That is the legal position now. I feel that if you live full time as a woman you should get gender recognition by stating that you intend to do so life-long and in that case should have access to women’s services. Possibly you should have to show you have lived full time for a year.

Theirs is a transphobic argument. They say a majority of women will be perturbed to see trans women even in shop changing rooms where doors to cubicles provide complete privacy; but they do not object, because they are socialised to care for others. They feel fear, anger and disgust, and rationalise that they are right to feel these things, and all women should.

They deny they are hostile to us- they say they only object when we wrongfully enter women’s space. But they trivialise us, saying we play dress-up, and monster us, by referring to autogynephilia, drawing attention to transitioning sex offenders, and claiming we are perverts. They cannot see any common ground or common interest which justifies treating us as women even to the extent of letting us try on clothes in shops.

They will not accept common ground except on their terms, where trans women would be excluded from all women’s space. Even Miranda Yardley would be excluded. I thought that they could be brought round by seeing themselves as part of a gender non-conforming minority- all gender non-conforming people should stick together- but they see feminine gender as oppressive, and any female conformity to gender a sign of oppression.

Therefore the answer is to speak winsomely to the unconvinced middle. We are not a threat, not really. We mean you no harm. We are traumatised by the effort of trying to be men. Judge us by what we do, rather than by unsubstantiated fears. The TERFs work with David Davies MP, a non-entity whose most famous moment is inciting Islamophobic hatred, and are few in number. Rape Crisis Scotland, presumably with some feminist sympathies, says We do not regard trans equality and women’s equality to be in competition or contradiction with each other. We can ignore the TERFs, and let cis women refute them.

Safety II

The vast and horrible thing which we try hard to forget: fire, pestilence, storms, earthquakes, or the unleashing of dark moral forces—these callously sweep away in one moment what we had laboriously built up and beautified with all our intelligence and all our love. –Teilhard de Chardin.

The heart of privilege is a sense of safety. All is right with the world, which was made with me in mind. My interests and desires are appropriate, and catered for. One would not imagine the worst coming to the worst, but even then family, or contacts, would make sure you were alright.

I feel that human society has reached a level of wealth and luxury such that there should be a safety net for everyone. Unfortunately the government disagrees, putting in place the minimal “Nightwatchman state” envisaged by Robert Nosick: In Anarchy, State and Utopia, Nozick sets out his ideal notion of governance, involving only the most minimal levels of state involvement, protection of citizens’ most basic rights. However, in practice, such minimalist government poses serious problems. The state has retreated. If you fall, you must get yourself up. And if you can’t, tough.

Nosick perhaps had an eye to more extreme views of anarcho-capitalism. He does not want the life of humanity solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. He has some idea of a just return for talent properly used, but no idea of how to nourish talent in difficult circumstances. That requires civil society. We live in an abundant world, where there is enough for everyone’s need, though it might be better if the wealth of billionaires, which increased by $1tn in 2016, were distributed equally. The painter Lucien Freud used to gamble prodigiously, tens of thousands of pounds in a night, knowing that with his art he could make more money, feeling able to start painting again, unblocked, when he was cleaned out. If billionaires were really talented, they could start again. No-one need accumulate more than $1bn.

I tried to persuade a radical feminist of my harmlessness by stating some of my distress; this had no effect, because perhaps of her own and that of people she cared about. I explain it in this way because human stories, individual experiences, have a particular effect on me, and so of course everyone must be at least a little like that, really. She would make a class analysis: the class of women, all women, the Queen and Theresa May, are oppressed by the class of men, even the homeless or sick. The least successful man benefits from being a man. Her sympathy has more worthy targets than mere anomalous individuals. As has Nosick’s, when he theorises about the best and most just society for all humanity, which he thinks would be best for the most individuals if not for all.

How to live with the realisation that there is no safety, that the vast and horrible thing may sweep everything away? With braggadocio, perhaps, or denial, or quiet determination; or radical acceptance, seeing God in it. The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away; blessed be the name of the Lord.

I am alright for the moment. I am just safe enough.

I went to Johnny’s Happy Place today, named after a suicide, a community organisation with some local authority funding with a pay-as-you-feel cafe and youth groups. I read a handout from some group- everyone has the right to be safe from violence. Imagine a place where you feel safe. If you do not have such a place, imagine what such a place would be like. So many people’s safety is less than mine. There I found two huge home-made soft toys with large cloth eyes and the words HUG ME stitched to each chest. So, before we left, I did.

Ach, it is unbearable. Appreciation is the answer, appreciating the beauty of the World even as it kills you. If you have the strength to do that in a clear-eyed, loving way, do please let me know.

Persuadable outsiders

I am glad when TERFs say I should not be allowed to use women’s toilets or changing rooms, or that they refuse to use feminine pronouns when referring to me. They are more likely to alienate women who are not already invested in TERF propaganda.

It is a simple argument. People feel great distress, and find transition relieves it. We are mostly harmless. We are not all the same, so when rapists transition it does not mean all trans women are rapists, any more than when a doctor murders three hundred people it would mean that all doctors are considering murder.

Once a feminist is convinced of the TERF case, she may be radicalised completely. They tell each other of autogynephilia, as if that could cause anyone to transition. The more hostile someone gets, the more extreme her arguments. Where there is a range of opinion the least hostile may be seduced into greater hostility. Anger has energy. They call us ridiculous and disgusting. They attribute fetishistic, sexual motives to us, though I just want to pee. More people might be enticed by statements of pain and distress, that someone was frightened, say, but I tend not to hear “I was frightened by this person” but that people might be. In theory, a recent rape victim might be upset seeing a trans woman in a women’s toilet, perceiving that person as a man, and that matters, but there are not many of us and the risk is not sufficient to justify stopping us using toilets. There are better ways to protect women from male violence.

They other us. We are the threatening Outsiders, who may hurt reasonable people. Good people should therefore protect the vulnerable good people from us. The lie that we are threatening is used to justify violence against us. Fortunately, people can see through that. There is enough experience of othering, from antisemitism to the Rwandan genocide, or conservatives whipping up hostility to immigrants; and of outsiders winning the argument, like homophobia changing from being ubiquitous to unacceptable.

We have won the argument. We are harmless, just trying to live our lives, like anyone else. We can often win sympathy talking of our struggle, but if you want to transition why shouldn’t you? Most of the froth of the argument goes on arcane websites only read by convinced extremists, or the occasional browser wondering what the fuss is about- so extremism is to be welcomed, as it puts ordinary people off.

That means trans women should ignore such sites. They are tempting. People evolved to be wary of threat. There might be a lion in that bush. Now, in generally safe societies, we see more threat than there is. Wondering if we will be safe to transition, we check out what society says and are disproportionately drawn to sites indicating danger. A plane crash, but not a safe flight, is news, so news is less realistic than advertising. If you really want to transition, you will probably be safe enough.

It means we should have an eye to the persuadable outsider. A woman shoving a camera in your face is hostile and provocative, but hitting her or snatching the camera is not justified, and attempts to justify it will put most people off us. Generally only people considering transition will be interested in arcane matters like tucking or female embodiment fantasies. TERFs might look, seeking ammunition or stoking their own fear and disgust, but outsiders aren’t interested in that.

It is a simple argument. We are living our lives as best we can. There is nothing wrong with that. That is as far as most people will bother going, if they consider trans rights at all.