Punch a TERF? Don’t.

Sophie Cook was part of the Jo Cox Women in Leadership programme. Labour Women’s Network says “Everyone at LWN and UK Labour is proud of you!” Trolls on twitter disagreed. They have a hashtag “Labour losing women”, as some transphobes think Labour refusing to discriminate against trans women is more important than any other political issue, and so are leaving the party. It may be as much as a few hundred out of 552,000. The abuse, some from Tories and some from gender-critical feminists, is blanked out. Select Text to see it, if you must.

“Nonsense”. “UK Labour should be thoroughly ashamed”. “Sick. It’s actually sick”. “Disgrace”. “He stole that place from a woman”. “That hulking manbeast took a place from a woman and you’re all pleased? Jo Cox’s spirit must be in despair. Everything she worked for being made a mockery of. Shame on you all”. “Trans women are dudes wearing dresses”. “And poor Jo had a penis in her name”. “LWN, you are a sexist misogynistic disgrace”. “Denying material reality and biological facts are signs of mental illness”. “Labour plans to exclude women from their party. I am surprised they aren’t advocating taking our vote away”. “A burly bloke in a shitty wig”. “Mediocre man”. “I don’t give a sh!t about his feelings. What about the feelings of real women?” “Jo Cocks award?” “That’s a geezer in a wig”. “Cock in a frock”. “It’s a fucking bloke. A bloke has just graduated from a ‘women in leadership’ programme. Makes perfect sense”. “Yeh if he looks down than the delusion that he is a woman will be gone, he will see his cock!” “Your misogyny is showing, zip up your pants”. “Hahaha beardy bro alert”.

This normalises hatred for trans people. Someone who tweets like that would be more likely to shout abuse on the street. But the answer is not to retaliate. Somewhere on Twitter, Dad @AeroKaty boasted of punching a TERF: “I hope her face is embarrassingly fucked up for work tomorrow because the only thing fucked up on me is my fist.” Screaming into the Void tweeted, “there’s nothing like physically fighting a TERF together to remind you how much your friends are truly your chosen family”. Someone has written a Tumblr blog claiming to be the victim. In a bar, a trans man had told her she was not welcome “and my smart ass said ‘Why because I know you’re a female?'” I could not find the Screaming tweet, but took this from a “gender-critical” blog. Only confirmed followers have access to AeroKaty’s tweets.

So some troll has gone round twitter collecting punch a TERF tweets, in order to radicalise opposition to trans rights and work to exclude trans folk from Prides. The trouble is, the punch a TERF tweets exist. ( Boss ) @praesidency wrote, “I’ll say it again- happy pride. Punch a TERF.”

Please, please don’t. Don’t hit people, however abusive they are. Trans men, it is not Real Bloke to punch someone except in self-defence- defending against physical attack, verbal attack does not count. Trans women, it is mannish to use physical violence unless necessary for physical survival.

“If biological sex isn’t real, how can one be same-sex attracted?” the troll asks. Poor thing. Humanity is too complex for some people to understand. They want to fit it into discrete logical categories, or their brains will implode. But she can’t erase trans people just because she can’t produce separate definitions for us and for lesbians. I exist. I am a woman. She is a lesbian, and I don’t care if she does not find me attractive.

Trans women- if you come on to a lesbian, and she does not reciprocate, stop immediately. It’s not just that it is rude and offensive to carry on when you are not wanted: she may go and tweet about it.

Twitter is not a place for nuanced argument. It can make announcements, or it can radicalise entrenched positions. No gender critical feminist is going to persuade the Jo Cox Women in Leadership programme to exclude trans women by tweeting at them. She is only going to make both sides angrier. So someone might leave Labour, as if they did not care what the Tories were doing to the NHS and the education system, and someone else might want to “punch a TERF”.

Debbie Hayton

Is Debbie Hayton a True TranssexualTM or a “feminine man”? It depends who is talking to her.

On 4 May she and sixteen others wrote to the Guardian, saying “Transsexual people undergo a meaningful transition, including hormone therapy and surgery”. They distinguished this from “male bodied people, including sexual fetishists, demanding access to women’s space”. However on 10 May in the Guardian, Gaby Hinsliff reported her saying she had male privilege from her upbringing, in an ideal world would present as a feminine man, and gave this utterly bizarre justification for transitioning: The problem is, as a teacher, if I express myself completely as non-gendered, I couldn’t get on with the job. If somebody comes in saying: “I’m not a woman or a man” then every time I did a new class, you would have to go through that with them, when what you really want to be doing is teaching them”.

So, she got castrated so as not to have to explain herself to pupils. Actually trans women need to be explained to pupils, and the explanation is not necessarily easier than of an effeminate man the pupils might think was gay. I can see it might be a problem for a supply teacher, but others don’t get new classes that often. If the school has an ethos of acceptance and respect for difference, she will be accepted, and if the school is an academy, many of which have an authoritarian ethos, she won’t. It may be more difficult to get a job where she can fit in. Or, she can pretend to be someone else, like every other teacher in a bad school.

Debbie is active in her teaching union, which has several gender-critical feminists. Do they like her? No. I saw a facebook thread. “Like a too eager puppy,” said one. “Somewhat cute but has annoying habits, like humping your leg. I am a cat person.”

Why tolerate her? “When accusations of ‘transphobia’ are made, TIMs get listened to and women don’t. Like it or not we’re stuck with them.” TIM means “trans-identified male”, or trans woman. But they’re not happy: “I prefer the ‘PUNCH TERFS! DIE CIS SCUM!’ variety. At least they’re honest.”

I am using whatever platforms I have to attempt conciliation with gender-critical feminists. I identify as a feminine male, and have had the operation. I have much less visibility than Debbie Hayton. I would even speak on an “A Woman’s Place” platform, if they would have me, even if another speaker gave a transphobic rant. All trans women are ludicrous and easy to mock. There is an intense vulnerability in being yourself, which many of us do not manage even after transition.

And, don’t throw other trans women under the bus. Don’t claim sexual fetishists are demanding access to women’s space- for some TERFs, with an unforgiving understanding of autogynephilia, that includes post-op transsexual women who have ever been aroused by dressing female, so all gynephile trans women. Don’t claim reform of the Gender Recognition Act has anything to do with such problems. One radical feminist graciously said she would permit me in a woman’s loo, because she knew I was post-op. But, when I was considering transition and going out dressed to see if I could hack it, with a functioning penis, I still needed the loo.

Using the word “male-bodied” is problematic. It won’t endear you to the TERFs, many of whom believe it fits you. Your pelvis is still male, and every human cell will have a Y chromosome. Your labia are a mere simulacrum, the shredded remains of your penis.

That letter said she had a right to define as transsexual, but transgender activists sought to remove the distinction. Well, some object to the word “transsexual”, precisely because it distinguishes between us and creates social pressure to have surgery. I could identify as transsexual but instead identify as trans. There is a great temptation to claim I should have rights, because I have a medical condition, diagnosed by a psychiatrist, but there are all those fake trans perverts from whom I, as well as the real women, need protection. No-one prejudiced against trans women will make such distinctions, so claiming that does us no good and gives ammunition to our enemies. Debbie wrote, A Plea to Trans Activists: We Can Protect Trans Rights Without Denying Biology. However no-one denies biology. We all know what we are. And no-one is a trans activist- we are just ordinary people living our lives, speaking out against everyday prejudice.

Different experiences

Trans-excluders argue that trans women do not have women’s experiences, so must be excluded from women’s spaces, and the experiences we cannot share are having a female reproductive system, and being socialised as women, which they experience as oppressive.

I don’t have that experience of menstruation, but nor do many women with disorders of sexual development, who would be accepted as women by the trans excluders. To be clear, “But you accept intersex women as women” is a valid argument against “You are not women, because you do not have a woman’s reproductive system”. It is a lifelong series of experiences, usually following the same path, which moulds a person’s life, but it does not mean that I cannot be accepted as a woman, and I have experienced variations in hormone levels which I have found difficult.

I don’t have the experience of men coming on to me and not taking no for an answer from the age of 13, but here women’s experiences are variable. Some girls are seen as unattractive. People are seen as more or less sexual. I have experiences of anxiety or anguish around relationships, and I have had men coming on to me or feeling me up. It can’t be said that we do not have women’s experiences of relationships, as women’s experiences are varied, and we share them with many.

Being socialised as a woman- well, women’s experiences are varied there, too. If you want to climb trees as a child, does your family encourage you or not? Some families are keen that their daughters not feel restricted in what they can do. As with everything, some families are keen to fit in, and some to nurture and celebrate the gifts of each child. That is what is most important for me: the parallel trans experience of not being allowed to be yourself, which happens to those of us least fitting our birth gender, may be mitigated or reinforced by family.

The women who would most keenly exclude us seem to have had these experiences together at a peculiar intensity- shame inculcated at bodies and especially menstruation; sexual abuse and harassment from early teenage; and gendered expectations not fitting their true selves and felt as particularly oppressive. That can seem like one Woman’s experience which “transwomen” can never experience. Sexual harassment can be appalling- I worked briefly in a hotel where the cook often repeated a vile phrase about sex with young girls. If he acted on it! I don’t know how many women have such an intense experience, and how many react to it as trans excluders seem to.

Generally, though, the difference between women who welcome us and those who would exclude us from women’s spaces is openness to us, and not particular experiences. Can you feel sympathy with this person, or do you experience them as intruding where they should not be? If we might be harmful, what level of harm and what level of likelihood of that harm is believable, or necessary before we must be excluded? Some would take a logical line- woman is biology, not gender identity, so we are not women, but back that up with heightened statements of the risks we pose. Yet if you are open to including us, our experiences are not sufficiently different from other women’s to make you stop.

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.