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.