Natalie Bird, ordinary transphobe

Natalie Bird perfectly illustrates how transphobes may drown in their own hatred, and become divorced from reality. She joined the Lib Dems in 2015, and stood for the local council. In November 2019 Bird was barred from holding or standing for election to any party office for ten years, because of her transphobia, or for arguing against party policy. She denies being transphobic, claiming she simply supports women’s rights.

Now, her discipline by the LibDems consumes her. She must have had some reason to join- its environmental policies, perhaps, its record in local government, or its longstanding commitment to women’s rights. She wanted to work for it. Now she wants to attack it, only because she disagrees with the party on the issue of trans rights.

She is trying to raise £55,000 to sue the party. When I looked, she had raised £6,715. She is an ordinary woman, of no particular interest, yet her transphobe campaign was reported in The Times. What has she to say about it?

She claims it is a matter of protecting women’s rights, but the LibDems strongly support women’s rights. They seek equal representation by women in their “Campaign for Gender Balance”. They take women’s rights seriously. They emphasise their policies on violence against women and girls, the gender price gap, and period poverty. Once, perhaps, Bird supported them on these things. Now, she claims the party is not supporting women’s rights. The issue of trans inclusion, for her, trumps all the work they do for women’s representation and women’s needs.

She claims that once trans women are included, women won’t be able to fight for any women’s rights issue. I presume she thinks all the gains will be taken by trans women. Possibly there might be a trans woman on a Scottish public board, but violence against women will hardly become invisible just because violence against trans women is included.

She claims excluding trans women from shop changing rooms is a child safeguarding issue. Of all the ways a child abuser might approach children, dressing as a woman and going into shop changing rooms is perhaps the least likely. Most child abuse is by family, and family friends. Picking on a safeguarding issue stops her thinking. She simply gets angry: What about the Children? Her arguments make no sense at all, but she has gone beyond that: they are satisfying to her emotionally, and part of her “sense of self”.

She brought up the scary issue of penises- “male equipment”. Someone asked her, “When did you last see anyone’s genitals in a shop changing room or public toilet?” She could not answer. But this will not stop her scaremongering about trans women’s penises in the future.

The LibDems have eleven MPs, and seven of them are women. All of them support trans rights. Bird alleges they are all too scared to challenge policy on trans rights, and claims misogyny. Actually, the misogyny here is claiming that women MPs do not have the self-confidence to say what they mean and what they believe. Women can be scared to speak up. Hannah Bardell, now an MP, did not come out as lesbian until 2012, when she was 36. But now she is an MP she is no longer scared, and she stands up for trans rights.

Bird might have been a useful campaigner for the LibDems, putting out leaflets, canvassing, perhaps even standing for the council in a winnable seat. Instead she obsessively attacks the party. Rupert Murdoch is laughing at women like her, his dupes. She does not risk prison like Rob Hoogland, but otherwise her life and her community work are turned upside down, by her obsessive transphobia.

“Trans ideology,” words, and reality

Is there any such thing as “transgender ideology”?

Trans people exist. Brave souls have always found ways to transition, authorities have often condemned it, trans people terrified to transition have led stunted lives. Now, perhaps 50,000 people in Britain are transitioning, about 0.1% of the population. I have no idea why I wanted to transition, just that it was the most important thing in the world for me.

I have no choice about being trans. I have wished I was not trans, but that would mean I did not exist and a different human- perhaps a cis man, perhaps a cis woman- existed in my place. It would be harder to cut my trans out of me than for Shylock to take Antonio’s flesh without blood.

Society faces the issue of how to respond to this reality, and one such response is denial. Being trans, say the transphobes, is “only” a feeling, as opposed to the physical reality of being a [cis] woman. But, I am not a Cartesian dualist, imagining I am a mind or soul in a body, so my being trans is in my physical self just as a cis woman’s being female is in hers. Unless you believe something like a “mind”, or “consciousness”, is in some way separate from neurons and dendrites, being trans is a physical condition.

This is not an ideology. It is a fact.

Many attacks on “transgender ideology” attack words we have used to try to explain ourselves. Few people now say “I am a woman trapped in a man’s body”- this is my body. Yet transphobes used the phrase “My body is me” to try to attack trans people.

Other attacks relate to words we use. I am a woman.

Words are imprecise attempts to divide one reality into discrete units, in order to communicate. What matters is that we communicate, that the listener understands what the speaker means, not that words have rigid definitions. In practice, rigid definitions make words even less able to relate to strange, fluid reality, which is always changing, which we can never completely understand.

I read that “Stonewall defines homosexuality as orientation towards someone of the same gender”. This is misleading. Stonewall does not use “Homosexual” and related words except when quoting others. Stonewall defines “gay” as man attracted to men, and as a generic term for gay sexuality, so some women attracted to women say they are gay. That is, its definitions are descriptive, attempting to capture what people actually use the words for, rather than prescriptive, attempting to restrict use to one “correct” use.

Quite possibly, a gay cis man might be attracted to a trans man. Should he lose his “gay card”? Most people would be happy enough for him to continue to describe himself as gay. Some weird pedants who insist that “words mean what they choose them to mean”, and that they must be master of this, might insist that he was now straight, or heterosexual, or at least bi. Pedants have their obsessions. It’s better to ignore them.

Or, a cis lesbian might say “I could never be attracted to a trans woman because I am attracted to my sex, and to women’s genitals”. They really do say things like that! It’s an attempt to deny the word “lesbian” to trans women, or even the word “woman”. I have no objection to a cis lesbian saying she is not attracted to me. It’s transphobic to say she could never be attracted to a trans woman. Even if it is true, why say it except to be mean to trans women?

Stonewall works for the interests of queer people in a heteronormative society, which assumes people are straight. That means it needs flexibility of language. LGB All Liars works to forbid trans women from using the words “lesbian” or even “woman” to define ourselves, as a means of reducing trans acceptance, and to exclude trans women from women’s spaces. That requires an ideology: the false idea that trans people as a group are in some way a risk to women’s spaces. They want to upend our lives and roll back the shaky progress to trans acceptance so far.

Trans excluders might want a rigid definition of transition before they might tolerate trans women. They might say we are not proper trans before we have had a genital operation. These definitions are created in order to exclude, so tend to get stricter over time.

I read it is “dangerous” to say men and women are defined by our feelings rather than our biology. That is, the word “woman” cannot include a “trans woman”, or there is some danger to someone. This is a conservative idea, that people should be distrusted unless they conform to strict rules. Trans women should stay out of women’s spaces, say the conservatives, just in case one of them has some immoral purpose in being there. The progressive, by contrast, say people should be free to express ourselves as we like, and any conflicts should be resolved in good-will rather than by rigid rules. Rigid rules do not fit reality, which is constantly changing, or human beings, who are infinitely varied. So, trans-exclusion is an inherently conservative ideology.

The ALBA party manifesto and transgender

I was surprised to see a picture of someone with a trans flag round her shoulders, in the new ALBA Party manifesto. It’s on a page headed “Scotland’s many people”.

It claims its “commitment to women’s rights” does not mean it rejects trans rights. ALBA wishes the two groups were not set against each other. It wants a Citizens’ Assembly to develop proposals on Gender Recognition Act reform. So it would chuck out the two consultations and the Bill already drafted. It says it supports human rights for all LGBTQ people. Hurrah! It recognises we are human! That’s a start, anyway.

On the same page it says religious people have human rights too, and it supports their human rights as in the European Convention on Human Rights. This is absolutely minimal, and means almost nothing. It was written in a hurry by someone with better things to do.

Its “Women and Equalities” page, however, has a picture of a woman in overalls with ear and eye protection, so a rare woman in Scotland. It echoes the trans-excluders’ rubbish: Sex-based rights! “Female only” spaces: they think I am a man, so should not be in a “female only space”. Possibly, they would tolerate people with GRCs, but not other trans women, and make getting a GRC more difficult. “Single sex sports”, contradicting the International Olympic Committee. And then it mentions “reform”, though it does not say of what. At the end, it mentions gender recognition.

So, it’s a complete excluders’ charter: it claims trans women are men, no trans women in women’s spaces. The Women and Equalities page has nothing to say about equal pay for work of equal value, say, an actual feminist concern, only trans exclusion. That’s the only issue they deem of interest under “Women and Equalities”. Apparently it is the only issue the “ALBA Women’s Conference” addressed.

It is totally bizarre that women, especially women considering themselves feminist, would want to join a party led by Alex Salmond. He admitted sexual contact with two of the complainants in his trial, both junior to him and much younger. He said he wished he had been more careful with others’ personal space. One charge of sexual assault with intent to rape had the strange Scots verdict “Not Proven”.

So why has ALBA eighteen women candidates for the Scottish Parliament? Because they do not care about sexual assault if they can campaign against trans rights.

Otherwise, it’s a party for those dissatisfied with the SNP, who do not feel their talents were properly recognised. There have been other independence parties in Scotland as rivals to the SNP, but if a second vote for a different party gives any additional tactical support to independence, the Scottish Greens fulfil that function.

ALBA was founded on 8 February 2021, and has featured in dozens of articles. Polls show them with 1% support, which is too much. Nigel Farage spoke out for them.

Margaret Lynch, a candidate, expressed the homophobic lie that Stonewall wants to reduce the age of consent to ten. This is based on ILGA, the International LGBTI Association, which includes Stonewall, backing the Women’s Rights Caucus Feminist Declaration at the UN. To “end the criminalization and stigmatization of adolescents’ sexuality” means not treating adolescents as criminals. No-one wants to legalise paedophilia. The age of 10 comes from the UN’s definition of adolescent as aged from 10. Salmond defended Lynch.

“Lesbian Labour”

The code is easy to crack. You don’t have to read far in this new website to see “Lesbian Labour” is only interested in campaigning against trans people. Their aims include “supporting gender nonconforming and same sex attracted girls”- that is, denying that trans boys can know themselves or what they want, and crushing those who detransition by reinforcing their internalised transphobia. Later they claim that homophobia encourages gay people to identify as trans. It is divorced from reality to claim that people who are homophobic are not transphobic.

The site claims it is from December 2020. Odd. I had not heard of them before now. Suddenly there is publicity for them. Who are they? Ah, Paula Bolton, who wrote the Labour Transphobes’ Declaration. She has done some worthwhile work for women’s rights. Such a shame she has given that up to work at trans exclusion.

Paula spreads the myth that lesbian girls are told they are boys, and pressed to take testosterone. No-one treats trans children without the children, and often their parents, fighting very hard for it.

Another woman claims “Labour has forgotten what a woman actually is” because it includes trans women on all women shortlists. She claims we are dangerous. It’s the clearest transphobia. Another will not even use the word “transwoman”, calling us “men”, and later “predatory men”. Her repulsion at medical treatment for trans children is extreme, like the fear of an arachnophobe for a spider. That’s three stories, all going over their glory days in the 70s and 80s. Younger lesbians tend to recognise that our oppression is all bound up together.

Their other aims might seem sensible but are directed at trans people really. “Make Labour a safe and welcoming party for lesbians”- well, that is my aim too, and the aim of LGBT Labour. It’s not that it’s a bad aim, it’s the way they interpret safety- no trans women in women’s spaces.

I click “Find out more” and read an attack on LGBT Labour and Stonewall. They claim women’s oppression is based on sex, not “identity”. That is a false claim that trans women do not suffer misogyny as well as transphobia. They will gain no rights by denying that others are oppressed too.

They demand lesbian spaces free from “intrusion”, that is, from the inclusion of trans lesbians.

In the some personal stories, there’s an Ourselves Alone vibe- “Who can protect Lesbians but Lesbians themselves?” Well, Stonewall is led by lesbians, and LGBT Labour has lesbians at all levels. That’s who support lesbians- we are stronger together. Divide us up, and our rights will fall.

On farcebook, a lesbian claimed LGBT Labour don’t represent lesbians. I pointed out their National Chair is a lesbian. She explains why she is a trans ally. “Window dressing” commented a transphobe, as if Alex Beverley and Nancy Kelley of Stonewall are silly women who don’t know their own minds.

They suggest useful links: LGB All Liars and the Labour Transphobes’ Declaration. Tiny groups of transphobes give themselves all sorts of different names. I wonder what the overlap between these groups is. The threat is the hundreds of millions of dollars provided by hard Right American organisations to these groups to support their transphobia. More on this soon.

Gender Martyr

Rob Hoogland has been jailed, and the extreme Right are up in arms against it. He was jailed for refusing his child medical treatment which doctors said was necessary, and denying the child’s medical condition, then holding the court in contempt for two years. On being jailed, he expressed remorse and said he had been used as a pawn, and “played”, by transphobes opposing all treatment of trans children.

The child, whose real name I don’t know, socially transitioned at school for a period of years. He did not feel able to tell his parents, and his parents justified his suspicions by completely opposing his treatment. He was assessed by doctors including an endocrinologist who set out a course of treatment. Hoogland refused to co-operate, so the hospital decided they knew best the medical treatment the child needed, and would treat the father’s consent as unnecessary under the law.

Hoogland continued to act up. He was adopted by the hard right, as he says as a pawn for them to use to oppose gender affirming care, and in 2019 the court ordered him to use male pronouns when referring to his son.

In March he was arrested, and, overwhelmed by a sense of his own righteousness backed up by the wealthy, powerful transphobes, he stayed in jail rather than consenting to admit his son’s medical needs. At the hearing on Friday, he finally expressed remorse, so his sentence was reduced to six months.

If the British Columbia Supreme Court publish the judgment, I will have a look at it. However, otherwise, I can only find reports of the case on the nutcase transphobe/ hard right press: New York Post, “Christian Concern”, and a host of tiny websites. “Trans ‘Justice’ has gone haywire” blares some worthless transphobe on some site. No, transphobes feel entitled to ignore medical advice, the needs of their children, and the orders of the court.

What about the detransitioners? ask the phobes. Well, what about the retransitioners. The phobe conditional positive regard- lovebombing any trans man who will detransition, withdrawing the love if they break increasingly stringent rules- works with incessant societal transphobia to make some detransition.

There’s a lot of transphobe money around. Rob Hoogland’s crowdfunder raised $56,000. So the judge ordered him to donate $30,000 to a charity.

The phobes don’t care how many lives they ruin. Trans children can just go hang. Poor Hoogland regrets how the phobes manipulated him, now. Hysterical phobes are milking the story still. There’s a picture of a pair of fists grasping jail bars, the fists brightly lit against blackness in the cell, which hardly reflects Canadian prison conditions now.

I really should not go on Twitter. This morning over breakfast I read a New York Times opinion article about Planned Parenthood, how Margaret Sanger, its founder, was a racist eugenicist, and how the charity should reckon with this blighted heritage. There’s an aside near the end about how language might exclude trans and nonbinary people, and phobes Jesse Singal and Hadley Freeman choose to emphasise this as if PP no longer cared about women. “Misogynistic!” I found that when I ill-advisedly clicked on a link on a facebook trans group.

The obsessive haters in Britain have chosen yet another new name. This time the same tiny group of phobes have decided to call themselves “thoughtful therapists”. Perhaps Robert Withers, the Andrew Wakefield of trans health, is one of them. They oppose law on trans conversion therapy based on the Memorandum of Understanding, even though it is signed by the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy and nineteen other health, counselling and psychotherapy organisations. It’s like the American Academy of Pediatrics being condemned by some nutcase far right Christian group with “Pediatrics” in their name.

I hope the robust commitment to rehabilitation of the Canadian justice system does Rob Hoogland some good.

Is Richard Dawkins transphobic?

Is Richard Dawkins a transphobe? He compared trans women to Rachel Dolezal, then tweeted “discuss”. Responses to his tweet showed the failure of twitter. Some tweets said that transition is not a choice. Some said that being a woman is not a feeling. No-one learned anything.

He claimed “you will be vilified” if you deny trans women are women. Well, yes, and also you will get loud enthusiastic affirmation from a whole load of twitter accounts and be echoed by powerful media organisations and institutions. “I do not intend to disparage trans people,” he tweeted later, but it’s hard to interpret his tweets as anything else.

In 1991 he gave this children’s lecture, explaining evolution. I was not a child, but I was inspired and have felt warmly towards the man ever since. His metaphor “Climbing Mount Improbable” explains that an eye does not spring into existence fully formed, but each step of evolution is an advance on what came before. So, light-sensitive skin is an advantage, then if that sensitive area is concave it gives some information of the direction from where the light comes. Each step is an advantage, and many such advances still exist in creatures today.

I have not followed his anti-theism, but have sympathy with the man. Young Earth Creationists were calling him deluded by the Devil or a deliberate liar. Such Creationism is pernicious, and I am pleased with his attacks on it, even though I consider religion and spirituality has value he has not acknowledged and perhaps has not understood. He says of holy books that “they don’t contain any of the knowledge that science has patiently worked out”, which is bizarre- they contain a great deal of wisdom on what it means to be human, which psychology is only just catching up with. He says, “It is important to recognise when we reach the limits of what we understand”, but it is clear he doesn’t, always.

I got The Magic of Reality from Amazon because it was 99p. It’s aimed at people over 12, and it was explaining a lot of stuff I already knew. I gave up when I read that “protons and neutrons are very very tiny indeed”. But I feel working on “the public understanding of science” is worthwhile.

His ability to research and create new understanding, and to explain complex concepts to lay people, make it surprising that he does not understand about trans people. Despite transphobia, we transition. Apart from the sense of congruence, which is overwhelming, trans women gain little from transition. If we do not transition we do not thrive as our gifts might suggest we would. All this seems well enough established, and simple enough to understand, so that for a trained intellect like Dawkins’ to compare us to Dolezal, six years after everyone else has moved on, needs explanation. The simplest explanation is some aversion to, disgust fear anger or hatred for, trans people- that is, transphobia. Saying he did not intend to disparage us seems disingenuous. I believe Dawkins is generally truthful. So he did not see how disparaging he was being, which indicates a high level of aversion or contempt for us.

I would like to have heroes, but the greatest people are flawed. I can believe that Churchill played a great part in defeating Hitler at the same time as knowing he was a disastrous leader at Gallipoli and a racist. I remain grateful for Dawkins’ explanation of the evolution of eyes, which I will always remember, but he is a transphobe. That’s just as bad as being a racist.

The American Humanist Association has withdrawn the Humanist of the Year Award it bestowed on Prof. Dawkins in 1996.

How anti-trans activism damages feminism

Trans exclusion in Britain has evolved to a simple understanding which its adherents consider rational, logical and feminist. They say trans women are men. This seems obvious to them, as we have, or had, testicles. Women do not have testicles. Women have ovaries. They don’t need a position on whether people with androgen insensitivity syndrome are women, because their targets are trans women, so they pretend the definition of “woman” is simple. At any rate, it excludes trans women, whom they call males.

Their position is inconsistent and irrational, but they compartmentalise. They claim trans boys are victims of a fad or trend, an appreciation of the burden of patriarchy on women and a false way of evading that burden for themselves. They claim that trans women are autogynephilic perverts. These positions are contradictory.

Yet the simplicity of their position- that trans women are men- gives it a superficial clarity and logic. “Women are oppressed on the basis of sex.” As trans women are men, trans women in women’s spaces appropriate women’s resources and women’s spaces become mixed sex spaces.

They insist on their rationality. “It is counterfactual and pseudoscientific to claim that people can change sex by altering their appearance”. In reality, society recognises trans people and grants us a place where we can begin to thrive.

Then they leap to irrational conclusions. In the attack on the Women’s Prize for Fiction, they speculate that in a few years, half of the long listed authors might be trans women. In real life no-one transitions in order to get into women’s space. The cost is too great. We transition because we are trans, and the cost of not transitioning is greater.

They also claim that the law excludes trans women from women’s spaces, though it clearly does not.

They say that “gender ideology” is an attack on women’s rights. No, trans people exist, and always have. Trans recognition is a way of mitigating our distress in heteronormative society, promoting diversity and freedom for everyone to be who they are rather than conforming to narrow social norms.

The result is that they ignore when women’s rights and resources are curtailed. To the gender critical, there is no longer a Women’s Prize for Fiction- it is a “Fiction Prize”. In the same way, if a women’s shelter adopts a policy whereby it could, in theory, admit a trans woman, they call it a “mixed sex shelter” and bemoan the end of women’s domestic violence services. In reality, women’s shelters are being defunded and closed down. That is the threat to women’s domestic violence shelters.

Rather than objecting or campaigning when women’s shelters are actually closed, or seeking to fundraise for those shelters, they campaign against women’s shelters which are still admitting women, and fundraise for court actions to exclude trans women. They damage the women’s spaces and resources they claim to cherish.

The Women’s Prize stooshie is a storm in a thimble. The complaint had about 160 signatures, including some transphobes who sign any transphobe rubbish going, “Mary Ann Evans” and “Currer Bell”. The use of female authors as pseudonyms caused particular mockery, and the response of the prize to the trans-excluders’ bullying made the Guardian, which quoted the excluders’ paltry argument, but also the range and eminence of the feminist condemnation of it.

Women’s rights are under attack in Britain. The government contends that there is no structural discrimination, and that anti-discrimination initiatives are Leftist vandalism. Trans excluders appropriate the language of feminism to attack trans rights, and divert campaigns against functioning women’s resources.

Trans rights around the World

Amnesty International holds governments to account for human rights breaches. Their report, 2020/21: The State of the World’s Human Rights, has just been published and details trans rights and trans oppression. Amnesty publishes both breaches and advances in human rights. Most of the news is bad, but there is some halting progress and some heroes to celebrate, who have stood up for their rights under extreme persecution.

In Kuwait, Maha al-Mutairi, a trans woman, was arrested and charged with “imitating the other sex in any way”. She accused police officers of raping and beating her during her detention in a male prison.

In Kazakhstan, Nurbibi Nurkadilova published a statement for IDAHOBIT. This provoked homophobic and transphobic comments, including by a mixed martial arts fighter who encouraged people to attack LGBT+ people.

Also in Kazakhstan, Viktoriya Berdkhodzhaeva, who had been imprisoned in a women’s camp, reported that she had been raped, and a security officer was sentenced to 66 months imprisonment for rape and torture.

In Saudi Arabia, Mohamed al-Bokari was imprisoned for charges including “imitating women”. He had appeared in a video defending LGBTI freedoms.

In Dominica the trans charity Transsa was able to get social assistance for some trans women who could not work under COVID restrictions. Amnesty reported this under the heading “Women’s Rights”, but otherwise reported trans issues under the heading LGBTI.

In Benin, assailants beat a trans woman unconscious. She was then arrested, beaten again, insulted and threatened. They stripped her naked and sent her home after five days in detention.

These stories of victimisation show the intense courage of trans people.

In Albania, the Order of Psychiatrists banned its members from practising conversion therapy.

In Finland, a working group proposed legislation to protect people seeking gender recognition. Yeah. No actual legislation, just a proposal, but we move forward slowly.

In Germany, the Federal Parliament banned “conversion therapy” to change SOGI: but only for people under 18, and it was lawful if parents “do not grossly violate their duty of care”.

In Japan, a law to prevent more powerful people harassing less powerful people at work included protection for gay and trans people from being outed.

In Poland, when various cities called themselves “LGBT free”, the head of the European Commission stated they were in fact “humanity-free zones”, that had no place within the EU.

In Romania, Parliament passed a law which prohibited teaching about gender identity, or teaching that sex and gender identity were not always identical. Universities condemned the ban as against academic freedom. The Constitutional Court declared it unconstitutional.

In North Macedonia the Constitutional Court struck down an anti-discrimination law protecting gay and trans people, but parliament reinstated it.

In South Korea, MPs proposed an anti-discrimination law including on the basis of gender identity. The Bill was still pending at the end of the year. In January, the army dismissed a trans woman after she had GRS. She sued.

In the Ukraine, there was a proposal for an anti-discrimination law protecting gay and trans people, but it was not put to a vote. Religious groups objected.

In Britain, Amnesty condemns “growing transphobic rhetoric and fearmongering in the media” and says the gender recognition reform proposals fall short of human rights standards.

In the US, Amnesty condemns the Trump administration for continuing to dismantle protections against discrimination for gay and trans people. Oddly, they don’t mention Aimee Stephens‘ sex discrimination win in the Supreme Court.

In Australia, the Australian Capital Territory and South Australia made advances to end conversion practices.

In Canada, the government proposed an Act to ban conversion therapy seeking to suppress a person’s gender identity or expression.

In Hungary, Parliament enacted a constitutional amendment specifying that Hungary “protects self-identity of the children’s sex by birth”. You would have thought they had better things to do.

Libya is a failed state, but the Al-Radaa militia detained men for their perceived gender identity, and tortured them.

The Observatory of Gender Equality in Puerto Rico records femicides, including those of trans women, unlike the group in the UK.

We should celebrate the bravery of trans people standing up for our rights under such vilification and persecution.

Court actions against trans rights

Millions of pounds are being raised and spent, attacking trans rights, and public bodies that have a reasonable view of trans rights, in the courts, forcing those public bodies to defend themselves. The aim is to make defending trans rights prohibitive, and to change the language, so that the word “woman” does not include trans women.

Arcane law having almost no effect on trans people in public life is attacked. That was the case in “For Women Scotland Limited” v Lord Advocate. The anti-trans hate group, with its disingenuous name, failed in its attempt to embarrass the Scottish government over the Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Act 2018. The judge, Lady Wise, in the Outer House of the Court of Session, said “This case does not form part of the policy debate about transgender rights, a highly contentious policy issue to which this decision cannot properly contribute”. The only legal challenge concerned the powers of the Scottish Parliament, and the interpretation of the power to make that Act itself.

Nor would the case, if it had been successful, have been likely to affect the life of a single trans woman. The 2018 Act provides that where a public board in Scotland has more men than women, is recruiting new members, and interviews candidates for membership who are otherwise equally qualified, a woman candidate should be preferred to a man candidate. For the purposes of that Act, “woman” includes a trans woman who is “living as a woman” and seeks to “become female”.

I don’t know how many positions on public boards there are, or how often candidates are equally qualified. Where candidates are equally qualified, interviewers can generally justify their choice by some reason to prefer one or the other, so perhaps the Act has never resulted in a choice of candidate being altered. Nevertheless, the hate group still wanted to challenge the rule, so that trans men would be treated as women under the Act, and trans women treated as men.

The Scottish Government negotiated an extension to its powers, and specifically requested power to make this Act. The Westminster Parliament duly amended the Scotland Act 1998 to give this specific power. Power to make law on “Equal Opportunities” and discrimination is reserved to Westminster, but there is now a specific exception in Schedule 5 of the Scotland Act to permit this specific Act.

The question before the court was then what was the interpretation of the Scotland Act, which refers to “the inclusion of persons with protected characteristics” on boards. Trans people have a “protected characteristic”.

If interview panels might rarely choose a woman over a man because they found them equally qualified, how much more rare would it be for them to find a trans person equally qualified with a cis person? Trans women “living as a woman” are about 0.1% of the female population.

The Equality Network intervened for trans rights, supporting the Scottish government and trans women. The judge found their submissions “detailed and helpful”. They argued that the concepts of “sex” and “gender” and the instances of discrimination relating to them were so interrelated that they could not be kept entirely separate. Many claims for cis women focus on socially constructed gender roles, such as responsibility for childcare. The Scottish Trans Alliance, a project within the Network, did the work. Here is their press release. They were supported by the Scottish Just Law Centre.

The Equality Network is a major campaign group for LGBT rights in Scotland. It won two “Campaign of the Year” awards for its campaign for equal marriage, the first in the UK. I take heart from the support of lesbian and gay allies against the bitter, but well-funded, hate groups.

The advocate for the Scottish Government stated that government policy was that transgender women are to be treated as non-transgender women unless to do so would be prohibited by law. She said that that reflected the recommendations of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. “Trans women are women.” Technically, a “policy” needs an Equality Impact Assessment, so this is not formally a policy, just the attitude of the Scottish Ministers.

When the hate group claimed to be supporting the interests of trans men, the judge said “such people are visually and socially male and so not operating as women”. They would not want to be treated as women, even when it was a career advantage.

This is not a binding precedent, even in Scotland, but the judge pointed out that EU law acknowledges that trans people are to be included as being of the sex to which we intend to reassign- even before reassignment. This shows the haters are unlikely to succeed. In the European Convention on Human Rights, “transgender women will for practical purposes be indistinguishable from non-transgender women”.

There may be an appeal, to the Inner House of the Court of Session then to the Supreme Court. The haters’ pockets seem limitless. I hope they will pay the Scottish Government’s court expenses, but this is not yet decided. Still, in this case so far, the wealthy haters have lost. It’s a victory for all queer people.

The judgment is available here.

Eddie Izzard and nonbinary

When Izzard was nonbinary, no-one cared. But now, she’s transitioning!?

In 2017 in The Hollywood Reporter she said she identified as transgender but had both “boy and girl mode”. But in 2020, her pronouns were given as she/her, and it was international news. Now, she is recording a drama in a male role, and wanted to go back to he/him, but was told she can’t be both.

She came out as “transvestite” in 1985, and people would stand a foot away and ask “What the fuck is that?” They turn you into an it, she says. “People don’t expect a trans woman to be able to run 130 marathons for charity and it changes their sense of what a trans woman is,” she says. That’s because they expect trans women to be physically inadequate and without any staying-power.

Will she physically transition, asks the journalist. There it is. Are you going to have your balls cut off. What will your genitals look like. Any privacy interviewees might have about medical conditions is denied the trans woman. She has always had breasts envy, and he asks if she is taking hormones. She refuses to say but “smiles”.

She wants to be a Labour candidate. I would love to have her stand here.

Some people are nonbinary, and that matters. They could change pronouns but not presentation, they could present differently on different days like Izzard still does, they could mix it up like his man’s suit and high heeled shoes. But there’s still this idea of proper transition, hormones and surgery. Either medicalised transition is thought of as acceptable, but anything else is still seen as perverted or wrong, or medicalised transition is something the cis have somehow got their heads round but nonbinary is beyond their comprehension. No one should have to undergo surgery to be accepted. No one should have their gender expression restricted.

Izzard thinks radical feminists should be our allies. “I’d like to get to the place where we don’t have to have this fight because I’m trying to deal with rightwing fascists.” Of course. My way to make allies would be to talk about common interests rather than women’s spaces.

The House of Lords transphobia increased, using the excuse of international women’s day. Content: transphobia.

Ralph Palmer, a Conservative hereditary peer, said:

Stonewall, please climb out of the hole of misogyny and bullying that you have dug for yourself. The needs of trans people, which are pressing, are not best served by adding to the disadvantages of women.

Tories, of course, want it to be a zero-sum game, a conflict of rights. We have so much in common, especially our interests, with all feminists, and they want to obscure that. It is a shame some self-identified “feminists” go along with them.

Anthony Young, a Labour peer, said “I want to make it clear that I believe in fair rights for transgender people. I am not transphobic, although no doubt I will be accused of it after this contribution”. Not a good line. Why is he transphobic? Well, “Fair rights” to him means exclusion from women’s spaces. I don’t want “fair rights” according to Young’s definition, I want human rights.

He is transphobic because he spoke out against inclusive language for trans men as “nonsense”. Then he said,

I want to conclude on the problem of the increased violence towards women and children taking place during Covid. We need to ensure that we protect safe spaces for women in hostels, refuges, hospitals and prisons. Physical threats to women, including rape, by transgender men are a terrible indictment on our society.

By “transgender men” he means trans women. I had to think about that one, but perhaps we will have to get used to it. The problem of increased violence towards women during covid has nothing to do with trans women. It is cis men. The juxtaposition shows extreme fear or hatred of trans women, and attempts to instil it in others. It is transphobic.

Fortunately Sal Brinton, Liberal Democrat, spoke up for us.

On top of the concerns about the attacks on trans people, there is now a real concern that the equalities rights granted over many years are being rowed back on. Over the last two days, three government advisers have resigned over this issue, the Conservative LGBT+ organisation is demanding an investigation and many Back-Bench MPs are worried.

I was somewhat surprised by the assertion of the noble Lord, Lord Young, that women’s refuges were dangerous places because of the threat of trans women being there. I am not aware of any such cases, and for the Domestic Abuse Bill, a number of women’s refuges and other organisations made it plain that they are trans -inclusive. In fact, a 2017 survey showed that the reality is that one in six trans women experience domestic abuse themselves.

In the House of Commons, the usual transphobes were about: Jackie Doyle-Price claimed to “fight for women’s safe spaces” rather than for trans-exclusion, and praised Keira Bell.

Yet Caroline Nokes MP said,

On this International Women’s Day, let us champion all women—gay women, who do not need conversion therapy; trans women, who want to be treated with respect and fairness. Remember, they are the ones most likely to suffer domestic abuse.

Kirsty Blackman, MP, SNP said,

We must consider this—we must look at stereotypes—and we must always consider intersectionality: we must check our own privilege. Younger women, ethnic minority women, bisexual women, trans women and disabled women are more likely to be domestically abused.

Wendy Chamberlain, MP, LD, referred to single-sex spaces but said they were needed because of “the fear of sexual violence perpetrated by men”. Exactly. Not trans women.