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.

“Who I am” v “Men in women’s toilets”

I am hopeful about greater rights for trans people, because our arguments are more winsome. We gain sympathy, and the TERFs and conservatives don’t. We lose on logic. “Piss off, you’re a man” they say, and keep reiterating. One TERF identifies as a MERF (Go on, guess-) they are talking of TIMs, trans-identified males, and M-T, male to trans rather than male to female. If a trans woman spends too much time with their websites and twitter accounts, and not with affirmation in the mainstream press from the likes of, say, Margaret Atwood, they can get wearing. I take encouragement from their desperation: But they’re men! Men! Men in women’s washrooms! They just get ignored. “Trans women are women” say female Labour MPs, and here’s Angela Rayner MP, who has an inspiring life story and is just pure dead brilliant:

We are also calling on the Government to reform the Gender Recognition Act and the Equality Act 2010 to change the protected characteristic of “gender reassignment” to “gender identity” to provide proper protection for trans people.

Margaret Atwood, feminist: It is always – ‘What do you mean by the word?’ For instance, some feminists have historically been against lipstick and letting transgender women into women’s washrooms. Those are not positions I have agreed with.

We generate empathy. This is who I am. This is what I wanted, more than anything else in the world. This wins hearts, and where the heart is with us the mind will find a way. Cold rationality has nothing on sympathetic emotion.

This morning I fell off my bicycle again. I hate that road, narrow and busy, with a narrow path by the side that cyclists are permitted to use, which is potholed and muddy. I skidded in a muddy puddle, bent the supports of my mudguard, possibly knocked my derailleur out of alignment and the chain came off. And after, every motorist that passed me without courtesy, just a foot away, without care for my safety, shocked and angered me.

So, I don’t get propositioned, cat-called and touched up in the street. And I can sympathise absolutely with a woman who, having suffered a particularly egregious example, dodged into a toilet and was angry and shocked to see a trans woman. Normally it would be bearable but in that particular situation it was not. There, I have given you two examples where the slings and arrows of quotidian irritation might become too much, and perhaps you can supply your own. I feel if TERFs said, I saw this trans woman in the loo and it creeped me out, it was too much for me after what I had endured that day, they might win more people over. But instead they say, men in women’s clothes, whether trans women or not, might be a threat; and everyone knows they are exaggerating; and trans women cannot be blamed for people pretending to be trans women.

And if one said, I have given birth, I love my body, it is a woman’s body doing what a woman’s body does, and I loathe the simulacrum of a woman that is a trans woman- that might work too, though love of your own physicality need not mean despising someone else’s, nor excluding that person.

So they are reduced to calling us perverts, even paedophiles. It won’t work. Hate never does.

“Not all men” is misogynist. “Not all trans women” isn’t.

Everywhere we go, we are surrounded by men: in every place of work, on the streets, in shops, in pubs and in places of entertainment, a drink in their hand, their inhibitions loosening and their boisterousness getting louder. Out in the countryside you have to be somewhere remote before you are unlikely to see a man, and particularly remote before you have no chance. So, “Not all men” is derailing. It is irrelevant, and a way of picking away at a woman’s complaint, a false way of painting her as unreasonable or shrill. There may be a man, somewhere, who has never pushed a woman’s boundaries after a clear no, never used power wrongfully against a woman at work, never dehumanised or objectified a woman, but men do, it is women’s universal experience, and any man may be that boorish or worse.

“What about the men” is a similarly misogynist derailing tactic. Yes, men suffer from patriarchy, and from the hierarchies neoliberal capitalism creates; but women’s suffering needs to be acknowledged. There is time for discussing men’s problems, and women’s problems deserve time too.

These slogans, “Not all men” and “What about the men?” are useful to name and identify these derailing tactics. We will not let people move us on to other topics, the sufferings of men or even the (un)acceptability of derailing.

Trans women are not like men. We are less expansive, generally, because we try not to be noticed; we are not as loud; and particularly we are not ubiquitous. You may go for weeks without seeing one, and months without talking to one. So the problems cis women have with trans women are different. You may be reading trans stuff on the internet, and disagree with some of it. You may even overhear a trans woman saying something you don’t like. But you and your IRL friends will not have a great deal of direct, personal, unpleasant experience of trans people.

Patriarchy gives men privilege, but not trans women. We go from approximating to the default acceptable person to being visibly weird. So we are laughed at, attacked, and discriminated against. We don’t have the power at work.

So if someone complains about a trans woman who has directly affected them in a bad way, that should not be derailed. That is, to an extent, my problem- knowing nothing about trans women, some people might generalise from their first experience of one of us, so I have an interest in that experience being good. I want that complainant to process the experience and get a good experience from the next trans person. But if someone complains about a trans woman behaving in a way she objects to, but has only read about, that is entirely different. Not all trans women are like that, and what is the problem with it anyway? Many people behave badly, but that does not mean you should choose some characteristic of that person and hate everyone with that characteristic, for ever after.

Trans women: symbol and problem

Why do people care so much about trans folk? There are so few of us, we should be an anomaly, barely worthy of mention. We are harmless, so we should not be actively persecuted. People care, because we symbolise for them far more important concerns.

Ideally we symbolise the move towards a progressive, tolerant society. People enthusiastically say “Trans women are women!” because that shows they are liberal, against oppression, in favour of diversity and equality and people being welcomed for our gifts not judged for our idiosyncrasies. That can sometimes start a culture war. Mr Trump does not want trans people in the military, against military advice, because he wants to cast the “Liberal elite” as the enemies of his conservative base. To the just about managing, he says, They do not care about you! They care about those weirdos more than decent people like you! I care about you! The military wastes so much money that a few gender reassignment surgeries would be a drop in the ocean, and the issue should not really matter as a question of social policy, but instead it is a symbol: virtue-signalling of the Right as well as the Left. The Right claim virtue in policing what people do with our genitals. It is also a symbol that winds up liberals.

The A Woman’s Place and We Need to Talk tours use us as a symbol of the Patriarchy and the oppression of women. I have very little power to oppress anyone. I buy my clothes in charity shops so am not even, directly, part of the oppression of sweat-shop workers. Pigs live in appalling conditions because of me; but I do not harm a woman who sees me in a woman’s loo. I am only objectionable there if I am a symbol of sex inequality, of women having to put others’ feelings before their own, of a snub on them imposed by uncaring society.

I would like us to be seen as a symbol of how wide the range of gendered behaviour is, and how ridiculous gender restrictions are. We are then helping to break down gendered expectations. That we symbolise the breaking of taboos is good and bad for us. Things may be spoken about, because we exist. Shame drains away. And, we are the visible symbol of a reservoir of fear in society, and people’s hearts.

A friend said on facebook, women see men as a threat, some men see women as objects to be possessed. That means I may be seen as  threatening even if I am not.

I want us to be a harmless anomaly, too few people to worry about, which would be a rational view. If we are not, what is the problem, exactly? How you express the problem of trans people affects what you do. I think the problem is people paying us too much attention, and the solution is for the press to stop printing stories of a man being invited for a cervical smear test, because he adopted the title “Mx”, or a trans woman being sent to take smears. The NHS does millions of smear tests, and probably makes thousands of mistakes. The problem is trans people being nervous and frightened, or being attacked, and the solution is to protect us.

If you see the problem as “men in women’s toilets” we are in conflict. There is no solution to please all. But if it is, The Patriarchy, most solutions- campaigning for equal pay and equal representation, against sexual harassment- ignore us completely. Go and work on those. If the problem is, how can a wider range of gendered behaviour be made acceptable in both sexes, we can have a dialogue. I feel most people see trans folk as gender outlaws, rather than conformists.

I would phrase it, how can people with such similar problems, gender non-conforming, non-binary and trans, work together for the liberation of all? You are part of the same minority, not competing groups. How can we see below our surface differences to our real shared interests?

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.

Understanding trans and gender

Fifteen years after transition, this is where I am with trans and gender. Gender and transgender are cultural, not innate. There is no psychological characteristic of one sex which the other does not have, or which is not good or bad in the same way. The greater physical size of males can make males more physically demonstrative of dominance or anger. The difference comes from socialisation, which is pervasive from birth, performed by adults and children, and enforced by violence including ostracism, mockery and physical force. Gender and status are intertwined: non-conforming gender marks you down, though particularly gifted individuals can be recognised within alternative communities.

If the culture were different, valuing all gender expression by all, whether male or female, that would free everyone. To varying degrees, everyone would be gender-fluid, and non-binary gender would cease to have meaning. No-one can know what trans would look like, because trans is affected by culture.

I oppose people being poisoned and mutilated by hormones and surgery. I would be interested to know what proportion of people who have a vaginoplasty manage to dilate it to accommodate a penis comfortably, and how many use it for penetrative sex. The research has not been done, but I could not dilate enough, and my friend who was penetrated said her partner’s penis was sore afterwards, as the neovagina is not as accommodating as natural vaginas. I sympathise with people with breasts who do not want them stared at; it is as if you are an appendage to a pair of breasts sometimes; and binders are painful and constrict breathing. No-one should have to have their body altered to escape oppression.

Natural bodies are beautiful and best allowed to develop naturally. A human not tortured by shame will love their body from childhood, be led to value the changes of puberty, and will care for their body, without needing compulsive behaviours which damage it as a way to escape reality. All bodies have a wide range of gender.

Hormones have made my emotions fluctuate wildly, and make me overheat when I exercise. That emotional volatility is not the whole reason I ceased being able to work, but is part of it.

Sex is potentially far more costly for women than for men. Culture could ameliorate that but instead exacerbates it, with “sluts” and “incels” alike shamed, and all that Me too has revealed to the half of the population unaware of it before- if they have been listening.

Trans is a response to the culture. At first it was strongly repressed but it still burst out, in Molly clubs and solitary individuals. Then the culture sought to manage it: just as English Law protects “transsexual persons” narrowly defined, certain expressions of transgender are tolerated, and there is social pressure to conform to those expressions. Social pressure causes people to have hormones and surgery.

The whole range of transgender activities in AMAB folk is associated with erotic arousal. Arousal is not the sole cause, but may exacerbate the compulsive nature of it. If AFAB people feel aroused by trans activity society is less aware of that, which echoes the Victorian attitude to same sex attraction: gay men were criminal, lesbians were not believed to exist.

There is no feminist campaign which is not weakened by hostility to trans women. The disgust freely expressed at trans women by some feminists is phobic, and should be recognised as phobic- gently worked around, not encouraged as a source of pride and group-identification. Trans women subvert gender norms by ostentatiously flouting them, upsetting conservatives.

The cost of diversity in society is paid by the people who are different. Conformity is prized, but diversity is a beautiful gift. If everyone was free to express their whole self everyone would be happier, and society enriched. However as things are now, a lot of people are happier after transition, and should be allowed to. It makes people’s lives better.

A nurse who is trans

Content warning: transphobia. A woman patient asked for a female nurse to perform her cervical smear test. A trans woman called her, and she was distressed and embarrassed. She thought the nurse was clearly a man, with beard stubble, a large number of tattoos and close cropped hair. She complained, and the NHS trust apologised, saying there had been a recording error and that the nurse should have made her feel heard. The woman said that “people who are not comfortable with this are presented as bigots”. Well, few bigots recognise they are bigoted.

The Sunday Times, a bigoted transphobic publication, reported that the nurse had not been employed as a trans woman. Rentaquote transphobe James Caspian said similar embarrassing situations would become more common with self certification, and “Politicians have not thought through the implications of allowing self-certification”. However people transition before seeing a specialist: you do not need a diagnosis, and are protected from discrimination as soon as you decide to transition. The paper does not report whether the NHS seeks an exemption, and trans women do not perform certain tasks. Employers can argue that it is an occupational requirement to be cis if that is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim (Equality Act 2010 sch 9 para 1).

The reports don’t make it clear, but it seems what happened was this. The nurse had not transitioned yet, but a clerical error sent the nurse, presenting male, to see that patient. The patient said she wanted a female nurse. Even had I not transitioned at work, after deciding to do so I might not want to deny that I am a woman. The clerical error placed the nurse in a difficult position, and she said she was trans. Yet a trans woman before transition would normally be seen as a man, outside the trans community. The employer would not send her to take a smear of someone who had requested a female practitioner, unless there was a mistake. I would not blame the nurse for reacting as she did, but she got someone else to take the smear, and personally apologised.

Caspian’s comment is irrelevant. This is an Equality Act issue not a Gender Recognition issue. People transition without gender recognition, and are protected as soon as we decide to. That the Sunday Times don’t recognise this shows their transphobia. Once the nurse had started to express herself female at work, she would have been appropriate to take the smear.

The Mirror reported this at less length. The Sun’s initial headline referred to the nurse being “pre-op”, as if that were relevant to anything, just prurient titillation, but changed that to “YOU’RE CLEARLY A MAN! Woman complains after being assigned transgender nurse with stubble for her smear test”.

The Sun added the following detail: Trust policy for all services is to consider seriously all requests for clinicians of a particular gender; it allows patients to feel more supported; we will deny a request if we believe it to be sexually motivated or where there might be a risk to a member of staff, but we will always explain ourselves. When they say “particular gender” they do not specify whether one could request a cis woman rather than a trans woman.

Some women are happy for men to take their smears. The nurse, treated by the employer as a man, was doing smears. They would not consider a request for a particular race.

In other transphobia news, some women have complained that the women’s swimming pond on Hampstead Heath is open to “men undergoing sex changes” also described by the Mirror as “men transitioning to be women” and “men who identify as women and wore female bathing clothes”. It wheeled out rentaquote transphobe Julie Bindel: The last thing they want is to look behind them and see a male-bodied person pretending to be a woman in order to gawp at them. Then, how discreet would a lesbian have to be? And, can’t they just go there to swim?

The Mirror article helpfully links to other relevant stories: Ridiculous! This Morning viewers slam former mental health tsar who insists that teachers should stop using gendered terms; and ‘I spend half my week as a woman and the other half as a man’: Gender fluid Tabitha has boyfriend and a girlfriend. The mental health tsar is right, and radical feminists like Julie Bindel should realise that is the gender oppression they should be fighting; and the fact that someone is gender fluid and poly should be unremarkable.

Tabitha or Tate says Each morning, it takes me a few minutes to grasp whether I am Tabitha or Tate. It really depends on how I am feeling, and I can switch from one gender to the other throughout the course of the day. Some might find this hard to ­understand but why should a person be defined by what is between their legs? That seems utterly sane to me; yet the paper reports on “shocked glances from passers-by” when they express as Tate. Her father is a trans woman. Tate even wears a fake penis reports the Mirror breathlessly.

The Oldie

The Oldie magazine is obsessed with trans people, and not in a good way. In the December issue there is an article claiming Trans activists are ruling the world, but not thinking that a good thing, and at least three other mentions of transgender. There are possibly more, but the magazine is too boring for me to bother looking for them. This next bit is so vile I put it in small print, so you can dodge it if hate triggers you.

“What is it about transgender?” I asked.
“They’re crazy,” he said.
This was before progressive norms prevented us even contemplating hate speech.
“How do you mean crazy?” I asked.
“Aggressive, violent, disturbed, disruptive, impossible to reason with,” he said. “Really crazy”.

This comes after the writer claims to be bisexual, perhaps to indicate he could not possibly be prejudiced. The tone of the writing is supposedly “light and humorous”.

It’s awful. He refers to “cutting off the most definitive evidence of manhood”, asks if a “transgendered woman” is “actually- or originally- a woman or a man?” and compares us to Otherkin. Well, no-one is weirder than me, but the author probably does that to make us look bad.

Frankly, the science is a bit beyond me. That’s the Oldie’s schtick, pretending not to understand anything after about 1980, or anything at all really. Elsewhere in the magazine Virginia Ironside, their agony aunt, says In other words, and to use a vile expression, chill out. I don’t think she realises “chill out” has been replaced by “chill”. Her objection is that it is a new phrase, not an old one.

I’m still stuck on the basics: bathroom rights, male rapists declaring themselves female to get transferred to women’s prisons, linebackers coming out as women to play professional football. He paints us as a ridiculous, disgusting threat. He is delighted TERFs oppose us: Reactionary schools of thought hope this is the progressive movement consuming itself. That the contradictions will swallow the whole thing.

What else? In a review of a film by Sally Potter, the writer says she gave us a sublime Orlando, starring Tilda Swinton as the transgenderiste (sic) Virginia Woolf heroine. Oh well. And in “How to spot a decent vicar this Christmas” there’s this:

Forward in Faith’s website states, “We are unable in conscience to accept the ordination of women as priests and bishops”. This view is increasingly absurd in an age of gender dysphoria. Martyn Percy, the Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, says, “Will Forward in Faith be able to tell us at what point a person’s valid ordination either evaporates or crystallises in the process of gender transition?”

Michael Cole thinks the “obsession with equality and diversity is killing quality television”, because nothing damages TV more in his eyes than having people different from himself on it. The survey would be asking me about my gender, ‘gender identity’, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation and disability. Note the scare quotes, as if gender identity is not a real category. He objects: The real purpose of collecting this information is to limit the creative freedom of people working in television… [and] control what appears on the screen and who is in it.

“Who is in the screen”? No, Michael, that is liquid crystals rotating polarised light, or in your case perhaps a stream of cathode rays, not tiny people.

Trans is something new fangled, one more way the world is going to hell in a handcart, for Oldie readers and writers to resent. They have not heard of Elagabalus. Trans is as old as Deuteronomy, but with their affected ignorance they would not know that. Oh for the good old days when trans people would not be seen, or heard, they say. Harry Mount, the editor, also writes for the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph.

This is the year of transgender moral panic, where we are the subject of daily press articles abominating us. The transphobes are out in force, in what I hope is a desperate rearguard action to prevent our rights and recognition, their desperation being a sign they know they will fail; but I fear my country’s increasingly authoritarian turn.

I wrote that, then was so bored that I leafed through the rest of the magazine. For the fiftieth anniversary of Just a Minute, there is a lazy rehash of some of its jokes. Giles Brandreth began, ‘Nicholas, or as close friends know him, ‘Susan’, is the first transsexual to host a panel show in this country. Oh God, there’s more of it!

For relief, here is a writer not consumed with anger about every change in his world. The Romanian homeless guy prays alongside the person who is transitioning and next to the old Etonian ex-army officer. People go through all sorts of transitions- going to university, starting a family- but you know exactly what Giles Fraser means, and he expects all his audience to. Our language is becoming the norm.

Catholic transphobia

Catholics are taught to hate and fear trans folk. US Catholic bishops have signed a letter seeing us not as individuals but as some nebulous threat: The movement today to enforce the false idea—that a man can be or become a woman or vice versa—is deeply troubling. It compels people to either go against reason—that is, to agree with something that is not true—or face ridicule, marginalization, and other forms of retaliation.

Most of us just want to be left alone. We shun recognition because of hatred like this letter preaches. The letter casts the transphobes as victims, of unnamed “retaliation”, which justifies them in dehumanising and oppressing us.

I never asked anyone to “agree with something that is not true”. Instead, I ask them to recognise my humanity, and my right to pursue my desires, as long as I harm no-one else. That means treating me with courtesy. Some may think me a man, but I ask them not to make that obvious every time we meet: so they should use my name and correct pronouns. Why should these old men appoint themselves judges of what is “true”? Rigid consistent notions of truth leave no room for diversity or complexity, for the love and life which bishops should nurture. Society is in flux. Rather than clinging to their old ideas of Truth they should be open to how the Holy Spirit moves in humanity.

For they are deeply conservative, and any radical feminist should avoid saying anything which might encourage them. We come together to join our voices- pompous, portentous rubbish showing fear and anger- on a more fundamental precept of our shared existence, namely, that human beings are male or female and that the socio-cultural reality of gender cannot be separated from one’s sex as male or female. Gender cannot be separated from sex. God has ordained, according to these old fools, that women must be feminine, men masculine, according to their definitions not any sane psychology of humanity.

They use positive words, then weasel words which eat away all the love. They only fool themselves that they are loving. A person’s discomfort with his or her sex, or the desire to be identified as the other sex, is a complicated reality that needs to be addressed with sensitivity and truth. Each person deserves to be heard and treated with respect; it is our responsibility to respond to their concerns with compassion, mercy and honesty. “Truth”; “Honesty”- no, their ridiculous insistance that children conform to their ideas of gender. So there can be no sensitivity, no comprehension of complicated reality, no respect, compassion or mercy.

Their wicked ideas of gender must be enforced rigorously on children, they say. Children especially are harmed when they are told that they can “change” their sex or, further, given hormones. Whip the sissy out of that boy! It’s the only “loving” way! Note the scaremongering of “given hormones”- children getting puberty blockers is incredibly rare. There is a stupid and arrogant insistence that they know more about medicine than doctors: we urge our medical institutions to honor the basic medical principle of “first, do no harm”- as if the whole letter was not urging harm.

We desire the health and happiness of all men, women, and children. A lie, immediately contradicted. Therefore, we call for policies that uphold the truth of a person’s sexual identity as male or female, and the privacy and safety of all. No, not privacy and safety, but the enforcement of their idea of truth.

I hate their self-deluded claims to virtue. Desire health and happiness, forsooth, or “authentic support” of trans people to reject our God-given nature. It is a wonderful example of delusion, these ridiculous Catholics, joining with the tiny “Anglican Church of North America”, a splinter group claiming 134,000 members in the US and Canada but with an eejit styling himself “Archbishop and Primate”. Oh, here’s some fool calling himself “Melchizedek”, after the Eternal priest. He is Orthodox, and claims 90,000 members in the US. The “North American Lutheran Church” is another recent splinter group, claiming 141,000 members who cannot stay in communion with Lutherans in the US. There is a token Muslim who styles himself “imam” and has founded his own Islamic Society of the Washington Area. They are all pathetic and ridiculous, yet their malice is all the stronger for their claims to “Love”, and they have some influence on poor fools, who they would order to torture children in the name of “Truth”.

Lest we forget, they hate gay people too. They affirm our commitment to marriage as the union of one man and one woman and as the foundation of society. I fear for their victims; yet they are nervous and afraid. They would not bother with such bombastic drivel if they did not know that doctors and parents are accepting children as they really are, and trans people are treated with growing acceptance and respect.

Oh, google the original if you must.

Trans women are no threat

Self-declaration is the way to make gender recognition fair. I do not need a psychiatrist to tell me who I am. No-one who is AMAB will declare herself to be a woman lightly, and a few safeguards will make that risk minimal: requiring a change of name, requiring an oath or affirmation, making it slightly more difficult to change back, will prevent people doing it for laughs.

When cis women say self-declaration is a threat, or that women should be consulted, it is hard to find what they feel the threat comes from. From all trans women? We generally transition because we are soft and gentle and not conventionally masculine. Whether or not you think that is “feminine” or womanly or women would be like that but for Patriarchy, it means we are not likely to hurt other women. We don’t like to be noticed, because when we are we may suffer violence from others. If you call us a threat that is threatening to us: others may feel justified in attacking us to “defend” themselves or others.

Or is it from a small minority of trans women? Some of us are violent; but then so are some cis women. There is a greater risk in a changing room from cis women, because there are more of them. Most people are peaceable.

Or from men pretending to be trans women, to get access to women’s space? There should be no minimum standards of visible femininity to be an acceptable trans woman, because a lot of us don’t pass, and “women’s clothes” is a problematic category. But people can see where something is off, and generally a trans woman will want to appear to be making an effort. We don’t want to be noticed, because that is a threat to us. Men are a threat to women, but do not need to dress as women to attack women.

Possibly particular groups could be treated differently. Perhaps self-declaration should not be enough to transfer a prisoner from a men’s to a women’s prison. But there could be easy safeguards in such cases, requiring psychiatric assessment and a period of adjustment before transfer. Having to express themselves as women in a male prison, or go into segregation, would deter all but the most determined prisoners, and the trans women are the most determined.

Where a woman has been attacked or violated recently, she may feel particularly vulnerable. She may feel a woman’s changing room should be a safe space, and be disturbed to see someone she reads as a man there. I sympathise with that. I try to be sensitive. I am not demonstrative in women’s space, but make myself small so as not to be noticed. That seems to be the source of the objection, though: the problem is all trans women, and cis women may be offended or disturbed to see us in women’s space. That is, it is a phobic reaction, a disproportionate sense of threat, or attaching the sense of threat to something unthreatening, as a spider is unthreatening, really, to an arachnophobe.

They do not see themselves as phobic, but as reasonable. There is the cause of the anger. It is extreme anger, especially when they congregate together, exemplified by Linda Bellos on a platform saying “If anyone of those bastards [transwomen] comes near me, I will take my glasses off and thump them. [crowd laugh] Yes I will take my glasses off… But I do, I am quite prepared to threaten violence, because it seems to me that what they are seeking to do is piss on all women.” For her, I am part of an undifferentiated “Them”, a threat to her wanting to damage all [cis] women.

Fortunately, women who are not transphobic do see that we are unthreatening, and support us.