Genuine trans women III

Some terfs want all trans women out of women’s spaces. Trans women are men, they say. And others think there are men, and trans women who should be grudgingly tolerated. It’s a question of where to draw the line.

There could be different lines for different matters. We don’t do much harm in a loo, but might do in a women’s refuge. If you get sent to prison you are probably less trustworthy than if you get sent to hospital. If a trans woman play sports her greater size will be an advantage, but given that reaching female-normal levels of hormones weakens muscles, and is a huge sacrifice for a man, probably the trans woman who fits the rules will be “genuine” and should be allowed to compete.

Even I drew a line. By law, we are protected if we have decided to transition even if we have not reached any particular milestone- gone out expressing female, gone to work expressing female, thrown out all the male clothes, seen a doctor, started hormones, had surgery. I don’t want the line to be passing privilege, but I have some vague idea of what would be taking the piss, for example wearing a beard. And I feel to be going out expressing female regularly is necessary. I don’t think someone should go to the Labour Party women’s conference dressed male. Theoretically it’s possible, and so my line is more strict than the law is.

Or, you could just accept someone’s word that they are a trans woman, unless there is reason to disbelieve them.

A useless line is surgery. Surgery proves commitment. But, some of us are desperate for surgery and, because we are reliant on the NHS, will have years to wait. Unless the trans woman is a rapist, her penis really does not matter. We hope that in hospital the penis would not be on show, but then we hope vulvas and nipples would not be on show either, that people could have dignity.

Surgery is a line which has a great deal of attraction for the transphobes. If they want to appear reasonable, not hostile to actual trans women, just “men” “pretending to be women”, surgery could be the line they draw. Like the Mail’s “help help the sky is falling” article about trans women in women’s hospital wards, because they identify as women. Link to web archive. Nasty little extreme right transphobe David TC Davies MP popped up to say male-bodied people should not be on women’s wards, but only ten trusts reported any complaints or incidents- that is the Mail, right at the end of its article, confirms it’s a non-story.

The thing is, how would you know? Trans women with penises would not want anyone catching sight of them. I don’t want people seeing my vulva, but would have been more embarrassed before the operation.

What we need is a sign of commitment, and being sort of reasonable. Don’t be a pain. For commitment, surgery is an impossible standard, it could happen ten years or more after transition. Chucking out all ones male clothes is a good enough sign. It’s more than the law requires. And, try not to leave your penis on show.

I read that ‘trans women’ (as opposed to transsexuals) have penises. I keep harking back to this because it is so ridiculous. I asked people. Some identify as “a woman with a trans history” or even just “a woman”. Few identify as transsexual. Some who want an operation but have not yet had it identify as transsexual, and many said they had had the operation but called themselves trans women out of solidarity with those earlier on the transition journey.

The real issue with surgery being the line is that it is repugnant to ask someone whether she has had surgery. If I were asked if I were transsexual, and realised that the subtext was that a “transsexual” was presumed to have had the operation, I would refuse to say. Wouldn’t you?

Maria Miller

Maria Miller MP spoke out for trans people last week. She is the kind of Tory who might not do too much damage to the country, if she were in opposition: she was a Remainer, but last month spoke out for the Prime Minister’s Brexit arrangements. She overclaimed expenses, and the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner recommended she repay £45,000, and she wanted to reduce the abortion time limit to twenty weeks, but she also wanted to extend abortion rights to women in Northern Ireland. As far as possible, she is a moderate Tory.

She said the government was doing nothing for us, almost as clearly as she could. The government had focused its work for trans people on GRA reform, while “many trans people don’t have access to basic healthcare”. And on GRA reform little has been actually done.

Well, yes. GRA reform affects whether we can get a different gender marker on birth and marriage certificates, and that is it. The hatefest which has followed, with confected arguments about what it means and the obsession with trans people in certain media- only to make us an Out-group, whom it is acceptable to hate- has been exacerbated by the government’s delay.

The transphobe Helen Lewis attacked Maria Miller. She misrepresented the case from the start.

The heart of the fake feminist case against trans recognition is that there is some imagined threat to single sex services. Helen Lewis continues to claim that: in her latest article she linked to an earlier one, claiming that GRA reform means men in women’s spaces. That’s governed by the Equality Act, but Lewis continues to express concerns about self-ID and its impact on single-sex spaces.

Lewis claims she has been abused as a TERF, and as transphobic, though she believes trans women are women and trans men are men. Well. Is she a transphobe? She claimed a law reform which gives a right to an extract birth certificate threatened women’s spaces. That’s spreading falsehoods and fear against us.

I’ve just checked marriage certificates. There is no gender indicator on the current marriage certificate. My GRC stops me forming a civil partnership with a man, but allows me to form a civil partnership with a woman (if I could find one). GRC reform affects no-one, hardly even trans people. I haven’t shown my new birth certificate to anyone. Though it was expensive to get it, and once it was possible to get a birth certificate marked F I wanted it.

Lewis’ transphobia lies in her insistence on surgery. What used to be called “sex change surgery”, she writes, as if other names are beyond her. She distinguishes between “transsexuals” (good) and “transgender people” (bad). If you don’t hate your genitals and desire surgery, you are not proper trans. However the DSM and ICD do not require a desire for surgery for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria.

If trans women are women, and trans men are men, trans women should be in women’s spaces. Stop fearmongering about us.

Debbie Hayton wrote in the Morning Star that The government’s handling of transgender rights has been mismanaged from the start- delays in access to healthcare are harming trans people’s quality of life. I find this unobjectionable; but trans women who hate her because she supports the terfs and transphobes objected to her even saying this. It’s tragic. That anyone calls for more funding for trans health is a good thing, whatever their views on anything else.

To cleanse your palette after all this: a summary of human needs from Radio 4. Apparently we need autonomy, competence and relatedness: we need freedom of choice, we need to feel we are quite good at doing something and we need to have social bonds with people. Yup.

A Mermaids training session

Mermaids is the charity caring for trans children and teens in the UK. Recently, their training session was recorded, so you can listen to it and hear how reasonable it is. There are also transcripts.

The man who clandestinely recorded it clearly thought he was being so brave going undercover, challenging the trainer. There was a shock, horror article about it in the Times. When you listen to it, you can see that any gender critical person who was not prejudiced about trans people, would find it unobjectionable. The Times article is a complete distortion of what is said.

The trainer, who is lesbian, proves the Times wrong. “Trans ideologists are spreading cod science,” says the headline- no, her statistics are clear. She starts by talking about “gender reveal parties”. We find out what is between the foetus’ legs, and it becomes he or she, and so we get pink or blue clothes. “Lots of children don’t fit those boy and girl boxes.” Lots of things are on a spectrum. People have different heights and skin colours. On a scale of 1 (Princess Barbie) to 12 (GI Joe) the trainer puts herself as a 5. Yet the Times claims the two extremes are the only alternatives given. It is a deliberate misrepresentation of a subtle argument that gender varies between everyone, not just trans people; and some people are gender fluid, being one style at one time and one style at another. “We’re not all one thing,” she says.

The Times mocks talk of jelly babies, but it would help participants become playful and so permit them to think in less rigid ways. As the audience shows, everyone knows the extreme stereotypes, which are strongly emphasised by the culture. Gender identity is different from sexuality, but neither may be controlled. Some people are intersex.

Jan tells her own experience. She had no problem being a tomboy, but in the early seventies was terrified of people knowing she was lesbian, as a child, but being a boy who likes “girlish” activities is different. GI Joe is a stereotype, cultural not innate, but “when people buy into it it becomes real”. She began to define trans and cis, but the interloper interrupted, and put her off track. Then she defines non-binary and gender fluid. Some people identify as queer, and some people hate the term. People can socially transition without transitioning medically. No-one need know a trans person’s operation status. Trans women can be gay or straight- a straight trans woman is attracted to men. Younger people are far more comfortable with gender fluidity.

She speaks movingly of when she internalised homophobia. “There are places where I would be in danger, and people… who hate me because of who I am.” That is, lesbian. It’s like carrying a heavy weight. She wants being queer, or trans, to be not an issue any more. She explains pronouns and misgendering, how painful it can be.

She gets gender incongruence slightly wrong. It’s not a psychological condition in the draft ICD, but that ICD has not yet been approved. There is evidence of a biological underpinning to trans. There are positive role models visible in society, lesbian and trans. She refers to brain research, and googling I found this. Always there is new research. 1% are trans, she says, though not how many of them transition.

She explains the history of Mermaids, supporting trans children and their parents. 40% of those children cannot be out at home, so schools should support them. She explains the Equality Act and the difficulties LGBT people can face from family and society. Maybe 10% of the population are bigoted against us, so the rest should be mindful of that and speak up for us.

When a child is fully supported to lead their own transition, their mental health is the same as their peers’. When the child is prevented, their mental health suffers. Because parents are resistant, and GPs may be unsympathetic, schools can refer people to the Tavistock and Portman clinic, the Gender and Identity Development Service for under 18s. After a long series of assessments, where medically indicated, a child may be given puberty blockers. Low doses of cross sex hormones are not given to children under 16, and rarely to older children. The youngest child seen is 4.

Attendees should research further, at the Tavistock website and Stonewall. They should challenge stereotyping, and be able to tell children about available support. Children can change their name officially, and choose a name to be known as in school. Staff should be told of transition on a need-to-know basis, and it should be treated matter-of-factly: just as a woman may change her name on marriage, so a child may change gender presentation. Mermaids can help schools with any necessary policies.

Janice Turner in the Times clearly finds all of this unobjectionable, as she attacks things Jan the trainer did not say. The man making the recording tried to challenge the trainer, claiming that her suicide statistics were wrong, and that she had based them on a survey of 27 self-referred people, though she had referred to the Stonewall School Report, which says at page 7 that 45% of more than 592 trans people had tried to take their own lives. He claims that the suicide statistic is used to put pressure on schools, and minimises the evidence of suicide attempts. He is not an honest reporter. The second recording ends abruptly, and it is not clear what happened after that.

Similarly, the transcripts are made by anti-trans campaigners, and are littered with inaccuracies. For example, where the anonymous recorder spoke of “dysmorphia” the transcript records it as “dysphoria”. There are also sarky asides- where the trainer is assertive, it calls her “really really cross”. It says [long, looooooong pause for us all to reflect on whether it’s wise to challenge Mermaids woman further. Clearly no one else is prepared to take her on] Actually, it is at most five seconds.

The transcripts are misleading. They put in headings which are not on the audio, such as Help kids to socially or even legally change their name. You don’t need to tell the parents. In fact, feel free to ignore their authority! You would think a feminist would have heard of Gillick competence: children can decide whether their parents should hear about their medical treatment. Mostly, though, the transcripts do not seriously distort the message of the trainer, if you ignore the headings.

Audio recording part 1 part 2.

Googledocs transcript part 1 part 2.

Genuine trans women II

How many trans women have genital surgery? Do trans women generally have surgery?

I thought I’d look at this because of an article suggesting that no matter how cultivated their ‘feminine’ outward appearance, ‘trans women’ (as opposed to transsexuals) have penises. I don’t know what the writer was thinking. She holds herself out as an expert on trans issues, and speaks about us, and then writes this stunningly ignorant thing. Few people call ourselves “transsexuals” nowadays, just as few people identify as “homosexuals” rather than as lesbians or gay men. The word sounds scientific, a classification from outside. We are all trans women now.

This is the final end of the “genuine trans women” argument. When the current campaign was getting going in Summer 2017, there was the pretense that the trans-excluders were not against “genuine” trans women, but wanted to exclude men who would use a liberalised gender recognition law to access women’s spaces. The definition of “genuine trans women”, whom the excluders swear they do not hate and do not want to harm, gets stricter and stricter until it disappears entirely and they call us all “men”. They want to feel good about themselves. They’re not hostile to trans women, just the bad ones. But it gets more and more difficult to find a “good” one, in practice rather than in theory, who does not experience hostility from them.

Those seeking to inspire fear and hatred of trans women, or to justify their own, suggest we don’t have surgery, and that having a penis in some way makes us dangerous. Well, in a loo you don’t expose your crotch until you are safely in a cubicle, where no-one can see, so it hardly matters there. It only matters to us and to our sexual partners. But I’d thought I’d check. How likely is it that a trans woman has had surgery?

There are huge waiting lists. A friend said that she had been waiting twenty years for surgery. I don’t know when she dated that from- ceasing to present male, or seeing a doctor about it, perhaps. Waiting lists are growing. In January The Sun claimed that the waiting time was nine months for adults and about half that for children, but as the NHS does not provide gender surgery for children that is confused. It published the report under its heading “Fabulous”, which covers fashion, beauty and celebrity “news”, pinned onto something about Caitlyn Jenner, deadnaming her.

You have to have a referral before you count as being on a waiting list. Women often talk of trying to get treatment, and the refusal of the psychiatrist. “It won’t grow back,” a psychiatrist patronised one I know. Of course. We know that. We know what we want.

Gender Identity Clinics are a “tertiary” service, that is you need a referral from a psychiatrist, rather than from your GP. There is delay at all stages: the GP might delay before referring to a local psychiatrist; then there are three waiting lists, for the local psychiatrist, the GIC, and the surgeon. The GIC waiting list is around three years, and then it requires a second gender psychiatrist to give an opinion, a wait which can last a year; and each expert can decide to see you again (and again) before making the next referral. You don’t count as being on the waiting list before you get the referral. You wait years for surgery. That begins to explain my friend’s twenty year wait, though I hope twenty years remains exceptional. Another person I knew waited about fifteen. There are 7,500 people waiting for a first GIC appointment.

The Guardian is more trustworthy than The Sun. 60% of trans women referred to Charing Cross GIC sought genital surgery. So yes, that trans woman you see in the loos might have a penis, but that does not mean she is not genuinely trans. There is clearly no moral difference between a trans woman who has had surgery and a trans woman who wants it and is waiting for it, as far as access to women’s space should go. Having an operation does not make you any more of a woman. And the trans woman with a penis is no more of a threat than a cis woman.

I am against surgery. I don’t think it does us any good, and I think we seek it to be seen as real trans, rather than for what it enables us to do. Gender dysphoria need not be body dysmorphia. Yet delay is not the answer. You sit in limbo, unable to get on with your life because you consider this thing you are waiting for to be the most important thing on Earth. It is a paradox that as the transphobes talk of “genuine trans women” they put pressure on us to have surgery, even though they decry it.

I wanted to produce some statistic about how many surgeries there are. From 2000 to 2009 there were 853 NHS surgeries though many, like me, went to Thailand or had private surgery. In the government LGBT survey, 16% of trans respondents had gone abroad for “medical treatment”: what else but surgery? To get a percentage of trans women who have had surgery, you would need to know how many are expressing ourselves female, and how many have had surgery (and are still alive) and these figures are not available. I don’t accept that you need to have or desire surgery to be a “genuine” trans woman, but anyone who suggests you must should not spread falsehoods about how many do.

Here is a trans woman expressing regret about surgery.

A response to self-righteous trans-bashing

How can you justify attacking innocent people? By pretending to yourself you are the victim.

Here’s an article from Spiked. Spiked is a highly problematic site, linked to oligarchs and sowing division. This article follows that agenda:

The Ministry of Trans Truth: The language of transgenderism is designed to silence dissent.
by Heather Brunskell-Evans
5th December 2018

Topics Feminism Free Speech Politics

Clare: No, the language of transgenderism is designed to allow us to live with ourselves. I transitioned because it was what I wanted, more than anything else in the world, because it allowed me to express myself more congruently than I could before. The language allowed me to conceptualise the issue and move towards a (partial, imperfect) solution: the best solution I could find.

Article: I’m fascinated by the way that concepts apparently arise from nowhere, take hold in the popular imagination, then become naturalised and beyond question.

One such idea is that individuals can be ‘born in the wrong body’, so that men can be women. Since there is no scientific evidence, neuroscientific or otherwise, that an unambiguously biological male can in fact be female, how can society have arrived at a stage where people who question the claim ‘trans women are women’ are routinely labelled Nazis, bigots and transphobes?

Clare: There is some evidence, though not conclusive and bitterly disputed, that there are differences in brains between men and women, and that trans women conform to the female type in some areas. AI shown scans of trans women’s brains can thereafter pick out which brain scans show trans women. Against persecution and prejudice, people have been transitioning for centuries: the Emperor Elagabalus proclaimed themself “Empress”, and was assassinated shortly after. Many trans people would object to the old phrase “trapped in the wrong body”- we find it problematic.

Article: A new nomenclature has arisen which bifurcates women into two groups, ‘cis’ (biological women) and ‘trans’. This performs a linguistic sleight of hand that enables the idea that some men can actually be women. But no matter how cultivated their ‘feminine’ outward appearance, ‘trans women’ (as opposed to transsexuals) have penises.

Clare: That’s not the difference between “transsexuals” and trans women. People don’t generally use the term transsexual, because it is a scientific sounding classification, made by outsiders, just as people identify as “gay” rather than as “homosexual”. 60% of trans women seeing medical services want genital surgery, and after waiting up to twenty years often get it, many privately. So many identifying as M-F “transsexual” will have a penis, and many trans women will not. Someone holding herself out to be an expert on trans issues, writing books and articles and speaking on the matter, should know better. It is a sign she does not care what we think, which is a weakness in her: it prevents her from understanding.

Article: The concept that ‘trans women’ are women, and that we must believe this is so because they affirm it, is further translated into the idea that ‘trans women’ are even more oppressed by the patriarchy than their ‘cis’ sisters. Progressives routinely turn with vitriol on women who challenge this newly minted ‘Truth’, labelling them ‘trans-exclusionary radical feminists’ (TERFs), no matter how moderate, thoughtful, or indeed trans-friendly those women are.

Clare: You complain that you are being reasonable, and treated with “vitriol”. Many progressives are aware of the hatred and prejudice we still suffer, and seek to mitigate it. However many progressives are anti-trans: even the Guardian prints strongly anti-trans articles, and articles briefly alluding to trans women get comments denouncing us, which get the most “Likes”. You are not in a minority, even on the Left. And, while some of your friends may be trans, other trans women will judge you by what you say publicly, not by those friendships. And this is how you live with yourself: you imagine you are the victim. If you are the victim, any action you take against others is justified.

Article: This new definition of womanhood is having bizarre effects on our political institutions. The Labour Party now admits men who identify as women on to all-women shortlists, without any necessity for a gender-recognition certificate. A number of these men have successfully applied to the Jo Cox Women in Leadership programme.

Clare: It’s by the Equality Act. Trans women who have transitioned male to female are treated as women, unless it is “proportionate and legitimate” to exclude us. That was the law by a statutory instrument before the 2010 Act, which consolidated older equality legislation.There has never been a need for a GRC, except to get an earlier pension age, or to change the gender marker on a marriage certificate. Trans women have had passports marked “F” for decades, and still have, without GRCs. That’s one of the main lies of A Woman’s Place and other campaigning organisations, that something new is happening. You are seeking to expel us from where we have been for decades.

Article: Then there’s the misogyny. Labour continues to support Lily Madigan in the role of women’s officer for Rochester and Strood, despite his bullying of gender-critical feminists and other women. One of his latest Twitter missives states that TERFs ‘can go fuck themselves’, and he is allowed to say this with impunity not only by the party but by Twitter itself.

Labour also (briefly) appointed the ‘trans woman’ Munroe Bergdorf to an LGBT working group. Bergdorf had recently been quoted in Grazia saying that many feminists are biological essentialists, because we apparently ‘summarise women as walking vaginas… a similar approach to that of misogynists’.

Clare: This is inflammatory. You quote two offensive remarks. There are all sorts of offensive remarks. Your collaborator on your book, Miranda Yardley, was excluded from Twitter for among other things a sustained campaign of bullying against Lily Madigan, and has been shown on TV twice shouting “Fuck that shit”. You continue the attempt to dehumanise trans women by endless harping on about penises.

Article: A kind of informal Ministry of Truth has emerged around the trans issue – or rather, a Ministry of Propaganda, since it is responsible for the falsification of historical events and biological facts. In keeping with the concept of doublethink, the ministry creates and then spreads ‘Truth’ through the new language of ‘cis’ and ‘trans’.

Clare: What is the truth? In all sorts of cultures people with testicles seek to be seen as women, and vice versa, with varying degrees of tolerance. Except in the rare cases where it’s a sign of being a shaman, it does not increase our status, and may lead to persecution or murder. Still we do it. We exist. You can’t foreclose the debate by saying females need female spaces and males must be excluded. You are arguing that the grudging tolerance we have experienced should simply be withdrawn. You may be able to justify that position, but should not take it as read.

Article: And in a chilling twist, it is now feminists who are the alleged extremist misogynists, purely because they don’t allow human beings with penises to control the political narrative. The statement – both mundane and tautological – that women don’t have penises is now considered inflammatory. When a feminist group distributed stickers making this observation recently in Liverpool, the police opened an investigation.

Clare: They vandalised Antony Gormley sculptures. “Opening an investigation” simply means recognising a crime was committed. You minimise the wrongs on your own side, exaggerate the wrongs by others. That’s the divisive rhetoric poisoning public debate.

Article: A cold wind of authoritarianism is blowing through our allegedly progressive, liberal-democratic society. When telling the truth becomes hate speech, when oppression becomes ethics, when non-facts become Truth, we all better look out.

Heather Brunskell-Evans is an academic philosopher and spokeswoman for FiLiA. Her latest book, Transgender Children and Young People: Born In Your Own Body, is available now. Follow her on Twitter: @—

Clare: Who is the authoritarian? I would say, the ones who want to exclude trans women are the authoritarians, and the liberal left includes trans people- see Labour Party policy, for example. The article is part of a gender-critical campaign to mock, vilify and dehumanise trans women, and to pretend that we are a serious threat to women or to women’s rights. I am no threat to women, and my living my life in peace is not a threat to women. I have no wish to discuss my operation status with strangers, and pre-op and non-op trans women are not generally a threat either. You could bring up Karen White, I suppose, the rapist briefly in a women’s prison; and last year a man screamed at me “I’ll kill you you fucking poof” in broad daylight in a town centre.

The answer to the “free speech” argument is so well known as to be hardly worth rehearsing- but the writer does not try to answer it, so I’ll say it again. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions. No-one cares that you think a trans woman is a man, only that you want to exclude trans women- it appears from your writings you want to foment fear of us. But if people are offended by your opinions, they are entitled to judge you for them, and you are not entitled to a platform for them. So you go and get a platform from the Koch brothers. Ask yourself why they would want to give you a platform.

Or ask what they think of feminists. About a year late, Spiked discovered the false controversy over gender recognition, and called on a feminist to hate on trans women. But even on 9 February their assistant editor it was calling for “An end to feminism”, calling contemporary feminists deluded, narcissistic, wilting wallflowers not achievers, and accusing them of insulting the Suffragettes. She said they are “determined to row back some of these hard-won freedoms”- and that’s just in one article. Spiked is using Dr. Brunskell-Evans, whom it despises almost as much as it despises me.

Do not worry about transphobes

How much attention should you pay to transphobia? Very little.

There is street transphobia. It’s weird to think that someone who has never met you and has no knowledge of what you are like as a person really hates you. You are a symbol for him of all he despises. The worst last year for me screamed at me that he would kill me. Well, maybe he was having a bad day. Yes, there are people like that. They rarely do you actual harm. You need to know they exist, but should pay no attention at all to the details of their abuse.

What prompted this post was an article in the Daily Telegraph, which was shared in a trans group on facebook. Church of England’s plan for transgender baptisms outrages bishops was the headline. Well, the Telegraph is a transphobic publication, so when it reports on transphobia it exaggerates it. There are two errors in the headline. Some bishops support the measure, so it should say “Some” bishops are outraged, rather than implying all are. The other error is that no-one has proposed transgender baptisms. More than half the population of England has been baptised, and the ceremony is a reaffirmation of baptismal vows. No church will rebaptise people. If the headline is filled with error, the article will be too.

In fact “ten” bishops “criticised” the ceremony. Few bishops would confess to “outrage” in public. There are 41 diocesan bishops and around 75 “suffragan” or assistant bishops, so a tiny minority has condemned it. Analyse the article, and you see the transphobia is less widespread than the writer would want you to think. The writer makes a desperate attempt to list all the transphobes to make it sound like they are important, but his scrabbling shows how few they really are. They include John Fenwick, a bishop of the Free Church of England. I hadn’t heard of that, so googled it: it split off in 1844 and has nineteen congregations in England.

I mean really. Should you care what John Fenwick thinks? Of course not.

Haters gonna hate. The Telegraph wants its readers to hate trans people, and that is a bad thing. So does the Times, as both are hard-Right publications busily dehumanising various hate groups. Oh, and the Daily Mail, but you knew that. The risk with reading the Telegraph article is that it might discourage you. Jesus said, “Do not be afraid”. It’s full of detail, and if you read the detail and the various horrible things transphobes say, they appear more significant than they actually are. People get assaulted for being trans. We get mocked and vilified going about our ordinary lives. Most people are not like that. They don’t care. You will encounter prejudice, but mostly you will be able to live your life.

Sometimes it is worth checking out the nuances. Michael Nazir-Ali, the former Bishop of Rochester, said: “The church should be compassionate and sensitive towards those who experience gender dysphoria, but its fundamental teaching must be based on a revealed truth and objective biology and its relation to social structure.”

Compassionate and sensitive. That is a clear rebuke to those who would express or foment “outrage”. That journalist made a ranty headline, and from ignorance quoted the answer to his bigotry at the end of the article. “Objective biology” sounds pretty rejectionist- saying trans women are “biological males” or something- but I see a glimmer of hope in the words “its relation to social structure”. Socially, I am a woman. He does not merely discount me. He recognises social structure is relevant. Biology is not a complete answer.

There are transphobes about, but there are allies. They will encourage you and make you feel better. When you feel better you will be more motivated and better able to take action. Perhaps Pink News should take that into consideration: many of its December articles on trans have been “Help help the sky is falling” articles about transphobia. Indonesian city Padang using exorcisms to “cure” queer people. Um. The most positive stories are Miss Universe pays tribute to Angela Ponce. The winner, Ashley Graham, said She’s smart, driven, beautiful…and nothing short of extraordinary. Well, yes. I find beauty contests problematic, but I am pleased with the final Peace-and-Love message. We need more of that. And Transgender boxer Pat Manuel has his first professional win. Half positive: a school teacher was suspended for telling trans boy “You freak me out”. Yes he was a transphobic bully: and the school dealt with him.

Don’t pay too much attention to the transphobes. There will always be transphobes. You will still find ways to achieve your aims and succeed as the person you really are. I have just not been taking my own advice, reading a boring and stupid Times article, which refers to “a powerful trans lobby”. I am glad they are trying to terrify their own side. Imagine poor little transphobes, terrified of expressing their bigotry.

Transphobic hate

The “Trans cult” is driving you away, you say. There is a culture of untruth, and you pick on the word “Hate”. You are trying to protect vulnerable children. Ha! How can you be blind to the hate? Look to your own side!

It’s hate to construct a campaign against trans women around a minor technical legal reform which would have no effect on anyone else. The changes to gender recognition are long overdue, and in line with international human rights law. Probably no-one will get their gender recognised as female in order to access women’s spaces, rather than because they are trans, but if anyone did they could be excluded under the Equality Act.

It’s hate which has led to women of masculine appearance, cis as well as trans, being mocked and vilified and humiliated in women’s loos.

It’s hate to flypost stickers saying “Women’s rights are not for penises”. That is a classic dehumanisation tactic, referring to trans women as “penises”, just like referring to Tutsi as “cockroaches”. Go on. Try to make a moral distinction. The hate campaign has not led to a murder yet, in Britain, but the tactic is the same.

It’s hard right hate to work with David TC Davies MP and Rupert Murdoch. The difference between their argument against trans women and yours is like the difference between Newton’s and Einstein’s theories of gravity: almost no-one understands it or cares, and it makes no difference practically to people’s lives. An astronaut returning from the International Space Station is younger that s/he would have been, remaining on Earth; but only by milliseconds over a year in space.

Davies, having failed to enlist feminists against Muslims and immigrants, has at last succeeded with his next candidate for hate-group, trans people. Listen to lesbian feminists debunk him! With all these new feminist allies, he may be emboldened to make yet another attack on abortion rights.

It’s obsessive hate to make a feminist campaign around the almost notional threat from twenty thousand trans women when there are real threats to women’s rights. It was good to read Julie Bindel on femicide recently: she is obsessive about trans, and prone to dehumanising mockery of trans women, but at least she occasionally works on real feminist issues.

We are the victims of violence and hatred from all sorts of bigots, yet you bring up “male violence” when talking about us. That’s hate. The A Woman’s Place campaign seeks to foment hatred and fear of us, and use it against us. Do the reading! Lesbians and feminists are on the side of trans folk!

If trans children and adolescents cannot get the treatment they need on the NHS, they will seek it elsewhere. If schools do not accept them and crack down on transphobic bullying, no other child will be able to be gender non-conforming either. “Transgender Trend” withdrew its stickers, acknowledging that they were used for transphobic bullying- it is hard to imagine any other use for them. It is transphobic hate to post stickers in a trans child’s school saying “children confused about their sex usually grow out of it”. Of course, once they have been published on the internet it will be easy for hating bullies to get hold of them, even if they are no longer on the originator’s website.

You encourage and empower bullies in your campaign against us. Look at your acts, and their effects!

Crime in toilets

Protecting trans women in women’s loos does not increase crime. A statistical study of gender identity anti-discrimination law and crime in toilets showed that places without such law had more crime in their toilets, but introducing the law had no effect on those crimes. One incident per a hundred thousand people per year is pretty bad if it’s you, but not something that should prevent anyone from using loos.

The study noted that Legislation, regulations, litigation, and ballot propositions affecting public restroom access for transgender people increased drastically in the last three years. Some people are obsessed with us. Like “Mass Resistance”. I thought “Resistance” was a Left thing, when the hard Right had the US government and many state governments sewn up with voter suppression and gerrymandering, but this is a “Pro-family”, that is anti-LGBT, anti-choice, group. Pink News noticed, a month later, a sentence in a Mass Resistance blog post and made this gloating headline: “Anti-trans group admits bathroom predator myth is made up”.

It was just one sentence from the transphobes: in addition to transgenders, this law allows male sexual predators to lurk in women’s restrooms to prey on girls and women. This was technically true, but was largely contrived. Why should a male predator bother to dress up before going after women? Instead, the writer wants what he admits are “more inflammatory” arguments pressed: (1) the LGBT movement’s “civil rights” argument has no basis whatsoever; (2) that “transgenderism” is actually a mental disorder and a destructive ideology, and (3) this law forces people to accept an absurd lie – men can never become women. Thus, the “yes on 3” people were pushing bizarre lies and an Orwellian mandate on society.

He thinks left-wingers all think the same, and the Right do things their own way. Tell that to the anti-trans campaigners on the Left over here. Charlotte Prodger’s being misgendered came up in The Guardian: someone yelling “There’s a boy in the girls’ toilets!” in a night club; on a Caledonian MacBrayne ferry, a middle-aged woman hesitating on the threshold of the loos as she catches sight of Prodger, saying: “I thought I was in the wrong toilet there.” These episodes appear in the film without rancour, but now Prodger says that such encounters “are just relentless actually. It’s something that punctuates my life nearly every day now. It’s pervasive – though I don’t experience the levels of confusion that other queer people do. It’s exhausting, making it OK for people. I’ll be drying my hands and someone will come in and they will look embarrassed or ashamed. I feel for them. I want to make it all right for them. It’s a structural problem when everyone involved ends up feeling embarrassed.”

Note the sympathy for the phobes. She wants to make it all right for them. A commenter did not sympathise. She should “take responsibility for her choices,” he wrote. So everyone should rigidly follow gender stereotypes on clothes to keep him comfortable. Anyone looking “deliberately sexually ambiguous” is responsible for all the embarrassment that follows, he says. He calls his anger “justified”- which entitles him to what, exactly, in his own mind?

I meet a person who had a female body shape and a full moustache.
He/she took great delight in my embarrassment, confusion, and anger.
This is not a good idea.

Delight? Possibly weariness; possibly that nervous laughter that comes from embarrassment rather than enjoyment.

Rosa Freedman

Rosa Freedman had her door soaked with urine, saw graffiti telling her to leave her job, and had phone calls throughout the night saying she should be raped and killed. She hid behind a tree because she was frightened of people following her.

Pause for a moment, and think of the horror of these experiences. Imagine this happening to you, or someone you love. Trans people, who receive such abuse all the time, should feel particular sympathy. She was abused because of what she says, which is trans-excluding. She wants to make a rigorous legal distinction between sex and gender, and enforce single sex spaces. My gender would be recognised as female, and I would be excluded from women’s space because my sex would still be male, unalterable.

Differentiating sex and gender does not make such an exclusion, by itself. At the moment both the Gender Recognition Act and the Equality Act use the words- if not interchangeably, or as if to confuse the two, certainly in a way it is difficult to distinguish them. But for trans women in women’s space, there is a two stage test. A service can be for women only if it is “a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim” (PaMALA). Then it can exclude trans women, again if that is PaMALA. For law to permit what is “legitimate” may seem circular, but from such mysteries lawyers make their dosh.

If sex and gender are legally distinct, the service would have to justify being a single-sex service. Why a single-sex service, rather than single-gender? The law might say, again, the service is single-sex if that is “legitimate”. Or it might just assume that services are single-sex, and exclude trans women from where we have been for decades. I hope it would not choose the latter course, because that would be against international human rights law, but Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Rosa is willing to try. For her, services should be single sex, not considering gender. She would “reconcile the concerns of those who identify as trans and those who are women” by excluding trans women from women’s spaces.

Rosa made a twitter thread describing the abuse, and the Daily Mail published it, with sympathetic commentary and her own words justifying her views. A much-upvoted comment said that if trans people were being harassed in this way the police would soon be arresting the perpetrators, which is not my experience. The police told me they could do nothing.

Rosa claims she has been “reasonable and respectful” in her expression of her views. I am not sure that is enough to avoid being objectionable. When she demands that I be excluded from where I am safe, when she claims I am a threat, it is worse that she uses apparently passion-free language, because that shows that she is cold and premeditated in her hatred.

I am glad Diva magazine is on my side. Their publisher was on Woman’s Hour, making a courteous, straightforward argument for inclusion, shouted down by a woman who said our rights were incompatible. When people fly-post stickers saying “Women’s rights are not for penises” they dehumanise us. I was so much more than a penis, even when I had one. That is a standard tactic for getting people to persecute a group, mockery and dehumanisation.

Trans and violence against women

I would normally be delighted to read an acknowledgment of “systemic male violence particularly towards women”. Men use their greater size to intimidate, bully, sexually demean and assault women. It prevents women reaching their potential. Not all men, of course, but enough to make it a serious problem, affecting all women and girls. Like trans women, cis women restrict where they will go alone because of fear of male violence.

And yet it comes in a document on gender diversity, which addresses issues around trans people, and says “We note that shared spaces such as toilets, changing and sleeping areas can cause anxieties and concerns for people. We believe that no-one should have to use shared spaces which do not feel comfortable to them… The usage of these facilities must be clearly defined and communicated and must offer choice for the individual.”

That is clearly stating that someone might reasonably fear violence from me, and should be protected from me.

The suggestion that I might be violent against someone is an extremely effective attack on me. The thought that anyone might be frightened of me distresses me: I want people not to be frightened, and especially I want not to cause fear. I want human togetherness and acceptance, and such fear would create distance and rejection.

Then, it is a threat. If I frighten people, or might be violent, that justifies defensive measures against me. I can be restricted to protect others. I know it is not justified, but those self-righteously protecting themselves or others from me may feel justified doing anything to hurt me for the greater good.

And it reminds me of characteristics I still think of as weak and unmanly, especially in this context. I know I am not violent, because I have considered the matter and thought of those times when I have been assaulted, even sexually assaulted. In a “fight or flight” situation, I freeze. It’s a primate thing, reacting to other primates’ dominance displays. I don’t hit back. “Unmanly” rather than “feminine”- I know women who resist.

In a document about trans people, don’t raise the idea that a way to deal with women’s fear of male violence is to exclude a particular group. We are at the bottom of the pecking order. If we went into women’s spaces to attack women, we would be found out, excluded, and paraded for mockery and vilification, which is so terrifying for us that only a very few of the most damaged of us might be tempted. I have no wish to assault anyone, I want consensual sexual practices. So the allegation that we might be dangerous in women’s space is like similar accusations against lesbians. As with any crime, we should assume that people are not criminal, then deal with those who are.

The document goes on to say, “We commit to continue our work in this matter, continually seeking new solutions to eradicate all forms of exclusion and to create safe space for all”. This just seems bizarre. It’s gaslighting. They might exclude me from women’s space to prevent women from feeling fear, but want to eradicate exclusion. Even justified exclusion? It’s merely confused. Will I be excluded, or not?

The Guardian has an article expressing it beautifully today: marginalising trans women at actual risk from regularly documented abuse /violence in favour of protecting hypothetical cis women from purely hypothetical abuse/violence from trans women in women-only safe-spaces strikes me as horribly unethical as well as repellently callous. Cis women might convince those trans women can’t reach.