My right to my feelings and perceptions

He told me that “Look mate, I don’t know if you’re a man or a woman” is not clearly objectionable. He explained that I have quite a deep voice. I am glad Tina reacted to this with incredulity: it helps me value my own view. If I go up to a man and say something unrelated to my trans status, and he responds with that, he is saying that I am a weirdo (his tone of voice emphasised that, but the phrase shows it). That is only relevant if he thinks it means I do not deserve his respect.

I tend to hope that line is generally seen as abusive. However, the bland denial has a purpose: to show that my response was objectionable. I am reduced to the plight of William Brown, saying “I was just statin’ a fact”- often, William is. If I proceed, I will face more denial of facts seeming self-evident to me. It is destabilising for me when someone asserts 2+2=5, but fortunately we do not have to agree on all facts, and no-one has a cage with a rat in it to hand.

In mindfulness practice, I develop self-respect. I am clearer about my judgment and my feelings. I have a right to both. This does not mean that I will not take another’s perspective into account, but that I will not merely submit to it. I will exercise my own judgment.

Whose feelings and perceptions matter? When we want a common understanding (which is often reassuring) how do we reach it?

She said, Is this going to have a unilateral application across all diversities? Should it be essential for everybody to have a self-respect which is impervious in order to be part of these meetings?

No, I said. I meant that I desire the equality of others. Now, I think it helps to know different perceptions may coexist. Those things I resent about H- I was thinking of saying, possibly she couldn’t have done anything better- I actually said, anything else. I don’t want to enforce my idea of “better”. Better for whom?

This is humility! Why does it appear arrogant to others?

-I have great strength as well as terrifying weakness.
-Of course: and also great weakness and terrifying strength.
-Terrifying for whom?
-Other people, who don’t expect you to have it? Human beings are a marvellous mess of paradoxes and dichotomies and conundrums and everything else-

The mercurial organismic self responds unpredictably because it responds to the actual situation it perceives. Its perceptions may be incomplete or inaccurate, but it continually reevaluates them. Unfortunately part of the situation is the self-concept’s need to believe certain things about itself. The self-concept is a great burden to the organismic self.

How can you be a square peg in a round hole? It’s difficult. It may be sustainable for a time but not permanently, eventually you revolt. Or you might manage it if you know what you’re doing, or perhaps if you appreciate the needs of the hole. It’s not wrong, it’s just different.

-At the moment you are strong. YM did you good. I am curious about what your isolation means for you?
-I refuse to surrender belief in possibilities.
-There are eejits in every gathering of human beings. I wish they were more clearly marked.
-Well, we just have to open our mouths, you know.

I get knocked down. But I get up again…

In the actual situation, I wrote:

I feel anxious about being late. The way I respond is self-soothing behaviour which actually makes me more late. When I start getting ready I will feel my anxiety and hurry. Or despondency (which I feel now) around not measuring up. This lessens my energy and motivation.

I want to meditate on feelings, but I have to go. I am putting down the burden of my feelings, and picking it up in a different way. How do I know what was going on in that situation? Well, it seems reasonable. I can’t know that the people making the decision knew what I knew. I thought they did, and it made them do what they did. But possibly no-one reported to them, and they didn’t ask.

I was stressed, then, and again arriving late, so that I even thought of giving a long elaborate explanation of my feelings and how they affect me, but decided that’s a big excuse to be saved for another time. My lateness, less than five minutes, is noticed and possibly hinted at but not commented on directly, and I don’t apologise for it.

Human relationships are difficult!

Graham Linehan

Graham Linehan will no longer be posting transphobic tweets, he claims. His Medium post explaining why summarises many of the transphobic and idiotic arguments put by the transphobes. So I will answer them.

Linehan objects to trans people having surgery. He quotes transphobe Kristina Harrison, saying children are being medicalised with inappropriate, irreversible treatments. However he also objects to trans people not having surgery: “current ideology dictates that you don’t need surgery or hormone treatments to be trans”. He repeats the old trope of “transsexuals” not benefiting from self-ID, and claims that because some trans women parrot these tropes he cannot be transphobic: “they are the wrong kind of trans to some”. Perhaps he has never heard of internalised misogyny.

Where to start? So who benefits from this? Who is feeding the furnace? Not transsexuals, many of whom are watching with horror as the rights they do have come under threat from such nebulous concepts as self ID, and are labelled ‘truscum’ for opposing them. No, there are, it seems to me, four groups that benefit from the toxicity around this topic: predatory men, con artists, misogynists and fetishists. It is in their interests and their interests alone, that none of us can have a grown-up conversation about this subject.

The few trans folk who agree with him are the good people, and all the trans people trying to live our lives are the bad people. The “transsexuals” are the people who have the surgery and hormones, from the threat of which he wants to protect children. Every trans person who disagrees with him must go into one of those four heads. Many of us are living full time, having had surgery or seeking it, and on hormones, but he still dismisses us as “misogynists and fetishists”. The “predatory men [and] con-artists” are wholly fictional. A man can barge into a woman’s loo without bothering to dress up, dressing up to disguise yourself shows premeditation so is an aggravation for the purposes of sentencing, and most cross-dressers cross-dress in private, so where are these people?

There are a few chaotic individuals who show signs of being trans who commit sexual offences; and Chris Langham is a comedy writer just like Graham Linehan, who was imprisoned for possession of child pornography. I judge Linehan on his transphobia, and do not imagine he is a paedophile, just because he shared that characteristic.

He wants to protect children from medicalisation, and cannot distinguish a referral or psychological treatment from hormones and surgery: “Why are children being sent down a medical pathway?” Well, because when a child is clear that they are transgender, or they want to present cross-gender, it is good for that to be assessed. Is there some underlying mental health problem? Can a psychiatrist discern whether the child will want to live transitioned as an adult?

A child psychiatrist told me that much of his work is treating the parents. Often, toxic family dynamics manifest in abnormal behaviour by a child; Linehan claims “whistleblowers” at the Tavistock clinic say homophobic parents try to transition gender non-conforming children. This is the system working: the children are referred to the clinic, which diagnoses that they are not trans.

Should children be medicalised? The hatred of such as Linehan, calling us fetishists, drives us to prove ourselves, and one of the ways we can show we are serious- even to Linehan, who might deign to call us “transsexual” if we never disagreed with him- is to seek hormones and surgery. 60% of those seeking treatment as adults want surgery.

There is no magical essence called “gender” that can be “born into the wrong body”, he says. I agree. Yet we exist, and the somewhat confused Linehan admits that “transsexuals” exist. We do not vanish in a puff of logic. Even though he can criticise some of the words we use to explain the inexplicable, we exhibit this behaviour. I no longer explain it by “gender identity”, myself, I believe that I transitioned because of not fitting gender stereotypes- sexism and patriarchy made me do it. I am gender critical too; and yet the thought of reverting revolts me.

He imagines that transition, or “gender ideology”, is fashionable. I must admit I also rather naively hoped a few more high profile people might join in and help make those like myself and the ‘gender critical’ women and trans people I support feel less isolated. That never happened. Has he not noticed The Times, The Spectator, The Daily Mail, and a host of smaller yappy dogs, all pumping out transphobia? The Guardian has printed some horrible articles. I could not understand such blindness, but having observed it in so many Trans-obsessives like Linehan, I think they like to imagine they are on the Left and so want affirmation from people on the Left, such as Jeremy Corbyn and most female Labour MPs, who are trans-affirming. Perhaps they experience cognitive dissonance- the rabid support of Murdoch, Koch and others shows their cause is a hard-right one, not Left-wing as they desperately assert.

Or it could be that in the heat of the conflict he is in a fight or flight situation. He only notices the threat. All the support they get does not seem to matter so much to them as the condemnation. That’s the lesson trans people can learn from them: don’t obsess over the condemnation, notice all the support we have. Thank God most people don’t care.

The importance of disagreement

Trans rights are held back by trans women working against them. I’ve just seen that one of them has written of me, Clare and I disagree on some issues but I suspect we agree on many others. Yes; but right now our disagreement matters more.

The most important issue in the struggle around trans rights now is the involvement of the hard-Right and far-Right. The Heritage Foundation works incessantly against women’s rights, even when it funds feminists. Its desire is a world run in the interests of the rich, where only the rich are free. I have changed my mind about my advice to Julie Bindel– she should shout this from the rooftops. The aim is to set left-wing trans women, and left-wing feminists, against each other so that we consume our energies and do not resist the hard-right.

“Gender-critical” campaigning against trans rights had been a mainly British phenomenon. The persecution in the US was from the hard-Right. Trump pleased his base with a ban on transgender troops. But now there is a “Declaration on Women’s Sex-Based Rights” which entirely bizarrely suggests that the threats to women’s rights are surrogacy and transition.

On the re-affirmation of women’s sex-based rights, including women’s rights to physical and reproductive integrity, and the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and girls that result from the replacement of the category of sex with that of ‘gender identity’, and from ‘surrogate’ motherhood and related practices.

What are the most important feminist issues? Worldwide, literacy and education must come pretty high; in developed countries, the gender pay gap affects most women; FGM; bodily autonomy, and access to family planning matters everywhere; I would argue even the number of women on the boards of the biggest multinational companies is more important to average American women than a few trans women.

The declaration argues, the concept of ‘gender identity’ makes socially constructed stereotypes, which organize and maintain women’s inequality, into essential and innate conditions, thereby undermining women’s sex-based rights. Rubbish. Transition only affects trans folk, not anyone else. I have no interest in other women behaving in a “feminine” way if they do not want to.

There was a launch in New York last Friday. Jean Hatchet may have revealed the funding for that.

I can see that if “femininity” does not fit you, you would feel irked, angry or hurt for someone to doubt you were a proper woman. For centuries women have been attacked as unfeminine, as bluestockings, for being too clever. Yet the heart of “transgender ideology” is the idea of gender identity, the knowledge at the heart of me, before any justification, that I am a woman. Therefore any woman can define her own womanhood. We are not the ones doubting or circumscribing your womanliness. All we do is assert our own. It would not affect women’s rights if even 5% of women were AMAB, but 0.1%?

I agree with them. They are women. Any time they want to talk, or find how we are natural allies, I am open to that. And I disagree. They are being set against their allies by their enemies, and the ridiculous self-justification they use for imagining attacking trans people is left-wing, principled, or against stereotyping of gender is utterly wrong.

And, what do I agree about, with that trans woman? I would like some accommodation with gender-critical feminists. What do I disagree? I condemn her utterly for writing for the Spectator. It is a right-wing rag. Yes, it’s nice to get your name on a well-read website, but not worth. betraying all you should hold dear. They want to criticise the prosecution by the prosecuting authorities of someone for doxxing a trans child, or pretend there is some “free-speech” issue around putting forward a view trumpeted in The Times four times a week, or even argue that trans women are not women. They are your enemy, and the enemies of all feminists. Yet you publish there, undermining everything you might want to achieve as a union activist, or even as a teacher. And these “feminists” undermine feminism by diverting feminist energy against trans women. I am with John Major on this- it’s time to “condemn a little more, and understand a little less”. Debbie Hayton: stop self-harming, and stop betraying feminism.

Sympathy for the anti-trans campaigners

A thread on a site where anti-trans campaigners go asks them how they started with that campaign. It has over six hundred responses, and the personal stories are fascinating. Why would people invest so much time and energy in trying to evict 0.1% of women from women’s spaces? Why do they spend so much time on line, radicalising each other, nursing their wrath to keep it warm? There is qualitative evidence there, and I hope serious research is done to draw some conclusions from this archive. Meanwhile, here are some quotes and stories. Continue reading

Phantom Fears

Looking at the transphobes, you would think trans women outnumbered cis women. There’s now a Women’s Human Rights Campaign seeking the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and girls that result from the replacement of the category of sex with that of ‘gender identity’, and from ‘surrogate’ motherhood and related practices. It’s now sharing worldwide- three British transphobes are off to New York to speak on the matter, and try to increase the hatred of trans women in other countries. Perhaps the Koch brothers are paying, again.

0.1% is my estimate of the proportion of people who transition. This is a lot less than the 1%-odd that Stonewall estimates. How long does it take to see a thousand people? Consider the poor transphobe. Walking down a city centre shopping street at noon, she might pass a thousand people in a few minutes. Her eyes are drawn to the trans person, because she is overly sensitive to trans people and her brain always picks them out. But, they’re walking in the opposite direction, they don’t notice her, and probably their existence has not ruined her life, or even her day, unless their mere existence provokes her to dwell on how much she hates trans women.

I clock other trans women occasionally, but not that often.

In loos, it must be very rare. You are in a queue with five ahead of you, and when you get to the front there are three behind and two washing their hands. It’s a one in a hundred chance that one of them is trans. Most loos are not that crowded.

So women’s rights are not particularly affected by trans rights. The obsession some transphobes exhibit is completely disproportionate to their actual experience of trans women. The experiences which make them think about us is almost entirely moaning on-line about us, and reading others’ moans. For example:

I had no idea what was going on with the proposed changes to the GRA, etc in my own country. Well, of course not. It does not matter to anyone but that 0.1%.

Eventually looked into [trans issues] and shit my pants! I’ve been peaking daily ever since. But it’s what she reads, and the message-boards she goes on, that “Peak Trans” her, not real life experiences.

What about this one? My next experience was with a lecturer at the University who transitioned from mtf. They were very sweet and gentle and their joy at transitioning was quite touching. Never made any move to colonize women’s spaces, didn’t get stampy about accidental misgendering. No problems. So, the actual trans person she knows, she likes. It’s all the others she reads about that are so awful. Several of them say that Caitlyn Jenner being some magazine’s “Woman of the Year” was the thing that made them obsessive (sorry, they say “Peak transed” them): 32 out of 500 mention Caitlyn in one thread. Most of them don’t mention personal experience, it’s always just something they’ve read.

It is a right pain when they say they met a trans woman they didn’t like. Oh, brilliant. So now they judge us all, because every trans woman obviously has every bad characteristic any trans woman has ever been accused of. How any of us are outside prison I don’t know.

Of course, the same applies to us. We read about transphobia all the time, but encounter it a great deal less. Let us shed our phantom fears. We meet transphobia in real life very rarely.

Antisemitism and transmisogyny

Vocal prejudice tends to be right-wing, with the exception of prejudice against trans women and Jews. Many people who would think of themselves as left-wing, and hold some left-wing opinions, are happy to speak their prejudice against both; so trans women can learn from Jews about seeing where prejudice lies. People on the Left can be sexist and racist, of course, paying less attention or respect to women and people of colour, but tend not to express racist and sexist views. When they express antisemitic or transmisogynist views they are working in the interests of the extreme right, dividing the Left and chasing mirages.

So it is worth reading Understanding Antisemitism by Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (click for pdf) which starts with a picture of Muslims in solidarity with praying Jews, and ends with a picture of Jews in solidarity with Muslims at an “Iftar in the streets” after Trump’s Muslim ban. The Right seeks to divide people, possibly because they are incapable of understanding life without out-groups; solidarity is our answer. That is why I want to learn about antisemitism, and stand against it.

I have seen antisemitism shared by a Labour member, against rich elites exploiting workers, but painting those elites as Jewish rather than merely rich. There are rich Jews- in 2015, 11.6% of the world’s billionaires were Jews, and 1.7% of millionaires- a bigger proportion than of the population as a whole, but a small proportion of the very wealthy. More than half the world’s millionaires identified as Christian.

Aurora Levins Morales skewers this: Racism is like a millstone, a crushing weight that relentlessly presses down on people intended to be a permanent underclass. Its purpose is to press profit from us, right to the edge of extermination and beyond. The oppression of Jews is a conjuring trick, a pressure valve, a shunt that redirects the rage of working people away from the 1%, a hidden mechanism, a set up that works through misdirection, that uses privilege to hide the gears.

Unlike racism, at least some of its targets must be seen to prosper, must be well paid and highly visible. The goal is not to crush us, it’s to have us available for crushing.

By redirecting rage against oppressors onto Jews, the rich escape democratic oversight and proper taxation. The tactic of the Right is to divide us. In the same way, some trans people are prominent, such as Caitlyn Jenner, and thereby a focus for hatred of trans women, which is then generalised. We could be allies working on genuine feminist concerns, and instead we are sniping at each other. Caitlyn is not celebrated because she is Trans, but because she is a former athlete and connected to the Kardashian family- she is a celebrity. It is not quite the same: prominent trans people tend to be writers, speakers, actors, celebrities, and George Soros is a billionaire funding progressive causes such as the People’s Vote campaign in the UK, but both are privileged and targeted.

I saw a post writing about women murdered by partners or former partners, with legitimate emotion, then phobically turning that emotion on trans women: while men kill women that they know at the rate of over 2 a week, all the energies of the women, like me, who stand up for these women and fight for these women are being focused on fighting against men for the right to define womanhood and all that entails. It would be legitimate rage against feminist energy being diverted from true feminist concerns to an unimportant matter; but rather her rage is against trans women.

Legitimate criticism may shade over into prejudice and phobia. We should criticise violence by trans women, but it should not be over emphasised. Tara Wolf committed an assault, but it was not newsworthy. JFREJ say We must criticize Jews who support the oppression of Palestinians on the same terms and by the same standards that we hold for all oppressors the world over — we are enraged because of what they do, not by who they are.

JFREJ say Jews fear that the State of Israel is all that stands between them and a new Shoah, but eschew the argument that claims of rights for Palestinians which would make the State of Israel no longer Jewish are antisemitic. I disagree. I consider that Jews born in Israel have created a right to stay in a Jewish state. The existence of Israel gives a measure of protection to Jews, who are subject to prejudice and have been for millennia. And trans women are safer being treated as women, rather than if we were tolerated dressing as we do but expected to be treated as men.

Their account of internalised antisemitism may help understand internalised transphobia. Many trans women try to make men of ourselves before transitioning, and still fear we should be manly or that our femininity is weakness. But internalised phobia does not manifest itself in the same way in all trans women. JFREJ reports that even where Jews are safe, such as financially secure Jews in American cities, they can be aware of the history of antisemitism and so that safety feels precarious. Even when mostly safe, we are continually made aware of transphobic incidents and transphobia in the media. They call on Jews to work against white privilege, and trans women should be feminist.

Jennifer James

Jennifer James took seven thousand pounds entrusted to her for a court action in others’ interests, and applied it to her personal debts. When found out she said, “I know it was less than ideal promise not to borrow again. Desperate times call for desperate measures.” (Update 60). Later, she said (Update 68) “I now get that this was more serious than I thought. I understand I was trite about it. I have since heard that some people were stressed and worried about it and that is entirely my fault. At the end of last week I got very stressed by a creditor’s actions and I panicked and made a bad decision. That’s not an excuse that’s an explanation.”

Then she wrote, I feel bad because you all put your trust in me and I fucked up. I also know that for a few loudmouths I can do nothing right and, to be honest, that’s a ‘you’ problem not a ‘me’ problem. But carry on, whatever… Well. Oddly enough, I agree with her here. Yes, she fouled up. And, that does not mean she should never be trusted again, or that what she has to say should be ignored. In the well-worn phrase, more used by Tories than Labour, I would rather have her in the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in. I understand that people who object to her suing the Labour party may crow at this evidence of her untrustworthiness; and trans people, as she is suing to prevent trans women getting on all-women shortlists, but generally I am against trump cards, the idea that one mistake shows someone need not be listened to ever again, or one argument is valueless. Trump cards are a way of stopping thinking.

James does not show great self-understanding. She complains she has been expelled from the Labour Party, and shows some of the evidence used against her. She has made slurs against the Jewish Labour MP Ruth Smeeth, which are not just antisemitic but reek of conspiracy-theory: “Ruth Smeeth is literally working hand in hand with Right Wing Power that is her purpose: that’s why she was GIVEN her position.” And she has said pretty horrible things about trans people, probably more than she has reproduced here.

The real reason why she should be opposed by anyone on the Left is that she proposes to sue the Labour party about trans women, rather than to pursue her goals through democratic party channels, as if trans women were the only important political issue rather than unseating the Tory government, whose risking no-deal Brexit is the most harmful single Tory act against the population of the UK since the General Strike of 1926. With NHS privatisation, or benefit cuts, trans rights should not weigh on the scale. Now is the time for all good folks to come to the aid of the Party (Google tells me that was a learn-to-type exercise, rather than a quote from Trotsky).

Many of these donations of £10 or so may come from individual women on the Left of politics in the UK, but many are anonymous. I am sure Robert Mercer or American hard-right organisations would like to cause trouble on the Left, using this issue. As I type, £29,750 of £40,000 has been raised, but only £100 in the last five days.

Having shown herself untrustworthy, James should find someone else to manage the fundraiser. Who is to say she will not take more money out? Was it just luck that it was repaid the same day? Better still, she should shut it down. No political issue is worth weakening the Labour Party right now, with the threat to the country from Tory power.

Using a crime

Katie Dolotowski ambushed a ten year old girl coming out of a toilet cubicle. She pushed her back into the cubicle, saying a man outside would kill her mother. However the girl punched her in the face, stomach and groin and ran outside.

This is chaotic and wicked behaviour. The intent was a sex crime: Dolotowski told her intended victim to remove her trousers. I completely understand the mother being angry that Dolotowski was released into supported accommodation and ordered to work in the community. However I also understand the sheriff court sentence, and the sheriff has had reports to justify it. She has been in care since she was three, and has mental health problems. Not everyone with mental health problems who has been in care commits sex crimes, the mother pointed out, but as she is 18 the sheriff may believe some rehabilitation is possible in supported accommodation which would not be possible in an adult prison. Dolotowski had just come out of a young offenders’ institution. The offence took place in March last year, so possibly some time in the YOI was spent remanded in custody, which would be taken into account in sentencing.

The intent was a serious crime, and Dolotowski has culpability for that, but sentencing also takes into account the harm done, even though the harm was less because of the courage of the child rather than any action of the panel. Being generally against imprisonment and for rehabilitation, I am not going to be more or less liberal just because the criminal is trans.

Most sexual assaults go unreported in the press, but there was some excuse for the Dundee Courier, a nearby regional paper, reporting the sentencing on 1 February. The bravery of the child and the anger of the mother made it newsworthy, for a regional paper.

There was no excuse, however, for the Times reporting it on 6 February. Eleven million adults in the UK are survivors of contact and non-contact sexual abuse. The Times reported it because, while she was given her correct name in court, Katie Dolokowski had been in a YOI for boys. She is trans. The Times reported a “gender critical” campaign group which has had a twitter account for six months, and a website marked “©2019”, complaining about the offence. Had they done a vox-pop, they could have quoted someone equally notable, though perhaps only anti-trans campaigners would think the accused’s trans status was relevant.

Most people who are not Trump supporters would see that the fact that a US citizen died in a car accident with an immigrant, even an illegal immigrant, does not mean that immigration is bad. Yet The Times believes they can use this ridiculous yet disgusting crime against all trans people, or they would see it is not newsworthy, six days later, in a national newspaper.

It is not newsworthy, unless you want to campaign against trans people. Restricting the rights of trans people will not reduce the crime against women and girls in Scotland or elsewhere. The Times wants to tar all of us with the same brush, and incite hatred against us.

A similar game was played by the Daily Star, whose website does not carry its admission that it had no basis for its story that Ian Huntley, who murdered two young girls from sexual motives, was trans. It had claimed Ian Huntley had got a blonde wig and wanted fellow inmates to call him Nicola. “Ian Huntley would like to make it clear that he does not own a wig and has never asked to be known by any name other than his own”. Here’s a tweet saying that even though Huntley is not trans, people should still fear trans people as sex criminals. Pink News quotes tweets using Huntley to inflame fear against trans women. No, we should judge sex criminals, whether they be cis, trans or Scottish.