Johann Lamont and Forensic Medical Services

Is there any place where a cis woman should be able to insist there is no trans woman, or is that transphobic? What about a medical examination of a victim of sexual assault or rape?

The medical examiner might have to take a semen sample from inside a woman’s vagina, or examine her internally for injury. The woman has been violated, and so is in a vulnerable state, possibly disconnected from her body, or flinching from touch. Should she be able to insist that the examiner is a cis woman?

In Scots law generally there is no distinction made between gender and sex. Both the Equality Act and the Gender Recognition Act use the words interchangeably, and after my GRC the GRA confirms that both my gender and my sex are female. The Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2014 allowed a woman to choose that the forensic medical examiner should be a woman, by saying the victim could choose the “gender” of the examiner.

Transphobes campaigning against trans rights have sought to create a distinction, saying that transgender people change our gender, that is, our presentation and our conformity to stereotypes, but not our sex, which is based on genes, gonads and genitals. I still have a Y chromosome, so they say my sex is male. Then they say I should be expelled from women’s spaces. This would change my life. I have been in women’s spaces for decades.

The purpose of the Forensic Medical Services (Victims of Sexual Offences) (Scotland) Act 2021, which came into force on 20 January, is to allow victims to seek a forensic medical examination from the NHS without needing to report the crime to the police. I would have hoped such a change could be made administratively, by changes to police, NHS and court procedures, but it was a Bill, taking months to get through Parliament.

Johann Lamont MSP introduced an amendment into the draft Bill, to change the word “gender” in the Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2014 to “sex”. She imagines that now, victims can specify that they want a cis woman, not just a woman.

I am not sure what practical effect that has. I want a woman to be able to get an examination where she is, in Ullapool or Lerwick as well as Edinburgh, ideally without an examiner being flown out from the city. But then, the examiner has to be able to stand as an expert witness in the High Court of Justiciary. I have no idea how many people are qualified to perform such an examination, and whether any of them are trans women.

Johann Lamont, that is, used a Bill designed to benefit victims of sexual abuse to enshrine discrimination against trans women in Scots law, and form a basis for an argument that there is a legal distinction between “gender” and “sex”, so that there could be further discrimination in future.

She does it from a clearly transphobic position. She signed the Labour Transphobes’ Declaration and said at the time

I have fought all my life along with my sisters in the Labour and trade union movement to ensure that women’s voices are heard, that our needs and rights are addressed, to end the inequality women face and to change women’s lives. The progress made by women has come from women organising together and refusing to be silenced. That is as necessary now as it ever was.

To characterise demands to exclude trans women as “addressing women’s needs” is deeply transphobic.

When the amendment went before Parliament, there was a disgustingly transphobic article in The Scotsman. The delusional transphobe hack who wrote it claimed that “women are fighting for the very right to exist”. That’s paranoid. She wrote, “Women and girls the world over are mutilated and murdered because of their sex, not because of gender stereotypes such as lipstick and high-heels”. Trans women are assaulted and murdered because we are trans women. She diminishes our very nature to the fetishist whim of wearing high heels. She sets cis women against trans women. It is one of the most transphobic rants I have seen. She quotes Lamont saying,

Women should be able to choose the sex of the person who conducts the investigation. This is a key test for the Parliament, which is committed to rooting action in the understanding of experience. Women courageously and powerfully spoke up so that others might fare better than them. The amendment is tiny but would be a huge step in listening to survivors. The committee was convinced. The Parliament should be too.

“Listening to survivors” means excluding trans women. Speaking up courageously means demanding that trans women be excluded. It is a horrifying paean in praise of hate.

I am not sure whether a trans woman should heed the desire of such a victim to have a cis woman examiner. It may just be my internalised transphobia suggesting that could possibly be reasonable, that the trans woman should stand aside. But, unquestionably, the motive for the amendment is transphobic hate. Transphobic hate now has an entrée into Scots law.

TERFs off duty

Who are the anti-trans campaigners? What are they like, when not posting exclusion and dehumanisation? On facebook, I could just trade the usual lines with them, but instead I clicked on their profiles. I am not doxxing- kudos to anyone who finds the source of the pseudonyms I give them. The Green Party of England and Wales shared a simple meme, “Trans rights are human rights” on a trans flag background, and the hate commenced.

Abigail is an actor, who lives in Brisbane. She shares tourist photos of her in Europe. She obsessively shares articles attacking trans rights: her two latest public shares are an attack on Joe Biden’s allyship, and a claim that autistic trans people are not really trans, both in the Times. She claimed that that meme alone would stop her voting Green.

Catharina lives in Portland, Oregon, US. She coined the term “album-ination” to mean a record which was unfairly trashed. She refers to trans women as “men who wear women’s clothes”, but “respects that plants are living beings”. She accused the GPEW of trying to silence women, and warned it would make those women more keen to shout their transphobic hate, though that’s not how she put it. Brisbane? Portland? The GPEW? They clearly trawl facebook for anything supporting trans rights, so they can join a pile-on.

Annestine is 63. She went to Beverley Girls High School, and studied at the University of Sheffield. She created an image to “celebrate Pride” by imposing a rainbow on a picture of poppies. She donated to animal-free research, and an animal rescue centre. She fearmongers about “male bodied people in changing rooms”.

Someone commented on the length of the thread. “It’s driven by a business model that incites rancour”- well, yes, because that drives engagement. He got 41 replies, including Eleanor’s comment about the “cotton ceiling”. Eleanor’s other obsession is Remaining: her profile pic says she’s “Still European”. She shared a photo of graffiti, saying “I dream of you in COLORS that dont exist” and a vile transphobe “joke” tweet. She crocheted a gorgeous, complex blanket.

Olympe called the GPEW post “woke nonsense”, and said people are leaving the Party because of this. She is a freelance classical singer and singing teacher, a member of Jewish Voices for Labour and anti-Zionist. She also supports Extinction Rebellion.

Ann lives in Tewkesbury. She shared a cartoon showing Covid as a tidal wave about to engulf Westminster, but dwarfed by Brexit, which was in turn dwarfed by climate change. I agree. She has photos of countryside, and sheep. Her other visible posts are hateful, mocking transphobe images, including one of a trans woman’s penis.

Madeleine likes Jeremy Corbyn and does not like NHS privatisation. However everything else visible on her profile is transphobe. She obsessively repeats the mantra “adult human female” as if it meant that trans women do not exist.

Dorothea shared the quote “Let this radicalise you rather than lead you to despair”. I love that quote, though I would hope pushback about trans rights would make her see sense. She is a young woman who supports Labour. She self-justifies by claiming trans exclusion is “asserting boundaries”.

Jane is a lesbian from Buenos Aires. She shares cute puppy photos marked “buenas”. She also shared a tweet from “Assigned angry at birth” claiming “lesbian is female same sex attraction”, as if the most important thing for lesbians was ending trans rights.

Sarah claims trans people “hate women”. She is from Seattle. She is “Anti-Q, wanted for thought crimes”. Her profile picture is the photo of Bernie Sanders in mittens.

When they’re not obsessively campaigning about trans, they “love to hear the little brook a’gurgling, and listen to the merry village chime”. I share fbfnds with some of the haters. If I could meet and talk to them, we would find things in common, maybe even like each other. They get into anti-trans campaigning from a desire to protect vulnerable groups, or to stand up for themselves, which I could admire if it were not perverted in this way. Coming from all over the world, they plot together to go on any public post saying positive things about trans rights, and flood it with hate.

Some pages are using that to get clicks. They post a simple pro-trans meme, the haters pour in, and their page gets more attention.

Joanna Cherry

Joanna Cherry is a transphobe, attempting to spread hate and fear against trans people, and particularly trans women.

She tweeted a photo of Pride-marchers, who have signs reading “Fuck TERFs” and “No more TERFs”, writing, “It makes me very sad. #Pride was never about #Hate. I marched on my first #Pride in London 30 years ago. It was diverse. Inclusive. This #misogyny is destroying our movement.” It was reported in indy100. Objecting to TERFs is not misogyny, because it is opposing harmful action: TERFs are identified by the harmful things they say and do. Continue reading

TERFs on display

When trans-excluders write for a general audience, what do they write? In their bubbles, there is no downside for being more and more extreme, but when they interact with people who do not share their peculiar obsession, they might put them off. Do they care?

Tracey, a transphobe, objected to the use of the word “cis” on a facebook group which still has trans members. Someone asked what the problem was, and someone else said “you must respect the right of others to use” the word. So far, so reasonable. Tracey wrote,

cis is a word that’s been foisted upon women to distinguish adult human females from transwomen. It has the impact and effect of making women a sub category of our own sex class. It is made-up nonsense that is supposed to mean people like me – women – have a ‘gender identity’ which matches the ‘gender’ we were ‘assigned at birth’. Well, like each and every one of us, my sex was observed and recorded at birth, not ‘assigned on a whim, and as I don’t have a gender identity I don’t see how I can be happy that something I don’t have matches something I wasn’t assigned in the first place. I’m a woman, not a subset of female. These words matter because they change perceptions of who we are.

That is, very quickly she went full extremist. Her gender was assigned at birth when she was given a pink Babygro and adults started talking to her differently. Hannah says “cis” is ordinary language, and got abused as “science denying Trump like folk”.

Alison says, “If I hear somebody talking about the different experiences of black women and white women, I don’t have a crisis because I’ve become a ‘subset’!” Unfortunately she is piled on, with many responses.

Cassie says, “I am an adult human female. And gender is not assigned at birth either.” Sigh. I would far rather be referred to as a “woman” than “adult human female”, but she gets 32 Likes. Indigo gets 42 Likes for saying “women’s fundamental rights are being undermined yet again”.

Rita, who is Bi, says “Why are so many straight CIS people so up themselves?” Kim, a phobe, scores a point by asking “You accept, therefore, that trans activists don’t have the right to tell other people to define themselves as “cis”?” That needs answered. Some people, formerly, objected to being called “straight”. They might prefer “normal”. It is the same way of marginalising trans as was used against gay people.

Geoff, in his late fifties, says “Just mentioning the word ‘gay’ was a nightmare when I was a kid”. He gets piled on- language is used against women, “trans is a belief, like religion, tagging themselves onto the end of LGB”. One tries to appear reasonable- “I have non binary and gender fluid friends”- not realising the echoes that raises.

For Kim, we are “heterosexual men claiming to be lesbians”. She refers to a trans rapist who was imprisoned for fifteen years. For Fiona, alleging that a trans woman is a woman is the same as asserting that the Earth is flat- objectively false. That was part of a pile-on: one sane comment, with five people making ten comments shouting it down. I observed that “science recognises the existence of trans women, in all cultures over millennia”, and had a smaller pile-on, with phobes liking each others’ comments.

The males who want to identify as women Are so domineering in their insistence..That all people have to agree with them..This behaviour is very Male -Testosterone driven…
This is why many women do not want them in women safe spaces..

There’s the hate. We don’t matter. “I wish Trans women all the best” does not make a difference. But, do people who don’t care particularly see the hate in that comment?

Saira said, “So-called ‘T*RFs’ don’t really help themselves by being as rigid as the more extreme end of Transactivist… we need to find a way to live with both options being valid”. She says TERF is a “slur”, she’s trying to find common ground, but that does not prevent a pile-on.

What do they write? They write the same tedious drivel, the same swivel-eyed obsessions, that they write when they are alone. I just wish there was more sign they put others off.

Kathleen Stock: Can you change your gender?

Philosophy professor Kathleen Stock OBE apparently does her job, here, addressing the philosophical questions What is reality? and What do words mean? She gives five putative ways in which one might change gender, and says it is impossible in three of them, but sometimes possible in two, though she says whether that is desirable is a separate question.

So where is it not possible? If “gender” is simply a synonym for “sex” meaning which of two sexually dimorphic reproductive roles one fulfils, Prof. Stock claims you cannot change sex. I am not sure this is so. Stem cells can become any cell of the body. Why could a trans woman’s stem cells not be used to create ova with her genes? If this is not possible now, I am sure increasingly expert attempts at it could be made until it was done. Uterus transplants are possible- Lili Elbe died of organ rejection after one. It is at least theoretically possible for a trans woman to bear her own child, certainly possible to bear one not produced from her ovum. Your reproductive role is only important when you are reproducing, that is, for very little of human life. A woman with five children who dies aged twenty has spent 3/16ths of her life reproducing, and she is an outlier. A trans woman could certainly adopt the social role of mother.

Theoretically if not ethically you could change reproductive role, a possibility Prof. Stock does not even dismiss. Perhaps she imagines it is not possible. She instead addresses the question of people with differences of sexual development, DSDs, changing sex. She says they are classified as having one of the two sexes, based on “an attempt to do justice to a pre-existing biological state of affairs.” Many of these people are infertile. Some with XX CAH may be assigned male, and this paper indicates that assignment is based on likely “satisfactory social and sexual function” as adults- in other words, whether they will be happier, rather than mere biology.

The example of DSDs shows that we are assigned a sex even when we are infertile, or have aspects of both, and therefore our “sex” is not simply a matter of reproductive role but social role. Prof. Stock admits “So, for instance, you don’t need to possess all of the ‘female’ sex characteristics to count as female”. Her statement that “However, you do still need to possess some of them” is mere unjustified assertion.

Her second meaning of gender is the stereotypical characteristics imagined by culture to be normal for men or women. Her examples are quite unattractive, even negative, and that may indicate she disapproves: “in many cultures males are supposed to be strong, ambitious, competitive, repressed, aggressive, and logical; and females weak, domestic, self-effacing, emotional, passive, and kind.”

Trans women might never imagine we are women if we did not more clearly fit the feminine stereotype. She says we can’t “change the cultural fact that such characteristics are deemed abnormal for your sex by others”, but we can indicate we are trans women, and people will be less shocked by our femininity. She says we can’t change gender as “sets of normative stereotypes applied to sex”, but this is unduly rigid. Most people are aware of trans people, and many tolerate us. Trans allies may generally think feminine stereotype character unfitting in a man, but see a trans woman and accept it in us. Our character need not make us “abnormal” unless you think transition is unacceptable.

Prof. Stock moves on to “socially constructed sex”, and says that can’t be changed either. Here she discusses Judith Butler. Sex is culturally constructed. For Prof. Stock to be right, society needs to reject the concept or possibility of transition. “Trans women are men”, she believes, and thinks others do too. However many people say “Trans women are women”, and for them, we change socially constructed sex.

For the other two definitions of gender, Prof. Stock admits you can change gender.

If womanhood is a matter of social role, a trans woman can be a woman. This is gender essentialism, some idea that real women fit the stereotypes. Prof. Stock really does not like this idea, and I don’t either- I observe that many people are gender non-conforming, and want them to have the freedom to be themselves, without enforcement of gender. But she admits that we can change our gender in this sense. We do this if people accept the concept of trans woman.

From what Prof. Stock says about sex, it appears she is a realist, believing that there is an objective real world, which may perhaps in some cases be knowable. Not all philosophers are, some are “idealists”. However, if you are a “realist”, you should accept that this “real world” includes trans people. We are in all ages and cultures. We are documented in Deuteronomy. In the Roman Empire, the priestesses of Cybele were trans women. To deny the reality of trans women, you have to say something like “I don’t like it therefore it doesn’t exist”, which is more an Idealist position.

Trans women exist, therefore we have changed our gender.

The fifth definition, where she says we may change our gender, is gender identity. She does not like the concept, and her distaste shows in her attempt to define it: “quasi-mystical”, “a set of feelings” rather than the most important thing in a person’s life, and “a final resort in severe cases” because one should try very hard to “alter one’s self-conception”. Gender identity is the one way gender does not change, such that we have to alter everything else to fit it.

So Professor Stock was not doing her job very well. It is almost as if she had the answer she wanted- her final four words are “the answer is no”- and made up the argument to fit.

This article is published on Medium, and also in The Philosopher, the journal of the Philosophical Society of England. That goes to show that transphobe academics can publish transphobic articles in journals, and the Free Speech hysteria is just that. A pity her argument is so poor.

Art today from Constance Gordon-Cummings.

Kathleen Stock and LGBT conversion therapy

Is there a problem with free speech in universities? No. Kathleen Stock, OBE, professor of philosophy at the University of Sussex, is the great hero of the trans-excluders, yet she has published little academically on trans rights. She prefers sites like thearticle. She argued there that Stonewall’s definition of conversion therapy was illogical. Here it is:

Conversion therapy (or ‘cure’ therapy or reparative therapy) refers to any form of treatment or psychotherapy which aims to change a person’s sexual orientation or to suppress a person’s gender identity. It is based on an assumption that being lesbian, gay, bi or trans is a mental illness that can be ‘cured’. These therapies are both unethical and harmful.

Prof. Stock imagines an AFAB person aged 14, who is aware they are attracted to “women (or at least, to females like her).” It seems Prof Stock thinks lesbians are incapable of unrequited love for straight women. If they were some heartache would be avoided. M, whom Prof Stock gives a female name, has dysphoria, which Prof Stock claims is “an unconscious response to the social imposition of sexist and heteronormative stereotypes upon females”.

Prof Stock’s argument that the therapist cannot avoid some kind of conversion therapy is this:

If [M’s] self-diagnosis (‘I’m a boy’) is questioned by the therapist, the therapist can be construed as failing to affirm, and so putatively ‘converting’, a trans child to a ‘cis’ one. If, on the other hand, [M’s] self-diagnosis is affirmed unquestioningly, the therapist is effectively failing to affirm [M] in a sexual orientation of lesbianism; something which also looks like conversion by omission.

Orientation conversion therapy would entail attempting to make M attracted to men. It is objectionable because it disapproves how M is attracted, and attempts to change that. It can’t be changed, but the attempt can hurt the victim.

Rather, Prof. Stock imagines it is about words and descriptions. M’s transition would not stop them being attracted to women, but, Prof. Stock says, it would stop her being a lesbian. They are the same person, with the same attractions, but because the words used to describe them change, Prof. Stock thinks this is conversion therapy. However, if M is trans, rather than confused, M has never been lesbian.

M’s nature is not changed. A therapist might legitimately explore M’s gender dysphoria, to assess whether transition is appropriate, but need not change M’s nature at all. It would become conversion therapy if M could never convince the therapist they were trans, and the therapist insisted on making M happy to present female. It would not be conversion therapy if M was not trans, and the therapist helped her discover that.

Prof. Stock can’t quite believe in trans men, even though she is obsessed by them. Her description of M assumes M is really lesbian. But no conversion therapy need be attempted here. The therapist wants M to be happy and well adjusted- so does not attempt to change their orientation or their gender identity. Therapists never affirm trans self-diagnosis “unquestioningly”. They challenge us.

If Prof. Stock really is the main anti-trans campaigning philosopher, one would expect something better than this. Prof Stock has not been unable to publish transphobic rubbish in academic journals not because it is transphobic, and there is some problem with her freedom of speech to utter transphobic ideas: the journals have not published her because her ideas are too silly.

The work of the Scottish artist Gertrude des Clayes has recently come out of copyright.

Kathleen Stock

Professor Kathleen Stock, OBE, gave a talk calling for the drastic reduction of academic feminism. Though she barely referred to trans rights, her talk only makes sense if you realise she considers its acceptance of trans people renders academic feminism worthless.

She says academic feminism is not feminism because it is “no longer directly concerned with women and girls”. That feminism says nearly all differences between men and women are social and cultural constructs. She calls respecting trans and nonbinary identities “anti-feminist and anti-intellectual”. She claims people who believe in cis privilege deny any claim cis women have to political attention: as if they did not think male privilege important at all, never objected to it, and did nothing about it.

She says academic feminists cannot “easily” discuss menstruation, or properly talk about the objectification of girls, because they use language which includes trans men and nonbinary folk. She seems to disapprove of academics “working in the name of justice rather than simply documenting or explaining things”. But academics cannot simply document, because justice or injustice is advanced by where they pay their attention. Prof. Corinne Fowler reporting on slavery links to British wealth acts for justice merely by describing, and is passionate about attacks on her right to so act. Ethics is the philosophical attempt to define justice: without philosophy, we cannot improve our understanding of what is right, and so our work for it is impeded.

Stock’s definition of “liberal” is wide. It includes a “dream of objective universal values”. I would call that “Enlightenment” rather than “liberal”, which refers to freedom, even though “freedom” can be defined in so many different ways, some the opposite of others. Stock talks of “neoliberal” universities. Neoliberalism is about the absence of restriction by government, freedom to make monopolies and despoil the planet. It is far, politically, from trans inclusion, which requires government action to promote equality.

I don’t understand this criticism. “Academic feminists are still likely to think of themselves as uniquely well-placed to see what ordinary women cannot, via their superior rational capacities and quasi-technical methodologies.” Surely that is the point of academic study? If you devote yourself to knowledge about a particular subject, you will understand it better than someone who does not.

She wants a “post-liberal feminism”, free of all this.

It should recognise that women have different interests from men because of sexual dimorphism and heterosexuality. Men are stronger and more aggressive than women, and desire them sexually, and this causes “huge suffering” in women. Of course. She claims academic feminism “takes away the words of women to say this”. She does not say how. It is left to the audience to infer that she means, by promoting trans inclusion. But feminism also needs to address male privilege, which she does not mention, the cultural tendency of both sexes to show women less respect and attention than men.

She wants a recognition of “femininity”. Feminism should work to eliminate gendered ideas and practices which negatively affect the well-being of women, but always recognise the value those ideas have to those women who are attached to them: she recognises mere condemnation alienates those women, and achieves nothing.

I like that bit, and it’s the part most widely mocked. Someone quoted her phrase “The goal of feminism should not be equality”, out of context. Roz Kaveney tweeted that Prof. Stock was “replacing freedom and equality with ‘well-being’ which she can’t define”. That is no criticism: Prof. Stock says feminism’s purpose is defining it.

Well-being seems a pretty clear word to me. As Prof. Stock says, it has physical, mental and spiritual aspects. Different people have different ideas of well-being, which may be more or less “feminine”.

The most important thing when considering femininity is that there is no characteristic, emotion, virtue or aptitude which is not equally valuable in both sexes, or which only applies to one sex (apart from role in reproduction). True freedom is the ability to develop ones capacities to the full, however “masculine” or “feminine” they are, even when they contradict social stereotypes. Some women want a large family, and accept Complementarian gender roles in order to nurture it: feminism must wrestle with that reality.

My feminist friend, going to university around 1970, told me she could not understand how compliant the other female students were, and because women like my friend are particularly oppressed by gender stereotypes they may be particularly drawn to feminism. That makes feminism’s response to homemaker women more fraught. Outside universities, there are women’s groups which fit homemakers better, others which foster radical feminism. These groups will simply be at cross-purposes unless academic feminists can make some sense of the issues.

Prof. Stock finds feminism outside the Universities best able to define women’s well-being. “Collectively groups of women and girls can work out what is conducive to their well-being, or at least what clearly isn’t.” Perhaps she is thinking of Ovarit, or the trans-obsessives of Mumsnet. When “many spheres of value are still dominated by men, others by liberal elites, and nearly all by capitalism” she admits working out well-being is difficult. Fortunately, among ordinary women as well as academic feminists there are many trans allies. There is no feminist aim supported by all women.

Ordinary women might not need academics to tell them that “choking during sex” is harmful, but academics might find how prevalent women being aroused by it is, or women consenting when it arouses men, or how, legally, consent to strangulation as a defence to a charge of murder could be treated. Considering what questions are most useful to ask, or how best data might answer them, is a peculiarly academic skill.

Prof. Stock says academic feminists should help grassroots feminists achieve their aims, through data collection, not claim to know better about “ontological or moral reality”.

Prof. Stock’s rejection of academic feminism, and feminist ontology or ethics, makes no sense but for her rejection of trans inclusion. If there is any other grassroots feminist issue which academic feminists oppose overwhelmingly, please do say.

Prof. Stock’s transcript is here. It is clear she got her OBE for hating trans people, and advancing Tory nationalist aims. There are too many equally eminent academics who have not been so honoured. It is because she would get rid of academic feminism. She believes any value academic feminism has, is vitiated by trans-inclusion. This assigns far too great a weight to trans inclusion, and finds it uniquely damaging. It is clearly transphobic, that is, an irrational fear reaction.

Her talk, and others from Res Publica, are on video here. A long detailed refutation of Stock’s poor argument, mendacity and transphobia is on Praile.

Tweets and reality

Is Eddie Izzard a lesbian? It depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.

Some words have precise meanings. A zoologist plying his trade would not call her a “cat”, meaning the family Felidae or the genus Panthera or Felis. But you might see her moving on stage with feline grace. She is not a planet, because that has a clear meaning- Pluto was, then it wasn’t- but she is a star. She may be a hepcat- I knew slang, I thought it was 1960s, two words, hep for fashionable, cat for cool person. Words are slippery. Even scientific words have fuzzy edges where they may or may not apply.

Eddie says he’s a lesbian in a man’s body, and is that a good thing? A lesbian is a woman attracted to women. Homophobes find that weird, shameful or disgusting, and mourn the time when more people shared their opinion. If Eddie calls herself a lesbian it’s aspirational, something he wants to be. It becomes something to be proud of.

It’s only a bad thing if it forms some sort of threat to lesbians. The Times argues that it is, that lesbians are erased. Grace Petrie tweeted that if the transphobes were concerned about lesbian erasure, they might start a regular lesbian life column. No, because they only support lesbians in order to attack trans folk. The Daily Mail even supported a trans woman, once- to attack Muslims.

Insisting on too rigid a distinction between lesbian and bi might be biphobic. Trans women are women, so trans women attracted to women and not men are lesbians. If you think that’s a threat to lesbians, please explain why.

Right now, there are things to be angry about. The extreme incompetence of the British government has led to a sudden lockdown, when we can only go out to work if it is impossible to work from home, no more than two people can meet outside in a public place, and all the shops but pharmacies and supermarkets are shut. Schools are shut, but even on Monday 4th the Department for Education had a high-level meeting insisting they would be open, and children would be regularly tested for covid. So schools, without additional funding, have had to plan a testing regime, only to find now they will have to implement distance learning, with no notice. The hospitals are full, but infections have continued to rise, which means people will die who would have survived had they received proper medical care. Bizarrely, churches can open for worship, though many run food banks.

So, the usual suspects stir up anger against trans people instead. Jackie Doyle-Price, Tory MP, tweeted anger at Eddie calling herself a lesbian. Rosie Duffield, a Labour MP who should know better, liked the tweet. Tories, being English Nationalists, need to stir up hatred against enemies. Duffield has no such excuse.

Duffield also liked a tweet about a transphobic picture book, “My body is me”.

Bodies are different. Children are too.
Some prefer pink things. Some prefer blue.

That might be seen as reinforcing gender stereotypes in the most basic way. The book, which is unavailable on Amazon, shows children with “girl” hairstyles and “boy” hairstyles.

My body can act like a low flying plane
A mermaid, a dragon, one part of a train.

The plane- a boy walking, with planks strapped to his arms. Why low-flying? I stuck my arms out, no planks needed, and yelled NEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAOOOOWW. I was definitely high flying. It doesn’t set much store by child imagination. The mermaid is clearly a girl. Rigid gender stereotypes, again.

You are born in your body. You don’t have a spare.
So love it, hug it, treat it with care.

“My body is me” might be materialist, denying the existence of an immortal soul, so distressing Christians, but “You are born in your body” is denying the truth of trans children. Most children simply won’t understand, they won’t know what the alternative might be, but the five year old AMAB child who knows she is a girl will learn in the most direct way that she is not acceptable as she is, and has to keep quiet about it. Most children are cis, so will be unaffected. Some are trans, and will be traumatised.

Pink News reported, and quoted Duffield’s response- “click bait non story sourced solely from the weird world of Twitter” which she inhabits.

Duffield is doing the Nationalists’ work for them, spreading hate. It is deeply hypocritical of her to say that the pandemic and Brexit chaos are more important issues.

Should we respond to the phobes? Arguably not, it just gives them oxygen. Trans people spending too much time looking at this may become depressed. Haters will be encouraged to hate more. On the other hand, Duffield is doing Tory work, supporting Tories, and spreading hate in the Tory interest, so the Labour Party should take action against her.

Eddie Izzard

Ask not, how can we be tolerated, but, how can we be ourselves?

Eddie Izzard has not changed her name, or even her pronouns. Eddie has been going on stage in makeup and blouses for years. In 2016 she started referring to himself as a “transgender man”, confusingly, as “trans man” means F-M, saying “I’ve got boy genetics and girl genetics”. In December she was painted on Sky Arts “Portrait artist of the year”, and referred to with she/her pronouns. Trans people were delighted. LGB All Liars sought a bit of publicity by attacking her. However she kept her male name, and did not change presentation particularly. She is not trying to “pass as a woman”.

Then she got in the news again, in the Telegraph, Evening Standard and Pink News, when she said JK Rowling was “not transphobic”.

I don’t think JK Rowling is transphobic. I think we need to look at the things she has written about in her blog. Women have been through such hell over history. Trans people have been invisible, too. I hate the idea we are fighting between ourselves, but it’s not going to be sorted with the wave of a wand. I don’t have all the answers. If people disagree with me, fine – but why are we going through hell on this?

Rowling finds inclusive language for trans men offensive, and rants about “trans activists”. She is literally transphobic. If you consider “transphobic” a uniquely condemning word only to be used for the most extreme transphobia, it is just possible she is “not transphobic” in that sense.

I don’t know which loos Izzard uses.

The path for trans women is well trodden by now. We seek a diagnosis from psychiatrists, then hormones and surgery. We transition, changing our name and presentation, to clearly coded-female clothes and hair. We call ourselves women and use women’s spaces. Eddie doesn’t. She uses pronouns interchangeably, and clothes sometimes masculine, sometimes feminine, sometimes a bit of both. I don’t know whether they seek any medical treatment, and it’s up to her whether he does and whether she speaks about it. Binary transition is OK, and being nonbinary OK too.

He says he’s a “transgender man”, and I say “trans includes nonbinary and gender-queer”, so that is accurate. He does not say he is nonbinary, he does not want classified or explained at all. Instead he behaves as if gender is this great, glorious playground and he can play in all of it not just half of it. They are a comedian! They provoke and entertain! They also like publicity.

Trans people are a battleground for the authoritarian nationalists and the oligarchs manipulating them. Nationalists need enemies. The Critic had a go again: “male transgenderism is sexism on steroids”, yawn. No-one should have any fun, everyone should be normal, and anyone not obeying these rules is an Enemy of the People. If the authoritarians can manipulate feminists to attack us too, they can undermine feminism as a bonus.

The trans excluders want us out of women’s spaces, but that would not satisfy them. If we left, they would want us to stop using women’s names. In our angry, frightened world, people will attack trans folk. We are the low status people anyone can pick on. Eddie says Rowling is “not transphobic” and the news exults and trans people wring our hands. Chill, people.

We will not be tolerated. All we can do is be ourselves proudly.

One problem is people claiming there is only one way to be trans, and others should follow their lead. Transmedicalists do that. I would rather Izzard had not defended Rowling, but it is one raindrop in the blizzard of hate we face. It does not mean Izzard is an enemy, I hope.

Be kind

A message for the last day of 2020: be kind to the anti-trans campaigners. Be kind to everyone, all year round.

This has been a hard year. Right now in England, with a new variant of Covid apparently 56% more transmissible than the original, the disease is spreading even where non-essential shops, pubs and restaurants are closed, and the schools will be closed for at least a week after the holidays end. We are a long way from herd immunity. The hospitalisation rate is as bad as any time in April, and while the death rate is generally less as there is hard-won expertise in treating Covid, the hospitals are full. The economy is shrinking, people are isolated, hurting, and fearful.

The death rate, 981 in the UK recorded on Wednesday, is likely higher because of delays in reporting over Christmas, but still frightening. In Milton Keynes, 1.5% of the population, over three thousand people, tested positive in a week.

Consider the anti-trans campaigner. She may have been in an abusive relationship. She will know women who have. She suffers unwanted pressure to have sex, and it is likely she has been assaulted, perhaps raped. In feminist spaces she meets other cis women and feels commonality and solidarity. And then, something happens and she feels alienated by trans women.

It is unfair that someone might be offended by one trans woman, and hostile to us all ever after. When someone compares trans women in women’s space to “poop in soup,” she is clearly using us as a symbol of all the causes of all she has suffered at the hands of men. Her anger is disproportionate, and may be hurtful to vulnerable trans women. If you are likely to be hurt by such things, avoid the places they are said, and be sure to drain every drop of nourishment from all the acceptance you receive. There are horrid things on line, but there is so much human love and acceptance.

Reacting in the same way will do little good. It hardly even relieves your feelings. Be kind.

I feel intense sadness that anti-trans campaigners, who are often far from gender stereotypes, should be pitted against trans people. Joining in the anger on line only inflames it, in the world and in myself, and can only add to my hurt. Remember that hard-right individuals and publications seek to pit us against each other to disrupt solidarity, and should be resisted.

I wrote this after my first visit to Ovarit to read their comments about me, pondering a second, when I read Ky Schevers’ thoughtful posts on retransitioning, after detransitioning into the gender critical community. People are confused and hurting. We should not be fighting. If a trans person tweets the Ultimate Putdown to some gender critical tweet, remember the person on the other end could be someone like Ky. Enough people are bullying us, and we should not bully each other. We need to make our “We” bigger.

I had that second look. They really did not like me looking at what they were saying about me. There is so much hurt around.