Excluded by inclusion

Mark Drakeford, captioned "and then I go and spoil it all by saying something stupid....."

Or: who will save us from nice blokes?

Mark Drakeford tramples on women’s rights

Wales Online reports Drakeford’s declaration that ‘transgender women are women’

Mark Drakeford is a nice bloke. He was a supporter of Jeremy Corbyn and, from his comfortable position as a white male with a successful political career, has a firm grasp on the idea that inclusion is always a good thing.

The Wales Online article linked to above reports that a Sennedd member had asked a question about trans participation in sports.

Drakeford said in his reply that his “starting point” was “transgender women are women.” He later said, “I do not understand the point that the member makes: that you can be too inclusive. To me, inclusivity is absolutely what we should be aiming for here…”

No Mark, that’s illegal. Here’s why…

Inclusion v exemptions

In the 1990s, Stonewall joined those lobby groups who, seeking to benefit from largely US-based, corporate virtue-signalling campaigns (which were being very generous with grants and funding) started adding more letters to LGB. The first addition was, as we know ‘T’. Quite a few people, particularly lesbians, raised concerns about this. L, G and B are clearly the same thing – they are about sex orientation. Everything else that has been added is about something else entirely and those with eyes to see, saw from the start that trying to advocate for such a mixed bag was liable to create conflicts of interest, but ‘inclusion’ carried the day, and so the organisation that had been the main fighting-force of gay liberation, became an advocacy group for… well, all kinds of people, especially those who attracted big funding pots.

The 2010 Equality Act, seen into UK law by Gordon Brown’s administration, was and is one of the best Equality laws in the world, in my view. First, it established the principle of equality (not inclusion, not everyone-is-everyone-else but equality of rights in law, employment and service provision). Having established that principle, it sets out nine exemptions for groups the government recognised as still having a way to go to gain equal access to benefits and services in this country. They are called ‘protected characteristics’.

Swindon council's depiction of the protected characteristics

Exemption, you may note, is the opposite of inclusion. Exemption says: these people have a particular problem to deal with, and because of the disadvantages they face, we acknowledge and protect their right to organise exclusively together, and to have their own specific spaces and services when they need them, in order to achieve the equality we aim for for everyone.

Someone please tell Mark Drakeford, and all the other nice blokes, this is the Equality Act explaining to you that you can be TOO INCLUSIVE, that the exemptions are there because sometimes, it’s necessary to make a DISTINCTION in order to be FAIR. That’s the law.

Corporate PR teams find ‘inclusion’ much easier to deliver than ‘exemptions’. If they bash on about ‘inclusion’, they sound jolly virtuous, and often successfully distract people’s attention from Equality Act exemptions that it would cost them money to comply with. Examples might be, whether they have made reasonable adjustment for disability, whether their employment practices are sufficiently involving local people, or poverty struck immigrant people, or black people, or members of minority religions; big, colourful, fashionable ‘inclusivity’ campaigns amount to self-promotion, with the added advantage that they can distract people from what happens to unfashionable over 60s in their organisations, people who are years away from their pensions but often, in the eyes of young, up and coming managers, ‘past it’.

“Transwomen are women” sounds lovely and inclusive, doesn’t it. But the only protected characteristic women can use to address sexism, agism, and the marginalisation of lesbians in the unfashionable end of Stonewalls’ interests is ‘sex’, and the “transwomen are women” (TWAW) mantra cuts right across that, with such efficiency that many nice people break the law in their attempts to be virtuous.

Thunder and lightning

Unfortunately, the unwise move of Stonewall et al, very quickly followed up by a massively well-funded ‘transwomen are women’ campaign from Stonewall (acceptance without exception, yes?) resulted in trans people being able to claim benefits, services, educational and political roles and bursaries under no less than three of the Equality Act’s exemptions: gender re-assignment (the one intended for them), LGBT (because everyone now thinks ‘sex orientation’ means lgbTQ+ and sex (because everyone’s going along with ‘transwomen are women’). Women, meanwhile, quake in their boots at the thought of invoking the one exemption they can use to set up services for their own, because the minute you say ‘women only’, you are up against the battle over how, and to what extent, we are taking ‘transwomen are women’ as gospel. Women’s spaces and services are disappearing daily.

Lots of lovely inclusive people are trying to think of ways of making sports inclusive. This lot are currently in the news, having scrapped ‘male’ and ‘female’ categories for ‘thunder’ and ‘lightning’ categories.

Note that in their instructions, they say that ‘cis’ people may not choose which category they race in.

That means, firstly, that they are among the extraordinarily large group of people who have not noticed, or do not care, that feminists, particularly older, lesbian feminists, find the term ‘cis’ offensive.

Secondly, it means males have the option to call themselves women and race in the category they can win more easily. Females have the option of saying they are men, and racing in the category they are less likely to win. (No females entered the ‘thunder’ category. Wonder why.)

You may have noticed, the organisation are crowing that they have now granted ‘equality of prizes’, something female athletes have been agitating for for decades. Alongside that, please notice that the new rules have yielded six paid prizes – first, second and third in thunder and first, second and third in lightning – and that, almost inevitably, five out of those six prizes went to males. Hooray for inclusivity!

The best most people seem able to do is argue about which of these males are ‘real’ trans people, despite the fact that Stonewall et al espouse self-ID, and instruct all their subscribed organisations to do the same, so the ONLY qualification for being trans is saying you are – how can a person not be a real one, under those rules?

There are, though, worse stories than the sporting ones.

I don’t want fantasizing males in women’s ‘coping with menopause’ groups. I don’t want fantasizing males in ante-natal groups. I most definitely don’t want male sex offenders in female prisons, and I absolutely most indignantly don’t want manipulative males in self-assertiveness groups for girls, where we aim to teach, among other things, self-defence against manipulative males.

But those things do happen, and those things and more are being demanded under the magic word ‘inclusion’.

Wet behind the ears

It’s not fair to point at people who are brand new in a job, newbies make mistakes, so I won’t say the name. Let us say, a new councillor in a pretty how-town makes a late-night Facebook post that smells of beer, with some broadly socialist declarations, well peppered with swear words. Number two was “No tolerance at all for anyone trying to make life more miserable, dangerous or difficult for our beautiful gay or trans sisters brothers and others.”

How could anyone object to such a declaration? And yet various message groups I’m in buzzed angrily, and I wonder if he’d ever get his head round why quite a lot of women (ungraciously, he’d probably think) instantly went off him. Here’s why: the main visible activity of the beautiful brothers-and-others groups in local councils recently has been all about the ‘problem’ of their being unable to prevent women talking about their sex-based rights. In that pretty how-town, a woman councillor was effectively drummed out of her role for rejecting the slippery mantra, TWAW, asking for reflection and debate rather than slogans. That call for reflection and debate is, in effect, what that new councillor has just declared ‘no toleration for’.

The main issue that should have been concerning councillors in that newby’s borough is that one, possibly two, older women lost their seats in the May elections due to dubious cries of ‘transphobia’. Those women, and their friends, might assume that lesbians, women and older people generally probably come under ‘others’ in that beery declaration but, most likely he meant non-binary people.

The vicious circle

The nice blokes and their well-protected female colleagues who’ve never needed to claim one of those exemptions in order to survive continue to confidently preach ‘inclusion’ to those who are not on safe ground, and make virtuous declarations that really, if we old fashioned feminists joined the queer theorists’ linguistic battles, we should be calling ‘dogwhistle misogyny’. It looks now as though they will continue to do so until the exemption for ‘sex’ has been trampled out of existence. Meanwhile, local gay guys figure significantly in those accusing women of ‘sour graptes’ if we talk about why we lose women councillors.

When the nice people make flamboyant, ‘nice people’ declarations such as Drakeford’s ‘transwomen are women’ and that local councillor’s ‘beautiful brothers, sisters and others’, they get bags of kudos at no expense to themselves. To women who’ve experienced the vitriol and the blocking we receive for standing up for rights that are less fashionable but actually contested, those people cease to seem nice. If women are careless enough to respond impatiently, the nice are completely confident that those women are being nasty. What’s worse is that trans people reading the women’s responses, will feel the anger and resentment there, and assume it is directed at themselves.

Meanwhile, in secondary schools up and down the country, schools preach inclusion and, by focusing around the nine protected characteristics, with a strong preference on the fashionable, well-funded bits, tend to make four out of nine declarations all about trans, often without mentioning girls at all. If our hard-pressed, harassed, oppressed, much maligned teenage girls miss the protection of single-sex loos and changing rooms, if they crave even two minutes out of a school day away from the male gaze, they are liable to feel guilty and cowardly for doing so.

Do we wonder why adolescent girls queue up in ever-increasing numbers for mastectomies and testosterone injections? Are we surprised if the messages they’re getting from the world have persuaded them that being a woman is not for them? And mothers and grandmothers grieve for them, and get very angry, and say bitter things to people who crow virtuously about ‘inclusion’, and that makes trans people think they are being attacked again, again, again…

Who then, shall we conclude, is causing the vitriol in that ‘toxic’ non-debate about trans rights v women’s rights?

Stroppy women , especially those unfashionable older lesbians!

What shall we do about it? Have a few beers with the lads, go on Facebook and shout about how inclusive you are!


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