…but we’re catching up, now. The sex-and-gender battles have complex roots, and too many people are still assuming it’s not their business. But please, fear not — behind the screeds of nonsense, is something straightforward and not hard to see, once you know where to look — a political stand-off on a policy issue, and a clumsy decision by a not-very-with-it MP.
It has nothing to do with anyone denying others the right to live, and express, as they wish. It has nothing to do with a section of our women suddenly developing an irrational fear of trans people. You don’t need waste time arguing about those things, because (as far as I know) outside the Trumpyest bits of the US, they didn’t happen. It has to do with this…
Back in 2018…
Maria Miller MP, as chair of the government’s Equalities Commission, was looking at GRA (Gender Recognition Act) reform. She appeared to accept without question Stonewall’s notion that the “sex” exemption in the Equality Act should be scrapped to facilitate “self-ID” for trans people.
A number of women’s groups had stepped up to point out that the sex exemption was the legal basis of the funding for women’s groups and services, and for sex discrimination cases. The women said that if you legalise “self-ID”, that is, the unprovable, subjective state of “feeling like a woman”, based on the idea of an internal “gender identity”, then ANY MALE can declare himself eligible to use women’s grants and bursaries, take women’s political and union roles, play in women’s sports, etc and so on. Because the idea is so intangible, if it becomes law in the suggested form, there are NO CONCEIVABLE GROUNDS for anyone to challenge an opportunist. Combine that with scrapping the sex exemption, and there would be no legal grounds for women-only services or facilities at all.
Can you see – please give it time – can you see that the women’s groups’ objection was not a judgement upon transwomen. It was nothing whatsoever to do with transwomen. What ever may have been thrown to and fro during the rows that followed, it was a comment on a poorly thought-out law-change with sweeping collateral consequences for women. That is all.
Nevertheless, Miller wrote off those women’s groups as “some people purporting to be feminists”, Stonewall cried “transphobia”, and ever since, groups like Stonewall have been calling their rash denial of sex-based rights “inclusiveness”, messing with the language, using “gender”, “gender identity”, “sex” and a million and one other handy words as smoke-and-mirrors until no-one has a clear idea what it is they’re arguing about. It seems their main objective has been to ramp up the notion that this political stand-off is “women v trans people”.
Because groups like Stonewall and Mermaids had access to schools and education materials (since around 2008) and feminist groups did not (why indeed should any political campaign groups have access to schools) many young people were taught only one side of all this, but everyone heard a lot about “transphobia”. Some of those kids put two and two together and, when they reached their teens, rushed to protest against any women’s group or meeting based on our existing legal rights, on the assumption that women’s rights activists are “anti-trans”.
What is really alarming now is that teens seeing transphobia everywhere and women getting used to defending their meetings from young “transactivists” now actually feel like two sides in a war, and the ubiquitous misogynists in our society are merrily stoking the flames at every opportunity, whilst a whole range of publicists with axes to grind are piling in regardless of their knowledge or otherwise of what’s been happening. In the background to all this, parents up and down the land have been fretting about what may turn out to be one of the worst cases of establishment-sanctioned child abuse ever.
It’s the most toxic red herring I’ve seen since the “left wing anti-semitism” wars in Corbyn’s Labour Party, and there is a real danger that years of crying wolf are creating genuine hatreds and fears that it could take decades to heal. It is not, however, “six of one and half-a-dozen of the other.” It is a deliberately created battle with a political objective (sex self-ID, and the notion of the “trans child”) which neither feminists nor trans people deserve the blame for.
It would seem I am a very terfy terf
Because I first came across this fabricated battle as a bullying issue, with misogynist males taking the “trans rights campaign” as an opportunity to send abusive messages to vulnerable women, because those males were kicking off at political meetings I was responsible for, because it reached the stage of drunken [expletive deleted] males hurling themselves at a vintage bus in our local Pride parade, yelling at feminist councillors, “terfs off the bus!” Because of all that, I came in “on the side of” vulnerable women. My existing trans friends who already knew me as a socialist activist had no trouble seeing that none of that made me “transphobic”. In fact, they told me they were upset and frightened by the whole sorry situation that Stonewall, Pride and other lobbyists for self-ID had created.
But for those who haven’t met before, or maybe don’t know each other well, encounters between the generations, and between transwomen and feminists, are now fraught with distressing tensions if this topic comes up, and anxious silence creates a perfect breeding ground for bullies and liars. That is the evil we have to try and fix, and we do it amidst a tide of misogyny.
What is this [expletive deleted] doing on a “trans rights” demo?
It’s not simple
It never is, is it.
God intended women to be timid, frightened creatures and there’s something unnatural about a woman who isn’t afraid.— Grandma Fontaine in Margaret Mitchel’s “Gone With the Wind”
There are women from all stations on the political sphere on this campaign, some are feminists, some are not. You can’t say what “the women” are like. They are like everything women can be. One or two women become popular symbols of the “startlingly unafraid woman” Michel evoked, go-to controversy-creators for media organizations such as GB News. One woman makes pronouncements on religious practices and other contentious cultural issues that stray over the borders into what many socialists see as racist. Socialist women get annoyed with her, because her relentless words facilitate the actions of misogynists (they can say they are attacking “terfs” because of racism). Some women criticise others for using outlets such as the Daily Mail or the Spectator when left wing media reject their work (because the opposition can then claim we are “far right” or even “fascists”). Chaos and tragic rows ensue. It’s not simple, is it.
Why do we see lesbian and gay people being hounded off Pride parades every year?
The police officer is absolutely right. The job of the police is to keep the peace. If the Pride marchers have been primed to shout at lesbians talking about same sex attraction, the easiest way to keep the peace is to kick them off the march. What then, is Pride, and why do local governments support it so eagerly – easy virtue points? At what cost?
And how do we interpret the fact that, in these places where lesbians get singled out and sent on their way, the police are so fond of wearing Pride’s colours? Should we see the police as pro-Pride, and thus anti-lesbian? It’s not simple.
That’s it. If you took in that much, thank you so much for reading. The rest is about the consequences of the above situation.
If you just know a lot of feminists are evil transphobes, please consider the fact that women are half the population so we do, in fact, cover all bases when it comes to opinions and attitudes. If your head is full of examples of behaviour by feminists that just prove we are violent, horrible people, please take a look at this…
…and if your work or your politics are concerned at all with the safeguarding of women and children, I hope you will read more on the topics of moral panic, victim-blaming, the weaponization of “transphobia”, sex-based oppression and the nature of misogyny.
I’ve looked at those issues in previous blog posts – please have a browse if you’re interested – try one of these…
Because the ructions of the last five years have made it even harder for women to work, and get paid for their work, please consider donating to some of those sites, or to the LGB Alliance, one of the organizations currently being challenged for various things related to supposed transphobia. I have a donations request at the end of my political blogs, but I ask that supporters please spread their gifts around. This is an important one…
Times are hard, and so the articles on this site are freely available but if you are able to support my work by making a donation, I am very grateful.