They have called us everything under the sun. They have run to the bosses with slanders and tried to push us out of work, out of our unions and out of politics. They have called our campaign “transphobic”, and way too many commentators have called the clash between our women’s rights campaign and their #NoDebate response “culture wars”.
The most recent insult to women’s dignity and integrity was the Cambridge Dictionary people adding a class of males to its definition of women. You know, it’s not just these assaults on our rights, our status and our language that’s exasperating, it’s the complete lack of any rational response when we try to discuss it. The latest example is the brainless reply to our complaints, this “fact-checker” claiming that they didn’t change the definition, they just added something – yes – men. Thus making “woman” meaningless. And as saying “adult human female” is now, we are told, provocative and unacceptable, how the Sam Hill are we supposed to talk about ourselves at all?
The Special Rapporteur
Yesterday though, in the Scottish Parliament, we received a brief moment of blessed relief. Reem Alsalem, the United Nations special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls got a few minutes to talk to a Scottish Parliamentary Committee about Nicola Sturgeon’s determination to impose sex self-ID on Scotland (bear in mind that, after months of telling women they’re transphobic if they say sexual predators will use this new licence, Sturgeon admitted last week that they might but it doesn’t matter because lots of males wouldn’t do that – or something – I forget the exact excuse.)
Anyway, in a rare and wonderful breakthough of rationality, Alsalem was there to tell the Scottish politicians that sex self-ID has no established basis in international law, that it is “logical and legitimate” to tread carefully when changing the law around issues that give access to a vulnerable group, such as women and girls, that there is nothing strange or cruel in wishing to impose safeguarding measures, that for safeguarding to work, the rules have to apply to all concerned but that doesn’t mean all are being accused of being rapists. (Oh lordy how many times have I been told I’m accusing trans people of being sex-offenders when I call for safeguarding for women and girls?)
She made it nice and clear, so that any listener with a brain (oh, please let there be some) would understand that it’s not normal, to give people an unexamined legal right to declare that they are something they are not, and that it’s not weird, to apply safeguarding measures to everyone in an institution – the example she gave was that if you apply safeguarding measures in a police station, it does not mean you are calling any police officer a rapist – you are simply making safeguarding normal practice. It’s a normal, logical preventative (and one self-ID campaigners are determined to call “discriminatory” and “stigmatizing”. They never say it in so many words but what they mean is that to be “inclusive”, we must always make an exception for trans people, we must not apply safeguarding practice to anyone who says they’re trans).
Alsalem also confirmed that there is an unresolved conflict between the claims for sex self-ID and the Equality Act provisions based on sex, and that that had consequences for women’s current legal right to single-sex spaces and services. She said this is not “a zero-sum game”, but that Scotland should not rush into accepting sex self-ID without studying and resolving those issues, including investigating the reasons for women self-excluding from services. Oh my goodness, I was in raptures by this point. We have been saying this for YEARS, and getting nothing but abuse in return.
It’s been hard on women
I’ve never been very good at diplomatic language but oh, I can appreciate an expert at work. She didn’t say “why the effin hell did you not talk to me sooner,” she just thanked them for letting her speak “at this late stage”. Nor did she say that it’s blindingly obvious they pushed this through by doing a consultation and only paying attention to the organizations that had been cajoled into agreeing with self ID, she just said there were women’s groups who felt they had been ignored.
Then came the nemesis for the trans cult … I say this because our opposition is not trans people as a group – there are plenty of trans people who agree with the women’s rights movement, it’s the queer theorists, such as this stuttering wreck we see trying to argue with Alsalem (see – I am not good at diplomatic! – I mean such as Maggie Chapman MSP), who just comes straight in with the emotional blackmail line about “culture wars”, and “intolerant and stigmatizing intercourse”, and “toxic political and public discourse”.
She’s underlining that trans people have a hard time, with a clear indication that the blame for this lies with women’s rights groups but, oh glory, Alsalem comes back and says yes, it’s been hard on women, being lumped together with those who oppose abortion rights etc etc. She makes clear we are doing nothing more blameworthy than asking if our traditional cultural and legal rights, which exist as a mitigation against the discrimination we face as females, could please be taken into consideration.
Thank you, Reem Alsalem. There was a collective sigh of relief from women across the country when you said that – I was nearly blown out of my chair by the strength of it – just about every other time, every official, politician or whoever presented with that emotional blackmail has responded by piling on the stuff about what a hard time trans people have. We know life is hard for non-conformists! Especially women who are lesbians, and or feminists – we have never denied that, and we are infuriated by the way this long-running emotional blackmail strategy has been thrown at us so yes it’s been endlessly hard, seeing it used as a reason to shut down feminist activists.
The limits to freedom of speech
That is a topic we’ve all debated a lot in recent years. As Reem puts it, the dash to condemn any women speaking up for their legal rights has left “no space for their freedom of expression” – but what does Chapman come up with in response? That freedom of speech exists “up to a point where it doesn’t impinge on the right of other people to exist.”
This has been the last straw for me in non-debate after non-debate all down the years. How long ago was it that Kathleen Stock stood up in a meeting and said “yes, I know transwomen exist – I’ve seen them.” The claim that saying sex matters amounts to a denial of trans people’s existence is such a stupid argument. Ironically, it’s a difficult charge to refute in live debate precisely because it’s just so illogical. Saying sex exists and matters does not, in any way imply that trans people do not exist – in fact, the reverse is true. As transwoman Blair White put it “if I wasn’t male in the first place, I wouldn’t have had a reason to transition, would I?”
If you’re still having trouble with the idea, try this: can a woman — a person born female — be a transwoman? No, she can’t, because she’s a woman already – there’s nothing to “transition” to, or to “self-identity” as. Only males can become trans women. If sex did not exist, if sex did not matter, then trans people would not, could not, exist. Sex does exist, and does matter — therefore trans people can, and do, exist. We know they exist.
The argument should be how do we accommodate people’s desire to do something they used to call “changing sex” without putting women and girls at risk? That is the debate we have been denied, because people like Chapman claim that a) feminist activists are denying trans people’s existence and b) that suggesting deregulation of sex-change is a risk to women is transphobic (although I suppose they’ll drop argument b now, as Nicola Sturgeon admitted recently that there is a risk.)
Of course, one of the problems with rushing into legalising sex self-ID is that it negates the possibility of sex-discrimination cases. Think about it – how could you defend a sex-discrimination case where the concept of sex has been reduced to just what someone says they are? What if someone starts saying they are the other sex now, halfway through the case?
And if there’s anyone out there who still doubts this whole sex self-ID thing is an attack on womanhood, please take another look at that Cambridge dictionary example I posted above. There simply is not an army of activists out there trying to de-fang the word “man”. The NHS still manages to talk about men when they do publicity campaigns about prostate cancer – who cares what trans men feel when they’re reminded they don’t have a prostate? – but when they talk about female afflictions such as cervical cancer, they carefully say “people who have a cervix”, and “pregnant people” and so on. It’s only women who face that.
So lets all raise a cheer for this unique appearance the Spirit of Christmas Rational, and finish with some more pics of the wonderful Reem Alsalem speaking truth to government. Let Solstice celebrations roll — with love and solidarity from this irrepressible, socialist, feminist blogger, whatever word you might attempt to use to describe me…!
Make Merry, sisters all, here is hope for the New Year ahead!
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