“This is the year our collective righteous bloody-minded refusal to shut the fuck up finally broke the impenetrable wall of ‘no debate’” – Jane Clare Jones on Twitter, 31st Dec 2021 Click here to read the whole message.
So we have won the right to have the debate. Now, we need to win the debate.
Let’s set the terms of the debate
Have sympathy for the young folks who were sold the repressive ideas of gender identity and ‘born in the wrong body’ misfits. Have a bit of respect for their ‘non-binary’ get out clause. We do need to (gently) explain to them that their instinct is right, but that it’s nothing to do with sex. Personally, I think the idea of a gender-neutral pronoun is a good one but not sure ‘they’ will stick, as it’s illogical in the setting of our (largely non-declining) language. If the grammar of your verb doesn’t tell you about case, gender, plurality and so on, you need words that do.
We have successfully reached the government over this, and they have laid down guidelines which, if parents and teachers keep pushing, will get the worst of the misleading ‘education’ out of schools. (Here’s the relevant directive, and an analysis by Transgender Trend of recent changes. )
Have sympathy for the people we used to call transsexuals, people like April Ashley. There aren’t many of them, you know – most are male, most are people who made a full medical and social transition, and attempted to go about their lives without interfering with anyone else’s rights, legal or otherwise. In 2004, they won the Gender Recognition Act – a messy bit of legislation, made by politicians who, if you look at Hansard, didn’t really know what they were talking about. They left some fluff in the works, but nothing that can’t be sorted out when the yelling finally dies down – it did at least solve the problem transsexuals had back then, before same-sex marriage was legal.
The GRA was followed by the Equalities Act 2010, which gave specific protective rights for transsexuals (under the exemption for ‘gender reassignment’) and for females and males as a sex class (under the exemption for ‘sex’). Again, there’s fluff – including lots of surrounding texts and directives with conflicting assumptions and definitions but you could be forgiven for thinking that that solved the big issues, and just left a bit of clearing up to do.
So what’s the problem?
The GRA was not good enough for a lobby of mature males attempting to muscle in on all things female. Mature males, manipulating the situation to change Equalities Law and societal practice to suit themselves, had no regard for the safety, well-being or self-respect of women and girls, let alone GRC-holding, integrated transwomen. That’s the issue.
It’s not all about males?
It’s true, there are females who want women’s rights dismantled in the belief it will help them ‘live as men’. I think they need to think again. Take prisons, for instance. There’s been a lot of noise about our legal system granting males identifying as women ‘the right to socialise with women’ in women’s prisons, but very little traffic in the opposite direction. This is because trans men hardly ever get placed in male prisons. It so very obviously isn’t safe. Your average sex-offender, in his male prison, simply is not going to say ‘oh look, there’s a person with a vagina but I’ll leave her alone because she says she’s a man’. It cannot, and does not, happen. Trans men, just as much as those of us who are happy to be women, are safer in a world where the law understands sex-based provision.
So: The debate so far
First, they touted the idea of ‘self-ID’. Some years ago, the public at large grasped that this was being used to ‘let in’ males who had not transitioned at all, and the public did not like it.
So they stopped talking about ‘self-ID’, and started talking about ‘gender Identity’, but we still weren’t allowed to actually debate it…
“I feel like a woman” “I was born in the wrong body”
TRA (Trans rights activist): I have the body of a male, but the mind of a female.
Feminist: but what do you mean when you say “I feel like a woman”? As a woman myself, I feel like someone whose life has been shaped by female biology – by female puberty and reproductive processes, by the danger of rape and the possibility or actuality of pregnancy and child-rearing, and by all the assumptions society makes about me because of that.
TRA: You can’t understand the feelings of another human. You must just accept that I feel like a woman.
Feminist: but if you can’t understand the feelings of another human, how can you possibly KNOW you feel like a woman?
Feminist: Look, I’m not intolerant. I’m not stopping you living your way. Dress how you want, call yourself what name you want, get a GRC and call yourself a woman if you must, but leave us the spaces and services we ourselves have fought for, to help women and girls get through all the consequences of female biology.
TRA: Shut up, transphobe.
“There is no conflict between trans rights and women’s rights.”
Dying like flies
TRA: but why are you obsessed with trans people? It’s men who harm women.
Feminist: yes, that’s why we are defending the Equalities Act provisions which are based on SEX. Men, you see, are a potential danger because they are MALE.
TRA: What about transwomen? Transwomen are more oppressed, and in more danger of violence and murder than any other group.
Feminist: how dreadful! Could you show us some evidence of that?
TRA: look, here we all are grieving on Trans Day of Remembrance.
Feminist: grieving for who?
TRA: Shut up, heartless terf.
(To be fair, it’s rarely trans people of any variety having these arguments. TRAs appear to be a small group of very noisy students and their even smaller group of older, mostly female, admirers, bulked out on Twitter by endless armies of semi-anonymous males who like being rude to women. Their apparent clout is down to the scurrilous actions of Stonewall and the many organisations who use Stonewall’s approval as a substitute for actual virtue).
After monthsnmonths of the kinds of conversations shown here, Stonewall gave up their #NoDebate position, and offered up CEO Nancy Kelly to talk it through on the radio. According to commentator Jane Harris, it went like this…
“We pass, therefore we are.” and “I wasn’t happy as a male, therefore didn’t benefit from ‘male privilege'”
Women have been making our case on blogs, in any magazines or papers that would take our work, for years. (Lo-o-o-o-ong years.) As have the other side, in separate articles. But it’s only really in the last few months that attempts at debate have appeared much in print. Where they do, the example in the Winter Special edition of Prospect magazine is typical. Under the title ‘gender wars’, “a lawyer and a philosopher respond to seven propositions”, transwoman Robin White and Kathleen Stock lay out their respective cases.
Stock explains that “humans are a sexually dimorphic species”, states that the idea we can “change sex” is a fiction (in law, it is what is known as a “legal fiction” since the GRA 2004). She also demonstrates understanding of, and sympathy for, those who do transition, as well as explaining the many reasons why sex matters.
White spends a large amount of the page-space listing all the things he’s done which he believes make him look like a woman, and presents this as the main reason he deserves to be treated as one. (NB most women do, and always have, accepted that, socially, and will use the pronouns and everything. That’s why most transgender women think they ‘pass’). Extraordinarily though, this professional arguer of cases, this lawyer, then presumably unwittingly gives one of the clearest examples I’ve seen of why women desperately need special provisions in law on the basis of sex:
Many women, through all too real life experience, can confirm the low status women’s voices have in the arena of the justice system. This assumption that women’s voices don’t count runs though many areas of life. Take, for example, the situation described above, where trans women have managed repeatedly to be heard stating their need to be moved into women’s prisons. Bizarrely, although it’s recognised that trans men would not be safe in men’s prisons, women in women’s prisons are just assumed to be able to put up with the presence of male sex-offenders. The doubts and fears of female prisoners simply have not been heard where it counts.
James Max gets irritated by women being audible…
(These conversations are among those that appeared in response to James Max’s extraordinary brush with Posie Parker, analysed here by Clive Simpson )
We are winning the debate
Don’t stop now!
We are winning the debate, but it has only just started. Please keep talking to everyone, keep writing those emails, keep going to those conferences and demos – we do need to win it, because our children need rescuing from the ‘gender identity’ smoke and mirrors, and because mature males who’ve scented a potential advantage won’t let go of it easily.
We’ve won the right to have a debate. It’s looking good so far but it’s a long way from over. Stay patient, stay polite. There are people out there who still haven’t grasped the basics. They would appear to include a lot of our politicians so hone your arguments, and get ready to win the debate. It’s not just about explaining how, in our sexist, porn-soaked society, unregulated male access is so dangerous for women and girls. It’s also about communicating the wider human context – that every human society, everywhere, liberated or otherwise, has always allowed some kind of ‘women’s place’ within its structure (as far as we can see, those ‘third genders’ that were touted around for a while did not have access to women’s spaces – they were just excused male warrior rites, probably because they were gay). And for the women who have let all this float past them, it’s about explaining the value of women’s groups, women’s politics, women’s sports and all the rest of what we created for ourselves, through a hundred years and more of campaigning, about how all those things demonstrate to our girls that they don’t have to pretend to be men, or reject sex altogether, in order to get some kind of a grip on life.
Are you ready to win the debate?
I suggest a subscription to The Radical Notion as a good way to start preparing yourself.
Here’s my own statement of the gender critical stance
Here’s my analysis of a recent attempt at debate on the telly