What's really behind the current anti transgender campaign...
or ... its time to expose the truth about the Trans critical lobby
While the current pandemic has, understandably, dominated the media it hasn’t stopped the odd piece about the supposed conflict between women’s rights and transgender rights appearing. This long running ‘saga’ has been arguing that the ‘transgender movement’ and their ‘demand for rights’ are trampling over women’s rights and that women should be standing up against this. Now I don’t mind a good rational, well researched and evidence-based discussion but when I see and read these pieces, I find myself constantly saying ‘but that’s not true’ and ‘that’s not scientifically correct’ and ‘the evidence doesn’t bear that out’.
In reading and listening to these arguments what strikes me is that its not Trans people who are the issue here. Trans people have been around for as long as humans have existed and co-existed quite happily with feminists for decades. Nor is it transgender related legislation or rights that is the issue. The main transgender legislation conferring key rights has been in place for at least 10 years or more and given rise to little to no comment; the latest proposed changes are merely minor adjustments to currents laws and will not change rights.
Instead the growing visibility of transgender folks and gender and sex related research has raised new understandings about these, that confuse and undermine some feminists whose arguments are rooted in historical understandings – that sex and gender are immutably tied, that one is biological and other a social construct and that they are binary and split between men who are the baddies and oppressors and women who are the goodies and oppressed.
Developing Scientific Understanding
In recent years we have come to understand that sex and gender are distinct and not inexorably tied to each other, and that neither are social constructs but have their bases in biology. We now understand that sex biology is hugely complex, incredibly diverse, far from binary and at best bi-modal. We know that gender is also bi-modal and that gender and gender behaviours are biologically hard-wired. We understand the mechanisms that give rise to gender variance and have clear scientific evidence to support this. We also understand the divisions we make in both sex and gender, in our societies case a binary division, and the rules we apply to these are not biological but social constructs, and therefore are neither clearly defined nor fixed.
Change or deny
While the majority of feminists have incorporated these new understandings into their thinking a small minority of more radical extremist feminists have taken an opposite approach. Sticking to their old precepts they have, with allies from radical extremist elements of other ideologies, political and religious, who also maintain beliefs in a simple immutable man/woman binary, actively sought to deny and fight against the transgender community or more specifically trans women who they see are leading a challenge against their ideologies. Of course anyone who knows anything about gender variance and transgender folks knows this is misguided nonsense, but currently the well funded campaigns have found a voice in mainstream media which has enabled them to imbue the wider public with their ‘gender critical’ views and distortions, which they have done using three main approaches:-
The first is to demonise trans women with messages like ‘Trans women are men who are mentally ill and/or sexual perverts and predators just pretending to be women. They are therefore a danger to women, children and society’. References to transgender sex offenders in prison are often used to support these messages. While palpable nonsense - gender incongruence is not classified as a mental illness, gender and sexuality are not related, and the majority of transgender women are attracted to and partner with straight men - it has not stopped these from gaining significant support among the more ignorant on social media. However the truth is somewhat different: rather than transgender folks, both men and women, being a danger to society, society continues, through the promotion of messages like these, to be a danger to transgender folks.
- The ‘Real women club’
The second approach is to maintain there is a distinct binary divide. This is either done directly as in ‘I believe there are only men and women because…’ or ‘gender doesn’t exist because … ‘ often referencing some religious text or false ‘science’, or by producing a definition of men and, more specifically, women that excludes trans women but includes the advocator. This approach was epitomised by Germaine Greer’s comment ‘Just because you lop off your dick and then wear a dress doesn’t make you a f*****g woman’ and often includes arguments like ‘because you weren’t born with a vagina…’ or ‘because you’ve not lived the full life experience as a female you can’t be a woman’. It promotes the idea of womanhood as an exclusive club whose membership criteria is agreed and protected by a self appointed committee of feminists to which all ‘real women’ should be proud to belong.
Feminism is about gaining equality, but one cannot have equality if one claims some are more equal than others, as per the ‘real woman club’. That is not equality, just a different form of inequality and is hypocrisy. While our society currently only legally supports a binary and doesn’t clearly differentiate between sex and gender putting it at odds with nature, it being impossible to draw a clear line between the two sides, denying the reality and not adapting is, as religion has found, unsustainable and detrimental in the long run. Ultimately ideologies must adapt to advances in scientific knowledge if they are to remain relevant. Feminism is no different here and can actually gain from taking on board the experiences of transgender men and women.
- Attacking the rights of transgender people
The third approach has been to challenge the rights of trans folks and attack those that support them, both legally and in the media. The aim is to deny transgender people the ability to function within society and force them back into hiding, an approach that has gained some success in the US with bathroom bills and the such. The approach has been systematic – Challenging legal rights by arguing sex or religious freedom rights take precedence over gender rights, attacking the medical treatment programs, transgender children and those that support them (Mermaids, The Guides, etc.), attacking the right to participate in sport and the use of facilities, attacking the research and research bodies, and so on. What is particularly insidious here are the gross distortions of the truth, and the one sided reporting where the outcomes of lost court cases or the responses from those being attacked are not properly heard.
... but this has happened before...
These approaches are very much akin to those used by the Nazis against Jews – the promotion of Arian purity, public demonisation followed by the gradual curtailing and removing of rights coupled with systematic attacks on those who supported them. These days some of the delivery mechanisms may have changed for example the use of social media to troll and bully trans folks and trans allies, but the basic intent is the same; the demonisation and suppression of a vulnerable minority group to promote the virtuousness and correctness of your cause – and we know where that led with the Nazis and Jews.
Exposing the lies about the proposed reforms to the Gender Recognition Act
A prime example of the misunderstanding and misrepresentation being promoted is the hysteria that has been whipped up about the proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act. Since its introduction in 2004 many of the rights this Act conferred have been superseded by better legislation – marriage, discrimination, data protection - while its restrictive requirements have become less and less applicable as a broader spectrum of transgender folks has developed. It has become anachronistic and in need of reform; hence the proposed changes which are designed only to bring the Act in line with other legislation and make it more applicable to those for whom it is intended.
However the claims have been that these changes will ‘allow people to self identify unchecked, and enable perverted men to enter women’s safe spaces under the pretext of being transgender’. But this is not the case. The changes are not about self-identification. Transgender people have always self-identified and always will. It is not about having an unchecked process. There will still be specific requirements and consequences – the need to go through a lengthy time consuming exercise of getting every record held by anyone, anywhere updated for example. And it will not allow ‘perverted men’ access to women’s safe spaces. This is not a right granted by the GRA but has been legitimately possible for many years without men needing to actually do anything. That men haven’t been using this is because it makes little sense to do so, especially as legislation does allow for exclusion where there is a clear risk and danger. The GRA or any proposed reforms doesn’t change any of this.
As the in-depth studies have concluded and the experiences of those countries with this in place already have shown, the only people who will be affected by the changes will be those for whom the legislation is intended – transgender people. But this hasn’t dampened the hysteria or on-going attacks which, more recently, have moved onto Transgender children, their healthcare and those that support them. These has been particularly sinister because their misunderstanding and phoney claims are proven to put the lives of those they claim they are protecting, a group in which self harm and attempted suicide is commonplace, at greater risk.
Trolling, Abuse, hate crime, and exclusion
And yet anyone challenging this is immediately the target of a barrage of trolling, abuse, demonisation and even hate crime while any action taken against those doing this is met with claims of trying to suppress free speech, even though free speech doesn’t give you right to be heard nor to have your views considered acceptable, nor to persecute or incite hatred against people. While there is clear hypocrisy here the media continue to lap this up with articles and television and radio programmes that discuss and ‘debate’ the ‘Transgender issue’.
But what is consistently missing in these are the voices of transgender people themselves**. Most are only with or by non trans folks and even when they are included they are based around their stereotypical view of a transgender person. Many refer to ‘trans activists’ whom are never actually seen or heard because they are, in reality, sandmen – made up as part of the demonisation process.
What I do know is that transgender folks are born transgender and spend their lives facing enormous challenges put on them by nature and society that are difficult for most people to comprehend and appreciate. And while most have enough dealing with these challenges, a few do try to improve things. This isn’t pushing ‘trans ideology’ as claimed, as being transgender is no more an ideology as being autistic is an ideology, but is simply a case of trying to get society to understand, appreciate and accept transgender folks for how nature has made them.
Being transgender is not a choice but being transphobic is
Which brings us full circle. As a natural biological condition being Transgender is not a choice but being transphobic is, just as being a homophobe, xenophobe, racist, an anti-Semite and a holocaust denier is. Were the word trans(gender) to be substituted for black, Jew, gay or disabled in the current rhetoric, as it has been in the past and still is by some, this would be deemed offensive by the media and general public, treated with revulsion and given no platform. The time has come for this collective campaign against transgender people to be treated in the same way as it is no different: It is not about equality or protecting people but about dishonestly vilifying a vulnerable minority and seeking to reject them in an attempt to shore up false ideology.
It is time the lies, misinformation, false arguments, bigotry and maliciousness were exposed and the voices and truths about those born transgender heard. It is time the media or public discussions relating to transgender people and their lives were fronted by a proper cross section of the transgender community. It is time the stereotyped ‘Elephant Man freak show’ representation of transgender folks was stopped; it may help ratings but is no more socially acceptable than representing other minority groups this way. Diversity drives nature and without it we humans wouldn’t exist. Transgender people are just a natural consequence of that diversity, have always existed and will always exist. It is time we recognised this, learnt about what it is to be transgender and melded this into society, because no ideology, no matter how hard it tries, can ever deny and suppress natures realities.
** Research shows that of the almost 900 transgender related pieces in mainstream UK media in 2018 less than 5% had input from transgender folks.