What You Need to Know About Transgender Rights

The fight for transgender rights is an urgent battle against what some have called the last bastion of socially acceptable bigotry. If we take the notion seriously that all humans are due equal rights, as many of us do, we must care about the rights of transgender people. We are currently in a situation where transgender rights are so far behind other groups in society that it should be considered a crisis.

The Scale of The Problem

The first parliamentary inquiry into transphobia and discrimination in 2016 reported widespread societal and systemic transphobia. Transgender people face discrimination in almost all aspects of public life. The NHS treats transgender people as second class citizens discriminating against them and failing to meet legal requirements under the equality act. A mental health study on trans people found that 81% of its respondents feared and avoided certain social or public situations, such as gyms, public toilets and shops, while 38% had experienced sexual harassment and 37% physical threats or intimidation for being transgender. Transgender people are under relentless attack from the right-wing press and are, more insidiously, misrepresented in almost all forms of media. One survey found that 48% of trans people under 26 said they had attempted suicide, compared to about 6% of all 16- to 24-year-olds. The figure for trans people as a whole is around 40%. These high suicide rates are directly related to rejection and discrimination. Furthermore, in 2017 hundreds of transgender people were murdered around the world.

In the face of such dire circumstances it’s vital that we don’t allow the public discourse on transgender rights to be dominated by those intent on spreading hate.

A Moral Panic

For many people the whole concept of being transgender is a new one. Transgender people have always been around, but in modern western society have either been entirely unrepresented or grossly misrepresented in the media. Most people are simply ignorant in a way that it’s difficult to blame them for. Media matters because in becoming a more enlightened society we are reliant on the information we’re being given. That’s why a mainstream media onslaught against trans people is so worrying. We appear to be in the midst of a moral panic about transgender people. It’s imperative that all of us see and call out this propaganda for what it is.

In recent weeks the mainstream media have engaged in a bombardment of hateful fearmongering against transgender people, plastering absurd headline after absurd headline across their front pages.

‘Church: Let Little Boys Wear Tiaras’ objected the Daily Mail with the subheading ‘New advice on transgender bullying for CofE school teachers’. A headline they dragged up from a story that they had already reported on about perfectly sensible advice that needn’t even have anything to do with being transgender. Essentially the advice was for teachers to be cautious about forcing gender stereotypes upon children. For example, if a young girl wants to play with a truck, let her. Exactly what the Daily Mail thinks a better alternative policy would be, I don’t know. But the terrifying message that we are supposed to take from the sensationalist story is that schools are being forced to turn your children transgender.

 ‘Trans Survey For 10-year-olds’ yelps the Daily Telegraph, in the hope to conjure up a similar fear. The story merely being that in an NHS health survey for children, the question ‘are you comfortable with your gender?’ has been added in attempt to tackle the health crisis that is the extremely high suicide rate amongst young transgender people. The suggestion here is presumably that the concept of gender, which they clearly hold so dear, is in fact so fickle that merely being asked a question might be enough to convert an unwitting child to the opposite gender. Unfortunately, the press is currently littered with such examples of incoherent nonsense.

Transgender: The New Gay

This kind of moral panic should sound familiar to us. It is strikingly reminiscent of the gay panic of the 1980’s. So much so that the press are simply regurgitating the exact same arguments that they would now be shamed for making against gay people.

The UK is still not an easy place to be gay, but gay rights have come on leaps and bounds in the last 30 years. During the 80’s however, amid a similar surge of social anxiety, the public were told by the media that gay rights somehow infringed on children’s rights; that merely acknowledging the existence of gay people was corrupting young, impressionable minds.

At the height of the panic, hate propaganda publication, the Sun, ran with the headline “Vile Book In School: Pupils See Pictures Of Gay Lovers”. The headline referred to a book called ‘Jenny Lives With Eric and Martin’ that was never actually in schools, but shockingly depicted such horror as a child walking down the street with her father and his gay partner. The undue concern over the book, along with other media spin created the space for the Local Government Act 1988 with its infamous ‘Section 28′. Section 28 banned the “promotion” of homosexuality in schools. At that time Margret thatcher worried that “Children who need to be taught to respect traditional moral values are being taught that they have an inalienable right to be gay.”

In a remarkably similar fashion the Sunday Times recently published an article headed “Gather round class. Thomas The Teddy Wants to be a Girl” suggesting that books that merely acknowledge the existence of transgender people could be “damaging” for children.

The similarities do not stop there. 30 years ago being gay was a mental illness, a phase, attention seeking; the idea of gay rights was political correctness gone mad. And yet here again we find ourselves.

Anti-trans Rhetoric

The hatred spread in the media is playing on ignorance of an issue that relatively few people have personal experience of. It’s therefor essential that we educate ourselves. The cases made against transgender rights are so ridiculous and unfounded in reality, that I’m even hesitant to mention them for fear of further promoting them or legitimising them as part of a valid alternative point of view. But the strength of the right-wing media means that they are out there and they are being listened to rightly or not. So I’m going to do my best to succinctly tackle them to show them for the incoherent nonsense that they are.

Converting children

Let’s be clear. No matter how many books you put in a school library, you cannot turn a child transgender, nor vice versa. Some children are transgender, and some are not. The evidence is incontrovertible on this matter. In fact, all professional psychological organisations, the Royal College of General Practitioners and the NHS condemn conversion therapy as dangerous and ineffective. No matter how hard you try you are not going to turn a transgender child cis (non-trans) nor a cisgender child trans. On the other hand, having a book in a school library acknowledging the existence of transgender people; or the NHS having more information on transgender people will save children’s lives.

“But we’ve seen an increase in the number of transgender people” you can hear the bigoted or genuinely confused wail. Consider by comparison that left handedness used to be seen as something to be corrected and children were made to use their right hands. In 1900 there was about 2% prevalence for left handedness in the UK. It’s now at 12.5%. That’s not because more people have become naturally left handed. Nor is it because being left handed has become cool. It’s because we’ve stopped beating children in school and forcing them to write with their right hand. Eventually, people started letting children decide for themselves which hands to use. There wasn’t really a rise in left-handedness so much as there was a rise in left-handed acceptance. An identical thing has happened with an increase in the number of lesbian, gay and bisexual people. They weren’t converted. We just stopped stigmatising and oppressing them. It is likely that the same will continue to happen with transgender people too.

Transgender women are women

Let’s address the idea here that a transgender woman is not a woman. The argument tends to come in two forms. The first seemingly confused criticism is that transgender people’s existence is somehow anti-scientific. Transgender zealots are destroying truth itself, the The Mail proclaimed, but they’re not alone in their confusion. On the face of it, it’s difficult to understand what exactly is being claimed here, but at its core lies the belief that transgender people are mentally ill and deluded about reality. The argument can be summed up like this “He holds the delusion that he is a woman. He’s not a woman. He’s a man. It’s a scientific fact”. Just in case you’re at all tempted by this line of thinking I’ll briefly explain what it means to be transgender.

A transgender woman is (almost always) born with XY chromosomes and male genitals. Is this the scientific reality that transgender people are imagined to be deluded about? It’s true that this is a scientific fact, but it’s not something anyone is trying to deny.  To suggest trans women are delusional is to imagine that trans women think they are actually cisgender. The science that matters is ironically often ignored by those making this argument. As a scientific field in it’s infancy it’s difficult to say with any degree of certainty exactly what causes a person to be transgender, just as it’s difficult to say exactly what causes a person to be gay. However the Endocrine Society, representing the global medical consensus recently published guidelines stating

“The medical consensus in the late 20th century was that transgender and gender incongruent individuals suffered a mental health disorder termed “gender identity disorder.” Gender identity was considered malleable and subject to external influences. Today, however, this attitude is no longer considered valid. Considerable scientific evidence has emerged demonstrating a durable biological element underlying gender identity”.

So it seems it is not the transgender community with the tendency for unscientific thinking, but those who try to discredit them. Transgender people are the rationalists. They are concerned with telling the truth for what it is, rather than as culture dictates that it should be.

The second strain to the argument, bizarrely, comes from a small sub-sect of radical feminists – sometimes referred to as ‘Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists’ (TERFs) – who appear to be disproportionately prevalent in Britain, to the bemusement of their American counterparts. Radical Feminists such as Germaine Greer refuse to refer to trans gender women as women. Greer’s views appear to be mostly fuelled by bigotry and her own personal distaste for transgender women. Her main problem seems to be that, in her opinion, many trans women “don’t look like, sound like, or behave like women”. Genius, hey? This doesn’t sound like anything you’d expect a feminist to say. That a woman can be deemed not a woman if they don’t meet other people’s expectations of femininity. I don’t expect she’d be too happy if I told her to grow her hair because I thought that short hair made her look like a man. If her sentiment on trans women needed further elucidating, she has elsewhere described trans women’s mere existence as equivalent to murdering their mothers and of rape.

Beyond the transphobia, if there is a shred of an argument to be found in what this faction of feminists have to say, it’s that ‘transgender women are not women because they have not had the same experience of womanhood as ‘real women’’.  The problem with this argument should be obvious. There is no one experience of womanhood. And it may not be wise to appoint middle class, straight, white, university educated, women like Germaine Greer to police what an experience of womanhood should be. The great strides forward made by modern, third wave feminism has been to notice this very fact. The classic feminist analysis of patriarchy is not wrong, but it must avoid the presumption that all women experience it in the same way. Increasing masses of literature describe how women of colour experience discrimination uniquely at the intersection of sexism and racism. Likewise, all women will have their own unique experiences of womanhood. A disabled woman, a woman from Saudi Arabia, a gay woman, a tall woman, a woman president, a female supermodel, a geisha, a homeless woman, a woman brought up in a gated community by rich oligarchs, All these women will have very different experiences of the world. And yet no one is tempted to say that – because of their experience – they are not women. Why do some people attempt to do this to transgender women? Just transphobia. Whilst being transgender brings with it it’s unique forms of discrimination, most of the problems trans women face are principally or explicitly feminist issues. It’s by no means a position of privilege to have been brought up in the wrong gender or face the struggles confronting a trans woman.

Calling a transgender woman a woman is not unscientific, nor is refusing to do so necessary to uphold the principles of feminism. The use of the label ‘woman’ is not so much a question of delusion vs reality as it is a categorisation problem. Borders are not objectively true or false. When I was in school Pluto was considered a planet, now it’s not. The answer to the question how many planets there are in our solar system has changed, but reality has not. The process of changing our categories consisted of tweaking the boundaries based on more information. Rather than looking with blunt tools and seeing only planets and stars, we now have a better picture of reality and can change our method of categorisation accordingly.

It’s obvious to most that physical appearance alone cannot be what makes a man or a woman. Many men look like women and many women look like men. The same is true of genitals. If a man was involved in an accident and lost his genitals would it be fair to consider him less of a man? That’s a rhetorical question, the answer is No. We have seen too that men and women have a multiplicity of experiences, so experience alone cannot be what our judgement turns on. In defining a person’s gender, we have become curiously obsessed with chromosomes as the deciding factor. It’s not clear, scientifically speaking, why this should be the case. It’s true that X and Y have something to do with sex, but the science is far more complex than most people imagine. Around 1 in 100 people are ‘intersex’ meaning they cannot be neatly categorised as Male or Female on the basis of their chromosomes and/or physical characteristics. There are many different varieties of “sex chromosomes” XX, XY, XXY, XYY, XXX, XXYY… I could go on. But the fact is that the phenotypical characteristics that arise from these chromosomes are created in a far from straight forward way. Sarah Richardson, a historian of science explains how mistaken assumptions of early scientific research on sex has mislead popular thinking over the years. The reality is that there are extremely few sexual characteristics solely controlled by the presence or absence of a y chromosome. Sex is not equivalent to chromosomes. Furthermore, as people there is nothing about our subjective experience of ourselves that would suggest we even have chromosomes. Why then should this be the standard by which we organise gender? A far more sensible method of assigning gender is to take a holistic approach in which the deciding factor is an account of that gender from the person it belongs to.

Women only spaces

As part of the media onslaught on transgender people it has been suggested that transgender rights are somehow in conflict with the rights of cisgender women. Imaginary battlegrounds opened up such as women’s shelters, prisons and toilets. The claim is that treating transgender women as women and allowing them access to these spaces somehow puts other women in danger. As it turns out the arguments against trans inclusiveness in women’s spaces are based on pure fabrication.

As trans activist Shon Faye argues, trans women simply must have access to women’s shelters. Though all women may have unique experiences, their needs overlap. Trans women exist in the same system of patriarchy and suffer from the same misogyny on a daily basis. Trans women are at the same risk of gendered violence. The organisations involved in helping women actually agree. A coalition of women’s organisations have released a joint statement. “We do not regard trans equality and women’s equality to be in competition or contradiction with each other”, Rape Crisis and Women’s Aid are trans-inclusive at no detriment to the service they provide. But this does not stop the bigoted right-wing press pretending to campaign on their behalf under the ruse of suddenly caring about the rights of women.

The worry seems to be framed in terms of sensational ‘what ifs’. Just as when gay marriage was legalised we had ‘what if a son marries his father to avoid inheritance tax?’ so we have the ridiculous ‘what if a man simply claims to be a transgender woman, walks in to women’s toilets and sexually assaults women?’ Unfortunately a man can walk in to women’s toilets and assault women whether we have trans equality or not. This is illegal and will continue to be. Moreover, why same sex toilets should be considered a bastion of safety is unclear, many women have been assaulted by women in women’s toilets. In fact whipping up fear about transgender women using women’s toilets creates more problems than it solves. Take the example of Aimee Toms, a cisgender woman who was recently told “You’re disgusting… You don’t belong here” when using female toilets, after being confused for a trans woman, presumably for not meeting some standard of femininity.

Remember also that the alternative to allowing trans women to use women’s toilets is to force them to use men’s toilets. An already vulnerable group being forced in to a vulnerable situation and not something likely to make anyone especially comfortable.

Furthermore, if we insist trans women must use men’s public toilets and changing rooms, then likewise trans men must use women’s facilities.  That means that people who look like men, and therefore men, can enter women’s changing rooms. Does that make it less likely or more likely that rapists are going to be in women’s spaces?

As unconvincing as these arguments sound in theory, we can also look to examples from reality to show them for the fearmongering that they are. Trans women have already been using female facilities and none of these imaginary problems have arisen. This is also true in countries that have already made it much easier to be transgender, such as Ireland where there is absolutely no evidence of the system being abused.

Once you have dismantled all the half baked arguments against the progress of transgender rights, all you’re really left with is transphobia. Stop being transphobic. You look foolish.

 

Far from Harmless

So this media onslaught and these anti-trans arguments fall apart upon closer inspection. But the fact that they are so widespread is far from harmless. Consider the kind of society that such a media creates. It creates a hostile environment in which bigots feel emboldened. It makes a minority already disproportionately affected by mental distress feel even more misery when it is constantly spelled out that they are detested, feared and worthy of ridicule.

Why is it, do you think, that the attempted suicide rate for transgender people is so high? The reasons have been studied at length and include rejection by friends and family, discrimination in health care, employment and housing, physical abuse, being treated as different, and internalised self-hatred. All factors made worse by the current hateful state of the media. It’s bullying on a mass scale. Studies demonstrate that trans children who are supported and allowed to express their gender identity rather than being bullied in to conforming to societies expectations have good mental health outcomes.

But the right-wing media is not alone in its guilt. We must all check the transphobia that we hold. Especially if you are a parent. A tut and exclamation that ‘political correctness has gone mad’ could be the difference between your child feeling comfortable talking to you or living in a repressed state of deep shame for the next 20 years of their life.

Transgender campaigner, Paris Lees sums it up when she says “Some children are transgender. You can accept them and love them for who they say they are or make their lives hell – those are the options.”

 

The Right Side of History

In the instance of transgender issues, ignorance may be a fairer excuse than it usually is. As a society we simply don’t have the information available and relatively few people probably know a transgender man or woman personally. But that excuse has a shelf life and it won’t last very long. The revolution in attitudes towards homosexuality has been the biggest change in a generation. The same is going to happen for transgender rights and things are already looking up. The current splurge of trans hatred has been triggered by the governments announcement of planned reforms to the Gender Recognition Act, streamlining the current cumbersome process of legally changing your gender. And when you have Tory MPs championing trans rights and cross-party consensus you know that progress is being made.

Beyond political progress, transgender people are becoming more visible in society. We’ve seen the emergence of a number of public figures, such as Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox. There are also transgender characters appearing in film and on TV in the likes of Eastenders and trans activists with a voice in independent media such as Paris Lees and Shon Faye. They are vital role models for young transgender people looking for their place in the world.

The biggest reason for the backlash on trans rights is clear. Those on the side of justice and equality are winning. Society is now a better place to be gay and that didn’t happen by accident, it happened because people dedicated their lives to campaigning for equality; even when they were derided and discredited for doing so. People considered annoying belligerents 20 years ago are now heroes of equality. These people are life savers. The very best among us. The kind of people we should all aspire to be. History will not look favourably upon those who are fighting against trans rights. The future is bright. The purveyors of hate will be embarrassed by history and then forgotten.

Further Reading and Resources

Essay on trans rights by Julia Serano: https://medium.com/@juliaserano/transgender-agendas-social-contagion-peer-pressure-and-prevalence-c3694d11ed24

If podcasts are more your thing give this a listen: http://cheerful.libsyn.com/episode-9-transgender-rights-are-human-rights

A great blog about trans issues: https://growinguptransgender.wordpress.com/

LGBT FOUNDATION – Support for transgender people: http://lgbt.foundation/who-we-help/trans-people/resources-for-trans-people/lgbt-foundation-resources-for-trans-people

Standards of care for transgender people: http://www.wpath.org/site_page.cfm?pk_association_webpage_menu=1351&pk_association_webpage=3926

You can also click on any of the articles linked throughout this post to get more information.

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16 Comments

  1. Tom this is an interesting article and it echoes much of what I tell people myself. We are experiencing a sustained campaign by the newspapers against trans people at the moment but fortunately those I actually meet are very accepting. My feeling is that people seem to worry about the range of transgender expression. If you fit in with a gender binary expectation it can sometimes be easier but not everyone either can do that or even wants to do that. Just as there is no single female experience we see a huge variety of transgender experience too.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s a great point Rose. I haven’t really touched on the specific problems faced by gender non-binary people, and I agree that non-binary acceptance may be an even tougher mountain to climb. The gender binary is so deeply ingrained in to the fabric of society.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Tom

    As a trans woman I also acknowledge this is a great article and very similar for many other countries around the world.

    I would offer one thought: I understand “‘disorder of sexual development’ (DSD)” to be a term strongly disliked by those with lived experience; intersex or people experiencing intersex are usually more favoured.

    Perhaps worth checking in with UK organisations on this?

    Certainly keep up the great writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Was with you until the section on “Transgender women are women” which sidesteps the central point of contention that sex and gender are separate. The terms men (males) and women (females) refer to biological sex and are pre-determined (in almost every case) as we develop in the womb. We are not assigned sex at birth. Sex is important especially considering the issues such as the sex imbalances in some countries due to the abortion and infanticide of females, FGM and so on. I don’t understand why trans-activists try to downplay the importance of sex, or as in this article, try to make out the concept of sex is somehow vague or in question.

    Gender is a social construct. We are not assigned a gender at birth. No one can determine your gender at birth any more than they can determine whether you are, say, heterosexual. Our sense of gender develops as we grow, presumably influenced by our personality, environment as well as our sex. Gender is important not only for transgender people but also issues like the higher levels of suicide in the male population (too many boys told to hide their emotions and “man up”).

    I believe we should challenge gender stereotypes and celebrate and defend the rights of trans people and others who break down what are often harmful gender norms. But taking on the “opposite” gender does not mean and can never mean that you have changed sex. I realize the “transgender women are women” argument has gained some traction but I think it is unconvincing. In particular, I don’t think this argument truly serves transgender people. You can get the passport, birth certificate, surgery etc. but deep down you will always know that your sex is unchanged. Isn’t the path to inner peace and self-acceptance something along the lines of “transwomen are men and screw anyone who thinks I don’t confirm to their idea of what a man is”?

    [Also, It would be refreshing to read any perspective on this topic that that did not resort to insults like “misogynist”, “TERF”, “TIM” and “transphobe”. ]

    Like

    1. Hey,
      Thanks for the polite tone to your comment. Some of the criticism can be pretty vitriolic. I think this point deserves a reply because I imagine many reasonable people might be thinking along similar lines.

      First let me defend some of the terminology that you were critical of. I only actually use the term ‘TERF’ once and even then I simply say that this group of people are “sometimes referred to as ‘Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists”, which is true. But to further defend the term TERF, I don’t think it has to be seen as an insult. I don’t know what else you would call them. It is fairly descriptive and infers nothing about their position that they could reasonably deem untrue. They do in fact wish to exclude trans women not only from their definition of ‘woman’ but also from vital women’s services. This is not comparable to the use of TIM which is not only different from, but diametrically opposed to the way a trans woman would describe herself. I don’t call anyone a misogynist nor do I use the word ‘transphobe’. I do however think transphobia is a useful concept. And I think the word itself is quite apt. Phobia, meaning an irrational fear or dislike of something, almost perfectly captures much of the frenzied opposition to transgender rights, which I think largely stems from a vacuum of useful information and a pervasive lack of understanding.

      I don’t agree that I have sidestepped a distinction between sex and gender. Sex, is usually seen as being related to chromosomes or reproductive organs. I’m not arguing about the reality of what chromosomes or genitals trans women have. Nor am I arguing that there aren’t situations when a consideration of what genitals a person is born with might be of upmost importance. I’m arguing that there are good reasons for these not to be the determining factors in how we decided to categorise men and women.

      Gender identity should not be conflated with ‘gender expression’. Gender expression is a social construct. Whether or not a skirt is seen as masculine or feminine has nothing to do with the skirt itself. But gender, as experienced by a transgender woman is not a social construct. As I point out in the article, “the medical consensus in the late 20th century was that… gender identity was… malleable and subject to external influences. Today, however, this attitude is no longer considered valid. Considerable scientific evidence has emerged demonstrating a durable biological element underlying gender identity”.

      Your assessment that transgender women are men who simply don’t conform to societies standards of masculinity is misguided, perhaps reasonably so. We are constantly and exclusively fed biased and unrealistic visions of what it means to be transgender. This https://growinguptransgender.wordpress.com/2018/02/06/on-gender-stereotypes/ is a great article written by the parent of a transgender girl who helps to make the distinction between a boy who wants to wear a dress and a transgender girl. It is not uncommon to have a transgender girl who does not conform to the gender stereotypes associated with girls. It is perfectly possibly to challenge gender stereotypes and be transgender. In fact I would go as far as to say that trans gender people are more likely to challenge gender stereotypes.

      I think your apparent suggestion that the term ‘woman’ ought to refer exclusively to those whose natal sex could clearly be described as ‘female’ is problematic and the crux of our disagreement. ‘Woman’ should not be seen as synonymous with XX chromosomes, but as a category that we place humans in to, based on a more intelligent reading of various criteria. We are free to use concepts like ‘woman’ as it serves us best. Doing so needn’t contradict any scientific reality. As the experiences of trans women are becoming heard, and as our more nuanced understanding of sex and gender is progressing, it makes no sense to exclude trans women from the category ‘woman’. Though trans women may have unique difficulties to face, they still experience the world largely as women. They are equally at risk of gendered violence (around 50% compared to around 20% of men). They are subject to the same misogynistic discrimination and inferior treatment. They are pressured in to conforming to stereotypical gender roles, facing excessive scrutiny over looks. They suffer social media abuse disproportionately. They are excluded from men’s spaces. They suffer financially from a gender pay gap. They require the use of gender appropriate public toilets. I could go on.

      But the bottom line is this. Transgender women are happier living their lives as women. Who are you, in your position of ignorance about what it’s like to be them, to tell them what their path to inner peace should look like? (incidentally the evidence suggests that your path doesn’t work). They didn’t choose to be transgender. And they are not taking anything away from anyone else. Like all women they experience the world uniquely whilst sharing many of their experiences with other women. They require access to women’s services and facilities for all the same reasons that other women do. Given this, it is difficult to see why anyone would insist on defining them as men.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for accepting my comments and for taking the time to respond.

        To paraphrase your final paragraph, trans women want to be women so let’s all be nice and agree that they are, it’s no skin off my nose (even if it means subscribing to some mental gymnastics to redefine the very meanings of the words men and women). That’s certainly where I started out on all this. In the UK we’re an increasingly open-minded and tolerant society and why shouldn’t the same tolerance be afforded to anyone who describes themselves as trans? Indeed we already have the 2004 GRA in this country that provides a means to be legally transition to the other sex. It is the move to self-id (the encoding of TWAW into law) that is raising concerns.

        Those feminists who you dismiss as a bizarre sub-sect include people who have lived their lives against gender conformity, stood up for the rights of the poor and disadvantaged and taken a lot of stick for it. I don’t think I can persuade you of their case here (and I am not in total agreement with them) but when you start seeing concerns raised by people with the track record and integrity of Pilgrim Tucker and Beatrix Campbell, not to mention trans-women as well, then I think these women’s voices need to be heard not lumped in with the Daily Hate and the Scum.

        The number of people on the trans spectrum is small and the impacts of any changes will be at the margins but that will be no compensation to women who may end up victims as a result of a shift to trans self-id becoming normalized in all walks of life. Laws cannot be drawn up on the basis that everyone is nice and plays by the rules. This written evidence submitted by British Association of Gender Identity Specialists to the Transgender Equality Inquiry highlights some of the complexities. I quote one section below in respect of the criminal justice system but there are many points in the article and it is worth a read (link below).

        “It has been rather naïvely suggested that nobody would seek to pretend transsexual status in prison if this were not actually the case. There are, to those of us who actually interview the prisoners, in fact very many reasons why people might pretend this. These vary from the opportunity to have trips out of prison through to a desire for a transfer to the female estate (to the same prison as a co-defendant) through to the idea that a parole board will perceive somebody who is female as being less dangerous through to a [false] belief that hormone treatment will actually render one less dangerous through to wanting a special or protected status within the prison system and even (in one very well evidenced case that a highly concerned Prison Governor brought particularly to my attention) a plethora of prison intelligence information suggesting that the driving force was a desire to make subsequent sexual offending very much easier, females being generally perceived as low risk in this regard.”

        http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/women-and-equalities-committee/transgender-equality/written/19532.pdf

        Like

      2. Firstly let me say that I wouldn’t wish to dismiss any of the amazing and vital work that has been done by the likes of Pilgrim Tucker. But on this issue, I do disagree with her, and I do find it bizarre. Unfortunately many of those for whom the likes of the Mail would seem an unlikely ally have, rather opportunistically, jumped on board with the hate-mongering.

        I absolutely accept that there will be a number of technical issues, legally speaking, that must be considered carefully in order that the system designed to ensure the equal treatment of transgender women is not exploited by people who are not transgender. But none of these problems are insurmountable by any stretch of the imagination, and technical difficulties should absolutely not be used as an excuse for denying genuine trans women equality.

        Take prisons. It’s true that we must remain vigilant about how we assign people to prisons to ensure the safety of all prisoners, whether this be concerns for the safety of a trans woman being placed in a male prison or the safety of women from other potentially violent prisoners in a women’s prison. These protections already exist, and self-identification won’t change that. Prisons will continue to do risk assessments that take account of things like previous offences against women when deciding whether or not a person assigned male at birth will be accommodated in the female prison. As with any new law, there will be loop holes that need to be closed before the bill is finalised. But note that this problem is one caused, not by transgender women, but those that, I’m sure we agree, should be prevented from exploiting the system. I don’t think that the solution to any of the complexities mentioned in that paper is to call transgender women “men” or otherwise legally label them as such.

        I think it is also important to note again that the proposed legal changes have already been road-tested in many countries around the world without any problems. Many of the fears that people have, though they are important to consider, do not in fact materialise.

        Liked by 2 people

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