Welcome to Transtopia

 

Hi. You’ve reached the blog of Lily Maynard. Welcome.

In late 2015, my teenage daughter Jessie declared she was transgender and the experience tugged us into a rabbit hole of Orwellian double-speak and general insanity. I read so much during that time and it was such a vast learning curve that I felt compelled to bring all the threads together in an article.  I was especially struck by the exponential surge in the number of teenage girls who were ‘identifying’ as boys, usually young lesbians and usually after lengthy sessions on social media. After Jessie desisted, I wanted to share what I’d read as well as what I’d learned and eventually I finished writing an article which contained over 100 links. Jessie added a short postscript of her own and I was delighted when 4thwavenow published it in December 2016 under the title ‘A Mum’s Voyage Through Transtopia – a tale of love and desistance’.

I’ve since re-published the article here on my own blog.

Before you ask me any questions; before you critcise or praise my stance on transitioning kids, or the appropriation of womanhood by men, please read that. It’s where it all began.

After Jessie re-realised she was a girl and things settled down at home,  I expected to put my time in Transtopia behind me and move on. Instead I became more fascinated- and angry- with the culture of misogyny and homophobia which underlies transgender theory.  For without stereotypes there can be no ‘brave transgender children’. Without the dolls and the pink tutus, a love of glitter, a gentle nature and a will to dance, what could possibly make girls of the little boys of ‘My Transgender Summer Camp’? What other than her love of Batman, karate and jumping around could make that short-haired, fierce little girl into a boy trapped in a female body? A feeling?  How does a boy feel? How does a girl feel? Without sexism, there can be no transgenderism. Without the idea that there is a ‘right’ or a ‘wrong’ way to be a boy or a girl there would be no need to beguile and medicate these kids in an attempt to make them ‘fit in’. Our current culture of blind affirmation is not doing anyone any favours.  It is nothing short of abusive to tell a child that they are ‘wrong’, that they have been ‘born in the wrong body’ or that medication and surgery can make them into the opposite sex.

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Costing the Kool-Aid – bias & funding in a ‘gender diversity’ research project

Society’s current obsession with gender identity politics is unprecedented and if there’s one thing we can probably all agree on, it’s that there needs to be more research done into why more and more young people are increasingly identifying as transgender and the best way to help them.

 

So when we see studies springing up that purport to delve into these issues, it seems rational to be reassured. But how objective are these studies? How are they sourcing their participants? Who are the researchers and what is their background? And where is all this money coming from?

Currently, an interesting project is taking place at the UK’s ‘top ranked and largest centre for academic primary care’, the Nuffield Department of Care Primary Health Sciences at Oxford University. The NDCPHS’s aim is to use ‘research and training to rethink the way health care is delivered in general practice and across the community.’

The 30 month project, named ‘Identifying the health and care needs of young trans and gender diverse people aims to improve our understanding of ‘young gender diverse peoples’ experience’ as well as look at the perspectives of their families and the health professionals that work with them, with a view to improving ‘the care and support of trans, gender diverse and gender questioning people, and their families’.

 

What is ‘gender diverse’?

Firstly, it might be a good idea to clarify the aims of the project. Perhaps a sensible place to start would be with a definition for the phrase ‘gender diverse’. We’ve all heard it, but nobody seems to be able to give a satisfactory definition of what it means. Even Stonewall, with its lengthy list of gendered terms and labels, doesn’t attempt to define it. 

Traditionally ‘gender diverse’ meant having an equal or balanced mix of the sexes in the workplace.

‘Gender diversity is equitable or fair representation of people of different genders’ Wikipedia

Nowadays it more often refers to someone who doesn’t conform to society’s mainstream gendered expectations: so in theory a gender diverse child could be little more than a long-haired boy or a make-up free girl. It would certainly help to be more specific. After all:

What is this project about?

The project, when complete, plans to consist of 90 interviews with young people, their families and their healthcare professionals. It will also produce two sections for healthtalk.org, a website run in partnership with research groups at the University of Oxford.  At healthtalk.org you can evidently ‘find out about what it’s like to live with a health condition, by watching other people share their stories’.

Full public details of the project are available here.

Before we examine the aims and funding of the project, lets have a quick look at some of the people involved.

Melissa Stepney

Melissa Stepney

The project is led by Dr Melissa Stepney of the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences and funded by the National Institute of Health Research.

Stepney sports both a rainbow and a mermaid in her twitter profile and tags both Mermaids and Gendered Intelligence in her tweets enlisting young people and their parents for this ‘exciting project with trans and gender diverse young people’.

Stepney appears to have no previous experience of research in this area: her ‘pubmed’ entry prior to June 2018 (when she received the award for this project) shows just two prior studies: one about how neurological illness affects driving and one about young women getting drunk. She had not held any research grants before winning this one. Spoiler – we’ll be coming to this later – this grant is for well over half a million pounds.

The project may be vague about defining ‘gender diversity’, but it seems that Melissa has problems defining ‘gender’ – or even comprehending the difference between sex and gender.

Melissa tweeted this ‘fab’ picture in 2018: “If your child’s gender doesn’t matter before birth why does it matter after?”

More recently she tweeted support for a petition to ‘stop rollbacks to safeguards for trans dignity and safety in this country’.

The petition was in response to Minister for Women and Equalities Liz Truss’s acknowledgement that “under-18s (should be) protected from decisions that they could make, that are irreversible in the future… it’s very important that while people are still developing their decision-making capabilities that we protect them from making those irreversible decisions.”

It seems fair enough to take from this that Stepney supports the medicalisation of trans-identified youth. It should be noted that nothing Truss said suggested anyone’s rights should be ‘rollbacked‘ or anyone’s dignity removed. You can read Truss’s full speech here.

Concerned that Stepney’s susceptibility to hyperbole and involvement in transactivism might affect her ability to run an objective study? We’re just on the edge of the rabbit hole. Buckle up.

Sam Martin

Sam Martin

One co-investigator on the project is Dr Sam Martin (left), who as part of his PhD founded the QueerVIBE project for 13-25 year olds. (Despite being set up a year ago, the project website remains unfinished, with links that lead nowhere and potential participants being informed that QueerVIBE is ‘currently amending materials and not accepting participants right now’.)

While studying part-time for a degree in Manchester, he reports, 28 year old Sam went to a mate’s drag party dressed up in ‘feminine clothes, shoes, make-up and wig’ and ‘something inside him awoke’. A liberating epiphany that men can wear what they like and still be men, perhaps?  Evidently not: instead this was the moment of Sam’s realisation that he was ‘gender-fluid or non-binary’. Henceforth he wished to be addressed as ‘they/them and ‘Sam noticed prejudice everywhere they turned’.

At the end of a recent podcast Sam told listeners “Now I’m starting my kind of HRT journey.”

Martin has a master’s degree in Psychodynamic Counselling and Psychotherapy and a PhD in Psychology. The ‘parent fact sheet’ for the study states that any queries or complaints should be addressed to him.

 

Magdalena Mikulak

Magdalena Mikulak

The project also involves Magdalena Mikulak, who has a PhD in Gender Studies from the London School of Economics.

I have not met Martin, but my friend Gwen and I did meet Mikulak last year, when she was a speaker at the mind-mashing ‘What if the State no Longer Sexed Us?’ talk at Somerset House in London.

It should hardly need to be pointed out that the state does not sex us, biology sexes us, yet nonetheless, there we were.

The content of the lectures was so completely baffling that I never even started the article I’d planned to write about the event-  I literally didn’t know where to begin. I gave Gwen my notes after she offered to do it, but she also abandoned the mission. You really had to be there to comprehend the depth of the woowoo.

I spoke to Mikulak afterwards and she was friendly and approachable. Yet she seemed unable, or possibly unwilling, to explain the difference between sex and gender: a disconcerting position for someone who makes a career out of lecturing on the subject.

Mikulak, recruiting for study participants on the GIRES website

It was a fabulous location though, offering free post-lecture drinks and a luxury vegan buffet.  I remember Gwen and I speculating afterwards as to how such a peculiarly nebulous free event had been able to procure sufficient funding to provide attendees with such a spectacular venue and such ambrosian sustenance.

 

 

Who else is involved?

If you’re concerned that the above mentioned people may not be ideally objective researchers for such a study, there is a grain of hope. There are some grown ups in the room.

The project is secondly/jointly led by sociologist and anthropologist Dr Sara Ryan who ‘has extensive experience of working with seldom heard groups’. Ryan has neither rainbows nor pronouns in her Twitter bio and will be providing ‘mentorship and support at all stages’.

So she’s going to have her hands full.

Others involved in the project, according to the website, are academic public health physician and health services researcher John Powell  and Adam Barnett CEO of the DIPex Charity which runs healthtalk.org (both who have been involved with projects on the receiving end of millions in funding) and medical sociologist Sue Ziebland.

All appear to be rainbow and pronoun-free.

So there we have the basis of the project. The interviews will be recorded and the result used to produce two sections for a website, including short videos. Key findings from the research will also be presented at a ‘national stakeholder event’. With refreshments, no doubt.

Why am I so certain there will be refreshments?

Because of the budget! This is a no ‘custard creams and Nescafé’ project, ma’am.

How is the project funded?

The project applied for funding to the National Institute of Health Research.

The NIHR works with the NHS, universities & local government and describes itself as ‘the nation’s largest funder of health and care research’ providing ‘the people, facilities and technology that enable research to thrive.’

“The project will be secondly/jointly led with Dr Sara Ryan who has extensive experience of working with seldom heard groups.”

As we know, the main grant applicant was Melissa Stepney. Co-applicants included Dr Sarah Davidson of the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, (who did declare a potential conflict of interest) and Jay Stewart of Gendered Intelligence.

How do I know this, you ask?

I was emailed the documents last week, by someone deeply concerned about the quality of this research, who wishes to remain anonymous.

“Leaked documents?” mused Gwen with concern, when I told her. “Well it all sounds very exciting but be careful. One minute you’re feeling all important sharing secret documents, the next you’re trapped inside an embassy throwing shit at the walls.”

Thanks, Gwen.

“That’ll be £655,094.79 please.”

The grant application was for £655,094. Oh, and 79p.

The original amount requested was considered to be too high, and the project was eventually awarded a mere £618,868.39.

The grant was approved despite the awarding body having concerns that Stepney ‘does not have prior experience of leading a large study’ and requesting ‘stronger theoretical justification for the study’.

“I am pleased to inform you that the HSDRPB  has recommended your application for funding…  and the Department of Health and Social Care, in their capacity as the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), has confirmed their intention to award funding…”

 

The Study Advisory Group – Bias? What bias?

“Several charities (including The Diversity Trust and Gendered Intelligence) are actively involved in the proposal. An online (Facebook or similar) group will engage transgender people throughout the project. The study Advisory Group will guide the research and comprise at least 50% transgender people.”

Jessica Lynn

If you’re not reeling yet, let’s look a little closer at the others who are involved in this wonderfully objective scientific project.

Pre and post-transition photos are shown in Lynn’s talk

A name that stands out on the document above is that of Jessica Lynn who has supported Stepney throughout the project.

Dr Marcie Bowers, the document tells us, was recruited to the advisory board of the project by Lynn. Bowers, also a transsexual, performed Lynn’s own surgery but is better know as the surgeon who performed a vaginoplasty, resulting in serious complications, on 18 year old reality TV star Jazz Jennings.

Lynn- not to be confused with the country & western singer songwriter of the same name – is a trans-identified American male who transitioned aged 45. Lynn is also good buddies with Sam Martin.

Jessica Christina Lynn was born in January 1965 with the birth name Jeffrey Alan Butterworth.  Jessica is not well known on the transactivist scene. Outspoken about his past life, Lynn has recently embarked upon a ‘world tour’ ‘visiting 28 different countries, presenting over a thousand times, helping to educate the general public about the transgender community’.

Logos on Lynn’s webiste

Lynn’s website features the logos of several groups he is ‘affiliated’ with, including the NHS and University of Oxford, which seems at very least a bit cheeky –  some might even suggest that Lynn is building the consulting business by using the Oxford and NHS logos on the website. 

Evidently Jessica has ‘gained adulation for her activism’ and is a Stonewall school Role Model.  Lynn’s website is indeed filled with adulation from students at Oxford, Stanford, Warwick and Yale, to name but a few. I was intrigued.

I watched a YouTube video of Lynn’s lecture at University College London (UCL) in 2018. You know when you’re at a family gathering or a party and you get cornered by a distant relative or a friend of a friend who insists on telling you every tiny detail of their life when you’d really rather be talking to someone else? That’s how watching that video left me feeling. I’m trying to be honest rather than unkind, I’m sure Lynn would find listening to me waffling on for an hour just as tedious.

Butterworth married in 1991 and fathered 3 sons. In 2010, age 45, he began his transition. In 2012 his wife filed a successful suit in Texas to remove his parental rights, claiming his transition was ‘harmful to the mental well being of their youngest son’. Lynn has clearly undergone some serious heartache and trauma in life and I have no intention of belittling that. But I felt uncomfortable by the showing of pictures of his young child and the revealing of personal information about the boy, which in itself might be considered a safeguarding concern by some.

What I did have trouble seeing was how the talk was in any way either educational or inspirational.  Lynn claims that ’75-85% of trans females know by the time they’re 5 years old’, an entirely unsubstantiated statistic which he appears to have plucked out of the air.  He also reports that it’s ‘quite common’ for young trans-identified boys to attempt to cut off their penis, as he asserts he did age seven.

Lynn discusses a sexual encounter where he claims a partner ‘fingered’ him and said, ‘I must turn you on, you’re soaking wet’. Earlier in the talk Lynn shared the fact that his GRS involved penile inversion, and this form of neo-vagina cannot self-lubricate, it seems reasonable to dismiss this as fantasy.

The talk is rife with ‘sex jokes’ which, yeah, ok, on some level why not, but it’s all a bit TMI: jokes about penis sizes (his used to be big, his lover’s was small and he came too quickly) leave me wondering what we’re supposed to be learning here. At one point he talks of  being able to remove his false teeth and jokes:

“‘June 2013, I’m the perfect girlfriend, right, can’t get pregnant, removable teeth. What a whore.”

I had to rewind that bit several times to be sure that’s actually what he said. It was.

Call me a prude, but listening to a man telling a group of students that the ideal girlfriend is some sort of purchasable fuck-toy doesn’t fill me with adulation. It fills me with fucking rage.

In an online interview, Lynn says that students are ‘very curious about sexual questions’.  Asked when he would tell a sexual partner he was transsexual, he replies:

“If I just wanna go sleep with a guy, y’know, and I’m on the road, I don’t tell them.”

In my humble opinion there seems to be quite a few issues here about Lynn’s suitability as consultant on a project concerning the welfare of young trans-identified people.

In February 2020 at University of Bath held a CPD (Continuing Professional Development) day for staff and students. Lynn spoke about ‘her lived experiences of being Transgender‘ and this was followed by a talk by Sam Martin who spoke about ‘experiences, information and support needs of trans and gender diverse youth‘.

Indeed, Jessica and Sam are such good mates they run a podcast series together.

In episode six (May 2020) they discuss the importance of ‘the positive effects of young people accessing timely, gender related healthcare interventions’ with Susie Green of Mermaids.

“I don’t think people realise how important puberty suppressants are to young transgender children,” says Jessica (who, let’s remember, transitioned age 45 after fathering 3 children). “It can be life or death.”

“There are attacks continuing against… young people, particularly regarding their access to medication and their right to consent to it.” says Green, whose child began taking cross-sex hormones age thirteen.

When Susie reveals that her child had full ‘gender reassignment surgery’ in Thailand on his 16th birthday, there is excited laughter.

“She lived my dream, unbelievable! To be able to transition at that age. What a dream!” gushes Jessica, going on to add, “I’m so thrilled. I’m so thrilled that she has a mother like you.  I wish more mothers were open and accepting… your daughter is living my dream life and now you’re doing this for the next generation of kids.”

“The work you’re doing is absolutely fantastic. It’s saving lives.” concludes Sam.

Jay Stewart

Jay Stewart

Another member of the advisory committee- and a co-applicant for the grant process- is Jay Stewart. One of Stewart’s roles as a co-applicant was to enlist participants through ‘recruitment and dissemination’.

Jay Stewart is a ‘transman’ (a female) who provides seminars in primary schools on behalf of GI, encouraging children to consider their ‘gender identity’.  GI also organises summer camps for ‘trans kids’ and has previously received arts grants from pharmaceutical company Burroughs-Wellcome.

One might well ask how a little girl who likes ‘boy stuff’ feels when an important bearded ‘man’ comes into her school and tells her and her peers that he ‘used to be’ a woman and it’s possible to change sex?

The Gendered Intelligence ‘Trans Youth Sexual Health’ booklet, by and for young people aged 16-25, partially sponsored by the National Lottery, tells young people:

“A woman is still a woman even if she likes getting blow jobs. A man is still a man even if he likes getting penetrated vaginally.”

It adds, “Surgery will affect sex in many ways but the most noticeable effect is a boost in body confidence. You may enjoy sex more as you begin to feel better about expressing yourself.”

In addition to Gendered Intelligence, groups and individuals that appear to have been involved, or have been asked to be involved in recruiting participants are Mermaids (CEO Susie Green) and Dr Helen Webberley.

All of these organisations and individuals promote the affirmation model (ie if a girl says she’s really a boy, you should agree, yes, she is a boy) and all support the provision of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones for trans-identifed young people. It seems pretty much impossible that bias could be ruled out using such recruitment methods.

blocked by Mermaids

A parent who does not believe in the ‘born in the wrong body’ narrative is more likely to be blocked by on social media by Mermaids than being encouraged to join a research project.

Mermaids

Mermaids is often referred to as an LGBTQ+ charity but its sphere is not LGB youth. The homepage of its website states that its aim is ‘helping gender-diverse kids, young people and their families’. (There’s that phrase again ‘gender diverse’).

As noted earlier, Green took her own gender diverse child to Thailand for full ‘gender reassignment surgery’ on his 16th birthday.

As these tweets (above) from Mermaids and Green show, they believe that children changing their minds about their gender identity ‘doesn’t happen‘, that blockers are ‘completely reversible’ and that surgeries should be performed on under-age children.

These are peculiar and easily refutable claims. My own child desisted, as do many others. Most feel a bit embarassed by the whole thing and don’t wish to talk about it. Recent media reports have highlighted the experiences of  both Keira and Jacob, who have been brave enough to speak up and who believe they were given access to drugs too young and without due care.

“(Taking blockers) was the worst decision I’ve ever made… it was sold to me as a miracle cure for being trans.” Jacob (16)

“”I should have been challenged on the proposals or the claims that I was making for myself… I was allowed to run with this idea that I had, almost like a fantasy, as a teenager…. and it has affected me in the long run as an adult.”  Keira (23)

Helen Webberley

Helen Webberley is infamous for providing cross-sex hormones to a twelve year old child. She has a criminal conviction after being fined £12,000 in December 2018 for illegally providing healthcare services from her home. After her UK practice was shut down, she and her husband moved to Malaga, Spain where they continue their business.

Sam Martin thanks Helen for her support for the project on twitter (see above).

What are the implications of this?

Are we really supposed to believe that this group of people are going to produce an impartial and objective study on the needs of trans-identified youth when it’s quite clear that they already have committed and passionate beliefs about what they believe is needed?

If everyone involved in recruiting young people for the project believes there should be less gatekeeping and easier access to hormones and surgery for young people, then that is going to be exactly what the researchers find is needed.

Participants

I spoke to a parent who had participated in, but felt critical of, the study. Catherine (a pseudonym) told me:

“They’re collecting participants from specific pools. I felt I wasn’t ‘on script’; I wasn’t saying what they’d heard from other parents…  I don’t think what they’re doing is good science, that’s the problem here. They’re conducting a research piece with a view to furthering a trans agenda. It’s not science, it’s a political exercise and the purpose is not to find out information, it’s to reinforce an existing belief. That’s the fundamental issue with that study. It’s a bubble. They operate in a bubble. Getting outside of their bubble-  well, I don’t know, they just bounce off the sides. It’s an echo chamber…  Here’s my concern with the whole exercise: someone somewhere  came up with the idea that we need research to back up the demand for faster, quicker- less gatekeeping- and shorter waiting times. It’s as if someone designed research purely around the idea that you need to do things quicker. It’s as if they want to do the wrong thing, faster. That’s my take on it…   I do think some of the people who set up the study know what they’re doing, they know it’s institutional capture and that’s their objective. They’ve politically captured institutions,  for example the Tavistock, and what they need is research to back them up now. I don’t think everyone involved is scheming, not at all: I think most of them just can’t see out of the bubble.”

The grant awarding body allegedly had other concerns, however. A long list of them. So many in fact that’s it’s virtually impossible to see how, in a climate where so many much-needed, well planned and structured projects are refused funding, this one managed to secure itself over six hundred grand.

Concerns? What concerns?

In fact, the list of concerns expressed by the awarding body- according to the documents I saw- was so extensive that it covered an entire two pages of the outcome letter and  included the following:

“The proposal was lacking in methodological detail throughout…

a detailed plan of analysis is required…

the reach of Healthtalk to the audiences for this research is not clear…

the team should consider how they would address any bias introduced by the recruitment methods used (social media etc)…

further detail is required regarding ethical considerations…

the team are asked to consider and describe how they will address gaining consent from the youngest participants…

the plain English summary should be improved by removing any jargon…

PPI costs should be reviewed throughout the application and any inconsistencies resolved…

costs and contributions for co-applicants and staff should be reviewed...

please clarify what third party rights exist in relation to background IP (intellectual property)…

 

The list above is far from extensive. Now- sadly- I’m no expert in applying for over six hundred grand’s worth of funding but it does seem to me that perhaps at least some of these issues should have been properly resolved before the grant was promised?

What exactly is going on here?

The NIHR (grant awarding body) is primarily funded by the Department of Health and Social Care.  The DHSC is, of course, funded by the taxpayer.

So, yeah, you’re paying for this charade.

Cheers!

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Transactivism & the Ning Nang Nong

“On the Ning Nang Nong,
Where the Cows go Bong!
and the monkeys all say BOO!
There’s a Nong Nang Ning
Where the trees go Ping!
And the tea pots jibber jabber joo.”

Spike Milligan

We are currently experiencing extremely high levels of jibber jabber joo in the Twittersphere. There are stock responses to criticisms of gender ideology, mostly the same, neatly packaged so they can be tossed righteously into the mouths of those who dare to speak against it. This post will attempt to unpack a few of them.

There are more than two sexes.

All bodies are different, but there are specific differences between men and women’s bodies that cannot be ignored. The issue is biology. Men and women have different bodies. Even at the structural level we are different. The fact that the human species has a biological binary  does not deny the existence of intersex people, in the same way that the existence of blind people is not denied when we describe humanity as a ‘sighted species’. 

Humans reproduce via a binary system: sperm and ova. Sex is not a spectrum. Intersex people are often evoked as somehow being ‘proof’ that male-bodied people can be women if they say so, or that some little girls who like football need to ‘become’ boys to be their authentic selves. The details vary but there is no scientific basis to the argument.

Human beings are bipedal. Sometimes a baby is born without legs, or a person loses their legs in an accident. This does not change the fact that humans are a bipedal species.

That is like the famous statistical point that the average number of legs on a human is less than two,” observes one Twitter user.

Of course we are ‘so much more’ than our sex. Of course our realities are subjective and everything is in flux.  If you want to have that conversation great, pass the bong. Acknowledging the scientific reality of sex does not erase or insult intersex people any more than it erases or insults blind people and to be honest I have never heard the argument that it does from someone who was actually intersex themselves.

If you want to read more about intersex issues, I suggest you check out the work of intersex advocate Claire Graham.

We are assigned a gender at birth.

Well no, we’re not. Our sex is observed and recorded at birth. Our culture may assign gender roles to that sex, in fact cultures invariably do. The constant mixing up of the words ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ causes much of this problem. We are complex living beings in a species with binary sex, living in cultures that have gendered expectations of those sexes . You can’t change your sex to better fit the box your culture expects you to fit into. Put some of that energy into fighting sex stereotypes instead and maybe you can change those.

We all have a gender identity.

My insistence that I don’t have a gender identity has resulted in some people suggesting I’m non-binary but I just haven’t realised it yet. 

Plenty of people don’t feel that they have a gender identity. It’s quite possible to feel angered by, or relate to, the stereotypes culture places on the sexes. Your ‘gender identity’, if you have one, is part of your personality.

I am a woman, not because I identify as one, or because I identify with sexist stereotypes, or because I’m happy to probably be paid less for the same job, but because my sexed body tells me that I’m a woman.

I didn’t choose to be a woman, I don’t ‘feel like’ a woman, I just am one. Because biology.

I feel like a woman so I am a woman.

How does a woman feel? How does a man feel? The obvious answer is that there is no one generic psychological shared experience of men or of women. We all feel differently and however close we are to somebody we cannot really know what it feels like to be them. When a man says ‘I feel like a woman’ he is expressing the notion that he somehow shares a common experience with all women. A closer analogy would be to say that he feels an affinity with the stereotypes of womanhood expressed within his culture. As we can’t get inside each others brains, this invariably comes down to such superficial trappings as long hair, lipstick and scanty clothing. To say ‘a woman is anyone who feels like a woman’ is a circular definition. Rather like defining a sad person as ‘anyone who feels sad’, it tells us nothing.

Transwomen are women.

Or as we are now expected to write it, as two words: trans women. You know the argument… I’m cringing as I write this… trans women are women just like black women, or disabled women, or lesbian women are women… trans is an adjective that just describes a sort of woman. But it doesn’t describe a woman. A chair is not a trans table. A puppy is not a trans kitten. A man is not a trans woman, whatever his brain may tell him. The appropriation of the experience of female minority groups in an attempt to prove that men can be women is awful: ableist, racist, sexist, lesbophobic. If we say men can become women then the word woman means nothing. I write more about this here.

‘Cis’ is just the opposite of trans.

Giving something a Latin name does make it sound very clever and important, especially to those of us whose Latin doesn’t stretch much beyond ‘illegitimi non carborundum’ (yes, I know, it’s not real Latin).

‘Cis’ and ‘trans’ are generally used in chemistry and geography; there is no historical linguistic or medical precedent for using the words to describe bodies or identities and their meanings need to change slightly in order to do so.

 ‘Cis means ‘on the near side‘ or ‘on the same side’. Trans means ‘across’ or ‘on the far side’. So if you were a Roman in 300 BC you would refer to what we now call France as Cisalpine and Transalpine Gaul, because the Alps lay in the middle of the two areas.

Transylvaina literally translated means ‘on the far side of the forest’. Nobody’s quite sure why there’s no Cissylvania.

Using cis and trans to attempt to explain that men can be born in women’s bodies really doesn’t work . ‘Cis’, used in this context, is both insulting and regressive. It reduces women (and men) to a subordinate category of our own sex. Also, nobody has the right to tell you how you feel about your own body or its relationship to gender stereotypes and expectations. Nobody has the right to call you ‘cis’ let alone demand that you use the word to describe yourself.

Of course, words change, realities are subjective and who am I to interpret your own personal truth.  Perhaps the universe is all in our imaginations anyway in which case, are you still bogarting that bong?

Some lesbians enjoy using strap-ons so why shouldn’t they like lady-penises?

Handing over to some lesbian friends to answer this one.

“It says that if she’s a lesbian and a man says he’s a lesbian and wants to sleep with her she has to sleep with him or she is bigoted. Corrective rape precisely,” said Kate. “It’s saying if you are happy being penetrated with something you should be happy to be penetrated by anything.”

Jen added:  “if some male-bodied people (males) are in their eyes actually women then they think lesbians will be attracted to them… as if there is nothing whatsoever to do with being attracted to a woman because she has had the same socialisation as you, because you feel safe and unthreatened with her, and/or that you want to reject men because they are oppressive and you don’t feel safe with them and their raping penises.”

“What do you think?” I asked Jessie.

Non-binary is valid.

The fact that actual doctors, teachers and scientists are using this phrase with a straight face shows exactly how far the jibberjabberjoo has spread.

For clarity, non-binary does not mean intersex. A person who is non-binary feels themselves to be neither male nor female. Or possibly both.  A gender fluid person sometimes feels male, sometimes female. There are also those who call themselves agender or bigender.

They are the people in-the-middle, rising above the rest of us mere shallow and superficial men and women.

‘Enbies’ throw the rest of us under the bus because for X to identify as nonbinary, Y and Z have to stay firmly in their gendered compliance boxes. X rejects the stereotypes associated with her sex but presumes that others can put up with them. For enbies to reject gender the rest of us have to be seen to comply with it.  Why should some young women stay in the ‘girl’ box just so others can feel special?

Very, very few of us are 100% masculine or feminine in our presentation. Very, very few of us relate to all the gendered expectations of our sex. Why should women be expected to look pretty? Why shouldn’t men cry? There is a combination of masculine and feminine traits within us all – this is part of the rich tapestry of human experience and expression. It’s what makes us human beings. We’re all valid.

You’re a TERF/transphobe

TERF, ostensibly short for ‘trans-exclusionary radical feminist’ is a slur often slung at women who are neither ‘trans-exclusionary’ nor radical feminists.

Radical feminists believe in going back to the roots of feminism (that’s the ‘radical’ bit). They believe that feminism is for and about women as a sex class and that women are oppressed because of their biology, not because they identify into their oppression.

 Women who reject womanhood by purporting to be non-binary or ‘trans men’ are still women, and therefore they are still the concern of radical feminism. Radical feminism isn’t trans-exclusionary, it’s just man-exclusionary.

The words ‘TERF’ and ‘transphobe’ are fairly interchangeable, although TERF is more often aimed at women.

A phobia is an irrational fear of something. There may be some people out there who are scared of- or even hate- all trans-identified people, but that isn’t generally the way the word is used. If you don’t believe that some people are born the ‘wrong’ sex and that it’s possible to change that- you’re a transphobe. If you don’t believe that a man can become a woman just by saying so – you’re a transphobe. If you don’t believe that some children need drugs to help make them look more like society expects the opposite sex to look – you’re a transphobe. I write about this in more detail here.

You’re erasing trans people/denying their existence.

The tweet on the left was posted in response to this comment “…we all have our own opinions and how productive is it to alienate others without even understanding each other first?”

“You’re denying my existence” is cousin to ‘you’re a transphobe/ TERF’ because it comes down to the same thing: a refusal to say that men can become women (or women men, but strangely the movement seems far less bothered by that), or that kids can be born in the wrong body. Let’s look at it from a different angle. Let’s suppose that I think I’m incredibly clever, extremely athletic and stunningly beautiful. Let’s suppose that you disagree with my assessment of myself. Are you erasing me?

As one Twitter user commented “I’m not denying anyone’s existence. I’m saying it’s not my responsibility to pretend men are women and women are men just so people don’t get offended.”

Trans rights are human rights.

Trans rights are human rights. Absolutely.

All humans, both male and female, deserve equal rights with other humans.

Forcing others to comply with your ideological beliefs is not a human right, however, and these two things should not be confused.

Just as I don’t believe the world is balanced on the back of some elephants riding on a giant turtle (as some Hindus do) or that the communion wafer literally becomes the body of Christ during holy communion (as some Catholics do), nor do I believe that we have gendered souls that can accidentally be popped into the wrong bodies. That doesn’t mean that I wish to deny anyone their human rights.

I have never heard a Hindu or a Christian demand that I agree with them over this, or suggest that it is hateful of me to disagree. I’ve certainly never heard anyone claim that it’s erasing them.

Some people think little kids can be born ‘in the wrong body’ and that men can become women. If you don’t, nobody has the right to force you to comply with that belief.

Not even on the Ning Nang Nong.

 

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