Free Speech & Gender Ideology – Crossing the line

The dilemma

A police officer publicly claims my opinion ‘directly leads’ to murder. He’s a representative of the law, I’m a stay-at-home mum who believes in free speech. I asked, but he hasn’t removed the tweet & he hasn’t apologised. Ethically, what’s the ‘right thing’ for me to do?

 

 

I believe that we should all have a right to both free speech and freedom of expression.  It is by listening to different opinions that we test, adjust and consolidate our own views. It is by debating that we learn to understand the position held by our adversaries, which in turn can enable us to better articulate our own position. On many an occasion I have quoted Evelyn Hall’s sentiment (ascribed to Voltaire) “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”  Whilst not an easy path, this course sounds both heroic and reasonable.  Like most absolutes, it is not without problems. In this instance-

Do we defend the right of free speech for those who falsely accuse us of crimes?

Article 10 of the Declaration of Human Rights, says Liberty:

“..protects a right that’s fundamental to our democracy – our freedom of expression. It means we’re free to hold opinions and ideas and to share them with others without the State interfering. Article 10 also protects your right to communicate and express yourself in any medium – including through words, pictures and actions.”

In certain circumstances, Article 10 may be limited, for example, ‘when protecting other people’s reputation or rights.’

I can’t help feeling that publicly accusing someone’s opinions on gender ideology of  ‘directly leading to trans people being murdered’ perhaps crosses this line.

Yet reporting someone to an authority sits uneasily with me: it feels like telling tales to teacher, something twelve year old me would have died rather than done, even when sporting a black eye gifted by a boy in the year above (for ‘being annoying’ no less).

“Hmmm,” says middle child when I asked her. “I’d say that was free speech. It’s not as bad as the guy who said you should be raped for complaining about manspreading.”

Indeed it is not. But he wasn’t a police officer.

She said, he said.

On May 29th, I reposted this meme on Twitter. A group of adults on a Mermaids training day had been told:

“If you are assigned male at birth and you identify as a woman and you’re attracted to men, you’re straight.”

I found this assertion quite chilling.  “Ever wondered what gay conversion therapy looks like in 21st century Britain?” I tweeted.  “It looks like this.”

In my opinion the love bombing so popular within cults is a form of conversion therapy.  Promising confused kids who come out as trans ‘a new rainbow family’, suggesting that medications and surgeries can ‘fix’ them; telling same-sex attracted kids that transition will make them straight, that there are right and wrong ways to be a boy or a girl and ostensibly doing this all in the name of love- this to my mind is also conversion therapy.

‘Conversion therapy’ is also the name transactivists give to the idea that we might want to try helping trans-identified children and young people to feel more comfortable in their own bodies rather than transitioning them. They are currently trying to get this type of therapy banned altogether in the UK.

 

Why do I care so much?

I have a vested interest in this. At the age of fifteen my eldest daughter decided she was a boy. She was consistent, persistent and insistent. I didn’t support her transition & she outgrew it. She is 19 in a few months, a happy, confident ‘out’ lesbian. Our story could have had a very different ending had I affirmed her newfound ‘gender identity’ or taken her to a clinic or ‘support’ group. She herself has said that she would have jumped at the chance to go on testosterone.

Lengthy NHS waiting lists would have led us to private treatment. Who knows, maybe we would have ended up patients of the Webberleys. Helen Webberley, who will notoriously prescribe testosterone for 12 year olds, and her husband were recently suspended by the GMC but continue to practice from Spain.  Their website warns parents:

‘unnecessarily delaying such intervention, clearly has the potential to lead to seriously damaging consequences for very vulnerable young people, including the risk of selfharm and attempted suicide.”

 

So we need to talk about this crazy idea that trans-identified children need to be blindly affirmed.

We need to talk about the vast numbers of teenage girls who identify as boys, why so many of them are lesbians or autistic or traumatised,  we need to discuss options for treatment and we need to stop throwing obscene amounts of funding at organisations who tell children that being born ‘in the wrong body’ is a thing.

Wanting discussion is not hateful. Not wanting to lie to kids is not hateful. Nor is refusing to believe that men can become women, or that some people are ‘non binary’ and the rest of us fit binary stereotypes. We need to stop telling young lesbians that they’re boys.

The idea that we all have an innate sense of gender is an ideology with its roots in sexism and stereotypes. Scientists can’t tell if a brain is male or female, but archaeologists can tell the sex of a skeleton. It is not ‘hateful’ to disagree with Trans ideology, any more than it is hateful to disagree with Christian ideology.

I find the idea that we each have an essence of male or female gender, which can somehow become placed in the wrong body, to be absurd. Likewise I do not believe that the communion wine becomes the blood of Christ. Nor that the universe is carried on the back of a giant turtle. It is my right to hold these beliefs. It is my right to express those beliefs.

 

more she said, he said

 

So I posted this, and a bloke called Jon Killen said he wanted everyone to be aware that  I was an ‘anti trans’ account and that I held ‘views shunned by the LBGT+ community.’

 

 

I’ve never claimed anyone doesn’t exist and I’ve never said I ‘don’t like’ trans people.

Ok, the ‘trans animals’ thing was so totally ludicrous – although I respect his right to express it – that I did respond with my kitten-that-wants-to-be-a-rabbit picture.

 

 

There is no one voice for such a diverse group of people and you don’t speak for everyone and neither do I,’ answered one respondee to Killen, going on to add that he was  “absolutely committed to people being able to have a sensible fact based discussion without fear of violence.  Specifically that women’s voices are heard without fear of men shutting them down.’

It was in response to him that Killen replied:

 

“… toxic and dangerous and directly leads to trans people being killed.”

Initially I couldn’t believe that he was a genuine police officer, it seemed so irresponsible and slightly bonkers.  I wasn’t alone in this.

 

Police officers- even ones with ‘non binary’ on their profile- are not meant to get involved with politics, let alone going round telling random women on Twitter that their opinions DIRECTLY get others killed.  But this guy is who he says he is.

I posted a copy of my article Gender is Harmful, my Views are not Hateful in reply to his comment. He ignored it.

 

 

Channel 4 ‘fact check’ reports that ‘the limited data we’re working with suggests that in the UK at least, a trans person is less likely to be murdered than the average person’. In the UK in the period between 2008-17, nine trans people were killed in the UK.

None of them were killed by me, or because of me.

Over the next few days I wondered what to do. A journalist called me saying the comment was defamatory and I should make a complaint. A police officer messaged me telling me Killen was a good bloke really and his views not representative of the Mets. I was offered help with legal representation. I posted waffley ‘what should I do?’ threads in group chats and deleted them before anyone could reply.

While I dithered, people complained to the Mets on my behalf.  This was posted on Mumsnet:

Hundreds of people commented on the Twitter thread, calling his tweet ‘an abuse of power’ and defamatory and pointing out the absurdity of accusing me of culpability.

Killen did not respond.

Many tagged the Metropolitan Police, who did not respond.

I still couldn’t make my mind up what to do.

Killen might well have been told he had ‘overstepped the bounds of what a serving police officer should be saying on social media’ but it didn’t look as if anyone had gone so far as to tell him he should take the tweet down.

On 3rd June, I posted this:

Killen did not respond.

The Tweet remained.

On the 4th June, Sonia Poulton, who had contacted the police to ask for an official response, posted this:

Killen did not comment.

This is what the statement from the Metropolitan Police (above) read:

Killen did not apologise.

Killen did not remove the tweet.

“Wow, having a word with him has certainly worked hasn’t it!” tweeted Anne Ruzlyo.

 

We Are Fair Cop claims the above police statement disregards Restrictions on the Private Life of a Police Officer, Police Act 2003, Regulation 6, Schedule 1.

‘A member of the police force shall at all times abstain from any activity which is likely to interfere with the impartial discharge of his duties or which is likely to give rise to the impression amongst members of the public that it may so interfere.

‘In particular a member of a police force shall not take any active part in politics.

We Are Fair Cop also points out that the College of Policing Code of Ethics states:

‘6.5. Police officers must not take any active part in politics. This is intended to prevent you from placing yourself in a position where your impartiality may be questioned.’

You can read the ‘Fair Cop’ thread here.

 

The section from the college of Policing Code of Ethics raises a lot of questions about current police involvement in trans politics. It certainly suggests that officers should not be accusing the opinions of others of directly causing death.

 

 

 

So, here we are. Jon Killen flitted briefly into my life, accused me of being directly responsible for the death of trans people, then ghosted me.

This is not good enough.

For holding gender critical views, women have been silenced online, losing their social media accounts and their blogs. More than that, women have lost their jobs.

Better women than I have been accused of ‘hate speech’ of ‘spewing vitriol’ of ‘hating trans kids‘ and ‘wanting trans people dead‘.

These wild, unfounded accusations are almost always made by men, men who consider themselves to be non-binary or gender fluid, or men who consider themselves to be women. Sometimes they are made by parents who have transitioned their children, or organisations with a vested interest in transitioning children. ‘Expanding our client base’  was a phrase I once heard used at a conference.

This needs to stop.

I started a ‘what should I do’ poll on Twitter. It hasn’t finished yet but the results seem pretty clear. I suspect that I shall not take the poll’s advice, but who knows.

Killen has not apologised.

The tweet remains.

For holding these views, women are threatened with violence online, over and over again. Some have had the police call at their door and been taken away for interview. One was a mother with a baby and an autistic child. Another was a pensioner.

  “During my interview,” said one, “the officer interviewing me mentioned how police officers have to be mindful of their online conduct and content, and that I should possibly practice the same…”

I would be a fool not to feel a little nervous.

I’ve spoken to my kids about what to do if it happens to me.

In 21st century Britain, I have had to have that conversation with my kids.

‘Don’t worry,’ I told them, ‘I haven’t really done anything wrong, they’d have to let me go. Don’t worry.  And don’t do anything that could get you in trouble.

Don’t worry.

UPDATE: 18th June 2019

The result of my poll.

92% of respondents thought I should report Killen. 5% thought I should ‘air it on Twitter’ (my chosen course of action) and 3% went with the ‘get over it’ option.

While I didn’t make a complaint to the police, I did report the tweet to Twitter. Twitter decided not to ask Killen to remove it, saying it didn’t contravene their rules against abusive behaviour.

Yesterday I noticed that at last Killen had removed ‘The Tweet’.

Several people who had complained had been assured that he would be spoken to by his bosses, so I presume they told him to take it down. Although it is possible that he had a change of heart and removed it unprompted, that seems unlikely.

When I searched for the tweet I found: ‘this Tweet is unavailable‘.

 

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The Wanking Man – how public masturbation is normalised

From a very young age we are told to stay close to our parents, not to speak to strange men in the park, or by the toilets, not to walk down alleyways… The girls in my family were raised with the mantra, “If you’re lost, ask a lady with a baby, if you can’t find a lady ask a policeman”.

My mum remembers the other kids on the street warning each other to stay away from the priest from the church at the top of the road back in the 40s. We all had certain teachers we gave a wide berth in the 70s and 80s.  We viewed the rhododendron bushes in the park with suspicion, we knew that bad men in raincoats lurked there- indeed sometimes one of our number would spring from the bushes clutching a few torn pages of a ‘men’s magazine’ and we would gawp at the tacky- sometimes literally- pictures inside.

We don’t like to say it, but all women know that men wank in public…

no, Tarquin, obviously not all men… yes, I expect there probably has been a case of a woman doing it…  yes, point taken, Tarquin…

I’ll say it again. MEN WANK IN PUBLIC.

This is one of the very many good reasons that women need spaces away from bepenised persons AKA men. This is one of the very good reasons that we need to be able to name these bepenised persons AKA men. It doesn’t matter if he’s sporting fetching pink lippy, a moustache, a Man United football kit or none of the above. It doesn’t matter if he’s drawn to all things glittery and girly or he has a beer gut and drive a freight lorry for a living.

It is bepenised persons AKA men that feel the need to play with their knob in public and it’s bepenised persons AKA men that need to be kept out of women’s toilets, changing rooms, public pools, refuges, prisons.

As smallest wrote on a piece of paper a few weeks ago (while she was supposed to be doing her maths homework) “If a person has a peanus it’s a man!”

We cannot deny the reality of this, because to deny the reality of this is to make it impossible to record the data that chronicles sex crimes against women.

So far, I’ve been writing fairly lightheartedly about the subject, which may seem as if I’m overlooking one important point:

The Wanking Man is not funny.

 

Last week  a Tweet went viral after a woman posted a video of a man filming in her local gym while an unaware woman in front of him did squats. The man was also masturbating as he filmed her. In the gym.

26k retweets later, Virgin Active had terminated his membership. At least I presume it was his membership. What they actually said was ‘Hi! He has been terminated with immediate affect and will not be able to join Virgin Active again.’

Some men… yes, I know Tarquin, not all men… seemed to find the whole thing hilarious. Comments included ‘can’t even blame him’ which got 350 likes; ‘Homie was just hittin’ arm day’ got 478. ‘Virgin active – clearly!’ got 3.8k likes.

When a few women stepped in to observe that men were gros, however, the light-hearted banter stopped and the righteous indignation began.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am led to wonder how Matt knows that he doesn’t have a single friend who would touch themselves in public.

Because, as @Passie_Kracht observed, somebody’s doing it, that’s for sure.

“This is what men do in gyms.” tweeted Passie. “Yeah yeah, not all men. It doesn’t HAVE to be all men, dudes! Just one who goes viral is enough to remind all women mixed gyms are not safe for us.”

And in response she received over 100 responses, most of which were women telling their own stories.

This inspired me to set up a twitter poll of my own. What percentage of women had experienced ‘the Wanking Man’? I was surprised how many of the women replying to Passie’s thread had first met him as children.

When I was about nine, a man in the park had tried to persuade my little sister to go for a walk with him but I’d chased him off. So I suppose that doesn’t count. We were on the beach about a year later when a man walked past us with his penis poking out of the top of his trunks. He touched it, but he wasn’t exactly masturbating. Does that count? It wasn’t until I was fourteen that a boy in the locker room at school masturbated in front of me and asked me to ‘touch it, please’.  Fast forward eighteen years (and several wanking men) and my sister and I were in the local park at sunset with my toddler when we heard and saw a man masturbating in the bushes near the swings. Determined to put him off his stroke, we started singing “Winnie the Pooh, Winnie the Pooh, tubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff” at the top of our voices.

So when you look at the results of this poll, remember they don’t include the myriad of men who’ve committed minor or major assaults against women; the men who rub up against us on the tube or who follow us just to try to scare us a little.

This poll was purely concerned with the Wanking Man, and the result astonished me.

2,734 women responded to the poll.

SEVENTY PERCENT of respondents had encountered the Wanking Man.

FIFTY THREE PERCENT – over half of all the women who answered the poll – first experienced the Wanking Man as children: age fifteen or younger.

Just THIRTY PERCENT of women who replied to the poll had never experienced the Wanking Man.

Here are a selection of the 106 replies to Passie’s comment that ‘almost all women and most girls have experienced this’:

Was a nanny to two small children and man in motorcycle helmet appeared while we were alone in a park. Around 5 times since including when alone in train carriage at night and walking down a side street in Clapham on a sunny sunday afternoon..

I was eleven & he knew my early morning paper round route & would regularly be waiting for me.

At the beach with my sister. She was 9, I was 12.

6 years old.. in a tiny village school that took kids up to aged 15 if they didn’t make the grade for High School. He was 15.

I was three with my very heavily pregnant mum. There have been a few other subsequent times.

First time, I was 10……he was all red-faced and slightly drunk, just wandering up the road about 2 minutes walk from our house Couple of years later, my sister & I were confronted by a young-ish bloke while walking through an area awaiting demolition (so lots empty houses)

Age 9 a man parked in the car next to us looking at women and girls. Age 11 on a school trip man in opposite hotel window looking at us young girls. Age 19 man in street.

It was gross, this guy used to wank himself waiting for the Wellington train. Wore a boiler suit for easy access. Probably 16 back then.

I would have been 11, with some school friends. He was watching us while he did it.

When I was 11, playing in the woods with a friend. He’d taken his trousers and underpants off and was sitting on a big rock. Asked us if we’d like to touch his penis.

I was a little kid just sitting at the back of the bus when I saw a bloke wanking for the first time. I have seen it many times since. On the subway in NYC, in a unisex loo in Paris, on a coastal walkway in Sydney, on and on and on.

18. Was trying to take a nap and heard this incessant shuffling outside. Kept thinking it would pass. Finally got up and looked out of my apartment window to an older man carrying his groceries in one hand and wanking with the other.

was about 18 or so, walking back to college at dusk in Oxford. It was in a quiet street, he came out of nowhere.

18 walking to the supermarket. He made some disturbing comments about my genitalia as I walked past

9. I was cornered in the showers at the swimming baths. My older cousin pulled me away and reported him,I remember having to talk to the police about it and getting asked lots of embarrassing questions. I didn’t know what he was doing at the time.

Right out in the open, sitting spread eagle on a blanket at Jones Beach in NY. Children everywhere as it was summer. I could barely find the words to tell the lifeguards what was going on behind him.

I was 12. He was standing on the other side of the fence round the netball court

11 on my way home from school, he was hiding in bushes by the bus stop. Someone told one of the nuns (Catholic school) and she chased him off repeatedly hitting him with a hockey stick!

On a late night train. Only me and him in the carriage. Him staring at me. Gross and a bit frightening because I had no idea what he would do next.

When I was young there were small, Victorian parks between our houses & where the beach started. This kind of behavior from men in the parks was so common none of (us) even used to mention (it) at home.

Around my 14th birthday on the beach in HI. Mom did not believe until we saw the man another night on a crowded street when he yelled out, ‘hey (my name) did you like what you saw?’

Another masturbated against my shoulder when I was sitting on a train in Paris. I was in my early twenties, and terrified. And others have exposed themselves to me. I’ve lost count of those.

19. In local park. Man sitting on bench. Watching me.

It’s happened so many times… first time I was about 8, in the cinema. Then again on a beach at 9. Then several times once I hit puberty at 12/13/14. Then ‘the wanker’ that used to come and stand outside my window, wanking, whilst I was studying for A levels. Every day.

.

And here are some of the 89 comments women left below my poll:

Gave evidence in trial (via video link) when I was about 12. Had a chap wanking next to me and a bunch of other school kids on the tube. I remember it was very weird and confusing for us. We didn’t know whether to find it funny or not.

16 in left luggage dept at the station; sisters 9 & 11 playing at the park.

The first time I was flashed I was about 12. The worst incident was when I was in my 20s, on a train going into Charing Cross. He was a few seats back, muttering, at first I thought he was having a conversation with someone but then I realised we were alone & what he was doing.

In a hedge aged 11, on the tube in late teens, once in a New York church..and at least twice more I can recall

The woods at the back of my school playground, at 8 in the morning. He was wearing nothing but a plastic monster mask. I was 13 or 14.

The man who was supposed to be painting our windows lay across the window sill and wanked I was sitting indoors doing homework when I looked up and saw what he was doing.

16 walking home from college. He was in the front seat of a car in Broad daylight with a tabloid newspaper. Next time age 21, on a tube at night, staring right at me with one hand through his coat pocket. I got off early as I felt really upset and scared, he continued to stare.

At first I thought never, then I remembered the guy who sat next to me on a bus as I was going to work who started to masturbate while touching my leg. I was in my 30’s. I wonder how many other incidents I’ve deliberately forgotten, how many we all have.

First time I was 14. the number is now 4. Next time I’m going to knock him out hard!

10ish down at the Glen with my pals (happened several times over the years). 16 in Princes Square Gardens on a school trip. The boys chased him. Uncountable times over the decades.

7, in the park with my pal, he actually came out from behind a bush wearing a flasher-mac, like the creepy stereotype he was. We ran all the way home, too young to understand, but we knew we had to get away from him.

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