The media circus is full of high-profile men claiming to be women. Most of them didn’t ‘transition’ until mid-adulthood and there’s a very good reason for this. Parents twenty years ago realised that childhood, the teenage years – and even the early twenties – are times of tumultuous change for growing humans.
Puberty was unpleasant for most of us; hellish for some of us, but often these men have an idealised fantasy version of the elusive girlhood they feel they were denied: a ‘Victorious‘ style time of pillow fights, bubblegum and girlish confidences.
‘The Gender Speaker’ a late-transitioning man who works in Transgender Awareness Training, has this to say:
“I had missed out on the teenage years, getting all dressed up for a night out, wearing strappy tops and mini skirts.”
He seems to imagine that being a teenage girl is just one long femininity-performing trip to the disco. The reality? A friend of middle-child told me three days ago that she’d started wearing a big fluffy fleece jacket belonging to her father because, “I’m sick of men staring at my tits”. She is twelve years old.
In addition to convincing themselves that all the problems they’ve faced in life could have been avoided if only they had been born female, these men like to consider themselves experts on both ‘sides of the fence’, hence Arundel’s blogpost ‘How Women can be More Successful in a Male World’; Munroe Bergdorf’s: “Women are getting feminism wrong” and Juno Dawson’s tagline for his 2017 book ‘The Gender Games’ – The problem with men and women… from someone who has been both.”
Think about it carefully for a moment. Is it really likely that there is no history of child transition- back in the ancient literary archives of the last century and way beyond- because young people ‘didn’t have the words’?
Were men all inarticulate idiots back in the days of Chaucer, Milton, Shakespeare, Dickens, Whitman and Tolkein? Were Sappho, Benn, Shelley, Brontë, Dickinson and Woolf unable to ‘find the words’ they needed to articulate their experiences?
There is a rich and profound history of writing by same-sex attracted people throughout history, but the culture of transgenderism is new and is perpetuated almost entirely by men.
Despite decades of male privilege these men suddenly demand to be addressed as and viewed as women, while in the next breath claiming, ‘I’m still the same person inside,’ or ‘I was always a woman”. However they protest to the contrary, it seems that their view of womanhood is a vague, elusive feeling that manifests itself through red lipstick, gently waved hair and tits. This is such bullshit that it is hardly a surprise that many women are offended by the claim. Woman is not a costume, it is a biological fact and to say so is not ‘defining women by their vaginas’. Woman is not something you can ‘identify’ in and out of, it is a physical state of being.
When did it become an act of hatred to state the obvious?
Let’s be really clear here, I don’t care what these men choose to wear, how they style their hair and who they do or don’t fuck. They should be safe in public spaces; they should have the same rights to housing, jobs and earned respect as anyone else. They should feel safe. Nobody deserves to be threatened, hit, or assaulted for the clothing they wear or their sexual preferences. I’m all for diversity and breaking the bonds of social convention. Men can wear make up, of course they can! Bloody good for them! It just doesn’t make them women. This current trend isn’t about ‘gender bending’, and it certainly isn’t about challenging the boundaries of gender or breaking down stereotypes.
I’ll say it again and again and again; for no matter how often I say it I’m accused of speaking with hatred – I do not hate men for thinking they can become women. I am angered by their audacity and yes, part of me pities their confusion but this is not about hating men, it is about hating a harmful ideology.
I hate the idea that women are expected to accept that ‘woman’ is some sort of inner girly feeling that can be appropriated by a man who believes that growing his hair, wearing a blouse, taking hormones and- sometimes- undergoing surgery, means that he somehow understands a collective experience of womanhood and has the right to speak on behalf of women. It does not. No man has that right and no man who cares about women would try to claim that right.
It’s intensely conservative and individualistic. Woman as a concept rather than the messy reality of life. Self transformation rather than tackling narrow confines of sexist stereotyping of both sexes’.
Dr Mary Chadwick
So now we’re going to look at a few high-profile men who claim to be women. I’m not going to say anything ‘hateful’ about them, because- let me say it one more time- I don’t actually hate them or wish them harm. I’m just going to state a few facts. I’m taking a deep breath here and reminding you that the Junos and Indias and Shons of this world are not women. They are men. They were raised as men and they grew up as (gay) men. All three of them worked in media before transition and are no strangers to male privilege.
In 2013 James Dawson published ‘Being a Boy‘. The Amazon blurb claims: ‘former PSHCE teacher James Dawson expertly guides boys through puberty’. In 2013, Dawson was a bit of a gay role model. Of his novel ‘Cruel Summer’ he said “Why wouldn’t straight people want to read about a devious, sexy young chap?”
In 2014 he published ‘This Book is Gay‘ and became a School Role Model for the charity Stonewall. In 2015 he announced he was going to transition, telling the Independent ‘I just want to be one of the girls’. By 2017 he had reinvented himself as Juno and was claiming”A lot of gay men are gay men as a consolation prize, because they couldn’t be women.’
Dawson’s ability for doublethink is apparent in that he can see no irony in saying of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, “I can’t imagine that she’s dying to hear my views on growing up as a black person because it’s something I have no experience of.”
Jonathan Willoughby was in his mid-40s- divorced and the father of a teenage boy- when he disappeared from the world of broadcasting to returned a few years later as India.
Infamously, he tried to force a kiss on singer/songwriter Ginuwine in a 2018 episode of Celebrity Big Brother and accused Ginuwine of transphobia when he wouldn’t kiss him back. When women in the ‘Big Brother’ house angered him, he declared loudly- in an unfortunate choice of words- “I am a woman! Let that penetrate!” His goalpost for womanhood seems to be undergoing surgery, telling Pink News in 2017, “Unless you are transitioning, stay out of the ladies. Pulling on a frock as and when the mood takes doesn’t cut it. You don’t have a God-given right to go into female-only spaces.” The irony of this seems to be lost on Willoughby, who appears to make the rules up as he goes along, while being photographed in the Ladies’ toilets.
In 2014, aged 26, Sean Faye was writing articles for the Guardian about being a man who wore make up. (Note: the Guardian has recently removed the photograph of pre-transition Shon from the article I link to.)
In 2015 he claimed, ‘I’m not a man, I never was’.
A year later he wrote an article for the BBC on International Women’s Day in which he saw no irony in speaking of a world in where ‘femininity is still in flight from male definition, ridicule and violence’.
“Trans women live under the same system of patriarchy as other women,” writes Shon in the Guardian: in an article where he demands access to women’s refuges and domestic violence centres ‘because I now exist as a woman’. Faye seems to genuinely believe that the essence of womanhood can be encapsulated in a costume. He once told a woman on Twitter, ‘I’m a woman because I say I am, you’ve lost… enjoy your erasure”.
You may have conveniently forgotten about your 27 years of male privilege, but Shon baby, it still shows.
EDIT: June 2019: Several months after this article was published on my wordpress site (closed without warning by wordpress earlier this year) I noticed that the picture (above) of Faye had been removed and replaced with a little red robot. I also noticed that in the above sentence, his birth name had been removed and replaced with the word ‘redacted’.
I was given no warning about this action, or notification of it having happened.
Around the same time I was told by Twitter to remove a tweet in which I had tagged Amnesty International and Faye: “Amnesty have made a terrible mistake – don’t they realise Shon is a man?”
These men are not alone. The list goes on and on. And on, and on. Don’t get me started on Riley J ‘I could start a fire with all that straw,‘ Dennis or Lily ‘TERF TERF TERF‘ Madigan. The fact that some of these men are too young and disturbed for me to feel comfortable writing about them in depth doesn’t lessen the harm they are doing to women with their entitled appropriation.
The last decade has seen an explosion in men who claim to be women. The internet is bursting with men who believe that it is quite reasonable to demand that they are referred to as women and that women who disagree with them should STFU. This is not progressive; it is nothing new. This is what men have always done to women. Shut up, TERF.
So, if I might disagree with Bergadof for a moment when he claims,“what makes a woman ‘a woman’ has no definitive answer, nor does it need one”, I think we really do need to stop and ask a few questions.
So what IS a woman? How do we define ‘woman’?
Is it that she grows young inside her (but some women never have kids!) and feeds them with her breasts (but some women can’t lactate!)?
Is it her womb (but some women have had a hysterectomy!) or her breasts (but some women have lost breasts to cancer!) or her chromosomes (but some women are intersex!) or her menses (but some women never menstruate!)?
Is it her penis? No. Stop right there. Let’s get this perfectly clear. Women do not have penises. None of them. Ever. We have a word for people who were born with penises. That word is men.
” But these days it’s really complicated to define ‘woman’.”
But wait, no it isn’t actually. It isn’t at all. We all know what a woman is. A woman is an adult human female. We all came out of one. And no, that’s not to say that women who are sterile, or have had a mastectomy, or a hysterectomy are not women: of course it isn’t.
NOBODY HAS EVER SAID THAT.
Magdalen Behrns introduced me to this wonderful, spectacularly succinct phrase. The fact that this phrase is fast becoming controversial sums up the absurdity of the current state of gender politics.
There is no such thing as a woman with a penis, whether she is a lesbian or not, (I discuss intersex in my article ‘What makes somebody ‘real’ trans part 2′, so I won’t digress here) but this argument is especially trying for lesbians because obviously, quote Jessie: “Euw… penises.”
So, why should we say men are women when they tell us they are? Well, basically it seems to come down to being ‘nice’. It’s kinder not to remind them that they aren’t really women. We know they’re confused, bless them, so most of us go along with it – because it’s ‘mean’ not to and we have been trained to put the needs of men and boys before our own since we were little girls.
And there’s one more thing we need to get clear. Right now. This is not harmless. This is not just ‘being nice’ to a few confused and vulnerable individuals, it’s far, far bigger than that. This is about your rights. And if you’re a bloke reading this, this is about your mother’s rights, your sisters’, your friends’, your daughters’… this is about Women’s Rights. Yes. THIS IS A WOMEN’S RIGHTS ISSUE! Why? Because this:
We women are trained from a very early age that it isn’t nice to be ‘mean’, but this feels like war. War on our spaces; war on our rights; war on our bodies. And if it’s war, so be it. I come from a long line of women who believe that women’s rights are worth fighting for. Bring it on.