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Transgenderism: the MNHQ position

(390 Posts)
SarahMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 17-Nov-15 11:12:01

Morning, everyone.

Given the number of threads about transgenderism on MN over recent weeks – and the fact that these threads tend to be strongly polarized – we thought it might be useful for us to come on and reiterate/clarify our position.

First and foremost, we’d like to remind everyone that Mumsnet is a site built on the values of tolerance, supportiveness and respect. We’re sure you’re all aware of our Talk guidelines by now, but for anyone new, do have a look: the key points in terms of transgenderism are, firstly, that we aim to keep intervention to a minimum and let the conversation flow, but that secondly, we will delete posts that we consider to be transphobic.

The obvious question, and one that’s been the subject of debate and a large number of reports over the last week, is what exactly we, as a site, consider to be transphobic. We’ve posted on this in the past – you can read the full post here, but in summary, we think it’s paramount to consider context, so rather than coming up with a “Mumsnet” definition of exactly what does and what doesn’t count as transphobia in our book, we think it’s sensible to ask users to adhere to principles of mutual respect and courtesy.

We think by and large this works well, but over recent weeks, some of you have been unhappy with the way in which we’ve dealt with the question of pronouns. Generally we delete posts in which people persistently refuse to refer to people by the pronoun (he/she; him/her) by which they’ve asked to be referred, out of respect for that individual’s wishes. Again, this isn’t something we’ve been rigid about; there are many instances (for example, on a recent thread about Jack Monroe) where we’ve felt that given the context/recency of the individual’s transition, deletion wasn’t appropriate - but broadly we tend to take the view that folk should refer to people by the name and pronoun those people choose.

There has been a question raised about whether or not we would delete the term “cis” when applied to posters on threads, on the grounds that some posters feel that being identified as a “ciswoman” rather than a woman is just as offensive as being addressed by the “wrong” pronoun.

We can see where these posters are coming from, so are of a mind to use the same rule of thumb when it comes to the term “cis” as we do for pronouns - i.e. we won’t necessarily delete every use of it, but if it’s applied pointedly to a poster who doesn’t identify as a ciswoman, we would delete that.

Transgenderism is a complex issue and one which has really only been discussed widely in the last couple of years. We are aware that there is a debate to be had about the differences between biological sex and gender, and how pronouns figure in this, and we’re glad that Mumsnet is a place where people feel able to have that debate.

But we are keen to make sure it takes place in a way that’s as civil and constructive as possible - and, frankly, in a way that means the threads on which it’s taking place don’t descend into a series of personal attacks which result in us having to delete lots of posts. We hope you’ll agree with us that the best way to achieve this is to start from a position of mutual respect - it’s only then that a productive discussion can take place. Essentially we’d hope that everyone could stick to criticising the argument(s), not the person.

We do think that by acknowledging posters’ rights to self-identification, we’re giving everyone the best chance of making their arguments heard.

Hope this makes sense. We’ll be keeping an eye on this thread, so do post your thoughts/questions below.

KatharineClifton Tue 17-Nov-15 11:16:30

As transgender people have the same protections in law as other minority groups would you mind explaining how 'criticising the argument(s)' would apply to race for example?

SarahMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 17-Nov-15 11:29:50


As transgender people have the same protections in law as other minority groups would you mind explaining how 'criticising the argument(s)' would apply to race for example?

As with race (and as we say in our guidelines) we'd delete any transphobic comments - and we include deliberately applying the wrong pronoun under this. It seems to us (and threads on MN over recent weeks have shown) that the difference between transgenderism and race is that, in the case of transgenderism, the rights of one group protected under the law (transgender people) may impact on the rights of another group protected under the law (women). Therefore, it seems to us that at the points where that impact is being felt (such as the question of placing transgender women in women's prisons) there's a discussion to be had. As we say above, we're glad that people feel able to have this discussion on MN - but we think the only way this discussion can take place productively is if we all agree to respect the individuals taking part in it.

Synyster Tue 17-Nov-15 12:48:50

so no chance of a topic?

KatharineClifton Tue 17-Nov-15 13:03:42

There are already two LGBT topics Synyster.

But with this level of bigotry coming from Mumsnet itself I wouldn't be surprised if they don't contain anything from/about trans women. Who aren't actually women according to Mumsnet.

OneMoreCasualty Tue 17-Nov-15 13:14:40

Thanks, Sandie, appreciate the clarification.

OneMoreCasualty Tue 17-Nov-15 13:15:08

Sarah, not Sandie!

TigersOfAlexpolis Tue 17-Nov-15 13:21:06

Thankyou for that clarification SarahMumsnet.

I do appreciate that these things can be very subjective - one person may regard something as an insult whereas another person would barely notice it.


I do not see any bigotry here. MN are more or less saying that they are sitting on the fence and are happy to delete things on both sides that posters consider offensive.

lougle Tue 17-Nov-15 13:22:23

How do you come up with that, KatharineClifton? What approach would you like MNHQ to take?

WhoKnowsWhereTheTimeG0es Tue 17-Nov-15 13:27:31

The two existing topics are LGBT Parenting and LGBT Children, both under the Parenting heading. Not the right place for most of the discussions that have been taking place on the main boards. A separate topic would be better.

Heckler Tue 17-Nov-15 13:30:46

Where is the bigotry Katharine ?

Queenbean Tue 17-Nov-15 13:33:57

Bigotry? What??

No need for a seperate topic. To be perfectly honest, the same arguments just go round and around. A topic would just create a million threads of exactly the same argument.

OneMoreCasualty Tue 17-Nov-15 13:38:50

KC, to take one recent example, Tara Hudson had not completed the reassignment process which is why there was a question mark over the best prison for her. It is not bigoted to discuss that.

BadlyBehavedShoppingTrolley Tue 17-Nov-15 13:51:43

so no chance of a topic?

God, yes, that would be fabulous. Then transgender people and those that wish to show support and acceptance of them in all their different permutations can talk to their hearts content about what it means to be transgender / third gender or what it is to 'feel like' a woman or a man, and the RadFems will either have to keep away, or justsit on their hands and stay nice, if they don't want to get deleted or banned, much like the MRAs do on the Feminism board.

After all, it will be a safe 'Trans Space' and if it is to work in anything like the same way that the Feminism board works then I anticipate it will be frowned upon to go there specifically in order to challenge trans people, or to tell them why they have it all wrong, or to force a debate with them from a feminist viewpoint, or any other less than fully accepting viewpoint.

If men (or indeed women) can be banned for 'goading' and 'trolling' by simply visiting the Fem Board to challenge their viewpoints in a 'Feminist Space', it seems only right that trans people should be able to insist on the same in a Trans space.

It can be a bit like the Berlin Wall or the Partition in India or North and South Korea all over again, and it will be a relief quite frankly. We can FINALLY stop having half of Mumsnet hijacked by the Transgender Debate which is getting tedious and going round in circles.

RebeccaMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 17-Nov-15 14:11:56


so no chance of a topic?

Hi Synyster,

There are two topics already LGBT children and LGBT parents but we will have a think about this suggestion.

Heckler Tue 17-Nov-15 14:15:04

can I just say

bahahahahahaha at the FWR boards being a safe space, where dissent or debate is discouraged.

OneMoreCasualty Tue 17-Nov-15 14:16:07

Badly, many people with concerns on this topic aren't Radfems.

As with any support topic, if there were a trans support topic, I would expect it to be apolitical so that could be a good idea.

MissFitt68 Tue 17-Nov-15 14:20:49

What does 'cis' mean? Sorry for my ignorance!

Egosumquisum Tue 17-Nov-15 14:30:29

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

OneMoreCasualty Tue 17-Nov-15 14:46:15

MNHQ don't tend to move threads unless the OP agrees, Ego. If you preferred to post in chat, that would be fine but a post in support would get more personal support than general discussion, I imagine.

Miss, Trans people consider their gender identity and their biology don't match - the Latin for things on opposite sides is trans, though I expect the actual prefix may have been related to transition when first used.

The Latin equivalent for things on the same side is cis. However, many non-trans posters do not self define as cis as they do not consider themselves to have a gender identity or they question the concept of gender. They self define as female or woman (adult human female) based on biology only.

NeedAScarfForMyGiraffe Tue 17-Nov-15 15:07:45

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Synyster Tue 17-Nov-15 15:12:48

we have topics for everything, thats why I asked, makes it easier to hide, personally I find "cis" offensive as I do not feel woman should have to change anything to accommodate others(unless we are going backwards here of course,

NeedAScarfForMyGiraffe Tue 17-Nov-15 15:13:49

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MorrisZapp Tue 17-Nov-15 15:14:15

Sounds clear to me.

Synyster Tue 17-Nov-15 15:19:53

why does a woman have to be anything other than a woman, that is what they are

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