Transgender women criticise reform - Times article(47 Posts)
“It used to be fun being a tranny but people have lost their sense of humour. All you get is this moaning and whining. We’re caught in a right mess.”
Miranda Yardley is joking, but she is deadly serious in her opposition to government plans to revolutionise the very definition of male and female.
At some point in the coming days or weeks, the government will publish its consultation on the Gender Recognition Act. Instead of having to obtain a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria, (the condition in which you feel you do not belong in your biological sex), demonstrating that you have lived in your chosen gender for at least two years and providing evidence to an expert panel, people would be allowed to change their legal gender by simply declaring it themselves, under government proposals to speed up the process.
Justine Greening, the equalities minister, has hailed the move as “the next step forward” in advancing transgender rights.
Ms Yardley, a transgender activist, is one of a growing number of critics who are horrified by the lack of thought ministers appear to have given to the consequences of such a move.
She argues that the “deeply regressive” legislation will not only do little to tackle discrimination faced by transsexuals like herself, it would also render women unable to challenge opportunistic men who use it in bad faith to gain access to areas such as refuges, fitting-rooms and support groups for survivors of sexual abuse.
“It’s taking away rights from women to give to men. It is utterly perverse,” said Ms Yardley, 50, an accountant from Essex, who was born male, and underwent gender reassignment almost ten years ago. She defines herself as transsexual, never as a woman, “out of respect to women. I’m not trying to lay any claim to being a woman. I have not had the same life.”
At a meeting in the Houses of Parliament last week, Ms Yardley joined a broad cross-section of clinicians, parents, therapists, academics and gay rights and women’s groups, all united in their frustration at being unable to debate any transgender policy — such as questioning the wisdom of giving children life-changing treatment for conditions that are still not properly understood, or asking how self-declaration might skew female crime statistics — without being shouted down by a small, militant lobby of transgender activists. Legitimate scrutiny, they warned, was being silenced by a single word: “transphobe”.
“Have you seen my Twitter? It’s a bloodbath,” Ms Yardley said. Using the female pronoun is one thing, she says; feeling entitled to hijack womanhood on a whim, at the expense of other people’s rights, is quite another. “We’re being told that a trans woman is a woman. No debate. It’s almost like a cult. Obey the rules of the cult, enforce the rules and anyone who disagrees is kicked out.
“Never in the history of the black civil rights movement, or the lesbian and gay movement, did black people demand to be called white, or lesbians or gay men demand to be called heterosexual. Trans equality shouldn’t come at the expense of equity. Sometimes the most unfair thing to do is to treat everybody equally.”
Critics say that changing the law to protect transgender people on the basis of infinite, undefined notions of “gender identity” instead of “gender reassignment” is identity politics gone mad — as doomed as “trying to legislate for agnostics”, Ms Yardley says. “They’re looking at legislating for my thoughts and feelings and it is nonsense.”
About 650,000 people in the UK identify themselves as transgender. Many have supported moves to ease the administrative burden of changing gender.
A spokeswoman for Stonewall, the LGBT group, welcomed the public consultation, saying: “This review is desperately needed as it’s time to move the legislation on from being a long complicated bureaucratic process, which treats being trans as a mental illness. We believe a better gender recognition act is a crucial next step in achieving equality for all trans people and will help reduce the discrimination and abuse that is all too prevalent in our society. Transphobia in Britain is at epidemic levels and this has to change.”
However, Debbie Hayton, 49, a science teacher from Birmingham who transitioned five years ago, has serious concerns. For her, self-declaration is going backwards, not forwards.
“At the moment, we’ve got the option of saying, look, here are pieces of paper that say we’ve been assessed by society. If you replace that with self-identification only, then effectively these people are relying only on their own assertions. People [who may be hostile to trans people] could simply say, we don’t believe you. It actually weakens our position,” she said.
“The idea that somehow people will face less discrimination if they can self-declare is fallacious and it needs calling out. I don’t see how that is going to help us in our day-to-day lives. It doesn’t address transphobia in society or how we can move on from discrimination.”
How exactly, she asked, does being able to declare your gender overnight stop transgender people being passed over for promotion or discriminated in the workplace?
“How will it stop people being kept in the back office instead of public-facing roles, or change the attitude of employers who might think, ‘If I employ you there may be problems’?
“That is the kind of discrimination that worries me. That’s what I want to see tackled. Instead we’re getting involved in a battle that is totally unnecessary.”
She empathises with the concerns of women’s groups and recommends individual risk assessments if someone born male, but identifying as a woman, seeks to enter a protected space such as a refuge. “Yes, that’s discriminatory but sometimes you just have to accept that if you want to respect other people in society.”
Debate is not discrimination, Ms Hayton said. “If people have concerns, I’d much prefer them to be shared and aired. We need to debate these issues. That is not being transphobic.”
Wow, how awesome to finally have gender critical trans voices in mainstream news. It's a great article.
Great article. What was the meeting? it’s really important to take these issues to Westminster and bust the myths because they are the ones who will be voting on this soon.
Thanks Secret that’s really important to talk about to MPs. Well done to everyone who spoke and organised it.
Hopefully the MPs also now understand the issues better but also, how lucky they were to hear these points in safety. Really urgent for the MPs to understand what has happened previously when this issue has been debated in public outside Westminster ..or can’t be, due to harassment and threats.
There are some transwomen who are concerned about self identification, the push to 'transing' young kids and who are speaking to their local MPs about it to raise concerns. Speaking out publicly and online takes a lot of courage because of the vitriol that such transwomen can receive.
Absolutely sagamartha. Miranda Yardley deserves a medal! Transgender women (along with anyone who fails to agree to agree with all transactivist ideology) are subject to the most appalling threats and abuse. I have been around all types of political activism in the UK for decades and this is the first time I have EVER felt frightened for my personal safety when expressing a view.
What a great article. Well done Miranda and Debbie. And well done to the Times for trying to expose the idiocy of these proposals. Great comments too
Brilliant. (And thank you, Miranda, if you read this at all.)
My only quibble is that the current political circumstances are, if you really must compare them to the Civil Rights Movement, more like white people demanding to be called black, and take centre stage in the movement. (Or like straight people demanding to identify as gay, and then claiming to be more gay than actual gays, but that's less clear-cut because that is actually happening now, dammit.)
Fantastic article. It would be great if people could register for the Times and comment to add their support. It's good to hear women's voices out there in the mainstream press.
Miranda Yardley is worth reading - intelligent, informed, clear writing on twitter, the web and elsewhere.
Miranda and Debbie have brought the debate back on track. I hope more journalists refer to them after reading this. And Miranda is right, people should check out her Twitter feed and see the bile trans activists dish out.
I came on to post this -yeeeey! Excellent stuff!
I am concerned that a few friendships I’ve cherished have stalled because I have the ‘wrong’ idea about sex and gender. Scared for my son that instead of growing up in a world that tells him that boys hairstyles are any hairstyle a boy wants or has and that boy clothes are those a boy wears, he is growing up in a world that tells him that his long hair makes him somehow not male.
Always a relief to know I’m not alone in feeling like the solutions to everything are not to be found in making it easier for nasty men to hurt vulnerable people.
Brilliant that these actually talks in parliament about all of this. My concern though is that the problemss raised in the talks will be totally ignored. Given many many women have written to their MPs detailing clearly the problems with self ID, and recieved back a bunch of crap that doesn't even address any of the concerns and is all about being 'trans-inclusive'. SO MPs are already aware, they just do not care.
Voting against this will almost definitely ensure whoever does dare will be subjected to rape and death threats, the same as anyone who expresses a dissenting voice on this matter is. So is it worth it for them? I would still vote against it were I an MP, but I get endless abuse anyway as I am pretty active on reddit on trans matters now.
Thank you for posting this OP.
Stonewall are increasingly coming out with utter rubbish. Their statement that transphobia has reached epidemic levels when what they mean is anyone who wants to discuss this rather than accept our rhetoric is transphobic. I used to have so much respect for Stonewall.
Stonewalls position is utterly bonkers to me. They started as a LGB organization. Now they think its fine to tell lesbians that they are vagina fetishists...and also seem to take the position that biology is totally irrelevant, which meant L and G are no longer valid, as they are based on...sex. Obviously. Why not just change to a trans support group or something and get it over with.
650,000 people in the UK identify themselves as transgender
I don't believe this
Join the discussion
Please login first.