A Woman’s Place – we’re making history.

It was cold. It was snowy. TBH it was bloody freezing on the evening of the ‘A Woman’s Place‘ event. My friend missed her first train, so I hung around at the station; lured by the smell I popped into LUSH to buy some bath bombs for the kids. No sign here of posters promoting LUSH’s new trans-rights fundraiser, but the gay guy that served me – they’re chatty in LUSH; he confided that his husband had told him to stop bringing so many products home- asked about my ‘Let Toys Be Toys‘ badge. When I explained the campaign to him, he told me how he’d shocked his sister by buying his niece a construction set for Christmas.
Girls need to KNOW about these things!” he concluded sagely, handing me my bag of smellies. I wondered what his position would be on people going into schools telling little girls who liked construction sets that they might be boys, but it seemed inappropriate to ask.
I headed back out into the cold of the station concourse and downed a take-away coffee, as much to warm my hands as anything, and was devouring four quid’s worth of organic cheese on rye bread sarnie when my friend (I’ll call her Emma) arrived.
Emma was a little late, but on a mission.
“We’re making history here,” she declared, striding off towards the underground. “In years to come people will remember these meetings. These meetings are important.”
I agreed, mumbling something incoherent through a mouthful of overpriced breadcrumbs, and trundled off in her wake.
Emma had arranged to meet some other women in the pub but, running late and unable to find them, we arrived at the venue on Shaftsbury Avenue a little early.  A score or so of people were milling around outside the venue but I was surprised not to see any banner-waving transactivists. The venue had been kept secret until the last minute because of violent protests at previous women’s events, but I’d expected to see a few. Maybe they wouldn’t come. After all, it was cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey, as my grandad used to say.
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I’d left my paper ticket at home (of course I had), but accessed my barcode via my email  & showed my phonescreen and ID to the woman registering those whose names fell into the ‘H-M’ section. She smiled and ushered me in.  I was elated to see a coffee machine and deflated to realise it wasn’t turned on.
Emma was already off networking. I looked around at the several hundred women, and some men, who were slowly filling the space and listened to the chatter echoing around the walls. I recognised a handful of friends and a few more aquaintances and as I stood around wondering where to sit (I’d lost sight of Emma) a few familiar faces came over to say hi, shake my hand or exchange a hug. I relaxed: it felt amazing, if a little overwhelming, to be there. Making history.
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Left to right: Steph Pike, Pilgrim Tucker, Megan Dobney and Lucy Masoud.

Eventually the space filled up and Emma, myself and a few other friends took seats somewhere in the middle of the room. Soon there were no seats left and women spilled over into the upstairs gallery.  The space echoed with the rumble of ideas being discussed and friends being greeted.

Meghan Dobney @mdobney called us to order and started the meeting.

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Meghan Dobney called us to order and started the meeting.

When my mother told me I should learn shorthand, all those years ago, I scoffed. Had I listened to my mother, this post could have been more comprehensive.  I hadn’t planned to take notes, but at the last minute I opened up ‘notes’ on my phone and started tapping.
 ***
 It’s important to be aware that the snippets that follow are just extracts of what was said, not minutes, not a proper record, just moments I managed to get down and decipher later.
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The event was filmed and in due course, A Woman’s Place UK plan to release a video of the evening. You can see videos of their previous events here.
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You can read the A Woman’s Place UK Equality Law factsheet here.
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First to speak was Steph Pike @spikeword

Screen Shot 2018-02-28 at 18.09.44“We believe that sex based violence against women still exists …

Our aim is not the questioning of gender but the eradication of gender.

Trans people should not be attacked, abused or denied their rights in any way…

We should all be committed to a comradely and respectful discussion and debate.

Over and over again in this debate women are labelled as bigots. To have our concerns dismissed and silenced is completely unacceptable.

We have to be able to talk about sex based oppression… we have to be able to talk about female biology and female bodies.

Sex matters for if we cannot talk about sex, how can we talk about sexism?

The seeds (we plant) will bear trees that women of future generations will sit under.”

Steph Pike.

***

Next up was Lucy Masaud.

Screen Shot 2018-03-01 at 01.05.24“I joined the fire brigade in 2005.  

I was lucky enough to be one of the first recruits not to have to share changing facilities with men… had that not been available to me I would probably not have chosen that career.
Finally, in 2004 my union fought a long and hard battle … it demanded that all fire stations in London had proper facilities for women… Management tried to pit male firefighter against female fire fighter. Some tried to accused female firefighters of painting all male firefighters as predators.
Thanks to our ‘privacy for all’ campaign, every fire station in London has female toilets, changing facilities and accommodation. It’s important to know that it’s only London who has done this.
Our hard fought battle for ‘privacy for all’ may have all been for nothing. Gender neutral toilets may tick the box for the Stonewall Index but it will be at the expense of female firefighters.
As in fire stations, women must have spaces and areas that are for women only. This debate is about men demanding to have access to women only spaces: all this taking place right under the nose of the Labour Party.
We should be ensuring that the rights of genuine transwomen are respected within society- we should not be stripping away a century of women’s suffrage simply to indulge the gender identity mafia.”
 
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Thirdly, Pilgrim Tucker @PilgrimTucker

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 “The Equality Act is a very, very important piece of legislation. It brings together all the struggles of marginalised groups. Different groups’ experiences of discrimination are different. Importantly for us, what the Equality Act has recognised is the ways women are discriminated against because of our biological sex.
The Gender Identity Act.. sets out how somebody can change from being male to female or vice versa. Self definition is where any man can be a woman just because they say they are one. No evidence, no doctors, just a signature on a form.  All of the political parties have agreed to these changes.
We know that men are much more violent and sexually obtrusive than women. Abuse and the risk of it is a fact of life for women.
In the UK male sex offenders outnumber women by 50 to 1. Men have been socialised to behave in certain ways towards us… we have learned that we need to protect ourselves physically.
We are not saying that all transwomen are rapists or sex offenders, just that they are vastly more likely to be so than women are.
Most transwomen have no intention of having bottom surgery. And when women find this out, most women will say, ‘if you have a dick, you are a man’.
We are not being allowed to talk about these facts: trans rights activists want to stop women talking about reality… bullying, threatening, manipulating. This is wrong.
Evidence backs up how we feel about this. We can’t allow these laws to be changed when they negatively impact on women. The word woman means something – it belongs to us. And if its meaning is taken away there will be no way to talk about us. We need to enforce and strengthen the sex based exemptions. No matter what it takes, we will be heard.”
***
When the three main speakers had finished, the microphone was passed around and members of the audience spoke.
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“There’s a new initiative on Mumsnet: ‘Man Friday’ where we go into male only spaces and point out that the self ID stuff seems to only go one way. We need to stand up to bullies because bullies are cowards.”
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“The lesbian community has been taken over by transgender politics. At every meeting I go to, the majority of lesbians are calling themselves transgender. We are losing generations of teenage lesbians.”
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I was taken off a Liberal Democrat Facebook group for pointing out that TERF is an insult. We are just being silenced, we are just being shut off.  If I can get up and point out that TERF is s mysogynistic word then politicians can do the same.”
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“I am at a school where I can’t run as Women’s Officer because I don’t self-identify as a woman.”
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“I am a transwoman.. I am disgusted at the way women are treated in this debate. If the Labour Party do not get hold of this situation and facilitate a debate, asking how can we advance trans rights without impinging on women’s rights and autonomy, then what we will see is a growing bitterness- and who is going to benefit from that? Sexists, racists, transphobes and homophobes.”
***
Debbie Hayton “I’m a campaigner, a teacher and a transwoman. Can we call out that myth that Women’s Place is transphobic or anti trans? That is nonsense. Proposed reforms are not progressive. We need to talk about them. I’m keen to work with women to find real solutions that work for everyone. Debate is not hate or erasure.”
***
 
Julia Long and Ann Ruzylo

Julia Long and Ann Ruzylo

JuliaLong- “Whatever we’ve heard tonight we all know that it’s actually worse than this. Things are beyond serious; they are potentially catastrophic unless we can act urgently. There is no such thing as a transwoman. It is a complete fiction. Any man who claims to be a woman is acting out of male entitlement and I don’t think feminists should be allowing that sort of gaslighting.”
***
There was controversy afoot when Sophie Walker of the WEP spoke out. Some seemed impressed that she was brave enough to show up- after all, nobody from any of the other political parties did- others displeased that she dared, in the light of the WEP’s assertion that transwomen are women, and their ‘investigation’ of Heather Brunskell Evans claiming comments she made may have ‘“promoted prejudice against the transgender community’.
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I missed the start of the exchange: someone I hadn’t seen for ages made eye contact from the other side of the room and I became distracted, but here is part of it.
***
Sophie: “I’m more interested in listening and I’m taking lots of notes. You can’t successfully be a politician if you aren’t comfortable in being uncomfortable . We are currently working on our policy around the GRA. We are not cowardly.  We do everything through the grass roots of this party.”
***
After Sophie finished there were loud calls that Heather, who had risen, should be allowed to make a response, and she did, with dignity.
Heather Brunskel Evans

Heather Brunskel Evans

Heather: – I am horrified by what happened in the Women’s Equality Party: the whole process of me bring divested of my role. The policy of the WEP is that women are divided into two. Trans women and cis women. I didn’t sign up for that. The WEP is not protecting me by confidentiality, it is protecting itself. I assumed that to say that gender was a social construct was  within the policy of the WEP. The WEP chose to make this investigation of me public… there are deep problems with the WEP.”

***
Heather’s comments were met with applause, and Sophie was heard to say, ‘that’s not true’. You can read Heather’s statement concerning her investigation by the WEP here.
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Ann Ruzylo” What I’ve noticed since I gave up my role is the motion going the rounds in a lot of Labour Party CLP. Liam Madigan tried to bring a motion, a tool to silence women, to prevent them from talking about the GRA. That same motion is doing the rounds in CLPs around the country, saying it is against transphobia, and people are voting for it when they don’t have a clue what they are voting for. There are people being told they can’t ask questions and they are voting out of fear and naivety. I’ve begun asking the Labour Party for the last six months to define woman and define transphobia. Don’t vote for something you don’t know anything about.”
***
A woman whose name I didn’t catch offered this up, ” I broadcast in FM, I have my own radio show. Woman’s Place are welcome to come and speak on my radio show.”
 ***
“I’m from Woman’s Place: my name is Judith Green, I’m not anonymous. We’ve been called an extremist hate group: told that we are bigots and nazis but we also had some lovely things said about us- that we are lesbians. We are not, but lesbians are the first and most courageous women speaking out on this issue. I have tried to be braver and we want more spaces like this where you can be braver. It’s not a generational divide.. thank you all for being here.”
 ***
“I have seen women being pushed out of women’s spaces, women like Jenny Murray- from Women’s Hour. I mean what the fuck? We think ‘poor men, they can’t cope with it.’ We come to it from a point of sympathy. We wander into the woods after some shiny red ball and BAM!  I know midwives who are no longer allowed to use the word ‘mother’. Vaginas go way back to before Sappho and they are birth channels. When we deny the mother we deny the goddess.”
 ***
Ruth Serwotka – “Today’s is the anniversary of the first women’s liberation conference. A message to every single political party- you ignore women at your peril.”
 ***
Stephanie Davis-Arai

Stephanie Davis-Arai

Stephanie Davies-Arai: spoke about Transgender Trend’s new guidelines for schools pack, which is proving so popular nad so controversial.
“This is the schools’ guidelines: apparently it’s really damaging. I’ve heard it’s been recommended in Gateshead:  somebody in Liverpool shared it with all the schools. It’s received an overwhelmingly positive response. We have books in schools for 3 year old about how to change sex, and how’s that going? We created a monster there in Lily Madigan’s school.  Parent power is really important. Please help to spread this.”
 
***
“A man said that abortion was a privilege. When our oppression becomes our privilege we end up apologising for our oppression.”
 ***
“I can’t sit here anymore and not speak up. So I’ve been speaking up and the sky didn’t fall in!  Every time I spoke up people contacted me saying ‘I can’t speak up but I appreciate that you are’. It’s been liberating. I’ve lost two friends and gained hundreds and hundreds of brilliant women friends.”
 ***
“Women’s Aid are doing a push to allow men to work in women’s shelters. Can I urge everyone in this room to write to their local shelter and say this is not acceptable.”
***
Miranda Yardley

Miranda Yardley

“Hi, I’m Miranda fucking Yardley. You’ve got to be able to name your oppressor to fight your oppressor. It is cruel to lie to people about what they are. Being a transwoman is about what it means to be a man, not what about it means to be a woman. I believe that women have a right to their own language to describe what they are. What has become the most revolutionary thing s woman can do: to refer to men as men. I encourage all of you to stand up for your rights.”
***
A woman from Mumsnet:  “Fill in the Scottish consultation. It’s not rocket science! WEP Sophie, you took notes, well bloody write a document and put it on Twitter tomorrow then. It’s not difficult”!
 ***
Pilgrim Tucker: “We are going to have to start organising. We need to go outside Marks and Spencer’s, outside swimming pools: we are going to win this if we can get out there”.
 ***
Lucy Masaud. “Growing up I was awkward…  if I had been growing up now I would have been dragged off and given puberty blockers. But what happened was I grew out of it and I became a fabulous gay!  LGBT is dominated by trans. I remember when Stonewall was an amazing organisation. Now it’s turned into a corporate monster with no concern for issues that affect LGB people, just obsessed with the trans agenda… I’m going to demand that we disengaged with a sham movement that has gone off the rails. I’m proud to be a she. I am a she!”
 ***
Meghan Dobney concluded with: “It’s been a fantastic meeting. We need respect on both sides… stay strong ,keep going and thank you for coming…. on behalf of A Woman’s Place I stand in solidarity with all oppressed people.”
***
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***
At the start of the meeting there had been a muffled drone of ‘transwomen are women’ from outside, but it had died down during the meeting. Towards the end it started up again, but not loudly enough to disrupt us as as we sat inside, in the warm, discussing women’s issues.
***
As we left, a handful of transactivists waved banners outside and chanted something inane. They held banners saying ‘No TERFs on Our Turf‘ and ‘Sisters not Cisters’. I wasn’t sure if some of them were hiding their faces to look ominous or because it was so bloody cold.
***
Emma and I, and a large group of other women and allies, walked on past them and went to the pub.
***
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What we need is education.

lily maynard educate yourself

It never bodes well when people are ordered not to read something. Throughout history, great thinkers, philosophers and academics have always encouraged reading widely: it provokes thought, discussion and diversity. Those who don’t want us to think for ourselves, educate ourselves and come to our own conclusions usually have something to hide at worst, or underestimate the intelligence of the individual at best.

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From the burning of scriptures in 1242 Paris, to the 1990s backlash against Harry Potter, via the Chinese Cultural Revolution of 1960, those who attempt to silence the sharing of thoughts and ideas have rarely ended up ‘on the right side of history’.

I’ve written extensively about the ‘folk devil’ response to Transgender Trend’s new guidelines for schools in ‘Ban it! Bin it! Shred it! here.

Screen Shot 2018-02-26 at 12.43.49There was a similar, but less frenzied response to the publication of Heather Brunskel-Evans & Michele Moore’s book, a collection of essays about the current theory and practice of ‘transgendering’ children. While contributors include parents, academics, journalists, a transexual and a detransitioned woman, critics were quick to dismiss the collection as ‘transphobic’ and unprofessional.  The difference in response, I suspect, is because the Transgender Trend pack can be downloaded free, and Brunskel-Evans & Moore’s book is an eye-watering £61.99 on Amazon or from Cambridge Scholars Publishing here (currently offering a 20% discount!) However, if you can’t afford a copy but are interested, you can read a short extract from each chapter here. Alternatively, or if the extracts pique your interest, why not ask your library to get a copy? What we need is education.

Dr Brunskel-Evans fronts a long line of women who are being slated, ejected and investigated by various parties & departments for expressing concerns about how transgenderism affects the rights of women and children, or questioning the workings of the organisations that promote child transition.

Brunskel-Evans is currently under investigation by the Women’s Equality Party for her comments on the BBC Radio 4’s ‘The Moral Maze’  on November 2017. She says in her statement:

“I refute that I have promoted prejudice against the trans community either on the programme or through my writing and social media. I have called for transparent public debate, without fear of reprisal, of the social, psychological and physical consequences of the narrative that children can be born in ‘the wrong body’.

The Labour Party ejected the quirky and outspoken Venice Allan from its Christmas party this year because she was making certain people ‘feel unsafe’ just by being in attendance. She was suspended in January for ‘bullying and harassment.’ Her crime? Expressing her opinion on Twitter.

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Jennifer Jones was suspended from the party around the same time.

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Ms James was the woman who started the campaign to keep the Labour Party’s ‘all-women’ shortlists female.  Ms Jones writes:

We are absolutely committed to trans people, as a marginalised group, living free from discrimination and violence: we need trans representatives, trans councillors and trans MPs in our party. We are socialists and we are egalitarians. However, trans representation must not happen at the expense of female candidates…

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As of 27/2/18 the GoFundMe page has raised £23,215. You can see the page and decided for yourself it it is a worthy cause – perhaps one you might wish to support – here.

If you do wish to donate, you may wish to do so anonymously. Pilgrim Tucker writes in HuffPost that after putting her name to the crowdfunder:

“I have been called trash, disgusting, despicable, f**ing scum, compared to a Nazi, a white supremacist, and a supporter of apartheid South Africa.”

The Big Question

The big question here is ‘How are we supposed to ‘educate ourselves’ about trans issues when reading anything- or speaking to anyone- advocating anything other than early transition and blind affirmation gets you called an evil TERF who is killing children?’

That’s not education, it’s indoctrination.

So how do we get a balanced view of what’s going on? There are plenty of videos, websites and high-profile trans-advocates out there, so I’ll assume you can find them for yourselves. Men like Paris Lees, Riley J Dennis and Shon Faye are happy to explain to you why they are women. You’ll also have no trouble tracking down the voices of trans-identifed YouTuber youngsters like Alex Bertie, and media-darling teenagers like Jazz Jennings.

Organisations like Mermaids, Transfigurations, Gendered Intelligence and GIRES are good places to start if you want to get an idea of the current trans-narrative which runs something along these lines:

“Trans people are born in the wrong body. They have a male brain in a female body or vice versa.  Real trans people do not desist or detransition. If you don’t affirm a child’s trans-identification they will probably try to kill themselves. The only reason there is no history of children identifying as trans is because they didn’t have the words. Trans people are hated and persecuted, and trans mental health issues are caused by transphobia. Misgendering is hate crime. Being trans is like being gay. Anyone who disagrees with any of this is a hateful TERF. Transwomen are women.”

Don’t take my word for it. Google is your friend.

The trouble with this narrative is that there is no space for dissent or questioning.  It’s hard to discuss ideas when our voices are drowned out by cries of ‘hate crime!’.

These are some of the things we need to talk about.

Real trans kids don’t desist. Read the stories of women whose children desisted, like Bri Jontry  and myself . If our similar but very different stories are evil and harmful, you’ll see it for yourself when you read them.

ROGD is not ‘a thing’.  Activists deny the widely observed phenomenon of ROGD (Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria) among young people, especially girls. You can read about this here in the Journal of Adolescent Health and here in an article by Drs Bailey & Blanchard.  You can also find articles claiming that it doesn’t exist & that saying it does will literally kill transkids. Again, Google is your friend.

Being trans is like being gay.  Trans has been lumped in together with LGB for a while now. Yet gay people don’t have to make themselves into lifelong medical patients, dependent on the perception of others for self-validation, in order to live as their ‘authentic selves’. Quite the opposite: one of the main drives behind LGB rights is that our bodies are just fine as they are, thank you very much, whatever our hobbies; whoever we fancy.  Nobody is going into schools telling kids they should think about whether they might be gay. That would be creepy.

Children always know what is best for them. Children are more literal than adults.  If a boy who likes pink and sparkles is told that only girls like these things, he may conclude that he is actually a girl, especially if an organisation has come into his school telling him so. In fact, our brains don’t fully develop until we are in our mid-20s.  That’s one of the reasons why adolescents and young people are such risk takers.  This narrative belies the fact that a parent’s job is to protect their child until the child is old enough to make their own, informed decisions. This is why we don’t let children smoke, drink, have sex or drive trucks.  Autonomy sounds wonderful in theory but it leaves little room for child protection. When activists talk about ‘safeguarding’ they are now referring to ideas like contacting social services if parents don’t accept their child is born in the wrong body because the child says so. Parents who don’t swallow the dogma are marketed as the enemy, often by parents who have transitioned their own children and have an understandable investment in the idea that it wasn’t a mistake or late-transitioning men mourning the fantasy of a might-have-been idyllic lost girlhood.

Transwomen are women.  Trans-activists will tell you that what makes you a man or a woman is how you feel.  They will tell you that transgenderism isn’t about stereotypes, but when pressed they can’t tell you why, or how that it is possible for a man to know how it feels to be a woman. Woman is not a feeling and woman is not a costume. Woman is a biological fact. This is the view of the hated TERF. Activists will tell you that gender identity is more important than sexual orientation or Biology.  Biology and sexual orientation are so 20th century! Ask yourself – should it really be considered hate speech to say there’s no such thing as a lesbian with a penis?

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Transgenderism & Children

Read the websites of 4th Wave Now  & Transgender Trend. Activists repeatedly refer to these website as ‘hate sites’ or claim they are run by religious zealots. This isn’t true, but hey, don’t trust me. Check them out. See for yourself.  Here you can find personal experiences and information about the philosophy behind transitioning children, but also details of the drug companies, doctors and therapists behind the scenes, the trans-identified men who are so vocal in their support and the families who have been torn apart by transactivism.

At very least, these sites will make you think. Thought is good.

Download the schools pack from : the one that has caused such fury among transactivists. Read it yourself and ask why anyone would want to stop you reading it; why anyone would call for it to be destroyed, in what way it could harm kids. What we need is education. If you like what you read, share it with your child’s school.

Transgenderism & Women’s Rights

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Read what Fair Play for Women have to say. If it’s evil, if it’s nonsense, you’ll reach that conclusion yourself.

Have a look at ‘A Woman’s Place UK.’ Some trans-identified men would like to make membership a crime. Ask yourself why that might be.

Check out Mayday for Women on Twitter and on Facebook.

Have a look at the fact sheet produced by SAGES, the Sex & Gender Ethics Society. If it raises concerns, send it to your MP. Ask them to meet and talk to you about the Gender Identity Act and its implications for women and girls.

After looking at these resources, ask yourself why the trans-lobby don’t want you to read them. Ask yourself if you’ve seen any bigotry or hatred.

I can’t begin to list all the articulate and inspired women – and some men- who you should follow on Twitter and Facebook, or who write thought provoking and compelling blogs. So I won’t.

Let’s educate ourselves.

What we need is education.

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TranSage – the tale of Chrissie & Nigel

Screen Shot 2018-02-20 at 02.48.00This is Chrissie. Chrissie is TranSage. Chrissy was born in 1973, but she doesn’t feel 45. She’s always hung out with people younger than herself, using the same slang phrases and jargon as people half her age. Chrissie knows all about the latest up-to-date technology and social media. Her clothes are the latest fashions. In fact, Chrissie feels uncomfortable and awkward around people who were born around the same time as her. They seem boring, staid and she doesn’t share their interests and goals.

Chrissie works out and is careful what she eats. She buys a lot of expensive body lotions and uses hair colourants to cover up her spattering of grey. She has good genes too. Chrissie’s skin is great. People often think her 28 year old niece is her older sister. Chrissie can dance half the night without getting tired and run for the bus without getting out of breath. She listens to Radio X. Chrissie can drink five bottles of WKD and snort a line of coke and go to work the next day without a hangover. Her doctor says she has the liver of someone half her age.

Chrissie wants to get her passport changed to say she was born in 1993. Why shouldn’t she? She identifies and presents as someone much younger than herself. Why should society’s narrow view of what a 25 year old should be restrict her like this? People’s refusal to tell Chrissie that she actually really is 25 really upsets her and she has become depressed recently. She knows how she feels. Chrissie says that society’s refusal to let her change her age is oppressive and cruel.
Chrissie would like to go on an 18-30s holiday and purchase a 16-25 railcard.
Should we all be obliged to tell Chrissie she is 25?
If not, why not?

Screen Shot 2018-02-20 at 02.50.02This is Nigel. Nigel is TranSage. Nigel was born in 1973 but he doesn’t feel 45. Nigel has always had friends much older than himself. People his own age view him as a bit slow and placid. Nigel has never really caught on to the internet, although he owns a mobile phone and has an email account. Nigel likes reading books about World War II and doesn’t understand ironic beards. In fact, Nigel feels really uncomfortable around people his own age. He has no desire to hang out in wine bars and would rather go to bed early with a nice cup of Ovaltine and watch East Enders repeats.

Nigel has never had good health and started going bald in his early 20s. He’s had trouble with his posture since he was a teenager and often gets back ache. He has mild arthritis in his fingers and he hasn’t run for a bus since 1993. The last time he liked a song enough to dance to it, the Spice Girls were Number 1. Last week someone in the supermarket called him ‘grandad’. Nigel listens to Radio 4. Beer gives him wind. His doctor says he should take it easy.

Nigel wants to get his passport changed to say he was born in 1953. Why shouldn’t he? He identifies and presents as someone much older than himself. Why should society’s narrow view of what a 65 year old should be like restrict him like this? People’s refusal to tell Nigel that he actually really is 65 really upsets him and he has become depressed recently. He knows how he feels. Nigel says that society’s refusal to let him change his age is oppressive and cruel.
Nigel would like to go on a Saga (50+) holiday and get a Senior Citizen’s travel pass.
Should we all be obliged to tell Nigel he is 65?
If not, why not?

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“Ban it! Bin it! Shred it!” Transgender Trend’s new guidelines for schools & the activists that hate it.

transgendertrend lily maynard

Twitter erupted in a storm today and yesterday with the release of Transgender Trend’s free resource pack  ‘supporting gender non-conforming and trans-identified students in schools’.  Transactivists- mostly late-transitioning men & parents who have chosen to transition their own children- seem determined that as few people as possible should read the guidelines, with calls being put out to shred the document, bin it, ban it.

Firstly I should say that reading this blog post is no substitute for reading the guidelines yourself. You can download them here, and if you find them to be practical, compassionate and all-inclusive, I would urge you to share them with your child’s school.

For those who are expecting something sensational, you will be disappointed. The document is somewhat tome-like, 48 pages long, and the first half of the document contains the following observations:

“We have developed this.. so all children feel supported and safe…. 
We provide research‑based evidence and alternative strategies….
Schools are places of learning and adults working in them have a duty of care towards all students.
Transgender children.. have the same rights as all children to learn while feeling safe and to be free from bullying, harassment and discrimination….
Schools should use scientifically and biologically accurate language….
All training (should) allow for critical issues to be openly discussed.. and not silenced by claims that asking challenging questions is transphobic…. 
Schools should be cautious of giving a transgender child rights that are not afforded to other children….
The wishes of a biologically male teenager to access female changing rooms and toilets must not outweigh the rights of adolescent girls to dignity, privacy and safety..  when navigating their way through the complexities of puberty and periods…
 Where sport is sex‑segregated, it is essential to examine issues relating to sex differences in size and weight….
Staff should be role models in demonstrating calm and accepting behaviour towards an individual transgender child and in promptly stopping and reporting any bullying or harassment.
 It is not the role of the school to provide (validation), just it is not the role of the school to be disapproving and unkind.
 If schools can widen the space in which young people feel comfortable in their non-conformity, and all gender expressions are accepted then it may become clear that transition is not the only answer for all.
 It is important to remember that at the heart of any policy and decision-making is a vulnerable child. Acceptance, understanding and prevention of bullying should be the guiding principles as with any other child who is vulnerable or ‘different.’
 Do encourage children to be considerate and thoughtful towards a child who identifies as transgender and try to remember to use their preferred name if this has been agreed with parents.
 The school has a responsibility to balance the rights of all students and facilitate a culture of respect.
 It is ultimately unhelpful for a child to be taught that his / her emerging sense of self is dependent on consistent validation from others.”

You get the gist. If you’re looking for a sensationalist hotbed of hate, you’re certainly not going to find it within the pages of the TGT guidelines. Page 5 of the document explains why the authors feel it is needed, and touches on some facts and figures that should raise very real concerns among anyone who has the welfare of young people at heart.

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” Around 50% of children referred to the Tavistock have underlying mental health issues… there has been nearly a 1000% increase in referrals to the Tavistock child and adolescent gender clinic over the past six years… nearly 70% of child referrals were girls… Patients at gender clinics are more than six times as likely to be on the autistic spectrum as the general population… 93% of young women who regret transition say they didn’t receive adequate counselling”

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You might expect the trans community to want wide discussion of these issues. Interestingly, I haven’t seen any Tweets that directly address these concerns.  To be honest, I am left wondering how many of the critics have actually waded through all 48 pages. I got through several cups of coffee and half a packet of Oreos.

transgendertrend lily maynardPage 13/14 – Broadening gendered expectations and relaxing rules – is one of the most inspiring things I have read in a long time. If you read nothing else, check out page 14. If schools could follow the guidelines listed there, we would go a long way to ironing out sexism and gendered expectations in a generation. How wonderful would that be?

Other sections of the document deal with personal experiences, existing guidance, legal guidance and a glossary of terms, which seems to be partly what has angered any activists who have genuinely read that far, although it is hard to see why. The definitions of ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ here are pretty much the same as those in Biology & Sociology textbooks throughout Britain.

So, for those that have borne with me so far, let’s have a look at some of the incoming Tweets concerning the new TGT guidelines. You know that sensationalist hotbed of hatred we couldn’t find earlier? Hang on to your hat…

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Everydaytrans calls the guidance ‘deliberately distorted’ and ‘potentially dangerous’ and refers people who want advice to contact Mermaids (whose CEO took her trans-identified child abroad to undergo GRS on his 16th birthday). Andrew White of Stonewall Wales uses the same phrases in his Tweet & refers people to TransformCymru– (who run a-currently closed- O2 sponsored binder bank)
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Stonewall’s Colin MacFarlane then tweets, urging teachers to ‘bin it’ if they encounter the pack. This is too mild for Stonewall Scotland, who tweet again, this time urging people to ‘shred it’. Neither tweet contains any explanation as to why the document needs to be destroyed or why nobody should read it.

Yet perhaps the strangest of the Stonewall responses came in the form of  Hannah Kibiridge’s hastily-written ‘Creating a Trans Inclusive School Environment – Response to Transgender Trends (sic’).  Hannah’s inability to get the name of the guideline creators right does not fill one with confidence, but you should, of course, read her post yourselves, because it is by reading information and discussing what we read that we educate ourselves, not by binning, shredding or otherwise destroying things that challenge us!

I read Hannah’s post THREE times but still couldn’t make any sense of the dramatic but non-specific accusations she makes, especially the ominous and slightly menacing suggestion that following the guidelines might result in breaking the law- which is, of course, nonsense. This is my personal synopsis; of course, your interpretation may be different.

School is crap, transkids are bullied and nearly half try to kill themselves. Parents are mostly crap and unsupportive. Transgender Trend is ‘dangerous’ ‘masquerading as professional’ ‘deeply damaging’ and ‘factually incorrect’. TGT is trying to spread ‘damaging myths, panic and confusion’.  If schools do what TGT suggests they are also crap and may be breaking the law. HOWEVER, it doesn’t have to be ‘difficult or scary’ to fix all this! Just do what Stonewall says!

As Twitter user @NoToMisogyny, observed “Stonewall seems to be geared towards suppressing anything other than total affirmation.”

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Mimmymum (parent of a transitioned child) calls TGT an ‘anti-transgender cult‘ & the guidelines ‘harmful & misinformed‘ & is retweeted by Jess (a middle-aged trans-IDd man) who suggests TGT is ‘anti-LGBT‘ & advises contacting a Reading LGBT group for advice… which in turn muses ominously  ‘we’ll sort it out’ if the TGT document turns up in local schools.
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Further spectacular accusations fly as more trans-identified men turn to Twitter, comparing the document to Mein Kampf and accusing TGT of ‘a deliberate attempt to harm trans children’.
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Trans-identified teacher ‘C’ begs ‘beware’ and ‘don’t touch it with a barge pole’ while Integrative Therapy accuses TGT of ‘adult harassment’ and recommends Gendered Intelligence, the organisation with this wonderfully phallocentric piece of advice for young people: ‘A woman is still a woman, even if she enjoys getting blowjobs. A man is still a man even if he likes getting penetrated vaginally.’
Roy, a teacher & NUT member, says he doesn’t think it’s vile; it’s actually ‘a breath of fresh air’, which provokes Mimmymum (yes, her again) to call him ‘A raving transphobe who shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near LGBT kids’
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Shon Fay and Owl had opinions too – of course. Owl called the guidelines ‘deplorable‘ and accused TGT of ‘disguising their hatred’, while Shon called TGT an ‘anti-trans crusade front’ who encouraged ‘institutional transphobia’. Neither explained why.
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Mimmymum popped up again to tell teachers that following advice in the pack would contravene the Equalities Act & break the law (it wouldn’t) and by the time I reached the tweet from @lampsofgold I honestly couldn’t tell anymore what was hyperbole and what was parody.

I urge you again, if you haven’t read the guidelines, read them.  Look for the hatred, the exclusion, the harm, the conversion therapy, the misinformation, the evil. Then, when you can’t find it, ask yourself what possible reason certain people could have for not wanting this guidance to reach schools.  You might want to have a look at what they’re saying about the pack on mumsnet.

You might also want to ask yourself just who it is that has an agenda here, and what that agenda might be.

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The pack is currently being downloaded at a rate of 50 copies every hour. Not everyone is so horrified by it. Some think it’s been a long time coming, although in the light of the aggressive fury being directed at the creators, it’s easy to see why. Daring to question Transtopia, even as gently and compassionately as this, can be dangerous and you need nerves of steel.  I’ll leave the last word with some other twitter peeps.

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Still not read the new guidelines? Here’s the link again.

I suggest a pot of strong coffee and a packet of Oreos.

transgendertrend lilymaynard

Posted in Uncategorized | 12 Comments

What makes somebody ‘real’ trans? Part 2 – Kids.

What are the real differences between boys and girls?

What really makes a boy a boy and a girl a girl?

Lily maynard boys

The boys in these pictures will lead very different lives in very different parts of the world. They will have some shared experiences but the thing that unifies them all is their biology.  A male child has XY chromosomes. They are of the heterogametic sex and their reproductive organs, which become functional during puberty, are the penis and testes.

 

lily maynard girls

The girls in these pictures will lead very different lives in very different parts of the world. They will have some shared experiences but the thing that unifies them all is their biology.  A female child has XX chromosomes. They are of the homogametic sex and their reproductive organs, which become functional during puberty,  are the ovaries and uterus.

Yes, this is simplistic. It is absurd to have to state the obvious, but we need to get this straight from the start.  Male. Female. One species. Two sexes. Sometimes things go wrong and children are born intersex.  Being intersex is a genetic and physical condition and has nothing to do with the psychological condition of transgenderism. I’ve mentioned this elsewhere but it should also be mentioned here. The Intersex Society of North America has this to say:

People who have intersex conditions have anatomy that is not considered typically male or female. Most people with intersex conditions come to medical attention because doctors or parents notice something unusual about their bodies. In contrast, people who are transgendered have an internal experience of gender identity that is different from most people… these two groups should not be and cannot be thought of as one.

While  ‘girl’ and ‘boy’ are definitions based on reproductive potential, that doesn’t mean all boys and girls will reproduce.  Some girls may never menstruate; some boys may never produce sperm. These are physical conditions that occur when biological development goes wrong and they have nothing to do with brain function or transgenderism.

Girl and boy, female and male, woman and man are, and always have been, descriptors of sex categories.

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Masculine and feminine are descriptors of behaviours that a given culture associates with being male or female.

Individual brains are a mosaic of these behaviours. We are not born with pink or blue brains. We all have personalities and they are all different.

Christia Spears Brown, PhD, a developmental and social psychologist asks:

“Why does the myth of pink brains and blue brains stick so firmly in our collective consciousness? … My husband and I are sincerely different. This is primarily because we come from different cultures, mine (the culture of being raised as a girl) encouraged emotional expression, and his told him that “boys don’t cry.”

Screen Shot 2018-01-05 at 00.56.50So what ARE the physical differences? Well, firstly, you can’t tell a girl from a boy by the size or patterns of their brain. You can make generalisations: boys’ brains are usually slightly bigger than girls’, although girls’ brains usually have more ‘folds‘ which gives them an increased surface area. Boys are slightly bigger than girls so this makes sense. (BTW it’s surface area which  determines how many neurons and synaptic connections the brain can store. So size isn’t everything.)  Girls reach puberty before boys. These are physical differences. Some minor sex differences in the brain may exist but an individual brain is… well… an individual brain.  It’s also impossible to predict what mix of features any one brain may have.  You can read more about this here, here and here.

Neuroscientists cannot tell whether any random brain is male or female.

“We separate girls and boys, men and women all the time. It’s wrong, not just politically, but scientifically – everyone is different.”

Daphna Joel

You can read Daphna Joel’s study ‘Sex beyond the genitalia: The human brain mosaic’ here.

Human brains develop through experience.  Show 6-12 month old babies a truck and a doll and both will prefer the doll. There is no scientific basis for all of our stereotypes and prejudices about what boys and girls should and shouldn’t do.

Yet this neutrality quickly changes. Ask a group of five or six year old children which of these fairly non-gendered Scleich toys is meant for boys and which for girls, and most of them will  be pretty clear about what they are expected to say.  It is pretty safe to assume that human children have not evolved to have a specific preference for a certain style of plastic toy depicting an unfamiliar species of creature. Kids learn which behaviours meet with approval, and generally, they follow them.

 

Tricia Lowther who works with Let Toys be Toys  tells the story of buying her car-loving daughter ‘Cars’ juice cartons instead of princess ones. Her daughter hid the cartons and told her mother they were ‘boyish’. She liked cars, she assured her mother, “but I don’t want anyone to know.'”

The images below are of things that are not especially ‘gendered’ yet we can all identify in a flash which girls and boys are ‘supposed’ to prefer.

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Nowadays, we are more gendered than ever. Even toys like magic sets, Lego and globes are now marketed to girls in varying shades of pink. By the time a girl is four she has a pretty good idea that she is ‘supposed’ to like all things pink, whereas a boy has a pretty good idea that he is not supposed to like pink- or flowers, or hearts or love. A boy is supposed to like trucks and superheroes and breaking things. A boy is LOUD. A girl is QUIET.  A loud girl is bossy, but a loud boy is the boss.

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As Alice Baumgartner-Papageorgiou discovered in her 1982 study (see Joan Ferante’s ‘Sociology- A Global Perspective’) boys and girls know their lives would be very different if they were the opposite sex. Boys believe life would be worse and girls that it would be better. From ‘I’d have to shave my whole body’ and ‘I couldn’t have a pocket knife‘ (boys) to ‘people would take my decisions and beliefs more seriously’ (girls) it become clear that kids are aware of the different rules for the sexes, and many become understandably confused if they don’t have a natural inclination to follow them.

Where does that leave the children that don’t fit the stereotypes? Who is pushing these stereotypes onto kids? Surely none of us want to restrict or limit our children?

I once went to a swimming party with my youngest, then aged 4.  The house was a large white-bricked Victorian terrace in St John’s Wood with its own pool; the hosts educated and hipster. Many of the mums had their own high-flying careers. If I’d asked them if they treated boys and girls differently, I imagine they would have said no. I didn’t ask. Throughout the afternoon I watched as the boys were praised for their jumping and splashing and the girls were praised for how pretty their swimwear was and how nicely they played together. The girls jumped and splashed. Not all of them played ‘nicely’. The boys had cool swimwear and played together too. None of the adults did this consciously – they just did it.

Globally, of course, sexism runs far deeper than the thoughtless damage done at middle class swimming parties. What separates girls from boys is not flower-and-love-heart bejewelled swimsuits and Incredible Hulk swimming trunks. Girls are discriminated against because of their female biology, not because they have an innate desire to wear sparkly pink tops and giant Jojo bows.

Female foetuses are more likely to be aborted; girl babies starved; girl children sexually assaulted. Girls are subject to more media pressure about their bodies, more likely to be valued for their bodies and exploited for their bodies through prostitution or surrogacy. Girl children are more likely to be raped & more likely to be subject to physical abuse from those close to them. Girls are less likely to receive an education; less likely to be able to read; more likely to be married young.

It is not possible for boys to identify into, or girls to identify out of, these outcomes. They happen to girls because they are female-bodied.

This is the crux of the matter. If we can really understand this (below), we can start to realise how we have reached a point where we are happily transitioning children, telling them they are born in the ‘wrong’ body and deluding them into thinking this is something they can change.  The problem is not the children, it is the importance that society attaches to stereotypical behaviours.

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Toys and fashions change. Our preferences for certain things are not innate. In many cultures, boys wear skirts or dresses and long hair is just fine. Nobody tells them they are girls. Time, location and situation all affect what is considered to be ‘normal’ gendered behaviour.

boys in dresses

Are the boys above ‘born in the wrong body’? Or do they simply come from cultures where long hair or dress-wearing is acceptable?

 

Historically, pink was considered a boy’s colour, a watered down version of red, the colour of Mars and war. Little Henry Wentworth is pictured here (1596) in a dark pink/ burgandy dress (his sister & mother wear white) with his curled hair tucked into a lace bonnet. He was the very epitome of youthful masculinity at the time.

 

Here are a few thoughts from Twitter on the history of gender conventions through the ages.

 

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gender stereotypesgender stereotypes

Yes, let’s not forget the ever-changing dictates of fashion. While those of us who grew up female in the 70s and early 80s were spared the horrors of pinkification, men in the 11th century (below left) were happy to wear dresses. These warlike paragons of 16th and 17th masculinity (below right) were making some pretty poor fashion choices by today’s standards. These men were pretty keen on their heels and skirts. There’s an excellent article about historical men’s clothing by Purple Sage,  here.

The biggest difference between male and female brains? Male brains are found in men’s heads & female brains are found in women’s heads. That’s biology.  Man. Woman. Girl. Boy. We need those words to describe sex differences and we need them more than ever because of the differences that form after we are born.

There are undoubtedly some differences at birth. Boy and girl babies are born with different hormone levels. Male babies are said to be born with as much testosterone as a 25 year old man (these levels fall rapidly after birth).  Lise Eliot argues that infant brains are so malleable that these few small differences at birth become amplified over time, as society, teachers and parents – like the ones at our swimming party – unwittingly and generally well-meaningly, reinforce gender stereotypes. So what does this mean for girls?

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James Gallagher reported similar findings in his research.

As Sarah Ditum wrote scathingly in The New Statesman:

“Here’s a story we like to tell ourselves. Once upon a time, we were sexist, but then feminism happened and now we’re not sexist anymore. But boys and girls carry on being different because they are different.”

In the BBC TV program ‘No More Boys and Girls’  Dr Javid Abdelmoneim finds that at age seven, boys are more likely to overestimate their abilities and girls to underestimate theirs- yet at this age there is no difference in the strength or abilities of boys and girls.

As Ditum observes ‘Genitals aside, they’re simply kids.’

So why are we pedaling the narrative that liking certain toys or clothes makes a child ‘transgender’?

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Almost from the day we are born, those around us respond differently to girl and boy babies.  Adults perceive infant girls as smaller, softer, and finer featured (Rubin, Provenzano, & Luria,1974) and handle boys more roughly than girls (Lewis, 1972).
One study showed that mothers of new born boy babies tended to describe them as ‘stronger’ although there was nothing to suggest this was the case.   Another showed that when mothers of 11-month-old infants estimated their babies’ ability when crawling down slopes, mothers of girls underestimated their performance and mothers of boys overestimated their performance. This bias had no basis in fact. Girls and boys achieve early motor milestones such as reaching, sitting, crawling and walking at roughly the same ages.
So we take these small differences, mix them up with our expectations of male and female development, and as a result many of our projected outcomes become reality. Most kids want to please. Girl toddlers generally – #notallgirltoddlers – receive approval when they play with dolls: adults around them smile and admire their nurturing qualities. Boy children are smiled on indulgently when they dash round screaming: they are blowing off steam and ‘boys will be boys’. Girl children have their clothing and their hair admired. Boys have their power and their energy admired. Boys are taught to focus on themselves, girls are taught to focus on others.  Those who doubt the truth of this need to look no further than the kids’ clothing section of Primark on Oxford Street where I took these six photos on the same day.

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Boy’s T shirts are about ‘bigging up’ the boys. Girl’s T shirts are about beauty and compassion.

A girl is not an ‘epic dude’ or an ‘awesome kid’.  A girl ‘sees beauty in everything’;  she is ‘mummy’s little lady’ and a ‘little love’.  A girl can step outside this box but only by crossing over, physically and metaphorically,  into the section clearly marked ‘BOYS’.

When my facebook friends and friends-of-friends post pictures of their daughters, most of the comments are along the lines of how ‘pretty’ ‘stunning’ ‘gorgeous’ or ‘beautiful’ the girl is.  This happened most recently on a thread where a friend had posted a picture of her daughter who had just won a medal at a top Judo competition.
Sociologists call the process of pushing girls and boys down different paths ‘canalisation’ and it is canalisation that Juno Dawson refers to when he writes about his childhood.

“When I merrily skipped across the playground, I was told to walk. When I chose My Little Ponies at the toy shop, I was firmly told no.”

Susie Green, CEO of Mermaids tells us, in her TED appearance,  that she was ‘terrified’ when her 4 year old son told her he was really a girl. Green’s husband made her throw away all the ‘girly’ toys and clothing in the house because he ‘did not approve of our child’s effeminate behaviour’.  In order to dress in a skirt for school, be allowed to play with tutus and Barbies, and wear his hair long, her child had to ‘live as a girl’. He was taken abroad where he underwent full ‘gender reassignment surgery’ at just sixteen.

Her son, singer, model and ex-pageant princess, Jacky Green, now 24, says

“It’s in my DNA. I am a girl.”

It isn’t, of course.

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Here’s a little diagram that covers the basics of how DNA works. Male DNA cannot become female. Female DNA cannot become male. It is not possible for a boy to literally become a girl. If you want to know more about basic DNA you can read about it here.

Some parents seem to believe that medication and surgery are both inevitable and essential for their trans-identifying children. Some of these parents are giving advice to the worried parents of children who do not conform to gender stereotypes. Susie Green, for example, tweeted as recently as June 2016 that ‘between your ears needs match what’s between your legs’.

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If you’ve read Part 1 of this article, you’ll remember it ends with Corey Maison’s mother talking about how he is ‘looking forward’ to undergoing sex-change surgery at 18. It all sounds so reasonable and sanitised. We hear cute stories about Jazz Jennings and other kids asking when the ‘gender fairy’ will ‘fix’ them, and how ‘God made a mistake’ and we imagine that science and technology have reached a point where it is easy to recreate functioning genitalia. The gender fairy waves her wand and ‘hey presto!’ everything is fine. In fact the reality is quite different.

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The next bit of this article is a bit gruesome, but believe me, it’s nowhere near as gruesome as it could have been. The photos I’ve chosen to feature here are not extreme examples, importantly they are not surgeries that are considered failures. If you want – and I wouldn’t advise it – you can find many many more photographs of faux genitalia via a few clicks on Google.

Here are some of the results of female ‘gender reassignment surgery’.

A neopenis is made with skin taken from the arm or thigh. Some are fuctional for sexual intercourse but will need a pump to help mimic an erection  (and to deflate it afterwards). Many neopenises get infections; some leak a slow but steady trickle of urine. Surgeons are still experimenting with the procedure. Can a child really understand this? Does the little girl who is told she can ‘become a boy’ and ‘get a willy’ when she grows up have the ability to grasp the implications of such surgery?

Here is what happens to a male when he undergoes ‘gender reassignment surgery’.

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A ‘neo-vagina’ will need dilating several times a week forever, because the body feels it as a wound and tries to heal it. Sometimes a male will experience ‘phantom penis syndrome’ where he feels as if he still has a penis when he become aroused. In reality, a functioning vagina is not created. The best a boy can hope for is that he will end up with some sort of flesh-tunnel, a ‘penis sheath’ that enables him to be penetrated from the front.

And here are some girls who have had ‘top surgery’.

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The photos above are not what gender- confused teenage kids see when they look on YouTube. They see videos like this and photos like this (below): it all looks so simple.  The scars from surgery; the acne from testosterone injections are photoshopped away and the happy smiles say that all is well. Young people that transition seem to think they are breaking gender stereotypes: in fact they’re conforming so utterly and entirely that they can’t even see it themselves.  In reality, levels of self-harm, eating disorders and suicidal thoughts rocket among trans-identified children and young people.

 

So, surely adults in positions of power are speaking out against transitioning children? Quite the contrary.  This week it was revealed that Mermaids are currently making presentations to the police seriously suggesting that a young person’s ‘gender identity’ falls somewhere between Barbie and GI Joe – and the police are calling it ‘insightful and practical’.

So where does all this leave the idea of ‘real’ transgender children?  In the 80s, when girls had short hair and ‘girl toys’ weren’t all pink, GNC behaviour would have usually been looked upon as a sign that a child was probably going to be gay. No more.  No need to pray the gay away – a girl can ‘become’ a boy now! Except she can’t.

Despite having read everything I can get my hands on and watched YouTube videos til I feel like my eyes need bleaching, I can find nothing that suggests it’s actually possible for a child to be born in the wrong body.  Whatever ‘real trans’ might be, I’ve yet to read anything that convinces me it’s anything beyond problems dealing with stereotypes.  I have asked over and over again for someone to answer ‘What makes a child transgender?’  and been met with only silence, stereotypes and/or circular definitions.

I don’t for one minute deny that these kids are confused and that they really believe they are ‘born in the wrong body’ but the fact is that they are not. We need to be changing society, not our children: teaching children to love their unique, wonderful, powerful bodies, not making them part of the problem. We are depriving children of the experience of puberty – rarely fun for any of us, but essential to our development – with puberty blocking medications, and changing hormone balances at crucial times in the development of young brains. We are putting children on hormone treatments that render them sterile. This is not progressive, this is eugenics.
A child who believes that they’re something they are not is suffering from a mental, not a physical problem which is made worse by a society that worships gender stereotypes and by adults who tell kids ‘Yes, you are wrong and you can be fixed- like this’.

I can understand that worried and confused parents want to do what’s best for their child, I really can. I’ve been there. But a child cannot even begin to understand the implications of ‘gender reassignment surgery’ & a lifetime as a medical patient.

Time will tell how the fashion of transitioning of GNC kids works out and I fear it will be badly. We need to teach kids that it’s ok to smash stereotypes, not worship them.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Bra-gate – Yellowberry products now ‘for everyone’

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“Before a fruit is fully ripened…  it passes through several shades of yellow. Those yellow stages take time, but they are what will eventually create a beautiful berry.”

                                                                                                         Megan Grassell

So reads the ‘about us’ section on the homepage of the Yellowberry bra website, where Megan Grassell writes movingly about her reasons for setting up Yellowberry.  Seeing her 13 year old sister trying on a leopardskin push up bra and realising there were few real alternatives for growing girls, she decided to found a company making bras that were comfortable and practical & didn’t put pressure on girls to ‘grow up so fast’.

“our mission is to support “everything girls” and encourage them to celebrate and enjoy this time as they are…

We support girls through each stage of their journey to become confident and extraordinary young women….

My team and I are here today with the goal to support your daughter, both literally and figuratively, as she grows up at her own pace.

My goal was for my sister Mary Margaret, and other girls her age, to feel confident in whatever they wear.”
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Google hit for ‘yellowberry’ brings up ‘Bras for Girls’

Ms Grassell has done a great job of this. She started Yellowberry at just 17. She has won awards for it: been mentioned in TIME, Forbes & The New York Times. Her bras are now available all over the world. She should be proud.

Until yesterday on Twitter, when bra-gate broke. Someone, ostensibly a social worker, contacted Yellowberry complaining that their products were ‘too gendered’.

A Yellowberry worker sent out this jaunty reply:

“Sorry, Jillian. Our market is strictly tween/teen girls. We don’t feel that growing boys need bras. Thanks for your input and have a Happy New Year!”

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The response from mothers was swift:

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But before the happy parents could get out their cheque books, Ms Grassell panicked and Yellowberry caved.

Ms Grassell responded with effusive apologies, assuring the OP that Yellowberry products weren’t just for girls after all.  They are suddenly now ‘for anyone’ and Yellowberry’s aim is to make every young person feel comfortable’.

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Ms Grassell described her employee’s suggestion that ‘we don’t feel growing boys need bras’ as ‘incorrect and insensitive’.

This massive turn around was not enough for the translobby however, who said the employee who sent the polite and perky reply had made the brand ‘look bad’ and called for her to be sacked.

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Ms Grassell was keen for her apology to reach the strangely elusive social worker who had made the original complaint, and apologised repeatedly that one of her staff had DARED to suggest that bras were for girls.

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Ms Grassell’s email address is there, for anyone who would like to email her, supporting and praising her previous stance, or assuring her that yes, bras actually are for girls and it’s ok to say so; that and she is right about yellow berries and yes, girls do need non-sexualised products made especially for them, and no, she should not feel obliged to pander to men creepy enough to demand she make her products more ‘inclusive’- and that they hope she will support her employee, who did nothing more than tell the truth.

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It is interesting to note that big clothing companies, who also market underwear and other clothing directly at girls and women, have not been targeted. Far easier to intimidate and bully a small philanthropic business, run by a young woman who is barely out of her teens herself.  Why approach Yellowberry? Why not Target or NEXT ?

I wonder what CEO of Marks and Spencer, Steve Rowe would say, approached with such a message? Or Paul Marchant, CEO of Primark? Or Lord Wolfson, CEO of NEXT? Or Brian Cornell, CEO of Target? Would these men (below) be replying to such criticism saying “I’m so, so sorry..” ?  Do you see a pattern here?

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Who and where is this elusive ‘social worker and sex-ed teacher (among other things)’, who recommends bra companies to so many parents and who wrote to Yellowberry in the first place?  This ‘advocate’ so concerned with the welfare of non-binary teens? This social worker with nothing better to do than harass young women? Do you smell bullshit too?  This is just more shameless bullying of women.

Some of the Twitter responses to Ms Gressell’s backdown are below.

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Ms Grassell messaged the OP with repeated apologies “I am so sorry… I am so sorry… I am so, so sorry”  but has to date not responded to any of the women expressing concern at her backtracking.

Several things strike me as being of note at this point.

  1. How entirely terrified women -especially young women- are of the translobby. Ms Grassell has been put in an unenviable situation: but all women are being put in an awkward situation as more and more people curtail to the idea that a girl can become a boy and a boy a girl and some, just a few, very special people are neither or both. The main advocates of this idea seem to be adult males. Is Ms Grassell really now expected to deny the very origin of Yellowberry: that she designed her bras for young women with growing breasts?
  2. In what way were Yellowberry bras NOT inclusive in the first place? Was there anything stopping anybody buying one (apart from the rather eye-watering price tag)?
  3. Does the person who wrote the complaint actually want pictures of boys and men wearing the bras to be featured on the Yellowberry  website? If not, what was their point in writing?
  4. Now Ms Grassell has stated that her bras are for everyone, will she be featuring pictures of men and boys on her website? Because if not, it really is just lip service, isn’t it?
  5. Have we really reached a point where we aren’t allowed to speak the truth? Are we really no longer allowed to say

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What makes somebody ‘real trans’? Part 1- Adults

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“I just have a hard time now seeing anybody as ‘really trans’.” confided a friend the other day, which got me thinking: what makes somebody ‘really’ trans? Let’s try to unpick this.

First we need to clarify the difference between sex and gender.

We are born with a sex, male or female (see notes on intersex later). Society assigns us certain expected roles based on our sex. We do not always have to conform with these roles, but often we are under a lot of pressure to do so. We are expected to take our place somewhere in the pink or the blue box.  These gender roles based on sex are a social construct and vary from culture to culture.

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Social constructs are explained brilliantly here, and if you fancy a quick refresher course, that’s the place to get it.

While some behaviour is considered more typically feminine and some more typically masculine, we all have a mixture of masculine and feminine traits and at times most of us resent the idea that we should comply with them. It is tough on women to be expected to look ‘hot’ all the time. It is tough on men to be expected never to show vulnerability.

We are all made up of this mixture of masculine and feminine, and no two people will have exactly the same mix of characteristics. Very, very few of us are entirely masculine or feminine in our behaviour. This is what forms the basis of our PERSONALITY.

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One day I might decide to wear a long skirt, bangles and lipstick; the next, for no particular reason, I might wear old tracky bottoms, no make up and not bother brushing my hair. One day I might feel kind and nurturing, another I might feel angry and volatile. This is because, emotionally, I am non-binary. AND SO ARE YOU! We are ALL non-binary. The word, in the context of gender, is completely meaningless. Nobody is 100% masculine or 100% feminine.  Most of us are hanging out somewhere in the middle.

A woman might wear trousers, fix cars, smoke a pipe, love another woman – that does not make her a man. A man might cry easily, make daisy chains, spend a lot of time doing his hair- that doesn’t make him a woman. ‘Woman’ and ‘man’ are not feelings or stereotypes, they are biological categories. That does not mean that everyone is expected to look like the man and woman below: size, skin tone, age all have their effect on us.

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Women as a group are discriminated against because of our female biology, not because we have long hair, wear bras & lipstick & giggle girlishly. We are the female of the species: we carry the young, we birth the young- with all the risk that entails- we feed the young and usually we raise the young. We are usually smaller bodied than men and have less brute strength than men. These facts, historically and culturally, have given men power over us. Women are valued for their bodies and exploited for their bodies. Women are more likely to be prostituted or raped; more likely to be subject to physical abuse from those close to them. Women do most of the work on the planet and are paid far less for it, both at the top and at the bottom end of the pay scale.  It is not possible to identify into, or out of, these outcomes. They don’t have to happen to all women to be women’s issues. But they do happen to women because they are women.

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Our biology is the thing that unites us; the thing that makes us women. We all had a mum and she was a woman.

While ‘man’ and ‘woman’, ‘girl’ and ‘boy’ are definitions based on our reproductive capacites, I’ll state the obvious and add that some humans don’t choose to breed and some don’t have the capacity to breed. Some are born sterile.  Some women may never menstruate; some men may never produce sperm. These are physical conditions that occur when biological development goes wrong and they have nothing to do with brain function or transgenderism.

A tiny proportion of people are born intersex. Just as someone being born without a leg doesn’t mean humans are not a bipedal species, the existence of intersex people doesn’t mean humanity doesn’t have a biological binary.

Intersex is sometimes tacked onto the alphabet soup that used to be LGB, and some people confuse the condition with transgenderism.  Being intersex is a genetic and physical condition and has nothing to do with the psychological condition of transgenderism. An intersex person may well be ‘assigned’ male or female at birth,  but the rest of us have our sex observed, not assigned, often while we are still in the womb. The idea that we are all ‘assigned a sex at birth’ and that our ‘gender identity’ is the thing that makes us a man or a woman is deeply insulting to many lesbian and gay people who feel that the idea erases them and the idea of same-sex attraction.

“What do you think I, as a gay man, am attracted to? Male ‘souls?’ Are lesbians attracted to some metaphysical ‘female essence’?  …. you know the difference between a stag and a doe, right? Or a bull and a cow? A ram and a ewe? Why stop at people, at men and women?”                                                     @throwaway_gay

Many intersex people are also unhappy that their condition is being confused with transgenderism. The Intersex Society of North America has this to say:

People who have intersex conditions have anatomy that is not considered typically male or female. Most people with intersex conditions come to medical attention because doctors or parents notice something unusual about their bodies. In contrast, people who are transgendered have an internal experience of gender identity that is different from most people… these two groups should not be and cannot be thought of as one.

There is a lot of misinformation about intersex on the internet, mostly written by those who would like to link it to transgenderism in order to give transgenderism some sort of perceived biological basis.  The Intersex Society of North America’s website is well worth reading if you are interested in learning more from a reliable source.

“Some people are born in the wrong body!”

Ask yourself how could it be possible to be ‘born in the wrong body’?  You are born in your own body. The brain is an organ, it’s part of your body.  How could your brain be wrong but the rest of your body be right? Is there such a thing as ‘real trans’? And if there is, how do we define it?

Most dictionaries seem fairly consistent in their definition of transgender.

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Some people are so uncomfortable being perceived as their birth sex- and being expected to comply with the stereotypes that accompany their sexed bodies- that they feel their discomfort can only be settled by attempting to change the way they are perceived.  A male who wishes to be perceived as female or a female who wishes to be perceived as male is ‘transgender’. Being transgender usually involves conforming to stereotypes of the opposite sex – trans-identified men (TIMs) wear lipstick and grow their hair and frequently have surgery to give them the appearance of breasts. Trans-identified women (TIFs) cut their hair short and bind or remove their breasts. Most say this is the only way to become their authentic selves. Some even claim this is challenging binary gender stereotypes.

Alex Bertie, worshiped by a generation of trans-identified teenage girls, takes testosterone in a quest to grow a beard and has had a double mastectomy, yet doesn’t see the irony in taking selfies in a T-shirt proclaiming ‘Gender Roles are Dead’.

If authentic means not false, not copied, genuine, original, unmodified- what is authentic about medicating yourself and removing healthy body parts in order to create an illusion based on stereotypes?  Is it even possible to be transgender without recourse to stereotypes?

“In my case, becoming ‘myself’ has involved a mix of doctors, pills and surgeries.” writes Juno Dawson, paradoxically.

So what makes somebody ‘real’ transgender?

Is it having ‘gender reassignment surgery’ (GRS) that makes a man a ‘real’ woman?

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Some say that it’s having the inclination and money to change your body with surgery that counts. Some trans-identified men talk about ‘earning womanhood’ with their surgeries, almost as if it is a prize for compliance.

Tallulah-Eve (above left) has undergone full GRS.  “If anything, I’ve earned more right to womanhood than a cis woman,” he claims, inferring not only that womanhood is some sort of prize to be bestowed upon the compliant, but also that womanhood is little more than the fabrication of secondary sex characteristics: long, wavy hair and spectacular eyebrows; bowling-ball breasts that could never feed a baby and a ‘vagina’ whose only function is to act as a potential penis-sheath.

No amount of surgery, hormone injections or anything else can change your DNA, and a DNA test will always show whether you are male or female.

Veteran feminist Germaine Greer made her position on this pretty clear when she said: “Just because you lop off your dick and then wear a dress, doesn’t make you a fucking woman.” She points out that a man who undergoes such surgery is ‘“inflicting an extraordinary act of violence on himself”.

If womanhood is a prize, as suggested by Tallulah-Eve, gifted to those who attain the necessary level of ‘fuckability’, then we are led to another question-  who is the ‘real’ woman? Veteran Greer, with over 50 years of feminist campaigning behind her, or youthful Tallulah, with DD fabricated breasts in front of him?

Only about 25% of all TIMs go so far as to have their penis surgically removed. So what of the other 75%?

Is it ‘passing’ that decides?

The idea of passing again suggests that there is a correct way to be a woman.  Let’s look at two TIMs. Blaire White (below right) has achieved his look with surgery. Danielle Muscato (below left) has not had surgery.

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Blaire is one of the ‘best-passing’ high-profile TIMs.  Danielle is not. They have different takes on what it means to be transgender. White claims “You don’t get to change definitions or scoot around them in pursuit of your own narrative.” whereas Muscato is adamant that ‘some women have penises‘ and women who disagree should ‘suck my dick’.

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Most people would assume that White is a woman but Muscato is not- but their DNA is male. So is it how much you can make yourself look like a stereotypical het-male-fantasy of womanhood that decides if you are ‘real’ trans or not? How much effort do you have to put in to win that elusive prize?

What age is the oldest you can become ‘real’ trans?

Kellie Maloney has always been a woman. She isn’t becoming a woman or pretending to be one.” wrote Paris Lees back in 2014. Well, hang on a minute…

Can sixty years of male privilege really be wiped away with the brush of a freshly waxed and manicured hand? And if it is, as some women have pointed out, does that mean Bruce Jenner got his gold medal under false pretenses?

Boxing promoter Frank Maloney  (who once nearly strangled his wife) changed his name to Kellie Maloney and came out as transgender in his early 60s. The NHS were happy to chronicle and applaud his brave journey on their website.  Jazz Jennings was seven when he made his first TV appearance as a ‘transkid’.  Is Jazz more trans than Kellie?  Is Kellie more or less female than Jazz? Is it actually possible to be more or less of a woman than someone else? Surely you are one or you aren’t one? Who is more trans, Jazz or Kellie? Is your head spinning yet?

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Were detransitioners ever ‘really’ trans?

There are a growing number of people who transition and then change back. Often they feel rejected by the trans community who see them as traitors. They are frequently told they were never really trans in the first place.

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Walt Heyer is probably the most famous detransitioner: a man who surgically transitioned at 42 and ‘lived as a woman’ for 8 years before undergoing further surgery to ‘change back’.  His website is here. Is he transgender? Was he ever really transgender? ” …no matter how feminine I appeared, like all transgenders, I was just a man in a dress.” says Heyer, his words a sad echo of Greer’s.

But Heyer is not alone. Young people are detransitioning too.

One detransitioned man writes  in a comment on a YouTube video “My body is now destroyed by transgender medicine. I never wanted to die before this. I feared being bi. My doctor said transition would help me fit in. And I could always go back. And therapy wasn’t important.” Elsewhere he comments “As a detrans male (ex “transwoman”), I usually feel either invisible or hated.”

Another detransitioned male writes:

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A detransitioned woman writes that her therapist unintentionally “helped me hurt myself” in enabling her transition.  Another writes “Looking back on it, I believe I transitioned almost on an impulse.”

Many young detransitioners are uncomfortable with their experience being used to suggest, for example, that ‘real trans’ is an elusive concept. But we need to talk about these things.  Why is trying to define such a complex and nuanced term as ‘transgender’ seen as transphobic? Is transgenderism such a holy grail that no discussion of it is permissible? Of course trans-identified people exist- but you can’t turn a woman into a man or a man into a woman. It just isn’t possible. And trying to do so doesn’t always result in a happy outcome.

I recently read details of a case that involved a ‘transwoman’ who became disturbed by his transition when he developed dementia. He couldn’t understand why he had breasts or was being called by a woman’s name. It is so sad, it haunts me.

 

What do you have to do to be ‘real’ trans legally?

To get a Gender Recognition Certificate from the UK government, you still have to have a diagnosis of gender dysphoria and to prove you have ‘lived in your acquired gender for at least 2 years.’  To prove this you will need a passport, driving licence, payslips and bills.

But to change your sex on your passport in the UK, all you need is a letter from your doctor saying your decision is ‘likely to be permanent‘.

Which leads us to where we are now. If you say you’re a woman, you are a woman, and anyone who says otherwise is transphobic and full of hatred.

You don’t have to amputate your penis, get artificial breasts, take hormones or even break out the lippy anymore, let alone work in your local charity shop ‘as a woman’ for two years. You just have to convince your doctor that you really, really ‘feel like a woman’ and get him to put it in a letter.

How can a man know how a woman feels? There is no one experience of womanhood. We cannot even know how our loved ones feel. You cannot possibly know how I feel, and your next door neighbour cannot possibly know how you feel. It’s not possible for a man to claim to ‘feel like a woman’ unless he invokes sexist stereotypes.

What about trans-IDd sexual predators?

A man can now rape a woman, and end up being transferred to a women’s prison. This is not sensationalist speculation.  It’s happened.

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If a man can say he’s a woman just because he says he ‘feels like one’, then ANY man can say he’s a woman.  It’s not a prize to be handed out for being good.

A TIM called Dana Rivers recently murdered two lesbians and their son.  Julianna Fialowski, a former counselor to trans youth, is now in jail for possession of child porn. These are not isolated cases. Numerous others are chronicled at the open Facebook group This Never Happens.

Recently, the UK gutter press reports that child-murderer Ian Huntley has declared that he is actually a woman.  As asked below, is Ian Huntley a woman if he says he is one? What do YOU think?

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If you agree with a cute, naive, young man who says he’s a woman, then surely you have to let a middle-aged child-murderer claim womanhood too.  A man can either become a woman or he can’t. You don’t get to choose who is good enough. You aren’t Father Christmas.

Someone who believes that they’re something they are not is suffering from psychological confusion. Their problem lies in the mind, not in the body, and the problem is accentuated by a society that worships gender stereotypes. Our bodies are not wrong or right, they just ARE.

Racial appropriation is not acceptable. If I say I am black, and demand that you see me as such, because because I like ‘doing things black people do’ and ‘dressing like black people’, you would rightly cringe.  (I cringe even writing it.) Yet somehow we have reached the point where a pouting man who calls himself a woman tells us that:

‘”a fashion trend that needs to die is any form of cultural appropriation”

and we all rush to tell him how brave and authentic he is.

Pricking the surface of transgenderism reveals little but stereotypes, sexism, circular definitions (a woman is anyone who says they are a woman: a woman is anyone who feels like a woman) more stereotypes, more sexism and even more stereotypes. This whole absurd worshiping of stereotypes has become a runaway train. Eighty year old trans people! Four year old trans people!

A few weeks ago, Pink News ran an article about an entire family who identify as transgender. It started when the boy child wanted to join the Girl Scouts. When mum ‘looked it up’ she realised “‘Oh my gosh, they’re trans!” Since then the whole family has transitioned.

National Geographic recently ran an article about mother and son, Eric and Corey Maison. Corey hit the news a few years ago as poster-child for the bathroom bill and mum Erica became dad Eric as Corey’s fame began to dwindle a little. Corey, we are told, is ‘looking forward to becoming 18 so she can have surgery’.

Which brings us to the children and the terrible lies we are telling them.

Watch this space for Part 2 – Kids.

 

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