Yes, but today is Monday! Swimming in the Men’s Pond on Hampstead Heath

I was delighted to be a part of the latest Man Friday initiative, a Bank Holiday Monday dip in the Men’s Pond on Parliament Hill.

(photos by Lily Maynard)

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Some members of the posse of fearless men make their way to the swimming area.

When is a woman not a woman? Why, when it’s Friday, of course!

I surveyed my reflection in the Primark changing room mirror.

“They aren’t very flattering,” observed my mother, who follows my political antics with a vague mix of admiration, resignation and disapproval. She was looking at my bum, clad in a pair of neon orange swimming shorts from the men’s department.

“The black ones might suit your shape better,” she added, tactfully.

She was undoubtedly right, but this wasn’t about looking cool on the beach. This was about the forthcoming bank holiday Monday when I was joining the Man Friday crew for a swim in the men’s pond on Hampstead Heath. I was going to be a man for the day!

We bought the black ones (my mum paid, bless her!) and headed off to Starbucks for a coffee.

*****

“I’m going swimming in the Men’s Pond at Hampstead today, with the Man Friday lot,” I announced at breakfast the next morning, boring black shorts packed in my bag. “We’re identifying as men for the day.”
“But it’s Monday,” observed Jessie, without looking up from her phone.
“Oh god, you’re not going topless?” gasped middle child, aghast. “Mum! Please no.”
“I’m not going topless,” I assured her, although to be honest I hadn’t made my mind up about that yet.

“Lily is a man, Lily is a man,” chanted smallest as she fixed a hideous, pink, sparkly Jojo bow into her unbrushed hair with jam-covered fingers. “Look! I’m a gendered child!” she smirked.

Nigel emerged from the bedroom sleepily.
“Good morning, Sir,” he greeted me.

I hugged him, grabbed my coffee and ran for the train, leaving him to deal with jamgate.

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Kentish Town from the tube station

We’d arranged a rendez-vous in a pub in Kentish Town, where we’d be having lunch and meeting with some journalists and a film crew wanting to interview ‘Sweary Godmother’ and Amy Desir about Man Friday’s latest ventures.

Hampstead Heath has a network of swimming ponds, including a Ladies’ Pond and a Men’s Pond, both open all year round. Until recently, men were not allowed to swim in the women’s pond. Over the last year all lifeguards and managers, and the swimming associations that use the ponds, have undergone ‘transgender awareness training’. The result? Towards the end of 2017, the City of London Corporation came to the stunningly unprogressive conclusion that men who ‘identify as’ women should be allowed to use both the Ladies’ pond and the female changing rooms.

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View of the Men’s Pond from Hampstead Heath

Whether you are a man or a woman, according to this way of thinking, is based solely on an inner feeling of ‘gender identity’. If you don’t have a gender identity, don’t worry. Lots of us don’t, which is hardly surprising- if you take away biological differences between men and women you’re left with nothing more than a gauntlet of stereotypes to negotiate. It isn’t possible to see someone’s gender identity – a portly gentleman with a moustache may identify as a woman, and, although it seems strangely less frequent in those over the age of 25, a woman can identify as a moustachioed, portly gentleman. Age and race, somewhat inconsistently, remain unaffected by identity. I mean, come on, that would be absurd!

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Fellow females, if you’ve never been to the Ladies’ pond on Hampstead Heath, it’s well worth a visit. It has a leafy meadow feel; an all-female space has a different vibe to it that it’s hard to understand unless you’ve visited one: women hold themselves differently, the atmosphere is more relaxed.

On a sunny day, women of all ages sit around on the grass, reading, chatting, napping, wearing as much or as little as they choose and free of the concern that an inch of naked flesh will provoke some lascivious neanderthal into making unwanted advances. In this male-free space, conversations are started easily, respect for personal space is observed and women seem happy to trust strangers to ‘keep an eye on my stuff for a minute’ while they pop in for a swim.

It all feels a bit different when you know that the magic words ‘I identify as a woman’ can let male-bodied people into the space.  Of course, this also means that women who ‘identify as’ men can use the men’s pond.

Sweary had written for confirmation of this, and received the following email from the City of London:

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So that was that settled: “trans women and trans men are welcome to swim at the relevant single gender ponds.”

*****

Eight of us met for lunch beforehand, a pricey but delicious affair at a hipster pub near the station. I’d give them a recommendation- the quinoa burger was delicious and the coffee dark and strong, but the place would probably be targeted by activists for unknowingly serving TERFs, and an official apology demanded. (No, I’m not joking.)

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I met Amy Desir of Man Friday, for the first time, as well as a couple of women I had met before, and some I hadn’t. We exchanged hugs and one showed me a stylish beard and moustache combo that she’d purchased especially for the occasion. (Little did we suspect that her bearded visage and ample cleavage- along with Amy’s barely-there, neon-green mankini- would adorn the pages of both The Mail & The METRO the next morning.)

The journalists turned up, interviewed Sweary and did a bit of pseudo fly-on-the-wall filming of us chatting over lunch. It was a warm afternoon and, tempting as it was to remain nestled under the parasols outside the pub, we finished our food and drinks and headed off to  the ‘Stone of Free Speech’ where we were meeting the rest of the women joining us for the protest.

Yes, the ‘Stone of Free Speech‘ actually is a thing!

Man Friday Stone of Free Speech

Some of the Man Friday women gathered at the Stone of Free Speech.

The sky was clear and the air was still. Birdsong filled the air. The grass was covered with cute kids playing football and adorable puppies basking in the sun. Most of the people lounging on the grass barely gave a second glance to the posse of self-identified men strolling purposefully along the path in a manly manner.

*****

While the world frequently hears the clarion call, ‘transwomen are women’ we are rarely exposed to its sister cry ‘transmen are men’.

I’m not the first person to point out that while trans-identified men (transwomen) make the press for a variety of reasons, modelling, joining all-women’s shortlists, running as female MPs, winning women’s sports competitions and awards: trans-identified women (transmen) seem to only make the news when they have babies.

Likewise, while women are expected to make way for trans-identified men in their safe spaces, the opposite is rarely true. More and more of us are waking up to the fact that men will only take an interest in the erasure of sex-based spaces when it starts affecting them.

So here we were.

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Much as we might joke about all straight men loving the sight of a pair of boobs any time, any place, anywhere, it really isn’t true. Most men, gay or straight, want a single-sex space to change- if they didn’t, they could use one of the mixed ponds. Because yes, there are mixed swimming ponds on Hampstead Heath, although they close for the winter at the end of September, whereas the other ponds are open all year round.

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We obediently paid for our entry tickets (£2 a head) at the machine by the unlocked gate and walked into the men’s area.

The Daily Mail’s report that ‘female protestors break into a men-only lido!’ made it sound much more wild and exciting than it really was.  We got a few strange looks from men entering and leaving the area, but it was far from a military mission.

“Er, this is the men’s pond.” offered a young man in his 20s as we fiddled with the ticket machine.
“Oh we know,” breezed one of the women I was with, “But we identify as men today. Would you like a leaflet?”
Somewhat puzzled, he took the proffered paper and disappeared.

A few of our group remained outside, giving out ‘Man Friday’ leaflets to passers by, those sitting on the grass nearby and the men entering the pond.

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“If you’re going to identify as a man, it might as well be Batman!” declared one woman, as she peeled off her T shirt to reveal Batman stickers strategically placed over both nipples- although I think she covered them up again for the swim.

Trying to look nonchalant and manly, we changed into our swimwear while the men around us looked on with a mixture of bemused bafflement and downright annoyance. Amy deftly stripped naked and slipped on a mankini, remarkably like that worn by Borat. The rest of us were slightly less graceful.
“Ouch. I can’t get my hair in my swim hat!”
“Is anyone else going topless?”
“Blimey, I’m not!”
“I’ve got a spare beard here! Would anyone like to borrow it?”

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Amy in her mankini

“What are you doing in here?” asked one older man. Pointing at Amy, he turned to the guy next to him. “They shouldn’t be in here! You shouldn’t be in here! This is the men’s area. This area is for men! You should go to the women’s pond!”

“But we identify as men,” said one woman, calmly.

“You can’t do that! You can’t just say you identify as men and come in here!” The man was outraged. “Imagine if we did that in the women’s area! We’d be kicked out immediately.”

“Ah, but you wouldn’t. Men are allowed in the women’s pond now if they say they identify as women.”
A small crowd had gathered. Some of the men had read the leaflets we’d been handing out and understood what was going on. Several of them were supportive. “Good for you,” called out one. Conversations broke out in small groups throughout the changing area. I only wish I could have heard them all.

“This is a man’s space!” continued the man who’d been talking to and about Amy. “Women shouldn’t be in here!”
“We agree with you.”
He stopped. “You do?”

“We really do. We think the ponds should continue to be sex-segregated…”

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I left them to their conversation, moving through the changing room and down along the jetty.  The woman walking in front of me had left her crocs on.
“Miss! Miss!” called the lifeguard. “Please remove your shoes.”
“Sir, not Miss!” she called back as she slipped them off.
“Sir then,” he sighed, presumably oblivious to the act of hatred he had committed in misgendering her… I mean him…

I dipped in my toe. The water was cold. My idea of outdoor swimming is more along the lines of a hot tub at a hen party, a crystal-blue alpine lake in midsummer, or a hot spring in Keer Ganga. While I’d visited the London ponds before, I’d never actually swum in one. It looked a bit murky. Would there be fish?

“Come on! It’s great once you’re in!” called the bearded lady… I mean man.  I looked at the curious faces around me and did the manly thing. In I jumped. Surprise! The water felt wonderful.

A couple of young men swam over to me.

“Why are you even in here? I can see your friend’s boobs.” observed one, unhappily.
We wouldn’t be able to get our cocks out in the women’s pond.” added his friend. “Not that we’d want to.”
“Well, you would be allowed to change in the women’s changing rooms now,” I said, treading water and wondering if fish were likely to nibble my toes. “So yes, since they changed the rules you’d be able to do exactly that if you said you were a woman.”

“Not just any bloke, though. I mean, we couldn’t do it.”
“You could. If you said you identified as women.”
“Why would we do that?”
“Any man can do that, if he wants to, for any reason, since they changed the rules. That’s the problem. Look, we just don’t want male-bodied people in the women’s pond, any more than you want female-bodied people in here.”

Another guy swam over.
“They’re protesting,” he explained to the first two. “Against men just being able to roll up to the women’s pond and say they’re women. It’s been happening, you know. I don’t blame them. I’m with you on this, love! I think it’s brave of you.”

There are times when I’m willing to let being called ‘love’ slide, and this was one of them.
“Thank you,” I beamed.

“Well, I think your friend’s beard is offensive to trans people,” put in the first guy.
“How is it more offensive than a man thinking he’s a woman by putting on a dress and fake boobs?” I asked.  “I think that’s offensive to women.”
“But it’s a mental illness! Trans people have enough problems as it…”
“So we should tell men they’re women and let them into women’s spaces? Isn’t that just really sexist?”

I’ll never know where the conversation might have gone next, because an authoritative voice behind me called, “Miss, can you get out of the water, please?”

I turned to see three police officers on the jetty and realised I was one of the last women left in the water.

“You’re breaking several bylaws and this could constitute a criminal offence,” said one officer, briskly. “Please get changed and come outside where we can discuss this.”

Screen Shot 2018-05-30 at 02.04.04Trying to keep ourselves in a group as much as possible, the other women and I changed hurriedly and moved onto the path outside the men’s pond. There the Sargent explained what the problems were. I have to say, the police were polite and respectful at all times, as were we. The whole exchange was extremely civilised. In fact, we were told that we were the most polite protestors they’d ever encountered!

I missed the start of the conversation between the police and the other protestors as I was balancing on one foot, attempting to squirm out of a wet swimsuit and back into my dress without falling over. Having achieved this momentous and entirely unmanly feat, I joined the others.

Sargent Barry Macefield explained the situation to us.

Evidently we had contravened bylaw 10, concerning accessing male & female facilities, (changing rooms etc) and bylaw 44, concerning obstructing anyone else in the proper use of the grounds (there had been complaints about our presence). I have to say, it was all a bit confusing, so here’s a copy of the relevant bylaws for your perusal.

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The bit of the bylaw that did make sense to me, the bit that struck me as most relevant, was the part that read: ‘no person shall… go into any…  place provided for the opposite sex’. Sweary asked Sargent Macefield if that meant the email (above), which she’d shown to the police as they’d escorted us from the pond, was wrong in stating, ‘trans women and trans men are welcome to swim at the relevant single gender ponds’.

“It’s not necessarily wrong” said Sargent Macefield, tactfully. “It’s about the clarification, in regards to whatever.. it’s obviously getting convoluted.”

He added that the police’s biggest concern here was to prevent a breach of the peace and as there had been complaints they’d had to come and investigate. He suggested that our next step should be to speak to the City of London Corporation for some clarification over the content of their email.

“So those are the issues around this.. hopefully today you’ve had a chance to make your point.. we’re not here to discuss whether you’re right, wrong or indifferent.. if men turn up and do the same thing  (in the women’s pond) they’ll be given exactly the same discussion.”

“We know you guys are in the front line,” said Sweary. ”I said this to the lifeguard. I feel terrible dragging people in to this, it’s important that we are appreciative of you guys doing your job.”

“You are actually the politest protestors we’ve ever dealt with.” acknowledged Sargent Macefield.

Screen Shot 2018-05-30 at 01.52.18I heard one officer say, “It’s not our position to say if you’re right or wrong. You could probably educate us on the issues of trans.”

“This week we’ve actually got some transgender training.” added another.

“The people who do the transgender training often don’t understand how the Equality Act works and it’s quite worrying,” one woman warned him. “Women do have the right to female-bodied spaces under the Equality Act. I doubt your transgender training will tell you that.”

*****

Lily Maynard

Sargent Macefield agreed to be photographed with Amy & Sweary.

Sargent Macefield concluded that he would let his superintendent know there were some issues around the interpretation of the email & that it needed to be clarified. Perhaps the swimming committees need to have a meeting to discuss the issues around self-identification, he suggested.

We said we hoped that would be the case.

After agreeing to be photographed with Sweary and Amy, he wished us a lovely day and the police went on their way.

*****

After they’d gone, most of us went to the Women’s Pond, where some had a swim and others lounged on the grass, discussing what had happened and speaking to some of the other women there.  Sweary and Amy slipped up to the main road to give an interview to the press and joined us shortly afterwards. Our overall feeling was that the afternoon had been a great success. We’d drawn attention to the difficulties involved with self-identification and had found support from many of the men in and around the pond.

I found out that the angry older gentleman who had complained earlier had eventually had a chat with Sweary & Amy, and ended up by totally understanding where they were coming from. He even gave them both a hug when he said goodbye!

The one thing the Women’s Pond is lacking, in my opinion, is a coffee machine. Being a man is exhausting stuff, and I needed a caffeine hit. After half an hour or so I wandered back down to the pub with Amy, stopping on the way to get an ice lolly, coo at cute babies and stroke puppies.

My first afternoon as a man had been an interesting one.

*******

You can follow @ManFriday, Amy Desir & Sweary Godmother on Twitter.

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Thanks to @SandyDrawsBadly for this cartoon.

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Man Friday

Amy & Sweary

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“But nobody is encouraging kids to be trans!”

 

Screen Shot 2018-03-25 at 10.21.41We’re told that nobody is encouraging children to be transgender; that a generation of kids is suddenly coming to that realisation by itself.

There’s an excellent article on the 4thwavenow website about how there is no historical precedent for the transgender child’s explosion into the early 21st century.

Yet here zie is – and we need to have a careful look at the reasons behind that.

 

Teen Vogue tells us (February 2018) that actually, 3% of kids are trans. “Visibility is growing!”  gushes Suzanne Weiss and we are supposed to greet that news with a resounding ‘Yay!’ somehow forgetting for a few brief moments that we are also being told that nearly half of these trans-identified children and young people try to kill themselves.

Children who believe their non-compliance with socially prescribed gender roles means they should actually be the opposite sex- and their concerned parents- are not getting impartial advice or guidance. Often these children have co-existing mental health issues. All of the major UK trans organisations are run by trans-identified people or parents who have transitioned their children. Likewise many gender therapists have transitioned and actually believe themselves to be the opposite sex.

So families are counselled by those who wholeheartedly believe that you can be born in the wrong body and that transition is a solution. They believe there is a right and a wrong way to be male or female which isn’t defined by our bodies but by an inner and elusive ‘sense of gender’.

There is something seriously wrong here. People with eating disorders are not best placed to advise others about healthy eating; those who self-harm are not best placed to advise on coping strategies for anxiety.

Are we really supposed to believe that the continued unhappiness, depression & suicide ideation of young trans people is all because some strangers won’t validate their feelings? Or might it actually be because trans-identification is a psychiatric issue that’s being mistreated?

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Renée Gerlich from Auckland: “Organisations like RainbowYouth and InsideOut, as well as the Pride Parade, must stop endorsing medical experimentation, child abuse, sexist stereotyping, and the destruction of female-only and lesbian spaces.”

If you know that a male can’t become a female, of course you think transitioning children is abusive. If you know that a female can’t become a male, of course you see the act of telling a girl she can become a boy as dangerous, disingenuous and beguiling.  Of course you don’t want to support an ideology that perpetuates supporting kids in a lifetime of delusion and enacting stereotypes in the pursuit of being perceived as their ‘desired gender’.

When life as a trans-identified child is so hard – and I don’t doubt that often it is- why are we not allowed to consider the option that not all children who are trans-identified need to go on to transition?

Mental health issues in both parents and children may cause children to believe they are trans, and when no-one is allowed to even suggest it isn’t so, the child is set down a path that affirms their confusion.  It is absurd that nobody is even allowed to suggest this without cries of ‘transphobia’ and accusations of right-wing bigotry.

Screen Shot 2018-03-31 at 19.39.01Despite the perky, upbeat attitude to transition promoted by people like Gina ‘changing your gender can be fun – but daunting!’ Denham, research from the US and Holland suggests that up to one in five sex-change patients regret the operations. A review of more than 100 international medical studies of post-operative transsexuals by the University of Birmingham’s aggressive research intelligence facility (Arif) found no robust scientific evidence that gender reassignment surgery is clinically effective.

If being transgender is such a terrible experience, and sex-reassignment surgery has such poor long-term outcomes, why is it not being celebrated when a child desists?

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Mermaids was told by a mother that a judge had said her child was to have no further contact with the charity.

Fact. There are cases of judges telling parents to keep their children away from certain transgender charities. Fact. There are cases of doctors and gender clinics reporting parents who believe they have transgender children to social services.  Fact. Most trans-identified children desist- especially if they’re not told they’re in the wrong body and can change sex. This needs acknowledging, not hushing up.

If a child desists and the parent- or even the child themself- speaks out, it is met with denial by the translobby. More often than not the child’s parents are accused of bad parenting or even brainwashing. Here is a recent comment on my article on the 4thwavenow website:

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It’s not the first time such things have been said to me and I’m sure it won’t be the last. Yet social media is full of adults who believe that in the current climate they would have been transitioned as children, and the stories of children who desisted remain mostly unreported.  High-profile transactivists, for example, have questioned the very existence of my daughter rather than accept her desistance.

Screen Shot 2018-03-29 at 01.43.30The silencing of those who would dare to ask questions is nowhere clearer than in the current debate over Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria.  ROGD is the name given to the situation in which an adolescent child,  who has shown no prior belief that they are ‘in the wrong body’ suddenly expresses a desire to transition, usually after spending a lot of time on social media.  These kids are often autistic, gay, or have undergone trauma.  Many of these kids desist – usually the ones whose parents have not immediately changed their pronouns and rushed them into gender clinic referrals. My daughter Jessie, for example, herself a desister, has two IRL friends who identified as trans for well over a year and who have now desisted.   Perhaps not incidentally, neither were taken to a gender clinic or offered hormones, although one did change her name and pronouns with the support of her school.

Screen Shot 2018-03-12 at 20.57.45Some parents have presumed that trans support groups would acknowledge the ROGD phenomena.  Trans support groups are understandably vocal on the subject of the high levels of bullying, self-harm and suicide attempts in the trans community and these parents hope that the identification of ROGD might raise awareness of the fact that transition is not the best route for every child.  Instead, attempts to raise the subject are met with complete denial and even accusations of neglect.  ROGD does not exist, it’s made up. You can read about Linda MacDonald’s experience here.

“Looking back, I feel nothing but sympathy for these parents. I am sure they truly love their children and want to do what’s best for them. And they are doing exactly what their doctors and social workers advise. These parents are simply trusting in the system.  They don’t realize the system has been gamed… and our children, naive and trusting, are their pawns.” 

Suzanna Descalzi, relating events as told by Linda MacDonald

The problem with transitioning your child, as I’ve mentioned in my article When is a Girl not a Girl?, is that all your emotional investment goes into having made the right decision.  It has to.  The idea that you might have got it wrong is just too terrible to consider.  What if your effeminate boychild could have grown up into an intact gay man, but you had taken him abroad to have his penis removed on his 16th birthday?  Imagine if your 14 year old daughter underwent a double mastectomy and later turned out to be just a lesbian who likes playing football after all?  What if your 17 year old, global TV star, transkid turned round and said ‘Hey, I’m a boy after all?’

Far easier to follow this line: children experiencing ROGD do not exist, they have simply been too scared of their unapproachable parents to admit to such feelings earlier, and their parents have been too disinterested in their child’s welfare to have noticed the warning signs.  Any parent suggesting their child is experiencing ROGD is at best neglectful and at worst an evil transphobe –  what child could trust such a person with the truth?

To claim there is no emotional investment going on is disingenuous. There is plenty.  So, what of the claim that ‘no-one is encouraging kids to be trans?‘ Let’s start with the little ones.

I’ve written before about the brightly coloured picture books available in libraries and for schools to download. Here are just a few books that tell a boy he can be a girl and a girl she can be a boy.

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Frequently these books are placed alongside books like the simplistic but beautiful ‘My Princess Boy, but they are very different.

Screen Shot 2018-03-29 at 01.28.13My Princess Boy‘ is a book about a boy who likes to do traditionally ‘girly’ things, but nobody actually suggests it’s because he’s a girl. The child is supported in his choice to be a non-conforming boy.  “Princess boys stand for difference and expressing themselves differently.” says writer mum Cheryl. A book like this is both empowering and supportive for GNC boys.

 

Introducing Teddy (above, 2nd left) takes a very different angle.

In my heart, I’ve always known that I’m a girl teddy, not a boy teddy.” confesses Teddy to his friend.

Now, who would be promoting this crazily sexist idea to kids?  Let’s start by having a look at some of the organisations who are making trans cool and fun. In all cases I have included a link to the relevant webpage so you can visit for yourself and make up your own mind.

ALLSORTS

Screen Shot 2018-03-12 at 02.21.35Allsorts Youth Project are a Brighton, England, organisation supporting transgender youth.  Well, ostensibly supporting LGBT youth, but like many of these charities the LGB seems to be an afterthought.  You can read their financial statement here. In 2017 Allsorts received £50k from Brighton & Hove City Council (incl schools & youth), £45k from the NHS (CCG/BHCC), £35k from BBC Children in Need, £33k Public Health Grant (?), £22k from the Big Lottery Fund, £20k from BBC Comic Relief.  In 2017 Allsorts appeared to have a cool £132,000+ stashed in the bank.

At a presentation to parents at a school in Brighton in January 2017, Allsorts reported that they had 21 children in their 5-11 age group, all of whom were trans-identified. In their 11-15 age group, 48% were trans-identified, the other 52% being LGB. Allsorts surveyed this older group and found that 80% had mental health issues. When this figure was queried, the speaker explained that these kids mostly came from unsupportive families. Sounds familiar? This seems strangely at odds with the fact that the parents allowed their children to attend the Allsorts group in the first place, but I digress.

Back to ‘Introducing Teddy‘. Ryan is a trans-identified woman who works for Allsorts and is here dressed as a teddy bear to read Introducing Teddy to a group of 5-11 year olds.  When I drew attention to this Tweet, Allsorts promptly removed it.

But nobody is encouraging kids to be trans.

 

GIRES

Screen Shot 2018-03-31 at 02.00.28.pngThis article wouldn’t be complete without referencing the transgender penguins produced and promoted by GIRES and aimed at 3-6 year olds. I write in more detail about the work of GIRES in my ‘Snowflake Books’ post here.

At a recent event I was shown and offered a chance to buy a print version of one of these books and I see that they are now available to buy online.  Really, you have to read one for yourself to appreciate the absurdity of telling a child that if they are, ‘not like all the others, I just don’t feel the same,’  then caring parents- who couldn’t actually tell if they were a boy or girl at birth- will immediately change their pronouns and throw them a huge party.

No, seriously. Don’t just take my word for it. PDF links here.

The lesson plans accompanying the books make an (irrelevant) reference to the Equality Act, accompanied by this rather ominous observation:Screen Shot 2018-03-31 at 02.16.37.png

But nobody is encouraging kids to be trans.

MERMAIDS

Mermaids, also England based, ostensibly deals with young people ‘who are in any manner affected by gender identity issues‘ and in 2016-17 the charity had an income of £127,900.  Mermaids has received funding from Children in Need, The National Lottery and the Department of Education.  D of E money funds ‘essential training in schools’ and Mermaids has also given presentations to the police force.  You can read more about Mermaids here.

Here are two of Mermaids’ tweets re its presence at ‘Pride’ marches in 2017. Both have since been removed from Twitter.

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and here is one of the header photographs from their website:

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A child who had no friends before joining Mermaids now has ‘loads’, according to their website.

But nobody is encouraging kids to be trans.

TRANSFIGURATIONS

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Transfigurations is a not for profit organisation based in Devon, England.  It supports  “all trans people: transsexual, transvestite, intersex, genderqueer, trans youth etc”.  In addition to supplying a useful list of GPs who are ‘trans friendly’ or ‘unsympathetic or even antagonistic to your transition’- including those who will and won’t support transitioning children- Transfigurations run LGBT ‘Fun Days’ sponsored by TESCO METRO.  These offer families workshops on trans issues as well as ‘free fun activities: bouncy castle, play and games, live music, drama, poetry, interactive drumming and free lunch’.  Quite where the LGB fits in is unclear.  But lunch is free and there are inflatables.  What’s not to like?

When nobody seems to be able to define ‘transgender’ without reference to sexist stereotypes, how do we expect kids that don’t fit those traditional gender roles to be able to see beyond the bouncy castles, free snacks and fun? Especially when transvestites – which could or could not be said to include a boy wearing a tutu or a girl in a Batman T shirt – are chucked in so casually under the ‘trans’ umbrella?

But nobody is encouraging kids to be trans.

SOGI

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But do we? DOES everyone really have a ‘gender identity’?

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The SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) 123 website produces resources for parents and educators, and their  video ‘Creating more Gender Inclusive Schools’ is aimed at teaching  primary school age kids.

It starts off well, dismissing stereotypes, but soon disintegrates into a scenario where kids in the classroom are encouraged to mark their biological sex on the board and conclude by deciding whether ‘I am female’ or “I am male’, or anywhere in between, along a ‘gender identity’ spectrum.

But nobody is encouraging kids to be trans.

Who is making policy in schools? asks Transgender Trend, in this eye-opening article, adding:

“Nobody should be promoting the pseudo-scientific theory of ‘innate gender identity’ to impressionable schoolchildren as if it is fact. Those who are invested in the idea as validation for themselves and their own decisions as adults are the least suitable to be teaching children or dictating school policies to suit their own personal agenda.”

 

Let’s move on from influences on the very young and in schools, and and have a look at some of the influences on older kids.

TEEN VOGUE

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Jamie Raines at 16

Teen Vogue manages to glorify transition in a manner that few other publications for young women can rival. I wrote elsewhere about their article on how to bind your chest.

Another ‘it’s cool to be trans’ article from their recent archives is the ‘transition timeline’ of Jamie Rains, shown below with a packet of testosterone in her hands in picture 1, and ‘thumbs-upping’ the results three years later in picture 2.

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“Thanks to his dedication,” coos Julie Penell, ” we can now see just how much he’s transformed.”  The words ‘fascinating’ and ‘captivating’ are also used in Penell’s article chronicling Jamie’s trans-identification and we are told that her family is both ‘supportive and excited’.

Jamie (now 23) has since undergone both a double mastectomy and ‘bottom surgery’, both serious medical procedures wrought with potential complications, but hey, what the heck? From boring lesbian to brave transman: Jamie now has a cute girlfriend and over 150,000 followers on YouTube!  “Check out how far he’s come!” concludes Penell.

But nobody is encouraging kids to be trans.

Screen Shot 2018-03-31 at 02.37.32In this 2016 article, 18 year old Alex explains how she had been taking drugs and self-harming, and decided she was trans after speaking to a counsellor at school.

They explained what the term transgender meant and something just clicked in my head,” he (sic) recalled. “Looking back, I was always more male as a kid. I was more interested in toys aimed at boys.”

But nobody is encouraging kids to be trans.

An article like this could go on forever, so  I’ll deal with just one more organisation.  A new, American group which is taking being trans to a whole new level of cool.

GENDER COOL

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Gender Cool’ is one of the latest projects marketing transition for young people.  Fronted by a small group of trans-identified children, including a 15 year old girl who underwent a double mastectomy aged 13, Gender Cool is run by two adult males who identify as women.

 

 

Cool stories, exceptional kids‘ runs the GC tagline on their website.

Gender Cool is indeed ‘buzzing around the country‘, having been featured in the New York Times, on ABC News and on Meghan Kelly Today.  Though I, and others, have asked Meghan Kelly to comment on her promotion of this group, she has not responded.

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“Become part of a community… commit to becoming a GenderCool team member… tell us about what you’d like to bring to the GenderCool team!”

Team Gender Cool  sounds a little like a local youth club or a church organisation, except that hormones and surgery are an essential part of belonging.

But nobody is encouraging kids to be trans.

So we’ve looked at schools and organisations that quite definitely aren’t encouraging kids to be trans. Lets have a look at some high profile individuals.

There are lots of adult males who believe they can just ‘become’ women- or even that they always were women- who offer online advice or encourage trans-identified kids to get in touch with them privately.  There are also a handful of young, trans-identified women who have a lot of influence on their social media followers.  We’ll just look at a couple of each here.

DR RACHEL McKINNON

Screen Shot 2018-03-25 at 10.38.21Dr Rachel McKinnon (Philosophy PhD)  likes to win women’s cycling races and sent an open message to trans-identified kids on Mothers’ Day 2017  saying they should walk away from ‘unsupportive’ parents and find their ‘glitter family‘.

Reach out to me! Email me! Skype me!

he suggested. When concerned parents and feminists contacted the university he works at, it released a statement condemning the ‘relentless misgendering’  Rachel had been subjected to.

But nobody is encouraging kids to be trans.

MUNROE BERGADORF

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Trans-identified male Munroe Bergadorf- who has undergone breast implants, facial feminisation surgery and says he would, aged 8, have  “leapt at the opportunity”to live ‘as a girl’, sent an open message to children on Twitter, telling them to contact him by direct (private) message if they wanted to talk.

Bergadorf thinks children should be able to choose their gender so they can “be themselves”.

 

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But nobody is encouraging kids to be trans.

ALEX BERTIE

Alex signed Jessie’s book

Last year, I paid- lunch & train tickets- for Jessie and her friend Naomi to go ‘undercover’ to the Alex Bertie book signing at the Museum of Transology in Brighton.  I had planned to do a whole blogpost about it but in the end I didn’t – the trip not being my own experience made it just too difficult to write about. (Oh, the endless aborted blog posts! They alone would fill a book.)

Alex Bertie is the famous YouTuber I refer to in my original piece ‘A Mum’s journey Through Transtopia’.  Alex undoubtedly has a huge influence on young women who are questioning their own gender identity.

“I make videos to help people,” says Alex in her book, and I do not doubt that her intentions spring from a genuine desire to help other troubled youngsters. However parents should be concerned when a young woman who wants to help other youngsters believes a solution to being bullied for being a lesbian is to have your breasts removed and declare yourself a man.

Screen Shot 2018-03-31 at 15.33.08You can buy Alex’s book here and read Janice Turner’s recent piece in the Times, where she interviews Alex, and my daughter Jessie, here.

A recent Tweet of Alex’s?  “Really not in a good place right now… I just keep staring into space.”

 

Screen Shot 2018-03-25 at 12.45.06Two things Jessie and Naomi noticed at theMuseum of Transology book signing were the age of the girls present and the self-harming scars borne by so many. Naomi was pretty certain that at 17 she was the eldest and they guessed several to be as young as 13. No parents were in attendance. An anecdote that stuck in my mind was that the curator- a trans-identified woman whose pickled breasts were present in an exhibit jar- at one point got down on her knees, twirly moustache and all, and shuffled across the floor saying, “Trans children! I want to be them!”

The main reason I mention all this is in reference to the Q&A session. While Jake (Alex’s ‘boy’friend) attempted to answer questions about transition in detail, Alex’s responses mostly consisted telling the girls present not to overthink things and just get on with it.

Jessie says, “He* kept saying ‘just go for it’. He* said, ‘You just have to do it, it’s like ripping a band-aid off.'”

*Jessie says she uses ‘preferred pronouns’ out of respect for Alex.

Alex, who is currently planning a hysterectomy, has a book, ‘merch’ and a YouTube channel with over 300,000 subscribers.

But nobody is encouraging kids to be trans.

 

MILES MCKENNA

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Amanda McKenna, of ‘the Amanda Chronicles’ started her YouTube channel in 2012.   Her strictly religious family were not happy when she came out as gay, and after a big fallout she moved in with YouTubers Stevie Boebi and Ally Hills.  Amanda’s perky videos and quirky sense of humour established her as a huge hit, especially with young lesbians.  In 2017 Amanda announced that she was non-binary and would be starting on testosterone and changing her name to Miles. At the start of 2018 she removed her popular ‘coming out’ video from YouTube and had both her breasts removed.  There is little left on the internet of her life as Amanda. I believe Miles McKenna, like Alex Bertie, is a confused young woman with nothing but good intentions.  Shortly after undergoing ‘top surgery’ Miles tweeted  ‘I started gettin (sic) panic attacks mid last year for the first time in my life,’  and that anxiety and panic are, ‘no joke and something I’m learning to deal with.’ Miles believes the panic attacks are brought on by the HRT.

“The majority of my audience online are students in middle school, high school or college.”                                                             

Miles McKenna

Miles now has 658,000 YouTube followers. One of her latest videos is entitled ‘Coming out in Middle School’. “What’s more emo than having a coming out experience?… We’re gonna destroy gender roles!” she declares, seemingly oblivious to the irony. “We’re gonna talk about coming out while on helium! Because helium is fun, and coming out is also fun!”

Screen Shot 2018-03-31 at 21.01.47Miles and her young guest Alex suck on helium balloons, giggling as chirpy music plays in the background; shrieking with laughter when Alex mentions gender dysphoria.

“You sound like a child!” squeaks Miles, who is now 22, as they suck on the helium.

“I am a child!” replies Alex, who is still in middle school, came out as transgender when she was twelve, and has ‘a lot of internet friends who are trans‘.

“I think we did it! We just solved coming out in middle school – you should have no problems now.” concludes Miles at the end of the video. The video has 38,000 ‘likes’.

Screen Shot 2018-03-31 at 21.43.58.pngIn another video entitled ‘Watch This if You’ve questioned Your Gender’ (32,000 ‘likes’) uploaded recently, but shot last year, Miles is filmed inside a pen of adorable puppies, talking with Aydin Olson-Kennedy, a gender therapist and “transgender queer man” who came out as a lesbian at 15, trans at 30, and refers to having had “ten years of testosterone goodness”.

Screen Shot 2018-03-31 at 21.53.12.pngAs the two frolic with puppies, AOK, who counsels children as young as thirteen, jokes with Miles that she is “…a newbie; we call you a baby.” 

Discussing hormones and surgery, AOK says , “Think Mr Potato Head, I would like a little of that, but I don’t want that.”

 

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“I thought I’d take testosterone and then I’d be happy,” says Miles to Olson-Kennedy, “and I am, like literally every day I’m happier than the day I was before- because I feel like I’m getting closer to who I am- but I’m not where I wanna be yet…  I can’t watch my old videos, any old pictures of me, it’s, like, freaking me out. I don’t feel fully good, but I will in the future, so that’s fine.”

 

 

Olfsen-Kennedy’s last piece of advice to gender-questioning kids?

“Find an adult (to talk to), a safe person, it doesn’t have to be your parents.”

 

But hey, parents, there’s nothing to worry about. Don’t be so square.

Nobody is encouraging kids to be trans.

Puppies, anyone?

mermans

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Transwomen are Men

Lily Maynard

The media circus is full of high-profile men claiming to be women. Most of them didn’t ‘transition’ until mid-adulthood and there’s a very good reason for this. Parents twenty years ago realised that childhood, the teenage years – and even the early twenties – are times of tumultuous change for growing humans.

Screen Shot 2018-03-20 at 17.45.20.pngPuberty was unpleasant for most of us; hellish for some of us, but often these men have an idealised fantasy version of the elusive girlhood they feel they were denied: a Victorious style time of pillow fights, bubblegum and girlish confidences.

‘The Gender Speaker’ a late-transitioning man who works in Transgender Awareness Training, has this to say:

  “I had missed out on the teenage years, getting all dressed up for a night out, wearing strappy tops and mini skirts.” He seems to imagine that being a teenage girl is just one long femininity-performing trip to the disco. The reality? A friend of middle-child told me three days ago that she’d started wearing a big fluffy fleece jacket belonging to her father because, “I’m sick of men staring at my tits”.  She is twelve years old.

In addition to convincing themselves that all the problems they’ve faced in life could have been avoided if only they had been born female, these men also like to consider themselves experts on both ‘sides of the fence’, hence Arundel’s blogpostHow Women can be More Successful in a Male World’;  Munroe Bergdorf’s:  “Women are getting feminism wrong”  and Juno Dawson’s tagline for his 2017 bookThe Gender Games’ – The problem with men and women… from someone who has been both.”

Think about it carefully for a moment. Is it really likely that there is no history of child transition- back in the ancient literary archives of the last century and beyond- because young people ‘didn’t have the words’? Were men all inarticulate idiots back in the days of Chaucer, Milton, Shakespeare, Dickens, Whitman and Tolkein? Were Sappho, Benn, Shelley, Brontë, Dickinson and Woolf unable to ‘find the words’ they needed to articulate their experiences? There is a rich and profound history of writing by same-sex attracted people throughout history, but the culture of transgenderism is new and is perpetuated almost entirely by men.

Despite decades of male privilege these men suddenly demand to be addressed as and viewed as women, while in the next breath claiming, ‘I’m still the same person inside’ or ‘I was always a woman”.  However they protest to the contrary, it seems that their view of womanhood is a vague, elusive feeling that manifests itself through red lipstick, gently waved hair and tits.  This is such bullshit that it is hardly a surprise that many women are offended by the claim. Woman is not a costume, it is a biological fact and to say so is not ‘defining women by their vaginas’. Woman is not something you can ‘identify’ in and out of, it is a physical state of being.

When did it become an act of hatred to state the obvious?

Let’s be really clear here, I don’t care what these men choose to wear, how they style their hair and who they do or don’t fuck. They should be safe in public spaces; they should have the same rights to housing, jobs and earned respect as anyone else. They should feel safe. Nobody deserves to be threatened, hit, or assaulted for the clothing they wear or their sexual preferences. I’m all for diversity and breaking the bonds of social convention. Men can wear make up, of course they can! Bloody good for them! It just doesn’t make them women. This current trend isn’t about ‘gender bending’, and it certainly isn’t about challenging the boundaries of gender or breaking down stereotypes.

I’ll say it again and again and again; for no matter how often I say it I’m accused of speaking with hatred – I do not hate men for thinking they can become women. I am angered by their audacity and yes, part of me pities their confusion but this is not about hating men, it is about hating a harmful ideology.  I hate the idea that women are expected to accept that ‘woman’ is some sort of inner girly feeling that can be appropriated by a man who believes that growing his hair, wearing a blouse, taking hormones and- sometimes- undergoing surgery, means that he somehow understands a collective experience of womanhood and has the right to speak on behalf of women.  It does not. No man has that right and no man who cares about women would try to claim that right.

It’s intensely conservative and individualistic. Woman as a concept rather than the messy reality of life. Self transformation rather than tackling narrow confines of sexist stereotyping of both sexes’.    

                                                                                     Dr Mary Chadwick

So now we’re going to look at a few high-profile men who claim to be women. I’m not going to say anything ‘hateful’ about them, because- let me say it one more time- I don’t actually hate them or wish them harm. I’m just going to state a few facts.  I’m taking a deep breath here and reminding you that the Junos and Indias and Shons of this world are not women. They are men. They were raised as men and they grew up as (gay) men. All three of them worked in media before transition and are no strangers to male privilege.

DAWSON

Screen Shot 2018-03-13 at 10.56.58In 2013 James Dawson published ‘Being a Boy‘.  The Amazon blurb claims: ‘former PSHCE teacher James Dawson expertly guides boys through puberty’.  In 2013, Dawson was a bit of a gay role model.  Of his novel ‘Cruel Summer’ he saidWhy wouldn’t straight people want to read about a devious, sexy young chap?” In 2014 he published ‘This Book is Gay‘ and became a School Role Model for the charity Stonewall. In 2015 he announced he was going to transition, telling the Independent ‘I just want to be one of the girls’. By 2017 he had reinvented himself as Juno and was claiming”A lot of gay men are gay men as a consolation prize, because they couldn’t be women.’

Dawson’s ability for doublethink is apparent in that he can see no irony in saying of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, “I can’t imagine that she’s dying to hear my views on growing up as a black person because it’s something I have no experience of.”

WILLOUGBY

Screen Shot 2018-03-13 at 10.58.25Jonathan Willoughby was in his mid-40s- divorced and the father of a teenage boy- when he disappeared from the world of broadcasting and returned several years later as India.

Infamously, he tried to force a kiss on singer/songwriter Ginuwine in a 2018 episode of Celebrity Big Brother and accused Ginuwine of transphobia when he wouldn’t kiss him back. When women in the ‘Big Brother’ house angered him, he declared loudly- in an unfortunate choice of words-  “I am a woman! Let that penetrate!” His goalpost for womanhood seems to be undergoing surgery, telling Pink News in 2017,  “Unless you are transitioning, stay out of the ladies. Pulling on a frock as and when the mood takes doesn’t cut it. You don’t have a God-given right to go into female-only spaces.” The irony of this seems to be lost on Willoughby, who appears to make the rules up as he goes along, while being photographed in the Ladies’ toilets.

FAYE

Screen Shot 2018-03-13 at 10.59.32In 2014, aged 26, Sean Faye was writing articles for the Guardian about being a man who wore make up.  In 2015 he claimed ‘I’m not a man, I never was’. A year later he wrote an article for the BBC on International Women’s Day in which he saw no irony in speaking of a world in where ‘femininity is still in flight from male definition, ridicule and violence’.

“Trans women live under the same system of patriarchy as other women,writes Shon in the Guardian: in an article where he demands access to women’s  refuges and domestic violence centres ‘because I now exist as a woman’. Faye seems to genuinely believe that woman is a costume. He once told a woman on Twitter, ‘I’m a woman because I say I am, you’ve lost… enjoy your erasure”.

You may have conveniently forgotten about your 27 years of male privilege, but Shon baby, it still shows.

This list could go on. And on, and on. Don’t get me started on Riley J ‘I could start a fire with all that straw,‘ Dennis and even Lily ‘TERF TERF TERF‘ Madigan. The fact that some of these men are too young and disturbed for me to feel comfortable writing about them in depth doesn’t lessen the harm they are doing to women with their entitled appropriation.

These men are representing women. The last decade has seen an explosion in men who claim to be women and the internet is bursting with men who believe that it is quite reasonable to demand that they are referred to as women and that women who disagree with them should STFU. This is not progressive; it is nothing new. This is what men have always done to women. Shut up, TERF.

So, if I might disagree with Bergadof for a moment when he claims that,“What makes a woman ‘a woman’ has no definitive answer, nor does it need one”, I think we really do need to ask a few questions.

So what IS a woman?  How do we define ‘woman’?

Screen Shot 2018-03-20 at 11.22.49.pngIs it that she grows young inside her (but some women never have kids!) and feeds them with her breasts (but some women can’t lactate!)?

Is it her womb (but some women have had a hysterectomy!) or her breasts (but some women have lost breasts to cancer!) or her chromosomes (but some women are intersex!) or her menses (but some women never menstruate!)?

Is it her penis? No. Stop right there. Let’s get this perfectly clear. Women do not have penises. None of them.  Ever. We have a word for people who were born with penises. That word is men.

But these days it’s really complicated to define ‘woman’.

But wait, no it isn’t actually. It isn’t at all. We all know what a woman is. A woman is an adult human female. We all came out of one. And no, that’s not to say that women who are sterile, or have had a mastectomy, or a hysterectomy are not women: of course it isn’t. NOBODY HAS EVER SAID THAT.

Pay attention class. Are you ready for a blackboard meme? Good. Magdalen Behrns introduced me to this wonderful, spectacularly succinct phrase. The fact that this phrase is fast becoming controversial sums up the absurdity of the current state of gender politics.

Lily Maynard

There is no such thing as a woman with a penis, whether she is a lesbian or not, (I discuss intersex in my articleWhat makes somebody ‘real’ trans part 2′, so I won’t digress here) but this argument is especially trying for lesbians because obviously, quote Jessie: “Euw… penises.”

So, why should we say men are women when they tell us they are?  Well, basically it seems to come down to being ‘nice’.   It’s kinder not to remind them that they aren’t really women. We know they’re confused, bless them, so most of us go along with it – because it’s ‘mean’ not to and we have been trained to put the needs of men and boys before our own since we were little girls.

And there’s one more thing we need to get clear. Right now. This is not harmless. This is not just ‘being nice’ to a few confused and vulnerable individuals, it’s far, far bigger than that. This is about your rights. And if you’re a bloke reading this, this is about your mother’s rights, your sisters’, your friends’, your daughters’… this is about Women’s Rights. Yes. THIS IS A WOMEN’S RIGHTS ISSUE! Why? Because this:

Lily Maynard

We women are trained from a very early age that it isn’t nice to be ‘mean’, but this feels like war. War on our spaces; war on our rights; war on our bodies. And if it’s war, so be it. I come from a long line of women who believe that women’s rights are worth fighting for. Bring it on.

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Transgenderism and the War on Women – House of Commons 14/3/18

Lily Maynard

Jessie Maynard outside the Houses of Parliament 14/3/18

 

Screen Shot 2018-03-18 at 01.01.14When Venice Allan decided she wanted to book ‘The Den’ at Millwall football club for the ‘Transgenderism and the War on Women’ event, Julia Long had reservations. Long didn’t know much about football but she knew the club’s reputation in the 70s and 80s; the preferred chant of their fans, ‘no-one likes us; we don’t care’ and she didn’t think it was a good idea to be associated with that history of violence and hooliganism.

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Lily Maynard

Venice Allan at the House of Commons. Sketch by Michele-not-on-Twitter.

Allan eventually persuaded Long and the booking went ahead. The event was announced on social media and several hundred tickets sold. All seemed to be going to plan until they received an email from a staff member at Millwall describing the ‘relentless assault’ of complaints the club had received from transactivists.

The staff member told them that Millwall had never seen anything like it, and were backing out of hosting the event because not only were they concerned about the welfare and safety of their staff but – oh, the irony! – because they had concerns for their reputation.

The transactivists were delighted!

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Undaunted, Venice contacted MP David Davies and asked if the meeting could be held at the House of Commons. To the surprise of most of us – if not Allan herself – Davies agreed to sponsor it. So many tickets had been sold by this point that the venue was unable to accommodate us all; it was asked that some people give up their tickets in exchange for a pass to the next event, and decided that on this occasion the meeting should be for women only.

The transactivists were horrified!

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Screen Shot 2018-03-18 at 01.06.12“It’s hilarious but at the same time: three lesbian feminists having a bit of a talk about, well, something that’s really a bit boring titled ‘The Gender Recognition Act’? And Millwall say they’ve never seen anything like it?” chuckled Julia Long, in the introduction to her talk. “We heard the same report from David’s office as well … the House of Commons have hosted meetings with Hamas; the IRA and yet they’ve never known anything like it.  So we’ll have to copyright it: “Never seen anything like it!”

 

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So that’s how my daughter Jessie and I found ourselves at the House of Commons on the evening of Wednesday, March 14th, 2018. For those of you who have never visited the Houses of Parliament, the imposing grandeur of the outside is only dwarfed by the spectacular interior. Stunning artworks are painted directly onto the walls. (You can see one of my favourites here) Stained glass windows loom over stone staircases and the hallways are lined with white marble statues of scowling, corpulent men garbed in frills and wigs, strangely reminiscent of some of my evenings on Twitter.  Photography is only allowed in St Stephens’ and Westminster Halls, where, overlooked by Queen Eleanor of Castile (left), we waited for seven o’clock to arrive.

For me, it was a bit  like a Who’s Who of 21st century Twitter feminism. It was great to see familiar faces. Emma was there of course, networking as ever. But over there I saw…  and oh gosh, wasn’t that…

There was plenty to look at and chat about as we waited. The coffee shop was closed – why does that always happen to me? I was introduced to new people and put faces to the names of many women I’ve interacted with online. I found myself thinking of the Black Mirror episode ‘Nosedive’ and wishing everyone could have their Twitter handles floating above their heads.

Screen Shot 2018-03-19 at 04.00.25When ten to seven came around male allies and those who had given up their spaces at the talk but still come along to show solidarity, were escorted to the pub by Miranda Yardley where evidently a good time was had by all.

(I was later told that about 5 male allies were able to squeeze into the back of the room- it was so packed that I couldn’t see them from my vantage point!)

Shortly before seven, the rest of us filed into the imposing Committee Room 10, where long wood and leather tables awaited us, water and a notepad by every seat. Jessie and I slipped into seats near the front: the meeting started, and I began to scribble frantically…

PROFESSOR SHEILA JEFFREYS

Sheila Jeffreys

Sheila Jeffreys in the House of Commons. Sketch by Michele-not-on-Twitter

“The difficulties in having this meeting show how transgenderism is a weapon aimed at the heart of feminism.”

With this statement, accompanied by a karate chop, Sheila Jeffreys grabbed her audience by their penis-free short and curlies. She began by observing how in the 70s she would publish her address and phone number in the London Women’s Liberation Newsletter and invite women round to her Putney flat for discussions. How things have changed.

“In 2014-15 I had to have security guards at many of my lectures; I had to have my name taken off my door so my room couldn’t be identified.”

Jeffreys, who has lived and fought through second wave feminism and throughout it all has articulated the struggles of women as an oppressed group, was clear: ”You cannot have a movement against oppression unless you can recognise that a certain group of people are oppressed… you need to be able to articulate what is the category of the oppressed.”

The meat, as it were, of her talk explored the idea of Parasitism.

“When members of the oppressor class claim to be the oppressed, and parasitically occupy the bodies of the oppressed, they speak for the oppressed; they demand to be recognised as the oppressed and to enter all sites and discussions set aside for the oppressed, there is no space for women’s liberation….Men’s sexual rights become the focus of what was once the movement for women’s liberation…”

And so began the tour, at turns gruesome and hilarious, of the side of transgenderism not shown in the current media love-fest. Jeffreys took us from the original Beaumont Society where polite retention of ones male genitalia was de rigeur (it now refers to itself as a Transgender Support Group), through to a harsh dose of reality: the fetishism which she believes to be at the basis of the movement.

“If anybody has doubts whether this is about sex or about a gender that floats down from the sky with the stork and just lands on unfortunate men I do suggest that you look online.”

Jeffreys spoke of pornography where men are forced put on clothing associated with women or ‘become’ girl children or pregnant women; of pornography concerning breastfeeding, where prostituted Asian boys express milk that has been brought on by female hormones.

She believes that most men who claim to be women are homosexuals who cannot cope with their sexuality and mused as to whether the trend to ‘transition’ which we are now seeing is a construct of this pornography, which is estimated to be an astonishing 10%- and growing- of the market.

Jeffreys’ slides of the range of online fetishistic items brought a series of groans from the audience: the full body suit (above), where the male literally encases himself in the body of the female, eerily highlighting her point about parasitism.

The comedy highlight was the painful-looking ‘camel gaffe’. “Men get terribly excited about camel toe,” she observed, with a hint of bafflement in her voice as she speculated as to where the male genitals actually went once shrouded in such a contraption.

Jeffreys spoke of the 1990s when post-modern queer politics became fashionable. This movement claimed that “there are many different kinds of genders and women can pretend to be-” here she paused and heaved a long sigh, “-men and men can pretend to be women and it’s revolutionary and it’s transgressive and it will show to everybody that gender isn’t something real and the revolution would happen. Judith Butler said that,” she adds. “Lots of them said that and did the revolution happen? No.”

She went on to speak of the original Transgender Bill of Rights created in America by a man who ran cross dressing weekends in his spare time… “an ordinary married man, couple of kids,”… and another man who did go on to ‘transition’. The UK Gender Recognition Act, says Jeffreys, has its roots in this movement.

“It has to be said a lot of us were asleep- a lot of us were asleep.”  Jeffreys muses on how this was allowed to happen.  “Hair flick! Gosh! And then they get a certificate.” she scoffs.

Thus the Gender Recognition Act established gender, which speakers and audience alike perceive as a set of harmful stereotypes about what a woman should be, in law.  If the current proposed changes are made to the GRA, and self-identification becomes the only requirement, then the current need for letters from two doctors and time spent in ‘lived experience’ will no longer be needed for a man to legally declare himself a woman and vice versa. No wonder Jeffreys is exasperated when she and other second wave feminists fought for literally decades against the idea that there is a ‘correct’ way for women to act and dress. What hopes they must have had for the 21st century, yet here we are and women are being told that an elusive ‘essence of woman’ can somehow be measured and validated.

The men who are are now speaking for women within political parties and even on International Women’s Day, are trying to stop any discussion of the things that affect women’s bodies, such as menstruation, abortion, childbirth, pregnancy and breastfeeding. They claim such discussions are ‘transphobic’ or ‘problematic’ and Jeffreys has a theory about why that might be.

“It makes them feel less authentic because they don’t have that experience and they don’t have that biology. If we can’t speak about our bodies- which is the very basis of feminism because women are actually oppressed because of our bodies- then that is a very big difficulty for us.”

To conclude, Sheila told us an anecdote about an ex-boyfriend, amusingly named Tim, who told her – on the up escalator in Harrods in 1971-  “Sheila, I really want to be you, I want to be inside your skin.” She spoke of how disturbing she found this comment – which we can presume Tim considered to be a compliment- concluding that it was because “we know men’s violence, we know men murder women, we know men cut up women, we know what men do with women’s body parts. It’s reasonable that we should be disturbed.”

“I must stop,” she observed, looking at her watch.  “Can I just say that I think this is an extraordinarily historic meeting… it marks the stage at which women’s voices are going to be heard more and more and more.  I hope that there is huge progress in the next couple of years.”

As Sheila Jeffreys took her seat and we applauded, I looked around at the illuminated and hopeful faces of the women who filling the room.  Some were chatting excitedly to the woman next to them, some were scribbling on the provided notepads; many looked pensive and hopeful. Jeffreys’ thought provoking presentation took us from laughter to the point of tears and back again. She had started by referring to us as an “incredibly well informed audience. I’m supposed to tell you what? You know everything I’m going to say,” but she was wrong.  Jeffreys talk was inspiring and gave us all food for thought. She sat down to cheers and thunderous applause. Had she spoken for another hour, another two, I believe we would have continued to sit and listen, mesmerised, to this wonderful woman who had lived through second wave feminism and was now here to share her strength and experience  with us all.

DR JULIA LONG

Julia Long

Julia Long in the House of Commons. Sketch by Michele-not-on-Twitter

Dr Long began by echoing the thanks to David Davies for hosting this meeting. This was met with applause and Davies smiled somewhat shyly. I doubt he had been the only man alone in a room with several hundred women before and I doubt it’s an evening he will forget in a hurry.

When Long told us how Millwall had said the event wouldn’t be able to go ahead because they had a duty of care to their staff, but also because they had concerns for their reputation, our laughter echoed around the walls. It was a huge letting go, a sense of both cameraderie and relief. We were excited, and despite attempts at sabotage and intimidation, were here. Common sense had prevailed, at least for now. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. And we would not be silenced. I pulled myself out of a reverie and picked up my pen again as Julia continued.

“I just wanted to make this observation as well: this is the first time that there’s been a panel of lesbian feminists in the House of Commons where we haven’t had to abseil in!”

One of the things that really struck me about this meeting was the sense of unity and humour. Despite our very serious concerns, there was something about the fact that we had all come together ‘IRL’ to share support and sisterhood. What the hell are these jokes about feminists being serious and sour faced? There was so much love and laughter in that room.

Long reminded us of the importance of analysing male dominated language, of the relationship between power and language, and how the politics of 2nd wave feminism and the women’s liberation movement was developed through language, through the breaking of women’s traditional silence around things like child sexual abuse and male violence; how women were developing a new language to reflect their experience and how that led to the development of women’s services and women’s culture: also things like rape crisis centres, women’s refuges and the development of lesbian feminist culture. She spoke of Julia Penelope’s work on the patriarchal language of discourse, the universal ‘mankind’ and the universal ‘he’.

“I think all of these things help to redefine woman, from a patriarchal definition of women to a more liberated version: a women’s version of reality that women were actively seeking to bring into being. We really have to remember what it is that is being erased when we talk about female erasure.”

Long said she appreciated the ‘sense of history’ that Sheila Jeffreys brought to the discussion; the knowledge that ‘transgenderism’ in its current form hasn’t always been around, despite the current narrative. Recently, out of curiosity, Long looked in a 1991 dictionary to see if it contained the word ‘transgender’. The dictionary went straight from transfused to transgenic. She also looked up ‘transexual’, which was defined as a ‘person having the physical characteristics of one sex and the supposed psychological characteristics of the other’.

“This version of transsexual is actually quite transphobic.” observed Julia, jocularly. “Maybe we should write to the Oxford dictionary producers about this hate speech?”

We were asked to think about how the term ‘trans’ operates and what it achieves.  Dr Long showed us some slides of tables and noted that tables have certain characteristics, for example four legs and a flat surface for eating- by which we all agree that they are tables. Then she showed us a watch, which has its own, different characteristics- such as a strap and the fact that you put it on your wrist and use it to tell the time.

“If I was to say to you,”That isn’t a watch, it’s a table,” you’re obviously going to say, ” No Julia, it’s not a table because you don’t wear a table round your wrist and you don’t eat your dinner off a watch.”

Then she pointed out that if she ‘made a clever move’ and told us it was a trans-table, she could make the claim that although it wasn’t like the other tables; it didn’t have four legs and wasn’t made of wood, she could claim that it was “one of those tables that you wear on your wrist… it’s one of THOSE tables!”

Julia observes that once everyone around us is referring to the watch as a trans-table:

“like lemmings rushing to the cliff, all singing as one saying that is a trans-table, it suddenly becomes quite difficult to say, “Well that’s just a watch….  Suddenly an adult human male with certain physical capacities and features and physiology and anatomy is no longer a man… it’s a trans-woman.”

If you dare to disagree.. well, as she reminded us- Millwall football club has a reputation to defend!

The room laughed wryly at the utter absurdity of this surreal yet genuine situation, but we were brought back to sobriety by Dr Long’s next comment.

“One thing that my involvement in this topic over the last few years has taught me is that you can make people believe absolutely anything, very, very quickly.”

She stopped and looked around. “Am I out of time?” she asked.

“Check your table!” called a voice from the audience.

 THE POWER AND CONTROL WHEEL

I’m lucky enough never to have been involved in a situation where I needed to seek shelter from a violent partner or family member, nor have I ever worked with women who have, and I had never come across the ‘Power and Control Wheel’.  Dr Long explained that power and control are central to domestic abuse and explained to us how the wheel works.

On the outer wheel is the reference to physical and sexual violence, or the threat of violence: the inner wheel encompasses intimidation, emotional abuse, isolation, minimising, denying, blaming, using children, male privilege and economic abuse; using coercion and threats.

“This really feels very familiar, it feels like these two parallel worlds are going on…Let’s have a think then on how the transgender movement operates.. as a male body; as an army of patriarchy trying to exercise power and control over women…”

Power_And_Control

PHYSICAL VIOLENCE

Dr Long spoke of the violence and the threats of violence that transactivists use against women, showing us a slide of the infamous ‘die cis scum’ meme and a variety of Tweets calling for violence against women. She referenced the violence against Maria MacLachlan, a 60-year-old humanist funeral celebrant who was punched in the head by a transactivist at Speakers’ Corner while waiting to attend a feminist discussion, and how A Woman’s Place had recently tweeted that a woman on a picket line had been verbally abused and harassed for having attended one of their meetings.

EMOTIONAL ABUSE

“I think the fact that we have been constantly told now in the media that men are women is a mass form of gaslighting; that we are all being emotionally abused by that.”

Long also noted transactivist Shon (Sean) Faye’s infamous comment (below)

Shon Faye Lily Maynard

MINIMISING, DENYING & BLAMING:

Julia referenced another Tweet (which, like so many others, has now been removed by the postee) which claimed of the meeting that, ‘this hateful event will incite violence and drag us back to nineteen sixties gender roles’ adding, to much laughter from the audience:

“Er, really? 1960s gender roles? Just look at the speakers.”

Julia Long

Julia Long in the House of Commons. Sketch by Michele-not-on-Twitter

Long observed that current portrayal is actually a total reversal of what’s really going on and observed that Venice might want to say something about the investigation for ‘transphobia’ she was recently subjected to by the Labour Party.

Allan never did get a chance to speak to us, but you can read the surreally Orwellian transcript of her interview here.

“This kind of blaming and labeling of us as a hate group  is then used to justify the absolute torrent of abuse and hatred that we are getting.”

USING CHILDREN:

Dr Long observed that the suicide statistics that get quoted re trans-identified children ‘stand up to absolutely no scrutiny’ and that there is a huge amount of emotional manipulation being used by those who use children to push a trans-agenda.

 “There’s an awful lot to be said about this: the rhetoric and the narrative and the discourse. Basically, if you dare to say  ‘that is a man’ you are killing children and that is the most extraordinary rhetorical device.”

 Screen Shot 2018-03-18 at 13.42.12USING MALE PRIVILEGE:

Long showed us a slide of a Vogue article ‘The New Suffragettes’, observing  We’ve got a man (Paris Lees) smack bang in the middle.” She also spoke of  International Women’s Day, where Munroe Bergdorf, Natacha Kennedy and Lily Madigan, (all trans-identified males) spoke at various women’s events.

“There’s so much to say about the way these men attempt to garner feminism for themselves.”

ECONOMIC ABUSE, COERCION & THREATS:

Observing that women are worst hit by austerity measures, Long noted that there is a ‘disgraceful underfunding of domestic and sexual violence services’ while transactivist group receive funding to perpetuate the idea that men can become women, and that profits are being made by many in the therapy and medical professions. She spoke of the harassment of radical feminists by a man who caused a scene because he was offended by the placards waved by women on an International Women’s Day march and rally. She referenced the doxxing of women and the threats made by activists to get them fired from our jobs.

“The Power and Control wheel isn’t really about domestic violence it’s about patriarchy. This is about how patriarchy works whether it’s on the micro level or the macro level.”Dr Long finished by going back to the importance of language and how it is used, quoting something she had found on Facebook and telling us how she could have cried in her happiness in realising that there really were others who understood what is going on.

transgender

I’ve made the words Julia spoke into a picture because her reading was met with such applause and understanding from the audience, amidst cries of ‘Kate wrote that! She’s here! Kate is here!’ I didn’t see the original Facebook post, so apologies to Kate, the OP, if I haven’t punctuated this as she might have done:

“I really appreciate the woman who wrote that. I thought she was absolutely echoing what Andrea Dworkin had said 30 odd years ago” concluded Long.

Screen Shot 2018-03-17 at 03.16.20

As Dr Long sat down, the women in the room bust again into applause. We had been in the room for nearly 90 minutes at this point yet we were still as engaged and interested as the minute we had sat down and filled with anticipation as to what the next speaker might have to add to the discourse.

ANNE RUZYLO

Anne Ruzylo, ‘fearless warrior’, lesbian and ex-Labour party Women’s Officer for Bexhill Battle and – who tore up her membership card and resigned after run-ins with trans-identified teen Lily Madigan- was next to speak.

Observing that ‘the professor and the doctor’ were hard acts to follow, Ruzylo rose to speak with a smile on her face, asking who was coming ‘for a sing-song in the pub afterwards’ and nodded with cheerful approval when met with, “Yes! Me! We are!” 

Ann Ruzylo

Anne Ruzylo in the House of Commons. Sketch by Michele-not-on-Twitter.

Ruzylo told us how she was born in the revolutionary mid-sixties, a time when young people were experimenting with sex and drugs, a time when, she observes, ‘transgenderism wasn’t a thing‘. She learned about Biology, “and that Biology hasn’t changed,” from her midwife mother. Her parents were separated; her father was a butcher. In her teens she worked for him at weekends and he let her use the knives and the slicer, “even though I was a girl”.

She remembers being in a playschool where boys weren’t discouraged from playing with dolls- even when they swung them around by the hair- and fondly recalls perfecting the art of  weeing into the toilet while standing up.

“I was fascinated but that’s how boys did it.” Ruzylo said, adding, ” I knew I was a girl though.”

Ruzylo didn’t like dolls or skipping or shrieking.  She liked playing football and playing with matchbox cars. She wore jeans, T-shirts and she loved her baseball boots. Ruzylo didn’t want to be a boy, just to be allowed to do the things boys did, and try to do them better. In the 70s, although she was too young to know of such things, “I was a child after all, I was busy doing childish things,” gay liberation was in full swing after the Stonewall riots of 1969 had helped pave the way.

“I had my holy communion, I chose the name Christine. My mum was a tad disappointed because it wasn’t terribly Catholic or saintly, but I really liked this girl Christine. I thought she was heavenly.”

Ruzylo recalls spending time at boarding school where she had a best friend called Helena.

“We would whisper to each other after lights out. We’d also take it in turns to tickle each other’s arms. I liked how close girls could be without boys around to tell them us we yucky and stupid. Transgender wasn’t a thing.”

The 80s, she reflects, were a time when men dressed effeminately, but were still men. And  while transgenderism wasn’t ‘a thing’, Aids was.

“I’d established some years before that I was a lesbian. I was pleased as punch that I had a title. Lesbian! I was really cool about it.”

In the 80s, Ruzylo went to her first lesbian and gay ‘Pride’ march. “I say lesbian and gay,” she eyes the audience mischievously, “Back then there were only lesbian and gay.”

When she decided to come out to her mum on the day before her 19th birthday, her mother was horrified.

“My mum informed me that she wished I’d never been born,” Anne told us, to sharp intakes of breath and gasps of horror from her audience. “Had she known how I’d’ve turned out she would’ve had an abortion.

Returning home from work one day shortly afterwards, Ruzylo found her mother had gathered a house full of friends,family and colleagues to tell Anne how disappointed they were by the revelation that she was a lesbian.

“They couldn’t even say it,” she remembers, lightening the  painful recollection; making the audience laugh by mimicking her relatives muttering the word ‘lesbian‘ like a disguised cough into their hands. ” I’d walked into ‘Oranges are not the Only Fruit’… but at least I was spared an exorcism.”

Ruzylo found herself a girlfriend, fled to London and proudly became “the best bus driver I could be. I could drive a bus better than most of the men.”.

 “I’ve always been one (a lesbian). I knew playing with cars, playing football, dressing in male clothes, making my dolls cohabit and having a Honda 50cc haven’t made me a lesbian- just like all those things equally wouldn’t make me a boy. That would be silly.”

Had trans been ‘a thing’ back when I was growing up, who knows what might have happened. I hurt my mother deeply by telling her I was a…” Anne grinned and again mumbled an incoherent ‘lesbian’ as the audience laughed.

Even now, she told us, she finds it hard to walk through the ‘women’s clothing section of a store because it makes her feel so uncomfortable, describing it as “alien to me.” Raised as a child in the current climate she says she could easily have believed herself to be born ‘in the wrong body’ and believed that transition could ‘fix’ her. She also thinks her Irish Catholic mother might well have seen transition as a cure for her… mumble… lesbianism.

Ruzylo noted that lesbian girls are 12 to 19 times more likely to display ‘extreme gender nonconforming behaviour’, before reaching school age, compared to heterosexual girls. She worries about these girls. She talked of concerns about the damage caused by breast-binding and how a whole category of pornography has developed surrounding this.

“I wasn’t born in the wrong body.  No child is.  I find it heartbreaking that any child would feel like that.”

Screen Shot 2018-03-19 at 01.20.15.png

Ruzylo’s tells an anecdote about being mis-gendered at this year’s Million Women Rise rally and nearly thrown off the march when she was mistaken for a man.  She scoffs at the idea that mis-gendering should be classed as a hate crime, “that would be idiocy in my opinion”, although she does wonder if it may actually happen.

“I have been a gender non-conforming woman all my life. I am mis-gendered practically every day of my life. I have been since the age of 14. By the way, I have never reported it to the police.”

Anne talked of the sex stereotypes surrounding her growing up and how although times have changed in many ways she has battled sex stereotypes all her life.She lamented that as the idea of gender replaces sex, the good working practices surrounding equality that she has helped develop will no longer be used.

“It seems that being a person who doesn’t identify with a gender has now become complicated and baffling. We are in a world with more labels to attach to folk than boxes to put them in.” 

In the last five years or so, observed Ruzylo, gender has gained growing importance. Lesbians have always been seen as a challenge to men and now they are being told that not wanting relationships with ‘trans-women’- 80% of whom keep their penis- makes them bigoted and transphobic.

Screen Shot 2018-03-19 at 02.13.31She also has serious concerns about young lesbians being told they may have been born in the ‘wrong’ body and that they need to take puberty blockers and hormones, and undergo surgeries to ‘fix’ themselves.  “I’m concerned that normal puberty is been treated as gender dysphoria.” She reminded us that these girls are the subject of experimentation for untested and potentially unsuitable drugs which they can purchase illegally online, and they are vulnerable to the trans-identified adults who befriend them on social media and tell them where to purchase these drugs.

Many women in the room clapped loudly in support of this view.

They look in magazines and on social media etc and they don’t see anyone that looks remotely like them. Boys tell them that their body isn’t normal: they don’t look like the women in the porn films they’ve seen where women have been trimmed, shaved, and had bits removed and bits added. We live in a cut and paste society.”

Screen Shot 2018-03-19 at 02.18.34Ruzylo pointed out that inaccurate information concerning suicide rates amongst trans-identified children is being frequently repeated (see right) by organisations who support early treatment with blockers and hormones, convince parents that they need to support their child’s transition and want the NHS to relax protocols. She spoke at length of the findings of a scientist who critically examined the Pace survey. Here are the findings which come to the conclusion- among other things- that there were just 27 trans-identified young people in the survey, not 2,000 as is so often stated.
Ruzylo went on to discuss the possible consequences of removing our current legal sex-based protections and replacing them with gender-based protections and how this could harm women and girls from a legal standpoint. These are just some of the rights we could lose:

The legal right of women to assemble outside the presence of men and the right to organise politically against sex-based oppression by males.

Educational programs, athletics programs, sports competitions, grants, scholarships, board and trustee designations created for women.

The right to be free from the presence of men in areas of public accommodation where nudity occurs.

The right to create female-only reproductive clinics, rape crisis services, support groups or other all female organisations.

Self-identification is already being used, said Ruyzlo, and men are already manipulating situations to gain access to women. She worked in the prison service for nearly 19 years in both men’s and women’s prisons and only ever came across one woman who wanted to transition and three men who did.

“Now our prisons have in the region of 125 (trans-identified prisoners) It’s is thought that approximately half of those are serious sex offenders… we already know of two male born prisoners were placed in women’s prisons and subsequently sexually assaulted the women there.”

She called on the UK and Scottish government to take this seriously, saying it’s not enough to claim other countries have made the change and there is no problem. In Ireland prisoners are imprisoned according to their biological sex and not their legal gender, which protects female prisoners from men demanding access to female space, but the same would not be true for the UK.

“Women and girls deserve better,” she concludes, and the loudly supportive response of the audience shows that it agrees.

When Anne had finished and the applause had died down, Venice observed that there was unlikely to be time for a Q&A, reminding the women present that we planned to meet at a bar after the meeting was closed and that we could carry on the conversation there.

“Before that,” she added, “I would really like to ask Posie Parker if she could come up.”
Someone shouted out, “I am Posie Parker!” She was joined by further voices and so it was that Posie stood up from her place at the back of the hall and walked to the front to the sound of a score of women calling,  “I am Posie Parker!”

So who is Posie Parker?

“I am a 43 year old married mother of four, I am every woman, I am you.”

Posie Parker is a ‘test case’, a woman under investigation by the police for daring to speak out against the transitioning of children and expressing her opinion that it is abusive.

Posie Parker

Posie Parker in the House of Commons. Sketch by Michele-not-on-Twitter.

“I will not kowtow to an ideology that demands I cannot speak the truth. I will not be compelled to say a man is a woman or that sterilising children is ok…”

The full transcript of of Posie’s speech  in the House of Commons, where she told her story to thunderous applause; her blog where she defends our right to free speech, and a link to her crowd-funder are here.

We are women making history.

“I don’t know how I’m going to follow that,” said David Davies, when Posie had finished, rising and thanking the speakers and audience for allowing him to host this event. He expressed his concern about a doctor in his constituency who had been prescribing cross-sex hormones to children as young as twelve, and assured the audience that he was against any kind of discrimination against LGBT people:

“but you can’t have men in a women’s prison or in a women’s changing room, or in a refuge… It’s just common sense isn’t it? And there was such an outpouring of rage that came my way – I was called a C.U.N.T. by the Conservative LGBT officer!”

Davies said that the one other belief that we all shared was the right to freedom of speech, and that he had “never known it to be so difficult to hold a meeting,” concluding “but anyway, enough from the man… I hope you have many more meetings. And if you’re finding it difficult to hold them, please come and talk to me.”

This of course, is the reason his support is appreciated and the reason that his speech was met with cheers. Not because we all need to share the same ideas and values but because we should be able to discuss them.  It has been pointed out that David Davies has a history of voting against things that might benefit LGB people: notably calling the idea of gay marriage ‘barking mad’ back in 2012. The point here is not that he needs to agree with everything lesbian feminists have to say: the point here is that he supports their right to have a meeting to discuss their views- and for that I add my thanks to that of the other women present that we were allowed to hear them speak.

Once the applause had stopped, Venice took the microphone, said how much she’d enjoyed the talks and told us that although there was no time for the planned Q&A session, a basement had been booked for drinks at a bar a short walk away.

This announcement was met with further whoops of approval and the meeting was adjourned to chants of,  ‘There’s only one Venice Allan!”

Of course, there was a dash for the loos, where someone had left little white business cards reading “Woman – Shhhhh… adult human female” neatly by the sinks.

The cards were cute, and the chatty atmosphere was full of animation and anticipation, but the queue for the toilets was lengthy, so lengthy.

“I can feel my mooncup exploding,” confided the woman standing next to me.

“Come on,” I said. “Let’s use the Gents, there’s nobody in there.”

So we did. And it smelled bloody awful.

.

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Shut up, TERF.

There’s a specific vocabulary used in the accusations slung at gender critical women. Even people who don’t know the difference between ‘their‘ and ‘they’re‘ seem to be able to spell ‘spouting vitriol‘ and ‘spewing hateful bile’. The most common insults are ‘fucking TERF’, ‘TERF bitch’ or the slightly less aggressive, ‘shut up, TERF’.  Often, just ‘TERF’ seems to be enough, although the word ‘hate’ is never far away.

Lily Maynard TERF

TERF (as if you didn’t already know) is an acronym for ‘Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist’. That word ‘exclusionary’ sounds pretty negative. Excluding trans people? Awful. Excluding them from what, exactly? It conjurs up images of mid-20th century racism and homophobia; of ‘whites only’ drinking fountains;  ‘No Irish’ job advertisements, and seaside B&Bs with ‘homosexuals not welcome here’ signs in the windows.

The thing about ‘TERF’ is that it isn’t even ‘a thing’. Radical feminism is not trans-exclusionary, it’s MAN exclusionary. The clue is in the name.

Radical feminists – and importantly, a lot of women who would never dream of calling themselves radical feminists- want men excluded from specifically all-female spaces. We don’t want penises in women’s changing rooms, refuges, prisons; at our women’s sports clubs & events. We want men excluded from our all-women shortlists. Because once men, whether or not they’ve undergone GRS – and let’s remember that 75% of ‘transwomen’ still have a penis- make their way onto those spaces and lists they aren’t for women any more.

It’s not unreasonable to say that if  men can call themselves women, the word ‘woman’ stops having any significant meaning.

‘Transwomen’ –  men who believe they are women, do not experience menstruation or pregnancy. They haven’t undergone female puberty. Most have been raised with male privilege in one form or another. The discrimination and assaults that they are subject to at the hands of other men are because they are, usually, perceived as men. This violence and discrimination has no place in a civilised society where everyone should be able to dress as they like and pursue whatever hobbies interest them, but it is not the concern of radical feminism because radical feminism is not about men. To say that feminism should concern itself with men is like approaching the Dogs’ Trust and telling them that they are cat-haters because they aren’t looking after cats. Some might say a closer analogy would be approaching a chicken shelter and suggesting they take in wounded foxes.

TERF chicken Lily Maynard

Radical feminism is not ‘trans exclusionary’- it’s MAN exclusionary. Because it’s not about men.

Transmen, on the other hand – women who believe they are men- are still the concern of feminism, whether they like it or not.  They are female-bodied people, drawn to transition because the subjugation and oppression of women by our culture seems so alien to them. Many are lesbians, who although they ‘identify’ as straight men, are still affected by feminist issues such as menstruation, rape, abortion and pregnancy.  They have no experience of male puberty, of wet dreams or obvious, unwanted and embarrassing pubescent erections. They have only a vague, idealised notion of what it means to be men, and are disadvantaged under patriarchy because they are still -mostly- perceived as women. Even those females who ‘pass’ as men and have undergone phalloplasty were born with XX chromosomes and socialised as girls. Most importantly, radical feminism is concerned with the oppression of women as a class and you just can’t opt out of that. Radical feminism doesn’t exclude women who call themselves ‘transmen‘ because radical feminists know that they are still women.

It’s that simple.

Transactivists will tell you that all TERFs are man-hating, right wing, religious zealots who hate gay people.

I’m only going to say this once and I’m rolling my eyes that it even has to be said. I don’t hate men. I’m very happily married to one. I know that patriarchy isn’t all fun and games; that males are  more likely to be pressurised into joining gangs, stabbed to death on the streets and/or packed off to be cannon fodder in mindless wars.  I know that the biggest killer for men under 45 in the UK is suicide, 75% of suicides in the UK are male, and men are three times more likely to be driven to alcoholism than women.  Society considers a man who fails to ‘provide’ for his family to be a failure. Patriarchy harms men too.  I know this shit. #notallmen. Not my Nigel.

Looking at men as a class however, it’s a different story.  Between 2002- 2015, males were found to be the offender in over three-quarters of overall violent incidents (81%) in England and Wales. Both rape and other sexual offences (88,106) were at the highest level since the NCRS was introduced in 2002.  Male violence is a huge problem.

“When I hear people say “Not All Men” this is what I think. Not all passengers in taxi cabs are thieves, but taxi drivers put up plastic screens. Passengers don’t say “Not All Passengers”. Not all teachers are paedophiles but we check their criminal records annually. Teachers don’t say “Not All Teachers”.  Not all applicants for jobs are liars but we reference check them anyway. Candidates don’t say “Not All Candidates”. Not all men are rapists but women want spaces just for women… but, to this last one, men say “Not All Men”.

Nicola Williams: When I Hear People Say ‘Not All Men’

*******

“The devastating breadth of male violence against women and transwomen alike is under-reported and under-acknowledged, and the violence perpetrated by transwomen against women is flat out denied.”

Gender Apostates: ‘Male Violence is the Problem & Transwomen Commit it Too

*******

A Swedish long-term follow up study of  ‘transexual persons’ following ‘gender reassignment surgery’ came to the conclusion that transwomen maintained male patterns of violence:

“Regarding any crime, male-to-females had a significantly increased risk for crime compared to female controls, but not compared to males. This indicates that they retained a male pattern regarding criminality. The same was true regarding violent crime.”

So taking this into account, we might also want to consider that the number of transgender prisoners in England & Wales grew by 80% between 2016-2017 and that up to half of all trans prisoners may be sex offenders.

Might it, then, not be reasonable to suggest that a woman is no more- or less- safe around a transwoman than any other man.? Not that all trans-identified people are violent predators any more than all men are violent predators; not that trans people shouldn’t have the same rights and protections as anyone else. Shouldn’t actual women, the female-bodied; the ones who get pregnant and menstruate, be allowed a little privacy and spaces of their own?

If you agree with that, congratulations. You’re a TERF.  Best to keep it to yourself. Shut up, TERF.

“You’re a TERF, a right wing, religious zealot who hates LGBT people.”

I don’t hate LGBT people.  I’m bisexual. My eldest daughter’s a lesbian. Pretty sure middle-child is bi.  Smallest is a unicorn. Next.

I’m not religious, or right-wing. I used to love Corbyn before he sold women down the river and started sucking up to the misogynistic Madigans & Bergadofs of this world.   The Conservative Party has always made me feel slightly sick, a hotbed of privilege and brazen entitlement. As for organised religion, it’s the patriarchy at its worst with its cacophony of judgemental and war-mongering gods.

I don’t fantasise about a ‘Nazi-inspired world(sic). Just… no. Really. Stop now.

‘TERF’ has become an umbrella almost as broad as ‘TRANS’. In some circles it is the worst thing a woman can be called. Saying a man is a not woman is akin to being a Nazi, but being a Nazi is implicit in the accusation ‘TERF”.

Even describing yourself as a lesbian and same-sex attracted has been called ‘TERFy’, most notoriously by the CEO of Stonewall, Ruth Hunt.

Even detransitioned men get called TERFs if they don’t use the ‘correct’ language.

Over and again we are told that TERFs are responsible for the deaths of trans people. If I had 50p for every time I was told that there’s blood on my hands because I won’t say a man is a woman,  I could buy myself a mooncup in every colour of the rainbow. Feminists are not the problem. Violent men are the problem.

Lily Maynard male violence

According to the transrespect site, between 2008 and 2016, eight trans people were killed in the UK. (One of these turned out to not be dead, another to be a suicide/accidental death.) So six trans-IDd people (all men) were killed in those 8 years. Those deaths are a sad and tragic waste of life. Nothing seems to suggest that any of them were killed specifically for being trans: one of them was killed by a trans-identified man.  Unsurprisingly, none of them were killed by women. You can read a post on this, with citations, here. Fair Play for Women examines statistics that suggest that trans people are no more likely to get murdered than anyone else here.

At a time when Bristol Students’ Union has voted for a ban preventing TERF groups from holding events at the university‘, when women are punched in the face for wanting to discuss gender ideology, when meetings must be held in secret, and Millwall football ground – surely no stranger to controversy – has backed out of their agreement to host the next ‘We Need to Talk’ event- all accompanied by cries of ‘TERF’:  it seems that ‘the T-word’ has become a magic spell for shutting women up.

“I did warn them about transactivists.” says Venice Allan, of the decision by Millwall. ” I think they thought I was being grandiose.’

Far from it. It seems as if transactivists can say whatever they like to and about women whilst we are denied meeting places, intimidated, doxxed, removed from social media, kicked out of political parties and reported to the police just for expressing the opinion that transwomen are men and that the transitioning of children is abusive.

So who exactly is a TERF? Outside of the world of activism and social media it seems that TERFs are everywhere. The old bloke in the flat cap outside the pub? He’s a TERF. The young mum coming home with her shopping? TERF.  Your bus driver? She’s one too. The beggar outside McDonalds; the woman walking her dog in the park. Yup, them as well. They’re all TERFs. They just don’t know it yet.

TERF Lily Maynard

We now are moving into a culture where violence against TERFs is condoned because they are such evil Nazis. I could post hundreds of examples of tweets calling for violence against ‘TERF’ women.  Instead I’ll link to Meghan Murphy’s excellent article, ‘TERF isn’t just a slur, it’s hate speech’. 

if Bristol goes ahead, it will not be the first UK university to ‘ban the TERF’. Julie Bindell wrote in 2015 about the ‘campus craze’ of excluding outspoken women from speaking at events. Tiers 4 and 5 of this ‘banned by trans‘ post deal with the (mostly) women who have been banned from speaking, writing and performing because of their TERF ideology. Pussy hats are TERFy, AF. So is The Vagina Monologues. Check out Terry Mcdonald’s article in The New Statesman,  ‘Are You Now or Have You Ever Been a TERF?

In 2016, Juno Dawson wrote an article for GLAMOUR magazine entitled ‘Call Yourself a Feminist?’ In it he wrote about who could be called a feminist and who couldn’t. (I’ll give you a clue – TERFs were out). Fast forward to 2018 and Munroe Bergdorf is doing the same thing with his article in GRAZIA ‘Women are Getting Feminism all Wrong’.

Exclude men from your feminism & you’re not a feminist. Men say so.

Don’t want men in the women’s changing rooms at your local swimming pool? TERF.

Don’t want boys changing next to your daughter before PE at school?  TERF.

Don’t think men should advise political parties on women’s issues, or stand as Women’s Officers? TERF.

Don’t think men should play on women’s and girls’ sports teams? TERF.

Don’t think men should win awards designated for women or take places on women’s shortlists? TERF.

Worried about male-pattern violence? TERF.

Don’t think a man becomes a woman just because he says so? TERF, TERF.

Don’t believe there’s any such thing as a lesbian with a penis?  TERF. TERF. TERF.

Shut up, TERF.

Shut up.

SHUT UP.

Posted in Uncategorized | 26 Comments

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.
 ***
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.
***
You can read the A Woman’s Place UK Equality Law factsheet here.
***

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.”
 
***

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.
***
“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.”
***
“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.”
***
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.”
***
“I am at a school where I can’t run as Women’s Officer because I don’t self-identify as a woman.”
***
“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.
***
Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

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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