Elsewhere I am still seeing people concern-trolling about how unfairly the poor TERFS are being treated by the horrid trans people. Why, people keep asking, are trans folk not prepared to debate important issues? Well, here are a few things to think about, based on stuff I have read elsewhere.
First up, the acronym TERF stands for Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist. All of those words are important. The suggestion that its use attacks all feminists, or even all radical feminists, is clearly incorrect. Indeed, most trans activists identify as feminists, and many as radicals.
I am well aware of the claim that “TERF” is a term of abuse. However, it is a simple and factual statement of their political position. If there was a better word, I’d be happy to use it. However, the TERFs themselves prefer to be referred to as “feminists” or even just “women”, this being an attempt to infer that their position has far greater support than it has, and to encourage the sort of confusion I referred to above. Claiming that any word we come up with to describe them is a term of abuse is a tactic used to prevent us from addressing their claims.
I have a Gender Recognition Certificate. Under the Gender Recognition Act of 2004 this means that I have the right, in law, to be treated as a woman. My driving license, passport, and even birth certificate say that I am female. The central thesis of this law — that I and people like me are women — was described as the “extreme form” of trans ideology by the New Statesman last week. Hopefully you can understand why I get a little irritated by constant demands that I “debate” the idea that I am not “really” a woman, should be barred from female-only spaces, and should be forced to use male-only toilets if I need to pee when out in public.
By the way, props to Roz Kaveney for pointing out that these attempts to prevent trans women from using public toilets are very similar to the Victorian idea that by not providing public toilets for women they could be forced to stay at home and not participate in public life.
If your position is that an exception can be made for trans women like me, but not for others, then you need to define how this exception will work. Note, however, that the TERF position is that I am, and always will be, a man, and can never be allowed in women-only spaces. Germaine Greer’s position is that anyone with a Y chromosome is a man, no matter how weird their biology. This include people with Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome who are female-bodied, assigned female at birth, raised as girls, identify as women, and in a few cases have even given birth.*
If your idea for how to control exceptions is “PENIS!!!”, what will you do about a 17-year-old who has been living as a girl since she was 5, has not and never will go through male puberty, but cannot legally have gender surgery until she turns 18?
Note also that in order to qualify for gender transition patients at Gender Identity Clinics generally have to spend at least 2 years living full time in their preferred gender role. That includes the use of gender-appropriate toilets.
Currently some 13,000 people have undergone transition under the care of British gender clinics (not all of whom will have had surgery). It is reasonable to assume that getting on for half of them identify as trans women. To date not one of them has been charged with sexual assault of a woman in a public bathroom. (It would have been all over the papers if one had.) Why would anyone say that all of them should be punished by being denied access to toilets, just in case one of them might commit an assault?
If your position is that heterosexual men might disguise themselves as trans women in order to sneak into women’s toilets and commit sexual assaults, why is your solution to that to ban actual trans women from toilets? If you were worried that rapists might disguise themselves as postmen in order to attack housewives, would your solution be to ban mail deliveries?
Why is it that trans men are never seen as a sexual threat (even when TERFS demand that they use women’s toilets)? Why are lesbians not a danger in women’s toilets, or gay men in men’s toilets? Why is it only ever trans women who are seen as potential sexual predators?
And finally, over 200 trans women are killed worldwide every year, just because they are trans. Almost always the killers are men. TERFs know this when they demand that trans women be forced to out themselves to strangers and enter a male-only space if they want to have a pee.
I don’t suppose any of that will put a stop to it. People will go on and on complaining, “why can’t you be reasonable, why can’t you just debate this point?” After all, people keep saying that we should debate the reality of evolution, and climate change, and the moon landings. But there comes a point when you have to say enough. The reality of gender identity issues, and the appropriateness of gender transition as a treatment, is recognized by the UN, by most democratic governments, and by the bulk of medical and scientific opinion. As this post on Skeptoid states, it is time for TERFism to be recognized as a form of denialism so that most of us can stop having these endless “debates”. Mostly they are just excuses for terrorizing trans women, and we need to stop enabling them.
By the way, on the subject of medical evidence, I note from Canadian news that Kenneth Zucker, the primary proponent of the sort of trans “cures” that Julie Bindel advocates, and which led to the suicide of Leelah Alcorn, has been put under a six-month independent review by his bosses.
Also the current evidence used by Zucker and his pals to claim that trans women are mentally ill is the condition of “autogynephlia”, a form of sexual fetish in which we are supposed to be in lust with our images of ourselves as women. I saw recently on the GIRES website that someone has done some proper science to test this condition by introducing a control. The research showed that, using the diagnostic criteria recommended by the inventor or autogynephlia, Ray Blanchard, 93% of cis women tested should be classified as suffering from this “mental illness”. Yet autogynephilia is still included in the current US directory of mental illnesses, and many countries still require that trans people be officially diagnosed as mentally ill before they can even change their names.
* There is a science fiction story to be written in which external incubation of babies becomes fashionable because Greer-like feminists have a horror of being “contaminated” by male cells should they male children. Every woman who has born a son has a bunch of Y-chromosome cells floating around in her body.