Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Transphobia finally eats itself.

 Amid the torrent of fabrications, misleading interpretations, institutional dishonesty and outright lies that the anti-trans fanatics and their friends on the extreme right and in the right-wing media have put about no-one seems to have noticed how these dishonest bigots have effectively disproved their own case.

A few months ago the transphobes were telling anyone prepared to listen, and certainly any journalist ready to be wilfully misled, that the modest proposals to reform the Gender Recognition Act would result in all sorts of terrible things. Everything from dodgy men using the proposed Statutory Declaration of Gender to access women’s spaces to making it impossible to identify as women, or men, or anything ever again, were touted as the consequences of modest bureaucratic changes to enable trans people to access a new birth certificate. Trans women being allowed to access women’s spaces like public loos, rape crisis centres and changing rooms in Topshop would bring chaos to the country and result in a Grave Threat to Women. 

The trouble is these transphobes then found out that laws which protect trans people from discrimination and allow us to use these spaces and services had already been in place, in one form or other, for between 8 and 19 years! Now of course trans people have been telling them this ever since they came out with this drivel, but despite their claims to want a “respectful debate” they ignored us. (This suggests that they have never been in the least bit interested in “respectful debate” but rather in shouting at trans people from the bully pulpits afforded them by those freedom-loving feminists in the Times, Mail, Sun, Express and Spectator.) In other words the terrifying dystopia they had told us would happen with Statutory Declaration of Gender has already happened!!
“OMG! These trannies have been able to use the right loos since 1999 and, if they have been raped or sexually assaulted, obtain the support of rape crisis centres since 2010!” was the shocked response. “How could this be?!
 The question they failed to ask however, was this ;“If trans people have already been protected from discrimination and allowed to use all these facilities all this time how come we didn’t notice?”

So the dystopia they have been warning (or some might say fearmongering) about for a year now, has actually been with us for at least 8 years and they didn’t realise it. No cis men have used it as an excuse to enter women’s spaces for nefarious purposes. Women, whether cis or trans have not been prevented from identifying as women, biology has not been erased, crime stats for trans women remain at a similar level to those of cis women and fish still swim in the seas and rivers and produce baby fish. In fact all the things they told us would happen if trans people were given basic the human rights we obtained in 1999 and 2010 have not happened. 

And not only that but no-one noticed.

  • The transphobic self-identified “feminists” didn’t notice.
  • The right-wing transphobic “journalists” didn’t notice.
  • The extreme right-wing funders behind the anti-trans movement didn’t notice.
  • The general nihilistic bigots and hateful MRAs didn’t notice.
  • The transphobic academics and ideologues didn’t notice.
  • Transphobic union leaders didn’t notice. 
  • Cis men attempting to ingratiate themselves with these self-identified “feminists” didn’t notice.
  • Complete numpties on Twitter didn't notice.


Indeed the only ones who noticed were trans people. 

The transphobes said the world would end with trans rights, yet those trans rights have been in operation for years and the world has not ended. In other words, in their red haze of hatred and stupor of transphobia they have actually disproven their own case. Civilization hasn’t collapsed as they said it would, everything has carried on with almost no-one noticing, just like trans people said it would.

The fact that the transphobes have not noticed that their greatest fears have already been realised and it hasn't affected anyone, is very significant. Though they have already been living in their nightmare of a tolerant and accepting 'dystopia' of trans human rights since before 2010, it has been so awful, so dire, so terrible that… horror of horrors… they… didn’t... even... notice!

All oppressive groups deserve to have the urine extracted at every possible opportunity but the main implication of this is, of course, quite serious. It means that their arguments about ‘concern’ for women’s safety, and their assurances that they are ‘not transphobic’, are, of course revealed as utter hogwash. The truth is that they are not at all concerned with women’s safety, they only pretend to be. The truth is that their claims not to be transphobic bigots are, likewise, as truthful as a Vote Leave expenses declaration.

So if they are not opposing trans people’s human rights in order to protect women, the question to ask is what is the motivation behind what they are doing…?

Well the answer is, of course pretty obvious, they want to harm trans people. They want to remove trans people’s human rights, not because they conflict with anyone else’s rights but because they hate trans people. Let’s face it no transphobe who seriously wants to influence anyone else is going to come straight out and say they are bigots, they are going to pretend to be principled and to have genuine reasons for wanting to oppress us. But let's not delude ourselves , or allow them to delude others. They are transphobes. straight up, pure and simple.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

False equivalence on stilts: Mumsnet's new censorship.


Today Mumsnet have come out with some badly transphobic guidelines which can only be regarded ill-considered at the most generous, profoundly transphobic at worst. They have said they are going to ban transphobia, terms like "TIM" ("Trans-identified male") and the like, although transphobes on Mumsnet are apparently already trying to find ways of producing new abusive and transphobic terms in order to get round this. How many hundreds of mods Mumsnet are going to employ to monitor this is unclear. 

However for false equivalence they have decided ban the term  "cis-". This is not only ridiculous, it is profoundly transphobic and reflects the institutional transphobia endemic at Mumsnet. "Cis-" as a prefix, they claim is offensive to "feminists", swallowing the rhetoric that "cis-" is somehow a form of abuse (in fact it is only a form of abuse if you are a transphobic bigot). Mumsnet are exposing their bias here and it isn't pretty.

The prefix "cis-" was first used in relation to gender by Dr Ernst Burchard, a cisgender doctor - and one of the earliest campaigners for gay rights - in "Lexikon des Gesamten Sexuallebens" published in German in 1914 and the term "cisgender" was first used by a cis male academic called Sigusch in 1998. It was created in order to provide a counterbalance to "trans-" so that people didn't have to say "non-trans" or "normal" when referring to someone who is cisgender. "Cis-" is effectively like the prefix "hetero-" in heterosexual. We don't talk about people who are not gay men or lesbians as "normal" people, so why should be have to do just that for trans people on Mumsnet?

In effect Mumsnet have censored trans people from using their discussion boards because we can no longer name people who are cisgender except in a way that Others us, pathologizes us or marks us out as somehow "abnormal" or not valid. In effect this is an Orwellian kind of censorship at a lexicon level (like "doubleplusgood") from a media platform that has complained noisily about Orwellian "censorship" when trans people called them out on the abuse we have been receiving on Mumsnet.

So it doesn't just reveal Mumsnet's institutional transphobia but their profound hypocrisy also. They cried foul to that other transphobic media platform, The Times, about being held to account for the transphobia in their forums yet have now banned some elements of the very behaviour they said trans people were threatening "censorship" by complaining about. In other words by their own standards of a few weeks ago they now are "censoring" themselves. This is not merely hypocritical, it is pathetic.

They are effectively excluding discussion by trans people and our allies by denying us legitimate terminology; banning a term that is, by the way, in the Oxford English Dictionary. Without being able to use a term like "cisgender" they are effectively making it impossible for trans people to engage in any meaningful debate in important areas. Their attempt to appear even-handed has ended up being oppressive and effectively taking the side of the oppressor. False equivalence is the name of the game, something trans people are very familiar with in the media, particularly broadcast media. And something the CEO of Mumsnet should be very familiar with since her partner is a senior commissioning editor in Channel 4, which recently produced an abusive and demeaning "debate" about my right to exist.

Mumsnet have got it badly wrong, they have demonstrated that
they are institutionally transphobic and in Desmond Tutu's terms are not even taking the side of the oppressor by being neutral, they are taking the side of the oppressor, period. Their motivation for this...? The only conclusion I can come up with is that they want to maintain their abusive transphobic user-base while avoiding complaints of abuse to advertisers; screenshots of transphobic abuse next to adverts make advertisers nervous. It is worth noting that trans people have been complaining about this kind of transphobic abuse on their site for literally years and they have arrogantly ignored us and brushed us off. 

But the implications of Mumsnet's censorship go much further into dangerous territory...

As an academic the last place I would ever want go to discuss my work is of course Mumsnet, but now even if I wanted to I would be unable to since my most recent peer-reviewed publications, and some soon to come not only use terms with the prefix "cis-" ("Cultural cisgenderism" and "Cis-mythologization") throughout but they use them in the title. In effect my research is now banned from Mumsnet. No great loss from my point of view but should we should regard this as the modern equivalent of book-burning? 

When the Nazis started to burn
books in Berlin University in 1933, among the first into the flames were those of Magnus Hirschfeld, a researcher into trans people. The comparison is too obvious not to make.  Indeed I am not the only academic some of whose work it is now prohibited to discuss on Mumsnet; Gavi Ansara's and Peter Hegarty's award-winning research publication "Cisgenderism in psychology: pathologising and misgendering children from 1999 to 2008" (which originally coined the term "cisgenderism") is also banned under Mumsnet's new regime as are works by both transgender and cisgender academics including; Dr Ruth Pearce, Prof Dean Spade, Dr Julia Serano, Prof Rogers Brubaker, Prof Susan Stryker, Dr Jemma Tosh, Dr Diane Ehrensaft, Asst Prof Z Nicolazzo, Asst Prof Tobias Raun,  Prof Sara Ahmed, Dr Meg-John BarkerCN Lester... I could go on and on...

To go from complaining to mainstream media about "censorship" to implementing a thoroughly Orwellian censorship regime of its own is quite a feat of hypocrisy even by Mumsnet's own pitiful standards, and something trans people are used to as pretty much the default setting of transphobes. However banning a term that is the equivalent of "heterosexual-" is not only bizarre but profoundly oppressive, the fact that it prevents the discussion of work by a wide range of academics is, in practical terms no great loss, Mumsnet is really just a cesspit of hate and ignorance. The symbolism of it however is very significant indeed.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Rebecca Reid and the Production of Ignorance

I was talking to a non-binary trans student recently and they said that explaining about trans people is easy, it usually took them about 5 minutes. This person’s experience of explaining their gender to other students was probably not difficult, students at my university are intelligent, open-minded and can normally spot bullshit a mile away. I disagreed that it would always take 5 minutes however and the subject of the Production of Ignorance came up.

The Production of Ignorance is a concept I am particularly grateful to talented trans non-binary writer and performer CN Lester for introducing me to. Indeed it is the first chapter (available online here) of their beautifully-written and very informative book “Trans Like Me”.
This is what Rebecca Reid appears to be doing in her Metro article, engaging in the Production of Ignorance about trans people. This happens when she refers to the strange stunt by some women who decided to “identify” as men for the day last Friday and go swimming in a men only swimming session. Apparently this was in protest against the idea that trans people should be allowed the same human rights as everyone else; the right to define their own gender.

The crucial piece of information that Reid fails to mention about this stunt is that no-one is proposing that anyone should be able to do what these women did. Under the proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act a declaration of one’s gender will be for life not just for Friday. Indeed once the proposed amendment to the Gender Recognition Act is passed, at least if it is anything like what has already been enacted in Ireland, which I’m told is highly likely, then making a false declaration of gender on a statutory declaration would have landed them with a very large fine or up to two years in jail for perjury - unless they live and identify as men for the rest of their lives.

So when Reid makes much of the fact that these women could identify as men for the day she argues that this means;

“… there’s nothing to stop men from using a false gender identity to gain access to spaces where women are vulnerable, like changing rooms and bathrooms.”

and concludes;

“Which is exactly what these women did when they attended an all male swim, demonstrating that it’s hardly impossible.”


Again, a serious misrepresentation of the issue. It may theoretically be possible to identify as a different gender for a day now but it will certainly not be after reform of the Gender Recognition Act.

In fact there are five other countries in the world which have legislation similar to the proposed provision for self-identification; Argentina, Denmark, Norway, Malta and Ireland. When she describes the fear of some man entering a woman’s changing room or whatever to “prey on” women she omits to tell us that, in these countries there have been no instances of this happening. Yet instead of looking up these verifiable facts, 
she chooses to talk about some trans person swearing on YouTube.

Actually what is also the case right now, and will continue to be the case in the future, is that any swimming pool, if it has good cause, may ask for reasonable identification (like a credit card or drivers licence) of someone's gender if it suspects their behaviour may be inappropriate in single-sex facilities. 

More Production of Ignorance. 


So much for Reid’s assertion that “people” – presumably people not in possession of all the facts – are in fear of “debating” my existence, or at least debating my existence from a point of view of being misinformed. Conversely it is a well-founded fear amongst trans people that the media continually produces misinformation about our lives, as fear that, unlike Reid's "fears" has demonstrable consequences.

This is why I had to disagree with my trans student that it can take a lot longer than five minutes to explain about trans people; because the media is churning out misconception after inaccuracy after dishonesty. Indeed since September the production of ignorance about trans people in the UK media has reached an industrial scale. One might almost characterize this production of ignorance as manufactured with such a degree of regularity that it has become banal. Sit in a nice caff with a Macbook Air and a skinny latte, produce some oppressive copy about trans people, go home, put kids to bed, watch TV... rinse, repeat...

So if Rebecca Reid says she wants to “debate” trans rights she ought to do her homework first. There are plenty of trans groups she could have contacted to ask questions, although I have to admit that trust in journalists is at an all-time low, and is even lower amongst trans people. All About Trans, Trans Media Watch, GIRES, Mermaids, CliniQ, Stonewall, Gendered Intelligence… to name but a few, there are plenty of individuals as well she could have asked to get the real SP. But then her article, if it included the facts would have been a completely different thing.



An observation by Professor Todd Gitlin, perhaps explains all this, he said that the media tends to; 

“... cover the event, not the condition; the conflict, not the consensus; the fact that "advances the story", not the one that explains it.” 

So Reid’s attempt to set up, and then leave open a “debate”, when seen in this way, ticks, or unticks, all these boxes. If "people" fear talking about trans issues, it is probably because they are not being given the real facts to do this, they are being fed disinformation and ignorance, something Reid is in a position to do something about.


Postscript;

I was chatting with another trans woman a few days ago about the swimming pool stunt, and it turned out that neither of us had been swimming in a public swimming bath for more than 15 years. If Reid had talked to any trans organization she would have been put in touch with TAGS, a group that, out of necessity, organises separate swimming sessions for trans people. The “Man Friday” stuntwomen were doing little more than exposing their cis-privilege.


Postscript 2

The company that runs the swimming pool where the stunt in question took place is apparently redeveloping its pools away from having separate gendered changing facilities and going back to what they call the "Village" system of changing with separate cubicles for everyone, a bit like the original Victorian swimming pools had.


Monday, 19 March 2018

Opinion: A transphobic issue, on many different levels

The ridiculous stunt carried out by two individuals who claimed to be men for a day in order to access a men-only swimming session has demonstrated again why we have a transphobia problem in the UK, on many levels.

Firstly the stunt was apparently designed to highlight the proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act that will supposedly allow people to identify as one gender for one day and another gender the next day. The problem is that this is not what is being proposed in this reform. Indeed individuals will effectively need to declare that they intend to live in their identified genders permanently for the rest of their lives. This will be backed up by the threat of heavy fines and imprisonment. 

So on this point the stunt was transphobic; it sets up a state of affairs that is never going to happen, and it does so in order to employ fear as a weapon against trans people. From this perspective it is a clear example of what CN Lester identified in their book Trans Like Me as the Production of Ignorance.

Secondly the individuals undertaking this stunt apparently got changed in the men's changing room and were not assaulted in any way. This actually served to undermine their case for separate male-female changing-rooms. Somehow this fact was not reported in the Daily Mail's "news" report of the issue. 

This stunt was also transphobic because it appropriated, and made light of the experiences of trans men, especially pre-operative or non-operative trans men who want to go swimming.


Yet in none of the cases that this incident was reported was it reported as transphobia. It was reported as an example of anti-trans activists making a "point" in opposition to trans people's human rights. The fact that it was reported as such not only suggests that there is a substantial link, and increasingly disingenuous one at that, between the transphobes and the media it also reveals a wider cultural inability to see transphobia as transphobia, much less report it as such. 

The transphobia is thus multilevel and structural as well as constituting a personal act of anti-trans hate on the part of two anti-trans campaigners. As well as being calculatedly and deeply dishonest and this stunt can therefore be regarded as an illustration of the problem of transphobia in the UK at present. Transphobia that is present at different levels; in the media as well as in the small group of anti-trans fanatics. Both of these groups are allowed to work together (despite the latter claiming to be left-wing "feminists" and the former being ultra right-wing Tories) to spread fear and ignorance through deliberate disinformation.


We need to start making an issue of incidents like these, naming them as transphobia rather than as part of some "trans debate". Naming the problem is where it starts.




Friday, 16 March 2018

The real issue is transphobia

Let's be clear, the outburst by a speaker at an anti-trans event on Wednesday, when she called trans people "parasites" demonstrates what trans people have been saying all along - that there is no debate about trans issues to be had. There never has been and never will be. Debating our existence or human rights with transphobes is a non-starter. Especially after this. Any group claiming to want a "debate" is being profoundly dishonest when one party to that that debate perceives it as constituting what Carol Ridell described as "a threat to my living space".

The problem for the anti-trans activists is that their main argument - the notion that self-identification for trans people is going to harm women - is simply not supported by any credible evidence.



Indeed since the transphobes' views have the support of so many well-resourced and powerful organisations, from the Murdoch media empire to ultra-right-wing pseudo-religious groups in the US this is significant. Even though these groups are dripping with money they have still not found any instances of harm caused to women in the countries where gender self-identification has already been implemented. If their arguments were based on fact we could have expected there to have been hundreds of examples, or at least dozens (doubtless plastered all over The Times front page) in Argentina, Norway, Denmark, Malta or Ireland. 



The problem is that how ever respectable a group or journalist or media platform claims to be, by confecting this "debate" they have effectively given permission for haters everywhere to come out of the woodwork and express their hatred and transphobia more openly. In that sense the supposedly "respectable" groups of campaigners against trans rights are actually enabling the production of this transphobic abuse. Their actions of dressing up hate in "acceptable" language gives permission to the haters to be hateful and abusive by dressing it up in a veneer of respectability. They are as complicit in abuse of trans people as the abusers.


So, to recap;

these groups' core argument is unsupported by any evidence, 

there is no possibility of any meaningful debate when the living space of one party to that debate is threatened 

and 

any hint of "respect" has been replaced by insults, hate, personal abuse and harassment of trans people. 

"Concerns..."

This has now become the issue. The issue is no longer one of trans people's human rights, the issue is transphobia. What Wednesday's abusive hate-fest has shown, once-and-for-all, is that this issue is not "concerns...", indeed the term "concerns" seems to be rapidly developing into a euphemism for "abuse, dishonesty and hatred", it is about fear and misinformation and promoting measures designed to harm trans people and deny us legitimate human rights. So from here on the core issue needs to be regarded as entirely one of transphobia; the hatred and abuse of trans people which has been rendered acceptable by groups calling for "respectable" debate, and in this respect we need to identify how this transphobia is manifested...

Overtly abusive hatred or expressed in euphemistic "respectable" language is transphobia. 

Hatred expressed by the extreme selection and deselection of certain "facts" is transphobia.

The deliberate and abusive misgendering of trans people, is transphobia.

Personal abuse, doxxing, whether of adults or children, online or offline stalking is transphobia.

Making claims about being silenced by trans people when the bulk of the media is publishing anti-trans material is transphobia.

Distortions and dishonest material about trans people is transphobia. 

Abusive language being used by people calling themselves "feminists" is transphobia. 

"Concern" trolling intended to harm trans children or personal abuse directed at those who campaign for trans rights, including cis allies is transphobia.

Fake academic research and "advice" to schools promoting the, frankly quite disgusting, idea that trans children being themselves constitutes "contagion" and are harmful to other kids, is  transphobia.

Rehashing the old arguments directed at gay men and lesbians exhumed from the 1980s, like this one in The Spectator, is transphobia.

People describing themselves as "radical feminists" allying themselves with the forces of the extreme right whose normal modus operandi is to spread hate and division against whatever group is available at the time, is transphobia.

Confected and unevidenced "concerns" to create fear of trans people, is transphobia.

Manufacturing alarmist and false concerns about trans rights is transphobia

Making false claims about trans people, producing misleading statistics or comic up with new "theories about us is transphobia.

So if we are going to have a "debate", going forward any "debate" needs to be about transphobia and the damage it is causing, the hate it is provoking and the harm it is producing, not merely to trans people but to other groups against whom this hatred is likely to be directed next. That is the real "contagion". The debate needs to be firmly centred on how we deal with hatred, abuse, discrimination and disinformation based on transphobia, how we enable trans people to live their lives as freely as anyone else, and how we challenge the spread of deliberate disinformation about trans people.



Thursday, 15 March 2018

Parasites; the evidence.

Last night, at a meeting held (probably illegally) in parliament, anti-trans activists claimed that trans women are "parasites" and a threat to "women's liberation" 

Now of course no evidence was supplied to support this ridiculous claim, indeed it is part of a long string of unevidenced claims made by opponents of trans people's human rights. But in this case the claim takes on a significant resonance, because of the man who was enabling them to host this event.

David TC Davies is an ultra-right-wing Tory MP. In my view his voting record shows that he is both homophobic and misogynist; here are some examples;




Here Davies voted against equal marriage. This means that he was voting against the rights of lesbians, whether cis or trans, to marry. This is a serious attack on women. Being able to marry is particularly important for lesbian couples (as it is for gay men) for a number of reasons not least of which is the right to be involved in medical decisions for one's spouse in an medical or health-related emergency. But it is also important from the point of view of inheriting and to have parental rights for any children, whether adopted or produced with sperm donations. It is also particularly relevant in the case of lesbians with partners who are not UK citizens, marriage is usually essential for foreign partners to remain in the UK. This is not insignificant and had Davies had his way many lesbian couples would still be living with significant disadvantages in relation to straight people.

But there is more...



David TC Davies voted against measures that would ensure that women are not disproportionately affected by tax and benefit changes. The cuts in benefits enacted by the Tories, and in particular by George Osborne, have disproportionately affected women. This is a man who has voted against protections for all women, but particularly against protection for women from poorer groups, who are most likely to be affected by tax and benefit cuts. According to the Guardian 86% of the costs of austerity have been borne by women.

But there is more...



Davies voted for measures designed to make it more difficult for lesbians to have children, whether by IVF or sperm donation or any other method, his opposition to same-sex couples, or single women (regardless of sexuality) having children affects men too but, as you can see, he specifically targets women with the "Fertility treatment requires male role model". This is pure, dripping, unreconstructed patriarchal oppression.

So when the anti-trans activists claim that trans women are "parasites" they are completely lacking in any sense of irony. They are working hand in glove with a man who has worked to deny rights to women, in particular cis lesbians but also to force women disproportionately to bear the brunt of economic hardship. 

This is the kind of man these "feminists" are getting into bed with, and, as one of my friends said; "Who you get into bed with shows what your desires are."

The truth is that, if any group are parasites, it is the anti-trans activists, and some may have other similar descriptors for a group that works with an active supporter of patriarchal oppression. They have collaborated with a man whose actions have support the oppression of women and whose actions really are a threat to women's liberation. 


Postscript:

One of the organisers of this event has praised David TC Davies saying; "Thank you @DavidTCDavies for standing up for lesbians" .

Sunday, 21 January 2018

The transphobes’ endgame for trans kids becomes clear...

It has long been a trope of transphobes; the idea that trans kids are on some kind of “conveyor belt” to physiological transition, and are being rushed into something they will regret. Like everything the transphobes come out with it is a fabrication.

The problem with the Times in its latest, and not unpredictable, article about trans kids, is that it is suggesting that schools will, at the drop of a whisper, “label” a young child as trans. They then assert that this will mean making irreversible changes in their lives which will lead, inexorably to physical transition and result in all other sorts of "horror stories" (the media likes horror stories).

These irreversible changes that could potentially harm them include…(deep breath)

  • ·      Using a different pronoun!
  • ·      Calling them by a different name!
  • ·      Allowing them to wear different clothes to school!
  • ·      Allowing them to change their appearance!
  • ·      Respecting their gendered preferences!


OMG! How terrible! I mean, changing a child’s name, how irreversible is that? Clearly if a child changes her name from Jack to Jacqueline on class 4B’s register that is totally irreversible, it will go to their grave with them, they can never have another name, even if they live to be 100! Rather like Norma Jean.


The rather crude conflation between supposedly “irreversible” medical changes and entirely reversible ones such as using a different name or wearing a different uniform is not a coincidence. I had several different names at school including Joni (because I was so passionate about Joni Mitchell's wonderful music), was that irreversible? Did I become a Canadian folk singer? I was forced, against my will, to wear a tie to school, did that turn me into a bloke...?

And allowing a child who used to have to wear a skirt to school to wear trousers and cut his hair short is going to mean he is stuck that way forever, after all once you cut your hair it never regrows does it? And as for wearing trousers and going back to a skirt…?
Impossible!

(Image by Sophie Labelle, www.assignedmale.etsy.com)

Yet the worst thing about this Times article, is the same thing as in a recent Times interview with Susie Orbach; they asked someone to comment on an aspect of trans people that was both outside their professional expertise and outside their experience. Thus when the Times reported the Tavistock and Portman Gender Identity clinic for children and suggested that schools are “labelling” kids as trans at the drop of a hat, it turns out that the Times has misreported her.

In fact you don’t have to learn very much about trans kids to know that schools are, by and large, not easy institutions to deal with if you are a trans child or the parent of one, although some have improved recently, such as the Harris Academy Chain, the largest one in the UK, which invited me to train all their PGCE students about trans children (BTW I ensured that the teachers understood the most common way of understanding a child is trans "insistent, persistent and consistent" identification, something most other people doing training in this area also do). I know trans kids who have been physically attacked in schools and the SMT has done nothing about it, I know trans kids, even quite young ones, who have literally been bullied by teachers in school. I know one whose headteacher refused to allow her to use her new name, even though she had changed it by deed poll.

There are plenty of schools that are terrible places to be a trans child, as we witnessed with the death by suicide of Leo Etherington, age 15 last year. Reportedly his school continued to use his deadname and the wrong pronouns. Whilst many have responded to the need to make school a trans-inclusive place, the idea that schools are rushing to label kids as trans at a “whisper” is in the outer edges of a distant fantasy galaxy.

As I have said before, there is a “conveyor belt” for trans kids but it is moving in the opposite direction to the one the media wants to tell everyone. Trans kids and their parents have a constant fight on their hands to make life liveable, to be accepted in their identified genders and to fight off bullies, which sometimes even includes school staff. Of course the Times needs to construct this kind of narrative to support its underlying objective, but more about that in a moment.

The fact is that there are no irreversible medical treatments on the NHS, such as surgery, to trans kids at all. No surgery is available until after 18, and corss-sex hormone treatments are only available (in low doses) for those aged over 16. We have to remember that hormone blockers are a completely reversible treatment, which have been used to help non-trans children with precocious puberty since the 1970s. (This means that there are currently people who are nearly 50 who were prescribed hormone blockers for this, and studies have found no adverse effects).

No, the aim of those campaigning so hard in the media against trans children is not the medical treatment (although they would like to restrict or remove that too), that is not what they are principally aiming at, it is the social treatment. The currently prescribed treatment for all trans children is a simple, and very effective one, and one that can easily be administered by anyone in a child’s life, whether they are a parent, a neighbour, a teacher, a friend, a youth worker or another family member; acceptance.

That acceptance is not difficult; allowing them to express their gender in the way they want, using their preferred name and pronoun. 

Neither hard nor contentious really. 

...Unless you are a transphobe.

And certainly not irreversible. We also need to be clear that anything other that acceptance is, by definition, non-acceptance, and non-acceptance ultimately must therefore include elements of coercion.

It is this that the transphobes are most afraid of, it is this that they
want to put an end to. In effect they want to use coercion to force trans kids back into the box of their birth assigned genders. And there is a name for this kind of coercion; it is called Conversion Therapy; ie the type of “therapy” right-wing religionists in the 1980s tried to use to force gay men and lesbians not to be gay men and lesbians. It has only two notable effects; it makes its victims traumatised and suicidal.

Now of course if you talk to a TERF or a right-wing transphobe; they will deny that they want to torture trans children (let's be honest, they do but they are never going to admit it, they will use euphemisms such as "letting children delight in their birth assigned gender"), but this is the only logical outcome from what they are advocating. Actions speak louder than words.


Ergo the constant conflation of social acceptance with medical transition; a good example of the Production of Ignorance which CN Lester described so lucidly in their book Trans Like Me.

So let us be clear about the ultimate aim of this kind of journalism/campaigning; it is the eradication of trans children through psychological coercion; a kind of media-mandated, amateur, informal Conversion Therapy. Force kids not to be trans; after all forcing gay men to be straight worked so well didn’t it? 

Why are they so afraid of simply calling a child "he", "she" or "they" according to their wishes...? Well their real fear is that all children will learn acceptance of trans children, and will grow up to understand them and not fear them. Imagine a world where trans people were understood and accepted? Then where would we all be? More to the point, where would their ideology of hatred be? It is an ideology that depends on hatred generated by fear generated by ignorance. Consequently they need to maintain that ignorance, otherwise the entire chain collapses.

So it is time to stand up to those mealy-mouthed advocates euphemistically attempting to enforce this barbarity by proxy. Ultimately the outcome they want to impose will result in damaged or dead children. And this is something I know about personally.

I was a trans child. But back in the last century there was no understanding of trans kids, no acceptance at school, no pronouns, no-one who would call me Natacha. In effect unofficial, amateur Conversion Therapy. The result was a horrible childhood, underachievement in school and a depressed adolescence, way beyond the usual teenage angst, and being pulled back from the edge of a platform by a British Rail employee just in the nick of time. This is what the anti-trans fanatics are campaigning for, they will succeed only over my dead body.