Whenever transactivists are questioned about their pattern of violent behaviour toward gender-critical women, such as masked protests, physical attacks, bomb, rape and death threats, they justify it with claims that violence, allegedly, goes both ways and that both sides need to stop behaving like that. However, there is no evidence of gender-critical women ever being violent toward transactivists or trans people. Only transactivists have so far demonstrated inability to engage with alternative points of view without resorting to abuse and violence, specifically toward women. That these attackers are consistently male, while victims are female, should give anyone pause.
The crux of transactivists’ argument is that “transwomen are women” by virtue of self-identifying as having an internal sense of being a woman. This is an argument rooted in metaphysics, a branch of philosophy that deals with fundamental questions such as what is being, knowing and identity. The answers metaphysics offers have no direct empirical proof, even when they have manifestations and consequences in the real world, so they rely on introspection, logic and deduction for its conclusions. As those can be very subjective and prone to bias, metaphysics is more of a field for ongoing debate than a discipline that can offer definitive answers.
On the other hand, gender-critical women maintain that women are adult human females, not a feeling in a man’s head, which is a premise rooted in empirical evidence. Men (adult human males) and women (adult human females) are already well defined biological categories and there’s never been a case of a man literally changing into a woman.
Normally, people are free to feel and believe whatever they like, even if it contravenes empirical evidence. The issue here is that transactivists are trying to enshrine in law that beliefs and ideas should be given primacy over physical reality.
What further complicates matters is that science, and especially neuroscience, has been trying to experimentally answer metaphysical questions, such as where do identity and consciousness come from. So a number of small, obscure studies, that dealt with measuring and counting some of the tiniest structures in the human brain, have been carried out in order to prove biological basis for the concept of “gender identity”. This is a very exciting area of research, unfortunately so far there is absolutely no conclusive evidence that brain features can be exclusively male or female, let alone for a female brain to be “in the wrong body”, which is how transactivists explain this internal sense of gender identity not matching person’s sex.
For over a century, feminists have campaigned for women’s rights and single-sex facilities despite the violent backlash from men, because women’s participation in public life and their ability to escape abuse were identified as the most urgent human rights issues women and children faced. Men’s backlash was carried out in the physical – by using oppression and violence – but it was justified with metaphysical theories about women’s brains, psyche and the innate nature of gender stereotypes. And obscure scientific methods of dubious significance were devised to try and substantiate this empirically. Needless to say, these methods have been abandoned as quackery, and we now know that none of the assumptions about women on which male supremacy was based were correct.
In order to mitigate catastrophic effect of male supremacy on women’s lives, women built and staffed women-only facilites, and kept rebuilding them when they were damaged, like that very first women’s toilet in Victorian London that was destroyed by a mob of angry men the day it opened. Not much has changed since then. Male supremacy is still thriving and men as a class are just as violent and antagonistic toward women’s rights as they were a hundred years ago, only their access to female victims is somewhat thwarted by the existence of women-only spaces. Disappear these by making them mixed sex, and women are back where they started.
In the last year or so, it’s became apparent that police and justice system are complicit in obscuring male violence by allowing male perpetrators, including rapists and murderers, to self-identify as women. The consequence of this has been not only that these men’s crimes are being recorded as crimes committed by women, but these men are housed in female accommodation where some of them have gone on to attack and rape women.
Thanks to misogyny and sexism in Western medicine, which is responsible for, among other things, lack of research done on women and treating male body as a default, female patients are already negatively impacted. But now, in order to meet demands of transactivists, medical institutions such as the NHS and various medical charities have started to treat the word “woman” as a taboo, unless it is used to refer to males who self-identify as women. This is done under the guise of trans-inclusivity, as is the practice of forced relabelling of women as “cervix havers”, “menstruators”, chest feeders” and “pregnant people”. But allowing males to self-identify as women in a medical setting has further serious ethical implications.
Below is an excerpt from a blog “What it’s like to be a transgender patient and a GP” written by a male who uses his position and a power differential to obtain, in my opinion unethically, validation of his identity from female patients.
Considering that one in five women has been sexually assaulted by a man, and that most women request female-only providers for purposes of intimate examinations such as pap smears, allowing men to self-identify as women would make it impossible to reliably provide same-sex service to women who request them, which would have additionally negative impact on women’s health outcomes over time.
The fact that the word “men” and adult human males themselves, have escaped this fate remains unaddressed by all our institutions as well as businesses who are relabelling women’s facilities as “unisex” and “gender neutral” while men’s toilets remain intact. Since recent research in city of London showed that 90% of assaults on women occur in unisex facilities this is raising questions about wilful endangerment.
Workplace hasn’t been spared this trend either, so under current self-identification practices, men, even those who look male, haven’t transitioned in any way and have built their lives, careers and paychecks on male privilege, need only state that they have “female identity” for their employers to claim that they have employed a woman.
Transactivists claim that no man would go through an ordeal of identifying as a woman for such purposes, but is simply saying “I’m a woman” in a society where everyone is treated as a hateful bigot unless they unquestioningly honour that statement, regardless of the situation or context, really that hard? Harder than overcoming deeply ingrained prejudice against women, dealing with injuries to male ego, navigating the minefield of sexual harassment, assault and bullying in the workplace and having to come up with increasingly elaborate ways to defend discrimination against women, such as low representation, wage gap, family unfriendly work practices and glass ceiling?
If history of women’s oppression is any indication, this could eventually result in only men and men who self-identify as women being employed in decision making positions and representation of women would be, once again, entirely in male hands.
The abuses committed by men against women during the time when women lacked political representation and protection of single-sex spaces included marital rape, paedophilic marriages, extreme domestic violence, child abuse, poverty, slavery, murder and genocides such as witch huntings, honour killings, infant femicide and sex-selective abortions. And it was only thanks to women organising and speaking out about horrors of their existence at the whims of men, calling out and resisting male violence, that men as a class could no longer justify turning a blind eye to it. But they did turn a blind eye for as long as they could, and now they are doing it again under the guise of transactivism.
So anyone who looks beyond sloganeering about “trans rights”, will find that the controversy and heated debate in fact revolves around women’s sex-based rights, ie. transactivist demands for removal of them and women’s objection to that.
Should transactivists stop all this tomorrow, trans people in the UK would still have exactly the same rights as everyone else and they would continue to be among one of the safest demographics. But if women stopped fighting to retain their sex-based rights, they would not only continue to suffer endemic violence at the hands of men, they would lose existing protections from that violence, which they fought for and won because men, regardless of how they identify, are disproportionately violent, and without single-sex spaces women’s safety, ability to access healthcare, education, work and sport, would be severely compromised.
This is why endless media and political campaigns that either attempt to equate transactivists and gender-critical women, or portray transactivists as victims and gender-critical women as perpetrators, are nothing more than gaslighting.
At his point in the conversation, transactivists shift the goalposts from claiming that being a woman and identifying as a woman are the same thing, to insisting that any harm that comes to women and children as a consequence of sex self-identification is acceptable collateral damage in order to prevent trans people, and particularly trans youth, from killing themselves, and they bring up false suicide statistics in an attempt to emotionally blackmail society to accept this.
It is widely known that gender non-conforming people suffer discrimination in society, which takes enormous toll on their quality of life and mental health. Luckily, the society has become more understanding and eager to help. So let’s examine whether sex self-identification is a strategy we should adopt. Is it actually helpful or harmful to trans people?
As Meghan Murphy pointed out in her interview with Graham Linehan, only the minority of transgender people pass as the sex they identified into. This is not because people are “transphobic” or “uneducated” but because beyond the law forcing people to use the “correct” pronouns, lies individual ability to correctly sex people regardless of mannerisms, clothes, makeup, surgery or politically correct instruction. This innate skill is essential for obvious reasons, from mating to risk assessment and social interaction.
Despite this, transgender adults and gender non-conforming children who are diagnosed as trans are lead to believe that at the end of the transitioning rainbow/spectrum (which goes from self-identification, changing one’s name, pronoun and fashion style to receiving medications and surgeries designed to make one resemble the opposite sex) lies a promise of being treated by the society as the member of the opposite sex. But despite their and their doctors’ best efforts, this very rarely happens, and when it does happen, it’s exhausting to upkeep, expensive and ultimately fleeting.
Additionally, some trans people have to stop taking cross sex hormones for health reasons, others suffer debilitating side effects and complications from medical interventions, and not an insignificant proportion ends up even more psychologically distraught when they realise that irreversibly altering their healthy bodies wasn’t a magic cure for dysphoria.
In fact studies that looked at outcomes post gender-reassignment show that loss to follow up is so enormous, in any other area of medicine it would raise a massive red flag that would immediately halt the treatments until the causes can be ascertained.
The biggest and most methodologically sound study on transsexuals also found that the outcomes of these interventions are rather grim, even in a country that has excellent universal healthcare and is highly tolerant of gender non-conformance.
So here we have another, more subtle example of transactivism attempting to trump the physical with metaphysical. By disregarding human sexual dimorphism and the effect it has on human interaction, because it’s inconvenient to their demands, they are trying to use abstract laws that are rooted in metaphysics to reverse engineer material reality. Indeed if metaphysical identity of being a woman can trump material reality of being a woman than why wouldn’t existence of law and “educational material” be able to trump natural human instinct? Metaphysically we can argue this ‘till cows come home, in fact one branch of philosophy – postmodernism – has attempted to do exactly that. But we can’t blame material reality for not playing along.
It’s clear that both women and transgender people are shortchanged by transactivism, while the true beneficiary is male privilege. So it is logical to view the clash between transactivists and gender-critical women not just in terms of “fight for transgender rights” but as another clash between patriarchy and female liberation as well as the clash between fantasy and reality, metaphysical and physical. And in that clash, it is only gender-critical women who are offering superior intellectual analysis of our society and power relations within it, and attempting to safeguard the vulnerable regardless of age, sex or gender (all without threatening, attacking or censoring anyone). This hints at the difference between patriarchy, and a world in which patriarchy no longer exists and it serves as a reminder that if we are truly interested in ending oppression of women and all gender non-conforming people, patriarchy must fall, in fact, it’s falling already, hence the violent backlash.
Widespread and uncritical pandering to demands of transactivists is a result of a test that all our institutions failed spectacularly, thanks to the incompetence of individuals as well as the system. The test was simple, answers easily found in basic mainstream science. Humans are sexually dimorphic species whose sex is determined at conception and can’t be changed. Women and girls are female while men and boys are male, and this is true regardless of developmental abnormalities or self-declared identity. Gender on the other hand is a poorly defined concept with a meaning that ranges from socially constructed stereotypes of behaviour imposed on men and women, to being a euphemism for biological sex. Male violence toward women is an endemic problem in our society. For all these reasons, sex, not gender, is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act, and the institutions were supposed to safeguard and protect that law.
Universities, for example, were supposed to ensure that abstract theories such as postmodernism, aren’t used to dismantle existing protections against male violence. Gaslighting starts in language which is why upholding meanings of words and adhering to observable reality is essential for safeguading of society against charismatic demagogues who typically rely on obfuscatory language and weaponisation of both symbols and human hopes and fears to bring about destruction.
The travesties of early 21st century, such as neocolonialism (humanitarian war), techno feudalism (neoliberalism), genocide (collateral damage), eugenics (affirmative treatment), rape culture (cotton ceiling) and sexual slavery (prostitution and pornography) all relied on abuse of language, and the consequences have been nothing short of a vast human tragedy.
Law enforcement was supposed to accurately record perpetrator’s sex, and the media was supposed to accurately report it. If the concept of hate crimes was to be introduced, misogyny should have been on that list.
Schools were supposed to teach children facts about biology, not pseudo-religious nonsense, and to keep them safe from political lobby groups that promote interventions that harm and sterilise gender non-conforming minors. They were also supposed to provide single-sex facilities to children over the age of 8.
Medical profession was supposed to adhere to principles of evidence-based medicine, not allow transactivism to influence medical treatment.
The NHS was supposed to provide single-sex services, not hide the fact that these services have become mixed-sex since 2010, as long as a male self-identified as a woman. All this occurred in a context of male on female sexual violence in a medical setting.
Sporting bodies were supposed to safeguard both female athletes and women’s sport. Instead, they changed the rules without any scientific back up and allowed male athletes to self identify into competing “as women”, take titles, records, awards and sponsorships from women while physically endangering them in team and contact sports.
Prisons, rape crisis and domestic violence shelters were supposed to provide single sex services to vulnerable women and children. Instead they alienated women rape survivors with PTSD, telling them to leave if they weren’t comfortable sharing a room with sexually inappropriate male who self identified as a woman.
LGBTQ+ organisations such as Stonewall were supposed to advocate on behalf of lesbians whose very sexuality is a single-sex space and who are still the first letter in the alphabet soup, not lobby the government for removal of single-sex spaces so essential to welfare and well-being of women and children.
In other words, “transgender”, a term that hasn’t even been properly defined yet, is routinely given primacy over the term “woman” unless the term “woman” is taken to be a *subset* of the term “transwoman” and in this way our society is already giving primacy to metaphysical concept of “gender identity” over material reality of inhabiting a female body. The same female body which is violated, oppressed and exploited in the real world, not because of how the brain that inhabits it “identifies” but due to its physical properties.
While transactivists are right in saying that trans people really struggle with accepting their bodies and that many report relief from this dysphoria by presenting as the opposite sex, there is a difference between presenting as the opposite sex and using violence and might of patriarchal institutions to compel society to pretend there is no difference in material reality between being the opposite sex and feeling like the opposite sex. And despite the fact that people who suffer oppression due to their bodies (people of colour, women, disabled etc) don’t have the luxury to identify out of their situation, transactivists are continuing to promote the practice of healthy and often privileged people, such as white middle class men, self-identifying into oppressed groups under the phrase “born in the wrong body”, and thanks to their privilege of not suffering the same limitations, they are positioning themselves as leaders, redefining these communities and preventing genuine members from freely discussing issues that affect them.
Unfortunately, instead of considering the concerns of all the stakeholders in this conflict of rights, our institutions are making any objection to transactivist demands a hate crime. This unbelievable dereliction of duty has so far generated multiple, rather confused, enquiries, such as the enquiry into proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act and more recently, an “intersex enquiry” which was in no small part a consequence of transactivists using physical nature of intersex conditions to lend validity to their metaphysical claims.
Below is my submission to that inquiry.
All levels of education, from kindergarden onwards, help equip us for life in the real world by teaching us the difference between fantasy and reality. Knowing how to prioritise real over imaginary helps us survive because wishing for something doesn’t automatically make it so, some things can be changed, others can’t, and accepting the limits real world imposes on our inner vision not only allows us to direct our energy and resources appropriately, but it helps us develop compassion toward others and ourselves. Now, thanks to the uncritical acceptance of transactivists’ demands, we are at risk of losing this ability.
It’s not accidental that sex is the subject of this institutional failure. Sex based oppression of women by men is fundamental to our economy and the way our society works, and our institutions were always a part of that. But by allowing fantasy to trump reality on increasing number of issues, the social contract is in danger of breaking down and even if it looks like this will benefit men as a class, it won’t stay that way for long. Because if we as a society continue to be unwilling or unable to tell the difference between what’s real and what isn’t, we’ll eventually lose the ability to function in the real world.