The New Patriarchy : How Trans Radicalism Hurts Women, Children—and Trans People Themselves - Quillette
Important article que j’attire à l’attention de @tradfem. Et dont l’autrice Helen Joyce parle avec respect des femmes trans, ce qui ajoute à sa crédibilité. Il est question de #transidentité, de #détransition, d’un activisme misogyne orienté vers la définition de la #non-mixité aux dépens des femmes cis alors que les violences transphobes viennent d’ailleurs que des féministes radicales. Bref : #backlash post-moderne ?
A simple declaration—“gender self-identification”—is all it takes to override biology.
One consequence is a huge increase in the number of people who say they do not identify with their natal sex. In Britain, for example, since the GRA came into force, just 5,000 people have used its provisions. Now the government reckons that approximately 1% of the population is transgender—around 650,000 people.
Another consequence relates to the question of who is permitted to use single-sex facilities. What Americans call the “bathroom wars”—between liberals, who have embraced gender self-ID, and conservatives, who have largely resisted it—in fact goes far beyond public toilets. Changing rooms, school residential trips, rape and domestic-violence refuges, and prisons are going self-ID. So are electoral shortlists and even sporting competitions.
Redefining what it means to be a man or woman redefines what it means to be gay. Depending on how they identify, people with male bodies who prefer female sexual partners may regard themselves as either heterosexual men or lesbian women. It also affects women’s political activism, since defining womanhood as based on a feeling rather than anatomy is incompatible with the feminist position that women are oppressed because they are physically weaker than men and bear the entire burden of reproduction. And it affects education: Many schools now tell children that being a boy or girl is not a matter of what it says on their birth certificates, but what they feel like. Since that is a circular definition, lessons quickly degenerate into endorsing sex-stereotypes: If you like trains and trucks, maybe you’re a boy. If you like pink chiffon, a girl.
This essay will trace the evolution of the notion of gender identity and how it has supplanted biological sex in law and practice. It will examine the consequences for four groups in particular: children, women, gays and lesbians, and trans people themselves.
By the 1960s, male-to-female “sex changes” were available in many countries, including the United States. Surgeons generally required would-be patients to live as a member of the opposite sex for some time, and sought to screen out anyone likely to change their mind, or who was depressed, or psychotic, or had perverse reasons to transition—for example a man’s voyeuristic desire to gain access to women’s spaces or a pedophile’s to gain access to children.
Some specialists thought the desire to transition had external causes, such as childhood abuse, which might lead someone to reject the body that had been violated. Others posited internal causes, such as a disorder of body image akin to anorexia, or autogynephilia, a paraphilia by which a heterosexual man finds the idea of himself as a woman erotic and seeks to give flesh to that notion.
But alongside these varied theories ran two lines of thinking that originated in America in the 1950s and fused into a single, dominant narrative half a century later.
By twists and turns, a dominant theory about cross-sex identities had emerged. It held that humans come equipped with an innate, gendered sense of who they are—not just those who wished to transition from one sex to another, but also “cis” people (those content with their natal sex) and people who are non-binary, genderqueer or dozens of similar terms. In 2007, Julia Serano, a trans woman (natal male), called this sense “subconscious sex”: a “profound, inexplicable, intrinsic self-knowing”—much like a spirit. Since then, in a borrowing of Stoller’s term, it has come to be known as “gender identity.”
Though entirely at odds with the way most people live their lives and regard the society around them, this esoteric concept caught on—in part because it aligned with ideological trends on campus, and in part because those who disagreed with it didn’t see it as anything except harmless theorizing. “If the entire faculty believes something, and you never hear anyone discussing an alternative point of view, you come away believing it too,” says Michael Biggs of Oxford University, who studies social movements.
Everything trans people had sought for decades, such as better treatment, more research into gender dysphoria and greater protection from harassment and discrimination, became absorbed into a single demand: instant, unfettered gender self-identification. The demand bears a superficial resemblance to a civil-rights movement, says Chetan Bhatt, a sociologist at the London School of Economics. But unlike grass-roots human-rights movements, its development has been top-down: It originated in elite institutions, including governments, universities, gender clinics and large charities, rather than community-based groups.
The movement has been shockingly successful. In many American states, access to designated single-sex facilities is now governed by self-ID. New Zealand is planning to allow people to change the sex on their birth certificates by making a statutory declaration; some Australian states are considering removing sex from birth certificates altogether. In Britain, all the main political parties support gender self-ID.
GIDS may prescribe drugs to delay puberty from around age 12, in order to give children time to reconsider without puberty changing their bodies irreversibly. It will not prescribe cross-sex hormones until age 16, or offer surgery until age 18.
In America, by contrast, an increasing number of clinics take a “gender-affirmative” approach, quickly acquiescing to a child’s professed cross-sex identity. Therapists at UCSF’s Child and Adolescent Gender Centre in San Francisco have supported social transition (change of name, pronouns and clothing) for children as young as three.
Privately, some experienced clinicians admit they are worried. One says she hears of people leaving the field more often than she used to, and sometimes fears that she is doing more harm than good. She thinks the wave of transitioning teenagers may be followed in a decade or two by another of “de-transitioners” reverting to their natal sex. Their bodies will have been irreversibly marked by cross-sex hormones and perhaps surgery. Some may sue, arguing that the adults around them should have known they could not fully comprehend what they were consenting to.
Those who missed puberty in their own sex will probably be sterile—indeed, sexually functionless.
Bish, a British website aimed at teenagers, encourages them to work out their “gender identities” by placing themselves on several “gender spectrums” with words like rational, tough, active and independent under “looks masculine,” and emotional, soft, passive and sharer under “looks feminine.”
The stereotyping has even made it as far as materials intended for adults. The British Association for Counselling Practitioners, which licenses marriage counsellors and so on, recently produced a guide to “Gender, Sexual and Relationship Diversity” for its members. It defines a woman thus: “It is important not to assume…that being a woman necessarily involves being able to bear children, or having XX sex chromosomes, or breasts. Being a woman in a British cultural context often means adhering to social norms of femininity, such as being nurturing, caring, social, emotional, vulnerable, and concerned with appearance.”
Eileen Fairweather (...) recalls “anguished, earnest” discussions with feminist friends about what they should write about it. “I did draft something, arguing that the existing age of consent was not ‘patriarchal’, but protected children,” she says. “But I never even dared show it to anyone.” No-one back then realized the extent and brutality of child-abuse. And the pedophile movement had so thoroughly hijacked the gay movement that, if you said you were against “child sexual liberation”—as, outrageously, they put it—you were branded “anti-gay.” She says she sees “the same intimidation and paralysis of intelligence” with the transgender debate, with people terrified to express legitimate concerns about infiltration and safeguarding.
Far more women will be affected by the trend towards self-ID for single-sex spaces. For public toilets, gym changing rooms, women-only swimming sessions and the like, women who do not want to disrobe in mixed company may decide to opt out. Some have a strong preference for privacy; others have religious reasons. Rosa Freedman, a human-rights lawyer and Orthodox Jew, points out that her beliefs, and those of many Muslim women, mean she cannot use such spaces if the sexes mix.
Others are fearful for their safety. Though no reasonable person thinks most trans women (or men for that matter) are violent or rapists, most violent crimes are committed by males. There is no evidence that simply identifying as a woman means a male should be regarded as lower-risk. Women therefore have reason to be wary of biological males, including trans women, in situations where they are vulnerable. Many women also worry that predatory men will profess to identify as women in order to gain access to spaces where women are exposed.
Earlier this year Karen White, a self-identified trans woman with a record of sexual offences against women, was placed in a women’s prison in Britain—and promptly assaulted several other prisoners. In October, White was given a life sentence for these assaults and two previous rapes. The prosecution argued that White had used a “transgender persona” to gain access to vulnerable women to abuse.
Most British rape-crisis centres and domestic-violence refuges admit self-identified trans women, even though the Equality Act of 2010 permits them to restrict their services to biological females. According to someone who has worked in the women’s sector for more than 20 years, those running such services sometimes truly believe that is reasonable. But far more have gone self-ID because they fear becoming targets of trans-activist campaigns and losing funding.
Without single-sex services, vulnerable women will suffer, says Judith Green. In the 1980s, as a teenager, she suffered repeated sexual abuse, and eventually received help from a survivors’ group in Brighton that arranged self-help sessions and therapy. Participants had been traumatised at men’s hands and their recovery required them to rebuild trust, she says. For her, and many other women, that would have been impossible in a mixed-sex group, no matter how well-meaning or sympathetic the males.
Since it is impossible to tell why someone might wish to use facilities designated for the opposite sex, such cases may mean service-providers in places where self-ID is mandatory end up designating all facilities mixed-sex. That would be a bad outcome for women. Figures gathered by the Times, a British newspaper, under freedom-of-information laws found that the minority of changing-rooms in sports centres that are mixed-sex were the site of 90% of reported sexual assaults in changing-rooms of all kinds.
JY, who uses a man’s name and whose profile picture is clearly male, asked if Ms Poyer did Brazilians (removal of pubic hair). “Not for men, sorry,” she replied. “I’m a woman, I transitioned last year,” JY replied. JY then made a complaint to British Columbia’s human-rights tribunal, alleging discrimination on the grounds of gender identity, seeking an apology and damages of C$2,500. (The tribunal has asked that JY be referred to only by those initials, rather than the full name, as would be usual for cases it hears.)
The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, a Canadian non-profit libertarian group, offered to represent Ms. Poyer. It prepared two defences: that waxing male genitalia requires different training and equipment, which she does not possess, and that, as a woman, she, too, has protected rights, namely to privacy and safety.
“This is a philosophy that agrees with the drunks on the Tube that I’m not a ‘real woman,’ ” says a young lesbian in London who gets her hair cut by a barber and wears suits from a men’s tailor. “We used to fight to smash open the pink and blue boxes of gender,” says a veteran of the fight to decriminalize homosexual relations. “Now they’re telling kids that if they don’t fit into one of those boxes, they must belong in the other one.” Both are among the growing number who think the doctrine of gender self-ID is a retrograde philosophy that relies on obsolete gender stereotypes and harms gay people.
Some gay people think that organizations set up to fight for gay rights made a mistake in throwing their weight behind trans activism. In an open letter in the Times in October, some prominent gays and lesbians accuse Stonewall, Britain’s biggest LGBT charity, of “uncritically adopting a form of transgender politics which undermines…the concept of homosexuality itself.”
Get the L Out, a small group of lesbians who insist that opposite-sex-attracted males cannot be lesbians whatever their gender identity, forced its way to the front of the Pride march in London this year, with banners reading “Transactivism erases lesbians” and “lesbian equals female homosexual.” Ms. Hunt called the group “transphobic” and said it was spreading “myths and lies.”
Whether people are attracted to sexes or gender identities is an empirical question. A study published in the Journal of Personal and Social Relationships in the Spring suggests it is usually the former (though the authors have a different interpretation, namely endemic transphobia).
Riley J. Dennis, a trans woman, attributes “preferences for women with vaginas over women with penises” to “cis-sexism”—anti-trans prejudice. “Look, it’s not like I require the women I date to be cool with having my dick inside them,” writes another trans woman, Avery Edison. “But being shut off from the very idea of it, not even considering that having my penis inside you is different from having a man’s penis inside you? That hurts.”
But according to Charlie Montague, a young lesbian in Dunedin, New Zealand, both online dating sites and real-world meet-ups for lesbians now contain a fair share of males who have been through no sort of physical transition but describe themselves as lesbians. Some are predatory men who fantasize about sex with lesbians, she says; others genuinely regard themselves as same-sex attracted women. She and a few other “female lesbians” have set up a group, the Lesbian Rights Alliance Aotearoa. They have faced a barrage of abuse, both on- and offline. “When we say ‘no means no’, they regard that as transphobic,” she says. “They don’t like lesbians asserting firm boundaries.”
The main social-media platforms are making it very hard for women to discuss these issues. Meghan Murphy, a Canadian feminist who runs a website, Feminist Current, has been kicked off Twitter for “hateful conduct”—that is, tweeting that “Men aren’t women” and “How are transwomen not men? What is the difference between a man and a transwoman?” Twitter also temporarily locked various women’s accounts for, inter alia, quoting remarks made by British parliamentarians in the debate over the Gender Recognition Act of 2004; for stating the British definition of rape (which can be committed only by a male, since it involves penetration by a penis); and for referring to JY of Brazilian-waxing fame as “he.” It even locked a trans woman’s account for self-describing as “male.”
Women seeking to organize in person are being silenced, too. (...) WPUK has scheduled nearly 20 meetings around Britain to date, every one of them disrupted. Some venues cancelled bookings after trans activists claimed it was a far-right hate group.
In Canada, even complaining can get a woman into trouble. In July, Kristi Hanna, a former resident at Palmerston House, a women’s shelter in Ontario, left after being assigned a transgender room-mate, who stomped around in combat boots, had facial and chest hair, and talked about a pregnant fiancée. All the residents found the situation intimidating, she says, and after two sleepless nights she complained and was told to “deal with it or leave.” But when she phoned Ontario’s human-rights legal helpline, she referred to the individual as a “man,” at which point the adviser said that her words and behaviour were potentially discriminatory and ended the call.
“I can’t think of any genuine human-rights activism that demands attacks on the rights and protections of other civil-society groups, or advocates hateful language against them,” says Professor Bhatt. Trans activism is also unusual in that it gives men a chance to claim they are oppressed compared with women, and plenty of opportunity to tell women to shut up, says Ms. Gerlich. “It’s a postmodern patriarchal backlash.”
The code of omertà extends to academia. After lobbying by trans activists, Brown University in Rhode Island withdrew a press release about Prof. Littman’s paper on ROGD, citing concerns that it might be used to “discredit efforts to support transgender youth and invalidate the perspectives of members of the transgender community.” Last year, Bath Spa University, in southwest England, rejected a proposal by James Caspian, a psychotherapist who specializes in transgender clients, to write a thesis on de-transitioning, explaining that the research might be criticised on social media and it would be “better not to offend people.” Kathleen Stock, a philosopher at Sussex University, wrote a Medium post in May about the lack of discussion of gender self-ID within academic philosophy. Trans-activists called for her to be sacked—and she received dozens of supportive emails from other academics, most saying they dared not speak out publicly.
#censure #liberté_académique pour @cdb_77
And the feisty British tabloid press has not shied away from covering rapists self-identifying themselves into women’s jails, boys allowed into Girlguiding and the like. The Daily Mail fought an injunction to be able to report on Jess Bradley, a trans woman suspended in July from the post of trans-rights officer at the National Union of Students because of allegations that she ran a blog named Exhibitionizm, where she posted pictures of her exposed penis, taken in public places and in her office.
The singular focus on gender self-ID, along with the shutting down of academic work on trans issues, harms not only women, but trans people. Although trans activists’ ire is focused on women who object to self-ID, it is overwhelmingly men who commit violence against trans people, a problem that by comparison is ignored. And other causes that are important to trans people, such as more research on the causes and treatment of gender dysphoria and its links with other mental-health issues, not to mention the long-term effects of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones, have become taboo.
Overall, the push for gender self-ID does more harm than good to the interests of gender-dysphoric people whose main concern is to be accepted by members of the sex they wish they had been born into. And as we see more cases of people claiming transgender status in bad faith, we may see a backlash.