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Politics for the Few, Not the Many

Over the last six years, the transgender discussion has gained such momentum, you can hardly avoid it.

It has infected everything from health care to education, from politics to feminism. It’s an incredibly divisive issue to the extent that you are either a trans ally or a transphobic bigot; there’s no middle ground.

The reason there’s no middle ground is because the changes proposed by the trans lobby primarily affect women and, with misogyny at its root, woman bashing is the most effective way for trans ideologues to get their message across.

Labour; How to Lose the Next Election

The recent Labour leadership hustings have highlighted the ignorance and misogyny within the party itself.

We already know that the Labour party – traditionally a political party representing the working class, the vulnerable, the poor and those in most need – has been infected by anti-semitism, homophobia, racism and sexism.

Of course, the Conservatives are not immune to any of this either, but at least they don’t pretend to represent us. They are, at least, open and transparent about their greed, privilege and entitlement.

Perhaps we hold the Labour Party to a higher standard, and why shouldn’t we?

If they are the party for those of us who hold traditional socialist views – who care about those worse off and want to make the country a more equitable and egalitarian place – then I’m afraid they should be held to higher standards than the Tories.

Everyone Welcome in the Labour Party. Except you.

Prospective leaders Lisa Nandy and Rebecca Long-Bailey — along with prospective deputies Angela Rayner and Dawn Butler — have recently signed and promoted a manifesto drafted by a previously unknown group: the Labour Campaign for Trans Rights (LCTR).

This manifesto demands compliance without question: we must accept trans people are exactly as they self-determine or identify, regardless of the impact that has on anyone else.

The Self is everything here.

The LCTR manifesto contains a number of pledges, including:

  • Pledge Four, which calls for the expulsion of anyone who refuses to toe the line
  • Pledge 6 which instructs the Labour Party to “listen to trans comrades.”

Ironically, when a trans woman who doesn’t support widespread self-ID tried to get in touch and challenge the group via Twitter, the LCTR promptly blocked their account.

Only certain “trans comrades” are listened to, it seems. How very inclusive.

Stop Talking. Please.

In addition to the worrying contents of this manifesto, there’s the issue of what our prospective leadership candidates and their deputies are saying.

Last week, Lisa Nandy announced that male rapists should be housed in female prisons.

Dawn Butler, not to be outdone, proclaimed on national television that, “a child is born without a sex,” although she did later recant that statement claiming Richard Madeley had tricked her into it.

Much as Butler’s comments have given media commenters and the public a line to dissect, the issue of women’s prisons is the more serious one. Nandy maintains that a man who self-identifies as a woman should be incarcerated in a prison of his choosing, even after committing acts of sexual violence or abuse against women and girls.

What will happen to women in custody who are already vulnerable to abuse and violence when they are forced to share space with this individual?

The pathways into criminality for women highlight disproportionate levels of sexual violence, trauma, abuse and coercion. Don’t those women matter? Or are they simply collateral damage in this political football match?

The level of bullying, abuse and harassment aimed at women who even tentatively raise objections or misgivings is nothing short of misogynist abuse.

Women who:

  • object to being re-labelled as ‘cis’
  • are worried about the medicalisation of children
  • are concerned about their boundaries being breached
  • don’t want to share a public toilet with a man
  • need sex segregated space for their safety and protection

All these women are shouted down, accused of being transphobic, held responsible for the deaths of trans people, targeted through their employer, petitioned, no-platformed, assaulted, and have criminal proceedings taken against them.

Even just a few years ago, this would have seemed ridiculous.
And all because an increasingly vocal group wants to redefine what it means to be a woman.

Baffled? Let’s answer some questions then;

What is a Woman Then?

A woman is the commonly used term for an adult female human. It is generally acknowledged and accepted that adult females are women, and adult males are men. It’s not a complicated issue. Simple, right?

Apparently not, because suddenly, in 2020, we don’t know what makes us men or women. Is it your genitals? Is it the kind of brain you have? Is it your toy or game preferences as a child? Is it how you prefer to dress or wear your hair? Does it mean being good at computer science or hairdressing? Can women do DIY? Can men care for children? It seems to me that these are simply stereotypes and to base your identity on a stereotype is pretty ignorant.

Women, when asked to identify what they think makes them a woman, list the following:

  • periods
  • menopause
  • weight
  • hormonal fluctuations
  • pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding
  • sexual harassment
  • male violence
  • doing more work for less — or no — money

At some point, all woman will have experienced one or more of these things. So, most people agree and accept that it is a combination of your biology and the way you are treated by wider society that makes you a woman.

Urgh…Biological Essentialism

Well, biology is actually really important to women. Our biology is different to that of males; it affects most areas of our lives, and means we require different services and care to men.

We need cervical smears, and specific ante-natal care; men don’t.

We need access to terminations, contraception and breast care; men don’t.

Our biology means that we respond differently to medications such as anti-depressants, anti-psychotic drugs and blood pressure medication, and we have different heart attack symptoms to men.

And our biology makes a difference to how we are treated. Our physical bodies are objectified from the minute we are born. We are stereotyped according to how we look, what we wear, how we behave and what we weigh.

Our bodies are commodified and sold back to us as products. Skin care, anti-ageing products, plastic surgery, weight loss products; a constant bombardment of ‘must do better.’

Women are sexually assaulted and raped because of biology, not because of how they identify.

You cannot identify your way out of your physical biology. Think I’m wrong? Try telling the next rapist or abuser you meet that you identify as something other than a woman. See if he walks away to find another victim.

The Toilet Problem

As we reach puberty our body changes. We start to menstruate and we need sanitary bins, access to sanitary products, quick and easy access to toilets that don’t have men or boys in.

I’m sure some of you will be rolling your eyes and saying, “boys aren’t going to hurt you! There are separate cubicles!” Firstly, young girls and women need privacy. Girls report increasingly levels of sexism and misogyny from male students, including comments and bullying around their periods.

This is unacceptable in any event, and forcing girls to use a ‘gender neutral’ (in reality, unisex) toilet will only expose girls to further abuse.

Secondly, girls and women have the legal right in to sex segregated spaces, including toilets.

As outlined in the Schools Premises Regulations (2012), schools have a legal obligation to provide separate sex provision for children over the age of eight.

And no, gender neutral toilet facilities are not enough. In reality, ‘gender neutral’ toilet provision often replaces women’s toilets, while men’s facilities remain untouched.

Thirdly, there are numerous reports of women and girls being abused, assaulted, harassed and attacked by men and boys in toilets.

Women and girls are at risk from male violence in both public and private spaces. We can’t legislate for private spaces, but we damn well can — and should — for public ones.

We frequently hear, “but your toilet at home is gender neutral lol,”

Let me remind you that the bathroom or toilet in your home is yours. You have a choice about who uses it and, if you share your home with a man, I assume you know him.

So, unless you are in the habit of opening your toilet to the public, this seemingly deliberate stupidity doesn’t hold any water.

Who needs a safe space?

You might be lucky enough to not need a space away from men who are abusive.

But why would you want to deny the service to women who do? Do we deny the need for services on the basis that we, as individuals, may not use them? I don’t need to read a book in Braille; I’m glad they exist for those who do.

Women-only spaces don’t just include services for vulnerable or abused women. How about All-Women Shortlists, created to address the sex imbalance in politics. If men who self-ID as women now populate these lists, who misses out?

Women.

Let’s take another hot topic: women’s sport.

Women and men have different sporting challenges and events because of biological differences.

So is it ok for men to self-ID as women in sports? And if they win medals and awards that women have spent their whole lives training to compete against other women for?

Apparently so.

I Ain’t Your Cis-ster

According to Stonewall, ‘cis’ means someone whose gender identity is the same as the sex they were assigned at birth.

I don’t know a single woman who feels her biology is compatible with the gender stereotypes imposed on her by society. Not one.

Most women experience unhappiness with their physicality on a spectrum that ranges from mild discomfort or dissatisfaction, to depression, eating disorders or suicide.

Feeling as though your female body doesn’t fit, or isn’t right or doesn’t accurately represent who you are is not a new thing. Disproportionate numbers of women experience this and they are not trans. They are just women who are impacted by a society rife with misogyny and sexism.

Sex or Gender?

Under the Equality Act (2010), there are nine protected characteristics; of which sex is one. These protected characteristics exist for a reason: to ensure everyone is treated equally and fairly, and as a protection against discrimination.

In relation to the protected characteristic of sex, there are two things to note:

  • One: we appear to have fallen into a trap of referring to ‘gender’ when we mean ‘sex’. This issue occurs across the board — surveys, medical forms, application forms and public services.
  • Two: the Equality Act exists for a reason. Regardless of what many seem to think, members of the female sex have the right to meet, gather, organise on their own without men present.
  • Organisations have the right — under the Equality Act — to provide services for women only. This includes Rape Crisis centres, Women’s Refuges, counselling services, medical care, book clubs, and sports classes.

So, what’s the solution? Well, third spaces and services delivered by Stonewall are one answer. Rather than standing on the backs of women who did the hard graft building refuges and shelters in the ’70’s and ’80’s, how about Stonewall stepping up and creating the same for trans people? Currently, it’s the women in the Rape crisis and WA movement who have to squeeze their budgets and provision to accomodate this demand, and with the annual income of Women’s Aid at £4.2m, Rape Crisis at £2.6m and Imkaan at £500,000 and , it only seems fair that Stonewall, with their income of £8.7m, step into the breach.

Before I go; remember the 70’s and 80’s? Was Annie Lennox a man or a woman? How about Marc Bolan, David Bowie, Boy George? We knew what biological sex they were, and we knew that what they were doing was ‘gender bending’; disrupting, or bending expected gender roles. And these artists challenged the notion that men and women had to present in a way that matched a stereotypical expectation of them.

Ground-breaking stuff.

1971_grey_dress_600sqd0af6e02d830934718ac3f96c56017f8annie-lennox-suit

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