Trans-activists’ intolerance knows no bounds

Now they are using the state to clamp down on any criticism.

Ken McLaughlin

Earlier this month, Thames Valley Police announced they were investigating a serious crimewave in Oxford. The investigating officer branded the incidents unacceptable and offensive. In an appeal for witnesses, the police refused to give specific details as the material was ‘not suitable for sharing’. At a time when it can be difficult to get the police to attend to a burglary, one could be forgiven for thinking that something heinous had occurred in Oxford – something so upsetting the public had to be shielded from it.

But you’d be wrong. The police were actually responding to the appearance in Oxford of stickers containing statements such as, ‘Women Don’t Have Penises’ and, a dictionary definition, ‘Woman: noun, adult human female’. To understand how such statements, considered uncontroversial until recently, are now so offensive that the police were reluctant to publicise them, we have to visit the increasingly polarised and toxic transgender debate.

The stickers were put up by gender-critical feminists, who fear that womanhood is being erased as transgender ideology becomes more widely accepted (in some circles, at least). For example, trans activists differentiate between trans women (born male but now identify as female), and cis women (born female and identify as female). In each case, the words ‘woman’ and ‘women’ get lost as stand-alone terms. There is an increasing tendency for mainstream media outlets to refer to ‘uterus havers’ or ‘menstruators’ rather than women. Likewise, many lesbians feel that what it is to be a lesbian is being redefined from same-sex attraction to include attraction to transgender women who identify as lesbian (even if they have had no sex-reassignment surgery, so still have a penis and testicles). Followed to its logical conclusion, you could have a lesbian club in which each of its members possesses a penis. Lesbian, as commonly understood, loses its meaning. In Canada, one transgender woman and serial litigant has sued several female-run waxing parlours for refusing to wax her male testicles – she claims they are female testicles.

Many trans activists and their allies view any dissent from their would-be orthodoxy as hate speech, something that questions their existence and damages their mental health. Any criticism of their actions is likely to be labelled as transphobic, and, if you are a female critic, you are likely to be called a TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist). Increasingly, they seek to curtail any discussion of the issue. So meetings organised by women concerned about developments have been cancelled following protests from trans activists. Other meetings, while not cancelled, have been picketed, in an attempt to disrupt them and prevent people, mostly women, from attending.

The Sunday Times reported that a transgender lecturer at Goldsmith’s University in London ‘orchestrated a smear campaign against academics across the UK in which universities were described as dangerous and accused of “hate crime” if they refused to accept activists’ views that biological males can be women’. All of the named academics on the list were women. For those critical of trans ideology, such campaigns are mainly orchestrated by biologically born men whose aim is to silence biological women. In this topsy-turvy environment, biologically born men accuse the many feminists questioning trans orthodoxy of misogyny.

What can we learn from this toxic debate? First, it shows the extent to which free speech and debate are under threat, not only from the state, but increasingly from so-called progressives. Secondly, it shows the fragility of many activists who regard any viewpoint they disagree with as harmful to their mental health.

Thirdly, we see just how many of society’s institutions have accepted the trans position, from schools and workplaces, to the police and political parties. The Labour Party has accepted trans women on to all-women shortlists, and appointed a trans woman to the role of women’s officer. It also, albeit briefly, appointed the trans woman Munroe Bergdorf to an LGBT working group. Bergdorf had likened gender-critical feminists to old-school misogynists who endorse biological essentialism, arguing that they ‘summarise women as walking vaginas… a similar approach to that of misogynists’. For Bergdorf, having a penis instead of a vagina should not exclude someone from the family of womanhood.

And it is not only dictionary-definition stickers that are high on the police’s agenda. The misuse of personal pronouns also features highly. Julie Cooke, detective chief constable of Cheshire Police, marked International Pronouns Day, on 16 October, by releasing a video on Twitter to raise awareness of the hurt that can be caused by misgendering people (failing to respect their preferred pronouns). According to her, the use of the wrong pronoun is not only harmful to the misgendered person’s wellbeing – it can also be a form of abuse. A hate crime, in other words. Perhaps that is why the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was careful, in an address at the Pink News awards, to introduce himself and then add ‘my pronouns are he/him’.

Long-time women’s rights activists such as Julie Bindel, Germaine Greer and Linda Bellos, now ostracised by the new ‘radicals’ as TERFs, were active at a time when the state was hostile to their arguments rather than upholders of them. Once again, they find themselves battling the powers-that-be, something that should indicate their arguments are worth considering.

Fourth, it is worth pointing out that many of the people who endorse trans activism are the same ones who baulk at the rise of individualism over collectivism. However, their position is more individualistic than they would care to admit. Trans activists also reject society in favour of the subjective feelings of the individual, which must prevail over any social norms. The individual is king (or queen, or both, or neither) and wider society must yield to his (or her, or their) demands for validation.

Some critics of the current situation see such developments as identity politics at its most extreme. However, this is only partially correct. In another sense, the trans debate unravels identity, forcing us to question just what is the essence of sex, gender and identity.

Transgender people are fully human and deserve to be treated as such. They deserve the same rights as the rest of us. However, it has to be acknowledged that some important, and contentious, issues have come to the fore (for example, same-sex spaces, women’s sports, etc) that do require open and honest debate. But there’s the rub: debate is more likely to be viewed as a problem rather than something that will help us work through these complex issues.

Ken McLaughlin is a senior lecturer in social work at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Picture by: Getty.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.

Comments

M Blando

1st November 2019 at 7:50 pm

What I’m constantly bemused by with all this is that these men who ‘feel’ themselves to be women…. don’t actually want to be women at all.

They want to keep their penis and they want special privileges, especially where women (born women) are concerned. It strikes me as some extreme combination of narcissism and psychopathy.

Of course the ultimate validation is to have a man (who feels himself to be a man) as a partner. There has been the odd case of men (who feel they are men) having their rights to want a women (born a women) as a partner to the exclusion of all others challenged… I wonder when that will receive the attention it should. Perhaps the activists know it’s the tougher territory.

Linda Payne

26th October 2019 at 7:53 pm

Rather than intrude on the world of women’s sports perhaps these trannies should try their luck on strictly come dancing, it would probably give the quick step a whole new meaning and as for the lifts
well the world would really be their oyster

Claire D

26th October 2019 at 11:41 am

It is not unreasonable to make transgender activists responsible for their personal behaviour. However, ultimately, responsibility for the situation we now find ourselves in lies with the Government.
The Equality Act 2010 was created under the aegis of Trevor Philips, and Harriet Harmen as leader of the Government Equalities Office. Philips seems to have realised his error and these days speaks out forthrightly against some of the more outlandish results of the Act.

Protected Characteristics legislation does the opposite of what it purported to do, instead of avoiding unfairness, it is now government policy to distinguish between people unfairly and with bias.
Angry transgender activists, feminists and others can now kick up a fuss, push forward injustice and call it ‘ equality ‘.
We now find ourselves with law which is deeply flawed and unjust.

James Hamilton

25th October 2019 at 3:36 pm

“Transgender people are fully human and deserve to be treated as such. They deserve the same rights as the rest of us.”

They absolutely do, but the difficulty here is that we have stretched the concept of rights so thinly that one use it to justify anything that one doesn’t like.

John Marks

25th October 2019 at 4:56 pm

But transgender folk must realize that all straight males and females also have equal rights and, being a majority (>85%) shouldn’t be compelled against their will to accept, for example, transgender education in primary schools when the pupils are too young anyway to understand what you’re on about.

Matt Ryan

25th October 2019 at 5:37 pm

More like > 95% – these things are in the long tail of the LGBT+ alphabet soup and there numbers are vanishingly small.

Linda Payne

25th October 2019 at 3:07 pm

The very women at risk of these freaks are those in prison or in psychiatric wards, the very women few care about anyway, so sick of these failed men trying to be women because they couldn’t hack it as a man, the type that would have probably beat up their wives if it was still allowed

Andrew Leonard

25th October 2019 at 2:26 pm

Any criticism of their actions is likely to be labelled as transphobic, and, if you are a female critic, you are likely to be called a TERF

Why does this work?

The individual is king (or queen, or both, or neither) and wider society must yield to his (or her, or their) demands for validation.

The individual, or the individual’s vulnerable psych and the security blanket we wrap around it? The latter would help answer the question above.

A native Australian language, has a word balan, meaning; women, fire & dangerous things. We seem to be in the process of generating our own definition of balan, but our version is all about subjective threats and dangers.

Commonly accepted subjective threats and dangers – is a new concept. It is incredible that before we even understand what this is all about, governments are seizing the opportunity to codify it, and the police are serious about enforcing the new codes.

H McLean

25th October 2019 at 1:20 pm

Trans activists are bigots who hate everyone, including the poor kids they gaslight into getting reassignment surgery.

Jane 70

25th October 2019 at 2:00 pm

Very well said; but how can we stop them?

Andrew Leonard

25th October 2019 at 4:36 pm

The same way gossip about oneself can be stopped…

Verbally accept all gossip with confidence and a smile. Contribute to it. Elaborate on it. If the gossip concerns romance, tell the gossipers that what they’ve heard is all true, and that much sex is involved.
Gossipers always feel they have the moral upper hand. This sort of psychology kills that feeling and leaves gossipers feeling demoralised and ashamed.
Gender ideologists should be just as easy to deal with.

Geoff Cox

25th October 2019 at 12:41 pm

I’ve just realised, all this trans-activism is simply organised and encouraged by the patriarchy to strike back at feminists.

Phew! Order is restored – white men are still to blame for everything.

Danny Rees

25th October 2019 at 11:37 am

Spiked want feminists to have the freedom to “criticise” trans women and trans ideology but if trans women criticise feminists it’s “intolerance”

Jane 70

25th October 2019 at 12:11 pm

Are we now in danger of bidding farewell to biological facts, all for the sake of the brave new woke?

Much of this shouty outrage could be summarised as bullying and intimidation -concealed behind pc-speak-by a vociferous minority of the silent majority who abide by biological and social conventions.

Andrew Leonard

25th October 2019 at 12:46 pm

Jane, that vociferous minority is headed by the government.
Government itself, is now the primary source of new political and moral thinking – not the left or right. Private thinking is becoming irrelevant. Proximity to government is what counts, in the new order.

By attacking the hitherto powerful Feminists, government is showing us all who is boss. Openly disagree with this state of affairs at your peril.

We all made the mistake of becoming too dependent on government. Perhaps our religious support of the NHS and other government services, has had unintended consequences?

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to comment. Log in or Register now.