Trans activists need to lighten up

The gay scene used to be great fun. Now the trans ideology has made it miserable.

Misha Mansoor


Many of the best times I experienced in my twenties were the screamingly good nights I spent at gay pubs, bars and clubs: uninhibited, free, relaxed and empowered.

I also spent many a night at ‘straight’ clubs, too, but those nights were so different. I would spend hours and hours grooming myself. Sleek hair, sexy clothes, high-heeled shoes, careful make-up and a sexy, ‘posey’ attitude. It was a very serious matter, and it was all about being attractive to men.

At a straight club, when you danced, you danced to look hot. The entire night I’d be neurotically sucking in my abdominals to look slimmer, terrified that one of my occasionally explosive sneezes, elicited by my sensitivity to musky perfume, would detonate the straining buttons at the waist of my short skirt and send them flying lethally into the face of the guy I was trying to seduce with my smokily made-up eyes.

Flirting was sultry and serious, rarely fun or humorous. You were super self-conscious and did all you could to ensure you Never Lost Face. There were rules, and they were men’s rules. In those clubs there were only two acceptable identities.

Perhaps because of the reality of being different, subversive and hated – homophobic attacks were common then – things seemed so different at gay venues compared with the tense machismo of straight clubs. The camaraderie and friendship was a joy. The rules were neither men’s nor women’s. In fact, gloriously, it felt like there were no rules. It was just about acceptance of whatever identity each individual chose for that night.

Everyone wore what they liked, be it outrageously glam, camp, theatrical, frilly or frumpy. You did whatever the hell you wanted with your hair and you didn’t even have to wear make-up or high heels if you didn’t feel like it. At gay clubs the dancing was the best. You really could dance like no one was watching, even though, of course, we were all watching each other. And when we danced, no moves were too silly, no steps were too sad, rubbish or bad.

In such an environment, you feel accepted and all-accepting, free to be yourself. Without a doubt, these were some of my happiest, funnest ‘Safe Spaces’.

Just as good as the dancing was the flirting. Flirting with gay men was always fun. It meant knowing that you knew that he knew, and that he knew that you knew that he knew, etc etc etc. And no matter how flirtatious, risqué or sexually suggestive your behaviour was, it was innocent harmless fun; it would never be offensive or misinterpreted.

And I think it worked both ways. When I used to hang around with gay men and drag queens, the drag queens in particular would delight in saying the most outrageous things to me. Things that in other contexts, from other people, might be highly offensive or insulting. In gleeful response I would try to say the bitchiest putdowns back to them. ‘You think my breasts are too small, princess? Well at least they’re real.’

We all sent ourselves up, mincing, camping and trading insults. When one queen said of another queen, ‘Ooh, she’s in a bad mood today. What’s the matter with her?’, the usual reply might be a flippant, ‘Probably her time of the month’. Nobody ever got offended. We knew we were playacting. We smiled and knew ‘Tallulah the Temptress’ was really Geoff from Camberwell, and he couldn’t possibly be menstruating. We knew it but we didn’t need to say it. Because, like children making ‘cakes’ from mud, we knew that we knew it was play.

Fast-forward 30 or so years and a seismic cultural eruption seems to have taken place. The straight men’s rules, power and misogyny now seem to have infiltrated both mainstream culture and gay cultures.

When did it all get so deadly serious? So serious that if you say the wrong thing, or misgender someone, you might be ‘cancelled’, lose your job, be visited by the police, get sent for re-education, even receive rape and death threats. At the very least, you might receive a 24-hour ban from Facebook, as I did recently for inadvertently misgendering someone saying extremely spiteful things to a man defending a traditional feminist view. My sin? I used the words ‘a horrible man’.

Of course, there have always been men who lived, or at least who wished they could live, as women. Men who weren’t camp or drag queens, or who went to Wigstock in Soho Square, Manhattan, or frequented Old Compton Street in Soho, London. They lived then as they do now, leading quiet, unremarkable lives.

Although some of these men have surgical procedures, most do not and simply live as women. And many of these men deplore the aggressive, rabble-rousing, angry and ultimately misogynistic breed of people-born-male who now furiously demand to be accepted as actual women.

But it is the angry brigade that now wields cultural power. Heaven help you if you are in the public eye and have the balls to say sex (not gender) is binary, or that you cannot, in actual semantic or biological truth, really change your sex. It doesn’t make any difference here if you yourself are gay, or trans, or whatever – you had better not deviate from the dogma. Like being BAME and not being fully supportive of BLM, if you question the dogma that you can actualise a sex change just by saying so, then you’re the wrong type of trans, gay or whatever person. I’m thinking, for example, of those who have been treated shamelessly and unfairly, such as Graham Linehan, Gareth Roberts, Julie Bindel and JK Rowling. And I’m also thinking of some sanitary towel companies changing their logos to appease the angry brigade. And I’m thinking of how worrying it is that a GP, who practices in the UK, claims men can conceive babies.

Some changes over the past 30-plus years have been positive. I now have three daughters, two of whom are old enough to go out to clubs and bars, and things seem now, at least where I live, to be much more relaxed and have been so for many years. My daughters wear what they like, and although they each take care and pride in their appearance, they feel little pressure to conform to the expectations of straight men. More importantly, straight clubs and scenes seem to be a lot more relaxed and unpretentious. Girls and women seem more supportive of one another, and they really do just want to have fun.

Another change for the good is that young people questioning their sexuality are able to do so in a much less hostile environment. Children today, even in many faith schools, are encouraged to be respectful of the sexuality of others, and unashamed of their own. At my 14-year-old daughter’s faith school, there are regular assemblies where LGBT issues are discussed and the school does its utmost to make the children feel accepted, irrespective of their sexual orientation, thoughts or feelings.

But not all the changes feel like progress. For there is the emergence of a tiny minority of angry men who seek to infiltrate even the most sacred of women’s spaces and who demand that any questioning of their claim to be biologically and physiologically female be considered a hate crime. You’re a brave or foolhardy soul if you don’t accept that the only thing that isn’t binary is one’s sex.

Is this what it was like for the contemporaries and predecessors of Galileo Galilei? He wasn’t the first to hypothesise the heretic theory of heliocentrism, but most scientists and astronomers who knew also knew they’d better shut up about it or suffer the potentially fatal consequences.

It seems eerily similar today. Although we know what we know, and we know that almost everybody else also knows, we must not assert, or even indicate, what we know to be the truth about binary sex. So we must pretend we don’t know and effectively collude with the great lie that a biological male can be a biological female.

None of us is really allowed to say that we know and that we know that they know. That is why trans-activist culture is so different from the play and fun of the gay-club scene. It’s not a game anymore. It has become serious, real and vicious.

Things need to change. We should be free to live how we like, say what we think, and dance like no one’s watching.

Misha Mansoor is a writer based in London.

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L Strange

21st July 2020 at 6:13 pm

“Just as good as the dancing was the flirting. Flirting with gay men was always fun. It meant knowing that you knew that he knew, and that he knew that you knew that he knew, etc etc etc. And no matter how flirtatious, risqué or sexually suggestive your behaviour was, it was innocent harmless fun; it would never be offensive or misinterpreted.

And I think it worked both ways. “

You sure about that? I hadn’t got a paragraph in when I thought of the gay men I’ve heard/read saying how much they hate it when a gaggle of straight women barge into their clubs and invade their spaces.

The general complaint seems to be the massive sense of entitlement – that the women tend to assume that they can demand to be a focus of attention, pandering and flirting etc. and that they had every right to, essentially, molest a bloke.

You may have had great fun. I wonder if the guys did.

Cedar Grove

22nd July 2020 at 11:05 pm

There didn’t use to be such a split between gay men and lesbians, and gay people and trans-people. Because we were all illegal or disapproved of, we had an easy camaraderie and shared political activism.

Feminism was not generally perceived as inimical to men transitioning into becoming women: everyone accepted them as a third category, as that was how they represented themselves to be. Born women were wearing collarless shirts and waistcoats, and cutting their hair, while trans-women were dressing like 1940s film stars. They didn’t feel they were identical, and nobody hated anybody else because of that.

Steve Gray

21st July 2020 at 3:31 pm

This article does have a thread of ‘girls are sugar-and-spice and boys are puppy-dog’s-tails’.

If you can get past accusing him of ‘man-splaining’, Paddy Hannam has an article which looks at the idea of masculinity.

If not, Ella whelan contributed this

Jonathan Palmer

21st July 2020 at 3:14 pm

“I’m thinking, for example, of those who have been treated shamelessly and unfairly, such as Graham Linehan, Gareth Roberts, Julie Bindel and JK Rowling.”
All poor little lefty lambs who’ve gone astray. Bit of a giveaway. Could have included (say) Toby Young, Roger Scruton or Jordan Petersen to show a mature objectivity

In Negative

21st July 2020 at 12:18 pm

There were plenty of straight clubs out there through the 90s were men and women were playing/inventing different games of masculinity and femininity. Alternative clubs were massive back in the 90s. I blame Kurt Cobain for most of the dafter aspects of the stuff we’re living through right now. Don’t blame patriarchy for the fact you went to crap clubs 😉

In Negative

21st July 2020 at 12:54 pm

You sing your love songs in those environments best suited to the right person hearing them, and at some point, hopefully, they do.

Jonathan Smith

21st July 2020 at 11:29 am

Well that might be your recollection of gay clubs 30 years ago, but it’s certainly not mine. I remember over-dressy competitiveness, bitchiness, harassment and stuff like limiting the number of actual women who could go in.

Stef Steer

21st July 2020 at 11:21 am

“Flirting was sultry and serious, rarely fun or humorous. You were super self-conscious and did all you could to ensure you Never Lost Face. There were rules, and they were men’s rules. In those clubs there were only two acceptable identities.”

Or perhaps they weren’t men’s rules did you ever ask them? perhaps these rules were just total bollocks, just like all the trans rules stuff. Maybe then like now it was a little clique of critical theorists trying to cause divisiveness and discomfort especially to the naive young because that is the ugly way they see the world.

CJ Hawes

21st July 2020 at 9:34 am

If trans activists lightened up then they wouldn’t be trans activists. How would we replace that endless source of amusement?

Sam Spiked

21st July 2020 at 9:19 am

When ‘safe male spaces’ were invaded in the 90s the author would have applauded.

So even if the changes in atmosphere in the author’s fun places are due to nasty straight men (and that’s a pretty poor assumption) invading her spaces all I can think is “karma. It’s a menstruating dog”


21st July 2020 at 8:53 am

Vile, hypocritical, hate-filled article. Next they’ll be accusing the tgs of being responsible for 9/11, the S hoah and the Amritsar Massacre. All we’ve learnt from this article is that the writer wants to limit other people’s freedom.

Tolar Owen

21st July 2020 at 10:33 am

That’s a bit over the top, don’t you think? The writer wants to maintain the boundaries of women and girls whose freedoms are being infringed upon by heterosexual males with paraphilias, which is what most transactivists are, not traditional transsexuals.

What an excellent article. The comments section has demonstrated her point, which is that there’s a core of really angry, humorless men who pile on, especially when a woman tries to honestly name the female experience around straight men (which she did with a lot of humor and humility, something you folks could use, apparently.)

Kevin Turner

21st July 2020 at 12:49 pm

Bigoted, absurd, joyless comment.

Jerry Owen

21st July 2020 at 2:43 pm

As usual you haven’t read the article.

Jerry Owen

21st July 2020 at 8:32 am

I couldn’t care less about any ‘gay scene or lifestyle’, live and let live, but the unintended consequences of the promiscuous male gay scene led to the issue of AIDS.
All wasn’t rosy in the cottage garden.. as it were!

Dominic Straiton

21st July 2020 at 7:03 am

“trans” are mentally ill gays. Trannies were mostly a lot of fun. I dont remember them committing suicide any more regularly than anyone else.


21st July 2020 at 8:54 am

You live in a small world, don’t you?

Danny Rees

21st July 2020 at 6:21 am

God what a load of feminist crap. Why is Spiked publishing this dross? Straight white men blah blah blah.

Tolar Owen

21st July 2020 at 10:35 am

Wow. The humorless mens rights types are out in full force today. Think I’ll return to conservative sites stateside. At least we don’t send police to people’s homes for “misgendering” someone on Twitter.

jamie murray

21st July 2020 at 10:04 pm

It could be humourless, po faced whinging men, or it may just be push back against 30-40 years ( accelerated greatly in the last 20 years) of being force fed feminist clap trap, the patriarchy, toxic masculinity ad nauseam and in some small way venting some deeply held frustrations! This article was replete with endless little digs at “men” as though normal blokes flounce about in women’s clothes flirting with women while not wanting to sleep with them! There’s a certain type of person, male and female who interest themselves in the whole gamut of LGBTQI “issues”, whereas most of us couldn’t care less, but the author could only find room to say it was the “horrible men who spoilt things, no women to blame here, just men“. That perhaps is why the comments here aren’t all “lol”, the whole women good, men bad Schtick is boring now.

Peter Anestos

21st July 2020 at 4:17 am

You’re so right! Gay nightlife has been killed by the neo-Victorianism of the gender-fluid gang. In the past, the fun of easy flirtation and good humor was largely based on a common understanding that while we are either one sex or the other, how we presented it was for us to do and others to figure out. No more. It’s all about validating ME, as I believe to be, or else. All mean, grim, and censorious. Glorious (male) drag queens Bessie Mae Mucho and Helluva Bottom Carter would never make it to the stage today.

Brandy Cluster

21st July 2020 at 2:57 am

These activists are one and the same people who got what they wanted when children and adolescents by using their voice, loudly and often.

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