Barely a peep from her more traditional colleagues on the Tory back benches

Tom McTague at the Independent joins the popular chorus of contempt for feminists.

When the Women and Equalities Committee published a report calling for a sea-change in attitudes to transgender people, Maria Miller, the chair of the committee, might have expected to be attacked by right-wingers within her own party.

But, while they were largely silent on the issue, the former Culture secretary said she was taken aback by the “extraordinary” hostility from a minority of women “purporting to be feminists”.

Speaking to The Independent on Sunday from her office in Westminster, Ms Miller insisted that the “overwhelming” reaction to her report has been positive. Despite controversial calls for “gender neutral” passports and for 16-year-olds to be given the legal right to change their sex, there was barely a peep from her more traditional colleagues on the Tory back benches.

Why might that be, do you suppose? Could it be because conservatives are perfectly happy with an ideology that relies on essentialist ideas of “gender identity”? Could it be because conservatives are perfectly happy to see men who are “too girly” solve the problem by identifying as women?

A glance at Ms Miller’s Twitter page shows that the backlash is real. She is accused of exposing women to “violent men hiding behind the mask of transgender”. In another message, she is told trans women are “not real women” and are often “violent offenders or sex offenders” and that she was failing in her duty to protect women.

It follows on from Germaine Greer’s remark that transgender women “can’t be women”, adding: “Just because you lop off your penis … it doesn’t make you a woman.”

No, it doesn’t. Couldn’t the Independent have found someone who knows something about the subject to report on it? It’s got nothing to do with Germaine Greer.

But Ms Miller, wading into the dangerous territory of radical feminist politics, insisted that they are wrong. She pointed to research by the Fawcett Society, a think-tank campaigning for women’s rights, which found that two-thirds of feminists believe gender to be fluid. “Of course, that would cut across what Germaine Greer is saying,” she said.

Sigh. No it wouldn’t. Saying gender is fluid is not the same thing as saying some people assigned male are “really” women and some assigned female are “really” men. It’s pretty much the opposite of that; if not the opposite it’s at least in strong tension with it. If gender is fluid, then males can just be as “feminine” as they like, and females can be as “masculine” as they like. The need to transition melts away.

But that would ruin the fun of attacking feminists, so forget it.

4 Responses to “Barely a peep from her more traditional colleagues on the Tory back benches”