Feminists who don’t buy the “choose your gender” position

David Aaronovitch suggests that it’s difficult to figure out what we think about a new and contentious package of truth claims if we’re not allowed to discuss them openly and without fear.

Last year the government promised changes to the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) which
would, among other things, give legal status to the gender choice of an individual, rather than to the biological sex that they were born with, without the need for lengthy psychiatric assessment.

Needless to say, such a change would be welcome for many trans people, who would no longer have to prove that they suffered from a nebulous condition dubbed “gender dysphoria”.

Then again, if gender dysphoria is nebulous, what exactly are “trans people”? What do we mean by “trans”? What are we talking about when we talk about trans rights? What is it that makes a trans person trans if it’s not “gender dysphoria”? (And if it is “gender dysphoria” then what is that, and how do we know, and how do people who say they suffer from it know? There are a lot of hard-to-knows in this subject.)

But you don’t have to be a tabloid leader writer to see that there are some big problems to be dealt with here, some practical, some anthropological, some philosophical. “What,” my sportiest daughter asked, “about women’s sports?” People born biologically male are physically bigger, stronger and faster than biological women. So what about places designed to protect women from the possible consequences of that physical difference? Do we really want to say that we will not see the difference in experience between, crudely, someone with a womb and someone with a willy?

Maybe you do. Maybe I agree. But wouldn’t you also say that if ever there was a case for an “open debate” this was it? You can’t just make a change like this without arguing it through and hearing the other side. Yet that seems to be exactly what many people, largely on the left, want to do.

And some of them want to do it with the help of baseball bats wrapped in barbed wire, or at least imagery of same. (It’s hard to know how seriously to take the threats implied by the imagery. It’s hard to know how risky it is to assume it’s just Twitter militancy and no actual threat to anyone.)

So the LGBT website Pink News will carry a report of a Women’s Place meeting beginning “Women’s Place UK, which are known to propogate (sic) discrimination against the transgender community, will be hosting an event at Manchester Quaker Meeting Hall this evening.” Debate in itself becomes propagation of discrimination and the pickets turn up.

The pickets turn up, and they shout “TERF!” at women, and they block the doors. In Vancouver they vandalize a women’s library, at Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park they punch a woman repeatedly, in St Louis they beat up a lesbian and then brag about it on Twitter.

Feminists who don’t buy the “choose your gender” position have now been classified as “Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists”, for whom the hostile acronym “TERF” is widely used. The word’s closeness to “turd” is not accidental. The term is used widely on the left now.

So you can see how dissent has become propagating discrimination, and that has morphed into hate. Over to Bristol university students’ union for the final step in the declension. “Opening the debate,” wrote the student newspaper recently, “FemSoc’s vivacious president made the case for no-platforming, arguing that TERF rhetoric, by encouraging trans-exclusionary legislation, has a ‘direct impact on safety’ for trans people. She cited the frequency with which trans people are murdered as a further argument against accommodating anti-trans activists on campus.”

And thus, in easy, treacherous steps dissent is deemed accessory to murder. It is an utterly pernicious logic.

And pervasive. It’s the first thing a hostile commenter said on a recent post about the difficulty of talking about the issues – But Their Suicide Rate. If you try to talk about it you are driving them to suicide.

Meanwhile, take a good look at this baseball bat, bitch.

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