The language rules for women

Kathleen Stock has thoughts on the new language rules:

I reject the near-pathological zeal with which trans activists, ‘trans allies’, and ‘woke blokes’ generally, seek to monitor and control natal women’s language in this domain: not just with respect to discussing whether trans women are actually women, but also in uses of particular names and pronouns, and gender attributions.

One basis for self-identifying as a trans person is the condition of gender dysphoria. It is assumed by many medical practitioners that, on diagnosis of this condition, treating a person ‘as if’ belonging to their self-identified gender is helpful to their well-being; whereas confronting them with their ‘birth-assigned’ gender, or the biological facts of their sex, is not. We might easily interpret this as a kind of benevolent role-playing or method-acting, extending from the medical practitioner out into the wider community: act as if a trans woman is a woman, in most social contexts. But this is completely compatible with denying that trans women really arewomen, in a more committed sense.

Somehow, though, in recent years, a respectful concern for the well-being of trans people has supposedly morphed into a literal claim about category membership: trans women really are women. That is: trans women belong unambiguously in the category of women; the concept of woman literally applies to them. For most trans activists, this is supposed to be true whether the trans woman is a post-operative transsexual, or a trans woman on hormones, or whether she belongs to the significant proportion of trans women who are neither. She ‘is’ a women, whether she transitioned in her teens, or in middle-age; whether thirty years ago, or yesterday. Moreover, for many trans activists, not only are trans women literally women, but if they have children, they can be mothers. If they have female partners, they can be lesbians. They can be victims of misogyny. And so on. One by one, the familiar words women have used to describe themselves tumble like a chain of dominoes.

Such claims are usually unargued-for. They are presented more as self-evident truths; the outcome of revelation, perhaps, or as some article of faith which it would be downright evil to try to deny or complicate. As this description suggests, agreement with such claims is ruthlessly socially enforced by trans activists.

And that’s putting it mildly. The enforcement stretches to threats and even outright violence.

It doesn’t matter if your subject matter is Labour party all-woman shortlists, what to do about children who think they are trans, medical discussions, biology teaching, or presumably, your own relatives; you are never, ever, ever supposed to describe trans women as men or male, ‘deadname’, ‘misgender’, or use the ‘wrong’ pronouns out loud. Even trans women themselves aren’t supposed to do these things: see the bullying treatment that trans women in the UK such as Miranda Yardley, Kristina Harrison, and Debbie Hayton get, when they deny that they themselves are ‘really’ women, and seek a different narrative.

This is in itself quite striking, as for other false claims about category membership, people are normally socially permitted to assert them. Take the claims: “Elton John is straight”. “Marvin Gaye is white”. Those claims are obviously false, but there was, presumably, no inward gasp of horror as you just read them. Now contrast with: “Caitlyn Jenner is a man”; “Lily Madigan is biologically male; he is a man”. Even though I mention these as exemplary sentences, rather than assert them myself, I assume that at least some readers think I just wrote something awful.

Or maybe they don’t, but pretend they do if anyone is watching.

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