Which level?

Oh it gave her pause. Well that’s all right then.

Lisa Nandy has said she was given “pause for thought” about signing a pledge card from the Labour Campaign for Trans Rights.

The one about expelling feminists who don’t lie down so that trans women can walk on them.

The pledge calls on candidates in the Labour leadership race to back the expulsion of party members who hold “bigoted, transphobic views”.

It also describes Woman’s Place UK, a group that backs biological sex to be acknowledged as part of maintaining women’s rights, as a “trans-exclusionist hate group”.

Nandy was on a tv chat show today, and that’s where she admitted to the pause.

“I have to say, that was the part of the pledge that gave me pause for thought about whether to sign it,” said Nandy. “I decided to sign it in the end because I think that the sentiment of the pledge about protecting trans rights and about accepting that trans men are men and trans women are women is really important, especially at the moment with the level of discrimination that people face.”

So if next year we’re told to “accept” that humans are lions if they say they are, will that be “really important” too? Do we have to “accept” all such claims? Or is it just sex that is such a trivial and easy-to-swap category?

Also, about that “level of discrimination that people face”…she does still realize that women face discrimination? Or does she?

“I think that the question for us is always about individual behaviour and it’s right to recognise that there are women who have fought for generations in order to create safe spaces for women who want to have a proper debate about how we best protect that in an era where we’ve recognised that trans men are men, trans women are women, and we’ve got to do far more to protect trans women from harm as well.”

But we haven’t “recognised.” We can’t recognize it, because it isn’t true. We can say it, claim it, announce it, but we can’t know it or acknowledge it or recognize it, because it isn’t true.

Asked whether she would be happy for people who identify as women to stand on all-women shortlists, the Wigan MP said: “Yeah, I think that you have to walk the walk in the Labour party and that means that we have to do two things – one is that we have to accept that people are who they say they are. I’ve never believed that politicians or even me as an individual should interfere or dictate to people who they are.”

But we don’t have to accept that people are who they say they are. We don’t. She knows that herself if she thinks about it. We don’t accept mere say-so on all occasions, and on many occasions we’d be damn fools to do so.

Even if you skip over obvious things like having to show ID for many things and just look at the profundities of accepting people’s explanations of themselves, we still don’t have to. People aren’t all that good at knowing and explaining themselves. We have all sorts of biases that make it tricky. It’s not “dictating to people who they are” to see a man when a man is in front of you. In some senses it’s true that we don’t have the right to tell people who they are, but it’s also true that people don’t have a right to tell us how to perceive them.

2 Responses to “Which level?”