You’ll never guess who wrote a broadside

The headline:

UK’s only trans philosophy professor to JK Rowling: Harry Potter helped me become a woman

So a trans philosophy professor is not a professor and knows nothing of philosophy?

Anyway, tell us a story.

In the autumn of 1969, a five-year-old boy called Timothy Chappell, in his first term at school, had an idea. Could he, he asked his mum, go to class as a girl? “My mother looked at me,” says Timothy – now Sophie-Grace – “and there was both terror and fury in her eyes. And she said to me: why?”

“Sophie-Grace.” Ffs. It’s as bad as “Sophie Labelle” who does that gruesome “Assigned Male” cartoon. Man becomes woman, names self wise-grace. But hey this movement has nothing to do with narcissism, oh hell no.

Chappell says her entire story is contained in that exchange: Timothy’s bemused but certain knowledge that he is in the wrong body; his mum’s understanding about that and her horror about what it could mean; and her anger at the little boy for naming it.

This is a philosophy professor? A philosophy professor thinks a child of five can have certain knowledge? A philosophy professor cites a child of five as evidence that a man really truly is a woman because he was certain of it when he was five?

He “lived as a man” until 2014 – so that’s 50 years of male privilege, however uneasy he felt with it.

“For decades I’d hated myself, hidden who I was. But in the end it simply didn’t work, and the wonderful thing about transitioning was that I was able to finally stand up and say: this is who I truly am.”

The person she said that to most recently, in an open letter, was JK Rowling, who on 7 July signed a letter warning of the dangers of censoriousness and intolerance, after publishing a broadside in June on transgender issues.

Except that it wasn’t a broadside, it was a thoughtful careful article. The language must be carefully shaped to flatter the trans person and denigrate the mere woman. To make sure we don’t get confused, the Guardian includes a photo of Rowling captioned:

The author JK Rowling in June published a broadside on transgender issues. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA


But the bottom line, for Chappell, is this: “I think we can liken it to adoption. Trans women are like adoptive parents, who want to be accepted as being the same as biological parents. And they are accepted as such, despite the differences in how they became parents in the first place; and if society could do the same for trans women, we’d be in a better place.”

Sure, we can liken it to adoption, but the two are not the same, and if society treated it as if it were, we would be in a worse place – we already are in a lot of ways.

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