Mandatory respect for fantasy identities

Naturally the reporting on Maya Forstater’s appeal has to be dishonest. Robin Moira White and Molly Mulready in the Independent:

Maya Forstater is at the heart of a controversy about transgender people, free speech, and harassment at work. Her view is that transgender women are men and the law should protect her right to say so at work, including if a transgender woman happened to be her work colleague.

Forstater wants to refer to that woman as “he”, regardless of the pain that would cause.

That’s a deceptive way of putting it though. Maya isn’t appealing for the freedom to call trans women “he” at all times no matter what, she’s appealing for the freedom to do so when it’s relevant. She has specifically said that. Certainly I think she should be free to at all times, and that all of us should, but that’s not what the appeal is about.

She feels this so strongly that the matter has ended up in court – at her behest. As lawyers who will be personally affected by the outcome of her case – one of us as a trans woman, the other as the mother of a trans child – we have followed it closely. 

You know who else will be personally affected by the outcome of her case? Women. All women. All women because all women need to be able to say “That’s a man” in some situations, no matter how strenuously the man insists he is a trans woman. That need is more important than the need of some men who say they are women to be “validated” by actual women. It’s a lot more important. Trans people’s need for “validation” is, when you come right down to it, trivial.

While providing consultancy services to a charitable think tank, the Centre for Global Development (CGD), Forstater contributed to social media discussions about transgender people. She stated “transwomen are male” and that the statement “transwomen are women” is one of a number of “literal delusions”. She made crude references to the body parts of trans people. Her work colleagues raised concerns and when asked about it by CGD she repeated her beliefs about trans women, said she knew her comments were thought offensive but insisted she would continue to make them because they were true. 

And? Trans women are male; that’s what the “trans” in “trans women” means.

JK Rowling later tweeted that Forstater had been forced out of her job for “stating that sex is real”. We don’t agree. Forstater claims the right to knowingly cause pain, and not be required to respect the true identity of a trans woman.

No, Forstater does not claim the right to knowingly cause pain; she claims the right to tell the truth when necessary. And when people’s “true identity” is the opposite of their actual literal detectable real-world identity, nobody should be required to “respect” it. The whole idea is childish and absurd. We might as well all identify as the Prime Minister and demand that everyone respect it.

It would also, which perhaps may even concern Forstater, apply not only to beliefs that harm transgender people, but to any controversial belief a person may hold – including, for example, a belief that women are intellectually inferior to men. If Ms Forstater succeeds before the court, a man at work will have the protection of the law to make those statements at work whenever he likes, causing whatever damage he likes to the women he works with. That cannot be right. 

Nonsense. The hearing is not about “controversial beliefs” in general. They apparently just can’t make their case without a mix of lies and hyperbolic whining. It must not be a very good case then, right?

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