You can’t protect what you can’t define

The GB News piece behind Tatchell’s “there are two kinds of women” tweet:

Speaking on GB News, Mr Tatchell said: “What I do say is that I think the fuss about the definition protects us from the dignity, rights, welfare and safeguarding of all women, including trans women.”

I think he meant “prevents us from protecting” rather than “protects us from” – that’s just the fumble of commenting live, which is natural. But the claim is idiotic even if we correct the wording. How can we protect the rights of people we can’t define correctly? Suppose we want to campaign to protect the human rights of Uighurs – they certainly need it. Suppose we want to do that and we say there are two kinds of Uighurs, a mostly-Muslim minority group in the Xinjiang autonomous region of China, and a non-Muslim majority group living anywhere in the world who identify as Uighurs. How would that work? We might as well campaign for the rights of people who persecute Uighurs.

“There is a woman defined by her biological sex and there is another different form of woman defined by her gender identity.

He continued: “They are different, they are not the same, but both are equally valid. I think we need to find a common ground instead of what divides us, but all women, including trans women, do suffer from misogyny, hate crime, domestic violence and rape. Let’s all work together for heaven’s sake to protect all women.”

It’s All Lives Matter. They do, of course, but if you’re campaigning specifically against racist abuse, then it’s not helpful or relevant. If you’re organizing a labor union it’s not useful to say bosses work too. If you want to protect lesbian and gay rights it’s a distraction to say straight people have rights too. Peter Tatchell is deluding himself if he thinks he’s campaigning for women’s rights by insisting that some men are women.

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