Before beginning this article I wanted to make one thing abundantly clear… nobody debating this properly wants to see violence against women.
The debate on gender isn’t about picking the lesser of two evils; we’re not trying to pick between two scenarios in which one might have fewer crimes than the other… there is a very real evil that is clear in any form of society: there are men out there of predatory nature.
The divide comes from where we draw the line of protecting women whilst also giving everyone the right to full bodily autonomy: the right to choose what happens with one’s body in a way that gives the individual a comfortable life.
The idea that an individual can choose to define and establish themselves in a society by their own standards isn’t a new one. We have legislation that’s been in place for many years called the Equality Act that protects people from discrimination against this. This includes safeguarding the Trans community.
Nothing has changed in the legal architecture of our country. We are in the exact same position legally on any interconnected issue on this matter as we were, say, 10 years ago.
The GRR Bill was introduced to give more weight to the side of balance for bodily autonomy. It would allow Trans people an easier process to change their legal recognition of gender without the, at times, traumatic process one must go through.
It would’ve removed the need to prove yourself in front of a panel of strangers or seek years of approval from a doctor saying there’s something wrong with you. The word used is ‘dysphoria,’ as if what you feel is grounded in anxiety, depression or instability.
As a general trend over the past couple of decades, Queer people are starting to find a voice. They’re starting to stand up and say hang on a second here… I love who I am and I shouldn’t have to prove that to anyone. Why can’t I have my stake in society without administration and mentally straining procedures imposed by people who don’t even remotely understand who I am?
Recognising this, almost 2/3 of Holyrood’s politicians said let’s make this process significantly easier for these people. After 6 years of conversation, they’ve said, nah, this isn’t right… we need a drastic change for these people immediately. No matter how small a community they are.
The UK Government have stepped in to say we can’t pass this legislation through because there are too many concerns about women’s safety. Let’s not rush this… let’s have a full and frank discussion about it.
That’s a perfectly reasonable stance. This isn’t a debate just for politicians… such a change deserves to be discussed by society as a whole.
It may be that politicians have discussed it for 6 years, but it certainly only feels like the public is finding its voice now. The significantly loud response from concerned women on social media immediately tells this story.
It is at this juncture, however, the debate has taken a nasty turn.
Logically speaking, the next step of the conversation would be: right ok… if this bill tips the balance between safety and autonomy too drastically or too quickly, how do we hit a middle ground that gives the community in question (one that is obviously hurting, by the way) a bit more dignity whilst also protecting other people from the common evil: predatory men.
But we haven’t taken this step. The step we have taken, through MPs seeking political capital and sensational media agenda, is throwing the trans community’s existence into doubt entirely.
The conversation has turned from one of human decency into a political wedge issue with words like ‘bigots’ and ‘rapists’ thrown around flippantly. We’re now looking at each other in disgust and demonising people for wanting to solve this conundrum one way or another. A turn that we’ll inevitably look back on in shame.
At our initial stage of the conversation, the proposed and rejected legislation was about making sure women have a right to privacy and decency when accessing grounds when they are undressing or getting intimate care… times, in other words, when they are vulnerable. Nothing about that makes you transphobic. Nothing about that makes you a bigot.
At the same initial stage, people didn’t have a problem with the trans community. There weren’t any accusations of the community being riddled with perversion or predators or paedophiles. People weren’t calling them a “bunch of child molesters,” to quote Susie McCabe who heard this at a Trans rally. People weren’t screwing their faces up at trans women in a look of disgust, mocking their ‘people’ as ‘a load of nonsense.’ In other words, people weren’t transphobic before.
And let’s be absolutely clear… although the GRR Bill is the sole reason we are having this conversation, it is not the reason for the nature of the discussion we are now having. We are now, no longer, discussing how to give Trans people dignity whilst also protecting women. We are now targeting an already vulnerable group as ammunition for individuals seeking political gain and toxic media agendas. That is only disputable with delusion.
The plot against Nicola Sturgeon, a woman, for doing her job, in the name of feminism, is just one example. Folk are haverin when they fail to see the irony and double standards here.
Certain politicians that think cutting maternity rights would be ‘better for business,’ or that women shouldn’t have a right to choose whether they have an abortion… whilst also championing themselves as the saviour of women’s rights… is another example.
And just as the same orchestrating culprits did with Brexit, the striking workers wanting a fair pay rise and now Transgender people… they are successfully pinning the public against each other for ulterior gain. They are the masters of this art.
Why do I believe this? Well if you ask anyone, one-to-one, having this discussion if they think male rapists should be in women’s prisons, or whether trans people deserve more dignity, or that women have a right to safe spaces… any decent person would give the same answer.
So it begs the question: why is there so much hate and divide among us all, a largely decent population?
And people will quite rightly say aye nae bother Gandhi, where’s your answer then? What is this balance you keep talking about?
Before we even have that conversation, I think it’s important to recognise that there are issues defining terms being thrown about.
Yes, biological research tells us despite 98.5% of our DNA being identical… people have different bodily organs, hormones, reproductive systems and so forth. We’ve divvied this up by using the word ‘sex.’
The problem that this term has in the gender conversation is found in the citation as ‘fact’ to disregard any other opposing view. This problem is two-fold:
Firstly, it conflates our pre-determined conceptions of what it means to be a ‘man’ and a ‘woman’ which have been created and imposed by people. These are societal terms. They are terms that do not exist outside the language we speak of them.
And by the way, they’re terms that have only been used to suit men and manipulate women into certain roles and expectations in society.
Secondly, it ignores the fact we have a complicated relationship with our mental phenomena that biology can’t wholeheartedly explain. Our bodies aren’t purely physical. We have mental phenomena at play which means the definition of our being is far more complex than two words. Our sensory experience has a huge role in dictating the physical organs attached to it.
The idea of pain is a perfect example… we don’t experience pain purely because there is damage to our physical body parts. Look at phantom limbs, look at curious cases of ME and Chronic Fatigue that we’re yet to fully understand.
So to accept that we have a complex, and at times unexplainable, relationship with our mental phenomena, this means we also accept that the definition of our being is equally as complex. If we accept that mental phenomena can have a significant impact on the way our physical organs work, then we also accept that our sensory experiences can impact its relationship with physical organs such as hormones, reproductive organs and any other physical body part.
And with all complexities in life, what comes with it is obscurities… which is why we have a small community of people in our society that know in themselves that their physical body doesn’t align with who they actually are.
These are things we previously accepted as recently as a cuttla years ago… nobody in any relevant profession would tell you otherwise.
So, in spirit of giving these people a more comfortable life, what we’re now faced with is ensuring that we can deal with people out there to manipulate the system aimed to achieve this.
Like with any societal issue.
This isn’t a trade-off between whether women or trans women should be able to live comfortably… a world where this is possible (granted, besides a relatively small amount of cases) isn’t unimaginable. We don’t have to be a million miles off this.
Supporters of the GRR Bill say well look at the 13 other countries that have introduced this kind of bill… they’ve not had an influx of predatory males exploiting this bill so why should we think the same would happen in Britain?
Even in Ireland, in terms of comparable societies, a place we couldn’t come closer to… a redaction of one’s Gender certificate for the reasons we are talking about has never happened in the 7 years they’ve had Self ID.
But the reason we’re discussing it is that, even without Self ID, these cases exist in Britain.
We have a unique, messed-up culture other societies don’t have.
Racism is prevalent. People would rather pay more for their energy bills than live beside an immigrant. We hate our Government, get a thrill from rebellion and do anything to say we’re a non-conformist. Our immediate stance is to question authority… and no wonder with serial rapist David Carrick enforcing the rules.
We feel a constant need for protection because… well… we need protection. Fair play. With the way women have been treated in British society, nae wonder they’re petrified.
So, the real talking point here is how we ensure women keep that protected space so they can have vulnerable moments in peace.
It isn’t because Transgender people are generally a threat to women… we all know Isla Bryson is at it. Politicians must be careful what they say, but calling a spade a spade, this person is obviously a horror that’ll do or say anything to fulfil sexual desires.
And aye, deal with this small number of people as and when they come… but let’s not pretend this is an issue exclusive to the Trans community or a world where people can Self-ID their gender.
Nor is it wise to promote a utilitarian style of solving moral dilemmas; i.e count the number of people who would feel more comfortable and say tough luck to the few. Our society would be a mess if we used these kinds of calculations.
Entrenching a level of respect for Transgender people that have lived that way all their life would be a decent and respectable start… a course of action we already had in place before the conversation blew up in the last few months.
Clearer definitions would also be useful. The Equality Act currently encompasses the Trans Community in its account of what it means to be a certain sex. There are deliberate exemptions for these people in the very legislation we’re trying to protect.
So if we’re now saying that our morals have evolved in a way that means your physical make-up should determine what changing room or toilet you use, something that wasn’t an issue or particular requirement to prove before the heated exchanges of the last few months… then we have two options: tell the Trans community ‘tough luck’ or find a way to also accommodate this community. We could do the latter by making it so gender-neutral toilets are more normalised (something that’s already happening increasingly worldwide) and also ensuring there are a few separate spaces for both women and men if they feel uncomfortable. Investment in this doesn’t seem that unreasonable if the end goal is gender equality.
And if we see an unprecedented, previously unevidenced, influx of men intruding women’s spaces, unlike what’s happened in the 13 other countries that have self-ID similar to the one proposed by the Scottish Government… aye, put a halt to it immediately. Obviously.
Cos currently, we are genuinely talking about a few cases here. A few people out of the 70 million on this island.
There are a total of 15 transgender prisoners in Scotland, men and women. There isn’t a single Transgender person in a Scottish women’s prison convicted of violence against women… Isla Bryson, the often-cited example, wasn’t among women during prison time. That’s deliberate deception. She was held in solitary confinement whilst the standard incarcerating process was followed.
Which brings me back to my point… if nothing has changed in how the Government define gender, if we’re talking about the same number of significantly few cases, to the point of obscurity, and if the legal goalposts haven’t changed… why is there such a continuous moral panic?
Supporters of change have faith that our society can be grounded in decency and respect. If we aren’t constantly striving to get to that place, then we need to have a serious look in the mirror. Cos we’ve got much bigger problems than a few thousand people (around 5,000 UK-wide since the Equality Act was introduced, to be a bit more accurate) wanting a different birth and death certificate to live and die in peace. Much bigger.
This isn’t and shouldn’t be a discussion of whether trans people can exist. The orchestrators of ulterior motives have told you that it is and should be.
The conversation is and should be how we balance safety and autonomy… the calmer starting point of this whole debate.