The Political Erasure of Sex An overarching project which aims to document the process of policy capture in our public institutions, and how it is impacting the recognition and recording of biological sex in public policy, law, language, and data-collection.
I thought ‘trans’ meant transsexual and my idea of a ‘trans woman’ was someone who had had genital surgery and was quietly going about their life, doing their best to ‘pass’ as a woman, or at least look as if they were trying. I knew a few such people back then and they seemed to fit this idea. Whenever I encountered an unknown ‘trans woman’ in a public toilet (never ever in any other female spaces back then) I noticed and I felt uncomfortable. But I was polite and respectful and did my best to pretend not to notice because how awful it must be for them. And after all, it didn’t happen often.
I also knew a few men who were not transsexual but who wore women’s clothing. Some did it just because it was the 1980’s and they looked good in it, so why the hell not? There were others though…
There was a boyfriend who liked to cross-dress in the evenings as he found it ‘relaxing’. I tolerated this until he started trying to introduce his hobby into our sex life. And no thanks, I did not want to go to a tea dance at Madame JoJo’s with him ‘dressed’ and no thanks I did not want to join Wives of Beaumont.
There was a man who developed a creepy stalky fetish around my sister and tried to dress just like her, look just like her and copy all her mannerisms, especially if they would be at the same event. He went to my sister’s wedding dressed as my sister. He was kind of tolerated on the edge of our small-town social crowd but all the women knew he was a creepy fucker and we kept a sharp eye on him.
We were never expected to believe or even pretend that any of these other non-transsexual men were women. We were never expected to respect their ‘identities’ or welcome them into female spaces. We naively imagined we had a sort of ‘honour system’: we wouldn’t make a fuss if transsexuals used the women’s toilets as long as they behaved (despite never having been asked if we were OK with this in the first place) and as long as we could tell the rest of these men to get to fuck.
So it was a bit disconcerting when things like this started to appear in the mid 2010’s:
The category of ‘trans’ now apparently included drag queens, transvestites and cross-dressers, according to ‘a bunch of queer and trans folks who lived in Houston, Texas.’ For a couple of years it was possible to think that this was just some outlandish idea that nobody would take seriously.
Then in 2015 Stonewall, the largest and most influential UK charity for lesbian and gay rights, became ‘trans inclusive’ and they took this outlandish idea very seriously indeed. Their definition of ‘trans’ would henceforth be:
‘An umbrella term to describe people whose gender is not the same as, or does not sit comfortably with, the sex they were assigned at birth.
‘Trans people may describe themselves using one or more of a wide variety of terms, including (but not limited to) transgender, transsexual, gender-queer (GQ), gender-fluid, non-binary, gender-variant, crossdresser, genderless, agender, nongender, third gender, bi-gender, trans man, trans woman,trans masculine, trans feminine and neutrois.’
Quite suddenly, whatever ‘honour system’ we imagined we had was broken because we were no longer permitted to tell the rest of these men to get to fuck. They were all ‘trans’ now and to object to the presence of any of them in our single sex spaces and services was ‘transphobic’.
But the trans umbrella is older than we thought.
Here is a version from 1994. Note the inclusion of ‘crossdresser’, ‘transvestic fetishist’ and ‘transvestite’.
The trans rights movement in the UK started with the Beaumont Society – a club for heterosexual cross-dressing men and their wives, set up in 1966. Transsexuals were permitted to join but the main focus until relatively recently was definitely male cross-dressers.
The Beaumont Society was started by Alice Purnell, following an epiphany in a soho sex shop:
‘Anyway, I searched and searched through bookshops, and of course I read Krafft-Ebing and Magnus Hirschfeld and Freud, and everybody you could think of. And always they associated anything to do with gender variance as a type of deviance, and I got more and more horrified by this and I thought, what the hell am I going to do, and I came across … would you believe it, in a dirty book shop in Soho, a magazine called Transvestia and I thought, what? And this was a magazine produced by a Dr Virginia Prince, who was an American pharmacist, and she had organised a thing called Phi Pi Epsilon, very American, which stands for Full Personality Expression. And the essence of her thesis was that you could be a woman, though male. So the goal of her organisation was to try to maintain marriages or relationships between men and women when one or the other, usually the one that was officially male, gender migrated by cross-dressing or by being what eventually we came to know as transsexual. The whole vocabulary of gender was a dreadful, dreadful nuisance.’
You can hear all about it in this enlightening interview of Alice by best mate Christine Burns:
My guest on this show is a former geriatric nurse and a counsellor. She writes poetry and lives in Hove. Alice Purnell OBE is perhaps best known to many listeners as the founder of the Gender Trust, a support organisation for trans people. Before that she had also been involved in co-founding the Beaumont Society, in the mid 1960s. She also founded a ground breaking series of biennial conferences, bringing together international clinicians and stakeholders for the first time in the 1990s to discuss improvements to care for such people. Alice speaks about all that and more at home on the South Coast as she celebrates her 70th birthday.
Burns went on to set up Press For Change with Stephen Whittle in 1992. In the early 1970’s Whittle had co-founded the Manchester Transvestite and Transsexual Support Group, and had also joined Beaumont as the first ftm (female-to-male) member.
Dr Stephen Whittle is perhaps the world’s best known transsexual man. He is Professor of Equalities Law at Manchester Metropolitan University, the President of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health and the Chair of Transgender Europe, in addition to being one of the founders of the UK lobby group Press for Change. He is also a committed family man, with a wife and four children. In this in-depth interview, originally recorded in summer 2007, we cover his own personal background growing up in Manchester, his transition in the 1970’s, his work as a campaigner, and his views about the future for trans people.
Press For Change is the organisation that is pretty much solely responsible for the Gender Recognition Act being passed in 2004. They championed the use of the term ‘trans’ precisely because it made no distinction between ‘transsexual’ and ‘transvestite’. Christine Burns:
‘Until human rights campaigners like us came along, talking about umbrella concepts, this diverse community had got along with a relatively stable lexicon for many years. There were ‘transvestites’ and ‘transsexuals’ – TVs and TS’s in the community shorthand – and that was more or less the only language you needed to know for more than a generation since Harry Benjamin had coined the latter term in his book ‘The Transsexual Phenomenon’ in 1966.
‘Our successes as a campaign were grounded in progress made for people who fitted the clinical definition of transsexual. At the heart of this was a tacit understanding that people in positions of power might be persuaded to change laws for people with some kind of clinically underwritten status – something they couldn’t help being. This is why ‘Transsexualism – The Medical Viewpoint’ was seen as strategically important and why all the key court cases had rehearsed the developing scientific understanding of a basis for us being born or developing this way. It was also why the government would expect to include a medical definition of ‘transsexual’ in the forthcoming employment protections they planned to consult upon.
‘We knew in our hearts at that time that policymakers and judges weren’t yet sophisticated enough in their understanding to contemplate rights for people whose difference appeared self-identified or impermanent or maybe even optional. That didn’t mean we weren’t going to try where possible. There was a valid freedom of expression case to be made for people to be able to present in whatever way they wish. But we were also pragmatists, careful not to frighten the horses at this early stage. (Note, however, that in the Equality Act 2010 – which replaced the Sex Discrimination Act – the requirement for having been medically diagnosed was finally removed).
‘I cannot recall exactly how we reached a consensus inside Press for Change. It wasn’t written down in email correspondence – it arose in telephone or face to face conversations, including the long calls I was now having with Claire McNab on Sunday afternoons before setting off for another hotel. Somehow or other, however, we arrived at a consensus that if we maybe all used the word ‘trans’ as an umbrella term – and words like ‘transsexual’ only when we needed to be more specific’ then maybe some of that would catch on gradually.
‘And so that is what we did. From there on, without fanfare, my essays and our web content discreetly began to use this language. Claire took the opportunity during the move of the PFC website to revise the existing content in the same way.
‘In the weeks and months ahead people would sometimes ask what the word meant or why we were using it. Then we would explain the rationale and suggest why we thought it was important. The change was gradual. In fact it took years for the word to begin sounding familiar and to hear it in other people’s language. In 2002 when we were consulting over government press releases to announce the forthcoming Gender Recognition Bill, the officials still weren’t convinced that enough people understood the new word to use it. Yet today most people seem to embrace the word naturally – when they are not simply calling themselves men or women.’
Throughout the history of trans rights campaigning there has never been a time when transsexuals and transvestites were not working together, involved in the same groups, pursuing the same aims, or at least intertwining their aims in mutually beneficial ways. All that happened in the mid 2010’s is that they started being open about this and stopped pretending it was all about rights for a tiny number of transsexuals.
Perhaps they decided that policy makers and judges were now ‘sophisticated enough’ and it would no longer ‘frighten the horses’ to campaign openly for transvestites’ and cross-dressers’ rights. Or perhaps they decided they had now pushed through enough legislation, that completely coincidentally gave unintended rights to cross-dressing men, that it didn’t matter if they now showed their hand. Ha ha, too late. The strong push-back against GRA reform and the sharp, renewed focus on the Equality Act, suggest they may have miscalculated.
International Women’s Day Statement of Solidarity with Joanna Cherry (and other women abused for speaking out).
Men Supporting Women’s Rights was set up in 2019 to challenge the new expressions of misogyny that have emerged in recent years. We are men from a wide range of backgrounds, sexualities and political opinions drawn together by a shared concern at the very negative implications that extremist ‘gender identity’ ideology has for women and girls. This ideology has, under the guise of ‘progressiveness’ captured powerful institutions across society with alarming speed and with almost no public discussion. The lack of public discussion is a product of fear. Anyone who openly challenges the new orthodoxy is likely to be subjected to a campaign of lies, vilification and threats of violence. As men we see it as important that we stand up and be counted by standing shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with the many courageous women who have defied the bullies and continued to speak the truth.
The most high-profile example in recent times has been the continual harassment, abuse and threats of sexual violence, including death threats, aimed at Joanna Cherry MP. These threats have come from numerous gender ideologues, shockingly some of them fellow members of the SNP. One recent threat from a party member has lead to a criminal investigation and an arrest. This campaign of misogynist bullying targeted at a Lesbian feminist politician has now been going on for years. It is calculated to send a clear message to all women: “Shut up and accept our dictatorial worldview or we will destroy you”.
One of the most appalling aspects of this has been the utter absence of any condemnation of these sickening threats from the leadership of the SNP. Ms. Cherry has received no support, solidarity or offers of protection from her party bosses. Indeed Nicola Sturgeon, who appears willing to stake her reputation on allowing any man to legally self-identify as a woman simply by making a declaration, has made her own thinly-veiled attack on Ms Cherry in a video in which she accused her own party of “transphobia”. And last month’s proposed amendments to the controversial Hate Crime Bill that might have afforded some protection to gender-critical women like Ms Cherry from prosecution for “stirring up hatred” were suddenly abandoned by the Justice Secretary, Humza Yousaf, after more threats from gender fanatics.
We conclude from all this that in effect the most powerful people in Scotland are, through their silence and through their actions, giving support to misogynist thugs who have no respect for women, no respect for free speech and no respect for laws against threatening, violent and abusive behaviour. Men Supporting Women’s Rights believe that this will go down in history as one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the SNP and of Scottish political life.
To mark International Women’s Day the members of Men Supporting Women’s Rights want to make it clear that we are standing in solidarity with Joanna Cherry over this issue. We condemn the behaviour of many so called ‘trans-activists’ in abusing and threatening women. We condemn the cowardice and complicity of her party bosses in failing to stand up for truth and decency. We stand in solidarity with all the women who have suffered abuse for bravely speaking out against the new misogyny that is expressed through an ideology that redefines women’s very existence whilst attempting to deny them even a right of reply. We call on all men to do what they can to stand up for women’s right to maintain long established sex-based legal protections, and to offer their support to women in defining their own existence without being vilified and threatened.
Women Speak Scotland is publishing a ‘Manifesto for Women’s Rights in Scotland’ on International Women’s Day (8 March) ahead of the Holyrood election on 6 May. The Manifesto demands the protection and implementation of women’s human and legal rights. WSS will invite all parliamentary candidates to support it.
The Manifesto affirms women’s sex-based human rights, which are enshrined in international treaties and national legislation. It includes rights related to:
Safety and Privacy
Health and Bodily Autonomy
Freedom of Speech and Association
Fairness in Sport
Freedom from Male Violence and Exploitation
Young Women and Girls
WSS says the Scottish Government must make a commitment to uphold women’s rights, regardless of which party/parties form the next administration. WSS believes the Manifesto is necessary because recent years have seen the gradual erosion of women’s rights. A spokeswoman for the group said “Women have been fighting for our rights for over 100 years but now we are facing a serious backlash. We are seeing the advances we’ve made being watered down or removed one by one. Public bodies and organisations too often dismiss women’s concerns. Many organisations now routinely confuse ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ which has the effect of reducing or removing women’s rights.
“The Scottish Government appears to be mounting an attack on women’s rights. For example, it has recently redefined the term ‘women’ to include men in relation to the Gender Representation on Public Boards Act. The Act was intended to address the historical under-representation of women on these boards, but is seriously undermined by allowing males to take places designated for women.
“The Hate Crime Bill proposed by the Scottish Government is in its final stage and will be debated at Holyrood on Wednesday. WSS is very concerned that the Government is refusing to offer protection to female victims who are attacked because of their sex despite widespread support for this measure. As it stands, the Bill will criminalise women advocating for our sex-based rights, including the maintenance of existing legal rights. So the WSS Manifesto demand for the protection of the right to freedom of speech is essential.
“We seem to be on a slippery slope which risks making women invisible both to the law and in national statistics. For example, there is a suggestion that the next Census in Scotland will not record the population according to our sex, even though this is crucial for planning many services, or identifying inequalities such as the sex pay gap. WSS is determined to reverse this trend and make sure the voices of the majority of women in Scotland are heard.
“Scottish Parliamentary candidates should be aware that women’s votes count – we are nearly 52% of the electorate – and we intend to make sure that women’s rights and concerns are not ignored during this election, nor by the incoming government.
“We also hope the Manifesto will empower those women who aren’t yet confident being involved in politics or activism, to feel able to engage in conversation with candidates in their constituencies, by providing information about some of the most important issues facing us at present.”
Copies of the Manifesto can be downloaded from the WSS website from 8 March onwards.
The Law Commission is carrying out a consultation on reforming the Hate Crime legislation in England and Wales. There are two ways to respond to the consultation – one based on the summary of the consultation paper, and another based on the full consultation paper. The public are invited to respond to either one of them by Thursday, 24 December 2020.
We recommend that you respond to the full consultation if you can as there are some further questions related to transgender identity that are not covered by the summary version. Although most of the questions are quite technical, you do not have to answer every question in either version of the consultation. You can focus on the areas that concern you the most. The online consultation response page allows you to save your progress and return to the form later to continue filling it in.
Questions worth focusing on
This is based on the full consultation paper. Concentrate on the ones that are likely to be used to silence gender critical campaigners and women in general.
The concept of ‘serious emotional harm’ is subjective and open to misuse / abuse (as has already happened – Maya Forstater, Harry Miller, Kate Scottow, J. K. Rowling etc). Provide examples from gender critical contexts and in relation to free speech generally.
Lord Justice Sedley in Redmond-Bate v DPP, for example, stated: “Free speech includes not only the inoffensive but the irritating, the contentious, the eccentric, the heretical, the unwelcome and the provocative… Freedom only to speak inoffensively is not worth having.“
The Scottow v CPS case is also helpful. “The Prosecution argument failed entirely to acknowledge the well-established proposition that free speech encompasses the right to offend, and indeed to abuse another.“ From Maya Forstater’s blog post reviewing the year 2020 (which also lists other cases) – Finally in mid-December, Kate Scottow’s criminal conviction was quashed. The judges declared that the case should never have been prosecuted and the judges reasoning in finding Kate guilty was deficient. They said it would be a “serious interference” with the right of free speech if “those wishing to express their own views could be silenced by, or threatened with, proceedings for harassment based on subjective claims by individuals that felt offended or insulted”.
Question 17 – whether sex workers should be recognised as a hate crime category.
Question 20 – whether philosophical beliefs should be recognised as a hate crime category.
Question 25 – extending the characteristics protected by aggravated offences.
Questions 31 and 32 – proposals that aggravated versions of sexual offences should not be introduced and whether legal test in the context of aggravated offences should cover more than one protected characteristic.
Questions 47 to 52, 54, 55 – related to the offences of ‘stirring up hatred’.
Q: Why is the list of protected characteristics in Equality Act and Hate Crime legislation different? Equality Act deals with civil law while Hate Crime legislation deals with criminal law. It is Parliament that determines what the protected characteristics are, and it appears that different sets of characteristics formed the basis of the two types of legislation as they evolved over time (for example, gender reassignment in Equality Act and transgender status/identity in England & Wales Hate Crime legislation.)
CIVITAS – Policing Hate: Have we abandoned freedom and equality? This report can be used to help answer some of the questions in the consultations. Part 1 describes recent examples of the impact of hate crime legislation on people/groups such as Harry Miller, Safe Schools Alliance and Posie Parker. Part 2 is a detailed analysis of the Law Commission Consultation Paper with a focus on two points in particular: the notion of equality before the law and the challenge to free expression. See also section on Hate Crime Entrepreneurs.
Nordic Model Now! Response to the Law Commission’s hate crime consultation The NMN response focuses on specific areas of the Summary version of the consultation, but their answers can help guide either the full or summary versions of responses. One of the areas of concern is the proposal to extend the hate crime legislation to cover “sex workers” as a protected characteristic.
The Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill is one of the most concerning pieces of legislation proposed by the Scottish Government. It has the potential to criminalise individual women and feminist groups that speak out against the erosion of women’s rights due to gender extremism.
The Free to Disagree campaign gives a brief explanation of why the Bill is problematic.
CIVITAS – Policing Hate: Have we abandoned freedom and equality? Joanna Williams – December 2020 Download Policing Hate PDF By exploring the history, current context and impact of hate crime legislation and drawing upon interviews with academics and campaigners, the report explores the current challenges to equality before the law and free expression. The author concludes that there should be no extension to existing hate speech legislation. The report finds that no special ‘characteristics’ should receive legal protection in a way that violates the principle of equality under the law. The author proposes that groups with a vested interest in presenting their members as victims of hate crime should not influence hate crime legislation. A future inquiry should be held to review all elements of the law that conflict with freedom of speech.
Analysis: What’s next for the hated Hate Crime Bill? Free to Disagree – 16/12/2020 * The government has pledged amendments to strengthen free speech protections in the bill, including on the crucial point of debate around women’s rights and transgender identity. Free speech clauses must be robust, or legitimate debate on various issues could be chilled. * The government has also promised to further-define the term ‘abusive’ in the stirring up hatred offences. * One issue raised in last night’s debate that could be a sticking point is the idea of a ‘dwelling defence’, protecting words spoken in the privacy of the home. This protection is written into parallel hate crime laws in England and Wales. The Justice Committee notes that the Hate Crime and Public Order Bill should primarily be concerned with behaviour in public. But the government seems to disagree with this. Achieving consensus on the issue will be a challenge.
Legislating for hatred against women: the view from the coalface MBM analysis – 04/12/2020 Giving evidence to the Justice Committee on 27 October, the Cabinet Secretary suggested that organisations “at the coalface” were supportive of the approach advocated by the bodies funded at national level to represent women’s interests. In total, therefore, the Scottish Government obtained the views of six groups providing VAW services locally, of which five supported including an aggravator which would cover hatred against women. We realise that the term “coalface organisations”, as used by the Minister, is open to interpretation. Of the other non-governmental organisations attending these meetings, City of Edinburgh Council and the Fife Centre for Equalities supported an aggravator rather than a standalone offence, SACRO did not appear to take a strong line on which should be pursued, while Glasgow City Council preferred a standalone offence. …we think it would be fairer to say that the balance of opinion among those “organisations that represent and work with women at the coalface at a local level” who engaged with the Scottish Government was overwhelmingly in favour of the Bill treating hatred against women on a par with hatred based on other characteristics, with or without further exploration of a standalone offence.
Definition of ‘transgender identity’ in draft hate crime bill What Do They Know FOI request to Scottish Government – 25/10/2020 (Need to analyse and summarise – all correspondence between Scottish Government officials and the following organisations about the definition of ‘transgender identity’ under the draft Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill, prior to the Bill’s introduction in the Scottish Parliament: Equality Network/Scottish Trans Alliance, LGBT Youth Scotland and Stonewall)
In 2016, Nottinghamshire Police introduced a Misogyny Hate Crime policy. An evaluation on the impact of the policy was conducted two years later in 2018, and it highlighted some interesting points.
The Police were able to send a clear public message that behaviour which denigrates, marginalises and disrespects women is never acceptable and would be challenged. It also helped reassure women that these types of behaviours would be treated seriously by the Police if reported. See press release for more details.
Women felt more confident in challenging men who targeted them, as they knew they had the backing of police policy.
Women from BME groups often experienced misogyny hate crime and racial hate crime simultaneously and felt doubly vulnerable to attack.
The Nottinghamshire report did indicate that the use of the term ‘misogyny’ was poorly understood amongst the general public and therefore an alternative name would be a better approach. This indicates that any Hate Crime legislation should implement an easily understood term that makes it clear it is based on the characteristic of sex (and not conflate it with words like ‘gender’). In addition to the legislation, there might be some merit in nationwide campaigns to raise awareness of such laws and enable the general public to understand that hate crime involves the prejudicial targeting of people on the basis of a protected characteristic such as sex, and that it involves an assertion of power over another that is experienced as hostile behaviour rather than a narrow focus on ‘hate’.
Harry Miller vs Humberside Police and the College of Policing – 14/02/2020 High Court Judgement Pages 13-15 describes how a person who does not know Mr Miller, and has never had any interaction with him, managed to take great offence at some of his tweets on the social media platform Twitter. Pages 15-17 details the process of how the ‘victim’ proceeded to complain to the police and which resulted in the creation of a non-crime hate incident without any scrutiny or assessment of the claims being made. A Hate Incident Record was generated against Mr Miller even though there was no crime or evidence of hate.
GCN – 20/11/2020 Community leaders have launched an open letter calling for solidarity for our trans siblings on this Trans Day of Remembrance. Letter signed by organisations such as National Women’s Council of Ireland and Amnesty International. “Let us say unequivocally that the statements of newly launched organisations that seek to defend biology or fight gender identity and expression do not represent the wider LGBTI+ community nor feminists in Ireland. More importantly, they are not organisations at all, they have no governance, no accountability, and are simply Twitter accounts. Further, they are not supported by the wider Irish community.” “We call on media, and politicians to no longer provide legitimate representation for those that share bigoted beliefs, that are aligned with far right ideologies and seek nothing but harm and division. These fringe internet accounts stand against affirmative medical care of transgender people, and they stand against the right to self-identification of transgender people in this country. In summation they stand against trans, women’s and gay rights by aligning themselves with far right tropes and stances. They have attacked LGBT+ education in school, attacked anti-bullying campaigns, and attack access to medical services.” “Sex and gender are both spectrums, and the full beauty of that spectrum must be supported and included.” (Letter indicates self-id has broad societal support and was obtained transparently. Can reference IGLYO and Denton’s document on how self-id was passed in Ireland without public debate and scrutiny.)
The Edinburgh Tab – 27/11/2020 More transphobic stickers have been found on Edinburgh Uni campus This is a good example of how someone (not even a trans person) can take offence at some stickers seen around the area and view them as ‘hate’. The woman mentioned in the article made the statement – “I also think hate speech is not free speech so I had every right to take them down.” There is also another important admission in the article from EUSA’s Trans and Non-Binary Liberation Officer – “Anyone who sees stickers like this should send photos to campus security, so they can be included in ongoing hate crime statistics that are reported to the police.” This shows that people are being encouraged to report to the police any stickers that they personally and subjectively deem to be ‘hateful’ or ‘offensive’ or ‘upsetting’. This will potentially inflate the hate crime statistics. What happens when Hate Crime legislation is brought in and such stickers are viewed as ‘stirring up hatred’?
BBC News – 11/12/2020 Terror trial told of ‘incels’ cyber-culture backing attacks on women This is a very clear (and ongoing) example of a hate crime on the basis of sex by inciting violence against women, and yet because ‘sex’ is not listed as a characteristic in the Hate Crime legislation, this fact will not be used as an aggravating factor during sentencing, nor will this crime be captured in hate crime statistics.