Finding Middle Ground Between Women’s Rights and Transgender Rights

I’ve recently found myself doubting any possibility of there being fair compromise or even middle ground between the rights being claimed by transgender activists, and the existing rights of children, women and homosexuals. This is as much to do with the coherence (or lack thereof) of transgender ideology (despite protests there is no one central ideology, I suggest there is a core belief and what follows from this is largely a matter of degree) as it is to do with the way this ideology is enforced, through silencing debate and now as we have seen, physical violence. My over-arching concern is that most of the negativity of transgender activism, from the colonisation of ‘female’ to the rampant sexism and fetishisation of womanhood pales into insignificance when we look at what transgender activism is doing to children.

The Core Beliefs of Transgender Ideology are Themselves an Obstacle to Compromise

The world of transgender is not a monolith, and there is a huge variety of personal and systemised beliefs, however these seem to follow from the following core beliefs which appear to me to be common to significantly most who claim to be transgender:

  • We all have a ‘gender identity’ which is innate. This ‘gender identity’ can be at odds with the physical embodiment of our sex;
  • This ‘gender identity’ has more weighting to our sex than the  physical embodiment of our sex; and so it follows that
  • ‘Trans women are women and trans men are men’.

The concept of ‘gender identity’ is of course just thoughts and feelings. Rebecca Reilly-Cooper has suggested gender identity is analogous to Wittgenstein’s ‘beetle in the box’ as it has no outward physical manifestation. As similarly argued in Nagel’s ‘How Does it Feel to be a Bat’, “our own mental activity is the only unquestionable fact of our experience”; all we can know is how it feels to be ourself. This is known as subjectivism. The claim to innate gender identity is equivalent to saying humans have a knowable state of whether they are male of female (I would suggest maybe through a dimorphic male/female brain) but this can be independent of biological sex. The corollary to this is that for transgender individuals, personality determines sex.

Philosophical analysis aside, the reality is that the concept of gender identity collapses into the statement ‘trans women are women’, and this is the foundation of most of their other claims to rights, spaces and validity. It is also the single most defended claim in transgender ideology, so much so that no debate is allowed:

This is not a coherent statement and, of course, we are not allowed to challenge the claims that make up this statement, and if we do we are ‘transphobic’. Statements like this are not isolated and they do, if anything, properly represent what has become mainstream ideology: ‘trans women are women, no debate’. The one pleasure I can draw from this idiotic reasoning is it allows me to again reiterate the words of John Stuart Mill and his influence, Harriet Taylor, from chapter two of ‘On Liberty’:

However unwillingly a person who has a strong opinion may admit the possibility that his opinion may be false, he ought to be moved by the consideration that however true it may be, if it is not fully, frequently, and fearlessly discussed, it will be held as a dead dogma, not a living truth.

‘Trans women are women’ is dead dogma. Reading a little further could almost make one believe Mill anticipated the intellectual desert of transgender ideology:

Such persons, if they can once get their creed taught from authority, naturally think that no good, and some harm, comes of its being allowed to be questioned. Where their influence prevails, they make it nearly impossible for the received opinion to be rejected wisely and considerately, though it may still be rejected rashly and ignorantly; for to shut out discussion entirely is seldom possible, and when it once gets in, beliefs not grounded on conviction are apt to give way before the slightest semblance of an argument. Waiving, however, this possibility — assuming that the true opinion abides in the mind, but abides as a prejudice, a belief independent of, and proof against, argument — this is not the way in which truth ought to be held by a rational being. This is not knowing the truth. Truth, thus held, is but one superstition the more, accidentally clinging to the words which enunciate a truth.

If you can’t challenge or debate ideas, you can’t defend them, and this you end up not knowing why you believe what you do: transgender ideology is a faith-based position. Again Mill is our go-to:

If the intellect and judgment of mankind ought to be cultivated, a thing which Protestants at least do not deny, on what can these faculties be more appropriately exercised by any one, than on the things which concern him so much that it is considered necessary for him to hold opinions on them? If the cultivation of the understanding consists in one thing more than in another, it is surely in learning the grounds of one’s own opinions. Whatever people believe, on subjects on which it is of the first importance to believe rightly, they ought to be able to defend against at least the common objections. But, some one may say, “Let them be taught the grounds of their opinions. It does not follow that opinions must be merely parroted because they are never heard controverted. Persons who learn geometry do not simply commit the theorems to memory, but understand and learn likewise the demonstrations; and it would be absurd to say that they remain ignorant of the grounds of geometrical truths, because they never hear any one deny, and attempt to disprove them.”

The reality is that the fundamental problem with much transgender ideology is that it is intellectually indefensible and this is why questioning the central ideas are categorised as hate, thus making sure the intellectual well is well and truly poisoned. If you are categorising disagreement as hate (‘transphobia’): when your central claim is untouchable, unassailable, how can we possibly have any honest or productive discussion or debate? By bullying, ostracising and abusing apostates, isn’t this belief system taking on the characteristics of a religious cult?

Can Trans Women Be Women?

I’ve spoken about this a lot. I think that what it is to be ‘a woman’ is a whole life experience, based upon female reproductive biology and thus living in a world dominated by men. I don’t think that men who are born and male socialised can authentically experience ‘what it is to be a woman’; our authenticity is compromised because of our male biology and our socialisation. This is not a judgement, it’s an observation; we lack the fundamental biological experiences of what makes an adult female and we do not grow up as females in a world of men.

Of course, some of us have the self-awareness to attempt to deconstruct our male socialisation. Nonetheless, the corollary of this defeats any objective of ‘becoming a woman’; having reached that point where we can recognise how our lives are different to the lives of women, the insight we gain from this precludes us from making any claim to being a woman of any kind, rather we can see that the social context of ‘woman’ is based upon the sexism, objectification and oppression that women are born to endure, and that it is a crass appropriation for males socialised as men to emulate this.

Of course, some males are socialised as women and experience what it is like to be a woman in a words dominated by men, these women are those born with CAIS (complete androgen insensitivity syndrome); they are perceived as female throughout their lives even though they are chromosomally male and lack a female reproductive system. CAIS women are a great example of how ‘gender identity’ is unlikely to be innate. These women usually find their shocking truth in their teenage years, having lived and been perceived as girls and women since birth. Instances of CAIS women becoming transgender males are rare.

Why we can’t have nice things

The axiom of transgender ideology is that ‘trans women are women’ and this is unassailable. In the real world, the effect of this is to mean that males should be granted rights as females even though they are males who are sexually oriented towards females and usually have a functioning male reproductive system (a PENIS).

What could possibly go wrong, other than convicted rapists being put into the female prison estate, or predatory males gaining access to vulnerable women in accommodation for victims of sexual abuse? This happens, and it’s a direct result of laws based on the liberal fancy and fantasy of gender identity. We also have a new wave of testosterone-fuelled younger transgender activists who cannot defend their arguments who instead rely on violent rhetoric and abuse instead of a coherent argument.

It is a huge problem in that the price of bringing representatives of the transgender ideological position to debate is often set as the presupposition that ‘trans women are women’. This position is dogma, and it is impossible to have a fair discussion about the rights conflict of women and transgender males without recognising differences.

Women are being put in an unfair position by males who are claiming to be women despite having benefitted from living a good proportion of their lives as men. There is not just an absense of commonality of experience, there is an absense of reality and, ironically, empathy; for men who seek to become what they love, they sure don’t give two fucks about women. This ideology is being used to attack women and instrumentalise women against each other. What more evidence does anyone need to how malignant the men’s sexual rights activism of transgenderism is?

The Solution

I’m going to be bold here and present this as a solution, mainly as I’ve written, talked and argued about how to fix transgender ideology incessantly for years. We need to recognise that:

  • human beings are sexually dimorphic mammals;
  • ‘transwomen’ are biologically male (if we aren’t, then what do we transition from/to?);
  • human beings are subjected to sex-based socialisation which begins at birth (what does this say about transwomen who cannot accept this?);
  • the lives of transwomen are different to the lives of women (by this I mean women born women, again what does this say about transwomen who cannot accept this?); and
  • rape and death threats directed at lesbians and other feminists are wholly unacceptable.

Furthermore:

  • disagreement is not hate, on the contrary, it is how our ideas and communities evolve;
  • where there is disagreement, please stop ‘poisoning the well’ by making accusations of genocide or other histrionics;
  • lesbians are not bigots for declining males as sexual partners, whether pre- or post-operative;
  • we need debate and this be based on facts, not lies about suicide rates and ideation, or murder rates; and
  • transgender activism must stop instrumentalising children and in particular young lesbians.

We need to have this conversation. We need to get past the bullies and the bigots. Let’s make it happen.

18 Responses to “Finding Middle Ground Between Women’s Rights and Transgender Rights”

  • DavidM

    Miranda, you are a beacon of reason in a sea of madness. This article needs to be spread far and wide.

  • Tim Bennett

    My 11 year old trans daughter is not,and never has been socialised as a male to any real extent, nor is she being coerced in any way,just accepted. She shows no sign of being gay,or confused. I’m concerned about her vulnerability, she is no threat to the girls in her school and never will be,but is at great risk herself and will increasingly be so, both as a teenage girl,a woman, and as transgender.

    • Una-Jane Winfield

      Please go to Transgendertrend.com. Stephanie Davies-Arai has written careful analysis of trans cult in schools and the dangerous nonsense coming from transactivists. She is full of practical compassion and good sense for parents who question the transgender narrative for their children. Please look at her links (right hand side) including: gendercriticaldad, Dr Kenneth Zucker and 4thwavenow.

    • Darleen

      I wish your daughter well. However, I would argue that she is being socialised as a transitioning male by those in her immediate circles. Your daughter will never become female. Your daughter will always be trans. That’s fine, there’s nothing wrong with being trans.

    • Zara Smith

      You have a feminine son. He is male and always will be. It is ok for a male to exhibit what society currently artificially categorizes as femininity. It does not make your male son a female daughter. Your son is not a girl and never will be. This is a lie. He lies to himself and you lie to him. Truth is that he is a feminine male.

  • Renee Radclyffe

    Most trans women have grown up in a male dominated world and have had the perks that go along with being male, so how do you retrain your brain to be female. You have never gone through the horrible things women have. You want to say you’re a woman because you’ve transitioned, but as long as you cling to your penis, you are not a woman. My opinion of course.

  • Renee Radclyffe

    Most trans women have grown up in a male dominated world and have had the perks that go along with being male, so how do you retrain your brain to be female. You have never gone through the horrible things women have. You want to say you’re a woman because you’ve transitioned, but as long as you cling to your penis, you are not a woman. My opinion of course. This is not a duplicate comment.

  • Nina

    Even in the (surprisingly rare) case of bottom surgery they’re still not women. A woman isn’t just a lack of maleness or a lack of a penis or a lack of anything, we have our own unique qualities that transwomen just don’t have. It’s pretty bad for us if we allow the idea that if someone misses the typically-understood requirements of manhood hard enough (cut off your penis! wear a dress!) then they get put in the “woman” bucket, because women are more than just “failed men”. I know this isn’t what you meant. But by any sensible definition, someone born with male parts and socialized as a boy cannot be a woman. If Caitlyn Jenner got bottom surgery tomorrow, Cait’d still be just as much of a creep as ever.

  • Calabash

    This is great, Miranda!

    I was thinking about this recently too, and will try to put my thoughts here as best as possible:

    There are many axes of oppression (and corresponding axes of privilege), correct? Basically, these describe the hierarchies at work in the modern world. Now, of course, there are MANY, but the main ones are:

    Sex
    Sexual orientation
    Gender
    Race
    Class
    Ability

    The first three are obviously related. Now, gender identity proponents say that gender identity is real, and some people have intersex brains, if you will. Those who call themselves feminists decry gender roles and the gender hierarchy and differentiate between gender identity and gender roles.

    However, gender as it stands right now is a harmful system–it’s systematized and forced upon people to control women, female sexuality and reproductive capacity.

    Those who are working for the liberation of women from the harms of gender first of all do not have the responsibility of researching whether gender is real, and also explaining to everyone how it doesn’t mean men’s and women’s roles are sanctified (that is, that gender is real, but gender roles are false; that any gendered behavior should not be given valuation, etc). This is *not* our responsibility.

    Also, we can *never* trust men as a class until the end of patriarchy; therefore, we cannot trust any male who says he is female. QED, right? It’s that simple.

    We *should not be expected to accept members of the oppressor class transitioning into our oppressed class,* much less forced to legally accept this, *even if some of those people are collateral damage of the self-same system designed to oppress us.* This is not our fault and maintaining the distinction between women and trans women is a necessity *because of patriarchy.* Raising class consciousness is one of the most important things we need to do as feminists–the awareness that women are oppressed for our biology–and this is hard enough without female erasure (although ironically, some women are having their eyes opened to the truth about female oppression, and are being introduced to radical feminism, because of the insanity of trans demands and particularly because of the term “TERF”…many women who would never have read radical feminist texts find themselves reading Dworkin and MacKinnon because of this slur, so thanks, feminist-phobic trans activists, I guess).

    Furthermore, gay people are also hurt by the trans cause, because there is pressure on GNC gay people to transition, and on gay people (particularly on lesbian women) to accept opposite-sex same-gender partners. By being a part of the LGB movement, trans people are also taking resources from/centering themselves in the conversation there, too.

    Basically, gender as an axis of oppression *absent sex or sexual orientation* (say, a straight male who claims to be a lesbian woman) is the only axis of oppression that arises from two others (gender as a construct arises from misogyny–from a system designed to keep women in their place–and from homophobia–sexual minorities must also be kept in their place, so nobody gets any ideas about the roles of men and women, or about liberating women). Even if you believe in gender identity and don’t believe that dysphoria is caused by early socialization into rigid gender roles (conditioning which begins from the moment we’re born, as you state) or from internalized homphobia or homophobic social pressures, the fact is it’s the only axis of oppression that causes conflicts of interest for two other oppressed groups (women and gays)–it is, itself, oppressive (in its current iteration).

    To add another axis of oppression, and perhaps the original hierarchy and therefore the most overlooked (as sexism is so often overlooked because it’s such a part of the fabric of reality, it’s hard to see): childism.

    Childism is prejudice or discrimination against and oppression of children. The parent/child hierarchy is the founding hierarchy of our lives and of our societies…the way we handle raising children as a society–the way we view and treat children–says everything about our other hierarchies and institutions, and within Western societies we view children as the property of their parents (for the most part), and of the state (forcing school, for example), and treat them pretty terribly.

    Again, this gender-based axis of oppression and its resulting ideology–the gender identity movement–requires impinging and infringing on children’s rights, as well.

    No other oppressed group does this (oppresses other oppressed groups via its demands).

    Also, there is another difference between the demands of this particular oppressed group and the demands of other oppressed groups. Other oppressed groups make basic demands: no more violence directed at them, no more prejudice or discrimination in the workplace or in public, access to food, shelter, and services, equal treatment under the law, and so on.

    Trans activists, by asking that trans women receive protections and be accepted into spaces, teams, and scholarships set aside for women (and vice versa for trans men and men’s spaces, teams and scholarships, though obviously men have a whole lot less to lose in this fight than women), are asking something more: they are asking that we collectively suspend our disbelief and accept their claims of being the opposite sex. They are asking for us to accept something contrary to material reality (that males can be women, or females can be men). Try as they might, sexists and racists have not found any evidence for intrinsic superiority of men or of whites; but we *know* there is a biological difference between males and females, and the idea of “gender identity” is unproven.

    Even if it *were* real (the existence of gender identity), we can’t blanket accept all males who say they are females for the reasons outlined above. Also, *because* of the patriarchy and the differences between men and women, there are seemingly quite a few males who want to transition to being “trans women” because of fetishes, because of a pornographic idea of what women are/the belief that women *are* sex (I think gay males who transition do this as well as autogynephiles–hypersexualize themselves post-transition/see women as being receptacles for male desire and male sexual acts), because they don’t see women as real people but as a collection of stereotypes, out of obsession with one’s object of desire/the desire to colonize womanhood, or even out of an obsessive hatred of women (Liam Madigan seems like one such man–he identified as an MRA up until recently, and thought of himself as a “Rosa Parks”-like hero for protesting against women-only scholarships and spaces back when he was a man). We seem unable to talk about this fact…no doubt some of these men *have* faced horrific bullying for being gay or for being gender non-conforming. That doesn’t make them not sexist, and doesn’t make what they’re doing not right, or harmless.

    The reason that radical feminism does not accept men as feminist, as is not okay with men jumping on board feminist movements (say, the #metoo hashtag campaign) has to do not only with the potential for derailment and the fact that women have historically had to do everyone’s emotional labor (basically, men need to make their own campaigns against male-on-male sexual violence, or the whole thing becomes ridiculous), but because, if we allow men into feminism, here are the three dangers:

    1) From well-meaning men socialized male under patriarchy:

    Men will come and begin centering themselves and their issues under patriarchy/will complain the loudest/will say only *their* ideas are good and will try to control everything/will steal women’s ideas and reframe them as their own/will talk over women;

    2) From resentful men with ulterior motives:

    Men will come in and begin sabotaging and undermining the movement while gaslighting and otherwise abusing women into going along with it;

    3) From predatory men:

    Men will come in and not give a damn about the movement, they will be performative and say all the right things in order to more easily lull their prey into a false sense of security, and reel them in.

    These are the fears we have about men being a part of feminist activism (you can see *all* of these things happening when men get involved, in liberal feminism, which has now become an anti-feminist male sexual rights movement calling itself “feminism”), which is why we ask that male radical feminist-oriented people call themselves “allies,” and why we ask that they do their own organizing to fight against the harms of patriarchy which disproportionately affect men.

    We can *also* see all three of these things happening with transgender people (more specifically, the trans women pushing the ideology). They have *also* colonized liberal feminism, as well as the LGBTQ movement; they have centered themselves in *everything* (in conversations about violence against women, in conversations about violence against gay people, in conversations about discrimination, in everything); they have made themselves the only axis of oppression that matters (there might as well not even be intersectional feminism, as really being trans is the worst oppression, at least that’s the impression I get); they have appropriated right and left (their entire identity is based on appropriation), while warping the concepts of intersectionality and identity politics, originally designed to help black women/black people, beyond all recognition; they have become trans to undermine women and take women’s scholarships and roles (like Liam Madigan); they have sabotaged women’s rights and gay rights; and there is ample evidence that there are a lot of male to female predators in the trans community who transitioned as a part of a predatory fetish or to provide cover for their predatory activities (mostly aimed at women and children).

    I agree that using children in this fight is absolutely abominable, as well.

    Basically, the severely personality-disordered are running this movement, and the movement has gained a lot of social and political traction for a variety of reasons, and is being politically condoned because it’s actually rather regressive and conservative (it threatens women’s rights and gay rights, which is fine with a lot of powerful people); the truly dysphoric will also be casualties when people finally get sick of this bullshit, so it’s not helping them, either. The whole thing is utterly toxic.

    So, what to do about it, is the question of the hour, right? How can it be fixed?

    I personally believe that if another trans rights movement were to be founded, they would need to maintain the distinction between trans women and women (and trans men and men, for consistency’s sake), they would need to lobby for gender-neutral facilities, and for trans sports teams and scholarships, as well as lobbying against violence against trans people and discrimination at work and in public; they would need to be very clear that transitioning should *only happen in cases of severe, long-term dysphoria,* to avoid it becoming gay conversion therapy, or an impulsive decision made by a person with a different mental illness or disorder, because of a fad; they should make sure everyone knows no hormones and no surgery is fine, but again, that there are trans women and women, or trans men and men (or they could call themselves simply “gender non-conforming” men and women–no need for the 36 flavors of gender); if they insist on sticking with the reality of “gender identity,” they should it make it their mission to educate people on the difference between gender identity and gender roles/the gender hierarchy, and make it clear they don’t support the latter; and, as far as feminism goes, trans women, like men, would be allies, not members of the movement.

    Basically, I think to be a truly progressive movement (instead of a regressive movement/oppressive movement/sexual rights movement for men) they would need to do what the second wave did for women, and lobby for trans spaces and services (I’m sure feminists and LBGers would be happy to help, if there are not enough trans people to lobby for themselves). That’s the only way I can see this being a progressive movement.

    Sorry for the epically long comment, I love your work, Miranda!

  • Lesley Farrington

    Even where women are ready to accept gender realigned women as ‘women’, which I believe is a great concession, you still get grief as why should they have to ‘prove’ it? Why should they even have to do it any way? You then reply, ok but at least you have to have significant lived experience as women, which would maybe a concession too far, especially in positions where they are representing women, such as the current (non) debate in the Labour Party. No that is not enough because ‘trans women are women’ and people who do not agree are ‘bigots’ , ‘terfs’ or a bit stupid… especially women like you who’d never heard the term before now and don’t know what the fuck all those acronyms mean. Well who is allowed to to represent me as a woman, an up until a few days ago a later middle-aged grandad who has decided he’s a woman and has no intention of ever going through surgery? ‘Yes, a trans woman is a woman. We are the most oppressed, yours is straw man argument, probably because you are a stupid straight woman, who knows nothing.I cannot even be bothered calling you Terf, now F off before I really start’.

  • Zara Smith

    People like Miranda who accept their male biology and their “feminine” personality are more adjusted and healthy because they accept themselves whole. They don’t pretend to be what they are not – neither a biological women, nor a “masculine” man. There is no conflict with women and men like Miranda. Some other trans spend so much time denying their biology to be something they are not. No amount of hormones or plastic surgery will change a male into a female, or female into a male. Only can artificially resemble the other sex as close as possible. So they live a lie and easily crumble when others point out the lie. Their body is a secret they desperately hide. People like Miranda do not live a lie and so do not crumble when a biological fact about him is pointed out. This is radical self acceptance.

    The following is real is true:
    -a man is an adult human male
    -a woman is an adult human female
    -Everything else is ones own personality expressing itself

    -a man and a woman in a relationship is a heterosexual relationship between two people of opposite sex

    -a man and a man in a relationship is a homosexual relationship between two men, between two people of the same sex
    -a man and a transwoman in a relationship is a homosexual relationship between a man and a feminine man, between two people of the same sex
    -a man and a transman in a relationship is a heterosexual relationship between a man and a masculine woman, between two people of the opposite sex

    -a woman and a woman in a relationship is a homosexual relationship between two women, between two people of the same sex
    -a woman and a transwoman in a relationship is a heterosexual relationship between a woman and a feminine man, between two people of the opposite sex
    -a woman and a transman in a relationship is a homosexual relationship between a woman and a masculine woman, between two people of the same sex

    • Zara Smith

      Trans people try their very hardest spending their lives trying to be “cisgender” and making others believe they are”cisgender,” not just to pass as “cisgender.”

      That is why they say things like transwomen are women and transmen are men. They don’t really want to be known as trans but be considered no different from “cis.”

  • Zara Smith

    Transgenderism is in direct conflict with homosexuality, heterosexuality, and “cisgender” bisexuality.

    HomoSEXuals are attracted to people of the same SEX who identify with their own sex.

    Thus Homosexuality is inherently transphobic according to transactivism because it excludes people of the opposite sex regardless of how they identify.

    HeteroSEXuals are attracted to people of the opposite SEX who identify with their own sex.

    Thus Heterosexuality is inherently transphobic according to transactivism because it excludes people of the same sex regardless of how they identify.

    BiSEXuals are people who are attracted to both sexes who identify with their own sex. Bisexuality is inherently transphobic according to transactivism because though they are attracted to people with both genitals it is in “cisgendered” form.

    The only sexuality that is not inherently transphobic according to transactivists is being “queer” or “pansexual.”

    Or homosexuality has to be redefined as homoGENDERAL, heterosexuality has to be redefined as heteroGENDERAL, and bisexuality has to be redefined as biGENDERAL in order to not be considered transphobic to transactivists.

  • Zara Smith

    The definition of woman and man has changed. Both woman and man can be a person of either sex. Girl and boy also now have changed and can be a person of either sex.

    We no longer have a word for adult human female, nor a word for adult human male.

    We no longer have a word for adolescent human female, nor adolescent human male.

    Lesbian and gay definitions have also changed. A lesbian now is a person of either sex who is attracted to the gender role of women. A gay man now is a person of either sex who is attracted to the gender role of a man.

    We no longer have a word for adult human female homosexual, nor a word for adult human male homosexual.

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