I realised the other day that some of my pro trans content is misunderstood- some people believe I’m a trans man, which I honestly don’t mind because being trans isn’t a bad thing. But I’m not trans; I just stand with trans people. I stand with trans people because I have a few friends who are trans and I know more trans people who seem very decent, and because once you listen to trans people talk about their lives, their experiences, it would take an extraordinary amount of cynicism to doubt their sincerity. I know gender critical people too, and some of the vitriol that comes so easily to them casts no doubt in my mind that they aren’t decent, and even if they are their obsession with demonising trans people is twisting that into irrelevance.
The arguments that lesbian activist group “Get the L out” make all revolve around circumlocutive explainers of their distaste of trans people. “We don’t like men, we dont like penises” and so on and so on- using the veneer of obvious statement to legitimise obvious transphobia because transgender women aren’t men. If anyone is trying to tell you you simply must date a woman with a penis, those people aren’t of the same ilk as the majority of my trans friends.
The accusations groups like this endlessly cast at trans people are stupid: What person in their right mind do you know who would force upon others the notion that they HAVE to date them or else? The only group I know who do this are… ah, cisgender (aka not trans) men, the men who lurk in bars and proposition women who clearly look uncomfortable at being approached- and it is this insidious comparison of trans female and cis male behaviour that has become so disturbing.
This paralleling is reductive, and will always miss the broader point: Blaming a different demographic for the behaviour of another is a surefire way to continue to propagate that behaviour. That in itself is troubling, but the increasing desperation of gender critical people to prove their ideology is correct has made for horrifying allyships- so to those who believe what Get the L out have to say- all I can say in reply is: Wake the L up.
Let’s get this plain: I dont want the L out. L’s dont want the L out. But people in Get the L out want the L out- so go. Nobody is stopping you, quite the opposite, we actively don’t want bigots in our marches: you don’t “have to” like trans people any more than you “have to” like gay people or people of colour. You’re entitled to be small minded: should you be is a different question. If you keep quiet about it you won’t have an issue- but being offended at being told not to say you don’t like a certain demographic is pretty comical. Saying “I don’t like trans people” is, frighteningly, socially acceptable right now- apply that to any other minority group and people would recoil with shock. This societal malfeasance around trans people is an oversight that will correct with time- people in the future will study this time period in shock at how blithe transphobia is right now. But a key point to remember is this: the people you don’t like also don’t have to treat that dislike, however muted or obnoxiously loud it is, with a wink, a smile, or good grace.
You’re allowed to wrap both hands around the handle of bigotry- but the second you wield it in malice against others, you’ll face repercussions. The fact that this is a shocking concept to people is utterly bizarre.
Transphobic accounts abounds online- anonymous twitter profiles with XXWOMBYN400 will blithely insult trans people with the same ridiculous arguments that have been answered ad nauseam. “What if a man pretends to be a woman, dresses up and goes into a toilet and rapes someone” we’re asked, as though pro trans people are thrilled with this idea. But my immediate response is- what the fuck does that have to do with trans women? That is the behaviour of a cis man- the theoretical behaviour of a cis man- and you’re ascribing it to trans women because-why? And throwing shocking and horrifying terms like, and stories of, rape don’t dissuade people from having the conversation- I myself am a victim of rape- not once, multiple times. Throwing for instance nonsense about rape at me isn’t as important as actual proven instances of it- and how we avoid those.
If you point the stark differences between trans women and cis men out, this is where the delineation between the oft chanted “just women with concerns” and open transphobia becomes plain. If you parallel trans women and cis men, its the open admission that you don’t believe trans women act as their own specific group with their own specific behaviours- and the very act of transitioning, be it socially and or medically, is it’s own divergence from cis het male behaviour. You don’t have to “believe” trans women are women to note that people who decide to socially transition are not of the same ilk as people who don’t. And why on earth would trans women endure a society as openly vitriolic as ours is right now just to enter women’s spaces? And, why would cis men embarrass themselves by pretending to be trans just for some sexual kicks when they don’t need to. Look at any city center on a Saturday night at the pissed up straight cis men who think it’s funny to throw on a dress for a lark. Those men aren’t doing it for sexual kicks, they’re doing it because cis straight men are a law unto themselves- literally.
Stop coddling cis het men
Shocking notion here but- society coddles cis men (including gay ones like myself, though I also posit that we endure different social pressures & therefore face different arms of the same problem).
Literally today, I saw a video of a straight cis man, wearing a rainbow tutu saying to a girl and her boyfriend “flash your boobs for pride!” the girl, naturally uncomfortable, says no to which the guy says “so you don’t support gay people?”
The comments for that video were full, and I mean full, of people saying “see- gay men are just as misogynistic as straight ones”. And yet- two seconds of research would show that the guy with the mic in that video is, in fact, a heterosexual man.
In another example, internet piss-storm and misogynistic shitpipe Andrew Tate is everywhere, all the time, mouthing off about women, and he has also had some choice words about gay people and trans people- and people online will debate for HOURS about how men like Andrew Tate who has openly admitted that he “only talks to women if he can fuck them” are gay gay gay.
Unfortunately for the hard of thinking amongst us, the parallel of not wanting to fuck women must mean that gay men hate women right? I also hate glass bottomed lifts and yet thats not because I don’t want to fuck one.
The sad truth is, many straight men and a worrying proportion of gay men have misogynist thinking baked into them by growth in a society that just doesn’t raise men right- this isn’t to exculpate these men from this type of thinking, by the way. Even I, who used to think I was a feminist and a good ally to women, had much thinking and behaviour to unpick and I try to do that work to the best of my abilities. The problem, though, is that society has hard wired into us the idea that straight men are just wandering the world on autopilot, totally out of control of their behaviour. A girl walks past in a revealing dress and gets groped? A dizzying proportion of people will say “I mean why was she wearing that” and not “why is he out in public if he can’t control himself”.
This same logic utterly pervades the gender critical movement, though rather than being woven in like knitting, large and observable, it’s threaded in like needlepoint and only noticeable when you pick at it.
So- what IF a man dresses up as a woman and sneaks into a woman’s space? Well, then he’s using a space he doesn’t have a legal right to, and he’s doing so for nefarious purposes: that man should be punished legally to the full extent the law allows to prevent it- there is a gulf of problematic behaviour between there, and a trans woman popping into a public bathroom to urinate. And what if a trans woman sexually assaults someone? Then she should be punished to the full extent the law allows because- and I know, shocking concepts everywhere today – anyone being a creep to anyone is bad.
Eternal word-twister Helen Staniland was recently asked why a trans woman quietly using a changing room, unseen, undetected even by the people around her would be problematic. Staniland replied something to the effect of “one could also say the same of a woman who was recorded without her consent- if she doesn’t know, what’s the harm”.
One is a person existing in a space they’re entitled to use, to try on clothes which is the purpose the facilities were built for and who doesn’t intend to circumvent anyone’s boundaries or invade anyone’s personal space- one is a crime and an invasion of privacy which carries a custodial sentence- it’s not even the comparison of apples and oranges, it’s the comparison of an apple and a Typhoon FGR4 fighter jet.
Staniland and those like her are hypocrites of the highest order- they accuse transgender people of disgusting acts which quite often they themselves carry out. Staniland is well known for asking people if they are happy to campaign for male born people with a penis to use women’s facilities, and refuses to accept the answer “if they are trans, yes”. But I’m also confused as to why Staniland et al are so keen to stalk changing rooms, verifying strangers genitals as up to their expectations- Staniland even zoomed into the crotch of a counter-protester in Bristol recently and accused them of having an erection. Sorry to break it to the gender critical movement, but some people just have penises which take up space in our trousers and do occasionally show through- but if you think merely possessing a penis is provocative that is very much for you to untangle with several bouts of therapy- not the least because, according to you, the inversion of a penis doesn’t mitigate the threat of it’s existence. Some people see the ownership of a penis as equivalent to the ownership of a gun, but a penis isn’t a weapon unless it’s used that way, the same way a monkey wrench isn’t a weapon unless you club someone around the head with it. It’s not the physicality of owning a penis one needs to worry about, it’s the intent of the owner and to cast all trans people as dangers just because of their genitals is a ridiculous argument.
The very idea that anti trans people see trans people’s mere existence as a transgression against themselves is the reason I’ve become so deeply concerned about the path down which the anti trans groups are wandering. Pushing the idea that it’s as offensive to exist in tandem to someone as it is to nefariously record them without their permission is fallacious- and eagerly swallowed down by gender critical supporters of all calibres because of course that’s what trans people are doing, why they’re transitioning. It’s not because trans people just want to use facilities like you do- they’re nefarious by nature, clearly…
This leads me on, though, to a point I feel the ardent supporters of groups like Get the L out don’t consider: the call is coming from next door right now, but it won’t be long til it’s coming from inside the house.
`Let us say that gender critical people “win”. Trans women are wholesale BANNED from women’s spaces (how you would even police this is insane; at my own gym, there are many women who I honestly couldn’t tell you are cisgender or not. Genital inspection? A quick DNA test on the door?)
Lets say they do it- NO MORE TRANS WOMEN IN WOMEN’S SPACES! Congrats my lesbian cis-ters, you win.
How long til it’s you? After all, trans women can be straight (aka like men) or be gay or bi. But lesbians always like women… and isn’t it dangerous to have someone who is sexually arrest by women in women’s spaces…? How far away from “I don’t want to share my space with predatory men pretending to be women” is the argument “I don’t want to share my bathroom with a woman who thinks other women are sexy”. Do you think the trans people will be booted out into a magic third space that will cost the taxpayer a fortune, or even into the mens spaces you’re so convinced they belong to, and the movement against progress will just disappear? Or do you think that there won’t suddenly be stats about lesbian and gay sexual assaults used as justification for the same rhetoric against us?
Ah, let me guess! “It doesn’t happen” right?
This is when I’m extra glad it’s Get the L out who did this- you may remember Get the L out from a certain BBC article last year.
Get the L out were surveyed by the BBC, who wrote an article intimating that some lesbians feel pressured into having sex with trans women (pressuring anyone into sex, ever, is wrong- is this controversial news?). Get the L out provided a survey, asked to their own (already transphobic) members, about whether they felt pressured into sex with trans women- which is a bit like asking a pub full of tories whether you think Boris Johnson seems like a decent chap: You know the answer you’re going to get.
But do you know who else was interviewed? A lesbian named Lily Cade- who not only went on, after this article, to write a detailed blog post about how trans people should be lynched and their families gang raped- but who was already notorious herself, our little cisgender lesbian Lily- for sexually assaulting women in bathrooms. Cade’s contribution was removed when it came to light that she was a serial assaulter of other women and that she had written a blog post calling for trans genocide- but the damage was done, the article had already been read en masse by those whose minds were shaped by it.
Far be it from me to use the phrase “strange bedfellows” but it seems to me that if you want to argue against trans inclusion in women’s spaces because you’re scared of women being raped, you might not want to side with a literal serial rapist.
We’re so far past “reasonable concerns”
The overarching problem here is that gender critical thinking, to an outsider, can be made to sound reasonable and moderate- and that’s why the movement presents certain faces as it’s front runners- Joanne Rowling, a children’s book writer who just has very normal reasonable concerns about mens behaviour because of her horrific past with men (note- men, not trans women). But if Rowling is the stone upon which the gender critical movement grows under, it only takes turning that stone over to expose the rot beneath; Rowling has even scribed a new book about being a person who gets hounded online, but never decries any of the hateful people she herself has endorsed. Magdalen Burns was one of the earlier gender critical activists on twitter- Burns is well known for this, mostly because her tweet telling trans people they are “blackface actors” still does the rounds every time her name s invoked to defend gender critical speakers. Or how about another well know gender critical, this one from the LGBT+ community itself, who is someone Rowling has passed warm regards to repeatedly.
Dennis Kavanaugh is a gay man and gender critical supporter. He is also a man who said he “preferred AIDS” to trans people’s existence, because at least AIDS just killed gay people and didn’t convert them. Kavanaugh was kicked from twitter for stating these vitriolic nonsense views but after a campaign was reinstated- Rowling warmly welcomed him back. From his suspension. For giving AIDS a nostalgic glance…
Or there’s Caroline Farrow, who recently said a crossing which was coloured in the trans flag colours almost caused her to run people over- the stark difference of white lines and white, pink and light blue lines must have been shocking to her eyes I’m sure. But Farrow is also known for touting her views about our community- she’s campaigned against gay marriage, spoken out about gay and lesbian adoption, she’s known for using the word f*ggot on twitter but framing it as anything but the slur she means it as.
Farrow was recently comforted by Rowling, saying she felt bullied by the community she has habitually moved against. Rowling sent her hugs.
There is also the very obvious conclusion that Rowling chose the name Robert Galbraith for her pen name with no hint of irony that she was pretending to be a different gender to access the known privileges of men despite not being part of the group, along with Galbraith being the creator of one of the mid-century forms of Conversion Therapy, AKA torture for gay people.
This is the reality of what anti trans people endorse, and much like any sort of MLM or cult there are levels. Nobody starts off as deranged as stating that AIDS is good or that gay people are mentally unwell- again, it starts off as “they’re letting MEN use WOMEN’S spaces”, “they’re forcing us to use chest feeding instead of breast feeding”- that’s the right wing reactionary playbook. Use shocking statements as if they’re fact and build on it, as a spider does a coccoon- before you know it, you’re trapped.
Gender critical thinking is a pathway to radicalisation.
All of this is what these groups- LGB alliance, Get the L out, and so on and so on are either unwittingly or- as I suspect, very wittingly, are pushing: the demonisation of transgender people feeds into a very rational fear of non trans men, to whom accusations and blame stick as successfully as oil in a hot pan. But the lack of nuance, the intentional misstep of ignoring the huge chasm of difference- whether you believe trans people are who they say or not- between a trans woman and a cis man, is the sort of hilariously glib oversight that would be funny if it wasn’t so deeply, deeply dangerous. Whilst the world rages against trans women for existing, cis men can continue their downward march into Andrew Tate’s male supremacy videos, spiking, wilful misrepresentation of consent and more- if you want to deal with those problems, get mad at the offenders.
Mayhaps you still need to be convinced.
Trans women and drag queens are two very different groups. Trans women are trans women, and it’s fair to say that the vast majority of drag queens are cis gay men.
Recently in Leeds there was a protest by quite literal fascist group “Patriotic Alternative” who showed up in laughably small numbers despite Leeds being their founding city, to protest a drag queen reading a story book to children at the library. They were so desperate to protect children that they set off a fire alarm, terrifying children, to do so. Why? Their rationale is that dressing in drag is provocative, sexual and inappropriate and is essentially paedophilic in nature.
Let’s unpack that. A gay man in a dress surrounded by parents and children is somehow being paedophilic by reading a book to children. Why? Is it the dress, the makeup? If so, it’s hardly a progressive feminist standpoint to agree with- do you think makeup and dresses are innately sexual or sexy? Is showing skin? Is dressing up as a female impressionist somehow sexual? I’ve done drag myself and I can assure you it’s not sexy- having a comb stabbing me in the temple, losing feeling in my toes for 4 months because of the heels, abrasions where the bra cut in, being unable to move my face because my eyebrows are glued down and covered with concealer… it’s not sexy in the slightest- it’s fun, it’s escapist and I did it to pay homage to my favourite metal singer- if anything it fits in with the carefree nature of children who don’t associate anything sinister because they simply don’t know about it. There is, as I keep reiterating, a huge difference between a drag queen calling a gay man a tart for having his nipples out in a gay bar, and a drag queen reading children a book. The only people guilty of sexualising are the creeps outside with “stop grooming our kids” written on their signs- and I have to tell you, if you see a drag queen as sexy you may well be closer to the LGBT+ than you think.
But this is more proof- because gender critical people agree with Patriotic Alternative and have indeed arranged their own protests against drag queen story time, stating that drag is parodying womanhood rather than simple gender bending, an act that’s taken place since gender constructs didn’t have a name but were as well known as any other type of socialised behaviour. They’re entitled to that view- but endorsing the slippery slope argument of literal fascists and ignoring the connotations that you’re stepping deftly over the line from “just womanly concerns” into “I hate several letters in the LGBT+” is another reason I’m stupefied that the number of people brazenly admitting they align with these beliefs continues to slowly edge up.
A reporter from a radical feminist group attended the rally against patriotic alternative and condemned both sides as just as bad as each other- despite the LGBT+ side cheering children and parents, reading out supportive messages and, and I can’t reiterate this enough- protesting against literally fascist people. Nothing like “fine people on both sides”ing an argument where one side is gay, lesbian, bi, trans, non binary and every other letter of our family and the other side are white supremacists- by all means feel free to socialise with some of those fine PA supporting men- but remember at the start when I mentioned straight men who cross people’s boundaries…?
This piece is a warning to the people I can’t stand to address directly because I have such a low opinion of them: if you’re LGBT+ and gender critical, you’re gleefully signing your own death warrant. You don’t have to accept and love trans people, but you sure as shit have to respect their existence- not the least because it’s the decent thing to do- because if you don’t you’re paving the path for your own struggles, and if you’re too blind to see it, take a look at your allies left and right. Some prominent “gender critical” thinkers:
Matt Walsh who hates trans people, and thinks women shouldn’t work, and cheerfully calls himself “fascist”
Ben Shapiro who has regularly stated he thinks women are inferior to men
Vladimir Putin who fosters the idea that gay people being murdered in Russia is fine because we’re equivalent to dogs
Jordan Peterson, a man who, when cornered about the comparison of racist and homophobic thinking, realised in real time how wrong he was- and still espouses those views
Joe Rogan a human cigarette packet who hates everyone who isn’t a straight white man with veins popping out of his forehead
As I said before, strange bedfellows: all men who think women are inferior to men (all of them have either directly or indirectly said as much), all of them who think gay people are disgusting- keep working with them, I’m sure they’re definitely wrong about racism, sexism, having sex with younger women, homophobia and male supremacy- but somehow right about transphobia.
When we’re all walled off, taken away from our lives by the people you stand behind shouting transphobic nonsense, remember that it was people like me, and every trans person you screamed slurs at, who warned you what you were spearheading, and remember that it was me who told you- wake the L up.
Daviemoo is a 34 year old independent writer, radicalised into blogging about the political state of the world by Brexit and the election of serial failures like Trump and Johnson. Please check out the rest of the blog, check out Politically Enraged, the podcast available on all streaming platforms and share with your like minded friends! Also check him out on ko-fi where you can keep him caffeinated whilst he writes.