I’ve been involved in the trans rights debate for a little over 4 years now. I often write about it here, normally in quite a light-hearted way (I hope). There is, however, a serious point, so I thought it best just to get it out of my system.
If you’ve been following the debate, such as it is, you’ll know the pattern. Somebody makes a statement, which supports one side or the other. The other side pile on. There are insults (some of them high-brow and flowery, some more base). Blogs are exchanged, the heavy artillery of entrenched warfare. Thousands of words are written; making arguments, refuting arguments, debunking the rebuttals. TERFs say this…trans rights activists believe this…the evidence says X…the evidence says Y.
Both sides draw new followers into the argument, but converts are rare, because this isn’t a battle over who has the best information or presentation, it’s a battle of belief.
Like all such battles the terms of reference constantly shift. In the same way that an argument about whether there is a god can become about dinosaur bones, the big bang, or the exact translation of ancient Hebrew texts, so the trans-rights debate can take in degree-level biology, comparisons with other civil rights movements and the nature of feminism.
Sometimes it helps to cut aside all of the extraneous arguments, and get to the core of the belief. Take a moment, settle yourself down, and read the next paragraph.
I believe that any man can, at any time, say they are a woman. At that point they will become a woman (or will always have been a woman) and, irrespective of any other factors, will shed any privilege they have enjoyed by having the world see them as, and treat them as, male up until that point in their life, and will, by becoming a trans woman, become a member of an oppressed group. Their past or current behaviour will not be a factor.
Do you believe that? You don’t have to write your answer, or even say it aloud. You just have to give yourself a moment to be honest. Read it again. Does everything in there sound right to you, and aligned with equality and feminism?
That paragraph is the whole ball game. Everything else is a side-show.
If you don’t absolutely believe that paragraph, in its entirety, then you will always be living with the fear of being named a transphobe.
We saw that this week, when a trans-supporting natal woman called out a trans woman for sending her unsolicited dick-pics and was immediately accused of (and ended up apologising for) “transmisogyny”. We see it when an author is pilloried for saying that sex exists. We see it when another institution caves in to volume rather than reason, and denounces a woman.
There are only two choices, you either absolutely stand for that statement of belief or you don’t, and if you don’t then only one side of this argument will welcome you.
Your choice isn’t my business, only yours.