We live in uncertain times. Back in 2015, the so-called “year of trans”, transgender people including myself were finally becoming more accepted by society. So much so that those who’d previously been frightened of presenting in their true gender began to come out of the closet. Referals to gender clinics soared. Fast-forward to 2017, it’s all going wrong and, Jenni Murray, you’re not helping.All the progress leading up to 2015 is being undone. Last year, we had Brexit, and then The bloody Donald got elected in America. Hate was winning hand over fist and poor old Love didn’t stand a chance.
And it wasn’t just immigrants who were singled out for abuse but any minority – whether Muslim, gay, transgender or whatever other little box you want to file “different” people away in.
And you might expect such behaviour from far-right idiots, the type who’d elect one of the most dangerous men on the planet to be the leader of the free world.
But in recent weeks, I’m hearing more and more hatred towards trans people – and not from the far right either.
On Sunday, Dame Jenni Murray, the host of Radio 4 show Woman’s Hour, wrote a column slating transwomen, in the Sunday Times. The headline comes out with that old chestnut that transwomen aren’t “real women”.
She then suggests that transwomen can never be “real women” because they could experience male privilege before they transition.
Damehood? Any privilege there? Just saying…
She defines cis women as “natural-born women” and says she is concerned “for the impact this question of what constitutes ‘a real woman’ will have on sexual politics. And for who has the right to be included in gatherings or organisations that are defined as single sex”.
But she says at the outset that she’s not a TERF. It amazes me how many feminists deny being a TERF (bearing in mind that the TE stands for Trans Exclusionary) and yet want to exclude transwomen from “women-only spaces”. Sorry, ladies, you’re TERFs, whether you like it or not.
In terms of politics, follow some of the trans community on social media. We have strong feminist views and we express them day in, day out. We’re fighting for feminism – it’s just that maybe we’re more inclusive than you.
Not all trans people consider themselves to be feminists – but (very sadly) neither do far too many ciswomen. Everyone should be a feminist, including men.
Dame Jenni goes on to criticise the Rev Carol Stone and broadcaster India Willoughby (both trans) before saying hairy legs are “dirty” on a woman.
Well, you wouldn’t catch me with hairy pins or pits either, but surely being a feminist means you wear what you want and, if you want body hair, let it grow!
She goes on: “Your sex, male or female, is what you’re born with and determines whether you’ll provide the sperm or the eggs in the reproductive process.”
Can’t argue with that – but so what? Sex and gender are two different things. And as I wrote a few days back, women born without reproductive organs are still “real women”.
I can’t imagine that any woman with Rokitansky Syndrome (born with an underdeveloped or absent womb, cervix and upper vagina) would be described as an “unreal woman” by Dame Jenni.
So how come transwomen seem to be fair game for such nasty slurs?
These people have lived their whole lives in the body of the opposite gender, until they get help to correct it. Imagine how you’d feel, Dame Jenni, if you were a man, but you got given the female body you have now.
Imagine how you’d feel if you were born a woman – but instead of your female body, you ended up with a male one. No breasts, no vulva for you. But here’s a penis and a receding hairline. OK with that?
What would you do? Would you seek treatment as a teenager to have your body reflect your true gender? But wait, even that’s taboo now, isn’t it?!
Or would you wait, and wait, living a lie, as so many of us do, just because we can’t face the abuse and hatred from bigots?
Think before you make such hurtful comments about trans people again. We didn’t get the “privilege” of getting the right body at birth, like you did.
So we have to make agonising choices – and all too often that involves suicide because the hatred towards us from good old Society is too strong.
When you write poisonous words, you’re fuelling that bigotry and hatred, and you’re treating transwomen like second-class citizens.