Lunchtime, and I was meeting up with Katie, a friend I’ve known for the past five years. Time to tell her about my trans side. She’s super-socialist, fabulously feminist and very opinionated. What could possibly go wrong?!
So I told her a little about my story, and all seemed fine. She raved about estrogen, saying that she was taking HRT herself and how happy it had made her. She called it the “caring hormone”.
And she asked all the usual questions – about Georgie and me, about where I see myself in the future, etc, etc. She seemed completely fine with the whole thing, although I only had time to tell her a little about my journey.
But then she asked me if I knew about her views on “women-only spaces”. Oh lordy, TERF alert! I didn’t – I had no idea.
For those not in the know, TERF stands for Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist. They’re the horrible women they roll out whenever there’s a trans discussion on Newsnight. They seem to think that, if you weren’t born with a vagina, you can never be a “proper woman”.
Instead of just focussing on trans people as human beings, there seems to be a need to “balance” our voice with some super-bitch slagging us all off.
Think Germaine Greer a few months back. She famously said: “Just because you lop off your dick and then wear a dress doesn’t make you a fucking woman.”
No Germaine, deary, it doesn’t. There’s a fair bit more to it than that. Cisgender women may get their fair share of shit – but look at what transwomen go through every day of their lives. No wonder the rates of suicide are so high, and such ridiculous remarks don’t help.
Anyway, back to my lunch mate date. Did I know about her views on women-only spaces (by which she meant cis-women-only spaces)?
My heart sank. But Katie said that, while she’d been accused of being a TERF, she did not consider herself to be one. Well, good…
But what about women-only spaces? I asked her what she meant by these. I can kind of understand what she means if we’re talking about refuges where cis women suffering from domestic abuse go for safety and shelter. Their feelings should come first, even if it’s highly unlikely that they’d ever be attacked by a transwoman.
But if we’re talking about being a member of an all-female organisation such as the WI, WRVS or Girl Guides, sorry, but you have to include and welcome transwomen/girls. Otherwise that’s clear discrimination in my book.
Katie then spoke about people 6ft tall and how she’d never be able to relate to them because she’s about 5ft. Riiiiiight? She also said that transwomen could never feel how a ciswoman, who’d gone through monthly cycles, could feel.
She said transwomen couldn’t truly understand how it felt to be a woman – and that she couldn’t understand how it felt to be trans: “I can sympathise, but I can’t empathise.”
Not sure we need sympathy actually. And this is sounding quite TERFy, to be honest.
I asked her if she could give me some examples of women-only spaces, but she said she had to get off and that this was a debate for another time, with wine.
Sounds good, I said, although we’d end up shouting at each other and hitting each other across the head with the wine bottle.
I don’t resent her for saying her piece – not at all. It took balls actually, as it were, to say that to someone who had just come out as transgender to her.
She said she didn’t want me to see something she’d written on Facebook on the subject and then get offended. But I’ve been friends with her on Facebook for years and have read nothing of the sort. If I’d seen anything, I’d probably have commented. I’m just glad I’ve not seen her Mumsnet profile.
Anyway, she’s going to send me some links to read – about where she’s coming from – and no doubt I’ll send some back the other way.
I don’t regret telling her I’m trans for a second – she’s my loving, loyal friend and always will be. And even the best of friends have differences of opinion. But I think we may have to agree to disagree on this one.
To finish, I’d just like to say that, despite what the TERFs and Donald Trump might think, transwomen are women. They might have been assigned male at birth – but there’s a whole lot more to gender than genitals.
Sure, they’ve not had the nasty hormonal changes associated with menstruation, but neither have thousands of women who can’t menstruate because of medical reasons. And yet I’m sure they’d be more than welcome in women-only spaces.
While transwomen haven’t had those hormonal challenges to cope with, they have, for the most part, had decades of being poisoned by testosterone, leading to crushing gender dysporia and, in far too many cases, even suicide.
Society needs to give ALL women a break, and treat them equally and with dignity and respect, whatever is/was between their legs.
Transwomen are women. Period.