Douglas Bastard's Rants of Rage

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This article was written on 26 Feb 2016, and is filled under Uncategorised.

Trans

I have concerns about women-only safe spaces. And by concerns, I think that women should have said safe spaces wherever and whenever they’re needed. Men’s role, if we have one at all, is to support that and, if we’re called on, to help make that happen. It’s not, as some MRAs do, to whine about being excluded, about ‘special snowflakes’ or about being triggered. Men talk over women, men rape women and men do women harm. I have no problem owning these and wanting to punch anyone who says #notallmen in the cock.

Set against this are trans issues. I don’t think that being trans is a mental illness. I think it’s a state of being like any, and apart from some mildly transvestite tendencies, I’ve never thought I was trans, so just in the same way that I can’t imagine what it’s like to be black, my role when trans people talk is generally to listen and to try and expand my available knowledge. The sharper-eyed amongst you will have noticed that the caveat ‘generally’ appears in there, and it appears because there’s a big problem with that issue of safe spaces.

As society is presently and imperfectly constituted, it would be possible for someone born as a male to claim to be female and to posit an argument that they were allowed to access female safe spaces. There’s a problem inherent in this, in that their experiences of the world would seem to be different and in that it allows people whose birth gender was male access to women. If they’re a sex offender, the problems of this are obvious, but even if they’re not, I’ve seen enough talk on social media about talk of uteruses being ‘transphobic’ to wonder how women are supposed to discuss the issues that affect them without being silenced.

If I was a woman, I think I’d hate this. To lobby hard for women’s issues and then find, at the eleventh hour, that they were smushed together with trans issues, which seem to me to be different, albeit with some overlap, would gall me bitterly. I know that trans people face violence and discrimination every day, and I utterly abhor and repudiate that. In fact, I’ve seen violence take place towards trans people, when I first came to London and knew nothing about the subject and still less knew how to respond and not get killed.

So what do we do about safe spaces? Reader, I don’t know. When you start trying to write a sentence and the language is becoming tortured, it’s a sign that the ideas are becoming tortured and contradictory as well. Do I talk about women who were born as women? Do I talk about women, and overlook the basic chromosomal differences between the two genders? I don’t know. What I do know is that even by articulating doubts about this, which is what I did on Twitter last night, I’ll be offending some people.

When I wondered, aloud, what the free speech implications to ‘no platforming’ a speaker who is perceived as transphobic and pressuring a charity not to support her were, I was harangued by several people, all of whom asked, at a minimum, that I take the ‘LGBT ally’ out of my bio. As this comes up each time I try to express concerns about speakers being allowed to speak, I’ve done that and I’m absolutely certain they don’t need my help anyway. This issue, though, isn’t going to go away. When you can have people like Julie Bindel and Germaine Greer ‘no platformed’ for saying things which I don’t necessarily agree with but think should be spoken about in public, particularly at universities, which are supposedly cauldrons of free speech, the NUS seems to be in charge.

It’s that NUSisation of debate which defeats any and all attempt at debate even before it’s started. Express doubts or uncertainty about how trans people and safe spaces are supposed to coexist, and you’re branded a TERF and blocked, or, worse yet, dozens of people line up to tell you that you’re the scum of the earth and to throw yourself under a train. What I’m saying is that I don’t see, on the basis of my present knowledge, how these two things can work. I’m not saying that they can’t, or won’t, I’m saying that I can’t see how it can happen.

I’ve avoided expressing any opinion on trans issues on Twitter precisely for this reason and my policy now will be to maintain that silence. This is the last you’ll hear from me on this because, frankly, this subject is an absolute bear pit and I have absolutely no intention of being dragged into it. The LGBT thing has gone from my bio, you might be pleased to know, and won’t be coming back anytime soon. To anyone I’ve offended, it wasn’t deliberate and no, I won’t be putting any comments on this online. As far as the outside world is concerned, I have no opinions on this subject.

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