Maria Miller’s Report Puts Feminists In An Impossible Position

Maria Miller transgender reportMaria Miller has stated that she is ‘taken aback’ by the ”hostility’ towards the government’s recent transgender report from ‘purported feminists.’ She says: “I think that all of us who are feminists know that equality for other groups of people, and a fairer deal for other groups of people, is good for us as well.”

Yes of course, as a society nobody wants to see any group suffering discrimination so why would anyone not give just a passing nod of approval to this new report, even those horrible feminists?

This time it’s not so simple; ‘transgender’ is not one of those ‘other groups’ defined by distinct boundaries, as all other minority groups are. By definition, ‘transgender’ stakes claim to membership of already existing groups; the mantra ‘transwomen are women’ accordingly puts them into two protected categories; both ‘transgender’ and ‘women’.

In the blurring of boundaries, ‘women’ as a distinct group ceases to exist; we have to say ‘women-born women’ now to make the sex-based distinction clear, and we are losing the right to do even that: any sex-based comparisons are seen as ‘transphobic.’

This is the crux of the matter; if the recommendations in this report are passed into law as expected, it means that in important legal terms the distinction between men and women will become ‘gender’ instead of ‘sex’. This is an arbitrary move; when did we decide that ‘gender’ is a stronger marker than ‘sex’ if you need to differentiate between men and women? Gender, as a concept of masculinity and femininity, is based on subjective opinion; a means of dividing men and women along personality lines. ‘Correct’ gendered behaviour and presentation is already enforced and policed by society in a million different ways from birth, and the group it mostly harms is women. This report does not ask women to support transgender rights, it demands that we accept a definition of women which reinforces a limiting stereotype and at the same time deny the biological sex which is the basis of discrimination against women.

If gender-based rights are enshrined in law, women will still suffer sex-based oppressions such as sexual assault, rape, FGM, and discrimination based on our perceived capacity to give birth, but we will lose the language to talk about it and the right to organise against it as women, along with all sex-based protections such as single-sex facilities and services.

The report may look like little tweaks here and there to tighten up previous Acts, but it represents a fundamental shift: the process of erasing ‘sex’ and replacing it with ‘gender’ will become near-enough complete. The move from ‘transsexual’ (a recognition of two sexes) to ‘transgender’ (the idea of two genders), together with the change in definition of transgender from a clinically diagnosed condition of ‘gender dysphoria’ to a non-pathological state of ‘gender identity’ establishes ‘gender’ as not only the main marker, but a fixed innate one. (The suggestion of changing ‘gender reassignment’ to ‘gender confirmation’ and ‘acquired gender’ to ‘affirmed gender’ would seal the deal).

Language is important; it’s why the transgender lobby have worked so hard to change it and to train the media to do the same: ‘sex-change’ for example has become an offensive term as sex no longer exists and transgender people aren’t changing anything, but seeking acknowledgment of innate gender. If we were still using the term ‘transsexual’ parents would obviously not be so willing to apply it to their own children and nor would society as a whole. The label ‘transgender’ nicely obscures the fact that we are telling children that they are really the opposite sex, as implicitly acknowledged in the ‘treatment’ with cross-sex hormones.

Obfuscation of language is a great way to hide reality.

The biggest shift lies in the fact that we were never obliged to see transsexual men as ‘real women, the same as any other woman’ – because we all know that you can’t actually change sex, it’s a biological impossibility. If the government had stopped there and called for tighter laws to protect this distinct group from discrimination, at the same time as ensuring women’s continued protection as a sex-based category, there would be no problem. Perhaps we could have then examined the issue of male violence against transsexuals and worked on real protections for that group.

Instead, the report demands that women accept that ‘gender’ is the important distinction between men and women in areas where it’s really not.

The biggest practical impact for women is in the proposal to both simplify the application process for a gender recognition certificate in line with the principle of self-declaration, at the same time as making it illegal to exclude anyone in possession of a certificate from single-sex services. Facilities and services will in effect become single-gender, and yet the need for these sex-based protections hasn’t just gone away; single-sex services are there for a reason which hasn’t suddenly, magically changed.

This is how we get ridiculous situations like the recent case of the prisoner Tara Hudson, a transwoman whose crime was to head-butt a man so violently he lost all his front teeth, who had eight previous convictions for GBH and was a fully-intact male who boasted about his ‘7-inch surprise’ on his online escort site. Someone exhibiting behaviour at the extreme male end of the spectrum is now housed alongside vulnerable women, around 50% of whom will have experienced male violence and who are in prison overwhelmingly for non-violent offenses. Gender, though.

Why is holding out for rights based on sex seen as discrimination against trans people, and yet establishing gender-based rights is not seen as discrimination against women as a sex? How come gender gets to win?

To say transwomen are women doesn’t just minimise the importance of biological sex, it denies its existence altogether.¬†One of the most heartbreaking things I’ve seen is a young transwoman’s genuine bewilderment and shock that young heterosexual males lose sexual interest in ‘her’ when they discover that ‘she’ has a penis. We have been teaching kids this stuff in schools since 2008 and in this report the government proposes more. No wonder our young people are so confused; outside the echo-chamber world of transgender groups, biological sex does matter.

The more we continue to enforce gender as the truth and sex as an illusion, the more 3-year-olds will be admitted to gender clinics by parents invested in the gender-stereotype version of difference between boys and girls, and another confused generation will be created.

In this report the government establishes that, in legal terms, where there is a clash of sex-based and gender-based rights, gender beats sex. If we go by the old-fashioned sex-based distinction between men and women, that means that men gain rights over women and validation by government will ensure that female-identified men will be more confident of those rights in other situations. As the report makes it easier for any man to identify as a woman and be taken at his word, this clearly puts women at risk. What feminist would not point that out?

It is not the case that feminists are ‘against’ transgender people as a group; the implicit assumption of Maria Miller that this is the only possible explanation for speaking out says it all. The government has put feminists in an impossible position: the very act of asserting women’s rights as a sex class, by definition, makes transphobes of us all.

19 Responses

  1. […] The post may be read in its entirety on her blog. […]

  2. Miep
    | Reply

    Thank you for this excellent piece.

  3. martin dufresne
    | Reply

    Thank you for a careful and convincing “unpacking” of the issues involved.

  4. Deborah Peifer
    | Reply

    A very fine essay. Thank you.

  5. Kate Hope
    | Reply

    This should be read by all women not just those who see themselves as feminists.Most women I speak to have no idea that their biological birthright is in danger.The aggression and progression of this hatred of my sex is frightening and as I see it, one that is being perpetrated by men who claim to be women but know they are not.

  6. Sue
    | Reply

    The newspeak about gender and transgender is a horrific aberration.”Men” who wish to be both “men” and “women”are now swiftly sliding into a position where gender identity is a movable.This disturbs and enlarges the existing unequal power dynamics.It implies a new enlarged freedom.The writer is correct:how things are named is how things become.A terrific article about a horrifying new challenge.

  7. Lucy Firre
    | Reply

    This article should be published across the mainstream media. Of course it won’t be because male feels are paramount.

  8. Laix khan
    | Reply

    Have noted all these points so clearly and impressively made for future ref to quote and keep quoting! We cannot give up. We must keep speaking out at every opportunity.
    This report is wreck less and disregards well researched concerns expressed by a calm and logical process of submission. The fact it has been thrown in feminists face bt Miller shows a casual disregard and ignorance of feminists while appeasing trans acts who are in the main male!

  9. Derrington
    | Reply

    Great piece re erasing women from equal rights legislation.

  10. connie tolleson
    | Reply

    The penis is used as a weapon war, so how about calling for a demilitarized zone; a penis free zone, as it were. It would help their claim of being women, if trans-women would stop acting like entitled men.

  11. Mary Nelson
    | Reply

    Is there such a report from the U.S. Congress? I’ve seen that authorities at various levels have been able to begin tearing down the protective barriers between males and females under the onus of “anti-discrimination”. Where did this start? Who is profiting from the collapse of biological identity?

  12. Carol
    | Reply

    Not a feminist but agree with you; however, I blame feminists for all women losing the respect and protection we once enjoyed.

  13. Amelia
    | Reply

    This article discounts countless medical, sociological, anthropological, and psychological articles that show the importance of gender over sex. It seems to imply that the transwomen fighting for the right to be called women are ‘men’. The whole point is that they are anything but. How do you define a woman? By something as superficial as their reproductive system? Surely then transwomen who undergo sex changes would count as women? Or do you define a woman by who they are within? The point of these laws is not to discriminate women, but to stop discrimination against transwomen.

    • Xiao Mao
      | Reply

      You are fucking insane. Keep catering to males. See what it gets you.

    • Sahila
      | Reply

      BIOLOGY 101: humans are mammals, and mammals are dimorphic…

      if you’re born with XY chromosomes, you’re a male — no amount of medication or surgery can change that…

      if you’re born with XX chromosomes, you’re a female —- no amount of medication or surgery can change that…

      if you’re born with a variation on XY/XX, then you suffer from a very rare genetic MUTATION (ie a DEFECT in DNA replication)…. society should be mature enough to deal with that idea instead of pushing people with such rare mutations to present as one or other of the binary, and to force the rest of us to accept people with those mutations as something they are NOT… at the very least, people with these mutations should be allowed to MAKE THEIR OWN DECISIONS about what gender they wish to be known as when their brains are developed enough to make such decisions (in their mid/late 20s)….

      Children who “present” as gender “confused”, if left alone, USUALLY self-identify as lesbian or gay once they complete adolescence/puberty….

      this entire agenda is political —- has nothing to do with human rights or respect or dignity or equality or erasing discrimination… it’s about the patriarchy erasing women as a class of humans and enforcing a strict SEXUAL binary on people…

      you might like to consider what it means that the UK GREENS, finding themselves unable to deal with the languaging issues around the ‘trans’ phenomenon, had the not-so-bright idea of deciding that the world is made up of MALES and NON-MALES…. yes — males now are the default representation of our species and women and all ‘others’ are simply lumped together in an inferior sub-category….

  14. smh
    | Reply

    Did you just call a womans reproductive system “superficial” .. This transgender acceptance has become rediculous if your born a boy you cant grow up to become a woman sex isnt “superficial” its what you actually are .. Gender is nothing more than the role you want to play in society , a trans”woman” is a man playing the role of a woman. No matter how much surgey a trans”woman” gets she will always be male. A man in a relationship with a trans”woman” is in a same sex realationship. A man who gets a sex change doesnt become a woman , infact a man can never even have a vagina .. A trans”womans” vagina has no vaginal tissue its an open wound between a mans legs thats lined with the skin of his penis that will actually close up as his body tries to heal itself unless he periodically penetrates himself keeping it open .. Most straight men will indeed not knowingly date a transwoman not because there bigoted but because there straight. Your inner feelings and desire to play the role of a woman in society dont make you a woman, being an actual female makes you a woman.

  15. MeeshellFooko
    | Reply

    “The whole point is that they are anything but. How do you define a woman? By something as superficial as their reproductive system? Surely then transwomen who undergo sex changes would count as women? ”

    1) reproductive systems are not “superficial

    2) transwomen who have surgery have rendered themselves infertile. They have no reproductive system any more, having had their penis and testicles removed. They become a reproductive dead end.

  16. Jenna
    | Reply

    Wonderful article! Only one critique I would add: This past week I looked up a bunch of terms in an etymology dictionary. Gender actually doesn’t mean what we’ve been told. ‘Gender’ literally means ONLY: A group of terms and classifications used to describe the SEX ES of a species type. For example, things like mammilaries, vagina, clitoris, uterus. Those are examples of ‘.gender terms’. But it’s very specific – like ‘breasts’, or ‘buttocks’ would not be considered ‘gender terms’ because they aren’t sex-specific. Furthermore, the term ‘woman’ is only defined as an adult member of the female sex, and girl would be a female child.

    But the craziest to me? ‘Ok then there’s ‘Feminine’ and ‘femininity’ – and here’s what BLEW my mind – those are actually SEX specific too – as in THEY ONLY DESCRIBE SEX CHARACTERISTICS, nothing else! So, feminine would be the adjective used to describe the group of traits specific to each sex. Like, the SEX anatomy you have would be, as a set, masculine or feminine.

    But things like breast size, height, hair length – NONE of these are gender terms (term with its specific meaning too). Those are gender NORMS. Meaning it’s THAT definition which needs revised! NOT our definitions of women or gender! I honestly just feel like: Why hasn’t anyone just looked these terms up in an etymology dictionary and argued against them using that approach?

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