From using terms like ‘chestfeeding’ to claiming campaigning against trans electoral candidates is transphobic, trans activism has changed from an earnest campaign for rights into a mission to replace evidence with emotions.
Guidelines published last week by the Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust that referred to “birthing people” “chestfeeding” with “human milk” provoked outrage. Writing for RT, Damian Wilson described them, “an insult to women and a hammer blow to common sense.”
The Trust’s reasoning, of course was to appear inclusive of – and I quote – “pregnant people.” Proudly they pointed out that they were on a journey led by members of the trans and non-binary communities, and this was merely the beginning of a process, which will “continue over the next few years.”
If this is merely the start, heaven help us! The Trust has apparently been captured by transgender ideology that demands we deny science. Setting out their rationale for gender inclusive language in perinatal [sic] services they recognised that “there is currently biological essentialism and transphobia present within elements of mainstream birth narratives and discourse.”
No. This is not biological essentialism; it is essential biology. Women give birth and they breastfeed their babies with mother’s milk. Nor is it transphobic. The trust seems to think that, “acknowledging the cultural context in which service development occurs is vital in making trans and non-binary lives safer.”
I am transgender and I can say categorically that replacing the word father with “co-parent” does not make my life any safer. Besides, I will still be proud to be my children’s father whatever new language might be imposed on us.
Veteran UK politician, George Galloway spoke passionately against what he described as intellectual terror, “It’s time to stand up for women, and men had better start joining in too.”
Transgender people need to stand up as well. This ideology not only abuses the acceptance and goodwill that I had taken for granted, it also trivialises hate. If even the facts of life are deemed to be transphobic then maybe transphobia has lost all meaning?
It has certainly lost all meaning in the minds of Labour Trans Equality, a campaigning group established recently within the UK Labour party. They are currently consulting on a definition of transphobia that they hope to use to “increase the representation and voice of trans/non binary people within the Party and enable them to take part in all its activities safely and without fear.”
A quick glance through their 14-point statement suggests that their vision is not so much to take part but to take over. They could not be clearer: “Failure to include trans people at all levels and structures of decision making within the Labour Party and its movement is institutionally transphobic and exclusionary.” With astonishing nerve, they even suggest that “to campaign against trans people standing for public office is transphobic.” Any concerns that women may have about the integrity of their sex-based rights were dismissed outright, “Claiming there is a ‘conflict’ between trans people’s rights and women’s or other communities’ rights is transphobic.”
If anyone doubted their ambition to control the narrative, their statement concludes, “Making public comments about policy or legislation on trans issues without understanding those issues is transphobic. If in doubt seek advice and guidance, Ignorance is no excuse.”
These are not petulant youngsters starting out in politics. At least three of their eight founding sponsors have stood for parliament; two more are sitting Labour councillors. Their sense of entitlement is breathtaking but no longer remarkable. The message they preach – transwomen are women, and transmen are men – has become ingrained in society. Anyone who disagrees – through ignorance, through weakness or their own deliberate fault – is guilty of transphobia. Sanctions can be brutal: bullying, intimidation, shaming and cancellation. The treatment of JK Rowling last year was notable only because she was already famous.
Increasingly, transgender activism resembles a power grab by a minority group on a mission to change society. Their quest to replace facts and evidence, with feelings and emotions has been astonishingly successful. Ten years ago, would anyone have dreamt that in 2021, women’s maternity services might metamorphose into perinatal services for birthing people? And that pseudoscientific ideas – that sex in humans at least is determined not by biological facts but by psychological feelings?
The change in language is deliberate. George Orwell once wrote, “if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.” By changing the words to describe even maternity and childbirth, women lose the language to defend their sex-based rights. Dissenters are bullied mercilessly by an activist body that demands compliance. If anyone is in doubt, the message is clear: seek advice and guidance – presumably from them.
This should concern us all, but it also worries me specifically because transgender rights – my rights – are being used as the vehicle for change. Without ceremony, the foundation of transgender activism shifted. In the words of American-Canadian sexologist, Ray Blanchard, from a clinical issue to a civil rights issue.
In my view, Blanchard’s analysis hit the target. Maybe it explains why so many transgender people appear to find so little comfort and security in societies like the UK where our civil rights were already secured through legislation that protects everyone from harassment and discrimination? Amid the febrile transgender debate that rages across social media, there seems to be little on offer for transgender people in emotional distress.
Modern transgender activism is not only harmful to women, but it has also been disastrous for transgender people. We will never find peace and security by trying to change other people if we do not know how to change ourselves. We must indeed heed Galloway’s call to step up to oppose this “intellectual terror.” To defend women, certainly, but also to rebuild a transgender rights movement that actually serves transgender people.
And let’s stop trivialising transphobia. Hatred exists in society, not in terminology and certainly not in biology.
Debbie Hayton is a high school teacher and trade union officer. She teaches science to 11-18-year-olds at a school in central England. As a transgender person, she has written extensively about what it means to be trans and how trans people can be included in society without compromising the rights of other vulnerable groups. Her work can be read in publications from across the political spectrum, where rational scientific debate is allowed and encouraged. Follow her on Twitter @DebbieHayton
* This article was first published by RT.com on 16 February 2021: Ideological virtue signalling does not advance trans rights or battle transphobia…it trivialises them.