Categories
Sex and Gender

Stereotypes don’t define women

Depriving women of sex-based language does not liberate them from sex-based discrimination, oppression and violence. All they lose is the ability to describe it.

Rox Middleton, Liam Shaw and Joel Hellewell were right to identify “human sexual biology” as an “important feature of our species” in their contribution to the sex and gender debate (Morning Star October 27, 2021). But they failed to persuade me that gender theory was the route to liberation.

Sex is the reason we are here. Like every other sexually dimorphic species, we are either female or male. The profound impact of biological sex on human society must not be denied.

Clumsy attempts to detach womanhood from female biology help nobody. Womanhood is not a feeling, nor is it a bunch of sexist stereotypes. Depriving women of sex-based language does not liberate them from sex-based discrimination, oppression and violence. All they lose is the ability to describe it.

Transwomen like me have male biology and male socialisation. We therefore have distinct needs, and we require different services. Conflating us with women might appear to be an act of kindness, but we can never be the same as women. We are the opposite sex.

Women can of course stand with us. We are fellow human beings, and we can offer sympathy and support to each other. But the material reality of our sexed bodies means that we can never fully empathise with each other.

Trans people do not need magical thinking, we need better services. Current provision is dire. England’s largest gender identity clinic, for example is currently offering first appointments to patients referred in October 2017. TUC research, meanwhile, has identified the crisis in mental health funding to be at breaking point.

The campaign for increased funding and better resourcing might be less fashionable than gender theory, but it has the potential to improve lives directly. That is surely a worthy approach that we could all support.


Debbie Hayton, Bristol

* This letter was published by The Morning Star on 3 November 2021.

By Debbie Hayton

Physics teacher and trade unionist.

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