Sex and Gender

Now Boris Johnson has said what so many think, let’s end all the preposterous nonsense being spoken in the name of trans women

Human biology is real and we should stop pretending that it doesn’t matter

There are two things the liberal commentariat tend to forget about the ‘silent majority’, that great mass of ordinary people who don’t get involved in arcane discussions of modish topics, but who make their views known at every election.

Those two things? The majority is silent. And it’s the majority.

This week, Boris Johnson spoke for them loud and clear when he said something most people in Britain already thought, even if they never dared say so out loud.

Biological males, he insisted, should not be allowed to compete in women’s sports — and parents should be involved in their children’s life-changing decisions about gender identity.

Of course, these views should be uncontroversial. But in recent years a vicious and toxic debate, often conducted in bad faith, has clouded the issue badly.

Debbie Hayton

The mantra ‘trans women are women’ has been recited like Holy Writ and to suggest otherwise has been heresy, putting the speaker at risk of ‘cancellation’, monstering on social media, the end of their career and worse.

At long last, common sense has prevailed. The Prime Minister’s intervention followed new guidance this week from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), which made it clear that hospitals, shops and other businesses are legally entitled to offer single-sex services.

So, for example, a gym can insist on a female-only changing room, as long as it also provides a proper space for trans people to change.

Inevitably, these sensible measures were met by screeching fury from militant activists, who slammed the new guidance as ‘discriminatory’, ‘bigoted’ and ‘harmful’.

Boris Johnson: Biological men should not compete in women’s sports

Furious NHS equality bosses were said to be ‘leading a mutiny’ against the watchdog’s rulings, with one declaring the guidance was ‘transphobic’ and recommending NHS bosses put it in the ‘bin’.

Well, I have a dog in this fight myself. Ten years ago, I transitioned from male to female.

By then, I already had three children and a wonderful wife. I am incredibly grateful that I still do, and that we all live harmoniously.

I transitioned for psychological reasons: it was causing me terrible anguish to live as a male while hiding my true self.

My mental health collapsed; it was a desperate time. Thankfully, after first transitioning in 2012 and undergoing gender reassignment surgery four years later, I recovered.

Pro-trans activists and their so-called allies often claim they want nothing more than to protect a vulnerable group — trans people like me — from discrimination.

If only that were true.

Instead, they have denounced as ‘bigoted’ the new EHRC guidance designed to protect other vulnerable people — such as women who may be in desperate difficulty. No doubt they have harsh words for the Prime Minister, too.

Debbie Hayton with ex Team GB swimmer Sharron Davies

But imagine you are a woman who has been beaten up, or even raped, by your male partner.

Who exactly is a trans rights activist, or anyone else, to deny you the right to seek refuge in a place only other biological women can enter?

Women should not be forced to budge up and make room for biological males. If, God forbid, either my wife or daughter were ever the victim of male violence, I would want them to be able to seek refuge in a space free from all biological males, if that was what they needed.

And speaking as a trans woman, I am far more concerned about women’s rights to privacy and protection than I am about my right to access absolutely everywhere I might want to go.

Of course, we trans people should always be treated fairly and with respect. We should not be barred from spaces without good reason.

But there are some circumstances in which it would cause genuine harm to force women to share spaces with biological males.

Having suffered myself as, I believed at the time, a woman trapped in a man’s body, I would never want to exacerbate the suffering of a vulnerable and traumatised woman, or suggest that my ‘rights’ somehow trump hers.

If trans women are suffering a comparable crisis and need help in a refuge, they can be referred to a centre that caters for them. That’s not ‘bigotry’, it’s simple humanity.

Then we come to prisons. Inevitably, these house some very disturbed individuals. Many female prisoners have themselves been tragic victims of male violence.

Yet because of an ill-judged policy that has again prioritised the rights of trans people over those of vulnerable women, biological males have been held in women’s prisons because they identify as women.

In one terrible case, a violent rapist self-identified as a woman, ‘Karen White’. While at New Hall women’s prison, White sexually assaulted two female inmates.

Only then was White moved to an all-male prison. This is not an isolated case.

Before the Equality Act 2010, which made it illegal to discriminate against trans people on the basis of gender reassignment, trans women were sent to women’s prisons if they had undergone gender reassignment surgery.

But the issue has become horribly clouded in recent years, allowing the possibility of predatory men posing as trans women, using equality as a shield for straightforward misogyny.

The militants’ mantra that ‘trans women are women’ is an absurdity. You do not become a woman merely by saying you are one and it flies in the faces of reason, and biology, to suggest otherwise.

This fiction — so-called ‘self-ID’ — can and does make life more difficult for women. 

When a biological male can assert that he is a woman without changing his appearance, let alone taking hormones or having surgery, there are risks to women when that male enters women-only spaces.

Take the case of Lia Thomas, the transgender American swimmer who recently won a prestigious women’s U.S. championship.

Thomas, who is over 6ft tall, has made female swimmers feel ‘uncomfortable’ and ‘awkward’ in the changing rooms after not covering up male genitalia.

Merely identifying as female was sufficient reason to enter this space, irrespective of the physical reality of Thomas’s body.

Of course, nobody wants to see Thomas or anyone else facing discrimination. But human biology is real and we should stop pretending that it doesn’t matter.

Let me stress: many trans people understand all this. But sadly the debate has been hijacked by furious activists who, I believe, do our cause more harm than good.

To admit openly that there are some circumstances when women should be able to access women-only spaces undermines their demented crusade to pretend that biology doesn’t matter.

As a scientist who has taught secondary school physics for more than 20 years, I can tell you that it does. Chromosomes and bodies don’t lie.

I wanted to be female for much of my life but, despite all the stages of my transitioning, I remain chromosomally, biologically male.

I can’t erase the past, nor would I want to. I am happy with my life now — and also glad I was born male, or I would never have married the woman who remains my wife or had our two wonderful sons and a daughter.

My hope is that the new guidance from the EHRC ushers in an era of sensible policy on these difficult issues.

What do I mean? Well, for example, across Britain there are more than 100 trans women prisoners. Why not have a dedicated facility for them?

In hospitals, trans women could be given a side room rather than being on a female or male ward.

If some women prefer women-only exercise or swimming classes, whether for religious or personal reasons, why shouldn’t they have them, alongside classes to which trans women are welcomed?

As for toilets — another unnecessary battleground — I use the unisex option whenever it’s available. We need more of these, offering all users as much privacy as possible.

Like most trans people, I simply want to live my life, not be defined by my gender. But with such nonsense being spoken in my name — and those of other trans women — I feel obliged to have my say.

Now the Prime Minister has waded into this debate and said what millions were thinking. Let a new climate of tolerance and respect blossom from his remarks and end, once and for all, the fury that has engulfed this debate.

By Debbie Hayton for the Daily Mail on Friday 8 April 2022.

DEBBIE HAYTON is a transgender school science teacher and political campaigner

* This article was first published by Mail+ on 7 April 2022: Now Boris has said what so many think, let’s end all the preposterous nonsense being spoken in the name of trans women like me.

By Debbie Hayton

Physics teacher and trade unionist.

6 replies on “Now Boris Johnson has said what so many think, let’s end all the preposterous nonsense being spoken in the name of trans women”

Good grief, Boris Johnson said something true! It’s a strange kind of affirmation, the populist view of a compulsive liar, but fair play. I imagine no woman wants to be confronted by Lia Thomas’ John Thomas any more than they do Boris Johnson’s Johnson.

I wonder, should those, like yourself, who have undergone gender reassignment surgery, have specific services along with other trans people, or should the surgery allow them access to their new gender identity’s spaces?

I am still trying to clarify in my mind how you think about this. You appear to support the availability of “transitioning”, since you suffered so much from your gender dysphoria and seem to accept it as necessary for you to relieve that suffering. Yet, it seems you also see yourself as male – if I may put it this way – “despite appearances”, and you appear to refute your earlier understanding of being “a woman trapped in a man’s body.”

I suppose I’m toying with the more radical position, which I imagine is also very common, that the whole spectrum of human experience from mild opposite-gender curiosity to painful gender dysphoria is a psychological problem with psychological solutions if any at all. All manner of mental suffering (which is distinctly what this is) can be alleviated with therapy, if not always completely cured, and we reluctantly accept the limits of therapy to cure all manner of other psychological issues. Is the answer not simply to educate people and base statutes on the fact that they’re never trapped in the wrong body, they are what they are, and they can no more change gender than species?

Prisons – indeed any sex-specific spaces – are a particularly knotty problem. All men are vulnerable to rape, for example, whether they have had a vulva constructed or not, and all humans are vulnerable to sexual assault, so we must avoid the temptation to imagine that any decision about segregation is going to avoid sexual assault, or use its eventuality as proof that current legislation should be changed. Stopping offences entirely, in prisons or changing-rooms, would require solitary confinement or permanent CCTV and a police presence.

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It’s strange to agree with Boris, but hey-ho!

I think the crucial question is whether society permits medical gender transition (hormone therapy and GRS) or not. If it does, then some accommodation needs to be made for those who have been through the process. In the past, women were expected to make room for male transsexuals. We can debate the point, but it it tended to work. The numbers were small, and – arguably – the people concerned did look more like women than men, certainly without their clothes on. If that is no longer acceptable then what? It won’t work very well to include GRS transsexuals in male spaces where nudity or partial nudity is expected. My campaign is for third spaces for anyone who doesn’t want to share communal spaces with their own sex.

We could just say no to gender transition, but we would inevitably face a challenge to Strasbourg. Even if we ignored the ECtHR, and even if we left the Council of Europe, we would not get away from the issue. Transsexuals would go to Thailand (or wherever) and come back with a fait accompli, like we saw in the 1960s when they went to Casablanca. I agree with you that if psychotherapy works then surely that is a better solution, but the compulsion to transition is very strong.

Agree that prisons are a crucial issue. I am legally male so the default would be a male prison, but I cannot imagine a prison doctor allowing me to be admitted to the general population. Not just for my safety but the impact on hundreds of men cooped up together. Plan A is to stay out of prison.

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Thank you very much for clarifying that, Debbie. Yes, indeed, we can’t stop body modification, and nor do I think it’s moral to do so (within limits, of course), so I think your position makes the most sense. There will always be people who want something they can’t have, like trans “women” who demand that they should be treated exactly as if they were real women, but – to borrow a phrase – tough titty.

Plan A seems pretty good too.

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As always you word things really well, putting over the views of the silent millions, & remember the millions like my mum who dont have tech… no internet, no computer etc most modern thing my mum has is we talked her into basic mobile phone, it does texts n calls!

Then there are people like me, have tech, buy newspapers, but can genuinely say i didnt notice this extremist trans war stuff until, ah, until JKRowling who i admire, lovely Christian lady with my values, was recently hounded. As i used to work for Police, i thought, the Police will be arresting them for hate crimes, harassment, threats to kill, etc wow thats extremists, Stonewall, never heard of them, who are they? Why havent the Police looked into it…!!

Then i did research on Stonewall, Police & Prisons doing as Stonewall, not the law, say…. scary.. but then when read of all the obvious men self IDing as women to get off rape etc crimes and be put in jail with women. I was horrified. It makes transwomen look dreadful but when misreported as women, makes womenlook dreadful. 99% violent crimes done by men and women cant commit rape (by uk law definition). I then looked into attacks in toilets, schools, puberty blockers, the harm being done to people, then around the world… scary! and then sports, men saying they were women have been beating women all over the world for years. Just isnt reported, not many ppl, but they won gold instead of women in womens sport which is ridiculous. Canada, hmgold silver bronze all won by transwomen, no women at all! No point having womens sport if allow men! But again i never noticed or looked into it until in mainstream news, lia thomas. I read a case of a male, won everything bar olympics, as female, retired, male again. I think this is lia thomas, he isn’t what i would consider a transwoman like you, who I’d call a “she” out of respect. He is a he, would live as male again if not allowed to compete with females! He is very happy with his male bits, striding around changing rooms upsetting girls, staring at them as they change. Many ignored complaints! is disgusting he’s allowed to do that… And compete, is no competition, not fair, clearly doing it to steal medals! He sets back the image of transwomen by decades, he kills, hurts, harms the view 99% of people have of transwomen.

Women and “genuine” transwomen will both be victims if this extremism & unfairness is allowed to continue. People will blame trans people, not the extremists who magically disappear (stonewall included with their millions!)

99.999% of the earth see humans as mammals, male or female. Its where science biology and religion actually agree! I believe the extremists know it too… they have a not so hidden agenda of making millions from pushing the impossible.

I am really glad you are happy and have a supportive family. Amongst all this crazy unfairness aimed at the females who bore the world (literally, do the extremists forget this!) …. I’m sure you agree the most important thing of all is our health. To be healthy safe and happy. That is all women want, and the reason people havent spoken up in their millions… we still have family with covid, are trying to get by.

Oh any political party who can’t even read a dictionary and define a woman, wont get any vote from a woman — or their male relatives who care about them. Sorry, meant to be short comment!

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So many interesting points have been made that I want to reply to all of them, not just to Debbie but to the commenters also.

Because of our political situation in the U.S., it never happened that the liberals (of which I am one) managed to make national policy on this issue (though Obama and Biden have tried). The conservatives immediately rebelled and have been legislating against trans people for several years now (in their conservative states).

Our president, who is a liberal, has taken the position of transgender activists on this issue, not because I actually think he believes all the nonsense, but because he doesn’t want to become a victim of cancel culture. I think he is hoping that most people in the country won’t educate themselves on the issue.

The psychology of this entire issue has fascinated me from the beginning. Going back decades, transgender activists have managed to paint trans people as the most pitiful of all pitiful minorities, so much so that many liberals now believe that ttrans people MUST be given whatever they want to make themselves feel better. And if they want 100% access to women’s single-sex spaces, then women will just have to put up with that. The truth is that men as a group have never had great sympathy for natural women, so sacrificing women’s rights is an easy call for them. What amazes me are the large numbers of liberal women who are more than happy to sacrifice their own rights. Indeed, I know of women COACHES who are thrilled to have trans women on their teams because it means that their teams will win more often — yet these women coaches don’t see how screwed up their attitude is.

Everybody — except for a few exceptional people like Debbie and Blaire White on YouTube — is functioning on self-interest. Trans activists THINK they are functioning on self-interest, but they are working against themselves. Trans women activists are so desperate to be real women that they have anointed themselves as real women even though that is a ridiculous position to take, and liberals are falling all over themselves to be part of the pretense. But what would be best for trans women is to NOT pretend. “I am a man who feels like a woman. I would appreciate it if you would treat me like a woman so that I can live my life the way I want to.” If that were the posture of trans women, they would be gaining acceptance much faster than they presently are. Pretending to real women is ultimately going to work against them, especially when people see how unjust that is to real women.

Grace, I like your comment because you show very well the journey of awakening that many people end up taking on this issue.

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Ah, there is a story I was going to tell that I forgot.

I watch a lot of true-life crime shows. There was a woman who was violently raped when she was young. It took years, using DNA and science, to track down her rapist (who, I think, had also murdered some women). On the day that she received the news that her rapist had been caught, she was so terrified of men (all men) that she wouldn’t open the door to the male detective who came to tell her — he had to tell her through her locked door. If you combine that story with statistics — I think something like a third of women are sexually assaulted in their lifetimes — you can see that men generate a lot of fear in women. (Both my sister and my mother were raped by men, although in my mother’s case it was statutory rape — one of her teachers took her as a lover without her consent, making it clear to her that she had no choice but to acquiesce to his demands.) Women’s needs for their single-sex spaces is VERY REAL.

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