MSPs were up until the early hours last night* at Holyrood debating amendments to the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland Bill). Make no mistake, this is an exceptionally bad piece of legislation in the making – though it might have been less bad had a few more of those amendments been accepted by Nicola Sturgeon’s government.
But the SNP weren’t the only party painting Scottish politics in a bad light. During the debate, Labour MSP, Mercedes Villalba, took it on herself to start policing the language of others in the chamber. Villalba aimed her fire at the SNP’s Kenny Gibson – for daring to say something that many people also believe: that trans women are not women.
‘Would the member like to clarify in what way the previous contribution demonstrated respect? From where I was sitting, it was extremely disrespectful and bordered on hate speech,’ said Villalba.
So, what had Gibson said? Despite the way his words were described by Villalba, the reality is rather mundane:
‘The inconvenient truth is that trans women are physically male and, as a group, present the same hazard that other men present—those who pretend to be trans, even more so. If a fox said it was a chicken, would you put it in a hen house? Of course not.’Kenny Gibson MSP
Gibson was forthright, that much is certain. But he needed to be: this was an eleventh-hour plea to change a bad bill that many women are concerned about.
If Gibson was guilty of anything other than being direct, it was pointing out facts that Villalba was perhaps not used to hearing. The amendment being discussed was aimed at protecting women in prison – one of the most vulnerable groups in society. It stands to reason that, if men can self-identity themselves into the female sex, a sex offender might use that for their own warped purposes.
In four minutes, Gibson provided the evidence, discussed the problem, and called on his colleagues for support. He deserved praise. Instead he was pilloried.
In other places and at other times, Gibson’s words would have been universally considered to be a normal parliamentary contribution. But not in Holyrood in 2022. Villalba represents a younger generation that appears to think differently, or maybe feels differently. Because, despite her outburst, she actually voted for the amendment Gibson was speaking about. But to no avail, the Scottish government thought it unnecessary and it fell by 65 votes to 59.
Much has been said about the gender recognition reform debate, and the potential for a constitutional crisis, but this exchange exemplified something perhaps even more worrying. Being nice to trans people is a worthy aim, but the role of government is not to play Santa Claus – even at Christmas. Holyrood is set to vote through legislation that, in my view, further compromises women’s boundaries and undermines the safeguarding of children.
This is a battle between reason and emotion. At Holyrood, emotion has the upper hand.
Debbie Hayton is a teacher and journalist.
* This article was first published by The Spectator on 22 December 2022: Labour is wrong: it’s not ‘hate speech’ to question trans rights.
12 replies on “Labour is wrong: it’s not ‘hate speech’ to question trans rights”
Another excellent defense of natural women. Thank you, Debbie.
There is actually something here to be encouraged by. The fact that the amendment failed by a vote of 65 to 59 means that there are at least 59 people in that legislative body who have common sense, and who are not out of touch with reality.
Ironically, Villalba looks like a trans woman to me. Trans people have been with us long enough that I am sure that there are some who are passing so effectively that no one knows that they are trans. There’s nothing wrong with being trans, of course; but if Villalba is trans, then that explains why she isn’t impartial. (Most trans people don’t have the objectivity that Debbie has.)
The fucking idiocy of the question is breathtaking: “Would the honorable member like to clarify in what way the previous contribution demonstrated respect?”
1. Does every contribution have to positively DEMONSTRATE respect?
2. What is missing from the statements made, other than perhaps, “With respect […trans women are biologically male…some pretend to be trans…research shows nearly half of trans women in prison are guilty of sex offences…etc.]”?
3. What’s an honorable member meant to say to clarify his demonstration of respect to someone who feels his contribution was “bordering on hate speech”, prostrate himself on the floor and beg forgiveness?
And to cap it all, she voted FOR the ammendment? Presumably it was just his lack of sycophancy that upset her and his arguments were sound.
Gibson’s contribution was excellent, right on point. I don’t know what the ammendment consisted of, but I’ll look it up.
The something that is wrong with being ‘trans’ is that there is no such thing because, biologically, there cannot be. It really is that simple. That people might have body/gender dysphoria or, more likely, in the case of ‘trans’ identified men, a sexual paraphilia, is a given and, as far as I can see, their human rights are respected. What the ‘trans’ lobby, led by Stonewall, wants, however, is to take rights away from women. What is required is better mental health facilities, but the NHS is dying on its feet, so this is the cheaper option. Who cares if females are brought into casualty, raped or beaten to a pulp?
I hear and read people who say that is or that group is marginalised and the most put-upon in society. They need to get some perspective because the sex class of females has been, without a shadow of a doubt, the most brutalised, the most harmed, the most used, the most denied throughout human history. You would need to be a total moron to think otherwise, and this has happened to 51-52% of the world’s population because they are female, and for no other reason. Does anyone imagine that, if women were as strong as men this would have happened? In America, women are taking gun lessons.
This, however, is not about who has been most marginalised: it is about affording one group an extension to their rights (the GRR in Scotland is no mere administrative exercise) and removing rights from another in order to accommodate them. Women and children are being sacrificed quite deliberately and with great malignancy and malice aforethought in order that mainly sexually-driven men can strut around as ‘women’, invading women’s spaces, women’s healthcare, women’s sex-specific roles, women’s sports – because we do not know how to cope with them – and because billionaire corporatist global magnates back this movement financially fo their own ends.
If anyone is stupid enough to think this is hyperbole, he or she needs to think again because it is already happening. The thing that almost all ‘trans’ identified males have in common is that they behave exactly as many men do, dominating discourse, shouting the odds, threatening people, behaving like overgrown toddlers. For people who have female brains or were born in the wrong body, they act and look just like many men have always done.
People like DH are no physical threat to women and they do not wish to invade female rights and spaces, but sexologists like Blanchard, Bailey, Lawrence, Money and Zucker, and others, must all bear at least some responsibility for what is happening. They did not ask women if they would accommodate ‘trans’ identified men in their spaces, so why should the latest wave of porn-sick men? Third spaces are the only answer. The only one. Otherwise, this issue is going to erupt. I have never seen so much rage and anger in women before. Never. Not in the 1960s. Not even in the Suffragette era. Women will embark on civil disobedience – and they will defend ourselves against these men. Quite contrary to what they intended, these stupid ‘trans’ lobbyists have started a new women’s liberation movement that men will not be able to put back in its box. It is international and local and national all at the same time.
Wow, those are powerful statements, and I agree with most of them. I hesitate to say there is no such thing as trans, not because I disagree with the biological facts, but to honour those whose distress with their sex is so chronic and profound that they need to live as the opposite sex (or, for all I know, perhaps as non-binary, asexual or a chicken – such cases may be genuine conditions). But the “live as” should not involve deception or misrepresentation in legal perspectives or impinge on the rights of others.
Unfortunately, the extreme trans activist movement has – as Debbie repeatedly makes us aware – damaged the standing and prospects of people with those genuine needs, as well as women and, one of my biggest fears, children, and has made it even more difficult to argue for that middle ground where everyone might gain.
Children are at risk both from their exposure to the idea that only they know what sex they are (called, gender, but that’s merely a covert synonym), setting them off down a path that can lead to extreme confusion, medical abuse and permanent physical damage, and from the creeping (and creepy) tendency to imagine children have clarity and insight in the matter of their choices generally, which increasingly includes the suggestion that they might consent to sexual activity (indeed, it follows logically from the assertion that children can assess their “gender” and need for transition that they can also assess the risks of sexual activity, or driving a car, or getting drunk!). A disturbing sector of the male-to-female transitioner identify not as women, but girls, which reinforces the dangerous idea that they can find “other” (actual) girls to play with, and I don’t mean skipping or hopscotch. What’s wrong with innocent little girls having a sleep-over, after all? Maybe objecting to that might not demonstrate respect for the trans-girl, and thus constitute hate speech.
Wouldn’t it be nice if women would rise up as a group to fight this new challenge to them? But no group behaves as a monolith. I learned that lesson when Hillary Clinton ran for president in 2008. She assumed that she would get at least 50% of the votes of black women during the primaries, but she didn’t. Most black women voted for Barack Obama because they identified themselves as black before they identified themselves as women. The truth is, most women feel pretty free in western societies like the U.S. and England. True, some of them are feeling impinged by trans women, but a majority are probably supporting trans women because that is the “tolerant” and progressive thing to do. It doesn’t help that, even with all the imitators, trans women are such a small group that some people have never met one. Like me, in fact. I became an anti-trans activist on principle, before I had actually met one. (Actually, I had met a couple but didn’t realize it, but that’s another story.) The point is, if you don’t actually have trans people in your life who are mucking things up for you, then most women will remain tolerant and liberal.
You may well be right, Caleb. The ‘black’ Obama did almost zilch for black Americans, of course, and I heard one say recently in an interview that she had made a terrible mistake in voting for him. So, perhaps belatedly, people do come to realise which side their bread is buttered on. I have seen numerous ‘trans’ – one, a man with a bread and big boots, dress and tights – although I cannot claim to know any ‘trans’ people on a personal level. I believe in the truth of biology, in any case, so, although I might be tolerant of certain people, if they start to trample on others’ rights. However, it doesn’t take much to understand what this movement is all about and it didn’t need me to go to Specsavers to know that that man was a fraud, and probably, if challenged, a dangerous fraud because he had made such a poor attempt to even try to pass as a woman. I do think people come to understand when a massive fraud has been perpetrated against them. As a former supporter of the SNP – I now loathe them – I can vouch personally for how my sex means a great deal more than party loyalty or even loyalty to ‘whiteness’. I have more in common with a black woman or an Afghan or Iranian woman than I have with the ‘trans’ supporting idiotic men in the SNP, believe me. I also think you sell us short as a sex class, but men always have, Caleb. This time, I think these men have overreached themselves.
I feel your anger on this issue, lorncal, and I have very little idea what it must be like to be a woman in this patriarchal world. I consider it the moral duty of men to work to improve ourselves in our behaviour, our relation to each other and to women, although I’m sure I fall short of my aspirations in that regard: our social conditioning runs deep.
I do want to challenge some of the things you say here, though. I see a need, as part of the feminist or sexual-equality movement, for us to undermine sexual stereotypes, some of which merely indicate common sexual differences. It is unwise and unkind to criticise a woman for having a beard, I hope we can agree, but it is also unwise and unkind to criticise a “trans-woman” for not getting rid of one, in my view. Their mistake is in thinking they are a woman – we agree they are not – not in their style of facial hair or not “passing” as the other.
Hopefully my point would be made clear if you imagine criticising the same person for not trying to pass as a woman because he cut his hair very short or shaved his head, or failed to wear makeup. But I also don’t understand why you consider poor attempts to “pass” to be a “more dangerous” fraud. I would have thought it safer if a trans-woman with a beard tried to get into the women’s changing-room; at least the women would be on their guard.
My position is that either sex ought to be able to present, on the whole, any way they wish. My objections are to those demanding more rights than others (e.g. curtailing other people’s freedom of speech over pronouns), and of course any behaviour involving manipulation or abuse of others. Legal sex, unless shown to be mis-applied at birth, should remain what it was according to biology, and I might go as far as recommending a responsibility in statutory affairs of declaring the correct sex, not “chosen gender”. In more casual circumstances, denying reality is silly, and may become a mental illness, but it should not be an offence.
I am nearly with you, therefore, as far as I can see, on protecting the rights of women from trans people invading their spaces, but my principle has set me a problem:. If, as I contend, males must be allowed to look like females and vice versa, how do we protect single-sex spaces? I can only think it must come down to common sense and occasionally demanding the correct use. I can’t abandon the principle, because – as we all know – it is relatively common not to be able to decide whether a person is male or female when they’re dressed: some people just have androgynous looks!
Furthermore, I contest that there are people for whom using the “correct” sex space may genuinely cause unacceptable levels of distress. Third spaces might be the obvious solution, and might well suit most of the minority who need to live a “trans” identity as far as is feasible. But I’m not one and not a medical expert, and there may be very rare occasions when a trans person ought to be allowed access to the opposite sex spaces. The bottom line is that such issues do need to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis with careful assessment, the opposite of unregulated self-identification. Some, indeed, will probably need physical surgery to find any peace in their lives, so it seems reasonable then for these trans people to switch the spaces they use as well.
I put these thoughts tentatively for consideration, not to cause a row or correct you. I may be wrong.
But I hold to my position (on the right to equality of presentation of the sexes) DESPITE my personal feelings. I FEEL slightly disgusted by the new trend for men to wear makeup and pamper themselves with all the silly chemicals big pharma has been pushing on women for a century, but I think they should have the right to do so. I FEEL irritated with women for buying into the stereotype of having to wear makeup, but they’re adults.
I am, however, actually critical of adults encouraging little girls to sit in front of the mirror preening themselves, because the girls are being indoctrinated with a damaging sexual stereotype, conveying the message that their adult role in life is to be sexually attractive. Women need to stop making themselves look like sex objects, AND men need to stop treating them like sex objects.
All of us need to be less concerned with the book’s cover and instead deal with the reality of the text … unlike the transerati, who pretend there’s some mystical meaning in the story different from what the words say, and then reconstruct the cover to express that fantasy.
Yes, I entirely agree that sexual/gender stereotypes are so often counter-productive. However, in relation to that man with full beard, unlike you, I do not believe they believe they are women. I have researched this very, very deeply, and this new trope, “a ‘trans’ woman is a woman is relatively new in the game, as I’m sure the host of this blog would tell you. DH has undergone extensive surgery and taken hormone treatment, ‘lived as a woman’ for two years (whatever that might mean), had a medical diagnosis for dysphoria, and so on. While I do not believe at all in ‘trans’ anything, I do respect the fact that DH does not claim to be a woman, and is refreshingly clear about autogynephilia.
This man with the beard was taking the p**s – well over 90% of them do. To then claim you are a lesbian ‘trans’ woman is heinous because you are then trying to coerce women who have no affinity whatsoever with males to sleep with you. Misogyny on stilts and straight out of the porn circus, not to mention manipulation on a scale hitherto unseen. You see, I see this as compounding the misogyny that is, without doubt, inherent in this whole ‘trans’ bilge.
Like you, before 2015, I was sympathetic to the “most vulnerable group on the planet” nonsense till I started to think about what women have had to contend with since time immemorial, and I then started to realise that no one ever gives a shit about the trauma that this causes to females everywhere on this planet, how constant misogyny and sexism demeans and hurts us. Even here, in the relatively female-friendly West, females are still second-class people, barely people at all. I have had straight men, outwardly decent men, come down on me like a ton of bricks when I have said this is misogynistic and vile, cruel and sadistic because they cannot cope with the knowledge that their own sex can be such things. It’s the ‘not all men’ thing.
Nobody has ever said it is all men. However, all men benefit from women being second-class people, and the rage that can surface when even mild-mannered men are challenged on that point by women is very telling. We know that there are very many decent, good men, but they have to start calling out their own sex for the often subtle ways in which they undermine women. In the end, though, it is the children that we must protect. They will not get our children, these imposters, woman-facers. They will not, even if it means physically standing up to them. This vile ‘trans’ lobby has to be stopped, and if women have to do that alone, so be it.
Thanks for responding to that, lorncal. Could you explain more about this beardy guys “taking the p**s” phenomenon? Do you know what they are trying to achieve by that presentation? I assume you’re referring to a certain type of blatantly cross-dressing males, who look like the worst possible attempt at drag queens, and I guess do that deliberately as their gender style or whatever. The drag phenomenon is getting mainstream, and I certainly find it repellent myself (but, as I said, I try not to allow my feelings to make judgements about moral questions).
You appear to give the impression that these men do that in order to deliberately offend women, which seems a stretch – why would someone make so much personal effort and go outside of the norm just to take the piss out of women? And would there not be simpler and more obvious methods?
Then you suggest they do this to “coerce women” who have “no affinity with males” to sleep with them, which I also find hard to understand. Are women not choosing whom to sleep with? How is a bearded, terrible drag impression going to “coerce” any woman to have sex? Do you mean lesbians? Do you think these men demand to be taken as lesbian by lesbian women, using the “transphobe” threat? That’s all I can think you could mean. That’s obviously a disgusting way to go on. I’m not sure how much responsibility the women bear, though, if they don’t see through the idiotic lie and tell the guy to sling his hook. I’d hate to suggest lesbians are so stupid as not to recognise a bloke in a dress trying to get his end away by stealth, especially if he’s got a beard.
I was never ‘sympathetic to the “most vulnerable group on the planet” nonsense,’ if by that you mean the trans community’s oft repeated claim that they are. There are lots of different sectors of humanity that are vulnerable in different ways, and I accept that women are one such and have been for most of human history. I don’t see the issue as quite as bad in the West as you seem to think it is, but women are indeed still discriminated against, paid less in work and much more often the victims of violence and intimidation (by men, who do most of the offending). To say that women are treated as “barely people at all” is baseless hyperbole.
“Nobody has ever said it is all men.” – Well, actually, they do. A woman on my counselling diploma course said, apparently seriously, “All men are rapists.” As it happens, we developed a relationship and were lovers for several years, and I’m fairly sure I never raped her (or anyone else). It’s a phrase I’ve heard repeated several times in feminist circles.
“However, all men benefit from women being second-class people,”
No, we don’t. We live in a more unequal, stressful, hateful society, children suffer, men suffer, women suffer. We would all be better off if we fixed the inequalities in society, of all kinds.
” and the rage that can surface when even mild-mannered men are challenged on that point by women is very telling.” Well, maybe those aren’t mild-mannered men, if they express rage, for one thing. For another, maybe they are angry that you don’t see how demeaning it is of a man who is trying to help, when it’s suggested he can’t help; he just is the problem, like all his sex. If you really think he gains from your being barely human, I can see how he might be a bit peeved. I hope you meet enough good men to improve your perception of us.
The beardy guys are either seriously mentally-ill or they know exactly what they are doing, lettersquash. I opt for the latter in most cases. I also believe that a lot of these men enjoy humiliating and terrorising females because it’s what turns them on. That is why no sexual element can be admitted, and why they get so angry when women, who sense instinctively, the sexual element, confront them. Sado-masochism is a sexual fetish. A great deal of this stuff is deeply, profoundly misogynistic, and it is also perpetrated against females who are caught up in someone else’s fetish against their will.
The lesbian ‘trans’ woman is a well-known phenomenon and it targets specifically, lesbian women under the guise of “just be nice” and “it’s transphobic to refuse me”. If you don’t see that this is pure manipulation by heterosexual men to force lesbians into compliance, then you really need to go to Specsavers. Of course the women can say no – many, most do – but vulnerable young women caught up in this bilge have explained how they are made to feel for reneging.
Women are barely people at all is not hyperbole. I used to think it was OTT till I lost my pension (WASPI) without it being phased in gradually. Only a man, or several, could possible think that every wee women has a man behind her. Women lost their homes over this blatant discrimination and thoughtlessness. The Yogyakarta Principles that set all this ‘trans’ moronic bilge in motion did not consult women at all. If that is not seeing women as people, I don’t know how you would describe it. The default position for everything on this Earth is male.
I have never said, and I do not believe, that all men are rapists, but all men benefit from having rapists around to keep women cowed. I am not saying that they see it or that they agree with it, but the practical application of male violence is that women are kept from being fully autonomous human beings. No, you wouldn’t see it because you are evidently a man – which is the very point that women make against this ideology: no man could ever know what it is like to “live as a woman”.
I do not believe we can ever fix all inequalities. That is impossible. What we can fix are opportunities for equality, but never outcome, because there are so many variables at play. Women are naturally constrained by their biology and biological function, but look around you. Society – all societies – are set up around the principle that men are in pole position and that females are an afterthought. I accept that almost all work environments would stutter to a halt if fully-implemented female-friendly practices took over, although great strides have been made in Western societies.
That is where resentment from men sets in. Allied to the ‘trans’ activism is the men’s rights activism. I believe this is where so much of the ‘trans’ phenomenon springs from – perhaps not all – and why we have a crisis of masculinity now because this is what it is. It has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with women which is why we are not buying the nonsense. Why can’t men accept ‘trans’ women in their toilets, changing rooms, etc? They are, after all, a subset of men, not of women.
Yes, I am not as insensitive to the male ego as you appear to think. There are strong male allies out there and I, personally, believe that men and women working together makes for a better society. It is also the best solution for bringing up children. However, this malignant movement aims to drive a wedge between parents and child and has to be fought. Many men just cannot see it for what it is. The want women to just roll over, while they are outraged that we suggest they accept ‘trans’ women. Women, of course, know it’s not that simple either because ‘trans’ identified men want access to female spaces and rights. That is the whole point. The fact is that they are men and we do not, under any circumstances want them in our spaces and rights because they are men, and, as you have said, men commit most of the crimes, and they certainly commit almost every sexual assault.
It is becoming clear to me that your emotion has got the better of your judgement. You appear to have ascribed motive to people from personal feelings, such as the sado-masochism you say is behind “the beardy men” who “enjoy humiliating and terrorising females because it’s what turns them on.” Unless you can back this up with scientific data, it’s very unhelpful.
If men cross dress and pretend to be lesbians in order to hassle lesbians, that must surely constitute a tiny minority of cases of male intimidation of women; it seems logical that a man would have more chance of intimidating straight women into having sex, since there are more of them to approach.
It would also be likely that actual lesbians might use the same argument as a fake lesbian, and statistics show, at least in some circumstances, that lesbians are at much greater risk from other lesbians than from men. In prison, for instance, they suffer more sexual abuse from other inmates than from male prison guards, despite the latter having positions of authority.
In all such cases, it is not reasonable to single out the “vulnerable young women” who have not been empowered to resist manipulation or force and, from that, argue that men should not cross-dress – or is it that they shouldn’t unless they’re going to shave in order to “pass” better? You express the most disturbing levels of intolerance.
You say, “I am not as insensitive to the male ego as you appear to think. There are strong male allies out there and I, personally, believe that men and women working together makes for a better society.”
However, you appear to keep contradicting yourself, or getting very close to it, such as when you say that all men benefit from the subjugation of women, and now, that they do so from their rape by other men. This is preposterous, emotion-driven, man-hating nonsense.
You really double down on this when you exaggerate my point: “as you have said, men commit most of the crimes,” with this: “and they certainly commit almost every sexual assault.” This too is hyperbole, demonstrably false except by some very watered-down definition of “almost every”. Sexual abuse by women has been greatly under-reported, under-researched and disbelieved. In recent years, this has begun to change, and we are learning that women perpetrate a lot more sexual abuse of men and other women, and of children, than was thought. See, for example, https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2016/11/the-understudied-female-sexual-predator/503492/
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I have already posted a comment on this article, but I just want to make one more point.
To dislike trans people for what they are could certainly be considered hate, but it isn’t hate speech to question the excessive power grab that they are making. Trans people deserve all the same rights as other people: To exist, to be protected in housing, employment and public accommodations. But they don’t have the right to tell people how to speak, to redefine what “gender” means for the entire human race, to be seen as experts on gender (which they aren’t), to invade women’s private spaces, to overtake women’s sports, and to influence children with bad ideas. I should add that cancel culture started with trans people, and that has hurt and damaged a lot of people.