The former Tory leader fails to see the importance of single-sex institutions
Only a brave or foolish man would try and instruct women on how they should organise themselves. William Hague’s foray into the transgender debate appears to put him into the latter category. The former Tory leader has suggested that some members of the Women’s Institute should “get over” their opposition to transgender people joining the organisation. Hague explained, “there are transgender people; they have changed their gender. This is part of our society now and I think large national organisations have to get over that and get used to that”.
Yes, there are transgender people — I am one of them — but I am really not sure what Hague means when he claims that we have changed our gender. Was he referring to our hairstyles or perhaps our sartorial approach to life? Maybe he thinks that it is enough to change a name and demand other people use different pronouns when referring to us? He didn’t elaborate. But one thing is clear: we cannot change our sex. Like other mammals, human beings are sexually dimorphic. Our biological development diverged before we were born, and the sex that was observed at birth cannot be changed. Hague seemed to understand that when he discussed sport:
I think on this issue there are some areas where there’s been a danger of going too fast. Competitive sport is one of them. And World Athletics has made it clear that women’s sport has got to be. It can’t be transgender otherwise it would be the end of women’s sport. And I think that is quite right.William Hague
Going too fast, indeed. Sex matters in sport. But sex also matters in how we organise within society. Most groups are mixed sex — men and women contribute alongside each other, and however anyone classifies transgender people we are human and we should fit in somewhere.
However, organisations can and do choose to organise on a single sex basis. The WI is one of them. The National Federation of Women’s Institutes explains that membership is “for any woman who wants to join her local WI group and regularly attend meetings” [my emphasis]. If women are defined by their biological sex in sport, why not the WI? The Institute makes clear that it is “a trusted space for women of all generations to come together to share experiences and learn from each other.”
If those trusted spaces mean anything, then the boundaries must be clear. Unfortunately the present admissions policy is reported to say that anyone “who is living as a woman is welcome”, something that is hardly easy to define. A campaign has been launched to pause the admission of transgender women into local branches and with the intention of a vote being held. Quite right. This is yet another policy shift that has been made without proper understanding of the issues involved.
Hague, and the male sex generally, need to leave this matter to the women of the WI. If they wish to become a mixed-sex organisation it is for women to decide; not me and not Hague. If the WI decides to remain true to its original vision as an organisation for women — female people, that is — then transgender women should respect that decision. We can be supporters, friends and allies, but we cannot change sex.
* This article was first published by Unherd on 19 April 2023: William Hague (unwisely) enters the trans debate.
7 replies on “William Hague (unwisely) enters the trans debate”
The thing that is never – or rarely – highlighted when speaking of ‘trans’ rights v female rights is the reasons why these single-sex spaces, etc. exist in the first place. They exist because women fought tooth and nail, in the teeth of fierce opposition, for them – and for very good reason.
Women are, generally, smaller, than, weaker physically than, and more supportive than, men. It is not easy to admit or even to acknowledge, that too many men see us as their support system. Mostly, we are happy to support the men and boys in our lives. However, when our support is taken for granted and we are deliberately placed in danger or in a situation where we are not comfortable, and we withdraw that support, the rage that seems to consume many men is a sight to behold.
Women and girls are rarely seen as fully-developed human beings, autonomous and capable of great ideas, great artistic endeavour, great work and so on. In this attitude, every sphere of living is geared to that end: films, adverts, television, porn, art, novels, documentaries, and so on, where females are depicted as creatures that are almost, but not quite human, and put on Earth to cater for the male sex, and for that reason only. Even childbirth and nurturing is not allowed to get in the way of that depiction – until we reach 50, or thereabouts, when we suddenly become invisible, no matter how many degrees we have accumulated, no matter how well we have conducted our lives.
This, of course, applies in the West, but, elsewhere, we are denied an education, married off to much older men at an early age, burdened with too many children, not allowed to work to sustain our families, beaten and abused if we do not toe the line like good little automatons, raped and sexually assaulted. We suffer most during wars, are aborted at an alarming rate just for being female. The lot of females the world over is not a happy one, and, always, this is down to our biology and the male sense of entitlement that their biology gives them and the superiority they display towards us in so many demeaning ways. Not all men are monsters, but too many are.
We need our own rights, spaces, sports, opportunities, etc. because we do, because of our biology. We are, basically, at the mercy of men, and the decent ones, who are many, I have to say, do protect us from those who are not. Nevertheless, we have to look after ourselves, too, and, if that means hurting the feelings of entitled men and causing them to froth with rage, those who pretend to be us, in full knowledge that they are not us and never can be us, then so be it. Equally, ‘trans’ men do not belong in male spaces, etc. No one wants a small or teenage daughter to be subjected to a naked man in her changing room, but nor does anyone want their small or teenage son to be faced with a naked female in his changing room. Modesty, an old-fashioned word now, is still evident in both males and females, and out individual and group boundaries require to be recognized in law and adhered to by all.
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I absolutely support you in the fight, lorncal. I feel ashamed of my sex, as I feel ashamed of my whiteness and my middle-class privilege and increasingly of being British. It’s painful every time I read something like the above (although I was grateful for your acknowledgement of the range of types of men) or hear comments from women along those lines.
If I witness male aggression or oppression against women I would call it out, I hope. I’d be one of those guys holding other guys to account, but I have no posse of male friends, and any example of this that comes to my attention is too far removed to feel like it’s my business (although I am questioning that regarding a friend of a friend who is being controlled and gaslighted by her husband – it’s hard to know when it’s appropriate).
I’ve never been one to get together with the lads; I’m not into football or whatever else brings blokes together to indulge in bravado and misogyny. It took me a long time to realise how common that kind of behaviour is.
Humanity is sexually dimorphic, and men are biologically programmed to try to be the alpha male, or as dominant as possible, to obtain and control a harem of wives. It’s no excuse. We’re not swinging from trees anymore. I’m a pathetic creature, and predictably have no offspring – an evolutionary failure and dead-end. Yay for me! Seriously, I feel glad to have transcended the demands of my selfish genes, and glad not to have kids to worry about in these times.
In my youth, I recognised that women had another subtle power in the relationship dynamics, and I still think it is a valid assessment. Women have a sexual power over men (for complementary reasons to the above: they required protection and support to survive in our ancient past). Lots of girls recognise this as they mature (I’m reliably informed) and begin manipulating boys through their sexual charms (particularly those alpha males, the bad guys, to the dismay of weaklings like me). To some extent, women also have a greater power through their mutual, multi-generational, support: in families, a group of women will often overrule a man, even one who is nominally “head of the household”.
Men are biologically more disconnected and solitary, at least we were until we invented the social institutions of our human cultures. I tend to think men usurped female power around the Neolithic, inventing male-dominated religions and armies.
Fast forward to the 19th Century and beyond, and men control everything, with their academies and political parties, businesses and clubs, and women are indeed second-class citizens. Rectifying the patriarchy is still ongoing, and males demanding access to female spaces threaten to undermine it. That is not to say that groups of males and females can agree a space that is mixed-sex, whether divided by the new “gender” or not. I personally think we ought not be so squeamish about nudity and mixing of sexes in certain instances, but this should never be a legal requirement overriding the needs of those who want the privacies that we have known for centuries. Forcing inclusion on people isn’t being inclusive; it’s discriminatory. And the trans movement needs to recognise that single-sex spaces can’t just be turned into single-gender spaces to suit them.
You paint a dark but fairly accurate picture of where women are worldwide.
The problem as I see it is that the 2010 Equality Act is something that organisations cannot risk ignoring without risking losing their funding or their charitable status. Politicians are very well aware of this. The protected categories cover just about everyone ,except carers for some reason , but there is no real solution to what happens when conflicting categories clash. There is also as far as I can tell no guidance as to how the protected categories should try to accommodate each others interests. We all have to take responsibility for the effect our actions have on other people and the organisations we want to be part of. If rights only work one way then conflict is inevitable. I don’t know how many trans women are wanting access to the Women’s Institute but I feel this media story has been contrived to cause controversy and William Hague is just adding to this.
Pauline: the Equality Act covers ‘gender reassignment’, not ‘gender identity’. It is very evident from reading the whole of the Act that ‘sex’ means biological female or male, therefore it cannot at one and the same time cover males/females with a gender identity and a GRC (legal sex) and also cover ‘sex’ as being biological sex. The two are entirely contradictory, and, if we take ‘gender reassignment’ plus a GRC (legal sex), that gives ‘trans’ identified people two protected categories instead of one, while negating female biological protection.
The Act needs to be clarified in law. Furthermore, the 2004 GRA (which the Scottish GRRB would have been an extension of – i.e. and extension of ‘trans’ rights that no other group in society would enjoy – and would have negated female rights by default, by-passing the 2010 EQA. It is an outrage and against all natural justice, let alone man-made justice and cannot stand according to the UN’s own definitions of human rights. The 2004 Act allowed a GRC for same-sex marriage before other, more recent legislation made same-sex marriage open to all. It was never intended to be used for ‘legal sex’ to invade female spaces, etc.
The ‘trans’ lobby has overreached itself by claiming rights to which no law has been penned. This is Stonewall’s work: lying consistently and with no contrition that laws are such-and-such when they are no such thing. It has to stop or all laws will come into the firing line. We are facing a totalitarian take-over through this issue and ideology. That cannot be emphasized enough, and people really need to get their heads round this – and not just women. Women are in the way and that is why they have been targeted first, along with children, but men will soon discover that they, too, are in the firing line, especially homosexual men (and lesbians). The ‘T’ have targeted them just as much as women and children – and it is all illegal according to UK laws. It is almost beyond belief what has been done. Almost. Politicians and the media are almost 100% behind this absolutely unhinged and deranged movement.
If you read the Denton’s Document, lettersquash, you will understand why every aspect of female existence is being deliberately, and with malice, targeted. Every public and private institution in the UK is now under threat. Please feel responsible for men because the vast majority, albeit they might be macho and careless of female feelings, are decent people.
I, too, feel ashamed of my white race and the things it has done to black and brown and yellow people in the past, and, to some extent, is still doing, but I do not feel responsible because I am not. On the other hand, I think we have to do a great deal better in future.
I feel ashamed of the young women who support this guff against their sisters. One day, they will be us and they cannot run away from that by ‘changing gender’. They could put their energies into campaigning to make women’s lives more relevant and meaningful. I think they are so incredibly stupid – or, perhaps, brainwashed might be a better way of looking at it.
Yes, I have often pondered why men chase after women who are beautiful or attractive on the surface, and I have pondered equally on why so many women just do not see good men in front of their noses who may not be alpha males, but who would make excellent husbands and fathers. I suppose it has something to do with biology, but we should really be getting a handle on that by now and understanding that we do not have to behave badly to each other. Alpha (male or female) can often mean arrogant and blinkered and entitled.
I honestly do not believe that women can give one inch to ‘trans’, not one inch because, the minute they do, there will be no female spaces, rights, sports, anything. Folk just do not get what this movement is: it wants it all; it wants to turn our society upside down; it wants to take away all our rights and establish a totalitarian regime that supposedly would establish equity. Equity is a pipe dream because, while equality of opportunity is sensible and fair and eminently achievable, equality of outcome is impossible in any society – even in those ancient civilizations based on egalitarian principles of sharing and caring – because some will go to the top, some will be in the middle and others will remain at the bottom, and, while redistribution can go some way to alleviating that, it can never cure it. Each human is different from every other human.
What the politicians need to do is clarify the law as it stands, tell the ‘trans’ lobby, this and no further and pledge to females that their rights will be kept intact. If they don’t, the clash will come and it will not be a pretty one because women will not budge, even under threat. If the politicians insist we give way, they will be creating the very totalitarian society they fear, or revolution as never before seen will take place and they will fall. Already, the political push-back is coming and they will start to lose seats over adherence to ‘trans’ rights. They have them all already. That will be highlighted very soon, and most people – those not wilfully blind and deaf – will see that this aggressive lobby wants more and more and more extensions to already-existing equal rights. Don’t be fooled by the cry that this is about making life easier for ‘trans’ people; it is all about making life unbearable for the rest of us.
Sorry, lettersquash, that should have read ‘please do NOT feel responsible…
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Whew! Thanks for correcting that. There is a lot you write that I agree with, but I still don’t understand your description of the trans-rights movement as an act of deliberate collective misogyny. As you say here: “If you read the Denton’s Document, lettersquash, you will understand why every aspect of female existence is being deliberately, and with malice, targeted. Every public and private institution in the UK is now under threat.” I have given the “Denton’s Document” a good inspection, though not every word – I assume you mean this https://www.iglyo.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/IGLYO_v3-1.pdf – and I see no particular emphasis on “trans women”, which I imagine is what most threatens (actual) women, nor unambiguous evidence of malice.
My impression is that the authors are ideologues entranced by postmodern social justice nonsense, but perhaps I’ve misunderstood. I agree that every institution in the UK may be under threat, and we’ve seen that the programme has been successful in infiltrating government, business, education, etc.
There are statements about not publicizing the movement too much because of the negative reaction, and about infiltrating political parties via their youth section, which, from our side of the equation can be taken as manipulative and dishonest, but if you’re a social-justice warrior who genuinely believes kids should have quick and easy access to legal gender recognition, and you believe they’re suffering and dying because they haven’t got it, it’s not such an enormous moral sacrifice to make to use more stealthy tactics: I’d do something similar to stop this!
It is, of course, bonkers, the whole thing is monstrous, and it is almost incredible that such people don’t stop and think, “Why IS there so much resistance that we need stealth tactics?” but there are stupid people in the world – and they either don’t ask that, or immediately come up with, “Transphobes!”
I’m almost eager to believe the picture you paint, because finding a ground zero and motive for this disgusting crime of a movement would at least reduce my confusion about it, but I just don’t see it. Of course, the document explains HOW the movement has had such a deep impact on society; I can also see that women are much more likely to be harmed by the movement, but the document doesn’t indicate a motive that it was anything to do with demeaning or attacking women.