The ferocious transgender dispute is framed by the language of gender identity. To reach any resolution, though, we need to understand what everyone has at stake and to question our own basic assumptions. The truth about what it means to be transgender is a window into human nature, sexual desire, and the limits of language.
Ricky Gervais knew what he was doing and why he was doing it when he took on transgender activism in his new Netflix special, SuperNature. Three quarters of an hour into his set, he told his audience:
‘I talk about AIDS, famine, cancer, the Holocaust, rape, paedophilia…the one thing you should never joke about is the trans issue. They just want to be treated equally. I agree; that’s why I include them. But they know I’m joking about all the other stuff, but – they go – ‘no, he must mean that’.’Ricky Gervais, SuperNature
Cervical cancer and ovarian cancer only affect women. So why has the NHS been quietly erasing the word ‘women’ from information pages on its official website?
Edinburgh Napier University claims to be one of the largest providers of nursing and midwifery education in Scotland. It now seems they are expanding their remit to the care and treatment of pregnant males.
A minister in the Scottish government has likened people who share my opinions to racists or anti-Semites. Apparently my views on how best to support and include transgender people in society place me on the same footing as those who condemn and exclude others based on their race.
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.
As Keir Starmer still struggles to tell us what he thinks the word ‘woman’ means, some much-needed common sense has been injected into the transgender debate. The Equality and Human Rights Commission has published guidance for providers of single-sex and separate-sex services: in short, it says bathrooms and domestic abuse refuges can be single sex in certain circumstances. This is welcome news for women – and for transgender folk like me.
Westminster has its first openly transgender Member of Parliament. In the early hours of this morning*, Jamie Wallis, Conservative MP for Bridgend, announced: ‘I’m trans. Or to be more accurate, I want to be.’
As a paid-up member of the Labour party, it’s rare that I agree wholeheartedly with a Conservative politician. But Boris Johnson has spoken some much-needed common sense in the gender debate. ‘When it comes to distinguishing between a man and a woman,’ the PM told MPs yesterday, ‘the basic facts of biology remain overwhelmingly important.’