Jump to navigation Jump to search
- I'd never thought about my gender identity before. It hadn't occurred to me that not being a "girly" girl meant I wasn't 100 per cent woman. The point, I've always believed, is to expand the categories "man" and "woman", to tear down pink and blue prisons. So a little girl can like trucks, spacemen, getting dirty and still be a girl; a boy can put on nail polish, play with dolls and be no less a boy.
- "The trans lobby peddles a pink and blue world", The Times (14 May 2016)
- The International Olympic Committee's rule changes on transgender athletes have been applauded as a human rights victory. No longer will trans-females be required to have surgery. To take part in women’s events, they need only declare themselves female and keep their testosterone levels below 10 nmol/L for a year before competing.
Arne Ljungqvist of the IOC’s medical committee welcomed this as "more flexible and more liberal". And it is great news — unless you are a woman athlete.
Testosterone levels in healthy men range between 7.5 and 25 nmol/L. Normal levels in women range from 0.20 to 3 nmol/L. So a male-to-female trans athlete will be allowed to have more than three times the upper range of this performance-enhancing hormone than a born woman. And while taking female hormones reduces male muscle mass and bone density, many biological advantages remain. Men have bigger skeletons, longer stride, larger lung capacity, and a narrower pelvis — unhindered by female reproductive organs — all better suited for speed.
- "Transgender athletes are unfair to women", The Times (28 January 2016).
- TERF stands for Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist. But lately the definition has expanded to include any woman worried that permitting men who "self-identify" as female to enter women’s changing rooms or refuges unchallenged makes her less safe.
- So at Speakers’ Corner trans activists and feminists were chanting and taunting each other. Maria was taking photographs when an opponent grappled with her, snatched her camera and smashed it on the ground. Then a tall, male-bodied, hooded figure wearing make-up rushed over, hit her several times and as police arrived, ran away. I asked a young activist if she was OK with men smacking women: "It’s not a guy, you’re a piece of s*** and I’m happy they hit her", came the reply.
- [T]rans demands and women’s rights are often in such clear and irreconcilable conflict. Take Martin Ponting, jailed in 1995 for raping two girls, one disabled. After cosmetic surgery, but still possessing male genitalia, Ponting, now called Jessica Winfield, was moved to Bronzefield women’s prison but after making unwanted sexual advances to inmates has been segregated. Are you appalled that a rapist is confined with women prisoners, mainly non-violent offenders and themselves often victims of male sexual abuse? Do you think the Soham murderer Ian Huntley should never be allowed to transfer even if, as reported, he calls himself "Lian"? Then you too are a TERF and deserve to be punched.
- So when is it OK to punch a woman? When she won’t do what you want; when you don’t like what she says. Some things never change.
- "The battle over gender has turned bloody", The Times (16 September 2017).
- The claim about Ian Huntley, entirely false and retracted later, appeared in tabloids such as The Sun in February 2017. According to The Telegraph at that time: "A Prison Service spokesman told the newspaper [The Sun] that Huntley was not planning transitioning to switch gender." See "'Call me Lian': Child killer Ian Huntley 'has told inmates to call him by feminine version of his name'" The Telegraph (15 February 2017).
- [T]he current trans movement is doctrinaire, uncompromising. Led by mainly older trans-women — ie born men — it won’t acknowledge women's rights or feelings. It fights for two principles. First, "self-definition": a person is the gender they "feel" inside, so a trans-woman "is" a woman even without physical change or while retaining male genitalia. Second, "affirmation": everyone must acknowledge this inner gender identity. Hence the right to waltz into women’s private spaces is sacrosanct.
- This craze to expedite gender transition in children goes against all clinical advice for "watchful waiting". The young brain evolves, children change their minds, puberty is troubling for many reasons. Yet the Scottish guidance allows no one to dispute a child's view, maybe acquired on Reddit and Tumblr, that he or she is in "the wrong body". Or to suggest that a child may simply be gay. The apparatus of medical transition, a hormone regime causing sterility, plus surgical removal of healthy tissue, is seen as wholly positive. PE teachers must tolerate girls using binders to strap down their hated breasts "which can lead to shortness of breath and can be painful during physical exertion" because they have "a positive impact on a young person's mental health".
We are being ordered to endorse a practice reminiscent of Chinese foot-binding or the Victorian tight-lacing craze where girls fainted to achieve the tiniest waist. Should we also hand out fresh razor blades so self-harm wounds don’t go septic? Or "affirm" anorexics' delusions that they are fat?
- "Children sacrificed to appease trans lobby", The Times (11 November 2017).
- [On the case of Karen White, born Stephen Wood (and retaining male genitals), a sexual offender against children and on remand as a rapist. White had admitted in court to the rapes committed before being held in custody.] I’d love to meet those who signed off this decision. What would they say to the four women who, within days of her transfer to New Hall prison in West Yorkshire, White had sexually assaulted? Confining a rapist in a women’s prison, among vulnerable inmates including rape victims, is like locking a fox in a henhouse. Yet they merely followed government guidelines "that prisoners should generally be housed in the estate that matches their expressed gender".
- "It never happens," women were told when they worried that losing sex-segregated private spaces might allow attacks by predatory men. Yet, as FoI [Freedom of Information] requests by The Sunday Times last week showed, 90 per cent of sexual assaults in leisure centres are committed in gender-neutral changing rooms and only a tenth in single-sex facilities. It happens.
- This is not a piffling problem. The BBC reality check team confirmed that 60 (48 per cent) of the 125 trans prisoners in jails are sex offenders. That compares with 19 per cent in the prison population overall. Yet, since women commit only 2 per cent of sex crimes, out of 8,000 women prisoners there are only 125 sex offenders. So if the 60 trans sex offenders were housed according to gender identity, it would create a sea change in women’s prisons. There would be 50 per cent more sex offenders; they’d be male bodied, physically stronger and have committed far more serious crimes, including 27 rapes, 13 sexual assaults and seven charges of sex with a child.
- "Trans rapists are a danger in women’s jails", The Times (8 September 2018)
- See also Nazia Parveen "Karen White: how 'manipulative' transgender inmate attacked again", The Guardian (11 October 2018).
- When you write about really difficult and toxic subjects it really helps to have your newspaper behind you and I just want to thank the Times ... who have been completely behind me in dealing with something that is complicated.
I have a privilege in being able to write about this difficult subject, which is not something women in universities have at the moment, and I urge that we debate this more thoroughly and freely.
- Quoted by Freddy Mayhew "Buzzfeed’s LGBT editor worried by transgender media coverage as Times columnist Janice Turner urges free debate on issue", Press Gazette (11 December 2018).
- At the British Journalism Awards for 2018, Turner received the award for Comment Journalism.
- Yesterday, amid the smoking ruins, Corbyn outriders like Ash Sarkar and Owen Jones looked like scared kids who’d burnt down the family home, now hoping the grown-ups would make everything OK. Their spiteful and empty call-out culture will never move the mainstream. It is time for every dispossessed Labour member who left because of antisemitism or Momentum bullying to rejoin. If Corbyn’s declared period of navel-gazing is long enough they’ll qualify to vote in a new leader. Let centrist entryism begin.
When Johnson toured Doncaster market in August his reception was enthusiastic but stall-holders were puzzled: "He had his head down, he didn’t say hello," some said. For the PM, the working-class north is a dragon he bought drunk on eBay. It scares him, he doesn’t understand it — he knows it’s not really his.
- At a Notting Hill party the Saturday after the referendum, I had a stand-up barney with a Labour MP. "It’s a disaster!" he cried. "We need a second vote right away." Other guests nodded gravely, but I couldn’t contain myself. Hang on, I said, are you saying a democratic decision is invalid because you lost? "It’s appalling," he wailed. "It can’t happen!" Thus began my life for the next five years.
I voted Remain – "with no illusions" as we used to say when I was a student Trot – but I was raised in Doncaster North, a Red Wall seat. I saw the gradual untethering of traditional Labour supporters in my own late father. In 2009, after the local party was discredited by the Donnygate expenses scandal, he voted to make a so-called English Democrat mayor. My father, and millions like him, had little in common with bien pensant London lefties whom I call friends. A reckoning was coming.
What surprised me wasn’t the result, but the reckless determination of Remainers to reverse it. Did they think 17 million people would just accept their votes being cancelled? If Remain had won, would they have been cool with Nigel Farage demanding a rerun? The contempt for Brexit voters – that they were thick, old racists, from shitty places – disgusted me.
- "How Brexit changed us: Let’s make the most of Britain’s new place in the world", New Statesman (23 June 2021).
- Turner in 2019 argued for a multi-choice second referendum, see "Let arrogant Remain ultras have their vote", The Times (5 April 2019).
- In her book Material Girls, Stock asserts that although a person’s professed "gender identity" should be respected, biological sex is immutable and, in some circumstances — prisons, rape counselling, sports — must take precedence to protect women’s rights. This mainstream opinion is protected under the 2010 Equality Act. Yet her persecutors believe trans people literally change sex. They believe that in granting her academic freedom, the university fails to be trans inclusive. "We are not up for debate," they say.
That such unscientific, magical thinking has become sacrosanct is calamitous for academics, especially feminist scholars who study how women are historically oppressed via their reproductive role. An Edinburgh lecturer in gender and education tells me she offered students both LGBTQ and feminist reading materials. "As with any subject, I tell them to examine all sides, to think, talk, then form a considered view." For this she was reported to the staff Pride network, which solicits student complaints, and then quietly dropped from lecturing on gender.
Across British campuses women academics — and it is always women — face threats, witch-hunts and lost livelihoods for holding gender critical views.
- Stock is no right-wing bigot but a mild-mannered, dry-humoured, left-wing lesbian. An acclaimed philosopher who received an OBE last year, she teaches trans students, respecting their pronouns, and has written repeatedly in support of their human rights. It is bleakly ironic that she is accused of "endangering" others just for holding heretical views, when police have warned her to stay off campus and take security measures for her personal safety.
- "The silent majority must stand up to student bullies", The Times (8 October 2021).
- Professor Kathleen Stock (then of the University of Sussex) had endured two years of harassment and threats at this point in time for her allegedly "transphobic" opinions.
- When Andrea, a Metropolitan Police constable, was summoned into a room by her inspector he stood up, she assumed, to greet her politely. Instead he lunged, grabbing her breasts and forcing his hands into her underwear. She froze, then aimed a kick at his groin and fled.
Andrea hadn't intended to report him — "you shut up and put up with it. If you speak out, you’re finished" — but she confided in a colleague who did. Compelled to pursue a complaint, a 30-month ordeal began which ended in her dismissal for discreditable conduct in 2020. The inspector kept his job.
- Almost daily in the Met, Andrea witnessed what in any other workplace would bring a visit from HR or even instant dismissal. She was paired with an officer who liked to park near secondary schools to ogle teenage girls’ breasts; colleagues constantly watched porn on their phones; a PC, convicted of gross indecency for masturbating on a train, kept his job; men would return from domestic violence scenes saying the victim was mad and deserved a slap.
If Andrea failed to laugh at such banter, colleagues would ask: "Are you on your period?" If she left her notebook lying around she'd find a penis drawn inside. Older women were "Dorises" or "white goods" (ie domestic appliances). When a young tourist disappeared, men gathered around the computer to gawp at her photograph, one saying: "She’s locked in my sex dungeon at home." When the station carpet was treated for a flea infestation they joked: "It’s for Andrea’s crabs."
- "The Met’s misogynists are untouchable" The Times (4 February 2022)
- Clearly the GRR has far-reaching implications for women. But what happens when they point this out? First, the bombastic know-alls who've ignored every female writer, lawyer and policymaker for five years pull out their manly opinions. Like Alastair Campbell, who chided Laura Kuenssberg for an interview with Sir Keir Starmer in which she dwelt on the GRR, which affects half the population — but not the important half. Or Lord Falconer, who pompously wafts away concerns, tweeting that "the vast majority" of new male GRC holders "are likely to be genuine". So what's a few women facing sexual assault or indecent exposure, an intimidated lesbian or two, or a class of girls unhappily undressing with a teenage boy? These “It might never happen, love" guys don't think women deserve legislation that protects us in principle. We're expected to pray that careless laws, framed for others' benefit, don't hurt us in practice. And if they do, it’s just an "isolated incident". Suck it up. And the next one. There’s no pattern. Let’s ignore the inconvenient truth that males commit 98 per cent of sex crime and 90 per cent of violence, whatever their gender identity.
- "'It might never happen, love' is no basis for law" The Times (20 January 2023)
- On events following the blocking by the Westminster government of the SNP's Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill, passed by the Scottish parliament, from receiving Royal assent.
- Mark it in your diary: the bicentenary of the Gaols Act 1823. The work of the social reformer Elizabeth Fry, this landmark law mandated sex-segregated prisons with female inmates guarded by female wardens. When women were incarcerated among men, Fry observed, they were exploited, terrified and raped. She established a principle which became enshrined in international law, from UN protocols to the Geneva conventions. How, then, was history rewound, 200 years of evidence memory-holed, so that this week the double rapist Adam Graham was remanded in Cornton Vale women’s prison? How could a "robust" risk assessment by the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) conclude he was safe?
- "There’s a better way to treat trans prisoners" The Times (27 January 2023)
- Opening paragraph. An untransitioned trans women Isla Bryson (born Adam Graham) was convicted in Glasgow in January 2023 of raping two women (at the time of the crimes, the offender was unquestionably male), but began to identify as a woman after being charged. The individual was initially held in the Scottish women's prison.
- Even so, would a state-run plan to bump off the old ever be acceptable? Since assisted dying was legalised in the Netherlands in 2002, the parameters have extended far beyond allowing a merciful release from terminal suffering — which most of us support — to include even young people with depression.
- In Canada assisted dying is available to almost anyone able to give informed consent if they first undergo counselling. Critics say euthanasia has been offered to the poor, disabled or just unhappy, including maimed military veterans.
- Yet this dystopian film has one uplifting lesson. The administrators of Plan 75 are young people: they process applicants, listen to their fears and life stories on helplines and finally hand out the death drugs with a benign indifference. They don’t hate the elderly, they just don't see them as truly human. Only when they happen to meet and forge the special bond between old and young do they see the horror of their work.
- "Let elderly live well or death will tempt them" The Times (22 April 2023)
- The tribunal is a timely reminder to the left that democratic norms are precious. If you try to crush every political opponent or believe intimidation is fine when it happens to the "bad guys"; if you declare that law-breakers you agree with should go unpunished, while those you disagree with don't deserve legal representation, you are no better than Trump or Orban. Stating that a lesbian does not have a penis is an inalienable right.
- True, different views on the surge in female-to-male transition were reported brilliantly last week by the Times's Janice Turner, one of the strikingly few women willing, in the face of concerted abuse, publicly to examine complex social and medical changes the authorities seem disinclined to explore. That such women are frequently and correctly described as "brave", for all the world as if they were war correspondents, only underlines the extent to which conventionally abhorrent exhibitions of bullying and hate-speech have been allowed to flourish here – with some of our most trusted adults leading by example.
- Catherine Bennett "Bullies everywhere delight in coming up with new insults", The Observer (19 October 2017).