Why is the United Nations trying to police our language on gender?

Removing the words to describe sexist discrimination does not improve the conditions for women, it merely removes their ability to describe the problem.

George Orwell popularised the word ‘thoughtcrime’, but he also wrote extensively about the destruction of language. This week, the United Nations has been playing that worrying game, of meddling with what people say.

‘What you say matters’, the UN wrote in a tweet. ‘Help create a more equal world by using gender-neutral language if you’re unsure about someone’s gender or are referring to a group,’ its Twitter account urged, telling people to substitute words like ‘mankind’ for ‘humankind’, ‘maiden name’ for ‘family name’ and ‘businessman’ for ‘representative’.

There is nothing bad, of course, about trying not to offend people. But there is something deeply troubling about adapting language in a way that dilutes meaning. And is it really the UN’s place to try and police what people say? Continue reading “Why is the United Nations trying to police our language on gender?”

Freddy McConnell and the mother of fights

While the ‘woman’ debate has pitched a small minority of transgender people against a rather larger group of women, the ‘mother’ debate pitches one individual against another.

Coronavirus has closed schools, grounded planes and even delayed the start of the cricket county championship, but it has not shut down the transgender debate. This often toxic and divisive issue has proved to be one of the hardiest items in the news agenda in recent years. And even a pandemic has done little to limit the exposure.

Birth certificates are the latest topic to provoke fury. But now there is a difference. While the discussion up to now has broadly surrounded the documents of transgender people, the Court of Appeal has just upheld a ruling about the documents of their children. Continue reading “Freddy McConnell and the mother of fights”

Defend me or expel me

I am not a woman nor am I LGB, but I am transsexual. And all three groups face oppression and opposition in society and we are stronger when we find common cause.

This is the transcript of a speech I gave at the Defend me or expel me rally organised by the Labour Women’s Declaration in London on 9 March 2020.

 The event had been called to support Woman’s Place UK and the LGB Alliance. Both organisations had been denounced as transphobic and trans-exclusionist by the self-styled Labour Campaign for Trans Rights (LCTR). Shockingly the LCTR had been supported by Labour Members of Parliament, including contenders for the leadership of the party. Continue reading “Defend me or expel me”

Bringing Trans People Together

Grace and compassion between political opponents are therefore crucial, but too often in short supply – particularly on social media platforms where much of the debate takes place.

As Covid-19 spread across every continent, the world changed in ways that we could not have anticipated as recently as Christmas. “Self-isolation” and “social distancing” have entered the lexicon and taken root in my mind to such an extent that video clips of people breaking the two-metre rule seem to belong to another age, like old silent movies. These are – to use an overworked expression – unprecedented times.

But trans people have been living in unprecedented times that go back further than Christmas. While previously we were largely ignored by politicians and the media – apart from occasional salacious and often unwelcome feature articles – trans issues have been high in the news agenda for the past three years. That has not always been a blessing. Continue reading “Bringing Trans People Together”

La identidad de género es una patraña

La identidad de género es una mera suposición: es el supuesto de que la identidad de género existe. Este razonamiento no solo es orwelliano, sino digno de Lewis Carroll… y su lugar es la papelera.

Las afirmaciones «las mujeres trans son mujeres» y «los hombres trans son hombres» han de estar compitiendo por erigirse como la frase definitoria de nuestros tiempos. En poco más de cinco años, el tema transgénero ha irrumpido con tal fuerza en la conciencia colectiva que el aún joven Día Internacional de la Visibilidad Transgénero parece ya anacrónico. Quizá deberíamos de remplazarlo por el Día del Discernimiento, porque, si bien las personas transgénero (como yo, por ejemplo) nos hemos vuelto bastante visibles, las razones por las que somos transgénero siguen ocultas en la sombra. Continue reading “La identidad de género es una patraña”

Gender identity is bollocks

Gender Identity is pure assumption – an assumption that gender identity exists. This is not only Orwellian, it is worthy of Lewis Carroll. It needs to be consigned to the bin.

Trans women are women and trans men are men must be in contention for the defining statement of our age. In little more than five years, transgender awareness has burst into the public consciousness to the extent that the recent International Transgender Day of Visibility seems to be a relic of history. Maybe it could be replaced by a day of understanding? Because, while transgender people – like me, for example – have become very visible, the reasons why we are transgender are still hidden in the shadows. Continue reading “Gender identity is bollocks”

It’s time to pause the transgender debate

We have a massive battle on our hands, and this is not the time to reform the Gender Recognition Act. As the LGB Alliance said recently, it’s time to press pause.

As the United Kingdom plunges into an unprecedented crisis, the time has surely come to halt the reforms to self-identification of gender. Schools are closing; London could be locked down; even The Archers has an uncertain future – this really is a crisis. At such times, we can no longer afford the luxury of devoting time and resources to the foolish idea that biology matters less than feelings, when we divide humanity into male and female. Continue reading “It’s time to pause the transgender debate”