Sex matters

“It’s been quite the month for the Gender Critical community”

Standpoint Magazine

It’s been quite the month for the Gender Critical community—namely, those of us who have nothing against trans people but who refuse to chant the mantra “Transwomen Are [Literally] Women”, and certainly not in all-caps repetition on Twitter.

Liz Truss lifted our spirits no end, rejecting the pernicious proposal to amend the Gender Recognition Act to allow men to self-identify as women. (Yes, that’s exactly how it sounds—self-identification even if you’re in possession of a beard and a full set of male genitals, and no medical diagnosis at all.)

The GRA has included single-sex exemptions from the start, so it’s puzzling that in the last few years, lobby groups have crowded into the boardrooms of charities, corporations and government institutions, insisting that women are legally obliged to accept transwomen in their spaces. (That’s not just “bathrooms”, incidentally—it includes women’s refuges and prisons.) The rejection of self-ID by this government is a tremendous boost to those of us who know what the law says—and who still think sex matters and that “gender” is a cluster of ridiculous stereotypes.

All the same, a woman’s work is never done. (Nor yours, the many men and transpeople in the GC camp—thank you.) The other major parties are still fully committed to self-ID. There’s a lot of “training session” misinformation to clear out of public and private institutions. Same as it ever was: the war for women’s rights is yet to be won.

***

It’s one of the many bizarre contradictions in trans ideology that while grown men have no obligation to take a single hormone—let alone have their “lady penises” removed—children are eagerly encouraged to demand body modification and drugs that will affect their entire lives.

Good on the Department for Education, then, for introducing new guidelines requiring that schools stop playing host to lobby groups that perpetuate the “born in the wrong body” myth. That’s the homophobic misconception, say some brave renegade professionals from the Tavistock Gender Clinic, that will result in there being “no gay kids left”.

Cue a frantic flurry of trans-lobby website amendments; and you couldn’t move on social media without stepping on a reversing ferret. Suddenly “born in the wrong body” was a “metaphor” that no-one should have taken seriously. Now that Mermaids Gender and Stonewall have cleared that up, perhaps they’ll consider endorsing the lovely book My Body Is Me by Rachel Rooney and Jessica Ahlberg?

That would be a nice way of saying sorry to Rooney in particular—who was driven out of children’s writing by a storm of abuse and hate: a storm that came not from anonymous social media trolls, but from a clique of Mermaids-supporting children’s authors.

***

To top off a good few days, more than 50 creative professionals signed a letter to the Sunday Times in support of J.K. Rowling, who has endured an avalanche of sexualised abuse and death threats calling her “transphobic” (she isn’t). The letter didn’t even mention trans ideology; it was a statement of solidarity against abuse, especially of women, and I was one of the signatories.

Three steps forward, at least one back. Mslexia was once a magazine devoted to promoting women’s writers. Amanda Craig, the eminent author of The Golden Rule and an early feature writer for the magazine, was also one of the signatories of the Rowling letter. That prompted one complaint from a trans activist—and Mslexia couldn’t drop their hot brick fast enough. Craig was removed as a competition judge—all for a letter opposing bullying and misogyny. Go figure, because I can’t.

Dear teenage me: kindly come to feminism a little sooner. Those battles you thought were won—they’re still there to be fought. Again.

***

Dementia is a hellish thing, but it can still have its funny moments. “People keep trying to tell me you’re my daughter,” said my mother the other day. “I am, though,” I reassured her. “Honest I am.”

She was quiet for a moment, thinking. She shook her head. “Goodness,” she said. “I didn’t know I was THAT old.”

***

Other things I wish teenage me had known, or even 30-year-old me: there are two essentials in life, and one of them is a high-pressure washer.

Seriously, kids: get one before you even get a TV. I came home yesterday hugging my new toy, and spent the hours until dusk stripping age and an infinite variety of mould from my house, all while dressing and feeling like an absurdly happy Ghostbuster.

I’ve been lucky in lockdown; I live in the country, and ticks and midges are worth it for the relative freedom and the proximity of many horses. Being fired from my own children’s writing job (for backing J.K. Rowling) has meant that my garden and my neighbours’ no longer look like before-and-after Alan Titchmarsh projects. And make-up suddenly seems pointless as well as expensive, so I’ve pretty much quit the addiction.

Best of all, I’ve had the chance to train as a lorry driver. I’m now qualified to drive up to 7.5 tonnes, and the test for the bigger trucks is coming up. Refreshingly, in road haulage, lying and fraud aren’t considered “kindness”, but downright dangerous. I’m looking forward to joining an industry where being a mouthy woman won’t cause half as much trouble as it did in children’s publishing.

An autumn note

“For many, the end of this uneasy year cannot come quickly enough”

An ordinary killing

Ian Cobain’s book uses the killing of Millar McAllister to paint a meticulous portrait of the Troubles

Greater—not wiser

John Mullan elucidates the genius of Charles Dickens
Search