0/10 for Shami Chakrabarti - Back to the Drawing Board!
Dr Anna Cleaves puts Shami Chakrabarti right on the science and the sociology behind 'transgenderism':
Written by Dr Anna Cleaves
Baroness Shami Chakrabarti is one of the most successful Asian women in Britain. Head of Liberty at the age of 36, and long-standing Labour politician, she was made a Life Peer in 2016. The Times called her "probably the most effective public affairs lobbyist of the past 20 years". In her new book ‘Of Women’ she advocates powerfully and accurately for women’s rights to be properly prioritised. BUT......
Chakrabarti's analysis of the transgender issue is all wrong!
1) Fake balance, dodgy logic, duff comparisons, unacknowledged prejudice, ignoring evidence.
Like the BBC, Chakrabarti pretends both sides in the trans debate have equal validity. It’s like putting President Trump up against Richard Attenborough on climate change. To distract us from this, she stages a fake neutral debate between a young ‘transactivist’ and an older ‘feminist’. This plays into the ageism of our society, where youth is valued and age isn’t. Chakrbarti’s first false equivalency is that she ignores the many well-documented instances of transactivist violence and harassment against women. Examples: The transactivist convicted of assault for attacking a woman who had simply attended a meeting about the Gender Recognition Act; the bullying and harassment of Women's Place Uk (WPUK), a group who organise similar meetings regarding the detrimental effects the GRA reform could have on women's rights; transactivists physically intimidating and blocking women from entering a venue to discuss issues regarding 'transgenderism', 'gender' self-identification and the GRA reform.
Feminists, by contrast, have rarely if ever done anything criminal – even the suffragettes took care to harm only property, never people.
The second problem is that she ignores the reality of surgery (2-3 Hours, Male To Female/ 8-10 Hours Female To Male), the pain, the recovery time, the unevaluated long-term harmful effects of the drugs and hormone treatment and the life-long need for frequent medical monitoring. Thirdly, she ignores the ‘first world’ status of transgenderism on a planet where millions do not have food, medicine, toilets or piped water. Fourthly, she ignores the profit motive of Big Pharma and private medicine. Fifthly, the cost – it is almost impossible to ‘pass’ without spending a lot of money. Sixth, she ignores people who desist or retransition from living as transgender – how can it be the solution to one’s problems if people change their minds? - and much, much else. She takes everything at face value and never examines the murky depths. So, obviously, she misses a lot. Of course, lawyers are trained to pass swiftly over evidence that does not support their position. We are not supposed to notice. Shhhh.
2. The science is all wrong.
Baroness Chakrabarti states that she has read Cordelia Fine's fine book 'Testosterone Rex' and knows the difference between sex and gender. She mentions that ‘sex’ means biological sex (male or female), which shows in every single cell of your body and cannot be changed by hormones or surgery; and gender is a social construct which varies from culture to culture. For example trousers are often cited as ‘masculine’ attire. Yet in the 1960s many Indian women doctors worked in Britain, wearing salwar chemise (featuring trousers). At the same time female teachers were forbidden from wearing trousers to work and men from Arab or African countries often wore a dish-dash robe, no trouser-leg in sight. Yet having first accepted the difference between sex and gender, Chakrabarti then muddles them up, using them interchangeably. The ‘transgender chapter’ feels like afterthought that she couldn’t really be bothered with.
There is no such thing as the ‘spectrum of sexes’ described by Chakrabarti. Gender can be constructed on a spectrum, sex can’t. For 99% plus of the population, the chromosomes indicate the person’s sex, XX or XY and a spectrum would be a spread of variations on XX or XY like the spread of colours in a rainbow.
Variations are very rare indeed such as Turner Syndrome (XXX) in females or Klinefelter Syndrome (XXY) in males where there is an extra chromosome. People with these conditions show mild developmental disabilities NOT gender dysphoria. There is NO link to gender-stereotypical behaviour such as the type of toys these children like to play with.
‘Intersex’ people technically have ‘Differences or Disorders of Sex Development (DSD) and used to be called hermaphrodites. Their genitalia do not match their chromosomes or they have additional genitalia. These people, with anatomical sex at odds with their chromosomal or gonadal sex are rare, 0.02% or 1 in 4,500 people. Babies with DSD used to be given surgery to ‘make’ them a boy or girl, as chosen by their parents. This caused a lot of suffering, and after years of campaigning is no longer done. People with DSD are allowed to grow up as they are, until they can make an informed choice about any bodily change they wish to make. Unfortunately a pre-puberty child whose parent thinks they are ‘trans’ does not have the same rights.
3. ‘Violence, what violence?’
For an author who faces boldly up to violence against women in the rest of her book, Baroness Chakrabarti blatantly ignores her own stats when it comes to natal males in women’s prisons.
In June 2018, prison governors started speaking out about the risk to women’s safety if transgender sex offenders held in men’s prisons are transferred to women's jails. Ian Huntley, who murdered two Soham schoolgirls identifies as female and Karen White, a trans inmate (born male) at Wakefield women's prison is currently accused of four sexual offences committed there.
So there is a problem. There were 100 transgender (born male) prisoners in men's jails, including 34 in four of the largest male-only sex offender prisons and 25 in women’s prisons in April 2017, with 18 in maximum security prisons, according to a freedom of information request submitted by Fair Play for Women. The Minstry of Justice claims that there are strict safeguards in the way that transgender prisoners are managed.
A transgender-identified male applying for a post in a shelter full of rape and abuse victims may of course be genuine. But we would be mad to ignore the 2 women a week murdered by men, the 6% conviction rate for rape, an UNDER-reported crime, the overwhelming preponderance of males among sex offenders, rapists and convicted sexual harassers! The classic response is Not All Men Are Like That (‘NAMALT’ among feminists) , yet realistically we have to face the fact that a lot of men who appear to be Not Like That turn out to be Exactly Like That when questioned, disagreed with, argued with, held responsible for their half of the housework or childcare, left, or challenged. And we haven’t yet even started to think about the people Domestic Violence Shelters are there to protect – women. And who they need protection from – men. Funny how the women naturally seem to come last, after we consider the men. Hmm. These women have been victims of crimes by men. Some have been abused by men for much or all of their lives. The one and only thing they all without exception need in order to develop some boundaries, safety and recovery, to become abler carers for their families and themselves in the future, is a space free from adult males. By trying to force them to accept biologically male ‘transwomen’ we are, as it were, prioritising the icing of validation on the transwoman’s (already very special and expensive) cake above putting the bread of safety in the mouths of hungry women and children. It’s wrong. Try asking the women instead of listening to the men – whoops, sorry, transwomen – all the time.
4. Misleading, hateful terminology.
Chakrabarti freely uses the abusive and misleading term TERF (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist) coined to describe feminists who oppose the castration (removal of testes/womb) and mutilation (penis inversion/mastectomy) of healthy bodies of self-identifying trans people as a treatment for Cross Sex Identity Confusion, often diagnosed and influenced by parents. The proper term is Gender Critical Feminists, ie people who fight for women’s rights and require evidence before believing in things. We do not consider natal males who have had SRS (Sex Reassignment Surgery) to be female or vice versa. We deny the validity or usefulness of the ‘transition’ process and feel the solution to ‘gender dysphoria’ lies in acceptance of self (including lesbian/gay) and free adult sexual choices for all. We don’t seek to exclude transpeople in any way (so ‘TERF’ is inaccurate), but regard them as victims of an illusion or delusion that sexual bodily modifications can make them happier in the longer term. This is the position of many women and men who look at the issue in a balanced way, rather than jumping on the bandwagon of the latest group who stick a ‘Victim’ label onto themselves, have powerful allies and shout very loudly. It is fine to disagree with this opinion (so long as you produce evidence to back up you views), but the fact that an abusive acronym has been invented is a warning light that this is no balanced discussion and that the name-callers do not want one. We wonder why. No, we know why. It’s because they are RIGHT RIGHT RIGHT so everyone else must be WRONG WRONG WRONG. No evidence, no debate, let’s just all sing along to the transgender song. Galileo, when forced in fear of his life to deny that the earth goes round the sun, was heard to mutter under his breath ‘It does though.’ And we do the same. If we say ‘Transwomen are Men’ on Facebook or Twitter, it will be taken down. They are though.
5. ‘Follow the money, no, wait, don’t follow the money right now!’
Chakrabarti rightly says that there is power and money to be made from fear, anxiety and divisions around identity: 'If I don't like my appearance you can sell me new clothing diets and skin products'. How can she not take it that one step further : ' If I want to wear a bra, use nail polish and dress as a stereotyped girl you can sell me an operation. And another. And size 12 high heels.' Or ten. For example, double mastectomy, hysterectomy, castration, penis inversion (vaginoplasty), breast augmentation, liposuction, beard removal, facial feminisation, voice modification, etc etc etc. According to one estimate, as many as 10,000 clinics and 300 private hospitals in Thailand offer sex change operations for as little as £64. If it wasn’t all so harmful, I’d be buying shares in these companies NOW.
6. Circular arguments lead nowhere.
If gender is a social construct, it has no consistent meaning or validity. If you associate ‘masculinity’ with trousers and a deep voice, then when you meet the post-menopausal Indian female doctor in salwar-chemise who sings tenor in her local choir, I hope you will have the guts to admit you were wrong. If gender is a social construct, it can’t be innate.
7. With Rights go Responsibilities.
If you lazily adopt a dodgy definition of ‘gender’and change your body to meet it, that does not mean that you were right to do so or that we should collude with you in your faulty logic, even if we do feel sorry for you. We may have sick friends or family who had to wait for operations, appointments, treatments or referrals which could have come quicker had resources been allocated to them instead of to you. If you are an adult, you are responsible for your choices and if you were a child, then your parents bear a heavy responsibility if they pushed or followed you in this direction. Beveridge when he founded the NHS said ‘Bread for everyone before cake for the anyone.’ Transgender surgery is in our view ‘cake’.
There is no need to transition - first think about factors in your family which may be pushing you in that direction – they are more common and more powerful than you might think. Then look long and hard at the influences that are making you think you could be trans. Are you spending a lot of time online looking at sites that promote it, are you mixing a lot in groups where trans people predominate, do you find they offer you friendship and acceptance you struggle to find elsewhere for whatever reason?
In the meantime, don’t follow the same old stereotypes in your dress and behaviour. Branch out a bit – maybe rather than ‘transgender’ you are just a bit of a rebel who (rightly) resents being expected to dress and behave like a ‘typical’ male/female. Dress and behave as you like as long as you are not hurting anyone or abusing your power. David Walliams’ book for teenagers 'Boy in a Dress' could help. Why not 'Man in a Dress' if it’s what you want to wear? We hope that the 'treatment' of gender confusion with radical surgery and opposite sex hormones goes the same way as chemical castration for homosexual men or lobotomy for people with mental health problems and becomes obsolete. That is the human rights position.
Written by Dr Anna Cleaves