Gender Critical: When transphobia is transphobia

Note: I am a trans woman, and thus this article focuses quite heavily on the experiences of trans women as they seem to be the prime focus of Gender Criticals. Trans Men and Non-Binary folk also experience some or all of the prejudices described here, and should under no circumstances be seen as immune to the problem.

Gender Criticals have many mantras, almost all of which are bunkum. One they particularly like to push around is “transphobia has lost it’s meaning”, sometimes phrase as “everything is transphobic now so it’s a meaningless word” and numerous other variations.

There is, of course, a tactic behind this. It’s to devalue the claim of transphobia. Any claim of bigotry can be devalued to the point of irrelevance (to the right parties at least) by elevating everything else around it to the point of equity: If everything is transphobic, then that means nothing is, therefore transphobia doesn’t exist.

It won’t surprise you to learn that this is another tactic straight out of the racist playbook of the 1950s. When people of colour were pointing out the systemic racism, back came the replies: “For God’s sake, you think everything is racist! The word’s lost all meaning!”

So it is with the Gender Criticals. They have decided nothing they do could possibly be transphobic, after all, they just have Genuine Concerns™, right?

For today’s article, I thought I would list some of the things that Gender Criticals think aren’t transphobic, but actually are.

It’s important to note two things here: firstly, there are quislings who fight against themselves by agreeing with the transphobes, which gives the Gender Criticals the ammunition to say “see, it can’t be transphobic — a trann… er trans person agrees with us!”.

Secondly, it continuously astounds me that the Gender Critical position is that a trans person can’t possibly comment on what is transphobia. They’ve determined that we’re all deluded and thus any comments on “that’s transphobic” are to be ignored.

“We just have genuine concerns”

This would hold up if Gender Criticals actually paid attention to evidence. However, despite the cries of “we just want a debate!”, my experience is that when you providence evidence that makes their claims moot, they either claim the evidence is biased (usually because of the language used) or that it’s somehow flawed.

If your Genuine Concerns™ can’t stand up to scrutiny, then you’re just being transphobic.

“We have a right to single-sex spaces!”

Assuming by “sex” you mean presumed sex at birth, no you don’t. There is no legal or moral right here, see There’s No Such Thing As Sex-Based Rights. By all means, you can set up women-only groups, women-only spaces, etc. But if your metric for exclusion is “what the doctor presumed when I was born” then you are just being ignorant.

“Trans women are men”

Literally all of the research on Gender Identity shows that trans women are neurologically close to women than man by a long chalk. If you ignore this science to make this claim, you are being transphobic.

“Why can’t you just let women make the rules?”

This one comes in a number of flavours, so I’ve genericised it above. The bottom line is your “rules” are to exclude trans women simply because you want to exclude trans women. Not all cis women agree with you; you are not the arbiters of who is a woman or not.

“Trans rights are affecting women’s rights!”

There is no evidence to back up this claim. The safety claims have been refuted so many times (by researchers at Bristol University and also by Professor Alex Sharpe, to name two). The claim that women should be able to exclude trans women is based on the idea that trans women are men; see above.

“We just care about children!”

Except you don’t. Transition healthcare for trans youth has been in place since the 90s, and is well researched and understood. It is known for example that transition improves overall well-being, that the oft-quote “80–90% of trans kids desist if left alone!” claim is a myth, and that so-called “watchful waiting” is damaging.

Those who care about children don’t force them through a puberty that those children know is wrong for them.

Puberty blockers are safe and reversible for the overwhelming majority of the population. If you deny these facts, you are being transphobic.

“Males retain male-patterns of violence!”

Except of course, they don’t. This is an oft-repeated lie that is used by the Gender Criticals to try to justify trans woman exclusion. It is based on a fallacious reading of a study by a Swedish researcher, which examined the rates of crime among trans individuals.

But even the study’s author has refuted the “retain male-pattern violence” claim, and stated categorically that it does not say that.

This of course, did not stop Rosa Freeman and Kathleen Stock from retelling this lie in a deposition to the Women & Equalities Committee Inquiry into GRA Reform.

“Most trans women retain their genitals!”

Not that it’s any of your business what’s in a trans woman’s pants, but even this is untrue. It is once again based on a deliberate misreading of one solitary source of information.

“Trans women are demanding lesbians sleep with them! Cotton ceiling!”

The “Cotton Ceiling” is an interesting term. It was originally coined to refer to the reluctance of cis lesbians, who are otherwise trans-supporting, to enter into a sexual relationship with trans lesbians.

The term has been co-opted by transphobes to force a meaning that trans lesbians are demanding sex with cis lesbians, which is completely untrue.

Nobody has any obligation to sleep with anyone. But if two women are attracted to each other and the attraction from the cis lesbian suddenly evaporates on discovering the other woman is trans, that is transphobic. It’s still her choice to decline, but it’s still transphobic.

“But we don’t do dick!”

Fine. You don’t do dick. That’s fair enough. But you are not every lesbian. Some lesbians are OK with whatever genitals they find on a woman. You don’t get to define their sexuality on the basis of your preferences.

“They’re transing away the gay!”

While there are anecdotal incidences that have been recorded, there is no evidence that this is occurring in a widespread manner. This claim is based on the unreliable narrator fallacy, that a trans person can’t speak for themselves. If you are talking over trans people’s experiences, you are transphobic.

“Iran!”

This is possibly the stupidest claim ever. For those unaware, Gender Criticals claim that IRAN’s anti-gay policy is proof that transing-away-the-gay happens. IRAN.

Let’s be clear. In Iran, it is illegal to be gay. Iran’s government punishes gay people by forcing them to transition against their will. It’s not a suggestion that’s being made, it’s transition or death.

And let’s also be clear, you can’t be trans without being gay first. It’s not that Iran tolerates trans people. A gay trans person would be equally shunned. Also… IRAN.

“If you’re a boy that likes dresses, they’ll tell you you’re trans!”

Categorically false. Many Gender Criticals have posted anecdotal claims of this, but nothing has ever been substantiated, and there is no evidence that this is happening.

It is true that an expressed interest in stereotypically feminine things is considered when making a trans evaluation, but it is not the be-all and end-all of transgender diagnosis.

A boy that simply likes dresses would not be referred for transition.

“Prisons! Refuges!”

Gender Criticals love to point to these two as places where “sex segregation” should apply. The former I find the utmost of baffling, because it’s pandering to gender stereotypes, which last I checked, feminists are supposed to be against.

A proper prison system would place prisoners according to risk, both to themselves and from themselves. Instead, the “feminist” Gender Criticals would rather enforce the stereotype that women are weak and men are invincible.

As for refuges, their position is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of how refuges work. One does not simply turn up at the refuge door, flash a birth certificate and say “I’m a woman. Let me see the girlies!”. Such an idea is patently ridiculous.

Refuges require background checks, and usually a referral by an official body, such as the Police. And while there are communal areas in refuges, they are at the resident’s discretion; each resident is given a lockable room to themselves for safety and piece of mind.

The idea that a man could just turn up, spin some story about being an attacked trans woman and wander in and start sexually assaulting unnoticed and leave some time later is patently absurd.

The recent Gareeca Gordon/Phoenix Netts case also highlighted an important point: the absence of a Y chromosome does not make a space safe. Gender Criticals were falling over themselves to force Gordon to be a trans woman. She was a cis woman, and a murderer. The space was not safe as the Gender Criticals claim.

(It should be noted that this case seems to be a failure of safety protocols. While the details of exactly how she was able to commit this heinous act are not fully available, it is unlikely it would have happened in the properly controlled environment that is expected of a refuge.)

“Sports!”

I covered this in “The absurd things Gender Criticals believe

“You just hate women!”/”You’re an MRA!”

These claims are just so poor as to not be worthy of comment. If your only recourse to the reality of trans people is to claim they must be fighting for their rights in order to hate women, you have reached the depths of desparation.

Conclusion

Gender Criticals are always trying to tell us they are not transphobic. But every single one of their arguments falls flat. It’s either disproven by facts, by logic, by history or by its own sheer absurdity.

The claim that “we’re not transphobic!” is starting to become unbelievable even to the most post-firmly-in-rectum of fence-sitters. The claim “everything is transphobia now” even more so.

Sadly, in the UK this information is not reaching those in power. At time of writing it is the first day of Pride Month.

On this day, the Minister for Women and Equalities has beamed smugly of her “accomplishments” while having systematically worked to try and disassemble trans rights and attack those who stand up for us.

On the other side of the isle, a celebration of Pride Month is diminished by the fact that the party currently hosts an MP that said “only women have cervixes”, and thus erasing trans men and non-binary people, and another MP that pushed the transphobic conspiracy theory that Gareeca Gordon was a man, in an attempt to demonise trans rights. Neither has faced consequences for their transphobia to this day.

Trans people look on in genuine fear at these times, that arguments that don’t stand up are being used to effectively wipe us out. Either by forcing us to submit to persecution, or to be cis to avoid it in the first place.

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A nerd, software engineer and trans woman, fed up with the lies pushed by the so-called Gender Critical movement. Also on Mastodon: @GellmanRebecca@home.social

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Rebecca Gellman

A nerd, software engineer and trans woman, fed up with the lies pushed by the so-called Gender Critical movement. Also on Mastodon: @GellmanRebecca@home.social