Women’s feelings matter, too

One protestor on why she joined the demo outside the Scottish Parliament this week

Why was I at the rally outside Holyrood this week?

Because I am deeply worried about the erosion of women’s rights. It really is that simple.

I don’t hate trans or non-binary people or think their feelings don’t matter or dispute their right to identify as they see fit without being discriminated against.

But I do think there are some circumstances where their physical bodies – their biological sex – are legitimately of relevance to other people. To their healthcare providers, for starters, who need to know what kind of body they are dealing with. But also to the women who run, and use, single-sex spaces.

We need our own spaces

Far too many women carry the physical and mental scars of having been on the receiving end of male violence. If they need space away from male people to recover, that’s not bigotry, it’s a perfectly natural response to trauma. If women in a refuge can’t cope with sharing with a trans woman, it’s not transphobia.

A phobia is an irrational fear or hatred of something. There is sadly nothing irrational about women’s fear of male violence. If a woman needs a truly female-only space to recover from her trauma, that is what she should have.

Trans women, with the best will in the world, are not female; their maleness is what makes them trans. So trans women who need to recover from violence should be allowed to do so in a different space from the women who need female-only spaces.

We can’t ignore reality

I am more relaxed about the proposed changes to the GRA than I think a lot of my fellow protesters are. I think there’s a case to be made for making the process of getting a gender recognition certificate less bureaucratic; and those who point out that we already have self-ID for almost all practical purposes are right.

What worries me is not that particular bit of proposed legislation but what goes with it.

The insistence that human beings can literally change sex. (We can’t.)

The accusations of hatred and transphobia that make any discussion impossible. (And maybe young trans people would be happier if they weren’t perpetually fed the lie that people like me hate them and wish them dead.)

The demands that we ignore physical reality. (No. Because it matters.)

A culture that puts women and girls last

I protested because I think a culture that says we should prioritise gender identity over natal sex, in all circumstances, is one that ignores the needs and wellbeing of women and girls. It makes our schools, hospitals, prisons, changing rooms and refuges unsafe because it gives us no way of challenging male intruders.

It tells us our needs, our safety, our dignity, our peace of mind have to give way before the wishes of a tiny fraction of the male population. And the fact that men will abuse the system and abuse us doesn’t matter. It’s happening already, and it needs to be stopped.

How I wish some of those who argue so vehemently against us would do women the courtesy of acknowledging that our feelings matter, too.

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