|Definitions and Transsexuality|
In 2002, as the executor of my late brother’s will, I received an offer from two chaps for the purchase of his house in Birmingham. The buyers were the proprietors of a pub at the centre of the gay scene in Birmingham. We established a good relationship with them during the sale process and they kindly invited us to the house after completion in order to celebrate their move with their friends. It was a house with three floors and a big cellar where my brother had kept his vintage wines and ports at the right temperature. But during our visit, what was interesting was the third floor, because it was there that the buyers had put all the clothes which they used for their drag act. There were yards of rails from which hung the most amazing of clothes, decorated in diamanté and feathers. Very showbiz. It was like something out of ‘La Cage aux Folles’. Heather was very envious. They would have been very striking on stage but, dressed as women in their day to day lives was not what they did. They wouldn’t have given a very convincing impression as women – from their build, they were obviously men and when we met them in connection with business, that was how they dressed. So then whether or not they were transsexual I cannot say, but they had obviously not ‘transitioned’.
It seems that transsexuality is now a particularly delicate subject. There is a determination by a vociferous part of the transsexual community to be seen simply as women, even though they are not, whether genetically or by their experience of life. But these distinctions are not apparently important. We have now various self-proclaimed spokespeople for the movement. They insist that we recognise as women every person who self-identifies as a woman. And this regardless of their genes, their secondary sexual characteristics or even if they have decided to live in any real sense as a woman. Thus after or before a transition and with or without the intention to make a transition. And this self-identification is apparently to be for all purposes. Obviously this is something which produces a series of difficulties.
Putting to one side for a moment the always difficult question of redefinition of a word which is fundamental to our lives, there remain various practical problems. These include the difficulty of which many women, including Germaine Greer, have spoken – how to distinguish between those who claim to be women in this new sense of the word simply to enter into spaces reserved for women for malign reasons, and the others who are genuine in their desire to be considered as women. At the moment, there is a debate in the Labour Party regarding who should be entitled to be on the list of candidates reserved for women – an attempt to increase the number of women in Parliament in town councils up and down the land. If self-identification as a woman is the only criterion for being included in the list, then obviously the system is open to abuse. It’s very problematic when there is no right even to question those who make such a claim. Apparently, we are to adopt this approach in order to avoid upsetting in any way any ‘real’ transsexual. It would be ‘offensive’. In order to impede any straying from the one true way, the militants have prescribed that not to accept that all who say they are women are so is, in itself, a manifestation of transphobia. Another redefinition of a word – this time the word ‘phobia’. What exactly this now signifies I am not sure, but obviously it signifies ‘against’ in some way, rather than the normal meaning of ‘fear’. So then, if I were to decide to apply to be a Labour candidate, I would have the right to be considered for inclusion on the women's list if I used the correct form of words. No-one could contest my status or motives. Likewise, if I wanted access to a sauna reserved for women, it would be totally acceptable. It seems to me that all this tells us that the transsexual community does not understand the real and practical difficulties experienced by women – women in the traditional sense - or that perhaps for them they are less important than achieving this version of the transsexual agenda. I have the impression that they are being selfish. They seem to be far too absorbed by their own situation and unwilling to look at the full picture.
To insist that those who obviously are not the same and who don’t have the same social problems are, nonetheless, a part of the same group is at the root of the problem. But it is only a sub-set of those with a wish to obfuscate or not admit the truth or to con an individual or an entire population. The Ministry of Truth created by George Orwell is the most famous proponent of this approach. Big Brother would have been proud of our flexibility with words, our capacity to use words to signify whatever a particular group wanted them to mean in order to promote their interests. We shouldn’t though forget that in Orwell’s dystopia there was something-else which also relates to actions taken by transsexual militants and many other populists across the centuries. The Ministry of Truth insisted on two minutes of hatred every day – a period in which the members of the party had to watch a film of the enemies of the Party and at the same time express hatred for them. This was reinforced from time to time by a week of hatred. Orwell had seen these methods used by the populists in Germany, Russia and by Generalissimo Franco in Spain. A more recent example is that of the campaign run by the Apprentice President. We learn from Trump’s campaign that hatred in combination with lies and obfuscation is very potent.
It is disturbing that people wanting to do good in the world, such as environmentalists and militant transsexuals use the supposed ‘moral superiority’ of their cause and so, by extension, of their supporters to induce hatred against those holding a different opinion. Those opposing them become defined as ‘the enemy’ and so, it seems, there can be moral justification for hating them. That those with even something good to say, who presumably are concerned for the future of the world, feel justified in copying the methods of the megalomaniacs is not very encouraging.
23 January 2018