Sunday , July 14 2024

What is real feminism nowadays?

So, in the red corner we have Nicola Sturgeon the “real” feminist and in the blue Corner J.K. Rowling the defender of human rights against destroyer Sturgeon. The winner requires two falls, a submission or a knockout.

The issue that is bothering everybody ought to be so boring and dull that no one even reports it. The issue is how to deal with gender dysphoria. This should be as obscure as how to deal with Birdshot Chorioretinopathy or Paraneoplastic Limbic Encephalitis. We all should be completely uninterested in transgender as an issue. I have never knowingly met a transgender person. I’m not sure I have ever even seen one. I sometimes see students dressing strangely, or what I assume to be rather masculine lesbians, but I don’t believe I have ever seen someone I unequivocally know to be transgender.

But there are people who have a mismatch between their biological sex and their perceived gender. For a long time, these people have been able to obtain a gender recognition certificate. This has required that they have medical reports from a specialist saying they have gender dysphoria. It has required that they live in their perceived gender for two years, have changed their name and promise to live in their perceived gender forever.

I have absolutely no problem whatsoever with people with gender dysphoria being recognised and receiving a gender recognition certificate.

If a man perceives himself to be a woman and wants to live as a woman change his name and wear women’s clothes, we should support this decision. Anything that makes people happier and live fuller lives while not harming anyone else should be supported by all of us.

If I met someone who had gone through this process, I would use their preferred name and refer to them as a woman or a man as they wished. I would use their preferred pronouns without hesitation. It would be rude not to.

This is essentially where we were until a few years ago. Transgender was a non-issue. It was dealt with by specialists. If any of the rest of us happened to come across such a person we acted towards them with tolerance and understanding. There would previously have been no dispute between J.K. Rowling and Nicola Sturgeon.

What has changed is that Sturgeon wants to remove all of the checks that previously existed. Now a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria will no longer be required. It won’t be necessary to see a doctor at all. It won’t be necessary to live in the acquired gender for two years. Three months will do.

But the real issue is not about how we deal with gender dysphoria, it is that people like Nicola Sturgeon want to change the nature of what it is to be a woman and a man.

Dysphoria is the opposite of euphoria. Gender dysphoria therefore means someone who is unhappy about gender. This situation is not new. There have always been girls who longed to be boys and vice versa. But how do you respond? In the past you might commiserate with a girl who wanted to do a job that was only open to men. You might commiserate with a girl who loved other girls and wanted to be a man. But in the past such girls were told that it was impossible to change sex and that they had to accept what they were.

Nowadays almost all the reasons why girls might have been unhappy in their gender have ceased. Most jobs are open to everyone. Women can love who they please. But what if someone is still unhappy with their gender? Do we respond by saying change it, or accept it?

The first response ought to be to accept it. The reason for this is that while it may be possible to legally change gender it is not possible to change sex. If someone with gender dysphoria comes to accept their gender and become content with it, the dysphoria will cease. But going down the route of changing gender, while it may alleviate gender dysphoria, will do nothing to alleviate another mismatch between the person’s biological sex and their acquired gender.

No matter what the person does, no matter how long he lives in the acquired gender or how much surgery he undergoes to an otherwise healthy body, he will never be able to actually change sex. The mismatch will always remain. A transwoman is a male woman. A transman is a female man. It’s like being a round square.

This illustrates the whole problem with this approach to gender dysphoria. The slogan “Transwoman are women” is a lie not so much to the rest of us, but to transwomen themselves. It is promising them that you can become a real woman. But imagine the disappointment when after dressing as a woman, changing your name and undergoing surgery the transwoman realises that nothing has really changed. Compared to women with female bodies the transwoman is at best a simulacrum. The transwoman knows this.

The essence of the argument between Sturgeon and Rowling is what it means to be a woman. If a woman is an adult human female, then a transwoman cannot be a woman. But if a woman is not an adult human female, how on earth do you define the word “woman”?

If a man is an adult human male, then transwomen are men because they are male and this means that Sturgeon will be allowing men to acquire the rights of women simply by saying they are women. But if an adult human male is not a man, how on earth do you define man?

When Sturgeon says real feminists as I consider myself to be focus on the real threats to women posed by abusive men, she is using the traditional definition of men (people with male bodies) but this definition is no longer open to her if she no longer thinks that men are adult human males. She cannot use it because she thinks some adult human males are women.

If women can be both male and female it rather stuffs the concept of feminism. Sturgeon is going to need another word, because feminism rather obviously refers to those who are female. It isn’t so much that Sturgeon isn’t a real feminist. She isn’t a feminist at all.

What matters to women is not how easy or hard you make it for people to change their gender. Make it as easy as you wish, so long as you accept that women are adult human females and no one with male body gains the rights that women hitherto have enjoyed. Let transgender people call themselves what they will. Let the rest of us treat them with kindness, but that kindness must not extend to the idea that an adult human female can have a male body, because that involves a logical contradiction and makes defining objectively both the words “man” and “woman” impossible.

It is having a female body that makes women fear rape, abuse and being in a prison with those who have male bodies. It is having a female body that has disadvantaged women throughout the centuries. It is the unfairness due to having a female body that feminism seeks to address. If Sturgeon wants women to have male bodies and this is what her legislation is all about, then she cannot at the same time call herself a feminist. She has made the concept of being a woman literally meaningless.

This article was first published here.

About Effie Deans

Effie Deans is a pro UK blogger. She spent many years living in Russia and the Soviet Union, but came home to Scotland so as to enjoy living in a multi-party democracy! When not occupied with Scottish politics she writes fiction and thinks about theology, philosophy and Russian literature.

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