A ten minute segment from the BBC’s Woman’s Hour on “The Politics of Transgenderism”. Listen while you can, the BBC like to embed timebombs for their programmes (probably watching too much Mission Impossible?). This one expires in about a year’s time. If anyone could do a transcript, that would be fantastic.
Professor Sheila Jeffreys (University of Melbourne) is interviewed via phone, and makes well-rounded and salient points. The M2T, “Zowie” (yes, roll your eyes) Davy from the University of Lincoln generally rambles making very little sense, and certainly nothing that resembles coherent points, yet it seems that does not stop him being a ‘consultant’ for NHS transgender policy. It must be nice to be born male and get a bucket load of undeserved privilege, whilst barely being able to string two words together.
The transcript, a big thank you to parallelexistence:
Jenny Murray: there have long been arguments about what it means to be a man who decides to live his life as a woman. One of the hottest debates has been should she be allowed to join clubs set up for women to join, and now the debate is going a step further. In 2004 the gender recognition act made it possible for transgender people to be registered for a passport, a birth certificate, and a national insurance number in their chosen rather than their original sex. But Professor Sheila Jeffreys professor of feminist politics at of the university of Melbourne has raised the debate yet again. Her book is called “Gender Hurts: a feminist analysis of the politics of trangenderism”. Well, I’m joined by Zowie Davy a senior lecturer in community health at the University of Lincoln, she was born male but became female from the age of sixteen, and from Melbourne by Professor Sheila Jeffreys.
Sheila, what do you mean by the title “Gender Hurts” ?
SJ: I mean that the phenomenon of transgenderism which is a social construction of the second half of the 20th century and which has become particularly common in the last couple of decades is harmful to many groups of persons. It’s based upon stereotypes of how the different sexes should behave so it’s very harmful to the feminist project of getting rid of those stereotypes and indeed it can’t exist without them. It harms as I say in the book the persons who are transgender themselves because the drugs are harmful to their bodies, the surgieries are harmful and they have usually be on hormones for the whole of their lives, this is a grand experiment, we don’t know, we know what HRT does as you mentioned in the last segment but what doses of these hormpones for a whole life mean we don’t know. Transgender syndrome is harmful to wives because some therapists are saying they suffer from PTSD when their husbands transgender and suddenly say you’ve got to call me “Alison” and call me by a female name and start wearing their wive’s clothes and telling their wives they are really lesbians and this causes an enormous amount of distress.
It’s, it’s, very much of a problem for children because we now have the problem of transgendering of children by the medical profession at the behest of older transgenders who say it is important to transgender the children young, so in Britain as early as nine years old children can be put on puberty delaying drugs up until the age of sixteen which can be very harmful to bone mass, which sterilise them if they then go onto sex hormones at the age of sixteen because their organs do not develop because they are under cross-sex hormones and so on but this can happen to them just because they disobey the rules of gender…
JM: but let me, let me put the this point Sheila, to Zowie Davy, it’s a “grand experiment” that hurts a whole range of people
ZD: um, I completely disagree I think the hurt comes from people judging gender stereotypes and the hierarchy that gender stereotypes, um, er, are given in our society. Yes of course if you portray femininity and masculine, incorrect femininity and masculinity then that’s not valued, then people hurt you, um just as the book hurts trans people for er, suggesting, um that transitioning technologies um, are harmful. The studies don’t suggest that in any way. Yes there are a few people who regret transitioning, without a doubt, but there’s a few people who regret cosmetic surgery, erm, uh, regret all manner of things in their lives, so you know…
JM: you have Sheila, faced considerable opposition from the trans community and Zowie says you’re hurting trans people with the book, are you ?
SJ: Well of course not because it’s a political critique. Transgenderism as an ideology is harmful to the future of women and feminism because it does, it promotes the sex stereotypes, actually I do have friends now who have detransitioned so the book is not harmful to them and they’re actually very grateful that it exists but when we … sorry you were wanting to say something else here?
ZD: yes, I er, I’m not sure what these stereotypical gender attributes are, you never, you never portray them in the book apart from once where you talk about it, about knitting and I’m sure people do knit but why is that a patriarchically enforced pastime?
SJ: well for, for, instance in Australia the law was changed last year to actually get transgender into sex discrimination er legislation and the definition of transgenderism includes mannerisms, now that’s kind of extraordinary that mannerisms could tell you whether somebody is feminine or masculine, what on earth could they mean? Two of the wives who are interviewed in my book do say that their husbands at the time that they decided they were girls, not only decided that they were Barbie doll type teenage girls, but started hair-flicking, so my suggestion is that hair-flicking is one of those mannerisms. There are many many forms of behaviour that are actually very very stereotyped, I for instance do not have a gender, I do not choose to have one, I do not like masculinity or femininity, but a transgender activist who disagrees with my book, a man who has transgendered, called Dallas Denny says I look just like a man, I am four shots of testosterone away from being one. He certainly has sex-stereotypes in his mind and I don’t meet his stereoptypes because I’m a feminist who will not do femininity, and he’s excited by femininity…
JM: Zowie, you, you can’t deny that there have been some men who have become women who have been very feminine, long nails, very painted, long hair flicked, beautifully made-up. Why often is there an apparent need to become a stereotype a very feminine woman or a very masculine man, stereotypes which are often rejected by those of us who don’t want to change our sex?
ZD: but that assumes that femininity is somehow bad, yeah?
SJ: … yes, yes it does
ZD: the assumption behind that that femininity is bad, which I do not agree with, and I interview many many trans, diverse trans people unlike er, in the book, erm, I interview punks, goths, middle-aged transwomen, older transmen who worked in caring environments, which seems to fly in the face of stereotypes, yeah? Many different forms of masculinity and femininity were presented to me, yeah? What I will admit to is that the gender clinics, um that, um that Sheila Jeffreys mentions do want people to perform a certain form of masculinity or femininity in order to get them transitioning technologies and people do this to get er, you know, er you know what they want to become the gender they want to become without a doubt this is a strategic, um, point not an actual um, er, intrinsic to their everday lives
JM: Sheila, one of one of the points you make in the book is that women you say are endangered by men who transgender as women and are allowed into female spaces such as toilets, changing rooms or prisons. Why did you make that point?
SJ: I made that point because the, er, when the changes in the law recognised these men as women and allow them into those female spaces, they don’t change sex, they’ve usually grown up as male, so er, they have the character traits and behaviours as males, one of which is unfortunately is sexual violence against women, we are now discovering that there are now very very many arrests for instance in America of men wearing dresses or wearing female clothing who go into toilets and engage in photographing or recording women urinating and other forms of very sexually abusive behaviour for their sexual satisfaction. We have also had this year the case of, er, Jessica Hanbrook in Toronto who is a man who went into women’s shelters saying he was a woman and he er, was, um accused of raping two women and admitted that and, um these women had to take defensive behaviours against him, more and more cases are emerging of women having to face indecent exposure and erections in changing rooms with men coming up to them and saying things like “do you come here often” ….penises ….
JM: let let let me Sheila put that point again to Zowie, Zowie as someone raised OK, up to the age of sixteen as a boy, as a woman, to what extent do you have have to, I think the accepted term now is “check your privilige” in such circumstances that you have, you have to look at these things carefully
ZD: of course this debate needs to be, I, I have just helped set up a rape crisis centre in Lincolnshire, yeah, I we, we went through this, this debate, um rigorously and of course, un there needs to be safe spaces for women, but by tiding(?) a whole by scapegoating a whole raft of trans people as being sexually deviant, automatically sexually deviant prior to those crimes that have taken place that, Sheila, er, Jeffreys mentioned. These are crimes, er, just becasue you’re transgender doesn’t automatically mean that you’re a sexual fetishist which
SJ: no it doesn’t mean that men are sexual fetishists automatically
ZD: exactly (inaudible)
SJ: but we do exclude men and transgenders who are men are men so why should we say that this particular group of men are definitely OK and not going to be involved in violence…
SJ: when there are accepted facilities for women because we recognise that the majority of men may involve …
JM: Zowie that very strong point that men who transgender to women are men, what do you say to that ?
ZD: I say, well legally if they’re legally women they have to be accepted legally as women and vice versa
JM: Zowie Davy and Professor Sheila Jeffreys, thank you both very much indeed for being with us