Debbie Hayton is a high school teacher and trade union officer. She teaches science to 11-18-year-olds at a school in central England. As a transgender person, she has written extensively about what it means to be trans and how trans people can be included in society without compromising the rights of other vulnerable groups. Her work can be read in publications from across the political spectrum, where rational scientific debate is allowed and encouraged. Follow her on Twitter @DebbieHayton
The best-selling author has been vilified for warning about how children struggling with their mental health are being shunted towards hormones and surgery by trans activists. But she is brave and right to speak out.
After last month receiving a barrage of abuse for reclaiming the word ‘woman’ to describe her sex, JK Rowling might have been forgiven for handing the campaigning baton onto others. The transgender debate that she entered is perhaps the most toxic and divisive dispute raging across social media.
But she knew what she was getting into. In a superb 3,700-word essay, she explained why she had spoken out. She had researched the arguments, read the papers, talked to those involved – including a transsexual friend – and wanted no more than women’s concerns to be heard; not to be met with threats and abuse.
Reasoned arguments, however, don’t cut it in a debate that is punctuated by rhetoric and emotion. According to her opponents, women who do not accept the catechism, trans women are women, are evil terfs who must be cancelled.
‘Terf’ was once an acronym that stood for ‘Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist’. But it has become a slur applied to any woman who has the audacity to stand up for her sex-based rights, and applied with a ferocity akin to the antics of witchfinders in the middle ages.
While startled bystanders might perceive a stand-off between a trans lobby asserting that trans women are women, and women who don’t believe that trans women can be any sort of women, the battle below the surface is fundamental: a clash between reason and rhetoric.
I might be a trans woman, but in this debate, I am on the side of reason, and therefore stand with Rowling.
As actors who her books made famous lined up to distance themselves from her, someone with less integrity might have backed down. But Rowling doubled down, to the relief of those of us who stood by her. Gillian Phillip, for example, another author who suffered cancellation for adding the tag #IstandwithJKRowling to her Twitter handle. After receiving sexualised abuse and death threats from the trans lobby, she tweeted “Bring it on, homophobes and lesbian-haters.” For that she was fired by her employer.
How this trans lobby became so powerful that it can have people sacked is frightening, but even more alarming is the impact on policy. As gender has replaced sex across the English-speaking world, this bunch of activists has substituted gender identity in place of sex as the means of dividing humanity.
Never mind the truth – we did not create sex, sex created us – in their minds, and the legislation they have influenced, psychology trumps biology. If that means we can choose whether we are men or women, we can effectively choose our sex.
The vulnerable then suffer. Women’s sex-based rights become meaningless if any man can identify himself into them. It would be naïve at best to assume that men wouldn’t do that, wouldn’t it?
But on Sunday afternoon, Rowling turned her attention to a group arguably more vulnerable than women. In a courageous thread of tweets, she called out the impact on children: “Many health professionals are concerned that young people struggling with their mental health are being shunted towards hormones and surgery when this may not be in their best interests.”
Here I stand solidly alongside her. I may be a trans woman, but I am also a parent and I am a teacher. I work with young people every day; to me the safeguarding of children is paramount.
Many children find puberty difficult, but never before has the world offered them the choice to delay it, or even choose a different puberty to the one their bodies were designed for. Young people not yet deemed old enough to consent to a tattoo are being placed in an invidious position. They are told they can choose their sex, with dark undertones that unless they choose wisely, their lives may be ruined.
I did transition, but as an adult when I had the maturity to give informed consent to treatment that left me sterile. In my own case, however, a vasectomy had already addressed my fertility when my own family was completed. Forcing children to make these decisions before they experience the puberty that will bring them to sexual maturity is in my view child abuse.
The path they are put on is – as Rowling herself reported – an unregulated live experiment on children, and one driven in some cases by homophobic parents uncomfortable with their gender non-conforming children.
This potential child abuse scandal is at the heart of this debate. As political leaders shy away from the inconvenient truth – we are male or female according to our biology that was observed at birth – Rowling has stood up for the most vulnerable. First for her sex and then for children.
While she should be applauded for her courage, the reaction has been somewhat different. Misogyny is as old as society, but trans rights gives it new licence to oppress women who dare to speak. Meanwhile, the reasonable majority stay quiet, afraid of what might happen to them should they then upset the mob.
The time has come to grasp this nettle. Rowling’s intervention over the past month has been remarkable, but the protection of the weak should not be left to individuals, no matter how brave or how famous they are. Those of us who agree with Rowling need to respond by standing with her, and calling out this outrage once and for all.
TERF war: How a tweet from JK Rowling exposed the militant intolerance of the trans lobby
By Jani Allan, a writer and talk show host. She has written for the London Sunday Times, the Spectator, the Daily Mail and various other British publications. Her memoir Jani Confidential was published by Jacana Media.
The Harry Potter author’s assertion that people’s biological sex couldn’t be denied caused uproar. But the trans lobby’s desire to shout down those who disagree with them shows their disregard for the human rights they champion.
Eons ago, Anita Loos once famously said, “Sex makes fools of us all.” Now, in a completely different context, it continues to do so.
Social media is fulminating. The global disapproval of JK Rowling is almost comedic in its intensity. On Saturday, the British writer, beloved of the left, commented on an op-ed about healthcare inequality that used the phrase “people who menstruate.”
The opinion piece could not have been more humane, more compassionate. Rowling chimed in on Twitter.
“People who menstruate. I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?” she tweeted. Perhaps the billionaire was trolling. Possibly she thinks of herself as a wit. Either way she has caused outrage.
Her tweet was seen as transphobic and deeply offensive to the LGBTQI – did I leave out a letter? – community. Not to mention GLAAD (formerly the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), which never seems particularly energised about anything. Tabbies for LGBTQI would surely have tweeted their disapproval, if they’d been able.
Even Harry Potter himself – actor Daniel Radcliffe – weighed in, saying, “Trans women are women,” and expressing the hope that the comments would not “taint” Potter’s legacy.
Now JK Rowling has been called a TERF. TERF – or trans-exclusionary radical feminist – is a slur that, in and of itself, documents the abuse, harassment and misogyny of transgender identity politics.
Human rights, whose human rights?
The irony is deep. If one has a view that differs from the preferred sexual fascism of these trans militants, it’s deemed incompatible with human dignity and the fundamental rights of others. However, if you’re part of the violent cabal on Twitter, it’s apparently perfectly acceptable for a trans militant to advocate punching or even killing any TERF or lesbian who wouldn’t consider a trans woman as a viable sexual partner. Thus, essentially a woman’s right to say ‘no’ is being erased. Yet they don’t see that as incompatible with human dignity.
god if i ever saw jk rowling in street i’d punch that bitch into the year 3000
— ari ♡ (@holyheadhoney) June 6, 2020
Neither do they comprehend that JK Rowling has a right to free speech. People died to protect this right. The right to free speech implicitly carries the notion that some people will be offended. Politically correcting everything is a form of leftist control. So is de-sciencing.
The new high liberalism – cultural Marxism by another name – has it that the old canard “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is redundant. Yet, these days, words are weaponized.
Rowling under Twitter attack
JK Rowling was criticized by gay and transgender rights groups back in December, after she expressed support for a British researcher whose views on transgender people were described by a court as “not worthy of respect in a democratic society.”
Maya Forstater lost her job at a think tank in London last year, after she tweeted that it’s impossible to change sex. There are many trans activists who argue that there being two different sexes at all is a myth. And the social justice/critical gender people say that what sex you are – it’s not even about gender anymore – is entirely a social construct, rather than a biological reality.
Despite the backlash about her latest tweet, the author doubled down. “If sex isn’t real, there’s no same-sex attraction. If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased. I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives. It isn’t hate to speak the truth,” she said.
One disgruntled curmudgeon complained: “So, every time she starts in on this crap about how trans women aren’t really women, she uses examples that discount hundreds of thousands of ‘women’ who were born women but now can’t meet her requirements due to ‘reasons.’ She needs to just stop. Stop offending trans women. Stop offending trans men. And stop offending people who present as they were born, but, for various reasons, don’t meet her narrow-minded ideas of what defines sex. I’m cancelling my pre-order of her next book.”
Offended by everything
Will they just get over themselves?! They’re upset or offended by everything. Bullying, threatening and silencing those who disagree with their ideology is classic leftist-playbook tactics. Have you noticed how transgender people quickly moved from “please acknowledge that our existence matters” to “now stop bothering us and f*** off – we don’t give a damn about your existence”?
Those who are trans may have generated support and compassion from Hollywood types. But their ice-pick-sharp attacks are not good PR. Besides, they seem to have permanent sense-of-humor failure. JK Rowling simply won’t learn her lesson, simper the left. ‘And the insensitivity! During Gay Pride Month!’
The lesson is that no good turn goes unpunished. The lesson is that the trans community are over-reacting. Attacking the creator of Harry Potter is like getting dressed up in a full suit of armor to attack an ice-cream sundae.
The madwoman’s knitting basket thinking of this cultural insanity is being seen for what it is – insanity. Common sense inevitably will prevail.
According to these trans harridans on social media, none of us is either male or female. Maybe ‘it’ is the new norm of no-boundaries 2020. But this is still Planet Earth. Earth has males and it has females. Historically, we’ve been categorized by our genitalia and our ability to either sire or give birth to children. Perhaps once we get to the spiritual level – if we ever do – we can all be non-binary, but till then…