I am a man. The person I live with is a woman. Twenty years ago, possibly even more recently, those two statements would have been both unremarkable and self-explanatory. However, the use of the terms ‘man’ and ‘woman’ is now fraught with controversy and their utterance risks attracting the wrath of a significant number of people, especially individuals and groups that ‘self-identify’ as ‘liberal’, ‘progressive’, or ‘left-wing’. It is particularly galling to me that it is this community, this coalition, that would be quick to brand me as a bigot or a TERF because of my views, as I am liberal, progressive and left-wing. I find myself in the company of noted and celebrated feminists, on the one hand, and right-wing commentators on the other. How can this be?
The problem arises from ‘identity politics’ and the current mantra that ‘trans women are women and trans men are men’. To the casual or disinterested observer this may sound both obvious and trite. Surely, one might say, if a man wants to identify as a woman or vice versa we should just let them get on with it? Have we not progressed as a society so that we can accept people for who they are? Where is the harm? In reality, this terminology is used as a battle cry aimed at eliminating sex-based rights, in particular the rights of women. Like most slogans it is designed to be simplistic and easily repeatable whilst at the same time capable of hiding its true purpose. Make no mistake, the intention is to supplant sex-based rights with those based on gender identity.
The principal target of this campaign is the basic definition of what it is to be a man or, especially, a woman. It is fuelled by a deliberate obfuscation of the concepts of sex and gender with the specific intention of replacing the former with the latter. The average person might be excused for having only a vague notion of these concepts. Indeed, the warriors behind this attack on science and biology rely on this fact. Their approach is deliberate and reminiscent of many propaganda campaigns in history where objective truth is the intended casualty.
At risk are core fundamentals of biology, specifically the idea that a woman is defined as ‘an adult human female’ and a man is ‘an adult human male’. The reason that this is the target is that the activists who push the anti-science narrative know full well that they cannot win the argument from the science perspective. They resort to misinformation, bullying, threats and claims of discrimination with the specific aim of changing the law. What they want is for gender self-identification to be sufficient in itself for a person to be legally identified as male or female.
Sex and gender (or gender identity) are not the same. The former is based on objective scientific reality, the latter is not. Indeed, there is no agreement on what ‘gender identity’ means, how it might be identified or whether it exists at all.
Biological sex is a fact. Almost without exception, every child born anywhere in the world is either male or female; this is how nature works. Any suggestion that all children are born without a sex or that sex is ’assigned’ to a baby after birth is just plain wrong. A child’s sex exists as a consequence of biology and a person’s sex is immutable. No amount of wishful thinking or mental gymnastics can lead to an individual being able to change their sex. Once a biological male, always a biological male. One cannot change one’s sex; it is a biological impossibility.
According to gender activists and their supporters, the previous paragraph contains ’controversial’ ideas that, somehow, are worthy of ire, or worse. We are told that the accepted view is that a man can become a woman just by making the claim that it is true. The reality is that the suggestion that a person can change sex by merely asserting that they have done so is the truly controversial idea. It is not the mainstream view at all. Rather, it is a political statement with no basis in reality. Trans women are not women. They never have been and they never can be. The term woman is fundamentally grounded in biological sex and not gender.
In truth, what we are seeing is a resurgence in male-rights activism dressed, literally, in the guise of gender identity ideology. This is easy to discern from the fact that the central principle of the theory is that we all have an innate gender, something within us that makes us feel intrinsically male or female irrespective of our biological bodies. For this to be true (and there is no evidence for it) there would have to be behaviours, feelings, actions, emotions etc. that can be identified as typically male or female, and that is nothing more than a return to the promulgation of gender stereotypes. Who benefits from this? The same group that has always benefitted from mechanisms that seek ro control women – biological men.
Now, I do not really care how anyone wants to live, who they want to love, who or what gender they want to identify as, what they want to wear or, indeed, who they sleep with, provided those choices do not harm others. Since I first became politically active I have campaigned for equality, put my cross in the box next to candidates with impeccable progressive, liberal and left-wing credentials, contributed money to good causes. Yes, I can virtue-signal with the best! Equal rights is, for me, a given. However, this is not an argument about equal rights and discrimination, however frequently it is cast as such. People who identify as trans have the same rights as anyone else who has a protected characteristic under the Equalities Act 2010. No, this is a demand by gender activists for more rights than others, for rights that take precedence over the rights of others, especially the sex-based rights of straight women, lesbians and gay men, indeed, anyone whose safe space or way of life is reliant on the fact of biological sex. This is why the mantra ’trans women are women’ is central to the cause. Unless the very idea of what it is to be a woman can be redefined away from its direct connection with biological sex and into a gender-based concept, then gender self-identification will become a lost cause. For how can a trans woman claim to be a woman if that very term retains its definition, rooted in biology – adult human female?