2+2=5

Eddie Izzard

If you live in Scotland, you will soon be able to change your gender after 3 months of living in the opposite gender to your biological sex. So, a man can become a legal woman and easily change his birth certificate to the opposite sex. His crimes will be reported as a woman’s crimes, and so on. He can access women’s toilets. A woman who’s been raped when asking for a female police officer can’t be sure to get a biologically female one. A 17-year old girl getting a shower after her gym workout steps out of the shower and sees someone like Eddie Izzard, naked. Generally girls and women will be more in the presence of naked male genitalia, often against their will.

These are some of the unsolved issues from the ‘no debate’ doctrine adopted by the Scottish Government on their controversial incoming law. The real practical implications of what’s a nice idea in theory (in the realm of ideas, feelings and kindness) have been ignored. This recently was eloquently explained by someone else:

Shona Craven makes several very important points in her column today which relate to the content of this article and to which I responded as follows.

Misrepresentation by pro-reform activists of the arguments offered those expressing concerns about the proposed GRA reforms is largely responsible for the toxicity of the debate. This toxicity has been quite purposefully contrived because it helps the pro-reform side dodge the kind of questions Shona refers to. Questions relating to the actual effect of the revised legislation in real-life situations.

Questions about the real-life effect of the reforms are smothered with worthy-sounding rhetoric about the intent. People with questions are discouraged from asking them by the fact that merely seeking clarification is enough to have them branded a hateful, uncaring bigot. The GRA reform debate has been beset by some truly despicable politicking almost entirely emanating from the woke clique which forms the imperial guard helping Nicola Sturgeon maintain her near-total control of the SNP.

Typically, we are assured that the reforms are about gender and not sex. But when we look at the effect of the reforms in real life, we see that this simply isnt the case. Possession of a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) allows the individual to alter records essential for the purposes of identification – such as their birth certificate and passport. Even National Records of Scotland (NRS) goes along with the deception. Its explanation of how a GRC can be used to alter a birth certificate refers only to gender. Sex is not mentioned at all. This despite the fact that there is no entry on a birth certificate for gender. Only for sex. It is the record of the persons sex which is being altered. Not the record of their gender. Because there is no record of their gender on their birth certificate.

There could not be a record of the individuals gender on a birth certificate not only because there is no such entry but because the neonate has no gender. Gender is, as we are constantly being told as if we didnt already know, very largely socially determined. Babies have not had the opportunity to acquire a gender identity or to have a gender identity imposed on them. They have yet to be socialised.

The claim that its about gender not sex is clearly a lie. The law as proposed will allow official records to be altered in order to confirm a lie about the sex of an individual. One cannot help but be reminded of Winston Smiths job in Orwells 1984. The reforms proposed by the Scottish Government are explicitly intended to make it easier for almost anyone to alter official records. To believe that this facility will not be abused is to deny human nature. Which, I suppose, is easy once youve reached the stage of denying the binary and immutable nature of sex.

Another distortion of the debate is the way in which concerns about those who might abuse this facility to obtain official documents falsely testifying to their sex are minimised or dismissed. Shona mentions the revoltingly glib line about not having to show your birth certificate to gain entry to the ladies loo. Then theres the one about it being men who attack women in toilets and not trans people. Ignoring the fact that the sex distinction has ceased to have any real meaning on account of the reforms. We are presented with statistical evidence that purports to show that the problem of men invading women-only spaces is infinitesimal. Mention that the problem the reforms purport to address is even more infinitesimal, however, and you are again labelled a heartless beast blah! blah! blah!

This minimisation and dismissal of the impact of the reforms on sex-based rights and safe spaces ignores yet another real-life effect of the legislation. In real life, it is not being attacked that blights lives but the fear of being attacked. Even if you could produce statistics which showed that only one woman in a million would be the victim of an attack perpetrated by a man who had falsified his sex with the assistance of the government, this doesnt alter the reality of the fear felt by the other 999,999 women. It is fear which blights lives. It is fear which will effectively deny access to women-only spaces for thousands of women. It is not somebody standing at the door checking birth certificates which will prevent them entering the ladies toilets. What stops them is the knowledge that this is no longer a safe space. It is no longer a space reserved for women. It is a space which can easily be accessed by men.

This fear too is dismissed by proponents of the reform. They typically respond to concerns about men going into women-only spaces with by tritely pointing out that men can already go into these spaces. Ignoring the fact that what they propose will mean that those men will in future have access to those spaces legitimised by easily obtained official documents stating that they are female. Ignoring the fact that while they boast about making it easier for people to obtain these falsified documents and increasing the numbers who do so, they blithely disregard the fact that the real-life effect of this must inevitably be to increase the fear felt by women.

Its not what the law says that matters. Its what the law does. Proponents of the GRA reforms as proposed choose to turn a blind eye to what effect the reforms imply for women in real-life situations holding this to be of no consequence when set against the magnificent progressive purity of their intent.

Gender is on a spectrum

I studied Judith Butler in the 90s – I had a copy of Bodies that Matter and also read Gender Trouble. Though I hadn’t read her work since then and didn’t realise she was now a ‘they / them’. I could get used to those pronouns, just like I can get used to Mx. What I get confused over, is whether someone like Eddie Izzard is now a woman, and the practicalities of what spaces they have access to. It’s almost like we need gender-neutral toilets and changing facilities ALONGSIDE those for male and female. Then Eddie Izzard could go there.

I might have mentioned this before but in German job ads, I have sometimes seen m/f/d, where ‘d’ is for ‘divers’ (I think anyway). So the non-binary and trans could go into the third category to all intents and purposes, including legal. Because if social gender supersedes sex then non-binary eventually should also be legally recognised.

Alternatively, you could go back to biological categories for pragmatic reasons (m/f toilets etc.), while society becomes more permissive towards transvestism (socially presenting as a different gender but each having distinct sex-based rights).

Wishing excruciating pain on a 96-year old dying woman

Three days ago, an American professor wrote quite a nasty tweet about Queen Elizabeth II, who died on the same day (8 Sept 22).

Why? This is not nice. I appreciate it’s ‘just Twitter’ but this type of thing just fans the flames and creates more anger (I’m not surprised The Guardian recently observed the start of a backlash against anti-racism).

Is this what comes after decolonisation? Violence against colonisers? You burn our statues, then you burn us? Hate begets hate begets hate.

All animals are equal. But some animals are more equal than others.

Discourse, social coercion, and totalitarianism

The weaponisation of language to force through a new reality by literally inscribing it in discourse is nothing new. I should say I am quite liberal here – I welcome the new ‘Mx’ that I recently saw as an option on a form, for non-binary people (I believe gender is on a spectrum but there are two biological sexes). Feminists in the 70s claimed ‘Ms’ so that women could represent their unmarried social status, and so ‘Mx’ could fulfil a social identity need where this is important to the person’s identity (of how they want to be addressed in social situations; I’m presuming here that ‘Mx’ goes along with ‘they / them’, it’s not my area of expertise).

That however is different from a full-scale discursive encoding that takes place when lobby groups such as Stonewall ‘walk through the institutions’ to push their agendas (for example the removal of the word woman from the NHS landing page on ovarian cancer to be trans-inclusive increasing barriers to understanding for women whose first language is not English, who may not understand the phrase ‘anyone with ovaries’ used instead of the simple word ‘women’ (that exists in all languages).

That sort of thing (Stonewall and similar groups’ social coercion) can leave you bitter – the discrimination against the most powerless women in society, in the real world, and at large scale (see also, gyms and bathrooms, and many women’s needs for decency in those areas in order to feel comfortable). This is not social progress at its own pace, and negotiated in a democratic society. It’s social coercion through language, with the intent of forcing a different reality, one that is more hostile towards some women, especially those without power.

The increasing discursive undermining of (women’s) identities and self-worth is also present in a recent survey I filled about my oral health, for a new dentist. Behavioural manipulation through language was intentionally built in. As part of the survey, I was first primed to feel bad about my wrinkles and skin (p. 2), before being offered a solution (p. 3), and then primed again to manipulate me towards the desired action, while making me feel in charge (p. 4). Again, this kind of thing is disgusting to me, because it intentionally feeds off (women’s) anxiety over their looks / smile to upsell a procedure. And that’s from a NHS dentist – but I guess the NHS need to increasingly operate like businesses, much like Universities, and it is no longer really about the common good. We are now always made to feel bad, or guilty, while language offering solutions is increasingly kinder, and more loving. A winning combination!

Fuck your pronouns; life is complicated enough

The other week, I came across an interview with a communication expert arguing that pronoun culture created divisions in society as it increases communication barriers and so harms mutual understanding between people. If people are anxious or confused about how to address someone (as can happen with pronounery), it creates awkwardness and bad vibes he said. It also creates more noise / information overload (demands attention) when you don’t even have enough bandwidth for your own stuff, and life is complicated enough.

That’s why he also slated awareness raising campaigns. The world is so seemingly unhinged he said people need to limit the amount of new information and communication coming in, especially irrelevant stuff outside their sphere of influence. There must be a way to find common ground outside narrow identity categories. It really does seem to add an additional burden and barrier.

You could also argue that people shouldn’t really be able to force your attention and head space on these issues – attention in the 21st century has economic value and it isn’t really fair on others in society to grab the limelight and force you to pay attention. Don’t have people the right to protect their own mind and attention, to not being megaphoned at?

Pronounery, when excessive, seems both totalitarian and creates division in society. Stop paying attention and ignore it if you can, he said, and just treat people as normal (or be extra-friendly, to help heal the division it creates).