Self iD & the abolition of women

Originally posted on Facebook 10 Sep 2021

Self iD seems like an inclusive and kind way to give a break to a small group of people who have a tough gig, and can probably do with a bit of help as they undertake a journey that is far harder than the one most others face. A way to strengthen those in a position of weakness. And I am all in favour of people choosing how they see themselves, how they dress, and the consenting adults with whom they choose to sleep. But self iD can’t take precedence over facts, objective data, or the sexual choices of others. It seems that the world is going slightly mad, as people embrace the warm sounded ‘inclusion’ of the self iD ideology, without looking at the harmful implications.

If someone is lesbian, and does not want to date anyone born male, that’s OK. They should not be told that wanting to sleep with genetic females is hateful. But some lesbians have been accused of ‘hate crimes’ (or Orwellian ‘non-crime hate incidents’) for saying that they are not interested in having as a sexual partner anyone who has a willy. Schrodinger used a macro analogy to illustrate a subatomic issue. Lets try using an individual example to illustrate the craziness of the macro policy. The issues are the same, but the ridiculousness may be (even) more apparent.

Let’s say that I self-identify as someone that Megan Markle wants in her bed. That may be a harmless delusion in the privacy of my own home. But, the moment that I try to act on this self identity, and jump into her bed, she is quite right to call security. Doing so is not a hate crime by her: it violates a self identity that is not based in fact, but only in the way that, should I declare that I self identified as lighter than air, and jump out of a second floor window, gravity would hurt me by violating the delusional identity. The moment self iD encounters a physical law, it is trumped by the physical law, and the moment self iD involves how someone else responds to my sexual advances, it is trumped by the other persons right to deny consent.

This applies at individual and group levels. Individual right to deny consent is absolute and not undermined, or delegitimised, by prejudice. If a boy chooses to consider only sexual partners that are female, this is not discrimination against homosexuals. Or, to the extent it is, that’s ok. He should not abuse others for being homosexual and should be kind to others, but that kindness does not need to extend to having sex that is undesired. Similarly, if someone wants to choose their sexual partner only from a particular ethnic group, that’s ok. I had a colleague who was set on marrying a Korean man, I don’t know why, as she didn’t know any Koreans, but she had this idea in her head that she wanted a Korean and that was her prerogative. It may have been unwise, and was clearly racially directed, but whom she admitted to her body was her business alone. She is now happily married to a boy from North London, and I am sure is v happy that she dropped the Korean requirement. But, when choosing with whom to sleep, no one, not even Madonna, selects a meaningful proportion of the seven billion other people in the world. Limiting by gender, by race, by height, hair colour, intellect, athleticism, wealth, or the ability to ride a unicycle, or being mentioned in the Almanach de Gotha, is fine. I was at university with someone whose grandfather suggested he should be sure to marry someone with adjoining lands. And, after playing the field for quite a while, he did exactly that. Perhaps a coincidence? But, either way, his business, and her business, and no one else’s. No one is obliged to sleep with a representative cross section of the population. David Bowie may have managed it, but almost no one does, and that is fine. Being a bisexual internationalist is fine, but is not compulsory, and failure to live that way should not attract condemnation. If someone is Lesbian and wants to search, on a dating app, or elsewhere, for a partner who was born biologically female, that is not being hateful or discriminatory, it is just being themselves. Sexuality and identity are complex enough issues for pubescent people to deal with, and we have just got past people being demonised for fancying their own sex, please don’t load gay teens (or anyone else) with the message that being exclusively gay is a hateful choice of which they should be ashamed.

Gender specific services / areas and the interaction with self iD:

The issue of gender specific areas is really about women only areas. There are arguments against having gender specific areas, but the trans debate should not be a proxy for that, nor should it be a loophole to allow sidestepping. If we have segregated changing rooms, it means that, after the age of, say, 10, if my daughter goes to the swimming pool with me, she goes to the girls changing room rather than the boys. That’s better than her joining me in the boys area, or me accompanying her into the girls area. What about a trans person who now identifies as a girl, but was born Male? If that person is a convicted rapist, their simply saying that they identify as a woman is not an entry ticket to spend time with unaccompanied female children. If the person has never harmed a fly, has had reassignment surgery, female hormones, and has been living as a woman for decades, telling them to use the men’s changing rooms seems harsh. There is a spectrum, so where does one draw the line? My inclination is that rapists, even if reformed, should not be admitted to the girls changing room. That is not to deny the possibility of sincere repentance and reform, but such situations bring to mind Martin McGartland, the IRA terrorist who repented and went on to work to save people from the IRA, assuming vast personal risk in the process. Mc Gartland, despite having atoned for his sins by putting his life on the line and thereby saving 50 people’s lives, stepped out of a room when an IRA victim’s widow arrived. He explained that this was out of respect for her loss, and in acknowledgment of his part in IRA violence. But the underlying reason was that this was not about him and his changes, it was about her, and ensuring that her loss was not compounded by feeling uneasy in his presence. His repentance meant that he did not say to the widow ‘you should accept me for I have now seen the light’, instead he did what he could to make her comfortable. Likewise the rapist should not insist on acceptance by women in their female-only spaces. For those not convicted of rape, I don’t see many objections to those that have completed gender transition using the changing rooms of their new gender. Which, if any, mid-transition people, should be admitted pre-surgery, is more complicated. But, pure self iD can’t work, as it encourages abuse.

Self iD, taken at face value, would mean telling teenage boys that they were free to go into the girls changing rooms on ‘self certifying’ that they identified as a girl. All very funny if you are a 17yr old boy, seeing the trip as a prank. Potentially traumatic to the girls in the changing room, so much so that the mere prospect of an unwelcome male presence might deter some girls from taking up sport in the first place.

Moving beyond school changing rooms, Charlie Munger’s ‘show me the incentive, and I will show you the result’ seems pertinent.

The male convicted of rape? They will respond to incentives, and, if, by continuing to identify as Male they go to a male prison where they will be shunned as a sex offender. But, by identifying as female, the rapist gets to go to a women’s prison which is softer, and offers the prospect of lots of female company, and even a female cell mate that they might choose to rape, what is rational choice for them? Whether or not they are ‘genuinely trans’, choosing to identify as female is the smart choice for them. But a disastrous one for female prisons, and female prisoners. And for female victims told that, in court, they must describe their rapist as ‘her/she’

And what about crime statistics? At the moment men account for more than 95% of rapes and sexual assaults of women. What happens to our understanding of crime if perpetrators have their sex recorded based on self iD, rather than birth? Combine that with an incentive for male rapists to self identify as female to get better conditions in prison, and soon you will end up with official statistics showing that most rapists are female. Which would be nonsense, and make the system look ridiculous: for the very good reason that it would be ridiculous.

The same could easily occur in boardrooms. Companies now have to report gender pay gaps. And many are looking to increase female representation on the board from the current c11% to nearer 50%. One can imagine the informal chat “Bob, if you can just identify as female, the job is yours, we will have a more diverse board, and reduce the reported gender pay gap”.

And how much use is a women’s refuge, or rape crisis centre, if traumatised women and rape victims are not assured of a safe female-only space? Yes, it is true that most men are not rapists or abusers, and one can have very nice and empathetic men who might give good advice to a traumatised woman, but, when a woman has been abused, the initial need is to feel safe, and it is far easier for her to feel safe knowing she can go to a single sex environment. In due course, later on in the healing process, they may arrive at the ‘not all men are like that’ chapter, but there are some traumatised women for whom an all female environment is the only place where they will feel safe. And there are some women for whom opening up and discussing their trauma is very difficult indeed, and impossible to do at all when a man is around. Their needs to receive care and support must come before the need to pursue a career as a rape recovery therapist of a trans person who was born Male. Jobs providing therapy & support must exist primarily for the benefit of those needing the therapy, not for the benefit of the therapist. This does restrict a trans person’s rights to choose certain careers, at least during the time between the start of self identifying as female, and the completion of reassignment surgery & hormonal change. That restriction is unfortunate, and it will harm some good people at a vulnerable stage in their lives. But it is necessary, as the alternative harms an even more vulnerable set of people. In Scotland, the job of running the Edinburgh rape crisis centre is legally reserved for someone of the female sex, but the job is now being done by someone who was born male, and who is now advertising for new staff, encouraging applications from those that were not born female.

Unrestricted self iD means the abolition of female-only spaces, and the abolition of any meaningful attempts to identify and act on areas where women may be getting a poor deal

It also means the end of female-specific sports. Girls that want to be professional athletes will have to choose areas like equestrianism where male and female compete on equal terms. Because ‘women’s athletics’, ‘women’s tennis’ etc will become playgrounds for retired male athletes, and males that were never good enough to compete against the boys.

Refusing trans people entry to women-only sports is not without a price in terms of genuinely trans people losing out and probably needing a trans category of their own. But, given the incentives it would create for not genuinely trans people to hog the podium by falsely claiming to identify as trans, without some exclusion, there will not be any meaningfully women-specific sports for the trans community to want to join. The males fraudulently self identifying as female would ruin it for genuine trans people just as they would for those born female.

As far as I can see, those are the self iD issues:

⁃ Individual Choice of consenting sexual partner(s) and the sex/gender/ethnic/aesthetic/athletic groups that they do or do not come from is absolute. And such choices are not hateful or wrongfully discriminatory. They are just choices that the individual is entirely entitled to make. And no individual should be criticised for ruling out any person or group of people. The act of choosing an identity does not give anyone a right or entitlement to have sex with another person who does not want to choose them, and any attempt to criticise or blame a person for rejecting a sexual partner, is profoundly wrong: it is an attempt to control, to take away bodily & sexual autonomy, it is abuse. And abuse that dresses itself up in terms of inclusion and non discrimination is particularly evil, as it tries to undermine the victim’s sense of self, to deny choice, and pretend that the denial is being good.

⁃ The idea that people born male who rape or murder females, should be allowed to choose to serve their sentence in a women’s prison is utterly loony. In fact giving that choice to any violent criminal makes no sense.

⁃ It would be interesting to expand data capture to include trans categories as well as male and female. But, if we have to report based on a binary Male/Female basis, then crime, gender pay, board representation, and athletic performance figures cannot be based on self iD, or the data will become meaningless as perverse incentives drive people to wilfully lie about their alleged identity.

⁃ There should be a place in this world for women-only areas. Domestic abuse refuges. Sports competitions. Support groups. Etc. In many cases, ending the women-only criteria is a de facto abolition of the entity and its purpose. And Allowing those born male access to these areas by self iD amounts to abolition of the woman only criteria.

Individuals with gender dysphoria seldom have an easy life. Theirs is a hard journey, and they deserve care, understanding, and support. But they are not served by building trans rights on a self iD altar that creates big incentives for non trans people to use self iD as a way to game the system. Where one draws the line, I am not certain, particularly as it seems like a very bad idea to push people towards surgery. Those trying to understand and determine their identity, particularly anyone going through puberty with hormones surging around creating all sorts of unfamiliar emotions, do not need to be told ‘if you were genuine you would have your bits cut off’.

So I don’t have good answers as to where we should draw the line. As ever, people are individuals, and don’t fit into neat pigeon holes. But I am confident that giving legal force to self iD is another manifestation of an old story: the road to hell being paved with good intentions.

Self iD seems like a way to strengthen those in a position of weakness. Alas, in the real world, the effect is to give more power to the already strong: Male rapists and murderers, males vying for promotion to company boards, professional males wanting well paid publicly funded careers. And it endangers the already vulnerable, the weak. Abused women seeking refuge and counselling, women prisoners who find themselves locked in a room with someone who is biologically unchanged from the man that a court just convicted of rape. Teenage girls that love sport and would be thrilled to represent their country, but whose dreams are crushed because they can’t compete with biological males. Scared girls that have just got their period (or missed a period) and want to talk to other girls, but are scared off a forum (in person or online) which is not all-female. Or even women seeking an end to unfair pay & promotion prospects at work (FWIW my sense is that, in most professional jobs, the main cause of men overtaking women on the career ladder is less unfairness at work than domestic arrangements after children arrive: men can’t be pregnant, or breast feed, but, although almost everything else could be done by either parent, the mother typically does more to run the household and raise the children. Perhaps the solution lies more in the hands of husbands than of bosses. But that’s not the point: only by having robust data can we have an informed discussion about what is happening and whether or not it is right)

If we want to find a way to improve the acceptance and perception of trans people, consider the damage done by self iD. This guarantees that trans people are perceived as being an order of magnitude more likely to commit sexual and other violent offences. Genuinely trans people are probably more gentle and confused than the general population, but, soon almost all rapists will self iD as trans, so there will be a general fear of trans people. And, as teenage girls have their dreams of sporting achievement dashed by trans people born as men, there will be a growing constituency of those that resent trans people and see them as sporting cheats. And female professionals will start to resent people claiming to be trans who join boards and are deemed to constitute female appointments. Lesbians will grow tired and then angry with men who want to pick them up and insist that they should be allowed into lesbian dating sites, as trans lesbians. Trans will be seen as an anti-lesbian identity. Possibly also anti-gay (interestingly in Some homophobic cultures they prefer to say that homosexual men are not gay, but are trans women). It is a recipe for fear, resentment, and even hatred. Machiavelli said that it was better to be feared than to be loved, but what works for the amoral individual would-be ruler does not work for the collective. Real trans people will pay a horrible price for the games played by criminals, cheats, and those men that try to tell lesbians that they are guilty of hate crimes for rejecting their advances.

Given all the reasons for not supporting self iD, the fact that it has become policy for many organisations, must be because someone is pushing very hard to make it so. Who is benefitting? My cursory (not at all comprehensive, or rigorous, please feel free to provide corrections in comments) research seems to point somewhere between a stereotypical 1970s ‘corrupt corporations’ narrative, and a Scooby Doo villan. Once could hardly make it up. In the UK the Tavistock Clinic has people who are building very well paid careers by providing a ‘Gender Identity Development Service’, a tribunal recently ordered the clinic to pay £20,000 to their safeguarding officer who was hated by the clinic’s director for, well, trying to safeguard patients, so much so that the director ordered staff not to involve safeguarding (a patient whose desire to transition is questioned, may choose not to transition and so stop being a customer, which is not good for business). Then there are grants promoting trans work by the ARCUS foundation, whose Chairman runs medical technology company Stryker (annual sales $14Bn, profit $2bn), which probably sees trans people as a market that can be addressed and should be maximised. I don’t know how much, if anything, Stryker makes from the trans market, qua the trans market. But someone with lobbying muscle must be behind the way that self iD has gained such a hold on institutions from the Scottish Government, to Amnesty International, to Stonewall. And, benefit as they undoubtedly do from the policy, I don’t see the convicted rapists now in women’s prisons as the ones whose advocacy has persuaded people to accept self iD.

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