There’s a lot more heat than light when discussing Trans Issues.
One area that causes even more confusion than most is that of sexual preferences.
Veronica Ivy (formerly Rachel McKinnon), a trans philosopher and champion cyclist, once claimed that any sexual orientation other than “pansexual” (attraction regardless of sex) was immoral because it would exclude people based on their genitals.
While this was widely ridiculed even within trans activism, it’s a common theme that not considering someone as a romantic or sexual partner because they are trans is “transphobic”.
Ryan Butcher, the editor of Pink News, tells us the definition of “transphobia” is not accepting a trans person as the gender they identify as.
Unlike Veronica Ivy/Rachel McKinnon, Butcher says he does not consider sexual preferences per se transphobic.
For Butcher, and for mainstream trans activism, it is acceptable to have a sexual attraction to one or other set of genitals, but it is not acceptable to reject a trans person as a potential romantic or sexual partner if they identify as the sex that you would normally be sexually attracted to.
If all this seems confusing, that’s because it is confusing.
For those not immersed in the “trans debate” — that is to say, almost everyone — the biological sex you are born with is different from the way trans people express their desired gender. While most people in the UK are comfortable with trans people (and everyone else) expressing their “gender identity” however they damn well please, this doesn’t necessarily mean they have to be considered the sex they would like to be perceived in all cases. Males identifying into women’s prisons and sports are probably the two easiest examples to understand.
But for Butcher — and again for mainstream trans activism — it is transphobic to mention the difference. Men who identify as women should be accepted as women irrespective of whether they have taken any steps to “transition”. They need not have taken hormones, or had surgery, or even shaved off their masculine beards. As the mantra goes, “Trans Women are Women: this is not a debate”.
For Butcher, Pink News and mainstream trans activism, it is an irrational fear or hatred of trans people not to see them as their desired gender (sometimes referred to as their “lixed sex”). Different opinions on this issue are literal “hate speech”, and should be punished with social exclusion at the very least, if not outright criminal sanctions.
This has the very odd effect of rendering even the concept of same-sex attraction a “phobia” to be combatted, just over 50 years after homosexuality was decriminalised in Britain.
It is at this point that Butcher, along with many trans allies, performs something of an ideological shuffle: everyone must agree that trans women are women — just not necessarily for sexual purposes.
For the hard-core of trans activism however, this is not acceptable. Instead, each of us has a moral duty to change the way we perceive sex and gender to accommodate trans identities.
If this sounds like conversion therapy, that’s because it is conversion therapy. It’s ideologically approved conversion therapy, though, which apparently is alright.
Mainstream trans activism sidesteps this issue by pretending it doesn’t exist.
To do that, they studiously ignore the simple fact that biological sex goes beyond “genitals”. Humans are a sexually dimorphic species, with our sex unambiguous except in very rare cases. Sexual attraction has evolved over millions of years. Most people are attracted to the opposite sex and a minority to the same or both sexes.
Gender non-conformity is as old as humanity, and many cultures across the world have recognised this, some with “third genders”, but no culture anywhere in history ever thought that men became actual women just by stating that they were actual women. That is an entirely new phenomenon that has appeared in the West over recent decades.
Indeed, to label doubt over whether “trans women” are always “actual women” as transphobia makes as much sense as calling non-Muslims (or even Muslims of a different denomination) “Islamophobes”, for not sharing the same preferred beliefs about Islam.
According to Pink News and mainstream trans activism, it is acceptable to have sexual preferences, just as long as you don’t express them as sexual preferences, and as long as you don’t exclude as potential sexual or romantic partners people who “identify” as being the sex to which you are normally sexually attracted. I did say it was confusing.
It’s confusing for trans allies too, as this now-classic conversation shows:
Until very recently, this exchange would have been seen almost universally as deeply sexist and homophobic.
It denies that men and women exist as separate sexes which, as noted earlier, no culture anywhere in history had any trouble distinguishing.
It denies too that homosexuality — same-sex attraction — is valid and was (and widely still is) criminal across many states and cultures.
But, with an ideological march of remarkable rapidity, a new idea has arisen in Western academic scholarship that biological sex is itself a “social construct”, less valid than personal beliefs about gender identity.
You might consider this to be sexist, homophobic reality denial. It looks that way to me.
Despite mainstream trans activism’s insistence that “genital preferences are not transphobic”, it is routine and widespread for trans activists to complain that both gay men and lesbian women are hateful, intolerant, exclusionary bigots for being attracted to the sex they perceive others to be, rather than the identity others wish to be perceived as.
The roots of this confusion are plain to see. If trans women truly are women, and if trans men truly are men, then there are no differences between the sexes other than identity.
But there are differences, which have evolved over many millions of years, and that identity, language, ideology and wishful thinking just do not change.
So no, I don’t think your sexual preferences are transphobic.
I think trans people and — in particular — vulnerable gender non-conforming youngsters are being sold a lie: that others will not perceive their biological sex, that sexual attraction is to personal identity rather than to physical reality, and most worryingly that it’s “hate speech” to even have this discussion.
I think if trans activists truly want tolerance and acceptance, they will have to face up to the reality that everyone knows what sex is, that trans people are well aware of the sex they are, that there are wide differences of opinion on gender issues even within trans communities, and that inclusivity can only mean accepting that differences exist, of people and opinions — for otherwise all we are doing is enforcing rigid ideological conformity.
No doubt that tolerant, inclusive, non-bigoted trans activists out there will calmly explain why I am wrong.