Steph's Place

Comment is Free, If you're not Transgender

By Co-Editor Claire

 Another Sunday, another attack on the trans population in the UK by the mainstream, socially conservative press. Something like four or five this weekend alone. Laughably, in the The Guardian that comes in the form of their ‘Comment is Free’ section, in an 'opinion piece' by Sonia Sodha.

 Comment is Free, because other people are paying the price. As I write this, my friend Steph is talking another trans person out of a suicide attempt. Employers are putting in safety measures to protect their trans employees coming in on Monday after the weekend media feeding frenzy, and trans allies are being driven from their homes.


 Comment is free if you’re a member of the middle class pseudo intelligentsia. There's an irony with Sonia Sodha publishing under this banner - over on Twitter, where comment is actually free, she’s blocked every trans person I know so she can insulate herself from inconvenient truths.

 UK journalism, and especially UK ‘feminist’ journalism is out of touch with actual, inclusive, intersectional feminism. It’s the feminism of the cisgender, usually straight and white, well off, overeducated middle class incestuous clique that thinks not having fifty fifty representation in the boardroom is the most pressing issue facing women today, while quaffing their Prosecco and proclaiming they’ve saved the environment because they traded the Range Rover for a Prius on the school run.


 There’s so many things wrong with this piece by Sodha that it’s difficult to know where to start. Like most other trans hostile pieces in the UK press, it starts with misinformation, builds on it with lies of omission, and gets progressively worse as it goes on. Not really surprising, Sodha set out her stall some time ago as a trans hostile activist.


 It starts by claiming anti trans hostility is a strand of feminism - sure it is, if you think feminism should be run by the US religious right, the BNP and Donald Trump. That’s why Nancy Kelly compared it to anti-semitism - because it’s provably shacked up with the far right, using the same tactics and supported by the same people that are perpetrating anti-semitism today.

 Nancy Kelly is under fire because she exposed a truth you really don’t want to confront - that ‘Gender Critical’ feminism is the feminism of being back at a man’s beck and call, while barefoot, uneducated and pregnant.


 The tactics used are remarkably similar to those used by a certain National Socialist Party in the early to mid twentieth century, first against LGBT people, then when that wasn't enough, against Jewish people too - with the same goals. Just because you don’t like the comparison, doesn’t make it any less true.


But what about the article itself?

 To call it a hit piece would be an insult - it's little more than the deranged rantings of an afternoon drinker on their third bottle of the day. Incoherent, rambling and full of frothing hate masked by reasonable sounding language. Not really surprising given that sums up 'gender critical feminism' in a nutshell.

 We have four significant omissions in the first couple of paragraphs, and its misinformation all the way down.


 The ‘independent’ review at Essex University, now known as the Reindorf Report, was done by a trans hostile 'QC', who showed her true colours just afterwards by following a number of trans hostile groups straight after publication. Hardly independent, or unbiased - and should be looked at again on that basis alone - especially as it appears it’s now being directly contradicted by Leading Council in her own Chambers.. 


 It ignores the fact that that Stonewall had fourteen founders - and all but two appear to be trans inclusive and trans supportive. The two that aren’t are part of the same incestuous clique that infests the UK Press like the smell of microwaved fish in the staff room.


 It then completely ignores that ‘Stonewall’s interpretation of the law’, by which we mean the Equality Act 2010, was upheld in court as completely correct in AEA vs EHRC. So much so that the judge called the interpretation of the Equality Act by the claimant, one Ann Sinnott, straight founder of the LGB Alliance and advocate of breastfeeding teenagers - the same interpretation that Sodha shares, 'an absurdity'.


There's misinterpretation here as Sodha claims, but it doesn't originate with Stonewall.


 It then fails to mention that the head of the EHRC, Baroness Falker, is also firmly on the trans hostile side.

The same EHRC that recently intervened in the Forstater appeal on her behalf in an attempt to uphold trans hostile activism as a protected belief - while ignoring their own Article 9 rules on how it’s the manifestation of belief that’s the problem, not holding a belief itself. You know, by creating a hostile atmosphere, refusing to address someone with dignity and respect because they're transgender, and spouting trans hostile misinformation at everyone within earshot, whether they want to listen or not.

  Liz Truss and this Conservative Government have deliberately packed public bodies with trans hostile puppets to do their bidding, from the EHRC to the BBC, ACAS and the DVLA - That's why they're pulling out of the Stonewall Diversity Champions scheme. Not because Stonewall are wrong, but that this fascist adjacent junta are trying to bring down the UKs biggest LGBT charity for supporting trans people. No more, no less.


 And let's not start in on the Charity Commission, who recently granted the trans hostile ‘LGB Alliance’ group full charity status. The same Charity Commission that are refusing to investigate fully evidenced complaints against the group, and fobbing off Freedom of Information requests.

 It might surprise you to learn that Helen Stephenson, CEO of the Charity Commission, also follows, and is followed by, a number of trans hostile groups and people on social media, including dear old Sonia here.


 It’s this Conservative Government undermining Stonewall because they support trans people, and they’re doing so with the help of the UK Press and ill informed, lazy, deliberately misleading ‘journalists’.


 Sodha then goes on to uncritically platform ‘Gender Critical’ views, ignoring that ‘in patriarchal society women’s bodies and their role in sex and reproduction play a major role in their oppression’ is exactly what these faux feminists are arguing for.

 She then repeats the same old ‘gender critial ' tropes about using ‘gender identity’ to replace sex, and that sex is what governs access to ‘women’s spaces’, displaying a staggering ignorance of how the Equality Act actually works, as well as the fact that there are no such things as ‘women’s spaces’ or ‘same sex spaces’ defined in law. I would suggest she go speak to a few equality lawyers who actually understand this stuff, not the ones who seem to be trained in the Mumsnet School of Legal Incompetence.


Sodha then follows up with more trans hostile misinformation - raising the spectre of ‘male violence’.

 Let's make no mistake, what she does here is transphobia writ large, and it's not the first time The Guardian has done it. By talking about trans people and male violence, what Sodha tries to do is paint the old mental picture that trans women are really men, and because of that trans women are a threat.

 It’s old, disproved, tired misinformation and it's emotional manipulation. The same as used back in the 1980s to keep lesbians and gay men out of toilets, changing rooms, and away from children - resulting in Section 28.

  She conveniently omits the facts that trans women suffer from domestic abuse, male violence, and sexual harassment at rates comparable to, or often greater than, cisgender women. We don’t have a number on how many trans women are killed, because the fact they’re trans isn’t recorded.


I mentioned earlier about how she needs to get to grips with how the Equality Act actually works, because these lines just sum it up:

 ‘There is a clash here with Stonewall’s campaign to abolish legal provisions for single-sex spaces, so that males who identify as women have the same rights to access them as those born female.’

 ‘This is not some fringe perspective that feminists can ignore. Women must be free to express the view that it is risky to allow men who self-identify as women to access female-only spaces as default.’


Here’s a round trip ticket for the clue bus, for all you disingenuous hacks out there in journo-land.

Trans women aren't ‘men who identify as women’, we are women, socially and legally, whether you like the fact or not.

 And we are already using ‘single sex spaces’, legally. We’ve done so since long before the Equality Act even came into being. Again, talk to someone who actually knows the law, or better yet, treat yourself to a copy of ‘A Practical Guide to Transgender Law’ by Robin Moira White & Nicola Newbegin’, and you might actually learn something.


 Your view is a fringe perspective, because we are already in those spaces, and have been for decades. And like all fringe perspectives that are devoid of evidence and heavy on misinformation and hyperbole, it should be dismissed, not lauded in a national newspaper as if it’s some great revelation.


Sodha then tries the ‘abusive men go to great lengths to access female victims’ card.

Actually Sonia, babes - they don't. Most abuse of women happens in the home, and by people they know.

 To access ‘women's spaces’ men don't need to go to any greater lengths than to put on a hi-vis jacket and pick up a mop, or a toolbox.

 The idea of a cisgender man 'dressing as a woman' to 'access spaces' is thoroughly ludicrous, given you cant get most cisgender men to work a hoover, do the washing up or wear florals in case their dicks fall off due to the inevitably fatal drop in testosterone.


 She then goes on to raise the spectre of Karen White - aka Stephen Woods, the vile, cisgender predator that the prisons service failed to conduct the proper tests and procedures for, resulting in them being wrongly admitted into the female estate. She conveniently ignores that there have been 124 sexual assaults in five women's jails over from 2010 to 2018, and of those only seven had been carried out by trans prisoners.

Meaning that the vast majority of sexually assults in women’s prisons - a whopping 94% - are being perpetrated by cisgender women themselves.


The rest of the article is simply further repeats of earlier misinformation, in the classic ‘if we repeat a lie often enough, for long enough, people will believe it’ fashion.


 Sodha styles herself as an antiracist, ‘explaining unintuitive concepts such as structural discrimination’. Which would be funny, it she wasn't herself perpetuating structural discrimination. 

 Which she amply demonstrates by grandly proclaiming ‘we understand why some women want safeguards for certain single-sex spaces; can you see why in many other circumstances there’s no reason why trans women should be treated differently from those born female?’. 

 Your idea of compromise is ‘trans women out’ - out of spaces that we are already legally using without a problem. That’s not compromise, thats asking for structural discrimination where it doesnt currently exist. You want surrender, total capitulation, and for trans people to cease to exist in society.


There's a word for that, one that goes hand in hand with anti-semitism too. Genocide.


Most of this could have been avoided if trans hostile activists like Sodha had actually listened to trans people years ago, and rags like The Guardian actually platformed trans people for balance. All you had to do was treat us like human beings.


Instead you shut us out, wrapped yourselves in layers of conspiracy theories, and told yourselves comforting lies.


And you're still doing it, like an addict that just can't stop themselves.


 She finishes off with a whiny lament about not stoking culture wars, like a school kid that's annoyed you won't go along with the added rules they made up so that they win the game every time. Which is a bit rich, coming from a fully paid up member of a hate cult that's been stoking the self same culture war for years, in a paper that's been platforming trans hostile voices and rhetoric over the same timeframe, and is happy to continue stoking the flames of hate and bigotry as long as it generates a bit of revenue.


Face it Sonia, you’re about as feminist as Donald Trump, and have about as much empathy for trans people as Heinrich Himmler.

‘Gender Critical’ feminism is just the latest incarnation of age old middle class bigotries, and you’re nothing but a willing puppet of the far right.


And if, with your help they win - you'll be next. Hope you like doing the washing up.


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