Steph's Place

19th January - The Story Behind The Book Review Female Masculinities And The Gender War, by Finn Mackay

By Steph


Female Masculinities and the Gender War by Finn Mackay was published in late 2021 and has recently been getting some excellent book reviews - mine included.

But how come a trans woman read a book about masculinity, you may ask?

For sure, a couple of chapters were hard reading purely because I am just interested in everything "femme." Not everyone is a trans woman though - give or take we are just 0.5% of the population.

So for the vast majority, Finn's book is one you just can't put down.

But interestingly, there is a bit of a story as to why I read this book.

In October 2021, I ran an event called "Fly the Flag" in my home city of Portsmouth to coincide with the FiLiA conference. I had met members of FiLiA in the summer, and we got on well, but they knew from the onset that I disagreed with their views regarding Gender Recognition Act (GRA) reform.

Quite simply, how can you object to reform a human rights act ...when it clearly doesn't work?

Fly the Flag was not so much a protest - it was more of a celebration of "transness" and an opportunity to get some leaflets out to folk who made it their mission to conflate the GRA with the Equality Act.

I would also add another event promoted by the local antifascists, took place at the same time, with a more general message about transphobia. 

Of course, attendees at both events talked with each other - and I will always be grateful to the local antifascists for the protection they gave me.

Being trans in Portsmouth is undoubtedly a risk!

And was Ms Parker going to turn up with a loaded gun?

Well, how was I to know?

(Note to non-war participants - yes, there has been death threats and also threats to use guns).

There were many positives to that weekend, but sadly a negative in that two angry young trans kids came and wrote some rather distasteful signs. Despite allegations to the contrary, I never ever saw those signs within the huge Guildhall Square, as I stayed close to the main entrance, invariably chatting to attendees of the FiLiA conference, all of whom were very polite and supportive.

One of those I was chatting to, I will call Ann because I am not going to expose any real names without permission.

Ann is a lesbian in her mid-seventies and has "feminist" running through her just like 'Brighton' runs through a stick of rock. Ann detests transphobia.

" I dont agree with it", she said to me slowly in her soft London accent "this is all contrived and so unnecessary".

We must have chatted for the best part of an hour. I heard her life story, how she still stays busy and all about the Feminist Museum in East London.

We swapped phone numbers, and we promised to stay in touch.

And we have.

Ann is into arts and crafts, very 'laid back, and I adore her voice and messages. "Are you going to read Female Masculinities and the Gender War" she asked one day? "Let's read it together and then compare notes."

Well, how could I refuse? Ann and I get on so well.

Had I heard of the book? - well, in truth - no, I hadn't.

Still, I hope it becomes a best seller because it spells out unequivocal language about the massive dangers of the American right-wing Christian extremists and how they are infiltrating the UK.

The gender war needs more books like this to be read by TERFS, gender criticals and trans people alike. Somehow we all need to muddle along.

Female Masculinities and the Gender War explains the history behind the war, which I take part in 24/7.

And in truth, I am fed up with this war and wish we would all go home and do something useful - like knitting, for example - Ann likes knitting too!

Sadly, Ann has not been so well of late and had a spell in hospital over Christmas, so she is yet to finish Finn Mackay's book.

But when we get round to chatting about it, I know what she will say to me in her soft, relaxing voice.

"What a stupid war Steph."

Get well soon, Ann - and thank you for being a trans ally. xx



Female Masculinities and the Gender War by Finn Mackay is available from all good book shops and priced at around £18.


Authored by Steph @PlaceSteph

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