Why are trans activists trying to cancel a ‘silencing women’ event?
Protesters claim that a talk on sex-based research is transphobic
Female academics have a lot to talk about these days. Professors have been targeted, subjected to campaigns of harassment, and some have left academia altogether. On Wednesday, I’m chairing a meeting called ‘Silencing Women: Academic Freedom and Unthinkable Thoughts’, where three distinguished professors will talk about their fight for sex-based research — and activists are trying to stop it going ahead.
Yes, you did read that right. The response of activists to female academics talking about how accusations of ‘transphobia’ are being used to silence them, is to try and silence them again. ‘We believe this event should not go ahead’, says a petition on Change.org, claiming ‘it will encourage transphobia…and this will be to the detriment of the safety of trans people’.
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A protest has been organised outside the event, which is at the Taliesin Arts Centre at (but not organised by) Swansea University. The organisers claim that the university was warned that the event would ‘cause discomfort and alarm among the university trans community’ and place trans staff and students ‘in the firing line’.
This is complete nonsense. The right to assemble and speak about issues that affect half the population is essential in a democracy. But it’s also clear that the protest is based on a misrepresentation of the work of the three academics — Professors Jo Phoenix, Alice Sullivan and Judith Suissa — who will be speaking on Wednesday evening. None of them has ever sought to ‘erase trans people’s identities’, a claim that’s often made to undermine perfectly reasonable arguments.
Phoenix, a criminologist who is suing the Open University for constructive dismissal, seems to be a particular target because of her research on the impact of housing trans-identified males in women’s prisons. It’s vital that public policy is based on evidence, such as the impact of replacing ‘sex’ with ‘gender’ when collecting data, and that’s what is currently under threat from an extreme ideology bent on destroying sex categories.
But it’s worse than that. The implication is that even discussing women’s rights poses a threat to transgender people, a smear that reverses the stark reality of what’s going on. For several years now, feminists have been unable to hold meetings without having to get past protesters who shout abuse and even threaten sexual violence. Organisers of events like the one on Wednesday have to provide security for speakers and attendees, to make sure we can get in and out of venues safely.
Three years ago this week, I was at a meeting in West London when trans activists set off smoke bombs and jumped out of the darkness to photograph us as we left the building. I’ve seen photographs of events where masked men scream abuse into women’s faces. I’ve seen a placard calling for ’terfs’ to be beheaded. A documentary I took part in, Adult Human Female, has had screenings cancelled and is struggling to find venues after protests from activists. Organisers of the protest against the ‘Silencing Women’ event in Swansea say we’re ‘more than welcome to hold it elsewhere’, as though the same thing wouldn’t happen again.
At one level, we’ve reached peak absurdity. Even on International Women’s Day, it seems, women are no longer free to speak about…free speech. But it should mark a turning point, a moment when universities, politicians and institutions take a stand. It’s feminists whose rights are under threat and whose safety is in question, not the extremists who are once again trying to silence us.
I assume the activists are too dense to realise that the greatest threat to how people view Trans-People is themselves and actions like this? Their dogmatic and fundamentalist views (which also ignore basic reality) will do them no favours and I don’t want to support a cause that relies on intimidation alone to try and “win” people over.
It’s getting to the point where I find myself having to re-read what I read because I can’t get it straight the first time. Like I have to remind myself that trans women are men. It feels like they should be called trans men. And that’s not even reading “she” when might actually “he”, or “they” when it’s could a “he” or a “she”. But I won’t figure that out till I’ve struggled through half the story.
I’ve stopped using the term ‘trans woman’ and use ‘trans identifying male’ instead. It’s more accurate and less confusing.
It is as if activists have found a crack in the Social Fabric and are taking a hammer and wedge to it to make the crack wider. Pure Frankfurt School tactics.
Thank You for your courage. My son is an adult human female with sex dysphoria; transitioning has greatly relieved his dysphoria & I am thankful that for him transitioning worked. I believe the neurologists who claim sex dysphoria is a rare neurological condition that affects the part of our brain dealing with self perception. I do NOT believe in “Gender Identity” which has no more basis in reality than Astrology.
My son is GROSSLY misrepresented by Trans “Activists” who are dominated by male perverts who hate women & have zero concern for children.
Thank You for taking a stand against these lunatics. They are fueling a backlash against people suffering from actual sex dysphoria by equating them with AGP creeps. They are fueling contempt for trans people – NOT GC feminists or Matt Walsh.
Keep fighting the good fight. Thank You.
I am sorry to hear your child has sex dysphoria but your comment that “My son is an adult human female” is nonsensical, and also confusing. If your child is an adult human female then she is your daughter not your son; if your child is your son then he is not an adult human female.
In a simpler world what you say would be true – but then in a simpler world nobody could be allowed to transition. There is nothing to stop us from allowing people to transition and using the words and pronouns for the new gender when reasonably possible. It helps the people with dysphoria, and where the focus is on social interactions rather than sex or biology it can even make sense, once we are used to it. It would be kind of mean to insist on ‘my daughter’ for someone who desperately wants to live as a male and otherwise makes trouble for no one. Anyway, why is “My son is an adult human female” any worse than calling your female adoptive parent ‘my mother’?
“Anyway, why is “My son is an adult human female” any worse than calling your female adoptive parent ‘my mother’?”
This is a spectacular example of category error, Rasmus.
Why is that? Please expand – I might learn something.
AFAIAC the two are similar: In both cases you have a big bunch of biological and social aspects that normally go together, and some special cases that tick only some of the boxes. So adoptive, birth-, gene-, surrogate, and step- mothers all qualify as kinds of ‘mother’, even though they each lack something that ‘normal’ mothers have, and incidentally have nothing in common apart from being female. In the same way you could accept that trans women qualify as women for some purposes (like forms of address), but not for others.
It’s a nice idea in theory, but it’s obvious that many trans-identifying males will never be happy with being accepted as part-time women, or women with an asterisk, who magically cease being women when they cross the threshold of single sex spaces or attempt to play in women’s sport.
That interview with Lia Thomas a few months ago made it pretty obvious. You can’t half-support him as a woman depending on circumstances, you’re supposed to treat him as 100% fully female, nothing less.
Aaaaand look there’s now a brand new story on this site about a male powerlifter who sued his way into female sport because he wants to be treated as a full-time woman.
Give them an inch and they’ll take a mile, anyone?
“Give them an inch and they’ll take a mile”?
Well, you certainly have a point. The story of homosexuality and registered partnership would be an example of how hard it is to reach a stable solution that is not either full condemnation or 100% acceptance. It is also quite true that the Lia Thomas’es of this world, together with their fans and auxiliaries, are not going to settle for anything less than total affirmation and total victory. Which the rest of us must then work to deny them.
Being me, I’d still look for some compromise, though. For one thing, we have two groups with completely incompatible and strongly held views on how society and its ideas must be organised. They are of unequal size, sure, and if anything the victory should belong to the cis majority, but is it really fair that the trans (or gender dysphoric, or whatever) should bear all the strains and costs of adjustment? For another thing, ‘they’ have grabbed quite a few inches already. If we force everybody to choose between team ‘no such thing as trans’ and team ‘we are all queer’, we would risk pushing quite a few neutral bystanders into the queer camp, which might end up winning its total victory.
Besides: If the son/daughter of one of your friends, or one of your work colleagues comes out as trans, are you really going to insist loudly that ‘No, you are a man!”? Because for total rejection to work that is what you would have to do.
Sorry but I cannot stomach the word “cis”, as it’s a part of an ideology that I find incoherent at best and actively harmful at worst.
If there was a way to make it so that calling a male “she” and “woman” would be understood by everyone to be a polite social lie and nothing more, I honestly wouldn’t have a problem with it. But it seems that once you start muddying the language and blurring boundaries, it will inevitably be taken advantage of by the bad actors.
I just can’t see how we as a society can navigate our way there when trans activists and gender zealots have zero interest in a compromise. Their ideology can’t even allow for any distinction between a trans person who’s undergone full treatment/surgery and could reasonably pass for a member of the opposite sex, and someone who decided they’re a woman five minutes ago and has no intention to medically transition. The trans side of the debate would have to be dominated by the reasonable voices open to compromise, and I’m not sure at all how we can make it happen.
Re: your example… well no I wouldn’t loudly insist that the child of my friend/colleague who identifies as trans is really a man. But if they tried to get me to agree that their child is really a woman, I wouldn’t give them that validation either.
Again, you have a point. I do think we may have to try, but it is indeed hard to see a compromise when one side absolutely refuses to consider it and ‘argues’ by shutting down debate.
As for ‘cis’, I do not like it either, but we need some word for the purpose of this debate. Maybe I should use ‘non-trans’ in the future instead?.
‘Re: my example…’: I would agree with you on that one.
The “some word” we need is “woman”. Just “woman”.
You are telling me that an apple is a pear.
A category error, is a philosophical concept used to describe a statement in which the speaker presents a concept from one category as if it belongs in another, or ascribes properties from one category to concepts from another.
Not very illuminating – because it goes for both sides of the comparison. A son is by definition not a female, and an adoptive mother is by definition not a mother, because she has not given birth to the child. If you are willing to relax the definition in the case of mothers, you need more than logic 101 to say why you could not also do it in other cases.
Sure spoils some jokes, like the old one about the surgeon who turned out to be the patient’s mother!
However the one thing they have in common is that they are all women and they are all performing the female parenting role, biologically or socially.
“worse than”, why is it worse.
I dunno babes. I was quoting!
Maybe you are as confused as I am
Once upon a time, people who acted as the sex they weren’t were called “trannies”, meaning transvestite. Everyone was happy. Can’t we go back to that approach and leave everyone’s bits intact?
Well can have their “bits cut off if they want to but they can never have babies.
Isn’t that “hate speech?” I mean, didn’t Keir Starmer tell us it is wrong to say a man can’t have a cervix?
The transvestites are still around, but they have re-branded themselves as transgender because it’s easier to claim victim status that way. And they don’t want to have their bits cut off because those bits are essential for them to be able to indulge in their fetishes.
Not a good analogy, and it seems the trans thing is predominately men wanting to be women than the other way round. What’s that all about?
Not any more, it isn’t. There are ever more women wanting to move the other way. I guess it just makes less noise, since men by and large do not have problems about competing with women (in or out of sports) or sharing a dressing room with naked women. As for keeping male-only social spaces, feminism put paid to that a while ago.
“nobody could be allowed to transition.”
Allowed? People can do what they want. Chop off their, adult, bits etc but none of this ‘transition’ makes any difference to their sex/gender. They still are, and always will be, their real sex.
While it may be polite to the delusional to join in their delusion it does not help them learn to live with their delusion.
And it is rude, and confusing, to all the non-delusional who, still, are far more numerous.
I am entirely on side regarding the sentiments that you put forward but I admit that I am confused about whether your son has transitioned to presenting himself as a woman or whether she is your daughter who is an adult human female who has transitioned to present herself as your son and whom you therefor refer to as him. What is undoubtedly clear to you can be confusing unless it is made clear whether the pronouns and relationship is the actual or adopted one. Sorry if my confusion is in any way upsetting.
How is the general public going to sort out what’s genuine and what’s a scam?
“It’s feminists whose rights are under threat and whose safety is in question” says the author.
I would have thought it was not just feminists but anyone, particularly women, who are under threat from hysterical bigots who wish to impose their version of reality on everyone else who fails to agree with them by shouting, intimidation and threats to try to prevent any discussions that they might not approve of.
In a state where the rule of law and freedom of speech was respected anyone threatening a breach of the peace by such unruly and intimidatory behaviour would be arrested and brought before the magistrates. That is what should happen. Unfortunately the police have been infiltrated by those who are not prepared to uphold the rule of law without fear or favour.
In the 1950s CND marches were conducted without violence. Many on the CND Marches had been in combat , some in WW1 and WW2 and understood violence. The Anti – Vietnam Demos of the late 1960s were violent. The change in attitude of the late 1960s meant people felt they were entitled to act violently if they did not obtain want they wanted. Basically people became spoilt brats having a temper tantrum when they did not get what they wanted.
In WW2, people suffered torture and died for our freedom.
Best wishes for your event, Ms. Smith.
Indeed, and it’d be good to see Unherd publishing an article by way of follow-up after the event; not just to inform about how the event proceeded but details of the discussion.
The reason the “Trans Community” are terrified of debate is that when questioned, they are very quickly revealed as being unable to defend their standpoint with anything other than insults and whimsical, pie-in-the-sky nonsense. They are shown in many ways to be fantasists.
” What is a Woman” the documentary by Matt Walsh, is a brilliant example of how the community is detached from reality and, in many cases, is unhinged. Whenever the debate or question skips onto a higher intellectual plain that deals with objective truth and fact, they pick up their ball and go home, so many of the responses are almost childlike in the assumption that not understanding what they are talking about is to confirm that we are unreachable and not fit as an audience.
The attack women are under at the moment from a community that represents less than 1% of the population is reprehensible and needs to be challenged head-on.
Any challenging is dismissed as being transphobic and then comes the guilt-tripping.
Yes, and that means university heads, the media, and politicians should be at the head of the charge against this, but instead they often appear to be a part of the problem.
So, here’s a simple question: What exactly are the “rights” that so-called “trans” people are protesting for? Can anyone tell me what civil rights “trans” people don’t already enjoy? In truth, they already enjoy every single civil right accorded every person. What they are protesting for is not “rights”; they are protesting for respectability. For the capitulation of “normal” people and the cultural institutions to bless their deviancy. They demand that others accept their abnormal behavior – their mental illness – as “normal”. It is axiomatic: when everything is normal, nothing is normal.
This was the question Katherine Deves put to anti-women activists last Saturday in Brisbane, Australia.
Answers: Boo! Trans rights are human rights.”
That was the question that Katherine Deves asked men’ rights activists trying to drown out women speaking at a rally in Brisbane on Saturday 4th March. The answer she received was:
“Trans rights are human rights!” yelled repeatedly.
We still don’t have an answer to the question.
These are not “men’s rights activists”. They are not even “anti-women” activists. They are trans activists. They are also wrong, of course, but please don’t try to enroll them in your own separate fights.
They are certainly anti-women. They turn up to scream and shout abuse whenever women want to speak in public.
Rights = tax payer funding for my self-castration and a lifetime of medication + complete cultural and social hegemony so I can live out my Foucaultian power trip dream
These gender fascists will not stop. Women will need protectors willing and able to use violence to turn them back. What’s coming will make the heretofore metaphorical term “Culture War” for Progressive Woke belligerence viciously literal.
It causes cognitive dissonance in saying that trans women are women.
I don’t care what people wear or what names they choose but I take a hard line on three particular aspects of this problem.
(1) I would treat the original birth certificate as final, conclusive and irreversible evidence of an individual’s sex and gender.
(2) I would outlaw all surgery and/or treatment designed to help the patient mimic or imitate the opposite sex.
(3) I would withdraw funding from any university which attempts to muzzle free speech on this or any other issue.
The author really needs to stop giving these hatemongers the benefit of the doubt. You know exactly why they want to stop it. You know in your heart of hearts these activists are vicious and want you dead in a ditch and your works burned on a pyre. This tiptoeing and feigned ignorance really irritates me.
I wonder if trans women are willing to get a pay cut since women get paid less than men? Trans women get attacked but is that because they’re supposedly women or trans? Biological women get assaulted every 11mins so who’s to say.
“It’s feminists whose rights are under threat and whose safety is in question”?
No, it’s women whose rights are under threat.
Excellent paper by Anne Lawrence, herself a transwoman, explains a lot of this with reference to narcissistic rage. It’s online here Shame and Narcissistic Rage in Autogynephilic Transsexualism http://annelawrence.com/shame_&_narcissistic_rage.pdf
We have women’s day to look forward to. I am sure there will be plenty of interesting interviews to enjoy (assuming there isn’t going to be another, very short, COVID epidemic).
The title of this piece poses a question that is pointless (and yes, I am aware author are not responsible for clickbaity titles).
It’s like asking, “Why do Bears not take a dump in a nice warm WC with a bidet and chintz curtains?”
Yes, it’s a bit tautological.
Thank you. This really helped confirm something I posited in another article which is where are all these people? My speculation was they congregate in a political landscape and make a good deal of noise at points of friction.
Meanwhile, according to the BBC, everyone else is concerned about such earth-shatteringly important matters as to whether Gary Linekar will present MOFD next week.
I spot only women protesters of the event in the photo attached to the article. This perhaps raises the question of whether the trans debate is in effect an intra-women’s issue. But if past is prologue, feminists will turn to the same target to blame as repeatedly in the past: men, their misogyny and sexism, when – paradoxically – trans women have rejected their male birth sex (is that term now hate speech?) in favour of womanhood and the virtues of femininity.
Well the placard proclaiming “Less Hate more Bussy” tends to suggest they are male presenting as female (MPF).
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