I am not an anti Trans campaigner

5th October 2018

I signed a letter yesterday, which was published in The Times and caused quite a stir. I’m sorry if anyone was hurt by it. I truly am.
But I’m not sorry I signed it.

Contrary to what some gay news outlets and a spokesperson for Stonewall claimed, the letter did not “question trans people’s right to exist”. It was not in any way transphobic.

For the record, I fully support trans rights. I also support the rights of all women to express concerns about their sex-based rights as women without being shouted down or demonised.

In recent months, I’ve heard from women friends who’ve been branded “TERFS” for daring to agree with the dictionary definition of ‘woman’ as “an adult human female”. I’ve seen young lesbians online being told a penis is a female sex organ and if they don’t agree they’re sick and unhealthily obsessed with vaginas. To me this sounds a lot like homophobia, just as the language used in many of the attacks on natal woman sounds a lot like misogyny.

Shutting down debate is never helpful. We need more discussion, not less. The silencing of gender critical feminists, the ‘thought crime’ of suggesting that trans women’s experiences might not be the same as those of natal women, the fact that a man who cross dresses a few days a week was recently listed as one of the UK’s top female executives – all of these things should give pause for thought.

It’s not phobic to question political orthodoxy. Yet Stonewall’s position is that anyone who disagrees with them is a bigot.

I don’t pretend to know all the answers. I know it’s difficult. There are people on all sides of this issue who feel passionately and who feel personally attacked. I signed the Stonewall letter because it asked for more reasoned debate, without the name calling. Predictably, it was met with more name calling.

So far, I’ve been called an anti trans campaigner, a bigot, a TERF and a wanker. I’ve been told I have no part in this discussion and should just shut up. What none of the news reports have mentioned is that there are trans people among the signatories to that letter. Because not all trans people think the same! Some actually agree that healthy and open discussion is the way forward. Who knew?

I’ll shut up now.

@PaulBurston