It’s very difficult in these hyper-emotive times to put forward an opinion that doesn’t have woke credentials. By woke I don’t mean the past tense of wake, I mean right on. That’s not the dictionary definition, but that’s okay, because definitions are very last year, possibly even the year before last. Definitions belong in some place, in the past, when words had meaning.
Sometimes, the universe makes it easier to shine a spotlight on an opinion, in a place in time. This January, in the U.K., through the medium of reality tv, it has become easier to speak about trans ideology, and to voice rarely permissible concern. India Willoughby is a gender critic’s dream. For those of us, trapped on the outskirts of liberal feminism, unable to embrace an ideology that has a deeply religious core, we can abbreviate all our concerns about trans ideology into one word – India – and we don’t mean the country.
India’s just one deeply unhinged human being, one could argue. A entire ideology does not rest on India’s shoulders, which is a fair point, except…
India ain’t really that special. India’s policing of people’s language and sexual boundaries can be found in A Basic Introduction to Trans – Page one. Who among us, even three years ago, could be sure what a pro-noun was, without thinking about it? Now pro-noun awareness is as necessary to social survival as dental hygiene. It is imperative that we defer to people’s internal experience of reality, rather than our own external, objective view. When someone says ‘Call me Ze!’, it is considered the height of ill manners to retort, ‘Catch a grip of yourself, you’re a girl, a teenage girl!’ Instead you must say ‘Sure Ze!’, suspending dis-belief, like you were in an audience participation fringe show, not an early evening pub quiz. It’s as if our ability to intellectually speak about this, ripe for rational dissection theory, has been swept up in a tornado of politeness, and what remains is a large number of almost redundant reasons why objective not subjective experience, must be the measure of a human being.
So, why are preferred pronouns an ethical and political minefield? Is it not just good manners, to refer to people as they would like to be perceived? In which case, refusing to do so, would be considered, at worst, rude. Only, that’s not how it plays out… A rejection of pronoun pandering leads to an all out assault on one’s character. Only ignorant bigots and religious zealots don’t comply. All those who voice opposition are framed as right wing, regressive, conservative, God fearing, gay bashers. The type of people who pathologically fear progress. Except, this doesn’t account for the number of left wing, atheist people, mainly, though not exclusively, women, who have expressed apprehension about the rise of trans dogma in mainstream culture. It also doesn’t account for the vast number of lesbians who have come out against trans ideology. It doesn’t have any space for the hundreds and thousands of average human beings, who continue to know that men have willies and Adam’s apples, and that only women bear children.
But this blog isn’t about ordinary people, it is about an extra ordinary person, India. And I’m arguing that India is undoubtedly special, when compared to your average woman, but decidedly average in terms of trans activists.
When not getting hot under the collar, every time the mask slips and some one shouts ‘I see you.’, India’s time in the house has been spent desperately seeking sexual validation. Sexual validation is a little known, but highly valued right, that trans activists seek. Riley J Dennis makes a living, analyzing the consent out of of people’s sexual boundaries. The logic goes as follows, ‘You wouldn’t reject all women with blue eyes, so how come you reject all women with penises?’ Those of us brave enough to point out the difference between reproductive organs and eyes are decried as vagina obsessives, reducing womenhood to body parts, as though one could live a life independent of one’s body. In the dark recesses of twitter, where gender critical meets trans activist, sexual boundaries are perceived as a manifestation of inner trans hostility. Everyday, on my timeline, I witness lesbians being harassed and vilified, because they don’t do dick. But, lesbians are synonymous with an embargo on penis. It is lesbianism 101, or would be if lesbians framed their sexuality around men. Lesbians love the vagina. That’s their thing.
And their-in lies the conflict with transwomen. Transwomen are women, we are told, again and again. By individual perception, not objective observation, they shall be known. In order to accommodate, we have to change the definition of woman, and once we do this, we, by inference, change the definition of lesbian. In real world terms, these concessions, because we don’t wish to appear frightfully rude, see lesbians shoved into a new box called progressive heterosexuality, and forced to get on board with ladydick. Of course, nobody will call the new box progressive heterosexuality, and even if they did, it would make no difference, ‘coz words have no meaning.
But actions still do. And the action that provided the most reasons for India’s nomination was bed-gate. Bed-gate saw India refuse to relinquish to Anne Widdecombe the bed reserved for Anne by Big Brother, until forced by Big Brother to do so. India’s rational, ‘I got here first!’ held no sway with a room full of womb bearers, who had been socialized into respecting their elders and accommodating others. For me, I saw India’s colonization of a single bed, and subsequent rejection of the nurturing part of womanhood, as the perfect metaphor for trans ideology.
‘I am a woman.’, the transwoman says. ‘Define woman, without using the word woman?’ the trans skeptic might ask. It cannot be done. Unless we refer to the dictionary definition, which is an adult human female. Instead, what we get is a set of badly drawn stereotypes, as a man, defines his understanding of a woman, through his biology and socialization as a man, and the limitations placed on him by a gendered world, and an abysmal absence of imagination.
See, acting like a woman is easy, if you are a drag queen, and you know you’re acting. Being a woman, that’s actually a lot more complex. It’s navigating the world as other. Not primary. Less important. Less safe. It’s learning survival skills from an early age, that include, but are not limited to, playing nice, acting dumb, laughing at jokes that are not at all funny. It’s not being believed. It’s being blamed. It’s being left, holding the babies. It’s having those same babies snatched from you, if he wants to hold them. It’s being object in a world where subject is male. You can’t become a woman, any more than you become a hairdryer. We are born this way.
So, when a woman tells a transwoman, ‘Of-course, you are a woman’, what she means is, ‘Of-course you are not a woman, but I have been trained from an early age to accommodate your emotions, and to lie to protect the fragility of your ego.’
My debut novel Nailing Jess was published by Cranachan in June 2017.